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August 22, 2011

The Oakland Zoo has the new design for the Zoo t-shirt this year. It’s a clean look and apparently already on sale.

Pitt also announced the non-con schedule for 2011-12. I’m not saying that the Pitt athletic department was purposefully downplaying this news, but I get suspicious whenever information like this is released on a Friday.

Looking it over. Yeah, it’s not exactly one that screams out “daunting.”

Or even “challenging.”


(as of August 20, 2011; schedule subject to change)


Date                                   Opponent (TV)                                         Location                                                  Time

Saturday, Oct. 22 BLUE GOLD SCRIMMMAGE/    


Saturday, Oct. 29 LA ROCHE (Exh.) Petersen Events Center TBA
Monday, Nov. 7 KENTUCKY WESLEYAN (Exh.) Petersen Events Center TBA
Friday, Nov. 11 ALBANY Petersen Events Center TBA
Sunday, Nov. 13 &RIDER Petersen Events Center TBA
Wednesday, Nov. 16 LONG BEACH STATE Petersen Events Center TBA
Tuesday, Nov. 22 &La SALLE Petersen Events Center TBA

Philly HoopGroup Classic (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Friday, Nov. 25 at &Penn Philadelphia, Pa./The Palestra TBA


Sunday, Nov. 27 &ROBERT MORRIS Petersen Events Center TBA
Wednesday, Nov. 30 vs. Duquesne Consol Energy Center TBA

Big East/SEC Challenge

Saturday, Dec. 3 at Tennessee (ESPN) Knoxville, Tenn. 5:15 p.m.


Tuesday, Dec. 6 VMI Petersen Events Center TBA

Madison Square Garden Classic (New York, N.Y.)

Saturday, Dec. 10 vs. Oklahoma State (ESPN2) New York, N.Y./MSG 2:30 p.m.


Saturday, Dec. 17 SOUTH CAROLINA STATE Petersen Events Center TBA
Tuesday, Dec. 20 ST. FRANCIS, Pa. Petersen Events Center TBA
Friday, Dec. 23 WAGNER Petersen Events Center TBA

When the most dangerous home game is probably Long Beach State, it’s not going to be a non-con schedule that sells tickets. It isn’t even that this schedule is loaded with really bad teams. It is just that it is a schedule of all, very beatable teams.

The most difficult games are the road trips to Tennessee (SEC/Big East Invitational) and the semi-neutral court game with Oklahoma State at MSG. None of the opponents will really kill Pitt’s RPI or Pomerory rating, on its own. They just will do very little to enhance Pitt’s computer numbers.

I have to admit that I expect Pitt to go undefeated in the non-con, with a side of analysts (kind of legitimately) asking, “but who have they played?”

Finally, some more love for James Robinson, and the decision to go with Pitt.

Robinson’s gift is his ability to lead, assimilate within a team concept and use his cerebral play to galvanize a unit. He’s been a consistent winner his entire career at DeMatha and in travel team ball. Known for his competitiveness, his father said that winning the right way was ingrained in him from a young age.

“We don’t believe in the ‘I’ conversation around here,” James Robinson Sr. said. “When he was 4 or 5 years old we made a habit of talking about winning and doing it the right way. There’s a way to win or lose and how to compete.”

There are kids who talk about loving basketball and then there are kids who are students of the game. Robinson, according to Keith Stevens, his Team Takeover travel team coach, knows all of his weaknesses and plays with an edge that makes him mentally strong.

“The thing that he does, he really studies the game,” said Stevens. “He knows he’s not the quickest or the most athletic. He just asks questions. With this decision, he had to go somewhere he wasn’t going to lose. We lost four games all summer and he cried after every one one of them. He couldn’t go somewhere and learn how to lose. He’s a trickster, he’s an old-school guy that finds a way.”

I guess Robinson fits in with two of Dixon’s top criteria .. playing team ball and being associated with winning programs.

While the jury is out on the incoming freshman, I’m not sure there are any current dogs on the current roster that can be shown the door should Coach once again over-recruit. Maybe the big question mark would the eligibility of Adams. Otherwise, Coach may well be content with the two new recruits.

Comment by wbb 08.22.11 @ 12:30 pm

Zoo… shirt… kicks… ass… must… have…

I say it too often, but I, like Tony Dorsett, was just a kid checking out a bunch of colleges until I first saw the Catherdral — an architectural statement so powerful that kids have and will continue to decide to go to Pitt on the spot. When I drive to the airport on the Parkway East 22 years later, I still always glance back at the thing when you can see it briefly after the Squirrel Hill exit.

