February 21, 2010

Won at the FT Line

Filed under: Basketball,Big East,Conference,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 2:47 pm

And by won. I mean won by Pitt. Odd though that seems after all these years.

Pitt ended up shooting 20-57 (35%) and 4-12 on 3s. Nova shot much better to finish 24-53 and 6-14 on 3s.

What Pitt did was make free throws.  26-34 for over 75%. Pitt went at Nova. The Wildcats are reckless with fouls in no small part because of their depth. Pitt made them pay.

The other major factor — rebounding. I’m sure I’ll get the arguments again, but rebounding margin misleads. Pitt only ended up with a +3 rebounding margin.

Pitt had 18 offensive rebounds while Nova only had 20 defensive boards. That’s huge. Pitt dominated Nova on the offensive glass despite the volume of bricks they threw up. That many second chances and forcing Nova to foul.

On the other end, Pitt had a 15 defensive rebounds to 10 offensive Nova boards. Would have liked more at that end.

Only a 5 point win, but Pitt did so much right — other than shooting.

16 assists on 20 baskets.  Only 11 turnovers. 6 steals and 6 blocks. Huge win.

UPDATE 4:00: Offical boxscore is out, Pitt is officially credited with 21 offensive boards and a total of 40 rebounds. Nova had 12 offensive and 34 total. That makes the offensive rebounding even more astounding.

Nova shot 15-27 in the second half and Pitt was 10-28. The diference again. FTs. Nova was perfect, but only 7-7. Pitt was 17-25 in the second half.

Chas, I believe you may be taking defense for granted.

Comment by wbb 02.21.10 @ 2:57 pm

wbb. Not at all with regards to defense. The fact is, though, if Pitt doesn’t make its FTs — in the first half and late — this game gets stolen by Nova. Over 37% of Pitt’s points came from the line.

Comment by Chas 02.21.10 @ 3:21 pm

Chas, Pitt had 20+ offensive rebounds

Comment by Lee 02.21.10 @ 3:07 pm

The box score I am looking at shows 18

Comment by Chas 02.21.10 @ 3:14 pm

Where can we expect to see Pitt ranked tomorrow in the new polls?

Comment by Colin 02.21.10 @ 3:21 pm

You’re right Chas, Pitt did take it to them. That was the key, keeping the pressure on and making Nova play from behind.

Comment by bigslacker 02.21.10 @ 3:28 pm

Excellent game by the Panthers. No doubt about it, Villanova is a great team. I’m not referring to Pitt’s accuracy from the field. Obviously it left much to be desired, but basketball demands more than shooting. I had an Elder in my last parish(Palm Coast,Fl.) whose name was (he is now deceased) Dale Hall. Yes, that is the same Dale Hall who was the (blocking Q.B.) for the 1940″s Armt team which featured Blanchard and Davis. But, Dale’s forte was basketball in which he was a college All-American(I kid you noT) He was from Parsons, Kansas and his dad was the highschool coach. Dale told me his dad concentrated on 3 skills when teaching his proteges: dribbling, blocking and rebounding. Only then did he allow them to become shooters. Jamie Dixon wasn’t around then, but he is a coach who would catch Dale’s fancy. Both Dale Hall(who became Army’s grid coach) And Coach Dixon had/have ties to West Point. Hail to the West Pointers and HAIL TO PITT. George from Columbus

Comment by rev. george mehaffey 02.21.10 @ 3:43 pm

Pitt played D with all it’s heart today. Gary McGhee had a HUGE game. He did everything well. It’s gratifying to see this young man blossom in Dixon’s system. Dixon SHUT DOWN Reynolds in the first half. His points in the 2nd half were too little, too late. Pitt beat a damn good team today.

Comment by The Hagen 02.21.10 @ 3:48 pm

Great post Chas! I was there, and it was a great atmosphere. I was surprised how Pitt held the lead the entire game and was able to hold off all of ‘Novas runs. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Pendlum 02.21.10 @ 3:51 pm

Hail to Pitt! Who in their right mind would have thought we’d win (at least) 25 regular season games this year? What a run this university is on.

