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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.





The panthers looked pretty early in the game, other missing alot of easy shots. Since then Notre Dame been controlling the game .

Comment by Justinian 12.27.11 @ 8:19 pm

A little over 12 minutes left in second half-Pitt has forgotten how to shoot from outside. As I type this, finally-a desperation 3. Defense could be ok, but offensively, the Panthers are struggling.

Comment by Lou 12.27.11 @ 8:23 pm

Notre Dame is making three’s because Pitt left its defense in Pittsburgh. This is going to be a long season for Pitt basketball.

Comment by MariettaMike 12.27.11 @ 8:43 pm

This team looks awful, no offense, no defense, no zip.
Why is it that Gibbs can not get an open shot,even when ND is in zone? Why is Moore burried on the bench?
Why not get Gilbert in the game! Zanna is tooo soft.

Comment by Jimbo 12.27.11 @ 8:44 pm

Gave up on the Pitt game and after watching the last 3 in slo mo, have come to the conclusion that a drastic change needs to be made if we are to right this ship (and have any chance to make the NIT). Here’s what I would do…Trey is a good but slow PG and when he is not hitting he is worthless. I say start JJ at the point. At least he has the quickness to create and can score himself. Alternate Gibbs and Trey at the 2.
Sit Moore completely..he and Taylor are wastes of uniforms. The rest is your choice…the inside bigs are all equally mediocre. Last but not least, someone please light a fire under their butts…I can understand a lack of talent but I have never seen a worse effort, night in and nigth out all the way back to the Willard teams.
Fat, dumb and lazy is no way to got through school boys!

Comment by Dan 72 12.27.11 @ 8:46 pm

We are being manhandled inside. Gibbs can’t get a shot off. Zanna and Taylor continue their “soft shoe” on D. Nas is off again, after a hot start. Gilbert’s 6’11” sits on the bench and watches. ND is not that good. We are that bad. Shooting 9% from 3 pt range. embarrassing.

Comment by Bossdaws 12.27.11 @ 8:49 pm

Put an emergency call into Birch. If he is still on schloraship tell him the team would love to have hime back. He can have Zanna’s minutes.

Comment by DRW 12.27.11 @ 8:51 pm

Coach Knight is now talking about “loss management,” (in reference to Pitt). It’s been a long time since we’ve been here, boys. I’m not smart enough to say we’re a few tweaks away from playing better, but it looks like a lot further than that.

This team has simply forgotten how to play basketball. In shaping this team to play Big East basketball, this team has forgotten their instincts. They don’t know what to do out there. When they make strides on defense; they forget how to shoot. When they were firing on all cylinders offensively, games were close because they couldn’t play defense.

Comment by Lou 12.27.11 @ 8:57 pm

do, here are pitts negatives: have no true scorer, no real big man, can’t score, can’t play defense, and can’t rebound.
here r the positives: …………(awkward silence)

Comment by pk 12.27.11 @ 9:02 pm

Scary even though Pitt is one of the winningest programs in last ten years we are not considered in the same group as N.C., Duke, Kansas, Syracuse and Conneticut or other dominat teams.

I wonder if we can afford a five hundred season or a season out of the NCAA’s. without damage to the recruiting.

Comment by DRW 12.27.11 @ 9:02 pm

so,

Comment by pk 12.27.11 @ 9:02 pm

I would be joyous at the thought of a .500 season with this team.

Comment by Dan 72 12.27.11 @ 9:04 pm

drw, zanna had 13 and 12. give him dante’s minutes instead

Comment by pk 12.27.11 @ 9:05 pm

The defense is horrific.

Comment by JW 12.27.11 @ 9:08 pm

looking at Pitts schedule,there rnt any gauranteed any wins but what are most likely to be wins are providence, rutgers, usf twice, seton hall, and depaul for a whopping 17 wins

Comment by pk 12.27.11 @ 9:08 pm

What’s even more embarrassing, was this was a 8-5 ND team without Abromitis, their best player.

After the 19-12 Pitt lead, Brey totally outcoached Dixon(as Bobby Knight alluded to), as he has now the last 4 games. Coach needs to hire an asst. who actually can make in-game adjustments. Never one of his fortes. I think we really miss the guy who went to Marshall. The one who got hit with the coin in Hooterville.

