December 27, 2011

Hello, all. Sorry. I have been exceptionally tied-up in the offline world for the last few days. I’m even late to get this out there.

Lots of concerns. Lots of issues. And Pitt starts the Big East play on the road against a team that has seemingly had their number the last few years. Happy fun time.

The liveblog will start at 7 pm. The game is on ESPN2. There is no bowl in front of it to preempt it, so we have that going for us.

Moderated chat. Hopefully everyone knows how this works by now. Since this is short notice I’m skipping the usual preamble of warnings.

If you need to break the liveblog out from the site, Click Here.

Seriously WTF. People are going to question Dixon’s coaching because of a single rough spot, which so far is two losses with one of the losses being on the road in BE play against ND a team Pitt tends to lose to. Can’t recruit can’t coach BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. Pitt is a young team that lost it’s two best players from last year (Brown and Wannamaker) and another starter. There are going to be struggles. Let’s wait a bit longer for saying it is the end of the world.

Comment by Wardapalooza 12.28.11 @ 9:30 am

Oh yeah every recruit is a miss, all players are amazing right away. I mean Wannamaker just dominated his first year. Pitt fans can be the absolutely worst at times.

Comment by Wardapalooza 12.28.11 @ 9:32 am

comments by hugh green do have some validity == pitt appears to have alot of the same type of players w/the same skill set == a few of the players do appear to be a miss == coach dixon seems to be frustrated & unable to settle on player combinations & rotation == i’ll say again would like to see jj & patterson in the backcourt w/zanna & gilbert up front & mix in several players @ the 3 spot == gibbs unable to create & at times does not let the game come to him == trey makes poor decisions w/the ball == i realize 2 losses is not the end of the world == Hail to Pitt & FTG

Comment by DC33 12.28.11 @ 10:12 am

Not criticizing JD but:
* Pitt has run the same 1-4 motion offense for the last 9 years with the same cuts, screens and passes. While JD sees it a lot like the Green Bay sweep,other teams seem to know every motion and cut in advance.
* In order to play good man defense,communication is essential especially on switches. You either switch with every cut or you fight thru. I see Pitt doing a little of each which leaves players wide open. I am 61 and can still make 8-10 from 3 point land if no one guards me. ND did the same.
* I can explain away most all of the last two losses except the lack of “Guts”
heart and “wantto” that the team has shown.

On Khem Birch, I did some digging and spoke to a history professor at Pitt who had Khem and a few of the other players in his class. From day 1, Khen did not sit with or associate in any way with the other players. I don’t know what that means, but it sure is weird!

Comment by Dan 72 12.28.11 @ 10:13 am

I’ve learned a lot from your blog here! Keep on going, my friend, I will keep an eye on it.

Comment by Alexander 12.28.11 @ 10:30 am

Just listened to Julias Page analize Pitt on the Fan. He thinks we just need a few tweaks to be a good team. I am worried that he is not well!

Comment by Dan 72 12.28.11 @ 10:56 am

I think Birch if he got the playing time would have begun being a presence at the end of the year. Clahun and Boeheim play their 5 stars and let them make their mistakes early in the year so at tournamane time they are ready.

Jamie apparently is to stubborn. Also it would be for the benefit of the program if Dixon reached out to Birch. Coaches ought to know the difficult transition it is from high school to college especially when a player’s expectations are high – he has to be coached differently.

I do believe Adams is the real thing but without Birch at strong forward his presence will be dimminished. In my opinion Birch should of stayed at SF when Robinson came back. By February my guess is that Birch would have been far superior than Naz in every phase of the game.

Comment by DRW 12.28.11 @ 11:07 am

This team has no heart . could JD have lost this team some way .
we know JD is a good coach so what is going on.
if this season is in the tubes than sit taylor down and play gilbert.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.28.11 @ 11:12 am

NAZ IS A WARRIOR == birch quit on this team !!!

Comment by DC33 12.28.11 @ 11:14 am

how do i do this

Comment by Chernobyl pictures 12.28.11 @ 11:20 am

While I too am concerned about what seems like a lack of desire from the players that last couple of days, I tend to be a bit more conservative in my analysis of how Jamie Dixon has handled the team up to this point. I would venture to guess that most (if not all) of us are not present at practice day in and day out to see how these kids perform individually and as a team (effort, hustle, game knowledge, etc.). Perhaps Jamie sees things in practice that lead him to believe that a player like Khem Birch or Gilbert were not or are not ready to play significant minutes.
We all know that Jamie can coach, so there is no reason to think that he has forgotten how to coach. Each of these players brings their own set of skill sets and attitudes with them.
I have every confidence that if any coach can get this team turned around back in the right direction, it is Jamie Dixon.