Comment by Bobby 02.21.10 @ 4:10 pm

This was truly a TEAM effort…Travon stepped up big-time again (his FT shooting was clutch)…though Jermaine had an off-shooting game (, he was around the basket enough, that many of his misses turned into offensive rebounds and put backs (plus he played stellar D on Reynolds)…Gary–becoming more dominant as the year goes on…Gil with a huge dunk, and good outside shooting

Comment by Oregon_Panther 02.21.10 @ 4:22 pm


Comment by Oregon_Panther 02.21.10 @ 4:23 pm

meant to add, Jermaine’s three off the glass as the 35 second clock wore down was a huge shot..

Hail to PITT!

Comment by Oregon_Panther 02.21.10 @ 4:23 pm

hate to change topic but I just heard Coach Dave Walker on radio saying that there were 90 FB recruits in attendance … as well as L Stephens-Howling and Shady McCoy. I would have to think that the whole ambiance was a big positive.

Comment by wbb 02.21.10 @ 4:41 pm

Jermaine shut down Reynolds when it counted and sacrificed his body for the win, all within the context of his brother getting busted.

Game ball to Jermaine Dixon.

Comment by steve 02.21.10 @ 4:51 pm

Watched the game on the big screen at the Rivers Casino. Almost as good as being there, except for the commercials.

What an amazing team effort. I hope they keep their heads on straight and win at least 3 of the last four. Woodall’s emergence cannot be understated. Saw some new combinations today, Robinson and Brown on the court together.

Everyone contributed today. They keep stepping up, individually and collectively. Jamie Dixon!

They wanted it more. It does not make up for last year but it sure feels good.

Comment by gc 02.21.10 @ 4:52 pm

Also credit the guards for controling tempo and not getting suckered into a track meet. Much like the Marquette game, this game was played at Pitt’s pace and it clearly frustrated Nova.

Comment by Pablo 02.21.10 @ 5:08 pm

Love seeing Woodall step up and make the FTs at the end of the game…dang Gibbs needs to make some FT with under a minute left in the game. Wonder how many he has missed in under 1 minute..too many

Comment by Alum 02.21.10 @ 5:51 pm

was a great game…atmosphere was good, radio said it was a record crowd, but i myself saw some empty seats in all sections…our fan base does not believe yet…..just waiting for the loss to happen and our players continue to fight and win…it is awesome what this team has done…

big guy and dugdog…check out the other site for the answer to my trivia question…thanks.

Comment by drgags 02.21.10 @ 6:06 pm

I loved the play of Woodall and Gibbs—no panic and NO TURNOVERS despite some harrowing half- and full-court press scenarios. GO PITT!

Comment by apostles03 02.21.10 @ 6:26 pm

“Brock Generalovich, Brian Brush and Chris Massotti(villanova)….1989-90 i do believe without looking it up”

drgags, these guys played after my time and before I again became really interested. (A major part of my re-interest is the Internet and the increased schedule of games on the tube.) Mercer County always was a great high school sports area, probably more football than basketball. They have good coaches who know and teach the fundamentals of the sports.

Comment by BigGuy 02.21.10 @ 6:37 pm

Just got back home from the game…what a nice win! I still throw up in my mouth when I see Scottie Reynolds play (bad memories).
My game ball goes to Jermaine. What a defensive clinic he put on today. People will look at the box score and think Reynolds had a good game, but those in attendance or watching know that he was a non-factor for 95% of this game. When JD sat for two minutes in the 2nd half, Reynolds had 2points…within a matter of 2 minutes, he hit two three points on Woodall. JD came back and clamped him down for the rest of the game until the garbbage points at the end. Completely awesome play by Jermaine. We will miss him next year.

I want to hear the Wannamaker apologists defend his play in this game. I thought this was one of his WORST games, and left me scratching my head even more about him as a player. I just don’t get hime…..turnovers, horrible shots, bad fouls…

Comment by Pauly P 02.21.10 @ 6:37 pm

Wannamaker seems a bit lost when both Gibbs and Woodall are in the game together ..agreed…but each game some player steps up. Today is was Woodall and Gilbert Brown….we need to fix our shooting but what a glorious Sunday afternoon.

Comment by Dan 72 02.21.10 @ 6:57 pm

Regarding the fan base, I think it’s less a matter of not believing and more a case of being in awe of what this team has been able to achieve. Well beyond the wildest hopes of most of us. Or have we forgotten the early season posts on the subject of where we might eek out 10 conference wins?

