January 1, 2012

LiveBlog: Bearcats and Panthers

Filed under: Basketball,liveblog — Chas @ 4:50 pm

Extra reason to tune in: Steven Adams will be at the Pete tonight.

Went over it earlier that while not technically a must-win game for Pitt, it is close. This early in the season, and Pitt really cannot afford another home loss.

Tray Woodall is out for the game tonight.

So, any hope of Ashton Gibbs getting something close to moderate rest is probably out the window.

Usual rules in place. It’s a moderated chat. Not every comment will go through. Not because I hate you (probably), but generally because of redundancy. The abusive will be blocked. The stupid will be mocked. The overreactions will be treated with whatever withering contempt that can be transmitted via computer.

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

Othewise, just a little lower.

I’d like to see more Moore tonight

Comment by steve 01.01.12 @ 6:54 pm

folks – I wish it was not true but this is a very bad basketball team. Soon to be 1 -7 in the BE. They are so soft defensively that they have had to foul late, just to get the other team to the line…when did you ever see that in a Pitt team.

Comment by Dan 72 01.01.12 @ 9:02 pm

Will be lucky to be a 500 team overall. the big dance run is over everyone…happy new year.

Comment by Pitt Is IT 01.01.12 @ 9:05 pm

It’s going to be a very long, long season. The Panters absolutely need Travon Woodall to get well soon. In meantime they have to something to reduce their turnovers.

Comment by Justinian 01.01.12 @ 9:06 pm

I’m overseas on vacation but just watched the second half on my phone. It’s going to be a long season.

Comment by SilverPanther at NYC 01.01.12 @ 9:07 pm

This is one of the easiest games on our sked. No gates!

Comment by Tony C 01.01.12 @ 9:08 pm

A young John Wooden could not help this team. I feel sorry for Jamie…this is the worst team since the Williard era and they will easily be 1- 7 in the BE, maybe 0-8.

Comment by Dan 72 01.01.12 @ 9:11 pm

The Pete has no energy anymore. 75% of the crowd is non-students and they just sit there, like they’re at the Pgh. Symphony or Civic Light Opera.

We have lost our home court advantage. Yes…PITT has even managed to f*ck that up. Haven’t been to a game up there for a couple years, are they blasting rap during TO’s like they do at Heinz?

Is the average fan even asked to cheer? Didn’t seem like 12,500 people were there. Maybe 3000 students and 9000 stiffs. Lame very lame.

Comment by Emel 01.01.12 @ 9:13 pm

Tra’s return will upgrade offense, but D will still suck. No “shut down” guard in sight. Still painful to watch Dante & Zanna switching outside and then running back underneath while the opp guard beats ours and goes in for layup. A zone would stop that. Sometimes when things are going bad you have to change it up.

Giving up on wanting to see Gilbert. Zanna was hit in nose and knocked out of game. Miss Gary getting hit, bleeding, and coming back in with bloody gauze in both nostrils. Dante had 10-11 rebounds but only 2 pts. Zanna had 2.

good effort by Nas & Gibbs almost had a Ramon moment at the end, but this was a bad game, bad loss to a team with no bigs. gonna be a long season.

Comment by Bossdaws 01.01.12 @ 9:16 pm

Jamie needs to find another Tim Herrion for next year. No other coach but Brandin Knight came over to the strategy(?) session in that last TO. Meaning they had NOTHING to offer.

That full court press didn’t put any pressure on the inbounds passer of Cincy. As Nas had his back turned towards the inbounder. You have to have someone on the inbounder, so they have to work to get the pass in. And naturally Cincy had no problem AT ALL getting the inbounds pass in.

Do these guys actually spend practice time in full court pressure? Cause it never looks like it. Or do they spend all of practice just beating each other up in the man to man. As Zanna suggested the other day, after Birch left.

If that’s the case, they must feel like a game is time to relax since the practices are beat up time. And they do look awful relaxed (in a bad way) on the court.

Comment by Emel 01.01.12 @ 9:22 pm

Agree Boss,

about the Zone. But Coach isn’t comfortable with it since he can’t teach it properly. And if you’re not comfortable with it, you’re not going to play it. Surely since this man defense is so bad, #211 and falling after tonight in FG % defense, if you could play, teach, practice any other defense, you would at least try it.

It can’t be much worse than #211, can it?

