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November 28, 2011

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.

Turns out only one of those things still holds true after the weekend. John Johnson is still looking pretty good, except for that Penn game.

Khem Birch was slid over to the center spot and found himself.

Khem Birch’s eyes became saucer-like.

“Really? I did that? How many did I have?”

Six blocks was Birch’s tally in Pitt’s 81-71 win Sunday over Robert Morris at the Petersen Events Center, one shy of the Panthers’ record shared by, well …

“Who holds the record?” Birch asked as he wheeled around en route to the locker room. “Do you know?”

Many people according to the Pitt Media Guide (p. 140). There were thirteen times that a Pitt player has blocked 7 shots in a game — but it has been a while. The last time it happened, Mark Blount did it versus UConn on December 4, 1996. About a week shy of 15 years ago.

Talib Zanna also seemed to have snapped out of whatever funk he was in over the weekend. Only 13 minutes on Friday, but he had 8 points and simply looked more comfortable. On Sunday, with Nas having an off game and with foul troubles, Zanna played 24 minutes and racked a double-double of 15 rebounds (7 offensive) and 10 points.

What was interesting was that Zanna and Birch were not exclusive to either the 4 or 5 — at least based on substitutions, playing time and my untrained eye. They manned the middle of the court on both ends, and  did certain things to their position like hedging and jumping out for screens. But, dare I say, they had a little more freedom to do things that better fit their skill sets rather than strictly for the position.

I also think that with Dante Taylor being out for these two games, I cannot remember a skinnier looking front court for Pitt. Nas, Zanna, Birch, JJ. Moore. Lots of bone and muscle, but not a lot of meat.

J.J. Moore seemed to get a message after limited minutes and tossing up too many shots in the first couple of games. It started, really, in the Long Beach State game. He got good minutes, and while his defense was shaky he did share the ball more. The last couple of games he has had the chance to start and responded… enthusiastically. 29 points and 13 rebounds in the last 3 games. He still has more turnovers than assists, but he is definitely playing harder at both ends.

Moore can make plays once someone gets him the ball. Pitt doesn’t have any of those guys on the wing. Lamar Patterson is a very good facilitator who apparently “gets” what it takes to earn playing time — mainly, from what I hear, he kicks Moore’s butt everyday in practice. But Patterson is not a guy that can make the difficult look easy. He can’t catch at the three line, shot-fake, dribble and raise up like it’s an old habit. He can be the guy that delivers the pass to the guy at the three point line but not the guy that can figure out what to do fast enough when his open look is sealed off.

J.J. Moore can. JJ Moore’s a thoroughbred. Lamar Patterson’s an Ox. They both are very effective, just at different tasks.

The interesting compare and contrast to me, is that Moore is still a kid who gets going on both ends of the court if he has his shot going. When he makes that early basket it sets the tone and enthusiasm for him to play on the team. To go at it on defense. To be willing to move the ball around on offense.

Meanwhile, Birch appears to be the opposite. Playing defense. Getting his blocks fuels him.

“I just play defense at the start of games,”Birch told me after he registered 8 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks in 29 minutes. “The offense kind of just comes to me after I get in the flow, I just let it happen and focus on defending and going to the boards.” You listening Dante Taylor? Talib Zanna surely is because the Nigerian stud played his best basketball in over a year, grabbing 15 rebounds (7 offensive) and scoring 10 points on 5-8 shooting in 24 minutes.

J.J. Moore made a difference, even more than his numbers suggest, just by being on the court. He ran the floor. He defended and he was always a threat that the other team had to account for. Cameron Wright seized his opportunity and made the most of his 18 minutes by morphing into a Pitt version of Scottie Pippen, locking down Robert Morris star Velton Jones (1-14) while getting into the passing lanes. Wright shot 6-7 and gained confidence throughout.

Yes, Cam Wright, suddenly found a spark that had been missing from him through the first two weeks. I wondered if he was playing himself onto the bench. Suddenly Wright may be that lockdown defender.

The 6-foot-4 Cleveland native, playing small forward, turned two first-half steals into easy baskets during a 14-2 run that gave Pitt the lead for good. In a 91-second span, he scored more points (six) than in his first five games combined (five).

“My defense got me going,” he said. “This was my first really good game, and I was thankful for that.”

He even drew comparisons to Brad Wanamker. Wright has shown real inconsistency to this point. Three bad games, two good. Hopefully the last two are more along the lines of what to expect.