Sleepy was a total non-factor again, 4 points and 4 rebounds and 4 personal fouls. Well at least he’s consistent ! lol

Nas took 13 shots leading the team, while I love his game, you can’t have him taking your most shots. Pitt shot 39% from the field, same as the Wagner game. Deficit was larger since ND shot 49% instead of Wagner’s 41%

Bottom line, these guys can’t or won’t defend and they don’t shoot well. Never a recipe for success.

And we really needed a good hoops season to forget about the football debacle of 2011 for awhile.
Sheesh. We will ever catch a break.

Comment by Emel 12.27.11 @ 9:08 pm

emel, Pitt is a lightning rod for disappointment and disaster. if there’s a school that needs a run of good luck it’s Pitt and I hope it’s a damn good one when/if it comes

Comment by pk 12.27.11 @ 9:12 pm

Hey, the women’s bball team is vastly improved!!

Comment by Dan 72 12.27.11 @ 9:17 pm

bring back birch please!

Comment by bringbackbirch 12.27.11 @ 9:19 pm

no, whatever u do u can’t bring birch back. he quit and u can’t reward someone for quitting and betraying your team no matter how badly they need him

Comment by pk 12.27.11 @ 9:21 pm

What a drop off. When Nas a role player is asked to be a leader you’re in trouble. Zanna is a good practice guy worthy of final minute in garbage time, yet he’s our significant center. Taylor is a complete fraud. Birch should have played 25-30 minutes a game, wish they could get him back. Moore, Taylor & Zanna have no idea how to back door seal, lost on defense. We have no one who could do what Brad did and break Brey’s 2-3, Syracuse will murder us. Dixon and this team is being exposed. So years from now when we’re remembering Dixon’s Golden years will it be the squad that almost made the final four?

Comment by Old School Panther 12.27.11 @ 9:24 pm

NIT baby!!!!!!!!!!!

Comment by Matt_Miklasevich 12.27.11 @ 9:35 pm

This team sucks. Plain and simple. 1-seed to no postseason. Tough to swallow. No talent on this team. No bball IQ. No scrappy defenders. Nothing. Birch was our best player. Hopefully we will be better next year.

Comment by Tony C 12.27.11 @ 9:37 pm

until Pitt gets a pure scorer, depth at point guard, and a mcd’s all American that’s not a bust they won’t ever be more than big east champs in the regular season. they don’t have enough of anything to be more than that. not enough talent or scoring or leadership

Comment by pk 12.27.11 @ 9:40 pm

Agree completely with Old School. This is Jamie Dixon without a Chevy Troutman, Aaron Gray, DeJuan Blair, or Gary McGhee to make up for the shit perimeter defense he coaches. And without Barry Rohrsson, Mike Rice, Pat Skerry, and Tim Herrion to actually coach some fundamentals.

Four straight losses to Mike f’ing Brey. I did not think there was a worse college basketball coach than that turtlenecked tool. And Notre Dame is a pack of absolute stiffs. Plus two non-con losses. one to a coach with a career sub .500 with about 20 different teams, and the other to a high school coach. We cannot find a way to free up Ashton Gibbs for a few jump shots? Dixon’s teams have traditionally been among those with the lowest basketball IQ in Division I, but this team doesn’t even make it to double digits. And where the f was Malcolm Gilbert? Are we saving him for the tournament?

Jamie Dixon may be the greatest guy in the world. But he in way over his head, and his players strike me, with a few rare exceptions, as cocky punks.

Anyone seriously think a freshman from New Zealand, and an unathletic freshman point guard are going to make a difference next year?

Comment by PO'd Panther 12.27.11 @ 9:43 pm

A Dixon team that can’t teach Defense 101???? Better yet, how can these guys come out of H.S. without knowing Defense 101? Dan 72 is spot on with his analysis.

The guy that our guy is guarding passes the ball. Our guy then relaxes, turns and watches where the ball goes. His man than cuts behind him for the basket and makes an easy lay-up on a back door play while our guy, time and time again, just says, “Golly. How did that happen?” Jamie along with all of his assistants can’t correct that???