Comment by Emel 01.01.12 @ 9:29 pm

I thought Dokish had a a spot on analysis of the many, many, many problems that plague this Pitt basketball team. The loss of Khem Birch though was staggering. He was the only defender that gave Pitt any gravitas on the court. Minus Khem, there is no one. I love Jamie Dixon and I know, like every coach, he probably does not sleep at night thinking of ways out of this mess and ways to make this team win. As someone said, Pitt does not communicate well in man/man switches…how on earth are they going to play an effective zone. They are not quick enough to press…so there is little left as a defensive option. Gibbs will never be a pro with his lack of quickness and I think the only hope is to put John Johnson at point guard and leave him there. At least we will have some quickness on the perimeter. Other than that, we appear to be hopeless. We can easily be 0-8 in the Big East and we may not win a single game with this team. Of course, that’s just my opinion and I pray to God I am wrong.

Comment by Dan 72 01.01.12 @ 9:31 pm

This team is so atrocious. I’m done caring until they prove that they care enough to be not atrocious

Comment by Tony C 01.01.12 @ 9:34 pm

Well, at least we did not get blown out by Cincy. I like to think that with a true PG we would have won that game. This team needs Woodall back in the lineup ASAP.

Comment by CBC 01.01.12 @ 9:37 pm

In cse the Bloggers are UNAWARE,the students are not present because of the holiday week. The adult attendees are either too ancient or to out of touch to knowit is ok to cheer for the home team. Besides, Panther fans are too sophisticated to cheer. It is just not dignified! Actually, I thought I detected a pulse on the Pitt team. When Johnson was in and before Zanna got elbowed in the face, the team was COURAGEOUS and Quick. Relatively speaking, I mean. So Thurs. is another game. Maybe Woodall will return/ Who knows? We could beat DePaul. Rev/ George in Columbus

Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 01.01.12 @ 9:40 pm

As far as the crowd, the students are still on break so I wouldn’t have expected a great crowd today. That’s no excuse for the defense.

Comment by Brian 01.01.12 @ 9:43 pm

In the scope of how many minutes Sleepy played, getting 10 boards is no big deal. SOMEBODY had to get those rebounds. Had Zanna got the minutes he would have got them like he did at ND. Had Gilbert played he would have gathered in some as well.

4 total points from your 2 centers is a joke. Granted Zanna got hurt and didn’t play at all in the 2nd half. Still…

We got beat by another middling team who only shot 38% from FG. WAgner shot 41%. We out rebounded Cincy 37-23, yet it didn’t matter since this team is so loose with the ball, with another horrendous turnover night of 17.

Well…say goodbye to the Top 25….until next year ! This lineup with this system, will be lucky to win 4 games in the BigEast.

Comment by Emel 01.01.12 @ 9:43 pm

If you guys think woodall is gonna help greatly your mistaken..he makes lazy passes too…this team needs a tru pg…and anybody who wants to play defense…ncaa is out of question this bad..sux!!

Comment by pitt-for-life 01.01.12 @ 9:53 pm

Forgot the students are on break. But then again at PITT, a lot of them live in Pittsburgh so they could attend. I did hear the Zoo trying to get the place noisy.

You could see the rest of the arena, they were all seating on their collective hands. It’s no fun going to games unless you get engaged with the game. They might as well save their money and stay at home if they’re not going to cheer for their supposed team. This was a problem for years at UNC and the Dean Dome, but that place holds almost 22,000, so even the fan chit chat over their wine & cheese is noisier than the Pete now.

Maybe all these wins over the last decade has made them all docile. Not hungry anymore.
Whatever’s it’s lame. And I think that and the fact we were only drawing 8500 or 9000 to these non-con games all helped to create this non-energetic squad of disinterested relaxed looking, non-urgency bunch of players.

Oh, they’ve gotten much worse since Birch took off, if that had anything to do with it. They’ve appeared to have gotten even more relaxed with themselves.

Comment by Emel 01.01.12 @ 9:58 pm

You are correct…pitt-for-life.

Woody is a turnover machine as well. The only thing good about him, at least it gets Gibbs off the point, to his better position, SG.
Gives us a more experienced guy, who has made some big shots and big plays for PITT.

It will help, but this team wasn’t very good with him before he got hurt. I mean come on Rider, LaSalle, RMU, Duquesne, LBSU.

Comment by Emel 01.01.12 @ 10:05 pm

I know he wasn’t impressive in the stat sheet, but I think John Johnson played great. I see some Scotty reynolds in him. in a year or two he will be Pitts go to gaurd mark my words.

so when do you guys think Chryst will officially introduce his staff? I doubt it will be tomorrow.

