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January 2, 2012

Can’t Anyone Make a 3?

Filed under: Basketball,Numbers — Chas @ 11:59 am

Or hold on to the ball?

Ashton Gibbs has been really bad at 3-point shooting since having to take over point guard duties. That has become glaringly noticeable during this three game slide. He is a dismal 3-16 (18.75%) in the past three games. Sadly enough, no one else is helping. The rest of the team is shooting 5-32 (15.63%). In fact all but one of those 3s came from Lamar Patterson — and he had three of his four last night. Wright, Moore and Johnson have combined to be 1-14 during this losing streak.

Just as maddening as the missed 3s, though, are the turnovers. It isn’t exactly a huge leap of faith to suggest that Pitt would have won two of these past three games — regardless of the piss-poor 3-point shooting — if Pitt could have done somewhere approaching average against pressing defenses of Wagner and Cinci.

Heck, if they could have done either at a tolerable clip, Pitt wins both of those games. Maybe not with ease, but without the drama that accompanies this losing streak.

Honestly, I’m more concerned about the bad, bad 3-point shooting. The turnovers. Frustrating, but given Pitt’s history, not unexpected when they get pressed. Regardless of Tray Woodall’s presence. Remember Long Beach State and Duquesne? But not having Woodall out there seems to have destroyed Pitt’s ability to get good looks from outside the arc.

In Pitt’s first 7 games, the team shot 65-140 — 46.43% — on 3s. Remember when we were worried because Gibbs was only around 40-something percent early in the season? How we would love to get that back.

First 7 games, 3-point shooting

Ashton Gibbs: 24-56 — 42.9%

Rest of Team: 41-84 — 48.8%

Last 8 games (Woodall injured), 3-point shooting

Ashton Gibbs: 15-53 — 28.3%

Rest of Team: 21-86 — 24.4%

Woodall started out in those first 7 games going 16-35 (45.7%). The loss of Woodall has been much more devastating than originally believed. Between the threat of Woodall’s shot and simply better flow on offense, Pitt simply has not been the same team offensively. As I noted before, this team plays offense first, and that feeds the defense.





The kids aren’t fulfilling their potential, and i think the culture of the program is too lazy and is controlled by the players and not the coaches.

Comment by greg 01.02.12 @ 6:40 pm

As far as I know the 3 constants on the coaching staff the last couple years have been Dixon & Knight & Pat Sandle. Bill Barton is in his first year. Let’s start with Knight, Knight has ONLY coached under Dixon and only a few years removed from being a graduate assistant.
Sandle has only coached at two bigtime programs, PITT (under Howland & Dixon) & UCLA under Howland. So he knows one way,
the Dixon, Howland way.
Barton is just getting his feet wet and is here for his recruiting ties pretty much exclusively, having spent last year with former Pitt asst. Tom Herrion at Marshall and was at Duquesne with Everhard before that. Last night against Cincy he didn’t seam to be involved AT ALL with team TO’s and game strategy. In fact in that last TO, neither was Sandle.

Essentially you have two (2) ‘yes’ men and a first year coach who is here to basically recruit.

Dixon has no one, to really offer him suggestions and advice like Tom Herrion did from 2007-2010.
Herrion if you remember had been a successful Head Coach at College of Charleston where he was 80-38 in 4 years.

I love Coach Dixon, but I think he needs some help on the bench. There’s no way we should be losing to Wagner, barely beating Rider, LaSalle, getting routed by ND and losing at home to a very average Cincy team. There is certainly enough talent on this team, to have won these games.

Comment by Emel 01.02.12 @ 7:35 pm

Holy Shit!!! We’ve got one of the best coaches in the country and some are dissatisfied. Bullshit. I have seen the Pitt Hoops program grow over the last 35 years to what it is today and I like what I see. I have expected a rebuilding year for the last 5 years and look what we get; Top notch, competitive hoops in the best conference in the country. Give Dixon a break and be happy with what we’ve got. This man will take us all the way in the next 5-7 years. How many schools would trade with us?

Comment by The Hagen 01.02.12 @ 7:44 pm

In fact, you had a very avg. Cincy team playing without their best player (Gates) and two of their other tallest players. They were playing with 4 guards. Which means PITT should have attempted to pound it inside, since we were bigger inside.
Taylor had 2 points and Zanna had 2 points with minimal shots taken by both.

That just doesn’t make sense.

Comment by Emel 01.02.12 @ 7:49 pm

good pt, Emel. simple move, but would upgrade O significantly: start JJohnson at PG and Gibbs at the 2 until Tra returns. Epps or Wright can back up JJohnson. Do it Jamie, now.

would love to see some changes on D. cannot continue with Dante/Zanna’s lack of toughness & scoring from the 5 spot going into meat of BE schedule. DePaul might be a good game to experiment.