Comment by BigGuy 12.27.11 @ 9:43 pm

Birch would not save this season. I would like to see the Gibbs experiment at pg and Taylor experiment at center end. For the first time in a long time I’d like to see talent over experience. There is no leadership on this team at the player level. It was nice to see Woodall back though…a little rusty but the team has a little zip when he’s on the floor.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 12.27.11 @ 9:44 pm

I’m not sure that Zanna is soft. He had 13 points (team high) and 12 rebounds (team high, 8 offensive). He could have scored a few more points as he hurried some chances around the rim. He may have looked soft at one point in the second half when he appeared to be the only one rebounding for Pitt. In that case they could have used another big guy to help. Taylor was in foul trouble. I’m not sure why Gilbert wasn’t an option. I don’t want to pile on Dante Taylor but he really hasn’t strung any truly productive games together this year (ever?). In my opinion Talib Zanna is the front court player that has been playing consistently decently for Pitt since Khem Birch left and perhaps even before that.

Pitt’s perimeter defense was atrocious in this game. I watched disgustedly as Dante Taylor let Grant drain a 3. I saw Nas fail to fight over a screen to let Dragicevich drain a 3. I watched Tray Woodall be badly beaten off the dribble to allow Dragicevich take a kick to drain another 3. I saw nobody move out on Grant as he drained an NBA distance 3. That last one reminded of Butler’s Mack in the tourney last year.

On offense Pitt simply does not have a creator on this team like Brad Wanamaker and it’s killing them. Their spacing is bad on offense and nobody is consistently hitting outside shots. Nas and Patterson, who have at times demonstrated playmaking ability, are forcing plays on the inside. I think Patterson walked twice in the first half trying to create something in the lane. He forced shots in the lane in the second half.

Pitt does not have as good a perimeter defense as they had last year with Brown and Wanamaker. Gary McGhee, who became a one man defensive force, is not there to consistently clean the glass and clean up penetration. Even Gilbert Brown was probably more of a shot blocking presence than anybody Pitt is regularly playing this year now that Khem Birch has gone. Pitt may have collectively more athletic players this year, but they don’t play as smartly or together as McGhee, Wanamaker and Brown.

I surely do hope that Jamie can find a rotation that plays with desire, plays great defense, and crashes the glass. If he can do that I think this team has the capability to be a running team rather than a half court team. They seemed to build that 19-12 lead in the first half by getting out and pushing the ball. Pitt then failed to capitalize on some later chances and Notre Dame started to pressure on the perimeter defense and it all came together for ND.

I’m of a mind that it might be time to play Taylor, Zanna, and Nas in the front court. Let Gilbert sub for Taylor and Zanna. Let JJ Moore sub for Nas. That group should be able to clean the glass and provide some interior shotblocking presence. Let Gibbs, Woodall and Patterson work in the back court. One of those guys has to be able to make some shots and push the ball. Johnson and Wright can sub in as necessary. Patterson can also move up as necessary.

I’m rambling because it makes me feel better after having watched tonight’s debacle on TV just a few nights after having watched the Wagner game in person. I’ll be there on Sunday for Cincinnati and I hope Jamie finds some answers by then.

Comment by Barvo 12.27.11 @ 9:47 pm

po’d. I don’t know how in the hell you perceive Pitts players as cocky. they have no confidence whatsoever that they can succeed. and will Steven Adams make them better? a little. but like I said, all great teams have 1 thing in common: a pure scorer wh can create and drop 30 any given night. Pitts never had that and they never will until Jamie changes his system and allows offensive freedom.

Comment by pk 12.27.11 @ 9:51 pm

As a coach, once I finally diagnosed how “talented” my team was, I would try anything to get them to be as competitive a team as possible. I think it might be time for Jamie to let this team press and get out an run. Nothing else is working. Oh yeah, put JJ at the point and keep him there.

