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January 31, 2012

What Is This Thing Called Optimism?

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 2:28 pm

That’s strange. There’s a weird feeling among Pitt fans and the basketball team. It’s been a couple months since we had this sensation.

Pitt notched its first Big East road win. Coach Dixon moved to 5-4 in games at Morgantown — more wins down there than the previous six head coaches if you are wondering.

Pitt did a very good job defending the 3-point shot (though, the Hoopies own misfires didn’t hurt). The fact that WVU kept hoisting them really helped Pitt. WVU shot 4-19 outside the perimeter (with a 1-11 shooting out there in the second half). From inside, they were 17-33 — Pitt’s 2-pt FG defense still needs a lot of work. A bit of panic by the Eers. Not only did they have much better success going inside — and getting to the free throw line — they were also putting Pitt players in foul trouble.

Nasir Robinson was limited to only 25 minutes because of fouls. Lamar Patterson had to be careful. Zanna struggled on defense. The good news, J.J. Moore and Dante Taylor both did a nice job on defense. We — I have been hard on both of them, especially for their effort on defense. Last night, they did really good work. Even though, Moore, continues to be in a shooting funk (but at least in this game he tried going towards the hoop at points), he gave the effort and bothered WVU on the perimeter.

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January 30, 2012

LiveBlog: PITT-Hoopies

Filed under: Uncategorized — Luke @ 5:31 pm

I know Chas already put up the open Thread. I just got home and saw that and figured I’d set up a live blog.

The game is on ESPN at 7:00.

Moderated, means that your comments do not go straight through. They are subject to approval first. The reasons are to limit repetitive comments, keep it relatively clean, limit trolls, staying on topic, and whatever whimsical reasons the moderators choose to use.

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I’m working on trying to put it in the thread, but no promises.

Edit: Just break it out. The in thread doesnt want to work for me

Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows for sure what will happen with the Big 12/Big East/West Virginia court cases. But this could very well be the final basketball game down at the concrete toadstool for Pitt for a couple years.

Now, I know I just wrote that Volvo post on how much I love doing the liveblogs, and here I go doing an open thread for this game. Timing is everything, and unfortunately I have the poor timing with some work that keeps me late.

Not sure how Nasir Robinson — or anyone on Pitt — is going to shut down Kevin Jones. He’s developed into an outstanding player on the ‘eers. Hoopies have lost a couple in a row including getting hosed by the refs on a goaltending call in the final ten seconds at Syracuse that would have given it a good chance at going to OT.

There should be no talk of Pitt making the NCAA Tournament at this point. As great as those last two wins — and particularly G-town — have been, Pitt is still without a Big East road win, and still just 2-7 in the Big East.  The final 9 games of the season have five on the road and four at home. This game always matters because of the opponent. But it has extra importance, simply because every game is huge the rest of the way.

Big Monday game on ESPN at 7pm. Beat the Hoopies.

 

Time for another Volvo Challenge. As always, please keep voting for me. I am not trying to win the popularity part. I just want some sort of impact above 1%.

This challenge is a simple one.

What are your favorite places to watch your team when you can’t be at the game?

When Pitt made that startling run in the Big East Tournament in 2001, my four closest friends and I were only connected by our e-mail chains regarding Pitt. We all lived at least a couple hours away from each other. One of us still in Pittsburgh.

After Pitt pulled the OT win over Syracuse to get to the finals, I fired off an e-mail.

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Follow-Up Recruiting Stuff

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 12:16 pm

Reed has the nice rundown, and as usual on this site for Signing Day Wednesday, there will be an open thread for when recruits are “confirmed” by recruiting sites as signed.

Just a couple other things.

Demetrius Cox will be making his announcement tonight on KDKA-TV around 6:40 tonight. Unlikely that he chooses Pitt at this point, but who knows.

Rutgers seems to be doing a good job of keeping their class together. It also looks like Mario Cristobal could be the next coach there. Would hate to see that simply because the storyline would be so beaten into the ground about how close he may have come to being the next Pitt head coach. To say nothing of the comparisons to Chryst for however long it goes. That would be tiresome.

 

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While the recruiting season winds down for college football programs and the last scholarships are being filled, it is often the case that schools will take ‘a reach’ on players just to see if they will blossom later on.  This is, to me, is one of the most intriguing aspects of the recruiting season.

We’ve been able to keep the core group of inherited recruits together pretty well so far.  However, we have had some recruits who would have contributed to the program turn their attentions elsewhere; Conwell Dakota (LB) to ASU, William Parks (DB) to UofA, Marzett Geter (DB ) to a remedial tweeting class, Brandon Cook (C) to Miami of Ohio and Corey Jones to Toledo.  In what may be our biggest loss OT Adam Pankey is looking hard at WVU and I think he’ll fall that way.

