May 19, 2009

It is disturbingly stark at the moment. Any story regarding Pitt basketball is filled with puffery and positive vibes. Pitt football stories at this point, well just a little less upbeat.

Trying to get some things caught up.

Coach Dixon gets some more love from his time in NYC.

Dixon wants more. He wants to see Pittsburgh accomplish what Connecticut did. And he believes everything is in place to make that happen.

“The one thing we haven’t done that the elite programs have is win a national championship,” Dixon said Wednesday at Garden, where he was the featured speaker at the Frank McGuire Annual Coaches Seminar. “We’re at the point now where kids like to say they’re being recruited by Pittsburgh.”

According to, Pitt ended up with the 14th best recruiting class in the country and 3d best in the Big East behind Villanova and UConn.

Shocking to learn that UConn skimps on academic compliance staff. Pitt has the largest compliance dept in the Big East.

Redshirting freshman Dwight Miller talks to his hometown newspaper in the Bahamas about his first year.

Journal: In terms of your skills, since leaving The Bahamas what areas have you improved mostly?

Miller: I think I have improved on my on the court IQ and I know more about what is gong on during the game and what I need to do to help my team. I have also been working a lot on my outside game because of the system we play at Pitt. It is one based around forwards and I most likely will be playing the four (power forward) that would require me to be able to play inside and outside.

Journal: Do you think you will be in the starting line up this year or would you be willing to come off the bench?

Miller: I feel pretty confident that I would be in the starting line-up, but then nothing is guaranteed. You have to go and work for it. We lost four starters this year, so pretty much that’s four open spots to be filled and you just have to go in there and play hard for the spot.

He’s got a lot of work ahead of him to have a shot at starting. He’s going to get minutes, but starting still seems like a stretch.

Meanwhile, Pitt’s solitary recruit for 2010 might spend a year of prep school fairly close to Pitt.

Epps will be 19 in August and too old to play his senior year in New Jersey. He is seriously considering attending Kiski School, a prep school in Saltsburg near Indiana.

Anthony Cheatham, recently hired as Kiski School’s new basketball coach, said “there is a strong chance” Epps will enroll at Kiski. Cheatham said Epps is expected to visit the school tomorrow, along with Shaquille Thomas, a standout 6-6 junior forward at Mountain State Academy in Beckley, W.Va. Both Epps and Thomas are ranked among the top 100 players in the country for 2010.

Of course the article also says that Kiski doesn’t do scholarships (only financial aid) and costs around 36K for a year. So, that could be a factor.

A little love towards the local Pittsburgh hoops scene on the upswing.

Part of the reason for that is in fact the success of Pitt basketball, which has helped raise the sport’s profile in the city. DeJuan Blair was the team’s first homegrown star in 20 years. And his high school teammate D.J. Kennedy has been a two-year started at St. John’s.

But you’ve probably never heard of another real driving force behind what I hope is a budding hoops renaissance in Pittsburgh: Daryn Freedman, who two years ago brought the venerable Hoop Mountain National Exposure Basketball Camps to town and also began running the Basketball Stars of America AAU program.

Freedman, a disciple of John Calipari’s, spent nine years as a Division 1 Assistant at UMass, University of Memphis, Northeastern and Duquesne, and four years working in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. Now he is back in Pittsburgh running camps and building the city’s grassroots AAU program, which had been seriously lacking. His NCAA experience also provides him with a network of college basketball coaches around the country, giving his players a higher recruiting visibility as well as access to better instruction.

No mention of J.O. Stright and his AAU team. I’m guessing there might be some, uh, friction between them.

I know Daryn,he’s my neighbor. Never saw a guy on the phone so much.

Comment by alcofan 05.20.09 @ 10:53 am

Did anybody read that Bahama interview? Good lord: “There are 20 schools in the Big East Conference and quite a few basketball powerhouses. In addition to the University of Pittsburgh that is coached by 2009 Coach Of The Year Jamie Dixon and that has been in the conference since 1982, reached four sweet 16s and won six conference titles, there are school like Connecticut, Louisville, Syracuse, Depaul, Rutgers, Providence, George Town, Seaton Hall, St. John’s, Marquette, Temple, Univ. South Florida, Univ. Cincinnati, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, University of Miami, Villanova, and Boston College, “

Comment by merlin 05.20.09 @ 6:26 pm

Don’t know how encouraging this is about prospects for next season, but Miller’s right — he most likely will start. It’s either him at the 4 spot or Dixon goes with a freshman or a smallball lineup. I guess he could start McGhee, Toree Morris-style, and keep him in for only for short periods, but I struggle to see the sense in that.

Comment by hugh green 05.20.09 @ 7:20 pm

Elite AAU teams have been in town for a long time. Daryn’s top team in each age level is AAU material….the rest is just a big cash grab as he takes anyone. It brings down the tournament competition.

Comment by Final Four 05.21.09 @ 9:12 am

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