Comment by Dan 72 12.27.11 @ 10:02 pm

I can’t believe what I’m hearing! Get off of Jamie’s back already! You guys are freakin’ spoiled. I spent the 90’s watching some bad Pitt basketball. Jamie’s the best thing that’s happened to this team in a long time (ever?). I’ll take a down year once every 10 years. We’re not going to do any better than that. Come on guys…it’s not about Jamie’s coaching. I just don’t buy it.

Comment by panther94 12.27.11 @ 10:02 pm

Did anyone notice, that one play after PITT called a Timeout in the late 2nd half. ND came out of the TO and played a different defense, which totally confused us, of course we turned it over. (imagine that playing a different defense out of TO)

Have we ever come out of TO and played a different defense? Can’t remember or it’s been so infrequent if we have.

The way you get Gibbs open for a sec to launch, is you run him off a single or if need be a double screen on the baseline. Of course you need someone up top to run the offense while this play is developing.

Comment by Emel 12.27.11 @ 10:02 pm

I said at the start that he should have brought barry rohrsson back

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.27.11 @ 10:04 pm

I think it might be time to put another new roof on
‘The Pete’. Should be good for another 5 year run or so.

Comment by Emel 12.27.11 @ 10:06 pm

EMel – please don’t take anything I’ve said as a shot at Jamie. He is, and remains, one of the finest coaches in the NCAA and will find a way to get the most out of this wreched bunch.

One last thing. Watch Gibbs shoot his jumper. He used to be able to go straight up (in a telephone booth so to speak). The last three games he has been drifting on his jumper…almost always to his right. A sign of let or ankle problems for sure.

I would never publicly criticize a basketball coach, especially ours at Pitt. Jamie will earn his pay this year!

Comment by Dan 72 12.27.11 @ 10:06 pm

You may be right, but I don’t see cocky at all.

I see a bunch of scared guys where not one of them wants to take the leadership role, no one saying “give me the damn ball”.

We’ve always had 2 or 3 of those type of guys.

I see a bunch of #3,#4 and #5 guys (no, not in the posistioning sense, in the leadership sense) looking around for #1 and #2.

They’re not there guys, you are it, someone needs to become the go to guy or go to guys.

Get some fire, geez, get pissed off!!!!!!

Comment by Dan 12.27.11 @ 10:07 pm

It is really not that complicated. Poor defense + poor shooting = loss. Both are correctable. Relax folks, this team will be fine.

Comment by CBC 12.27.11 @ 10:14 pm

@Dan 72

Fire away. You must mean panther74. I think everybody that’s hauling down salaries like all the coaches do are fair targets for criticism.

When he starts working for free, ie. charity work, then they’re off limits.

Comment by Emel 12.27.11 @ 10:15 pm

@CBC
The only problem is CBC, the poor defense has been a season long problem. Remember the Rider game or the LaSalle game. Both teams shot like over 50% and Rider is a woeful 3-10 and LaSalle is no great shakes either.

These guys can’t play man defense. Why because usually the opposing players is better or has a higher basketball IQ.

How do you hide guys who can’t play man to man defense? You play zone or some sort of gimmick defense. Dixon should call Tim Grgurich (sp), king of the gimmick defenses.

Comment by Emel 12.27.11 @ 10:21 pm

Tonight is not a total loss

Pitt makes “The Kennedy Center Honors”

Sweet Caroline “Let’s goPitt” …

Comment by wbb 12.27.11 @ 10:21 pm

@Emel

Good point, but I believe that Jamie deserves a little slack, given what he’s done here at Pitt. There are major issues with this team, but I choose to believe that they will be corrected. Maybe we’ll peak in March this year instead of Jan-Feb.

Comment by panther94 12.27.11 @ 10:23 pm

Emel, how about the “amoeba”??? Or was that Buzz Ridl???????

Comment by Dan 12.27.11 @ 10:24 pm

I agree with Dan. Pitt needs to get some freakin attitude. play with sow heart. nobody is stepping up and that’s surprising because last year ashton was that guy.

Comment by pk 12.27.11 @ 10:24 pm

The Amoeba defense was devised by Buzz Ridle assisatnt Fran Webster,… and played principally by the Pitt ’74 team that finished on Top 10, and lost in Elite 8 to eventual champ NC State.