I’m pleased to this point with John Johnson. He seems to be settling in as a guard who will come in for 10-11 minutes a game. Give a bit of a spark with some aggressive defense and a willingness and ability to knock down the open jumper when presented the opportunity. Just doing all the little things expected.

As for the Colonials, it’s funny. Going into the game, they were talking big.

“We’re excited,” said Velton Jones, Robert Morris’ leading scorer. “We feel like going into Pitt, we’re going into the game with a positive feeling, like we’re going to win the game.”

Robert Morris knows well of Pitt’s early season struggles. The Colonials watched Long Beach State upset the Panthers at Petersen Events Center. Coach Andy Toole said after the Colonials beat La Salle Friday night that his players are “inundated” with information on Pitt basketball.

Robert Morris knows Pitt’s strengths and weaknesses better than any other team on the non-conference schedule along with Duquesne. The Colonials and Panthers compete with and against one another in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am every summer.

“I know Jamie is upset with his defensive effort right now,” Toole said. “The little bit I have seen [of Pitt] it looks like they’re sharing the ball. It looks like they’re maybe not completing plays as much as they used to. I know that he’s looking for some guys to provide a spark off the bench. Hopefully, with some of our depth and our experience, not only playing against them every single year but in the summer league, maybe we can do what we’re supposed to do Sunday night.”

They were confident. They weren’t initimidated. Pitt was struggling. The players were familiar and knew the Pitt guys from summer league.

And afterwards

The 81-71 loss to the Panthers moved Robert Morris’ (4-2) record against Pitt to 0-30 all time, and coach Andy Toole said there was definitely a mental roadblock when his team took the floor against its cross-town rivals.

“I think it’s even more than a Big East team. I think it’s Pitt,” Toole said. “I completely think it’s more than just we’re playing a Big East team. I think the fact that it says P-I-T-T across their uniform, all of a sudden our guys bow down.”

But, but, but… Confidence? Not intimidated?

Chas, you are some sharp dude. You really know your stuff. At least we are a basketball school.

Urban Myers will get Ohio State back much faster than I thought. Recruiting just got a lot harder.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 11.28.11 @ 12:01 pm

Pitt’s defense still needs a lot of work, but it was much better against Penn and in the first 30 minutes of the Bobby Mo game. The defense was pretty terrible the last 20-25% of the Bobby Mo game. In fact, the defense got worse as Khem Birch went to the bench for a big stretch of the second half. I cannot stress how much better the defense is with him on the floor. It’s undeniable

Comment by omar 11.28.11 @ 12:09 pm

Gotta think Meyer is going to at least attempt to get Rushel Shell to reconsider Ohio State. It would have helped if Pitt had finished stronger…

Comment by Pantherman13 11.28.11 @ 12:18 pm

Is it too cliche to call for Birch to start over Taylor?

Comment by Joe 11.28.11 @ 12:19 pm

I’m calling for Birch to start over Sunseri.

Comment by Chuck Morris 11.28.11 @ 12:28 pm

Taylor’s headaches and Patterson’s benching for 2 games was a blessing in disguise. Birch and Moore run the floor really well and the team is better for it. I hope Dixon keeps this lineup at least for now, they’ll only get better !

Comment by michael 11.28.11 @ 12:54 pm

You could see in body language that Pitt relaxed defensively the last 10 minutes last night. Guys not in stances, weakly closing out on shooters, etc. I will look at it optimistically and hope that — based on the improvement of the past two games overall — this won’t happen much more often down the road.

Agree with everyone’s thoughts about Birch — he is becoming a real presence defensively, not just with his shot-blocking (which has been great). Very active and effective hedging and recovering, letting the defensive rotation overall work more smoothly. I would not be surprised if Taylor continues to start but Birch ends up getting more minutes, including crunch time. (He’s competent with a good stroke at the line, too, which will help that cause.)

I’ll be most intrigued to see the Patterson/Moore rotation moving forward. For as poor as JJ has been defensively, I have not seen much better defense/rebounding out of Lamar this season, although Patterson has certainly been key offensively. Has Moore shown enough to grab some more minutes moving forward? I think most would agree there’s more potential there.

Comment by JW 11.28.11 @ 12:56 pm

The Football stuff is too depressing to talk about right now. Let’s concentrate on basketball, at least with hoops, we have a strong probability that the early problems will be worked on and improved.