Comment by Bossdaws 01.02.12 @ 7:52 pm

Let’s all take a step back here, especially those ready to run Dixon out of town (okay maybe there’s only one or two of you). I agree with everyone’s criticisms of the team this season and how it’s been coached, even how it’s been set up the past year or two. But you can look back through EVERY coach’s resume and find a bump in the road similar to this season. (Yes even Jim Calhoun.) The key and big indicator will be how they respond in the next year or two — if Pitt suffers two or three down years, then there are serious issues. But many top programs have a blip such as this, then respond even stronger. Perhaps the program is transitioning from the consistent, Sweet 16-plataeu team to one which must step back before going even farther forward. As more talent comes in (and hopefully stays for a bit) I’m optimistic that will be the case. I have no evidence to support this, just as no evidence exists that Sean Miller would “coach circles” around Jamie Dixon. I guess I’d just rather be optimistic than the alternative.

Comment by JW 01.02.12 @ 7:56 pm

JW, it’s very refreshing to hear a voice of reason among this madness.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 01.02.12 @ 8:22 pm

why would you spike the ball with 2 second left

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.02.12 @ 8:42 pm

Jw- I would agree, but the best of the young talent left. The other players are just okay. None are stars. Unless this next recruiting class is really good, Pitt is in trouble. The talent isn’t there right now.

Comment by Omar 01.02.12 @ 8:49 pm

Omar-

When I said “Taylor played better…” of course, that is a very relative assessment. True, he didn’t make many points, or contribute offensively. But, I thought I saw some “sparks” of intensity with some of his blocks. I guess to me, that was a little improvement.

And please, don’t use me as a barometer of “basketball knowledge” on this blog. I admit, I’m just of average knowledge, and I don’t know the finer points of the game. But I come here because there are many posters that DO know the game, and I learn a lot from them. Besides, I didn’t think that HAVING knowledge of any kind or relevant to the topic, keeps most people from following and participating in blogs.

Comment by Lou 01.02.12 @ 8:50 pm

Lets move on to football now coach should name his staff tomarrow.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.02.12 @ 8:51 pm

I agree that we need Gibbs at SG and let the underclassmen get their minutes at PG even if it is a downgrade at that position. I also believe that JD is one of the better coaches in the country but relies too much on upperclassmen (loyalty?). My only problem is that since Gilbert’s redshirt is gone and he is a big youngster why nor let him in ther to if nothing else bang BE style. Isn’t that waht the practices are like

Comment by jim 01.02.12 @ 9:02 pm

Omar I hear you, there’s a lot riding on Adams and Robinson next year.

Comment by JW 01.02.12 @ 9:13 pm

LOOK our BBteam sucks and we are not used to that but deal with it we are going to lose more games than we win lets hope it is a one year thing . i dont want to have losers but we do. so lets move on to the football talk then we dont have to deal with it.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.02.12 @ 9:16 pm

There’s not much to talk about football Frankcan.
The team hasn’t played in a month, is anybody really excited to watch them play in another Compass Bowl with Terrible Tino at the helm?

If Patterson wanted to create some interest in the game, he could have named Gonzo or Myers the starter for the game. He didn’t, I could care less.

As far as asst. coaches, that doesn’t make for great blogging. They are a dime a dozen, some of them work and some of them don’t. I’m exhausted talking about Pitt football over the last 12 months. There’s not much left to say until we can get the Zeise memo in the Spring saying how much Tino has improved (again).

We can still salvage this bball season I believe if some changes are made. But we need to get Gibbs off the point and Taylor out of Center. Yes he was better against Cincy, why you ask.
They were playing without Yancy Gates and two other post men. Meaning he was playing against undersized guys. Taylor is adequate against undersized teams, still can’t get the ball, but adequate. Might be more a problem that Gibbs can’t pass into the post and apparently no one else can either. Woody is a little better.

Comment by Emel 01.02.12 @ 10:03 pm

EMel the BB season is a lost cause i cant really take mutch more of pitt loseing that is how come i want to talk abought football coachs that way i can foregt abought it. i mean BB was our pride you could say at least we have BB but not this year .

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.02.12 @ 10:26 pm

There’s a new football blog up for you FrankCan.

Happy New Year guy !

We just fell out of the Top 25, so even though I think it’s a stretch we make the NCAA’s this year, I’m still hoping Jamie reads my blogs and makes some changes with his schemes and player positions.
lol 🙂

Comment by Emel 01.02.12 @ 10:47 pm

Dixon’s limitations are now fully understood, the most recent being his inability to manage a 5 star recruit, which might end up being his most glaring limitation if & when Birch excels under another coach. Jaime is a good coach, not great and like Marty Schottenheimer’s defenders guys on this board a satisfied with his performance. Dixon can’t see trouble coming and the great ones can. Losing to Villanove didn’t happen with Reynolds drive, it was Dixon, a shit ballhandler getting trapped on his right side with Pitt up by 2 or 3. Jaime needed an emergency TO there, get that ball into Field’s hands. V Butler he left his players on the line, at least he learned from that one; he now pulls them in similar situations. 10 minutes before tip in Dayton against ETSU I walked down to the bench; never have I seen a coach in a big time venue so pale, nervous. Holy shit, he looked like he needed an IV. But in MSG he looks like he can eat raw meat.

