January 14, 2012

Hey, did you hear? The schedule for Pitt gets rough starting today. Yeah, that keeps getting mentioned after every painful lost since the end of December. And sharing the basement of the Big East with other teams that have been on top is not much of a comfort.

Coach Dixon appears willing to do anything to get Ashton Gibbs some space to shoot and getgoing. This includes more minutes for Isiah Epps and more of playing John Johnson at the point. Oh, and Marquette is 5th in the Big East in steals.

Everyone has their pet theories about what Pitt needs to do to get going. I wish I had an easy answer. The idea of Marcus Gilbert getting more minutes for his shot-blocking potential is nice, but he is so raw on the footwork that he can be easily moved around by a penetrating player or an easy up-and-under move. Plus his offense is even more limited.

Coach Dixon wants to see Johnson attempt to penetrate more as he is the only guard Dixon feels comfortable about doing that. I would say that is probably accurate. The one trade-off to that was in the Rutgers game where Johnson got himself hung up in-between. He would pass-up an open shot from outside trying to shot-fake and drive. Only to find it cut-off. I would love to see much more penetration from J.J. Moore. He has the strength and ability to attack the basket and absorb contact, but continues to either take 3s or pull up for a contested jumper.

On the Marquette side, they may still be ranked, but they have their issues. Including their own inability to play a complete game. In no small part because they get into foul trouble.

Okay, the game is on ESPNU at 2pm.

You all know the rules for the liveblog I hope. It is a moderated chat. I realize how hard it is not to lose it these days, but insanity doesn’t do much for anyone. The abusive will find themselves blocked. Repetitive comments will be ignored. If you need to break it out from the site, Click Here.

Epps penetrated and knew when to dish off when given the chance, he will only get better. Nasir has to know his place or he will hurt the team more by dribbling outside of his position!

Comment by michael 01.14.12 @ 6:51 pm

Someone wake me up when this nightmare is over.

Comment by Scott 78 01.14.12 @ 6:55 pm

Time to shock the world. No 1 Syracuse mon. night. We all know Jamie’s record vs Boeheim.

Comment by alcofan 01.14.12 @ 7:01 pm

There is no reason Epps should not have been given the reins after Woodall went down. This team is much better with him running it and Gibbs at the two than any lineup that includes Cameron Wright as a Two and Gibbs as a one. Now the kid is going to be needed but he has little experience. I big miss early in this season by the coaching staff I believe.

Comment by OntarioLett'sGoPitt 01.14.12 @ 7:18 pm

Looking forward to seeing Robinson and Dematha High play Monday afternoon on espnu. Maybe a little glimpse into the future will make me feel better.

Comment by JW 01.14.12 @ 7:20 pm

Well on the good side Jamie Dixon adapted rather than hope for a different outcome. That was a much better played game. Unfortunately Nas and Lamar killed with turnovers today. Patterson’s in particular ignited Marquette in the second half. Three of those were within like four straight possessions.

I liked the zone in the second half. However I can’t understand why Jamie played a back line on the zone of Robinson (6’5″), Zanna (6’9″) and Wright (6’3″) at one point. None of those guys are great jumpers either. We were having difficulties grabbing defensive boards and Jamie’s substitution was Patterson (6’5″ and again no great jumper) for Wright. Why Gilbert didn’t play in that situation is beyond me. If Marquette doesn’t make shots they can’t press. I still say that Pitt is a decent running team and should look to push it more given their inability to knock down shots in the half court.

I like Talib Zanna a lot, but he needs to catch the ball cleanly and be strong with it.

Is anyone else disturbed by how this year’s team consistently falters in the second half. I’ve no statistics to back this up, but it has always seemed to me in past years that Pitt teams always played better in the second half of games.

Comment by Barvo 01.14.12 @ 8:24 pm

our teams in the past were good….not so much this year…if you have crappy players it’s hard to play good during any half….however we did play descent in the first half

Comment by pitt-for-life 01.14.12 @ 8:38 pm

Mlb mike caprara just committed to pitt. He is woodland hills all time leader in tackles and was also recruited by psu and michigan state

Comment by Pk 01.14.12 @ 9:09 pm

In a year like this all I want to see is improvement and building blocks for next year. First time this year I saw both.

