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December 7, 2011

Playing With VMI

Filed under: Basketball,Opponent(s),Players — Chas @ 2:21 pm

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.”

[Emphasis added]

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.





I was at the game last night and Epps looked like he can be a good point guard. He does a nice job pushing the ball up the floor and he dishes and passes nicely. He also seems to handle the ball well. His shot did not look good and defense may be lacking but I think he can help if not this year, next year.

Comment by JP 12.07.11 @ 2:27 pm

What game were you watching? Epps was the only one who looked lost. Johnson was the one who looked impressive to me.

Comment by Jimbo 12.07.11 @ 3:25 pm

Good stuff, Blogger Jordan, but please change your blog’s style. White on black is jarring.

Comment by steve 12.07.11 @ 3:57 pm

Chas and Reed please tell us what is going on
you both have been around the players and coachs so you are are best bet for info.
This is per Zeise the PITT football program is not a happy family.
There are clear divisions on this team and players who have not bought into this coaching staff were the f k did this come from .
so we find out we have a team in disaray.
we have 3 coachs that jump ship and this turns up.
then i read to day that TG is not well liked bye outher coachs and he has not hired any new coachs and van malone his old secondary coach from tulsa has not jumped at comeing to pitt even though the pay is top notch. is this all on the verage of falling apart. if you dont ansewer on this post please do so on your next post.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.07.11 @ 8:50 pm

Frank, remember when you were 19? Did you question your coaches, teachers? I’m guessing not.

They’re kids, they want to please. Older folks do the same…in spades.

The team is in no more disarray than others.

And keep in mind: The defense can play with anyone.

Comment by steve 12.07.11 @ 9:01 pm

Steve read the Zeise peace it has me a tittle upset it sounds kind of bad you might have expected it at the start of the year but not at the end of year.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.07.11 @ 9:07 pm

I read it and yawned. There is no revolt. Zeise is stirring it up.

You have a few OK players about to leave the program now feeling their oats.

And they’d rather be playing video games than going to Birmingham.

Comment by steve 12.07.11 @ 9:13 pm

Thanks Steve, I wasn’t too concerned with the layout when I made it. I need to play around with it a little bit, but right now these tests are begging to be graded.

Comment by Jordan 12.07.11 @ 9:15 pm

Jordan, better, but I’m still squinting as I read your text. There’s a reason why Chas uses a light background and dark text.

Again, good stuff and I want to read more in the future.

Comment by steve 12.07.11 @ 9:21 pm

Steve no disrespect to you but untill i hear the same thing from Reed or Chas who are closer to the players and coachs i think i will worry.
AZ AZ state and illni and mississippi have all lost there head coachs and ohio state so there are a lot of asst coachs out there that need jobs and TG has not hired any one.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.07.11 @ 9:31 pm

Okay, fixed it. Thanks for the tip, Steve. I still have another year in the Zoo while I finish my masters so expect more the rest of the way in addition to the games already played.

Comment by Jordan 12.07.11 @ 9:33 pm

Jordan: Old gold background, blue text..much better!

Good job!

Comment by steve 12.07.11 @ 9:35 pm

OK, Frank, fair. I don’t know that many players.

Comment by steve 12.07.11 @ 9:39 pm

Jordan steve is right on i read a little bit but did like the back ground light on dark it buged me so i stoped reading. switch to what chas and reed do. then i will read the whole thing.
what did you think of the zeise piece. does it hold water.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.07.11 @ 9:41 pm

JORDAN IT IS BETTER NOW JUST CHECKED IT OUT.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.07.11 @ 9:58 pm

Not too worried about the Zeise blog. Nothing much new there. He has stated that several times this eason and before the season. I don’t know any players but just what I can read.

Some players were upset with how DW was dismissed and some also did not buy the offensive/defensive system either philosphically or because their talents lay elsewhere…

Some left for NFL; some transferred; some stayed behind and pouted; some stayed behind and grew into the system and coach. Everything I saw from those who were the apparent leaders of the team seem to have bought into both the coach and the system.

I hate to speculate on names but there were a few veterans who I expected much more of this year who seemed to disappear in production as the season went along. These were not coach’s decisions about playing time – these guys just didn’t look like they had their heart in it.

But I saw a lot of good spirit and effort from the younger players and many important seniors as well. Alexich, Saddler, Williams, Holley, Tags, Reed, Turnely, Graham, and many others. Those older guys buckled up and went after it like they believed. I just don’t see a major issue but Chas & Reed would know more…

As far as coaches, they don’t hire at our pace. It’s only been a few days. How do you know he’s not waiting to see who will be available? If none of the coaches liked Graham they probably wouldn’t have followed him here.

The 3 coaches that left will probably be better paid or have greater responsibilities at Arizona. PLus they were all long-time Rich Rod buddies. And whether we like it or not, Arizona is probably a better job right now and better conference…

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 12.07.11 @ 11:34 pm

Lafayette holds off Penn State 61-57 (kind of a strange way for the writer to phrase that)
Is being held off akin to being fended off?

Sandusky was heard chanting from his prison cell last night. We are Ped State….

And the beat goes on…..

Comment by Emel 12.08.11 @ 5:06 am

I believe while Epps went scoreless, he did have 3 assists in 9 minutes or so. He was very highly thought of his junior year in HS which is why JD recruited him.

Wonder if he would do it again?

Comment by Emel 12.08.11 @ 5:09 am

Read in the PG, that Nas’s knees are not cooperating with the surgery he just had. (he’s had them drained several times already)

Question; why is Nas not being rested against teams like VMI. We still could have beat them by 25 without Nas. I would think he’s pretty valuable to the team(as he’s the ONLY consistent threat on the blocks), so you would want him healthy for the BigEast part of the schedule.

Wouldn’t you?

Comment by Emel 12.08.11 @ 5:27 am

CRISIS IN PITTSBURGH: VMI scores 70pts against the heralded Pittsburgh defense!!!

kidding, and not to make a big deal out of a VMU game, But, I think I’d prefer to see a score of 77-50 instead of 97-70. I’m more concerned about our defense than offense.

Comment by PantherP 12.08.11 @ 11:41 am

Panther P,
Not to make a big deal out of the defense either but:

VMI @ Ohio State, 74 points, 39% fg 30% 3pt
VMI @ Pitt, 70 points, 37% fg, 23% 3pt

This is the same Ohio State team that held Duke to 63. The 74 VMI got on them was a season high for their defense.

Pitt has some issues on defense, but the VMI game was actually one of their better performances (as far as contesting shots goes)

Comment by Jordan 12.08.11 @ 4:02 pm

hmmm…thanks for the info Jordan. that’s interesting. I suppose it means it was just a much faster paced game than normal. Low percentages are what we want …esp with the recent Pitt teams capable of playing more up tempo games.

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