What is interesting about those defections is the debate on whether the recruits were ‘encouraged’ to go elsewhere or whether they made the move themselves.  I think Jones, Geter and Cook didn’t really have a place under the new staff, but it doesn’t really matter in the long run because the fact is that they will not be at PITT in 2012.

In addition, Chryst has added everyone’s favorite J.P. Holtz, a TE who decommitted from PSU and who could see action sooner than later.  We also pulled in two lower ranked kids in CB Ryan Lewis of WA State who, due to an injury in his JR year, was somewhat under the radar to recruiters and LB Mike Caprara the leading tackler in Woodland Hills history which isn’t shabby.

I do think Paul Chryst and his staff is doing more long range planning right now, whether out of necessity because high impact players aren’t signing on at this late date or by staff choice, we really don’t know.  In two days we will see what’s what when the players start signing and faxing their Letters of Intent to the school of their choice.  We still have some HVTs (High Value Targets) out there who our staff still has a shot at.

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January 28, 2012

LiveBlog: Georgetown-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,liveblog — Chas @ 2:45 pm

Sorry about the lateness of getting this out. Guests coming this evening so a frenzied day of cleaning. I’m already catching plenty of grief for taking 2+ hours out to watch the game at 4pm on ESPN. But, really, the wife should be used to it.

Georgetown has been a bit of surprise team this year. Not too much was expected from the Hoyas except middle of the pack, bubble team. Lots of youth and John Thompson III has not had his young players do too much in the past. This year, is different. Lots of early contributions and the Hoyas are in the upper quadrant of the Big East.

Tray Woodall being back has the offense looking a lot sharper. The defense still leaves a lot to be desired. Probably going to have to live with that, this late in the season.

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January 27, 2012

Poynter Reveals It’s Bias

Filed under: Media,Mouse Monopoly — Chas @ 1:43 pm

I have a ton of other things that I should be writing. Yet I have to get this out of my system.

I last wrote about the role of the Poynter Institute in acting as the ESPN ombudsman, back in September. Specifically, about how badly they were doing in that role. I have tried to stop worrying about them, because it is a fruitless thing to let annoy me.

That Poynter wants to take it’s elitist, high-minded, ethical standards and toss them away for ESPN is their business.

Then I saw Awful Announcing’s great takedown on Poynter’s latest defense of ESPN — regarding Tebowmania.

 

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Talking Georgetown

Filed under: Basketball,Bloggers — Chas @ 9:55 am

Haven’t done a Q&A exchange for a while with another blogger, but the folks at Casual Hoya reached out — possibly because they were bored with nearly a week off before tomorrow’s Georgetown-Pitt game. Here’s where you can find my response to their questions along with Cardiac Hill’s.

As you can imagine, this is a super-serious discussion by super-serious people.

1.Considering the raging disappointment of Georgetown since 2008, whether it was opening round flameouts or finishing 11th, 7th and 8th in the Big East. Maybe you could offer some advice to Pitt fans when you hit a rock-bottom season like this? I guess that 2008-09 season would be a close analog.

I wouldn’t really consider the Georgetown seasons post-2008 to be “raging disappointments”. 2009 was horrible, yes. But our in the last two seasons our team has been severely hampered by late illnesses and injuries. In 2010, Austin Freeman was diagnosed with diabetes, you know, real world problems. Not like Cuse where Fab Melo cheats on tests. And in 2011, Chris Wright went down with a wrist injury. Sucked. We move on. I feel like Pitt fans are already used to disappointment, just review how your last two seasons ended.

 

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January 26, 2012

Well to be fair, most of his former offensive staff is already in place at Rutgers. Soooooo. I guess this wouldn’t be the most absurd possibility for the next Rutgers head coach (h/t to FeartheStache).

That would be something, huh?

The Raid of Rutgers Starts… NOW!

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 1:59 pm

Well, this got interesting. Which I’ll get to in a minute. First, a quick message to Marzett Geter: Shhh.

[Ryan] Lewis, 6-foot, 185 pounds, is the fourth cornerback among 17 seniors who have committed to Pitt. Among them is Sto-Rox’s Marzett Geter, who suggested on Twitter that Pitt is “wasting” scholarships and should offer one to teammate Josh Beverly.

“Another corner commits,” Geter tweeted. “I’m not liking this at all.”

Because in Geter’s mind, there’s only room for one 2-3 star CB, and that would be him.

But let’s get to the bombshell of Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano leaving Rutgers less than a week before signing day for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Obviously Schiano is simply seeking to further emulate the paths taken by his mentors Dave Wannstedt and Butch Davis.

The main issue, is the fallout for what was shaping up to be a lock for a top-20 recruiting class. Gee, this seems familiar.