Gibbs had his first really good game of the year. But more importantly for the future, Epps did not look overmatched. If we can get some development out youngs guys like Epps, Johnson, Moore, Gilbert and maybe even Zanna I think that could be a good supporting cast for Robinson and Adams next year.

Although Patterson is young, I’m not sure how high a ceiling he has and I have really don’t have much hope left for Taylor.

Next year (I hate to be one of those guys that talks about “next year”):

A backcourt of Epps, Johnson, Woodall & Robinson will be small but will be the quickest and best ball handling Pitt has had in years.

The 4 & 5 tandem of Gilbert, Adams, Zanna, & Taylor will be the biggest & deepest we’ve had in years.

Can we find enough consistency and scoring from Patterson, D. Johnson and Moore at the 3? If so, this could be a good line up come next March.

Sadly, I think it will all come down to whether or not Adams is the real deal…

Regardless, we need to maximze the development of the youngs guys that we can. Gilbert, Epps, Moore, Johnson & Zanna need all the minutes they can take. I don’t want to see Gibbs running the point ever again…

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 01.14.12 @ 9:12 pm

Beat Syracuse! I just got an envelope full of Syracuse clippings mailed to me and a note asking me about this year’s Pitt team. What a nice stage for an upset. This would be a good game to get back on track.

Switching to football, Chris Dokish reported on his blog that Pitt signed linebacker Mike Caprara from Woodland Hills.

Comment by Justinian 01.14.12 @ 11:34 pm

I’m now just chalking it up to a bad year in the Burgh. I mean really if you are just a Pittsburgh sports fan, as I am, this has been an awful year. The worst of my 22 years on this planet. I’ve never seen anything like this last month/year in Pittsburgh sports. If it could go wrong it has gone wrong, either flat-out disaster from the start or just falling apart at a key time, nothing has gone right this year. I do, however, hold out hope that this team can close 9-4 and maybe sneak into the tourney. The way it’s been going in the Burgh though, they’ll get to the doorstep and be the last team out.

Comment by Pitt Rob 01.14.12 @ 11:47 pm

I hate to say it but this year’s football and basketball teams would crush any year’s Pitt team while I was in school (68-73). It’s not as bad as it could get- trust me.

Comment by tsquare 01.15.12 @ 12:32 am

some data about Adams’ debut yesterday at BABC Prep Classic … 23 pts, 10 reb

link to

Comment by wbb 01.15.12 @ 8:43 am

I missed yesterday’s game and spent the afternoon away from my television. I haven’t seen too many games so looking forward to Monday night, to see Pitt against Syracuse.

As much as I can look forward to Monday night.
There’s got to be a bottom soon, right?

Comment by Rieur1114 01.15.12 @ 9:59 am

Wbb, doesnt he play on tonight?

Comment by Pk 01.15.12 @ 10:11 am

Don’t get too excited about Epps. No buckets in 60+ minutes, plus that free throw exhibit last week. He needs some offense.
If Patterson does his turnover tricks again I would start JJ.
Iwould also keep Taylor on the floor until he fouls out and tell him to go hard. I think he plays afraid and that leads to cheap fouls.
NIT might be a reach this year.

Comment by Jimbo 01.15.12 @ 12:49 pm

Epps doesn’t have to score as the point if the rest of the team, including Gibbs, plays better. I’m excited about how he played because the offense didn’t look so dismal as it had. If you get any buckets out of him that is a bonus. Right now they just need a facilitator.

Comment by OntarioLett'sGoPitt 01.15.12 @ 12:56 pm

After the Rutgers disaster, I think everyone or most everyone was expecting a blowout AT Marquette.

What things did PITT do differently to even be ahead at the half and stay in the game till the end.