This year is lost unless he modifies, and maybe modification is eactly what he needs.

Comment by Old School Panther 01.03.12 @ 7:05 am

[…] play the point which has taken away from his productivity, particularly in the shooting department. With all credit and thanks to pittblather.com for these stats: Before Woodall’s injury Gibbs was hitting 42.9% of his […]


say it ain’t so: Sporting News has Pitt as a bubble team to make the NCAA tournament. Bubble sounds good right now, in light of a 3 game losing streak. Still time to right this ship.

DePaul & Rutgers ahead. Move Gibbs back to the 2 now. JJohnson & Epps can play PG until Tra recovers. Need to jump start Gibbs. Play Gilbert. Lamar & JJ need to score more. Let’s get back into the top 25 where we belong

Comment by Bossdaws 01.03.12 @ 9:36 am

Lou, I’m with ya. Taylor DID play better. Low Pt total is disappointing, but we need to see defense, rebounding and active play from him. We got improvement in all of those categories.

He’ll score points in the course of the game especially off of offensive rebounds. Against Cinncy, we shot so much from outside (and missed) that most offensive rebounds were long bounces back out to the guards. No opportunity for put backs for Taylor. Alos our guards DO NOT know how to pass inside. This is why Taylor did not score so much. But otherwise actually played better.

Omar, I know the rest of us are all too stupid to say anything accurate about basketball, but I’m sticking with Lou on this one.

Comment by PantherP 01.03.12 @ 9:44 am

On what planet is Dante Taylor a SF or PF? Has anyone actually watched him play? He has no foot speed, quickness or coordination in the first place. Can you imagine him guarding 3s or 4s in this conference? He can’t stay in front of a big man making a quick spin move in the post, let alone a tweener that can handle. Compound that with the fact he can’t dribble and his shot has a vicious sidespin and he is clearly a center only. The problem is, he can’t play that either.

Comment by Joe 01.03.12 @ 10:22 am

He’s their biggest problem. He is a major weak link defensively. There was a stretch in the game where Dixon went small exclusively (both ends, not just offense-defense subbing) around the 8 minute mark and we went from down 5 to tied in the minute and a half we did it. We played much tougher defense in that stretch and still utilized Robinson for 3 layups in a row for anyone complaining about lack of size offensively.

I realize Taylor has to play against bigger teams, but that is the source of the problem…unless Gilbert can play instead. I can’t imagine he could be much worse. I really would call Dante the Tino of this team.

Comment by Joe 01.03.12 @ 10:25 am

nothing is worse than watching Gibbs dribble…….

the best thing you can normally say about Gibbs is that he keeps both teams in the game. (with his shooting and lack of defense) but now you can’t even say that…..

but i think they actually miss McGhee the most. there’s just no strength inside. no muscle. no beef. nobody moving people around.

agree, Taylor’s not playing anywhere else. he’s just a lousy center and we’re stuck with that.

Woodall will help a bit, but not nearly as much as people seem to think. Johnson is already a better defender and if Woodall is shooting much, then he’s not distributing, so that’s not the answer either. his focus should be making other players better — getting Gibbs/Patterson open threes and setting Taylor and Robinson up for layups and dunks.

Comment by hugh green 01.03.12 @ 11:29 am

PantherP & Lou:

I didn’t mean to insult either of you. My comment came out wrong and I apologize.

Dante Taylor played horribly on Sunday. I can’t agree with you on this. Forget about his offense. His defense, which is all I really watch with this team, was a disgrace. He doesn’t get it on that end. He was simply awful against a team that he should have dominated.

The kid just isn’t a player. He is one of the main culprits behind Pitt’s struggles. Much of the preseason hype centered around an improved Dante. It just hasn’t happened.

I do agree with Joe. Dante Taylor displays no discernible skills that will translate to power forward or small forward. This “…play his natural position,” argument is pure nonsense. I don’t care what his high school coach says. He can’t dribble or shoot. He can barely defend centers. Please tell me how anyone thinks he is a forward.

Comment by omar 01.03.12 @ 11:30 am

I’ve never seen Taylor really dribble, so hard to comment. But, if I recall correctly, when Taylor has taken 5-10 foot jump shots, he’s made them, and the shot has looked smooth, even with the funky side spin (which I simply cannot understand how a player gets past 9-10th grade still shooting like that!). Of course, the 4 needs to be able to shoot from further out than that, and I agree that Taylor most likely couldn’t play PF in this system.