Comment by Outlaw 12.28.11 @ 11:25 am

Did I count right?..4 Pitt players starting on the NFL’s Pro Bowl team announced last night…I can’t imagine any other school having that many starters. Somebody who has time to count can verify.

Although Pitt’s game last night was troublesome is a number of ways (Senior leadership??) just remember Pitt crushed UConn this exact same time last year at the Pete…UConn ended up ok.

Comment by milo bloom 12.28.11 @ 11:39 am

Boeheim yanked Fab Melo around last year worse than Dixon has treated any recruit of his — Melo was barely on the floor through Feb and March. Dixon treated Khem Birch like royalty compared to that.

Comment by JW 12.28.11 @ 11:40 am

UConn last year had Kemba, plus had won the Maui Invitational earlier in November. There is no comparison between this Pitt team and that UConn squad except they were both blown out on the road.

Comment by JW 12.28.11 @ 11:43 am

One outherr school has 5 in pro bowl we have the second most

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.28.11 @ 11:59 am

Thanks FrankCan for the count.

The comparsion is there is time to right the ship being so early in the Big East’s a young team.(like UConn was last year)..I truly believe they’ll only go up from this point.

The key though is Gibbs..he has to start making shots…if he’s missing that carries over to everyone else because he is suppose to be the go to guy this year.

Comment by milo bloom 12.28.11 @ 12:05 pm

Hey FRANKCAN..did the other school have 5 starters? Or 5 that made the ProBowl team?..All of Pitt’s were starters. Revis, McCoy, Fitz and Lee.

Comment by milo bloom 12.28.11 @ 12:07 pm

agree on Jamie seeing players practice and knowing them better than fans, but at some point, after your chosen ones don’t perform as you thought, it makes sense to see if others can. Gilbert is raw, but is huge and should play more. Dante is in his 3rd yr. With our inside game as bad as it is, put the 6’11” body in there. From what I have seen of him, he alters and blocks shots, and hustles.

Agree that Nas is a warrior and deserves to play. Birch did quit, but you can’t get a player off the waiver wire or in a trade in college hoops, so if there is ANY chance he can get the quitter back, I hope he pursues it. No lack of faith in Jamie here, but maybe he should chat with Dick LeBeau about his defense.

Comment by Bossdaws 12.28.11 @ 12:09 pm

This Pitt teams problems start and end on defense. If Pitt is down 3 possessions against a decent team, the game is essentially over. Pitt can’t get stops. Period. The players know it and it makes them do stupid things on offense.

The recruiting misses start and end with one player, Dante Taylor. He is so abysmally bad for a McDonald’s All American. It is inexplicable that he was that highly rated out of high school. Zanna and Taylor have the worst hands that I have ever seen. If Taylor was a real talent, then we would have been able to mask a lot of the other recruiting mistakes. He isn’t a real talent. He is a scrub.

Birch leaving was a devestating blow. Hopefully Pitt can get a decent player with the extra scholarship. Coach Dixon miscalculated the kids tolerance for pain. The loss can’t be dismissed. It is painful and may have ramifications that last beyond this season.

I can’t wait for Gibbs eligibility to expire. I hate his game and his body language on the court. He gets beaten so badly on defense that it just horrifying to watch. Pitt wasn’t going to do much with Gibbs being the focal point of the offense. See the postseason performance the last two years for evidence. #3 and #1 seeds shouldn’t lose in the second round.

Brad Wannamaker was so good that he allowed Pitt to get away with running multiple set plays for Gibbs. Without him it is a struggle on both ends. Wannamaker did everything for this team last year.

Comment by omar 12.28.11 @ 12:41 pm

I agree with DRW. Sometimes you have to take yours lumps with young guys playing early in the season; hopefully they learn and are much better late in the season…when it counts.

Comment by Pittastic 12.28.11 @ 12:42 pm

The sky isn’t quite falling, but it is close. The lack of effort is most disconcerting.

The mental toughness is a part of it. Note that aside from Rider (who is horrific), every game in which we have trailed by a semi-significant margin (i.e., more than 1 possession), we have lost. Many teams play harder or more freely when behind, as pressure has been removed. This team plays with even less confidence, with less effort, and no intelligence.