1) The Big Move was moving Gibbs back to SG
(frankly why he was moved in the first place was baffling. You can’t have your leading scorer feeling out of position and being worn out bringing the ball up the court for 38 minutes per game) This led to his highest scoring output of the season at 29 points on pretty much 50% shooting. Coaching blunder

2) PITT’s defense was much better giving up only 60 some points. PITT had more steals (10) than in the previous 4 games COMBINED. The defense was better because they played ZONE for most of the game. You only get better playing ZONE, the MORE you play it. This crap about playing if for a possession or two and the other team scores and immediately you go back to Man is ridiculous. This team doesn’t have the athletes to play Man, they couldn’t even defend the Rider’s & LaSalle’s in the Man. PITT could have been practicing this ZONE against SC State & St. Francis & a few other non-con lightweights. Surely Coach could see from the Rider game and forward this team couldn’t defend in the Man. Took way too long to analyze the problem (the Man defense) and implement a correction (the Zone).

3) For as good as Pitt’s been, they always seem to have problems with a press. Why….well they rarely attempt to PASS OVER the press. Instead they either dribble or pass into the teeth of it.
Also they always have way to many players on the half of the court where the inbounds pass was passed into. The more players on that side of the court creates more congestion on that side of the court and therefore more opportunities for the opponent to double team the ball. You have to spread the court, so that it’s much harder for the opponent to double team the ball.
You must make the other team PAY for pressing you, which means passing over them and getting 2 on 1’s or 3 on 2’s for easy layups. That is the goal of breaking the pass, NOT crawling up the floor, only to have to beat the defense AGAIN in their half-court defense. So need a guy who can ACCURATELY throw a half-court or full-court pass, passing the ball inbounds and you need a player with good hands at the midcourt circle who can also dribble adequately and hopefully be able to make a pass. This isn’t rocket science.

4) Shorten the bench. We don’t have 10 guys that good to go 10 deep(well maybe against VMI & St. Francis), especially against good teams.. Way too many different combinations of players playing with each other. Stick with a 7 or 8 man rotation, plenty of good teams do it that way.
That could be the problem with all the turnovers, nobody knows where the other guy is going to be, since there’s such a constant shuffle of players.
Also pulling guys immediately after they make a mistake, cause some players to play really tight for fear of making a mistake and being yanked out of the game. The bench should have been shortened AFTER the Wagner disaster. If you didn’t get the hint after some of the less than sterling performances against some of the dregs of the non-con, that was like being hit over the head with an anvil. Yet……

That all being said, let’s go up to the Carrier Dump and eat some Orange.

V e V

H T P !

Comment by Emel 01.15.12 @ 2:19 pm

Well Gibbs still played point for nearly half the game. But that said, Epps looked reasonably poised, seemed to make a strong effort to get the ball upcourt quickly, and demonstrated some nice court vision. Regarding zone, it was effective at keeping us in the game but late, it got shredded up pretty badly. It’s still a work in progress….Disagree about the shuffle of players. Most of the starters played about 30 minutes. Gilbert’s redshirt is burned, so he’s got to get a few minutes mid-game for experience sake and Wright came in late for defensive purposes for a few minutes. Anyway, team is struggling. Dixon is looking for effective combinations.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 01.15.12 @ 3:21 pm

Video of just how good Adams is. This is film from the game they just lost during which he outshines Nerlens Noel, the number 3 recruit in the country.

link to

Comment by OntarioLett'sGoPitt 01.15.12 @ 4:06 pm

I liked Epps. Better ball handling and passing. not a turnover machine like some of the others. Nas shouldn’t be making as many stupid turnovers. Wannamaker improved at this and his inside game every year. Nas still makes too many mental mistakes for a senior. We have to stop the turnovers if we are to win again.

Earlier this year, I thought they should run more, I was wrong, they slowed it down and atayed in the game. This helped to lower the stupid shots and bad turnovers. This is the Pitt way. Be patient take good shts, protect the ball and play great D. Let’s hope they get better.