Comment by wbb 12.27.11 @ 10:26 pm

Looks like Timmy is mentoring new Lakers coach Mike Brown these days. Meaning he’s available to come to PITT and help out Dixon. We could bring back the amoeba !

link to lakersblog.latimes.com

Comment by Emel 12.27.11 @ 10:27 pm

I have to completely disagree, panther94. Part of coaching is making adjustments, within a game and within the course of a given season. Dixon does the same thing over and over and expects to see a different result. There was ZERO inside presence and Gilbert sat. Patterson is struggling, can’t create, and JJ Moore gets sporadic minutes. ND is in a flow on offense and NOTHING is done to disrupt it. One possession of 2-3 zone and then back to a no-pressure man-to-man.

Granted, suddenly this team can’t shoot, at all. It’s so GD painful to watch, and there is nothing Dixon can do about that. But he deserves a good deal of blame here. His job is to maximize the talent he has and that is not being done.

Gibbs, too, deserves a good deal of blame. He is a liability on defense and exhibits no leadership.

And it’s clear at this point that Taylor is a bust. So Dixon is dealing with two major misses here in the front court, one McDonald’s American who has not panned out and another who left the team. So clearly Dixon has his work cut out for him. I’m just not seeing that he has the coaching chops to make up for the talent deficit on this team.

Perhaps there will be some miraculous turnaround and we’ll all look like a bunch of tremendous asshats. But at this point that seems to be very unlikely.

This sucks.

Comment by Carmen 12.27.11 @ 10:28 pm

That’s right…Timmy loved the 1-3-1 trap, when we took to James Worthy, Sam Perkins and company in the NCAA’s. At least until Dean Smith had the refs foul out most of Pitt’s team.

Comment by Emel 12.27.11 @ 10:29 pm

Ggurich was a Pitt asst under Ridle and replaced him as HC after he left for a few years before Pitt hired Chipman, Grgurich then became an asst to Trark at UNLV and brought the Ameoba out there

Comment by wbb 12.27.11 @ 10:34 pm

“Agree completely with Old School. This is Jamie Dixon without a Chevy Troutman, Aaron Gray, DeJuan Blair, or Gary McGhee to make up for the shit perimeter defense he coaches. And without Barry Rohrsson, Mike Rice, Pat Skerry, and Tim Herrion to actually coach some fundamentals.”

Wow buddy – so Jamie Dixon has been a complete stiff this whole time? Get a clue or get off this site.

Comment by Hollywood 12.27.11 @ 10:37 pm

@Carmen

I think you argued more for my point than against it.

Comment by panther94 12.27.11 @ 10:38 pm

All excellent points Carmen.

Or maybe we’re all just asshats. (like that)

What’s amazing is we’ve had this 10 year run playing basically one defense for 10 years.

Not many in-game adjustments and how many years have we’ve been running this motion offense now?

Bodies in Motion.

Comment by Emel 12.27.11 @ 10:40 pm

Whatever happened to Gilad and his Hawaiian broads?

Comment by Emel 12.27.11 @ 10:43 pm

Emel,
So, suddenly after 10 years, teams are catching on to our defense…they’ve figured out our ‘secret.’ That seems likely.

Comment by panther94 12.27.11 @ 10:45 pm

Sometimes I have nightmares, I see Aaron Gray’s and Gary McGee’s arms flailing away, some 35 feet from the hoop.

They’re kind of frightening, I wake up in a cold sweat. Then I realize that’s all part of being a Pitt fan.

(guess that’s better than having nightmares of Keith Armstrong or Lucious Keese getting dunked on, dunked over and dunked around)

Comment by Emel 12.27.11 @ 10:49 pm

ND has clearly figured out our ‘secret’. Two of the games(of the 4 straight losses to ND) were not even close. They literally pick our defense apart.

They had no problem at all with entry passes right into their bigs. Bobby Knight was amazed how good ND’s bigs were tonight, since he had seen them twice before this year and they were terrible.
Maybe just maybe ND’s bigs weren’t that good, our bigs are just that bad.

Comment by Emel 12.27.11 @ 10:56 pm

@Panthr94 just ignore Emel and PO’d Panther. There next semi positive post will be their first.