Comment by pk 01.01.12 @ 10:06 pm

This team just isn’t very good. The coaching isn’t very good this year either. Jamie is trying to force feed his system on these players and they cannot do it. Even when they were down by 6 with 3 minutes to go it would take them 30 sec. to get a shot off. There is no hurry up, no running the floor just walk the ball up to beat the press and pass it around the perimeter for 30 seconds and then put up a shot. Taylor is by far not playing up to his potential but they never even look to get him the ball. You can see in warmups that he has a decent shot in the 10 – 15 feet range but he never sees the ball. He is not a center either and should be a forward facing the basket instead of his back to it. Tonight when they were double teaming the ball Taylor was wide open and I think they tried to force only one into him which totally surprised him and he turned it over.

This team does have better talent than both ND and Cin.but lost those two. Just wait until they play Syr., Con.,Louisville, Mar. etc. It could get ugly. Gameday is scheduled for the Louisville game that could be embarrasing.

Comment by JP 01.01.12 @ 10:08 pm

If for some reason Dixon leaves after this season, will Pitt be in better shape than they were when Howland left as far as the desirability of the position? Will Pitt spend big bucks to hire a hot coach with a record of NCAA Tournament success? Will being in the ACC in a year or two add value to the position?

Comment by Tonyinhouston 01.01.12 @ 10:11 pm

Tony, your stupidity doesn’t deserve a response. if in ur mind having 1 bad year after 10 great years constitutes the firing if your coach, you should be mocked and shunned from society,

Comment by pk 01.01.12 @ 10:18 pm

also, I was at the game and I swore I saw Steven Adams. lol a bunch of people asked him to stand up so they could see how tall he was.

Comment by pk 01.01.12 @ 10:19 pm

Adams was there. Looked impressive, you know, for a kid in street clothes.

Same story written three times in a row: sloppy/weak in handling the ball, defensive breakdowns lead to open shots. If I would pick one play to sum it up, I’d go with the time Pitt lost the ball in the lane, Gibbs stood there with it in front of him while three Bearcats hit the floor, and Cincy comes down and gets a bucket.

Comment by JW 01.01.12 @ 10:28 pm

pk learn how to read. If you can read this he said if Dixon leaves like Howland and go to a better program, not get fired

Comment by Tony C 01.01.12 @ 10:47 pm

FWIW, In his post-game radio interview Jamie was complimentary of the fans in attendance for their support and getting behind the team tonight.

It was a light crowd, no more than 2/3 capacity in my estimation. THe Zoo section was filled mostly with non-students. In spite of that, when the team showed its few sparks of life, the small zoo contingent came to life and the crowd did respond. Certainly not like a tripple OT game vs. the hoopies but enough that Dixon noticed.

Comment by dinosaur 71 01.01.12 @ 10:49 pm

There are a few things a healthy Woodall does.
1. Get the ball out of Gibbs’ hands.
2. Late in the game, he gives Pitt someone who can drive and get quick twos. If you remember the triple ot game, the only reason they came back was because of Woodall constantly getting into the lane for easy twos. I think he had 6 in that final minute. Johnson tried, but the charging call still killed.

And finally, I tried to keep the zoo loud. But honestly it’s not going to get any better when everyone gets back. The zoo is made up of 20% real fans and 80% bandwagoners. The fact that Pitt is struggling this year will scare off the 80%. The only difference is that now I don’t have to get there hours and hours beforehand to wait in line to get a decent seat.

Comment by Jordan 01.01.12 @ 11:37 pm

So tired reading about how Jamie is a bad coach. Please. He’s not perfect but he’s pretty damn good. Unless Coach K is packing his bags for the ‘burgh, I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather have at Pitt. Certainly not Calipari or Pitino.

I just watched this game on DVR — avoided reading your posts on the live blog — and it’s clear they lost primarily (not exclusively) because they turnover the ball so much — and it’s mostly unforced. A healthy Woodall will help that, I hope. But even with him back, it’s an NIT type team, with promising players in Johnson and Patterson. Maybe Zanna too — he’s ahead of where Nas was as a soph.

Lastly, I’m going to speculate that Jamie is still thinking about redshirting Gilbert. He’s been in only 4 games. If doesn’t play again, he’ll be under the 20% rule, assuming they have a medical justification.

Hey, hail to Pitt. It’s all part of the ride to the Final 4 and when we get there, will make it sweeter.

Comment by velvil 01.02.12 @ 12:14 am

ND & CIN shot lights out from the 3, opposing shooters are comfortable & relaxed, they know Pitt has no defense. Dixon is a good coach, but he didn’t win championships when he had the squad and the opportunity. He’s in a bind now, he lost his best talent after 2 months and over estimated the rest. Johnson couldn’t execute a simple in bounds and Gibbs is so weak on defense opposing guards break him down in three steps. This might be worse than just a long season, my concern is the quality of play is getting so bad it will take a few seasons to rebuild.