Comment by Justinian 11.28.11 @ 1:17 pm

Here’s the argument for starting Birch:

His skill set fits better with the other four starters.

First, he’s a shot blocker.

Having a shot blocker makes a huge difference on defense. It is almost like having a good goalie in hockey, he cleans up a lot of messes.

Pitt’s STARTING GUARDS (Woodall and Gibbs) are weak defensively, they create a lot of messes. Having a shot blocker on the floor with them would help the overall defense. Woodall and Gibbs can extend their defensive pressure because they don’t have to be as worried about getting beat with a dribble drive knowing that Birch will be there to help. J. Johnson and Wright are potentially (not yet) better on ball defenders and don’t need the shot blocking help as much.

Shot blockers can leave their team more vulnerable to offensive rebounds by the opponent.

Patterson and Robinson are tougher rebounders than than Zanna and Moore. They can help pick up the rebounding slack created when Birch leaves his man to go for the block.

Second, right now Birch is more limited offensively than Taylor. He doesn’t have any post moves to speak of. Any points he gets will have to come on offensive put backs, dunks created by others and free throws. The starters don’t need another scorer. And they are all better creators and passers.

Playing Taylor against a tired starting center or a weaker back up center, could help him get his offense going. With the second unit, he’ll get more opportunities. I am still convinced he can score.

The biggest concern for me would be motivation. Would Taylor lose it if he felt like he was being benched?

While Pitt is nowhere near being ready to dominate the big east, yet, they are getting better. Having the young guys step up in the last couple games is a really good sign. Competition for starting jobs and playing time will help the team tremendously.

Comment by boubacar aw 11.28.11 @ 1:38 pm

Patterson missed the last 2 games and the offense didn’t miss a beat. The defense played its best 3 halves of the season minus Patterson and Taylor. This isn’t an indictment of the two. It just means that the team is more athletic and better defensively with Birch and Moore starting.

Let’s face it: Ashton Gibbs is never going to be a competent defender. He doesn’t try that hard and is limited athletically on the defensive end. Woodall is too small to be a great defender and he doesn’t go all out either. Combine those two with Patterson, Taylor, and Nasir and you have a relatively unathletic and undersized group playing defense. It doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Adding Birch and Moore doesn’t hurt the offense as much as it helps the defense. This really isn’t questionable. I will be very interested to see how Coach Dixon manages the line-up on Wednesday. It is pretty clear that the team is significantly better defensively with Moore and, especially, Khem Birch.

Comment by omar 11.28.11 @ 2:05 pm

was at the game. agree with analysis by boubacar and omar. Birch brings too much energy not to start him and play most of game. Dante can come in off the bench & spell Birch. If he is motivated & improves, all the better.

Gibbs is off (despite 21 pts). He will get in groove, but still plays spotty D. Best actor/drama in a leading role for drawing fouls on the perimeter.

Like JJ’s play last two games. Hopefully Lamar will be motivated and add experience to the 3 spot. Zanna played much better & cam Wright showed quickness and hustle (steals & easy layups)

we are still weak at breaking the press (Louisville, et al await) and throw it away too much. Jamie will fix that. Nice win over Bobby Mo, who came in confident and pumped, but just couldn’t match our talent.

Comment by Bossdaws 11.28.11 @ 2:25 pm

There’s a sentence I thought nobody thought they’d ever read, “.. the team is significantly better defensively with Moore…” I know there was an “especially, Khem Birch” after that. But still, it’s freakin’ true. Hope Moore can keep it up, and I have no idea what to expect on Wed. with regard to the 5 spot. I suspect that if Taylor has gotten over the migraines he’ll start, but that Birch will play early and often (unless, of course, Taylor makes the case on the court to stay there!).