Comment by Joe 12.28.11 @ 12:53 pm

The young guys don’t play at Pitt. We get to watch Ashton play 40 minutes a game getting burned on backdoor cuts (seriously! you’re a senior) and shooting the worst shot in basketball (a long two-point jumper).

Taylor should be planted to the bench. He won’t be. He will get to start again on Sunday. Nevermind the fact that he is not good at basketball. He is a junior. He paid his dues and blah, blah, blah. Nevermind that Gilbert changes the game on the defensive end. Taylor does no such thing.

Cam Wright gets to play over John Johnson even though he is a turnover machine and not much of a defender right now. Clearly John Johnson has more talent, but nevermind. Cam has been in the program an extra year.

JJ Moore has athleticism that may be able to help Pitt. But instead we get to watch Lamar Patterson struggle to defend because of his below average athleticism. Nevermind that Pitt needs athletes on defense. Let’s watch Lamar get blown by for 30 minutes a game.

Comment by omar 12.28.11 @ 12:59 pm

I miss the fire, the effort and desire of past Pitt teams. As hard as it is for Dixon to watch it, it’s got to be harder for Brandin Knight to watch this knowing he was the cornerstone of this Pitt ‘golden era’. He was the epitome of heart and toughness, and now the guys he coaches show neither.

Comment by Pitt Rob 12.28.11 @ 1:03 pm

Omar, I’ve been thinking the same things about Gibbs. His D is pretty bad. He has a history of getting torched on D. It is also pretty ugly when he tries to “create.” He needs to run off screens and shoot.

Dixon is always a big practice guy. So Patterson plays over J.J. because Patterson practices better than J.J. Or at least that is what I’ve heard.

I don’t think the Pitt team lacks fire or effort, but instead they are young players playing scared. Guys like J.J. are looking over their shoulders after every mistake and thinking they will get pulled from the game.

I don’t think it is clear that Cam Wright is less talented than John Johnson. If you look at their scouting bios, they are about equal. ESPN had Cam as a 93 and Johnson as a 91. Both had offers from big time schools.

I still stick to my contention that Dante Taylor is playing out of position. He will never be a physical center and he was listed as a forward recruit coming out of high school.

Comment by Wardapalooza 12.28.11 @ 1:28 pm

Dante Taylor is a bust. He can’t play forward or center. He just isn’t very good.

I don’t care what the rankings say for Johnson and Wright. One can play at this level right now, the other has a lot of work to do to be effective.

Comment by omar 12.28.11 @ 1:39 pm

I just had a chuckle imagining Dante Taylor playing the 4. Doesn’t that position require at least a small amount of ball-handling skill?

Comment by JW 12.28.11 @ 2:02 pm

I have a suspicion about Kem…why he would not socialize with other players…why he did not fit in. He might have a hard time fitting into the college/semi-professional, professional sports team scene and it has nothing to do with PT.
I suspect he is trying to discover the person inside his body.
Wish him well. Some people are given gifts they are not emotionally equipped to use.

Comment by SFPitt 12.28.11 @ 2:23 pm

omg==come’on man==the person inside his body??==if his leaving doesn’t have to do with all da money,all da women & all da cars i would be extremely surprised ==

Comment by DC33 12.28.11 @ 2:53 pm

It’s not the end of the world for Pitt basketball. The PG makes Dixon’s teams go and Pitt hasn’t had one since Fields. Woodall hasn’t panned out like Dixon would have hoped. Next year, we have the old school PG that Dixon likes coming in. This team has as much talent as most of Dixon’s other teams, minus the Blair-Young-Fields combo. They just don’t have that true general on the court. I like Gibbs, but I think the team will be better off when he leaves the program. I hate saying that but what has made Pitt so good in the past is not one person has to carry the load. Even Blair and Young had each other to take away some the pressure. Gibbs thinks he has to do it all and it is holding the other players back.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 12.28.11 @ 2:58 pm

Tossing Thabeet–You are correct that PG is an important problem but it is only the second biggest problem. We are like a doughnut. There is a big hole in the middle.

Neither Taylor nor Zanna are physical post players and will not get it done no matter who is the point guard. A big-strong center (or other muscular inside player) is by far this team’s biggest liability.

Gilbert is the only player on the squad with the physical potential to fill the muscle void in the post. Unless he is injured, he needs to play and learn on the job. If that can’t happen, or Gilbert isn’t up to it, this season will be an NIT year.

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