Comment by Old School Panther 01.02.12 @ 12:27 am

Old School — Who was their best talent that they lost? Wanamaker, Brown and McGhee — that sure hurt. Couldn’t be Birch you’re referring to. He could block shots but he didn’t do much else while he was on the floor. Lots of potential — but playing well against bad D-1 teams didn’t show us much.

Comment by velvil 01.02.12 @ 12:43 am

Remember during football we’d say “Well at least we have BB” or “Can’t wait for BB”. Well this year we don’t have BB. Our experience players aren’t very talented and our talented players aren’t very experienced. Hopefully well be better later in the year but it may be too late…

Comment by Pittastic 01.02.12 @ 5:39 am

Pittastic – well, at least we have women’s volleyball.

Comment by Reed 01.02.12 @ 6:11 am

I want to find the Pitt team you are watching. Didn’t see that team on ESPN 3 last night. Talk to Slimy Steve much?

Comment by TonyinHouston 01.02.12 @ 6:22 am

@Reed – I’ll give them a looksy!

Comment by Pittastic 01.02.12 @ 6:37 am

Write this season off. Next year help arrives with elite talent at the 1 and 5 positions. Pitt should be much improved if Jamie plays those elite players and makes the offense flow around those guys. If Jamie doesn’t adapt his system to the talent and doesn’t play talent over mediocre experience, expect another long season. Good coaching only takes you so far with mediocre talent. Elite players will take Pitt to the next level. But elite players want playing time, want a system that showcases their talent. Khem was missed in this game. Too bad he didn’t have a better support system at Pitt. Maybe a lesson learned.

Comment by TX Panther 01.02.12 @ 7:06 am

Pitt can expect more full-court pressure in up coming games. Jamie needs to work this Pitt team on this part of the game. It’s obvious to me this Pitt team gets rattled too easily and needs to settle down and play their game. Handling full-court pressure is a first step in the right direction.


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This is not a knock on Talib .. I believe his effort is not be questioned.

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Gilbert must be horrible if they are saving him. It would not take much for him to help. Saying that the offense that is being run ignores the post so I guess from that end it doesn’t matter.
Staff did a bad job of recruiting, it was easy to see someone was needed that could handle the ball against pressure and our alternative ie Epps?
We will see if JD can coach this year if they go .500 in conference he can.

Comment by Jimbo 01.02.12 @ 10:02 am

goes anybody know what happened to Talib? as for Robinson and Adams, Robinson is a true point guard and from everything I’ve read about it, he’s supposed to be a really good game manager and has a good basketball iq. if that holds true it’d be a travesty for him to not play next year. adams is probably the most talented player to ever come to
Pitt. great shot blocker, rebounder, and is polished offensively. Pitt has none of those things in a big man now, so I assume he will play. something that’s really bothering me us that Malcolm Gilbert isn’t playing. he gives Pitt shot blocking and good rebounding, plus he gives bad a breather worst case scenario. but the biggest thing to me is, you cannot tell me that he would produce LESS than Dante Taylor. I didn’t want to admit it but as the season goes on the more I feel that Taylor is a bust. he just doesn’t do anything.

Comment by pk 01.02.12 @ 10:03 am

@ both Tony’s. Why for some reason would Jamie Dixon leave??

Comment by Dan 01.02.12 @ 10:04 am

It’s not the end of the world guys. This is a bad Pitt team but there is talent on the team and a legit true point guard will help. Dixon’s missed on his last two big recruits (Taylor and Birch) and that would hurt most programs. Pitt has young role players with talent in place for future teams. Next year’s recruiting class is legit and unlikely to be a miss. Adams won’t be here too long but Gilbert will be in his 3rd year by the time he becomes a starter – possibly 4th year. There is no need to panic. This is what happens when you start recruiting higher caliber players and miss. Ideally, Dixon probably would have redshirted Taylor but couldn’t because of his lofty recruiting status. The season is most likely going to suck but there is no need to jump ship, especially with the talent coming in.

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Tossing Thabeets is correct. Just going to have to take the lumps, particularly with the TOs, this year and hope to see some improvement. Next year should be a big upgrade.

I thought Taylor showed some hustle and grit last night. I can’t fault him too much for lack of O since they never give him the ball in the post and, unfortunately, his offensive rebounding is just not there. It would be nice, though, if Taylor would learn how to execute a ball fake. And he still is not strong enough.

No other reason than a red shirt to believe that Gilbert isn’t playing.

Watching Zanna is painful, IMO. He gets the ball knocked out of his hands constantly (doesn’t help that he brings it down).