On the crowd, yes there were some empty seats but no more than I’ve seen in past seasons. I’ll never figure out why some club level seats that cost someone a huge premium to purchase, go empty game after game unless Syracuse, Uconn or Georgetown is on the agenda.

I did notice one huge contrast between this crowd and the WVU crowd. With about 12 seconds to go I noticed that very few early outs had left their seats. At the WVU thriller, with 12 seconds to go there were hudreds of early outs scrambling to get up the down escalator and back to their seats.

A great win, a great season already. More to come!
Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dock71 02.21.10 @ 7:02 pm

I’ll have to admit, i was getting nervous in the last minutes.. know what we have done to vill and wvu this year… and considering scottie reynolds was on the court….

Great to see woodall step up….

whats with gibbs missing big free throws ?

i hope tourney time our shooting gets hot.. because who knows then….

Comment by pinky D clitron 02.21.10 @ 7:07 pm

Wanny had a bad game. Doesn’t mean he can’t play. Just look at his numbers for the year. The kid is a player.

More importantly, Wanny had a bad game and we won pretty easily. Pitt led this game throughout. The closest Nova got was 2 points. This game provides some evidence that Pitt can do some damage in the tournament. There are very few teams that have the talent of Nova throughout the roster. Pitt was not out-classed at all during the game, and the most athletic play came from a Pitt player (the Brown dunk). Pitt dominated Nova on the boards.

Beating WVU was fortunate, but Pitt put it on Nova today. I think this team is headed to the sweet 16 at the very least.

Comment by omar 02.21.10 @ 7:19 pm

Wanny puts up stats, I’ll give him that… but so did Aaron Gray (read: his rebound stats because he always missed bunnies)… but stats, do in fact, lie. I never said he couldn’t play at some level or in certain situations, I just think he is more of a liability than an asset on a team like Pitt’s and especially in pressure packed games.

I think you would conceed, Omar that after three healthy seasons with see less than 7 WTF moments in game???? Seriously with picking up the dribble, bad fouls, goofy passes, airballs… Tonight we saw all of them on the big stage…

I expect more from a Junior.

Comment by Pauly P 02.21.10 @ 7:58 pm

McGhee. I never would have believed it. His development is every bit as impressive as Aaron Gray. Pitt really needs his size and he is delivering. I’m stunned to find myself wanting them to go inside to him more. Dixon is truly doing an unbelievable job with some his projects…

Comment by K.R.Y. 02.21.10 @ 8:06 pm

Pauly, Wanny had a ad game but tell me who has not had a bad game over the past few weeks. Geez, Gibbs had 2 pts the other night, missing every FG he attempted. And I guess, next game at ND is Gilbert’s turn to score only 4 pts again.

Over this entire year, I still think Wanny has been the best overall Pitt player.

Comment by wbb 02.21.10 @ 8:29 pm

Wanamaker is the best overall player on the team. Scores, rebounds, assists and plays defense. He’s also gotten better every year. Other than Gibbs, he’s played more minutes than anyone and Pitt is 3rd in the Big East with 21 wins. Do those stats lie or just the stats that conveniently fit your argument? He obviously has a problem forcing the play sometimes. But one of the reasons we win is because of him, not in spite of him.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 02.21.10 @ 8:37 pm

As I recall, a Chris Massotti-led Hickory team — of which drgags may have been a member? — beat a Sean Miller-led Blackhawk team in the playoffs in ’87. Damn I don’t like dating myself.

Great defense today. Good team effort. But not sure what is up with Wannamaker. A walking turnover at the moment. So indecisive and unsure of himself at the moment. Hopefully that will be corrected over the next few games.

Comment by Carmen 02.21.10 @ 8:54 pm


I disagree with you on this. I also think that Wanny is Pitt’s best overall player. In fact, Wanny has been essentially running the offense from the 3. Notice end of clock situations when the 5 usually comes in and sets a pick for the 1 to drive and create a play. This wasn’t working early in the year with Gibbs and Jamie adapted by running the play on the wing for Wanny. #22 is an excellent passer and penetrator offensively, and an outstanding rebounder for a 6’4″ small forward.