Comment by Carmen 11.28.11 @ 2:26 pm

Patterson is still a better defensive player than Moore right now. He moves very well with his feet and understands how the defense operates on changes. He will not get a lot of steals or flashy plays as he tries to stay in front of his man. Watch him. He does not get burned and is a good combination of size and speed. JJ Moore is clearly a better athlete and is hustling more but he is not some kind of major advantage over Patterson. And I disagree with the addition by subtraction analysis. Patterson is a very good, disciplined, overall offensive player who will be important in close games. Two blowouts against inferior athletic teams are nice, but against higher level D1 teams his court sense and poise will be vital. Until JJ Moore shows that he can create more off the dribble or finish off in transition, he’s a work in progress. At least he has improved his passing, which was really poor before- all chicken winged flipping the ball. BUT, he gets reamed out by Dixon and Knight at least 2 or 3 times a game for his breakdowns on defense. The announcers mention it now. I mean, that’s better than getting suspended for two games, but these were cream puff games. The best time to see who Dixon has the most confidence in, is to see who is on court late in close games- assuming for no foul trouble. I still think it will be Patterson….It’s been a pleasure watching Birch. I frankly don’t care who starts and don’t think Taylor has deserved so much of the shit he’s taking around here, BUT late in a close game, yeah, I want to see the freshman in there.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 11.28.11 @ 2:38 pm

I’m afraid Moore may be a Gilbert Brown or Chris Taft type of project. One that seems to have tons of potential to be that extra piece that can really accelerate our offense and create havoc on defense….but that never quite pans out because something never clicks.

That said, hope springs eternal. Patterson is a sound player all around and when it comes to BE and tourny play thats what matters. When you have other gifted players, its more important that you do not take anything off the table and less important what you bring. BUT, status quo doesn’t (or at least hasn’t yet) pushed us over hump come tourny time. Moore has it — provided everyone else does what they are supposed to. And its what makes him (and Brown and Taft) so tantalizing and why we (or I) am so willing to keep giving them chances.

Comment by PantherP 11.28.11 @ 3:06 pm a much lesser extent, I would argue the same theory applies to the Birch vs Taylor. Birch, though, seems like he’ll actually break through given he’s only a few games into his freshman year and already is showing signs he gets its.
That said, I’m not sure its a Taylor vs Birch issue. There’s four guys who can play either the 4 or 5, so its finding the right rotation among Taylor, Birch, Zanna and Robinson. I’d like to see more Taylor and Birch. Have Patterson in at 3 to do some of the glue-guy stuff that Nas usually does. Not necessarily as our prime time line up, but its a good look for long stretches.

Comment by PantherP 11.28.11 @ 3:12 pm

i meant 4 guys who can pay the 4 (depending who’s at C), and 2 guys that can play center.

(first day back to work, so i’m much more interested in bball blogs than actual work, obviously)

Comment by PantherP 11.28.11 @ 3:17 pm

I like Patterson, but his defensive inabilities are magnified when he plays with Taylor, Robinson, Gibbs, and Woodall. That is a slow footed and relatively unathletic group. Some things cannot be taught. The aforementioned group has physical limitations.

Patterson and Taylor should be playing with more athletic and aggressive guards defensively. Their offensive talents will help with the younger guards as well.

My opinion is Taylor and Patterson should be playing off the bench.

Also, don’t give me any nonsense about cupcakes. Pitt has struggled with every team they have played. Bobby Mo and Penn were just as good, if not better than the teams we have played thus far. Pitt was much better in the past two games.

Comment by omar 11.28.11 @ 3:53 pm

I have seen some of Voytiks videos and we will have a Qb soon enough . As to Birch so active and quick Just wait till they get real chemistry. urban legend Will have to contend with Pitt dont worry

Comment by 63Team 11.28.11 @ 3:55 pm


Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 11.28.11 @ 4:49 pm

I have been to every game at the Pete this year and the only legit team we’ve played so far was Long Beach State. They had athletes, shooters and experience. The others were cupcakes.

The game against Duquesne will be interesting. They get all of their production from their guards. TJ McConnell is their leading rebounder!!!

Both teams will struggle with the matchup.

Birch, Taylor, and Zanna should be able to dominate the paint and the glass. Duquesne’s center is a 6’7″ junior who hasn’t played much until this year.

But will Patterson and Robinson have to defend a guard? Robinson on Montiero, ugh! And Woodall and Gibbs will be over-matched against Talley, McConnell, Evans, Johnson et al.

Still expect Pitt to win, but no cake walk….

Comment by boubacar aw 11.28.11 @ 5:35 pm

Dakota Conwell was recruted as a LB he is 6 foot 2 runs a 4.5 forty but he is best known as a dual threat QB.
so even if TG only brings in only voytik as a QB this year just think what is on paper is one thing but were they really play is different once they are here.

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.28.11 @ 5:51 pm

Reverend George, you and your readers will benefit greatly if you switch your browser to Google Chrome. It employs a terrific spell checker.

