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November 30, 2011

LiveBlog: City Game No. 80

Filed under: Basketball,liveblog — Chas @ 4:30 pm

The latest in urban rivalries.

Or something like that.

It’s a cold night. Bit of wind to make it feel worse. Definitely thinking either a porter or a Scotch ale to enjoy with tonight’s game.

Its the 80th edition of the City Game. Pitt holds a 48-31 overall advantage. Pitt has won 29 of the last 32. The Panthers haven’t lost to the Stage Magicians since December 2000. Someday (or night) it will happen. Pitt will lose the game. Hopefully this is not that night.

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Not A Casual City Game

Filed under: Basketball,History,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 2:18 pm

I don’t think Duquesne is that good this year. It’s just that Pitt is very much an uneven, work in progress right now. Duquesne has more experience, but is at a size disadvantage.

The Dukes will trot out an experienced guard-oriented lineup that is high on energy but short on height. Coach Ron Everhart’s tallest starter is 6-foot-7 junior Andre Marhold.

The Panthers have not been a consistent rebounding team, but two of their young post players are starting to come into their own. Freshman Khem Birch and sophomore Talib Zanna have combined for 40 points and 38 rebounds the past two games.

“It’s going to be key,” Pitt senior forward Nasir Robinson said of controlling the boards. “We’ll do a good job on the rebounds and take advantage inside. We have athletic guys like Khem Birch, Talib, Dante [Taylor] and me. We have to use our athleticism and get it done.”

The Dukes will try to exploit Pitt’s transition defense, which was leaky in its loss to Long Beach State. The Dukes, after scoring just 59 points in a season-opening loss at Arizona, have been much better executing their offensive game plan. With their up-tempo style, the Dukes have averaged 85 points in their four victories.

“Against Arizona we walked the ball up a little too much,” McConnell said. “Since then, we got the ball out every time and did not allow [opposing teams] to get set on defense.”

And no doubt they have been reviewing that Long Beach State game.

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November 29, 2011

All QB Talk

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 3:41 pm

It’s hard to avoid it. Though, apparently Pitt is trying since Tino Sunseri was not made available to the media this week. Wonder why? Avoid yet another rehash of his WVU performance? His comments after the game where he admitted to getting flustered and also spoke of how younger players made some mistakes? Or, that whole Twitter “pro style football” comment?

The upshot is Chas Alexcih got to pop off just before his final home game. He was, uh, quotable. Apparently he really did not take a shine to Mike Haywood. The Pitt beat writers gave us some tidbits: “He was a jackass and it looked like he got his suit from Goodwill.”

And: ” “When he got fired, I was happy, that pri… ” (Hint: Rhymes with rick).”

It’s fun to be a senior. It’s almost like those final days of work after giving 2 weeks notice.

Needless to say Haywood did not make a good impression. Todd Graham was different.

“My first impression was he was confident in himself, he was real confident in the program,” Alecxih said. “(He) came in and said, ‘You had a great coach before (Dave Wannstedt), which we did, but we’re going to take this program to the next level. He told us he had a plan and we needed to trust him.”

The season has turned into a disappointment, but Alecxih said, “I have grown as a person and I feel like a lot of my teammates have grown as people.

“Things are going to be on the rise in the future, too. Watch out.”

Back to the QB stuff.

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Cuse Game Watch in the Plex

Filed under: Alumni,Football — Chas @ 12:19 pm

The Pitt alumni in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area have established a new Pitt Club, and are trying to get the word out. They have a Facebook page and Twitter account.

This Saturday, they are holding a gathering to watch the game.

Since the game is a nooner on the East Coast, the event kicks off at 10am:

Frankie’s Sports Bar and Grill
2516 South Stemmons Freeway
NEC Hwy 121 & I-35E
Lewisville, Texas 75067

If you are down there, definitely drop in. Frustrating season, to be sure, but if the liveblogs have taught me anything. It’s that misery loves company.

November 28, 2011

Volvo Big East Fan Challenge #2: What To Do?