Does he make some poor decisions? Yes he does. The same can be said for every player on the team at certain points. Wanny had a bad game today. I don’t think that makes him a bad player. The kid didn’t score at all against WVU the first game, but put up 20 the next time they played. I am pretty sure that he will be fine.

Comment by omar 02.21.10 @ 8:58 pm

SPNYC– I beg to differ. When at full strength/health, Jermaine is our best all around player, IMO. I think it is apparent that JD is not only the best, but the most valuable player on the team. With JD out or injured, we lose.

Wanny is 75+ games into his college career. I think he’s a good kid. I just wish we had the depth for him to be a 10-15min guy. Throw all the stats you want. He fails the eye test. Jusst like Bill Stull fails the eye test in football. Good kids, serviceable, flashes of brilliance, but one misstep from a meltdown.

Comment by Pauly P 02.21.10 @ 9:11 pm

Interesting from Andy Hutchins on the Sporting Blog (part of the Sporting news)

“Pittsburgh beating Villanova is just the latest bit of evidence that the Big East is almost all wheat. ‘Nova was thought of as a one seed-to-be for a while — now, the fourth one behind Kansas, Kentucky, and Syracuse is probably Purdue’s to lose — but the brutal Big East slate has worn it down. There’s no other conference with four teams as good as Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown and Pittsburgh, four teams that could win it all and never be called Cinderella.”

Did you ever think someone would say Pittsburgh could win it all before this season started? (I’m not saying that this guy’s opinion matters but it is interesting for it too come from Sporting News). Also WVU not mentioned haha!

Comment by OntarioLett'sGoPitt 02.21.10 @ 9:15 pm

Pauly,, if eye test would really matter, then Pitt would be 6 and 20

Comment by wbb 02.21.10 @ 9:22 pm

I’ve said from the get-go, there is no reason why this team can’t go .500 plus in BE play. The stat people on this blog had them barely NIT bound. After SEEING our full compliment of players, you could SEE that this team was capable of more things than expected. Don’t count out the eye test, wbb…it usually is right. Take last year for example, we all got wrapped up in the stats and glory of last year’s team, but the reality was, they were not a good defensive team. They failed the eye test on defense many times last year, but had enough talent to overcome.

Wannamaker is a role player, playing out of position, and should be credited for his early season heroics (against much lesser caliber teams). But, at the highest level, I’m not seeing it. He is extremely erratic and a detriment in key stretches of many of our games. I’m seeing a lot of reoccuring mistakes that should be celared up by Junior year. Let’s hope it doesn’t cost us in a tourney game…

Comment by Pauly P 02.21.10 @ 9:36 pm

Not sure I can agree that Wanny is Pitt’s best player, but he is the most consistent player on both ends. You can generally count on him to score in double figures, grab over 5 rebounds, have several assists and make a few key stops and steals on defense. But he’ll also make a couple of bonehead plays every game. Like I said, he’s consistent.

Not sure what’s causing the rash of turnovers in the past two games. Could be that he’s forcing things a bit more than usual or perhaps good scouting by Marquette and Nova picked up some tendencies that they exploited. Either way, I think the coaches will work with him to fix the issue by the next game.

Comment by TampaT 02.21.10 @ 9:55 pm

Wanamaker a role player playing out of position? Wow, I think you’re trying to sound a little too clever there. He’s second in minutes, average points and rebounds and leads in assists. And the team has achieved success beyond expectation. It’s all about results not eye tests.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 02.21.10 @ 10:01 pm

Pauly, you contradicted yourself in the 1st paragraph of your last post. If any Pitt team ever passed the eye test, it was last year’s team.

You obviously have a bias against Wanny, and I will restate … yes, he had a bad game, but so has virtually everyone else on this team .. even Dixon today, as I recall, made only 1 FG in his first ten shots .. a layup.

Comment by wbb 02.21.10 @ 10:02 pm

He was recruited as a shooting guard– not a small forward.

Comment by Pauly P 02.21.10 @ 10:10 pm

Wanamker certainly isn’t a “role player”. Yes, he played like garbage today on the offensive end of the court, but that is going to happen now and then. Not sure if he is the “best player” on the team, but he’s certainly a leader and we need to have him out there. He plays solid defense, rebounds and usually does a pretty decent job on offense, not to mention he’s one of the few guys we have who can take it to the rack. I don’t think he gets enough credit and I expect to see him continue to improve.