And I don’t care if he’s a senior and the BE pre-season player of the year, Gibbs is not a PG in any way, shape, or form, and in those last few minutes I’d rather see Johnson or even Wright running point and Gibbs running for open looks. They can’t do any worse than Gibbs and because the D is so focused on Gibbs, it might create some open looks for Patterson or Moore.

Despite the poor play, Pitt could have actually came out on top in several of these losses w/ a few less turnovers. Unfortunately, the schedule just gets uglier from here.

Comment by Carmen 01.02.12 @ 10:53 am

Option stop playing a center like many college teams do. Play 2 forwards and 3 guards. Stop bein obessed only worrying about outrebounding the other team but more about limiting our turnovers. Spread the court since we have no true post player on the roster. If we had done this Birch may still be here.

Pitt does need a new assistant coach who knows how to adapt to the strengths of the opposiion and best minimize our weaknesses. Brandon Knight is not that person and never will be. One Jamie fault is his sense of loyalty to players (Gibbs, Fields, Krauser) and coaches even when it is not deserved.

Stop trying to make Talor a 5 he will not play there next year anyway. Take a chance, stop Grahmanizing. We all know its not the system that wins, Graham made that clear, but the ability to adapt and use the stregth of the players on your roster that succeeds.

A three guard offense could limit backcourt turnovers and hopefully reduce the opponents 3 point uncontested shots. After all few college teams have a dominant offensive low post players.

It should also open passing lanes so this offense that is weak outside shotting team can get more inside looks off of picks and cuts to the basket.

Finally it would set the table for next year when Adams arrives by giving Talor the chance to play out of the pivot and rediscover, if he originally had them, or work on his 10 to 15 ft. shotting and ball handling when Adams takes the post next year.

Comment by DRW 01.02.12 @ 11:11 am

While basketball recruiting may be better than football because of all the AAU games, recruiting is always a crap shoot. Epps looks bad now, folks are down on Wright, and Moore is shaky right now but in 2010 this looked a great class (and who knows, maybe by the time they’re seniors, they will be) — per

“One year after signing the No. 25 class in the nation, Jamie Dixon just might have topped himself with the class of 2010. After the early signing period ended on Wednesday, Pitt announced that it had signed three recruits in the class: guards Isaiah Epps and Cameron Wright and forward J.J. Moore.”

link to

Or how about this?

“Taylor, Zanna and Richardson all fit in well at Pitt as strong and athletic forwards who are tremendous rebounders and will play strong and physical near the rim. Taylor has played his high school career for Trevor Brown at National Christian Academy and also plays for the NCA AAU team, which is also run by Brown as part of their high school program. Taylor has excelled at the NBA Top 100 camp and the Lebron James Skills Academy, solidifying his status of one of the top players in the class of 2009.”

link to

Oh, and Taylor was also offered by UConn, WVU and Maryland.

Comment by velvil 01.02.12 @ 11:11 am

Absolutely Carmen, painful to watch at times, Gibbs handling the ball, or worse, trying to drive and dish. How about that tie up and turnover with about 3 seconds left on the shot clock at around the 5:40 mark.

Not getting on him, one of the best pure shooters I’ve seen, and that should be his one and only job. I like Ashton a lot. His thing is shooting.

How can you have one of the top long range bombers in the country, take the ball into the middle, and dish the ball back outside.
Outside to who, he’s the shooter!!!

Comment by Dan 01.02.12 @ 11:12 am

Taylor and, to a lesser extent, Zanna are disappointments so far but face it .. the major issue with this team is the backcourt. It seemed everyone from Cincy were quicker and more athletic than our guards

Comment by wbb 01.02.12 @ 11:13 am

I would love to see a more flexible, matchup-based lineup — more guards on the floor if needed, or even two bigs together if needed. In fact, I thought Pitt looked best last night when they had four guards out there, with Nas the only big. (I liked Patterson at the “4” position.) It’s unfortunate that this lineup probably only occurred because Zanna was out and Taylor needed a few minutes rest.

Comment by JW 01.02.12 @ 12:12 pm

With Carmen on Talib. Drives me nuts when he pulls the ball down and loses it. He hustles but lacks toughness necessary for BE play. Not a center.

with pk on Gilbert. Head shaker. Velvil may be right on redshirt, but we are getting so little out of the 5 spot, why not let true center Gilbert see what he can do with significant playing time. Time to take the Ugg Boots off. Dunks and blocks would be welcome.

agree with Dan. to salvage season, need to get Gibbs hitting bombs again. Either Tra comes back next game or put Johnson or Wright at point. Epps not an option. Gibbs is no PG.

DePaul a “must win”? wow. HTP.

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