Comment by gc 01.15.12 @ 4:08 pm

OntariolettGoPitt thank you for the video. For other videos at just how impressivie Adams is pull up Steven Adams in the Adias games.

In one video Adams steals a pass at half-court dribbles (uncontested but in total control) first with his right hand then swtiches over to his left since he is approaching the hoop from the left side and ends the layup or dunk (I cannot remember) with his left hand. Lost fundamentals among Amercan players. Even the best ameican point guards if they were right handed would have dribbled to the hoop with their right hand and shot the lay-up with their right hand.

From what Ive seen all he needs is upper body strength to compete now in the NBA. Most importantly he does not appear to have the self promoting attitude or feigned modesty attitude of American atheletes. He seems to be genuine appreciative young man. Even if he dominates as a freshman he may stay two years because of his apparent character.

Anyone see Robinson for DeMatha last night?

Comment by DRW 01.15.12 @ 4:50 pm

Adams will be on ESPN3 at 6pm EST as Notre Dame Prep takes on New Hampshire Prep.

Comment by Mailman 01.15.12 @ 5:40 pm

Nerlens Noel, who was the player Adams was shown competing with in his first game at ND prep on the youtube video and number 3 recruit for his class said after the game that Steven Adams is the best player he has EVER played against.

Comment by OntarioLett'sGoPitt 01.15.12 @ 6:04 pm

get ready to shock the nation on Big Monday: Gibbs and JJohnson light up Cuse’s zone with 3’s. Epps runs a smooth O from the pt, Nas does not help bring the ball up and has zero TO’s, Gilbert has a breakout game with multiple blocks and rebounds, both Moore & Lamar shoot effectively from the 3, and Sleepy misses the bus and the game. Pitt shocks the No. 1 team at da Dome! shouldn’t mix my meds & Harp Lager on weekends.

Adams isn’t here yet and can’t help us Monday. I agree with Emel and would like to see Jamie shorten the bench, especially when a lineup is clicking (see beginning of Marq game). Play Gilbert more and Dante less.

We traditionally play well at Syracuse and would love to see the 6 game skid end on Big Monday. Probably not, but hope to see some Panther Pride on national TV. Credit Jamie for trying the zone and finally putting Gibbs back at the 2. Will be interesting to see if Epps can put two good games together at PG. Need it to free Gibbs up and get the upset. HTP

Comment by Bossdaws 01.15.12 @ 6:32 pm

70-65 Pitt, this is Boeheim’s worst nightmare. He knows that he has trouble with Pitt, and that we ended their undefeated seasons twice recently. Normally, losing to Pitt wouldn’t be bad, but tomorrow for them it would be. Nas will have a big game as he is a zone killer. This team knows they can win this game and they will. Epps plays well and makes some shots. A win tomorrow would be huge for confidence and I think they get it and start to get in a groove from here on out, at least I hope so.

Comment by Pitt Rob 01.15.12 @ 6:45 pm

Ontario, is there a place where I can watch that interview?

Comment by pk 01.15.12 @ 8:05 pm

Respect this year would be another 20 win season which seems unlikely today but a copule of upsets and defeats of teams that we can beat on a good night.

Syracuse and Conneticut both had terrible years within the last 5 years and immediately bounced back (Conneticut winning te NCAA’s). North Carolina also was terrible 2 or 3 years ago and is back on top.

I would not use these situations if it were not be for a possibly unique player arriving next year an atheltic big man who has no desire to be a strong forward, although he has better offensive skills to be than Taylor or Birch. And a guard, although not incredibly quick or big but knows how to play basketball. He dribbles equally well with both hands, uses his left hand when penetrating to the hoop on the left side. After scoring on penetration immediately goes on defense before the ball hits the floor. A throw back to real basketball players.

Adams it appears will make an immediate impact. If he gains upper body strength a profound impact. Robinson could be the best guard from a school that has prided itself on its guards (Knight, Krauser, Fields,and Gibbs)who were each fundamentally flawed as players. Fields is the best example two first team all-americans in the front court can not make the final four because of an atriously poor shooting backcourt that allowed teams to ignore any outside picks by Blair.