Why Gibbs continues at PG is beyond me. There is absolutely no justification for it. Agree that Dixon is a good coach, but his lack of flexibility and willingness to look further than the next game is his rate-limiting weakness that will prevent Pitt teams from getting over the hump.

Comment by Carmen 01.03.12 @ 12:18 pm

interesting point about Dixon only having yes mean as ass’t coaches.

when does he have the confidence to bring in somebody who may disagree with the Howland system?

could be someone who isn’t scared to play multiple defenses. or someone who isn’t committed to one offensive scheme run over and over…..

and when does Dixon realize you have to have one guard who can break a defense down and get his shot off when you need a bucket?

where is the speed in the backcourt? anyone seen L-ville play? I think you could tie Siva and Russ Smith together, three-legged style, and they could beat Woodall and Gibbs in a 90 foot race.

Comment by hugh green 01.03.12 @ 12:40 pm

from ESPN re: Birch… clearly Dixon told him one thing, then did another:

“He’s looking for development, a school that will develop him like a big man,” Sparks said. “Khem’s mentality is that he wants to play the sport and if he makes the (NBA) he wants to be good. Khem wants to learn as much as he can. He wants a school that’s going to run him up and down the court. He doesn’t want to play center, he wants to be a four.”

Comment by DeVanzo 01.03.12 @ 3:23 pm

Khem admitted that he didn’t have the skills to play the 4. He didn’t beat out the player in front of him and struggled at the beginning of the year at the 4. He was playing well at the 5 and that is where he could get the most minutes. Birch is immature and entitled. It’s his own fault, but Dixon shouldn’t have recruited him. Waste of everyone’s time.

Birch is going to be sitting out for a long time. He, and his advisors, are not very intelligent. How is he going to develop his skills by not playing for a year? Please explain. A nonsensical, moronic, childish, and ultimately foolish decision by team Birch. His mother should be embarrassed by this circus.

Comment by omar 01.03.12 @ 3:42 pm

Also, if Khem thinks running up and down the court is how they play in the NBA, then he needs to turn on the television. The NBA playoffs are half-court. Period. Running up and down isn’t going to get him ready for the league.

Comment by omar 01.03.12 @ 3:46 pm

Gibbs is killing this team. He’s not shooting well, he’s turning the ball over, he’s not running the offense and he’s dreadful on defense.

Jamie, please, move him back to the two and reduce his minutes.

Has anyone heard when Woodall is coming back? If he is going to be out for any extended period time, Jamie has to move Johnson to the point. They won’t win six games in the big east with the team as they rolled out it there on New Years Day.

Comment by boubacar aw 01.03.12 @ 3:48 pm

Sorry that Steven Adams had to be there to witness that piss poor performance on Sunday.

Man, he is one tall, tall, really tall, skinny dude. He towered over Austin Wallace, who was once GENEROUSLY listed at 6’9″.

I hope we can all temper our expectations for this kid. He is not going to be a one year savior.

Comment by boubacar aw 01.03.12 @ 4:02 pm

Consideration – 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 01.03.12 @ 8:46 pm

Taylor isn’t a power forward.

Comment by Omar 01.03.12 @ 9:06 pm

At this pt in the season, I’d like to see Tra (JJohnson until he returns)at PG, Gibbs at SG, Lamar, Nas & Gilbert start. Might be your toughest starting lineup. let Dante and Zanna come off the bench. Change that switching man to man to allow Gilbert to stay underneath —and not have our bigs chase outside like keystone cops. This D. is bad and change is needed to salvage this year.

Comment by Bossdaws 01.03.12 @ 9:21 pm

With this personnel, the team is unlikely to improve defensively. As sloppy as they look at times, they are still a top 10 offensive team in terms of adjusted stats. The number that jumps out to me though is tempo: Pitt is so slow they are currently 330 out of 345 D-1 teams. (Some of that stat has to be attributed to how much they’ve struggled against the press — taking 10 secs to cross midcourt, another 8-10 to start running the offense, etc.) I can’t help but think they can as best as possible mask their defensive flaws by increasing their tempo. Play to their strengths. Put the pressure on the other teams to keep up. That also probably means the smaller lineup. Thoughts?

Comment by JW 01.03.12 @ 10:09 pm

Omar-

No hard feelings. I have read your posts here for a long time, and I respect a great deal of them.

I do agree with you that Taylor is a major disappointment, and has not materialized like Pitt’s “bigs” from the past decade. He is not the sole cause of Pitt’s problems right now, but his lack of contribution probably doesn’t even intimidate other teams; i.e., there are no double-teams on him, there’s no fear around him, and so on.

Comment by Lou 01.03.12 @ 11:08 pm

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