Comment by TJ 02.21.10 @ 10:11 pm

If the kid is better at the 3 he’s not playing out of position. Just because he was recruited at the 2 doesn’t mean “out of position”. Wanny has developed the strength to play the 3 and creates mismatches because of his ability to dribble penetrate.
He’s for sure more than a role player.

Comment by OntarioLett'sGoPitt 02.21.10 @ 10:18 pm

Keep in mind that the last two games were against teams that might be expected to give a player like Wanamaker some trouble (I know – awful sentence structure, but you know what I mean). Marquette and and Villanova have multiple guards that can effectively pressure the ball away from the hoop. Wanamaker’s propensity to turn it over under pressure becomes even more evident against these types of teams. Against most teams, when Wanamaker is playing the 3, he actually is quicker than the guy guarding him and can get the ball to the hoop. The past two games this has not been the case, and he has not adjusted well. I expect that we’ll see some more favorable matchups for him in upcoming games.

In the meantime, I thought Coach Dixon did a good job getting Gil Brown in more at the 3 in this game, thereby taking advantage of a size advantage over Villanova’s guard oriented system.

Comment by Pantherman13 02.21.10 @ 10:31 pm

The “eye test” on Wanny is that we’ve won 21 games and counting with him playing a major role. Don’t think we win 21 without him. The proof is that the one game he completely disappears was our worst loss – WVA.

Lastly, the beauty of this team is that they are a TEAM so picking on one player be it Wanny, Woodall, Taylor or whoever is a bit ludicrous.

Comment by TampaT 02.21.10 @ 10:32 pm

wanny during the ville game was crucial… yeah he had a terrible game.. but he is definitely vital part of the team.

Yeah the team doesn’t have a dominate player like blair, go to guy like young, or a decisive play maker like fields,., but it does have a little bit of each in the players across the board,. which is a different forumula but if they continue the hard nosed d, and various folks step of on offense… they will be a tough match for anybody in the country,

Comment by snala the panther 02.21.10 @ 10:45 pm

A couple of interesting stats – Pitt is now #9 in the RPI, just a hair behind Villanova. They have beaten RPI #3, 4 and 8. Pitt’s strength of schedule is now ranked #4. Both of these are likely to drop a little over the last 4 games, even if they win all 4, since they are playing teams with RPI ranging from 69 to 120.

It will be interesting to see where this team ends up in the rankings and bracket projections tomorrow. While these are relatively meaningless at this point, they do give some indication of the “national” perception of the team, and over the past few weeks Pitt has been under-ranked relative to their overall profile.

Comment by Pantherman13 02.21.10 @ 10:53 pm

FWIW Gary Parrish now has Pitt at #10 in his weekly rankings up from #19 last week.

Comment by TampaT 02.21.10 @ 11:14 pm

I think a 3 seed is the best Pitt can expect and that would be terrific!

Comment by Dan 72 02.22.10 @ 8:42 am

Is there any other coach in the country that gets more out of the talent he has to work with?

So many different players seem to step up at key moments. While I dont expect this team to go deep into the ncaa’s it certainly wouldnt surprise me if they did.

Comment by Coach Ditka 02.22.10 @ 8:56 am

wannamaker is a good player, he just needs to stop turning the ball over and let the game come to him. he pushes too much at times and loses the ball. no excuse for 7 TOs in a game.

Comment by johnnyrocket 02.22.10 @ 9:01 am

Dan – I think you are correct on the seeding. If the tournament were seeded today, Pitt would probably be a solid 3 seed. Their last four games don’t give them much opportunity to move up, but losses could cause them to fall. The only way they move up is win at least 3 of their last 4 regular season games, then win 2 at the BE Tourney (i.e., get to the final).

It’s interesting – I’m actually having more fun following the rankings/seeding discussions this year because frankly, it all feels like gravy at this point.

Comment by Pantherman13 02.22.10 @ 9:04 am

Right with you Pantherman13. At the beginning of the BE schedule most of us considered just making the NCAA tourney a success for this team. The fact that we’re even talking about the possiblity of a 3 seed is very rich gravy. Gotta love it!

