February 3, 2010

Liveblog tonight.

Let’s see, it’s been hard to be as focused on this game as usual with the coinciding of NLI Day. Takes some of the edge off when there are the other distractions.

Distractions? You mean like the WVU students repeatedly getting slammed lately for their behavior at the games?

Jonathan Kimble, a sports management major at WVU who attends games in the student section, said he and his fellow Maniacs will tone it down a bit later but Pitt is an exception.

“Pitt is our rival so we’ll probably be using a lot of colorful words against them,” Kimble said.

The issues at West Virginia started Jan. 16 against Syracuse when fans threw items onto the court. One Syracuse blogger urged fans for the upcoming Georgetown game to refrain from littering the court: “Let’s stay classy. We’re not West Virginia fans, right?”

Gray said he’s planning to send another letter to students this week. The game isn’t on national TV, but Gray is suggesting fans depart from a certain three-word phrase they use every time the Panthers come to town.

“We would encourage them to be more creative and work on not doing those things that really embarrass and disappoint not only us, but the coaches, the players and other students and fans,” Gray said.

Can’t say I’m shocked. I mean it is WVU. Creativity beyond crudely describing the way they interact with their sisters and farm animals is asking a bit much.

On the court, a more interesting subplot is the debut of a Turkish forward who may be a big addition.

His name is Deniz Kilicli (pronounced “Kah-LITCH-luh”), and there’s certainly a chance that his impact on West Virginia’s season will be limited. It would be unfair to him to expect too much. He’s a Turkish freshman who’s only been in the U.S. for a little more than two years, was forced by the NCAA to sit out for the Mountaineers’ first 20 regular-season games, and has only seen college action in two exhibitions. He’s not yet in peak game condition.

But Kilicli is also a rugged, 6-foot-9, 260-pound power forward who could be an NBA draft prospect in a few seasons, and West Virginia coach Bob Huggins already calls him “our best low-post scorer.” So can you blame us for being intrigued, when no other top-10 team is adding a new player like this in February? The Mountaineers have gone 17-3 (and 6-2 in the Big East) without Kilicli, but, as his prep school coach from Mountain State Academy, Rob Fulford, says: “One thing they’re kind of missing is an a–hole. And he can play like an a–hole.”

Technically, WVU has the a–hole. But I guess, he was talking about players, not the coach.

I’m a little more skeptical of his impact. At least tonight. He may have been playing with the team in practice but a game is far different. Plus, haven’t we heard all this before about another big man who when he became eligible was going to be tremendous almost immediately? Anybody? Anybody?

Ator Majok? UConn? How’s that working out?

Make no mistake, WVU is really good this year. Yes, they have played up-and-down within games. Nearly blowing several and having to stage furious comebacks to salvage a few others. That said, they still won those games.

Jermaine Dixon should be back tonight.

“It was good to see him out there, and I anticipate him playing tomorrow,” coach Dixon said of his senior guard. “We will have to see how he feels. He was able to practice, and that’s a good sign. He’s ready to go, I would think, tomorrow. He seemed to have no problems.”

The players are looking forward to it.

“We enjoy the experience,” McGhee said. “It’s a hostile environment. It’s pretty difficult to play there. The fans get loud. We play harder when the fans come at you. It gets you pumped up and your adrenaline going. It’s something good for us.”

Gary McGhee gets some more love, and the suggestion that Pitt needs to go to him more. I won’t disagree. I will say, that the one area McGhee still needs to work on for that to happen, is making himself a better target for the pass inside. He still struggles to establish position and get the ball.

Coach Dixon is 3-3 down at the Concrete Toadstool. To put that in perspective, he has more wins there than any other Pitt coach.

WVA cannot crush Pitt from the outside. If we can exchange 3’s for 2’s, we have a shot. Other than that, it is a very bad matchup for Pitt at this time in their season. Line is WVU -7.5 and going up.

Comment by Dan 72 02.03.10 @ 3:12 pm

Plus, haven’t we heard all this before about another big man who when he became eligible was going to be tremendous almost immediately? Anybody? Anybody?

I can’t be the only one who was thinking Dante Taylor, right?

Comment by 85 02.03.10 @ 3:21 pm

not that i believe him or that this matters at all at this point. i would hate to go to the big ten but… jason pinkstons facebook status currently reads: Pitt to the big ten in 2012… Sorry Psu can’t run forever!!

Comment by Tony Cancilla 02.03.10 @ 3:44 pm

I have a reliable source who spoke with an assistant coach of 1 of the 2 major sports (I will not say which one) that did not deny nor confirm the rumors, but did say there was a lot of talking going on.

Comment by Todd Gack 02.03.10 @ 3:59 pm

well until its official or officially not official… its bball season baby, take down the mountaineers

Comment by Tony Cancilla 02.03.10 @ 4:03 pm

I’ve never been able to decide whose fans are more classless: WVUs or PSUs.

I remember when the student section at Beaver turned as a group and flashed the bird at the Holy Cross Fathers of Notre Dame. What better way to show your support for continued home-and-homes with the nation’s #1 college football attraction.

Comment by Spanky 02.03.10 @ 4:07 pm

Big man, big man. No, ain’t seen nor herda any big man cept Gary. But I did see were lookin fo another combo player to ride the pines.