Comment by TigerPaul 12.27.11 @ 10:56 pm

Barvo, don’t think Zanna is soft, he’s just not a baller. Tall kid & good athelete, not a natural and he’s getting the majority of minutes because our McD’s AA is a liability. The kind of defense we need does not require athletic gifts, does require desire, attitude & recognition. Dixon has been able to teach solid defense for a decade. We can rest assured his teaching skills have neither changed nor eroded; so why don’t these kids play scrappy, in your face, sorry about that elbow to your chest defense? It’s this group, that’s why some posters are calling them out. These kids don’t want to play Dixon’s way.

Comment by Old School Panther 12.27.11 @ 10:56 pm

This team will have to run to win. Jamie has always played a half court game, but our skill set does not fit that style. Our big men do not have post moves. Sure, we can rebound, but that is because our big men miss so many shots.

Why not press and play Johnson more. He has the best shot on the team. If teams go zone, play Johnson and Gibbs. Mix in some Woodall against a man to man. Wright is a good athlete, JJ is a good athlete. Nasir can run. Taylor can move well for a center. TZ too.

If we pressed ND, we would have stomped them. They had two athletes on their team, max. We will have to adjust to our strengths to be successful this year.

Comment by CBC 12.27.11 @ 11:14 pm

It’s clear to me that this team is just not good…there inside play is pitt-i-full!!…we have no one that can score or generate their own shoot…where is the defense??..If Dixon gets this team to the tourny he’l have to do one hell of a job!!

Comment by pitt-for-life 12.27.11 @ 11:24 pm

Thanks Khem for leaving and fucking us over just when it looked like the team was finally starting to gel.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's My Dad 12.28.11 @ 12:01 am

The only thing this team has is athleticism. We need to play up-tempo ball to salvage the season. We were quicker than ND and ND knew it

Comment by Tony C 12.28.11 @ 12:58 am

tIGERPAUL,

Haven’t seen you since you used to rev up the student section at Fitzgerald with your patented run & slide.
You were so good the cheerleaders got jealous.
haha.

Hard to be semi-positive after the last two games.
I just call them as I see them.
Actually I could see this team didn’t have it after Rider, LaSalle and Long Beach and I believe I noted my concerns on here. They had a glimmer when Khem was inserted into the lineup at the Palestra against Penn. When Sleepy returned, this team started on it’s downward spiral. Yes they won, but against no one that was any good.
In fact PITT’s non-con schedule was the weakest since 2000.

Would have been much better off had Sleepy left or whatever and Khem had stayed. That kid could really block shots and cause anyone who came into the lane to think twice before shooting. Plus his upside was enormous compared to Sleepy.

I will remember to be positive when watching the Compass Bowl as well. Like I posted here, Sunseri will be the Bowl MVP. Hey….pretty positive…. right.

Comment by Emel 12.28.11 @ 1:00 am

Even with Birch this team had the same problem you saw on display against ND…zero heart, zero gonads, zero confidence and precious little talent.
Point blank, this team is underachieving and given its limited talent pool, that is going to translate into a bad year.
Sadly, Taylor (nice young man) is worthless 3 feet and further from the basket, Gibbs is out of position & trying to show NBA skills he simply does not have, Nas is trying to be more than the garbage player he is, our forwards suffer from the lack of a real post threat, Zanna plays like a guy who did not pick up the game until later and our guards are deer in the headlights.
Did Dixon forget how to coach? No.
But, he did lose his star recruit, his pg went down and his scorer all of a sudden wants to be Scoonie Penn.
2 or 3 underclassmen will be gone …1already … from this class….
JD will have his biggest challenge on and off the court. My question is this, does he have the stomach for it?
I don’t have an answer, but I have seen college coaches burn out….Howland @ UCLA, O’Brien @ OSU, Haskins @ Arkansas….it happens folks.
I will go to the games still but wonder…..mental toughness starts with the Head Coach. Does JD have it?

Comment by SFPitt 12.28.11 @ 4:08 am

The only person close to being able to create his own shot is Woodall. Zanna missed a ton of bunnies in the paint. Gibbs and Johnson are spot up shooters and the D is giving up so many easy baskets… Our McDonald’s All American is a limited player and the other who might have been better is a quitter.
I’m going to stay positive and say ND always beats us like we always beat Syracuse.