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Providence, the Cure for What Ails You

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 9:32 am

The Pitt team and the fans needed that last night. No argument that Providence is not a very good team — though, I do like their new coach and the potential of the team starting as early as next year. Also no argument that Pitt still has a lot of problems — especially on defense.

That doesn’t change how much of a relief it was to get the win last night for Pitt.

“They are a totally different team (with Woodall),” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “Everybody is in their role. Everybody is in their comfort zone.”

Woodall ran the Pitt offense to a 22-assist, 10-turnover ratio. He had five assists and no turnovers in the second half.

“I had legs early,” Woodall said. “It was great to get a win under our belt. It’s great to be out here on the court with my team.”

Pitt led, 46-31, at halftime and led by at least seven points the rest of the way to end a skid that had plunged the Panthers from No. 15 in the AP Top 25 to No. 16 in the Big East.

Gibbs, the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, single-handedly took over late in the first half, scoring 14 points in a 3:05 span.

“That was the game,” Cooley said.

For at least one night, we saw Pitt’s offense flow. Gibbs was able to curl and come off of screens clean and showed his quick release that has been missing. No double clutching, no hesitation because there was a defender waiting for him. It had been so long since we had seen that, some might have thought Gibbs was just throwing up shots rather than doing what he had been doing for the past 3+ years.

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January 25, 2012

This Just In…

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Media,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 6:47 pm

Reed is having ribeye steak, asparagus and homemade bread for dinner…

Oh, and four star TE/DE J.P. Holtz committed to play his college football at PITT this evening.

This is a big get for Chryst & Co. in that Holtz is a highly ranked local prospect who was targeted by Wannstedt, Graham and Chryst as a player they very much wanted on the Panthers.  He most probably will line up at the TE position for us and seeing the way Chryst used TEs, sometimes in a two TE set, he may be able to contribute sooner rather than later.

Currently PITT has only two ‘true’ TEs on the roster in Hubie Graham and Brendan Carozzoni with converted WR Drew Carswell and converted QB Anthony Gonzalez working into the rotation at that position.  I wonder if Carswell might move back to WR as he has the size at 6’4″ and 215  that this staff likes and has used there while at Whisky.

I don’t envision Holtz playing much as a true freshman but one never knows.  Hubie Graham will probably get the bulk of playing time at that position and let’s hope he gets more passes his way.

Here is an interesting fact: in 2010 our TEs caught 21 passes; under Graham in 2011 they had 45 receptions.  I hope we incorporate the TEs into the offense at least as much as last season.

Personally I really like Brendan Carozzoni and want to see him get more action on the field.  He only caught four passes last season but showed flashes of what he can do in the UCONN game when he had three catches for 36 yards.

The big question, at least in my mind, is which of these TEs are going to excel in the run blocking aspect of the position? I think Bostad will incorporate that into the offense more than we saw last season.  We really were spoiled with Nate Byham in that role.

There is also the chance that the staff may want Holtz on the defensive side of the ball as he excelled there also.  He’s a multi-talented kid who has great athletic ability.  Plus he looks like he’s forty years old already so he’ll definitely be able to get into bars without being carded.

Holtz was a Jack of all trades in his career at Shaler as he contributed in many ways:

As a senior, Holtz ran for 337 yards on 72 carries. He caught 19 passes for 332 yards and scored 15 touchdowns.  J.P. Holtz says he played mostly running back during his junior season and had 14 total touchdowns (rushing and receiving). He says he can bench 305-pounds.

Holtz plans to major in education and reports a 3.0 core GPA. He is taking the SAT in June.

So, congrats to J.P. Holtz for picking the University of Pittsburgh for his college choice and let’s wish him the best of luck while here.

Holtz had originally committed to play at Penn State then reviewed his options after the Sandusky scandal broke and they had their coaching change.

There’s not much to write at this point that I haven’t written before in the introductions for these games. Pitt is still in desperate need of a win. Not simply playing better. Not having a good effort. A win. Any way. Any how. Just find a way to win. I don’t care if the refs are bribed.

Hopefully Woodall is feeling better and got some more rust off his shot. Hopefully someone stood behind J.J. Moore during practice and tased him if he pulled up for a shot rather than attacking the basket. Maybe someone will lie to Talib Zanna and tell him that he slept through the first half so he’ll play more like he has been playing in the second half of games.

 

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Pitt Adds a Semi-Legacy

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 12:07 pm

Does the nephew of a Pitt great count as a legacy? ESPN.com’s recruiting aggregation says yes (Insider subs). Tim Lewis’ nephew Ryan Lewis has verbaled to Pitt after a late pursuit of the cornerback. Ryan’s dad, Will Lewis — also a former NFL player — is the VP of Football Ops for the Seattle Seahawks.

Ryan and his father were at Pitt this past weekend on a visit. The father liked the visit a lot, because the visit was low key.

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