Comment by steve 11.28.11 @ 6:43 pm

Against the Dukes, i look for the same lineup as previous 2 games, speed and long arms of Birch keep Pitt rolling!

Comment by michael 11.28.11 @ 7:00 pm

The chemistry of the hoops squad is evolving. Birch has a killer instinct, much like but not as pronounced as Blair. Dante is too timid, but certainly a good player….but nowhere near as mentally tough or physically gifted as Birch.
The challenge for Jamie is , well, himself. Does he hurt feelings or does he simply move to the best 5 feelings be damned? Best five are Gibbs, TW, Birch, Moore and Zanna to start and finish games based on what I have seen.

As for the pigskin. I will be there Saturday. The Seniors have earned my support. Graham learned a few things this year and his game plan against WVUlgar worked. Down to a 4th string tailback, a line that no one feared and a QB with the worst case of performance anxiety I have ever seen, Pitt could have won. I can’t say should have because they did not earn it.
I like Graham. Tino is not D1 material, Gonzalez smoked pot and could not have been a factor, Myers is built for a much different style.
Give me the QB from WVUlgar, an o-line with some health and depth and no injury to RGraham and you can add 3,4, maybe 5 W’s to the record.
I like this team next year so long as poor Tino is not behind center.

Comment by SFPitt 11.28.11 @ 8:15 pm

“Yesterday Velton Jones drove the lane and I fouled him,” Robinson said. “He told me not to foul, like he got it. Just let him block the shot. I was like my bad. I can save a foul and he can get a block. When he told me that I said you’re right.”

The above is from Nasir Robinson. Maybe I am overestimating the performance of Mr. Birch in the previous two games. I do not believe that to be the case, but I have been wrong before and will be wrong again. Bottom-line is Mr. Birch has a world of talent and needs to play starters minutes.

Comment by omar 11.28.11 @ 8:32 pm

I have also attended every game and I agree with boubacar. Unfortunately Pitt struggled with all but one of those cupcakes.

Comment by omar 11.28.11 @ 8:34 pm

The answer is obvious, switch Dante and Khem’s positions.

Dante never looked right playing the 5, and Birch seems to thrive there. I think Dante may be a natural power forward and that’s that.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's My Dad 11.29.11 @ 1:06 am

Sound the alarm!! NOW is the time for all PITTSBURGH fans to rally. Pitt will be under seige. Not only from RichRod in the desert of Tucson, but from the smooth, ambitious, affable and talented Urban from surburban Cincinnati. The latter publically announced in his drbut yesterday that he was going to “go after” coaches and players he wants from Ohio and “surrounding states. If that isn’t a shot across the brow of the once mighty Panthers, what is? And, on the horizon, is the prospect of a new “Sir Galahad” coming to “Happy Valley”. Pitt supporters MUST stop fighting amomg themselves and focus on the dangers lurking in the swamps of big time football. I urge a truce with the Pittsburgh media while this crisis is upon the Steel City grid fortunes. Rev. George from Columbus which has just crowned a new “King of the hill”.

Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 11.29.11 @ 8:18 am

Oops! I meant to write “shot across the bow”. Also, I must congratulate Ron Cook for attending Northwestern,a fine school. I knew he was a Big 10(I count 12) fanatic, but thought it was a lesser venue. Also, I;ve been meaning to mention the following about two of the rival players who nipped Pitt on Saturday. They are Will Clarkof Alderdice, who turned a a stellar performance on defense and Garrison,scatback from Pearland, Texas. who was a backfiels mate of the Panthers’ Trey Anderson. In the former’s case, he had committed to Pitt, but was a casualty of the “blindside dismissal of Coach Wannstedt. A note to Coach Graham: the Pittsburgh area STILL features some of the finest gridders in the nation. Rev.George

Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 11.29.11 @ 8:50 am

I dont think penn state has mutch of a chance to land a big name coach now Rev.
But ohio state and Urban will be a big problem.

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.29.11 @ 9:04 am

FRANKCAN–I think (and hope) Pitt’s move to the ACC will put it on more solid recruiting ground than had it remained in the Big East. Hopefully that will help offset, at least somewhat, the Urban Meyer challenge for Pennsylvania recruits. Pitt may have to re-emphasize New Jersey, however, (may need to add an assistant coach with strong NJ ties) since Meyer and a resurgent Michigan should lock up all the best Ohio talent.

