Toying with them. Glorified exhibition. Whatever you want to call it. Pitt had the game locked up early.
Most of the game, as expected, was about playing with the line-up, rotation and seeing what some of the kids not getting minutes can do (well, the ones not heading for a redshirt — Durand Johnson and Malcolm Gilbert).
Briefly on some things: Gibbs shot way too much for a game like this. Nas dominated with another double-double. VMI is small, and Pitt set a new team best with 60 rebounds in the game. Oh, and Pitt is hitting a lot of threes this year.
Khem Birch did not see much action because he committed 4 fouls in 11 minutes. Limiting his own minutes this game.He grabbed 6 rebounds and a block in that same time frame. Birch is still a freshman, and that line is a less than subtle reminder of it.
Speaking of Birch, this article from Mike DeCourcy is informative on Birch and knowing what he was getting into by committing to Pitt and Coach Dixon.
“People told me that Coach Dixon is a really hard coach, so I expected to come into a hard system and hopefully adjust to it,” Birch said. “Defense is the hardest thing, because he wants you to rotate and switch and all that, and it’s just hard.
“I had no confidence, and now I have more confidence than I did that first week. I feel I am better.”
Birch relaxes a bit when discussing his uncommon first name, which comes from Egyptian mythology. He said his father likes unusual names “from comic books and stuff” and smiles when insisting he won’t even discuss some of the other options.
Birch likes the name now because it’s unique. He rather wants to stand out, which is why he died a gold streak into his dark hair. The best means of getting himself noticed, of course, is to play more. At Pitt, that’ll take time.
The Khemtrail also found its way into Luke Winn’s style archive this year.
John Johnson continues to play really well. He’s going to benefit the most from the opportunity for increased playing time in the backcourt. What’s exciting about Johnson, is that he has been so fluid with his offense as well. This means that there will be more chances to spell Gibbs even after Woodall comes back.
Cameron Wright is starting to get that that he doesn’t need to show his offense to get playing time. Play strong defense and the opportunities will come.
With J.J. Moore, you just don’t know what kind of effort and attitude you will get from him night to night. Judging by the way his minutes yo-yo, I suspect that he does the same thing in practice.
Isiah Epps saw some action. But, he’s not doing much to impress anyone. In fact, this quote from Coach Dixon is not inspiring.
“With Tray (Woodall) being out we have to find another guard to play some minutes. I really feel comfortable with John (Johnson) and Cameron (Wright) playing the two spot for us, so we have to get someone to play some minutes at the point. Nick (Rivers) and Isaiah (Epps) have been battling each other and Isaiah (Epps) did a pretty good job once he got in there. He’s a good distributor, a good decision maker and that’s key. We need to get good rebounding out of him as we go forward, but it was good to get him in there and get him some action.”
Pardon me? Epps is now battling 5th year walk-on Nick Rivers? Ummm. Herrrhhhmmm. Uhhhh. No, I can’t really spin that one in a particularly good way.
For some more, new Pitt blogger Jordan offers his thoughts from being at the game.