Filed under: Admin — Chas @ 1:08 pm

Another draft and open solicitation for suggestions before the final answer. I will keep mentioning and begging for your help as the Pitt rep for Volvo‘s Biggest Fan in the Big East contest. The contest is a mix of popularity  — so remember to go and vote for me in Volvo’s Biggest Fan in the Big East — and by winning challenges.

The challenges generally take the form of posting responses to their questions. They will judge the responses and decide which wins each time. This time around, the Volvo challenge is to “Pick 5 or more things that you have to do when you return to you’re Alma Mater.” These are the places, bars, things to do and eat when you go back to Pitt.

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A Couple Wins and Flipping the Script

Filed under: Basketball,Players — Chas @ 11:28 am

Well if the 78-58 final score of the Penn game on Friday was not indicative of how close Penn played Pitt, because Pitt didn’t keep a double digit lead until midway through the second half; then the 81-71 final score of Sunday night’s win over Robert Morris, didn’t reflect how much Pitt dominated the game Both were games Pitt should be expected to win and dominate. Given the shaky start to Pitt’s season, however, they were welcome easy wins.

In both games, I missed the first 12 minutes or so because the games that I DVRd were preempted by local sports recaps.

Before Dante Taylor had to sit with migraines and Lamar Patterson was suspended for a couple games, there was early conventional wisdom on a few players:

Khem Birch was less prepared for big time college than thought.

J.J. Moore still only wants to play offense and makes bad decisions.

Cam Wright is a bust in his redshirt sophomore year.

Same with Talib Zanna.

John Johnson is a mild good surprise as a true freshman.

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November 27, 2011

Open Thread: Robert Morris-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 3:55 pm

House work inside and out most of the day. The 5pm start time for the RMU-Pitt game is just darn inconvenient. Too late to have dinner with the kids afterwards. Too early to have dinner before. Apparently some of my yelling and cursing in the second half of the Backyard Brawl disturbed sleeping children, so I have to at least put on the illusory front that I am not a crazed fan that forgets his family.

So, the game for me is on DVR delay. If you are looking for it on TV you can find it on the Pittsburgh Panther Comcast channel in Western PA (Ch. 188 / 210 I am told). It is also being shown on SNY, ESPN FullCourt package and probably ESPN3.com.

The reports I’m seeing are that Taylor is still having some migraine issues, so he will be out one more game. Lamar Patterson is still suspended for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. That means Khem Birch and J.J. Moore will start at least one more game.

Robert Morris is looking tougher defensively, and wants to snap that 0-29 record. Hey, if Kentucky can finally beat Tennessee in football for the first time in 27 years, nothing should be taken for granted.

A puff piece from New Zealand on Steven Adams and the long-range plans to go to the NBA.

After an outstanding junior career and one season in the New Zealand’s domestic competition, Adams will leave on the start of that journey next month. McFadden, who has helped guide his progress so far, is determined he won’t go off the tracks like so many before him.

“If you’re 18 with a million dollars in your pocket, that could be disastrous,” warns United States-born McFadden. “He needs good advice and people he can trust around him.”

The support group that has coalesced around Adams in New Zealand seems to have done an outstanding job. The natural cynicism  (at least from me) would be to cast a jaundiced eye towards it all as merely a bunch of people trying to get in on and protect the potential money train. But the long-term structuring with Adams. From getting his education. To deciding on having him go to college in the US rather than going early pro in New Zealand or Europe suggests otherwise.

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November 26, 2011

I have enjoyed Twitter more than I thought.

The one thing I have tried to avoid doing is following and commenting on players who tweet. Whether you call them kids or not, they are cocooned in college. They will make mistakes. Forget that everyone can see and read this. Hell, plenty of grown-ups regularly mess this up.  And I can’t help but think about how lucky I am that none of the social media (and evidence) was around when I was at Pitt.

That said, Tino Sunseri has managed to make things worse with this tweet:

Oh. Tino. No.

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I don’t know what to say at this point. I thought I had come to terms with Sunseri. I thought I had accepted the reality of the situation. Sunseri was the best option at QB. Not that he was great. Not that he was even particularly good. Just that he was the best option.

He had the experience. A coach’s son who knows what is expected. He supposedly worked hard and was smart enough. Picked up the system best. And if nothing else, no one else even challenged him in spring practices and training camp. There’s no alumni conspiracy at work to keep Sunseri as the starter. There’s really nothing more at work than the core belief of just about any coach — the guy who does the best in practice is going to start.