Comment by Lee in Altoona 08.22.11 @ 12:41 pm

Robinson is a great pick up just the kind of player we need a true PG. but the non conference schedule sucks except the away games. I dont think i would pay to see any of them except Robert Morris and Duquesne. I have to think we can come up with a better schedule than that it is emberrassing and dull.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.22.11 @ 2:12 pm

I would prefer a mean ass panther biting the head off a Hoopie on the shirt.

Comment by TX Panther 08.22.11 @ 3:16 pm

Robinson cries after every loss? He’ll fit right in with Pitt fans in March.

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 08.22.11 @ 3:46 pm

the home non-con schedule again is on the light side….and may be comparable to other teams and conferences….i would like to see some better programs as a season ticket holder….our teams are of better quality now-a-days, so schedule some good games for the fans….honestly we have shown it does not matter what our seeding is in march, so lets put out a better product for the fans….just my opinion. there is not one game i look forward to seeing in the non-con schedule at the pete, but pay top dollar for the tickets and the right to get them…..

Comment by drgags 08.22.11 @ 5:31 pm

Would you like pitt to be in the SEC or the ACC or stay in big east?

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.22.11 @ 5:39 pm

Were the hell is everybody tonight.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.22.11 @ 7:55 pm

As a point of comparison, everyone’s favorite son Sean Miller has this home non-con schedule here in Tucson:

Seattle Pacific, Humboldt State, Oakland, Bryant University, Ball State, Northern Arizona and San Diego State. Not exactly causing a stampede for the ticket booths.

I hope they can find a way to get the Pitt/Penn game on TV before the Backyard Brawl on the 25th.

Comment by cnorwoodaz 08.22.11 @ 8:38 pm

I’d like to have the ACC in the Big East but that won’t happen until the poaching begins of A&M, Missouri and others.

I’ll give Pitt a pass on the non-con. These are just pre-season games before the conference begins. Why waste your money on these tune-ups? I doubt these games will have much of an impact on Pitt’s RPI given Pitt does play in THE toughest and best conference.

Too bad football can’t say the same. When is this ACC/Big East merger going to happen anyway?

And, I stopped crying in March a long time ago. I’m hardened now and the taste of a Final Four will be all the sweeter when it happens. Until then, I’ll taste Bourbon and undergo electro shock to forget those maddening March losses.

Comment by TX Panther 08.22.11 @ 9:42 pm

The non-con schedule is typical of top tier programs, so I’m not going to jump all over my own University for doing what Syracuse (for example) has been doing for 20 years. Except they usually don’t even leave the Carrier Dump till their first BigEast road game.

Long Beach State won the BigWest conference last year and are returning 4 of their 5 best players, so that is not going to be a walkover. Pacific is in the BigWest(need I say more) and they and Pepperdine have beaten Pitt in the past. And Pitt travels to Penn where winning at the Palestra for a Pittsburgh team is NEVER easy.

Actually for losing team stalwarts like Wanny, Brownie & McGee and having a lot of unknowns, like Taylor, Birch, Patterson, JJ, Wright, Epps, and the Johnson’s(hopefully I didn’t slight anyone), this is a perfect non-con schedule to see who the real players are going to be. It will be interesting to see how Dixon manages this really inexperienced team.

Comment by melvinbennett 08.23.11 @ 12:12 am

Off topic, but it concerns me that we only have 7 servicable o-linemen for the high octane offense. I don’t remember many years when the big guys don’t miss games. It will be particularly hard to get a play off in 15 seconds with a knee or ankle sprain. I hope Rotherham et al are ready cause I think they will get some PT. Excited about Hollins stepping up. Hope they all stay healthy, but it’s not very likely. Same thing with inside linebacker, I hope the youngsters are able backups.

Comment by gc 08.23.11 @ 7:03 am

Frankcam, to answer your question, I would pick the SEC because I believe it would provide the most money … and if you don’t realize by now, that’s what being an American is all about. I’m sure Wall St would concur.

Comment by wbb 08.23.11 @ 8:02 am

This schedule shows the irrelevance of pre-conference play especially for Pitt. Does Pitt really have to start its season on Nov. 11? Pitt will wrack up victories, but what is this non-conference schedule going to do to help Pitt advance in the NCAA tournament months later? The focus of Dixon should be on improving his way below expectations NCAA record. Everything else is just a distraction at this point.