Comment by Pittastic 12.28.11 @ 5:01 am

I think we all saw this coming, frankly, when Taylor didn’t show as much promise as a freshman as his press clippings portended. The Birch departure was the nail in the coffin for this year. Dixon is not the problem; he will get the most out of what he has – his problem is he doesn’t have much. He will. I can live with a down year every now and then from Jamie. I have practice. We have seen 30 years of down years with seven different coaches with the football program. Give Jamie a break. He, and the basketball program, will be back better than ever.

Comment by wally 12.28.11 @ 6:55 am

This year makes us all realize how incredible a job Jamie Dixon has done over the last 6+ or so years with essentially average talent.

Winning in college basketball occurs with either 1) a great coach (PITT’s case) or 2) NBA level players

Comment by Pitt fan in Atlanta 12.28.11 @ 7:47 am

Before we malign Dixon, just think what Pitt basketball would be without him.

As the saying goes, you can lead the horse to water but you can’t make the horse drink.

This Pitt basketball team lacks heart and the desire to win. Notre Dame played three sophomore guards and they just crushed us in the three point game. Maybe a big win down the schedule will be their epiphany, but… It’s going to be a long season for this Pitt basketball team.

Let’s face it, we have been spoiled; Jamie has produced championship caliber teams over the past five years and we now expect his teams to annually rank in the top 10. Given the distractions of this Pitt basketball team, maybe this will be a rebuilding year. Somewhere along the schedule this Pitt team will wake up and play up to their (top 25) billing.

HTP!

Comment by MariettaMike 12.28.11 @ 8:05 am

This is ugly. Every Pitt fan knew there were about 4 things that had to happen for this b-ball team to be successful after losing Gary, Gil and Brad. Unfortunately none of those 4 things is even close to happening…

1) Dante had to make the Jr. leap ala Sam Young, Gray and McGhee… Ummm, not so much.
2) Gibbs had to continue to get his shots and shoot lights out. He is struggling with his shot for several games… maybe too much PG responsibility.
3) Tra also had to step up and run the show. He was playing well and then got hurt. He’ll always have his limitations.
4) Jamie’s best recruit ever, Khem Birch, had to step in and provide about 20 quality minutes a game… Ummmm, he’s at home crying to his mom that they play too rough at Pitt.

This was never going to be a great team, but could have been a pretty good team if the above fell into place. It hasn’t. So, this is what we are left with.

Comment by Pitt89 12.28.11 @ 8:07 am

“They were playing harder than us and wanted it more,” senior forward Nasir Robinson said. “It’s as simple as that.”—I want to puke when I read this comment, and it has come after each of our 3 losses. I can live with a lack of talent, but not effort. Plenty of reasons this team is underachieving this year (being kind), but NO EXCUSE for the other team wanting it more. A coach has to fix that.

I have complete faith in Dixon. He can’t trade for a scorer or a player to step up and lead this team. That has to come from the players. But he can implement some of the good suggestions on this site. Play Dante, but he does not deserve to start. Play Gilbert. His redshirt is gone, and your inside D. sucks.

Need to create plays, screens, for Gibbs, because he can’t create on his own, and he can light it up. He and J Johnson have to step up with the 3’s. Nobody is scoring consistently. Lamar and JJ can score too, but….

Again, I have faith in Dixon, but didn’t we just go thru a lengthy discussion about changing your game strategy to fit your talent? And if he doesn’t, as posted above, I can live with one bad season until JD rights this sinking ship.

still LOL at Emel’s comment on Tiger Paul racing up and down the Field House floor. I was there for that. HTP

Comment by Bossdaws 12.28.11 @ 8:26 am

“They just wanted it more” is the easiest thing for players to say after a loss, because it excuses all their other deficiencies. But this team has loads of problems beyond that. They are atrocious fundamentally on defense — technique, communication, and yes desire, are very poor. Their offense looks sloppy, and has been recently, but as Chas has noted in years past that just means a racheted-up effort on D. That is not happening.
I don’t see a change in style/tempo happening, but I agree it could help — at least get some easy buckets. Right now Pitt is ranked in the 300s in terms of tempo.