Comment by shadyforpresident 02.03.10 @ 4:08 pm

WVU plays 1 guard and 4 forwards. We should be able to exploit that.

Comment by alcofan 02.03.10 @ 4:11 pm

Now Dante Taylor was supposed to be “tremendous” immediately? I get that people are disappointed that he isn’t playing well, but anyone who expected him to step in as a freshman and be an immediate star simply wasn’t paying attention…

Comment by Pantherman13 02.03.10 @ 4:11 pm

immediate star – hell i’d settle for less invisable.

Comment by shadyforpresident 02.03.10 @ 4:21 pm

I guess count me in as one of the ones who thought Taylor would have more of an impact. I did not follow his high school or post-high school career, but I expected him to be at least a presence off the bench (unless the McDonald’s All-American tag has been devalued over the years). As a comparision of past freshman big men, both Chris Taft and Dejaun Blair came in with less accolades and performed much better during their respective freshman years (Taft taking the starting role from senoir Morris and Blair starting from the get-go).

Comment by UP Dave 02.03.10 @ 4:53 pm

If Taylor stats were a heartbeat, UMPC would pronounce him dead cause he’s flat-lined.

Comment by shadyforpresident 02.03.10 @ 5:03 pm

Is Gary related to Roberto Duran? aka hands of stone!!!!!

Comment by Vito the Godfather of soul 02.03.10 @ 5:29 pm

Don’t think he is, but you must be related to southside johnny, heart of stone. GF, don’t you have any love for Gary?

Comment by shadyforpresident 02.03.10 @ 5:46 pm

What’s with all the bashing our own players. I wasn’t in the crowd that thought Taylor would have an immediate impact, in fact after watching the McDonald’s game stated on here that he had zero chance of being 1 or 2 and done, and needed time to develop. Several posters seconded the opinion. Taylor has skills it is obvious, but needs time to develop PHYSICALLY(which was both Blair and Taft’s advantages, and wasn’t a problem for Taylor in HS) and mentally in the system. I love Taylor’s upside and he won’t disappoint in the future, but let’s let the kid have a chance. McD’s meant he was one of the best HS players, which he was, but he didn’t have to play players with the strength he does now. I have no doubt that Dixon and the staff will make the kid a star but lets give him a chance. Also, McGhee has made tremendous strides and needs to be looked to more on this team. He’s no longer a joke and the only joke is how we refuse to give him the ball.

Comment by OnatrioLett'sGoPitt 02.03.10 @ 5:49 pm

I don’t think Jermaine Dixon is playing tonight – I have a 4:30 class with him, Gibbs, and Talib Zanna. Jermaine was in the class, the others weren’t.

Comment by bocoroth 02.03.10 @ 5:56 pm


I agree with you about Gary and I’ve said this before: Its not that Gary struggles to get position, its that he spends most his time blocking and screening and, when he does get position nobody throws him the ball. It has to be a change direction from the coaches.

Taylor’s stats speak for themselves. Why wasn’t he redshirted if hes not going anywhere and needs soo much time to develop?

Comment by shadyforpresident 02.03.10 @ 6:01 pm

forced into play because of the situation. Don’t you think they would have loved to redshirt him? Unfortunately Blair’s departure for the NBA has left us way to thin in the front court. Could you imagine how people would have freaked if an McD’s all-american redshirted?

Comment by OnatrioLett'sGoPitt 02.03.10 @ 6:11 pm

Anyone have a live stream feed for this game…absolutely amazing i cant watch 2 ranked teams play, especially the backyard brawl!!

Comment by Alum 02.03.10 @ 6:17 pm

I would rather Dixon get healthy however long it takes. He is critical to our success. Without him, it will be a long night tonight…but very interesting to watch. I hear BIG changes are on the way…we’ll see how they work out.

Comment by Dan 72 02.03.10 @ 6:18 pm

not only is Taylor playing in arguably the toughest conference, he is learning a new position where he is obviously mismatched. It would help if he were stronger and had an experienced top player at power forward who could take the pressure off of him. Yes, I am a bit disappointed but it also appears to be a near perfect storm scenario.

Comment by wbb 02.03.10 @ 6:22 pm

Chas Rich, I find your blog fairly entertaining and informative, but constantly talking about sex with animals, and incest makes you look somewhat immature, and that you perhaps have a sexually deviant side to you. I know it’s easy to be a internet tough guy while you sit all the way over in Cleveland, but come on. Grow up.

Comment by ben 02.03.10 @ 6:50 pm

I didnt mean for my comments to be taken as bashing Taylor, just expressing my frustration with his struggles considering his accolades coming to Pitt. I saw that early in the year he showed flashes of his talents but instead of getting better he is regressing with each game. I am hoping he can get to the point where he has the strength and experience to showcase his talents (whether it is later this season or next season). I also agree with OnatrioLett’sGoPitt in that Gary has made great strides from last year. If we had a more experienced team around him, his weaknesses wouldnt be as obvious. As long as he chips in with a couple of baskets, 8-10 rebounds, blocks a few shots that is all we should be asking of him at this point. Wouldnt it be nice if next year we have Taylor at the 4 (having a Sam Young type of improvement) plus Gary continuing to improve at the 5. Throw in Gilbert Brown at the 3 and that would be a formidable frontcourt.

Comment by UPDave 02.03.10 @ 11:02 pm

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