And yet, when it comes time for the game, there is no consistency. If anything, he just gets worse deeper into the game. He stops setting his feet. He doesn’t get rid of the ball. He doesn’t make a decision. All the coaching that is supposed to help a player do the right thing. To slow the game down and see the field. It goes out the window. Instead, the game speeds up on Sunseri. He doesn’t process. He doesn’t think. For lack of another way of putting it, he freezes.

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November 25, 2011

Summing It Up

Filed under: Fans,Football — Chas @ 11:08 pm

Ugh.

Depressed.

Frustrated.

….

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Backyard Brawl Live Blog

Filed under: Football,liveblog — Luke @ 4:37 pm

With Louisville beating USF today, it creates even more of a convoluted mess atop the Big East. Right now there are 5 teams with 2 losses. Should we beat WVU, the 2 loss team would be us, Louisville, Rutgers, and the Zach Collaros-less Cincy. Assuming Cincy loses one of it’s remaining games, it would be PITT, Louisville and Rutgers. When you form the mini-conference everyone is 1-1, and we go to the BCS Standings. Seeing as none of the 3 are close to being ranked in the top 25, I have absolutely no idea what to do.

Okay, just a reminder, this is a moderated liveblog. Not an open message board. After a certain point, I don’t waste time approving repetitive comments. Especially the same complaint over and over again. Here’s a hint. If you do nothing but post “Tino sucks” or some variation over and over again, I’m probably not going to waste time approving it. That’s why your comment isn’t showing up. I think we got it the first several dozen times it has been said by others.

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November 23, 2011

Brief Basketball Media Round-Up

Filed under: Basketball,Media — Chas @ 2:44 pm

I’ll get to the Backyard Brawl I swear. Honestly, though, there isn’t much at the moment. Everyone seems to be low-key. I think both sides are doing anything and everything to avoid the bulletin board. In the meantime, some stories from the game last night and a couple others I’ve been meaning to link.

Game recaps focus on the outstanding block by Travon Woodall in the final minute. No one knew Woodall could sky like that. Last year, I recall stories where Ashton Gibbs claimed he could dunk. Still haven’t seen it. After what Woodall did yesterday, I believe Woodall can.

And of course, there was the attention to the turnovers.

La Salle, which had averaged 80 points in its first three games, shot 43 percent and had a hard time scoring against Pitt’s half-court defense. The reason the Explorers were in the game until the final minute was Pitt’s poor offensive execution and turnovers.

The execution had its problems. There was a large stretch starting at about the mid-point of the first half until under 2 minutes in the half, where Pitt only scored 3 points. In that stretch, Pitt had 4 turnovers and shot a dismal 1-8.

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Still Plenty of Work Ahead

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 11:37 am

No one is going to claim that Pitt has fixed things. There’s still a lot that Pitt needs to do to really be a top-15 team this year. There was good and bad in this game. It was a win. Pitt seemed close to busting it open a couple times and then LaSalle came right back and made it scary.

Just as we don’t know everything about Pitt yet, we don’t know how good or LaSalle really will be. They scared the daylights out of Villanova last week. They beat James Madison. They would appear to be better than they have been in a while, but how good? Probably not as good as they looked at Pitt.

In the fourth game of the season, we are starting to see some signs of a rotation being formed. Birch’s minutes went up. Zanna’s somewhat-inexplicably stayed consistent in minutes. Moore is getting a little more time. Cam Wright may be playing himself to a permanent seat on the bench.

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November 22, 2011

Open Thread: LaSalle-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 4:04 pm

Chaos reigned today. No where near a computer all day.

This game is on ESPN3.com — aka, online. I debated about trying to do a split screen liveblog or run a liveblog from the laptop while watching from the desktop. But given the unreliability of internet feeds, even from the mouse monopoly, I’m taking the easy way out.

Game time is at 7pm. As you would expect, Pitt has been working on its defense a lot since last week. Focused on some rebounding issues. Worked on figuring out the rotation a little more. A lot of work to do.

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