Comment by TampaT 02.22.10 @ 9:37 am

Since I was criticizing him for it earlier in the week, I’ll give him (and the coaching staff) props for doing better this week: Taylor, on the hedge. He actually came out and impeded the guard’s progress on several occasions and then rotated back quickly to his man.

Comment by Carmen 02.22.10 @ 9:53 am

Comparing resumes, it definiely seems like Pitt has a better resume than WVU at this point. I dont know if the selection comittee will see it the same way, but we should be headed for around the same seed (or better) than WVU.

Comment by Matt D 02.22.10 @ 10:12 am

Great atmosphere at the Pete yesterday! We, season ticket holders, have gotten our money’s worth.

Best defensive performance this year, by a lot. Nova is averaging 85 points, they are a great screen and roll team. Pitt’s ability to switch on ball screens and then defend despite mismatches was outstanding. Pitt defended the three point line very well. Nova had very few assisted hoops, most of their baskets were on one-on-one moves. Pitt really disrupted what they wanted to do.

What is with the refs and Nova – Pitt games? The game was a little hard to watch at times, the ref’s called it VERY TIGHT. Lots of nickle dimers.

Pitt also did a great job of controlling tempo. If pitt keeps improving, keeps playing tough d, keeps controlling the speed of play and gets some timely shooting (free throws), then the sky is the limit. WVU is the one team I don’t want to see them play again. Their athleticism and size are really tough for Pitt to handle (despite the recent win at the Pete).

Comment by Boubacar Aw 02.22.10 @ 10:22 am

I just read the article in the P-G about the game. Jay Wright comes across as being classy. So does Scottie Reynolds. Both appear to represent their university well.

Comment by BigGuy 02.22.10 @ 10:30 am

Pauly P…I can’t let the “stats lie” statement with regard to A. Gray slide by…The guy is an NBA Basketball player…To say the least, that is a very exclusive club to be in…Only on this blog could I read a negative comment about a former Pitt player who is making a nice living in the NBA. Not to mention, stats aside, all he did when he was at Pitt was make just about every team we played move the majority of their offense to the perimiter…In fact, if this team had A. Gray at center, we would be a Top 10 team right now. I’m not knocking McGhee, I love his play this year, but Gray was just a better player in his days at Pitt.

Comment by HbgFrank 02.22.10 @ 1:01 pm

McGhee is a better defender than Aaron Gray. That is the only area where he is better than Gray. McGhee is a better athlete and really gives maximum effort on defense. An athletic guy that plays hard and understands the rotations is pretty much all it takes to be a good defender. Athleticism and effort are the most important variables. Gary has both. Gray had much better hands and a softer touch on offense. This made him a better rebounder and offensive player.

Wanamaker is Pitt’s best “overall” player. That is what I said. There are other players on the team that are better at certain things, but Wanny’s aggregate skill set is the best. Wanamaker can defend, rebound, handle, shoot, and pass the ball. No player on the team can do all of the things Wanamaker does. He is a very important player for Pitt.

Wanny struggled the last couple games specifically because teams emphasized taking him away. Pitt runs the offense through Wanny now. Teams are trying to disrupt that and have denied him the ball and have scouted him well. Wanny loves to drive to the hoop with his off hand. Teams have noticed this and will not let him go baseline with his left hand. He is frustrated and has rushed things a bit leading to charges and travels. Wanny needs to pick his spots with that move. Teams know that move is coming and he will only be able to do it a few times a game.

I also think Wanny needs to trust his jumper more. Teams are playing off him a bit. He needs to take that shot when it is there instead of forcing himself to the rim. He is a capable shooter and can hit the shot.

I don’t know what people are looking at. If Wanamaker doesn’t pass the eye test, then I don’t know who does. The kid is 6’4″ tall, strong as an ox, can handle and finish with both hands, grabs tough rebounds on both ends of the floor, is shooting well from the line, and has above average athleticism. He sure as hell passes the eye test for me. One bad game doesn’t mean he can’t play. Especially, one bad game where he didn’t force it and Pitt led the entire game.

Comment by Omar 02.22.10 @ 3:33 pm

Thanks, drgags.

Comment by dugdog 02.22.10 @ 10:09 pm

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