Comment by TonyinHouston 08.23.11 @ 8:09 am

link to

another local 4-star FB player transferring from tOSU back to Pittsburgh

Comment by wbb 08.23.11 @ 8:41 am

Terrible schedule. Borderline embarrassing.

Comment by freebird 08.23.11 @ 8:42 am

To see Bell transfer to FCS Duquesne just goes to show how everyone viewed him. Obviously Graham isn’t shying away from talented transfers, but crushed the Bell rumor almost immediately.

Comment by BCPITT 08.23.11 @ 11:31 am

I guess when you run afoul with tOSU rules, you really screwed up.

I think it is funny that THE Ohio State University and THE U are THE current scumbugs of THE NCAA

Comment by wbb 08.23.11 @ 12:22 pm

i’d be careful about characterizing Arizona’s non-conf schedule; did you see the rest of it?

I wish Dixon would play a non-conf like Miller is this season, just for fun one year, and see how it goes.

Besides the Coaches v Cancer tourney, Arizona’s playing New Mex St, Florida, Gonzaga on the road and Clemson at home………not to mention that Oakland and SDSU will also be tough matchups at home.

Wow, now that’s a fun schedule.

Comment by hugh green 08.23.11 @ 2:02 pm

I believe the big center from Oakland(benson) was drafted by the NBA this year so that shouldn’t be much of a game. And New Mexico State was below .500 last year so I don’t get that. Long Beach State is a lot better than them. And SDSU lost 3 of their top 4 scorers so they won’t be close to what they were last year. So I hate to contradict a guy named hugh green, but I don’t see that schedule nearly as challenging as you seem to. Pitt is playing Tennessee, Oklahoma State away from home and Penn at the Palestra (which by way is great for recruiting guys from Philly as well as playing LaSalle at home) And Arizona has nothing close to ‘The City Game’ on their non-con. So while they’re playing UF & the Zags on the road is challenging, we’re playing Tenn & Okla State, which is about a wash. And finally, I believe U of A has a lot more experienced team coming back than Pitt, all their top players last year were not Seniors. Dixon was smart, other than Gibbs & Robinson, Pitt has lots of question marks which need to be figured out in non-con.

Comment by melvinbennett 08.23.11 @ 3:16 pm

Good points Hugh. I was specifically talking about the home non-con schedule, which everyone was saying was “embarrassing”. No less embarrassing than Arizona’s home non-con. In addition, Arizona doesn’t have to go up against a top 20 team every other week in their conference. They only played 1 team in the top 20 all last season. They need their non-con to be rugged because their conference is weak. We have the opposite.

Comment by cnorwoodaz 08.23.11 @ 7:10 pm

After last season, I’d rather see Pitt establish themselves as a solid Top 20 team, with an inexperienced, but up-and-coming squad. Then, I’d like to see them surprise everyone by peaking at the right time, winning the Big East tournament, but getting a 3- or a 4-seed (unexpectedly).

Then, I’d like to see them make a deep run in the NCAA, Elite Eight or better.

Then, for 2012-13 and 2014 seasons, a Final Four.

I can dream, can’t I?

Comment by Lou 08.23.11 @ 8:13 pm

I’m disappointed that we don’t play any ACC or Big 10 non-con games.

Other disappointing news, U.S. team with Ashton Gibbs got knocked to consolation round in the World University games–> link to .

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 08.23.11 @ 9:32 pm

[…] Pittsburgh’s Non-Conference Schedule: A look at a fairly benign list of opponents. (Pitt Blather) […]

“Meh” on the new ZOO t-shirt. Like that the Cathedral has been incorporated on the back, but don’t like that the basketball theme has been eliminated from it entirely. Wouldn’t buy it. I’ll stick with the one I’ve got.

Comment by JCE 08.24.11 @ 11:56 am

the Pac 10 or 12 was weak last year with only Ariz and Wash, but it’s usually pretty decent and with the recruits Howland is getting, they’ll be up there in the conf rankings again pretty soon, so I’m not sure Miller is thinking “I better play tougher teams in non-conf because my regular season comp stinks”.

and jeez, Melvin, how do you consider playing Okla St at MSG and Tenn on the road a wash with playing Fla and Gonzaga at their places? That doesn’t sound like a wash to me.

and the topper, Melvin……..Ariz lost the best player in the country. Pitt lost a stud in Wanamaker, a really serviceable center in McGhee and a roller coaster in Brown and they have plenty of bodies ready to plug into those roles. Tough to compare that to losing a guy like Derek Williams.

Comment by hugh green 08.25.11 @ 9:32 am

Excuse, that I interrupt you.

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