Comment by JW 12.28.11 @ 8:46 am

I’m with Pitt89 on expectations and recalibration at this point. I will say, point #1 we all kinda saw this coming (DT not making the “jump”) and after watching Birch in pre-Pitt days, I kinda expected him to be more of a “project” than an instant hit.

The point that I think really hurts us is Point #2. IMHO the biggest concern going into this year was a LEGITIMATE 2nd scoring option. Tre needed to be that guy. He started off well, but you can see what happens when he is not in the game (Wagner) or if he is not at 100% (ND).

I would let Tre get healthy and start getting his legs under him before we all jump off the ship.

This can be a GOOD team if Tre gets healthy and gets his shot. Is this a great team, no…but that’s okay. Going .500 in the Big East will get you in the dance. We just need to get Tre healthy and his shot back. This team has some scrappers (like Nas) and some depth…and can certainly rebound.

Comment by PaulyP 12.28.11 @ 8:47 am

Meant Point #3

Comment by PaulyP 12.28.11 @ 8:49 am

Agree=this team recently appears to lack heart & desire==is there more to Birch leaving?? no set rotation==parts of this puzzle don’t fit==jj & patterson appear best @ creating their own shots==is it crazy to consider working w/a lineup that has jj @pg==patterson @ 2nd guard & go big with gilbert,zanna & robinson or moore @sf?

Comment by DC33 12.28.11 @ 8:57 am

From the PG this morning: “Woodall said the dissatisfaction among the players has to do with opponents getting second and third opportunities on offensive rebounds. Even though Pitt outrebounded Notre Dame and Wagner by nine, the Panthers believe they are giving away too many offensive rebounds.”

I watched Cooley and Knight banging for ND last night. Pitt doesn’t have that kind of girth on the team this year. In years past Pitt has had McGhee, Blair, Gray, and Troutman. Basically immovable guys who weren’t particularly fast. While they aren’t listed that way, I perceive that Cooley and Knight have to be at least 20 pounds heavier than Taylor or Zanna. Cooley and Knight played quite a bit together. Zanna and Taylor played briefly together in the first half. Robinson has some bulk, but he’s not tall and he’s not a great jumper. This year we have longer, leaner (yes, Dante Taylor this year) players who can run a little bit. I think Jamie should put more size on the floor together for rebounding and shot blocking and become a fast breaking team. He’s got forwards who can run, he should use them.

Comment by Barvo 12.28.11 @ 8:59 am

The blame that Dixon does deserve, if this season continues to plummet, is for all the recruiting misses his staff has had over the past few years. Getting the right players can cover up a lot of Dixon’s in-game coaching limitations (an unwillingness to switch defenses and an adherence to an offense that requires a difficult entry wing pass on every possession happen to be my two favorite limitations).

Taylor = miss, Epps = miss. Those two are incontrovertible.

Birch = miss because part of your job is psychology and understanding the mentality of each recruit. If you don’t realize ahead of time that Skerry leaving is a problem for Birch, then you’re shortsighted.

Wright = miss. I’ve seen enough to know that he might be a useful defender off the bench, but the offense is never going to be there and he’s not a starter in the BE or ACC.

JJ Moore = miss. He’s just too clueless on defense to ever get real minutes. As good as an athlete as he is, how did Pitt ever think he had enough upstairs to play at this level?

I can’t call Zanna a miss because he was always a project. Robinson and Patterson are fulfilling their limited potential. Gibbs has exceeded his. John Johnson has solid potential and looks a good bet to achieve it.

I have argued many times before that Woodall was a miss and I know that many on this board disagree. If you disagree, simply ask yourself if you’d take Woodall over most of the PGs at the country’s elite programs. (I consider Pitt one of the country’s elite programs, so I think we deserve an elite PG.) If you would, more power to you….

That’s a long string of misses at some very key positions. Tough to survive that many miscalculations and keep a program elite.

Comment by hugh green 12.28.11 @ 9:30 am

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.

HAIL TO PITT!

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 season..it’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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