Comment by pitt1972 11.29.11 @ 9:48 am

Ohio State will always be good in athletics, Urban Meyer is not a savior, just another good coach who happened to land in Columbus! There is plenty of talent in the 150 mile radius of Pittsburgh so OSU can’t have them all!

Comment by michael 11.29.11 @ 9:52 am

pitt1972 and Rev George one good thing this year is that if ohio state keeps there commits from this yesr they only have 6 more to give out.
Lets hope they go for the 5 stars that are left out there and leave our commits alone.

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.29.11 @ 9:58 am

topics i would like to see on future posts
what big east expansion where did it go?
who will be the next penn state coach can they get a big name?
will tino be the QB next year and will you go to games if he is?
will TG lose coachs to dick rod or to ohio state?

if birch is a great center what do we do with adams whic one moves to PF.

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.29.11 @ 10:10 am

OMAR–I agree with most of your opinions, but I don’t share your view that neither Gibbs nor Woodall give much effort on defense. IMO, their defensive problems are completely attributable to things other than lack of effort (most of which you and others have mentioned). Coach Dixon would never tolerate a lack of defensive effort from anyone.

SilverPanther–Agree that Penn and Bobby Mo are inferior teams athletically but, at least according to Sagarin’s computer, Bobby Mo is as good as a middle of the Pack big east team and only about 2-3 points weaker than Long Beach State which would also be solidly in the middle of the current Big East. Even Penn is roughly equivalent to the bottom of the Big East about 1 point weaker than the worst Big East team). So, I think progress has definitely been made since the long Beach game.

Comment by pitt1972 11.29.11 @ 10:35 am

Great post on the football team of the few logical posts that wasnt totally bashing coach Graham or anything Pitt football. Im already looking forward to spring practices and seeing how they look in year two.

My biggest concern though, is that in the spring Tino will come in and look great in practice as he always does and will be named the number one qb going into the season and we will be stuck with him again. Maybe he can progress..but i doubt it.

Voytik has been running this offense and is said to have a ton of speed, a great arm, and leadership qualities. He cant do any worse with than Tino, i say let the kid play.

The defense will get back alot of young talent in donald, price, mosely-smith, kwaun williams, among others and i expect them to continue to improve as well.


Comment by rhyno527 11.29.11 @ 10:49 am

Great questions FRANKCAN.

Birch will move to the four next year.

Dixon prefers to have new bigs play the five.

Birch has good enough feet to be able to defend on the perimeter.

Birch will be able to develop enough ball skills this year to be effective offensively at the four.

Dixon plays the best five. He’ll make adjustments in the off season to make it work. Adams and Birch will clearly be in the best five.

The defense will be much, much better next year. Birch can still be a shot blocker from the four. Then having a monster, like Adams, to grab the misses will be a big advantage too. The guards defense will be much better too without Gibbs.

The question: What happens to Taylor next year? Gilbert would be an ideal backup for Adams. Taylor isn’t ideally suited to be a four. Zanna is better suited to be the backup at the four.

Comment by boubacar aw 11.29.11 @ 11:33 am

boubacar i think you are right abought birch moveing to the 4
i dont think a big name coach goes to penn state.

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.29.11 @ 12:37 pm

Is Gilbert still eligible for a redshirt this year? I know he’s appeared in one game (Rider?) for less than a minute. Seems like his status has gone back and forth. If he can redshirt this year that would be huge. That’s another year of conditioning/learning, and then he can begin to get some “mop up” experience next year behind Adams/Taylor, with Birch hopefully at the 4. (Just don’t see any chance of Taylor being able to play the 4.) Then in two years (really looking down the road here) Taylor’s gone, and who know with Adams. At that point, Gilbert will need to carry the inside load.

Comment by JW 11.29.11 @ 12:39 pm

Gilbert is no longer eligible for a “Voluntary Redshirt”, he would still be eligible for a “Medical Redshirt”. He would have to have played in less than 20% of the games and be injured in the first half of the season. It is supposed to be a medically documented, season ending injury.

So don’t be surprised if we hear about a sprained knee or a pulled groin.

That’s why putting him in against Rider for a minute was a head-scratcher. Then not playing him at all when Taylor was hurt? Strange.

Comment by boubacar aw 11.29.11 @ 1:25 pm

Gilbert has a broken finger. Should it require surgical repair to make it 100%, that could certainly open up the possibility for a medical red-shirt.

Comment by pitt1972 11.30.11 @ 10:41 am

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