If a 3 can develop and perhaps with Adams in the lineup Taylor at 6’9″ (he has the potentional to be be better than SF when Blair occupied the lane)and a 2 guard who can shot who does not have to be a good ball handler because of Robinson Pitt could be dangerous by Febuary 2013.

Really are we going to miss Robinson, hardly. Are we going to miss Gibbs – only the number of shot attempts.

Comment by DRW 01.15.12 @ 9:14 pm

Pitt needs a great rebounder and a guard who can penetrate and score by being aggressive a driving to the hoop. Pitt hasnt had that since sam young

Comment by Pk 01.15.12 @ 10:58 pm

I watched the Notre Dame Prep game last night to check out Steven Adams. He got elbowed in the mouth late in the first quarter and sat most of the rest of the first half. He played most of the second half though. His stats were, I think, 5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks. He definitely affected another 3 or 4 shots with his presence. While his clips from the first game with NDP showed an array of skills, other than a couple of nice blocks, he looked pretty raw in this game. But physically, he is really impressive. He is a deceiving 6’11” or 7’0” because his body is completely proportional. He is slender and athletic. And he runs very smoothly. Really, just watching him on tv, you can’t tell he is that tall. His body type and fluid movement make him look like he’s maybe closer to 6’7” or 6’8”. He’s got a good motor and hustles up and down the court. He wasn’t particularly beastly or aggressive around the basket, but he did not seem to shy away from contact. He looks like he will really benefit from being in a serious program. It’s unfortunate Birch transferred. The two of these guys in the frontcourt would have been something to see develop over a couple of years. Too bad..…Myles Davis btw, looked great.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 01.16.12 @ 9:28 am

The only way we can win tonight is if someone other than Gibbs steps up. Brad did that against Syr, he took the game over and that mentality is what we’ve lacked. In games like ND we started well but faltered; Gibbs was shackled at PG, no one else stepped up and then it all imploded. To give Syr a scare we need Patterson & Moore to shoot well early on and sustain it, need Dixon to have the confidence in Gilbert & Johnson and maybe they will produce.

15 point spot is an insult, says that we don’t belong in the same conference. Are we really going to be that bad? Maybe not.

Comment by Old School Panther 01.16.12 @ 12:08 pm

Expect Jimmy B to flip the script and press Pitt tonight. Also ‘cues is really long. It will be tougher for Nas to get his shots.

That said, 15 points? Too many. Pitt covers.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 01.16.12 @ 12:46 pm

15 1/2 pts. put that on the chalkboard and remind this team that Pitt hasn’t lost to the Orange since 2006. That maybe if we play them 10 times they beat us 9, but not tonight. That great moments are born from great opportunity…you know the rest.

agree that we need a TEAM effort tonite to pull off the upset. Gibbs needs to get 20+, but we need Lamar or one of the JJs (Johnson-Moore) to hit a few 3’s. Combine that with better D, Nas playing tough and zero turnovers (Cuse leads nation in steals) and we have a chance. Also need a productive effort from the bigs—-Zanna and Gilbert. Bench is taylor made for Dante, but maybe he can add a rebound, dunk or two.
Teams rarely go undefeated anymore. What a great opportunity for this team to regain some swagger and get a huge upset. stay tuned.

Comment by Bossdaws 01.16.12 @ 1:18 pm

We could be giant killers but a few things that have not gone well all season would have to go perfect tonight. Particularly, our front court would have to play like veterans.

I’d be happy to see less Nas against anyone but ‘Cuse. The thing his, his best games are against zone Ds, Cuse’s particularly. Troubling thing is Nas is in a funk of sloppy play right now. If he can play crisper, he may be our best asset.

Would also like to see more Epps, Gibbs & Moore as out back court. Epps (or anyone resembling a PG) obviously helps Ashton out. And Moore is maybe our only guy who has any ability to penetrate and dish… though he’s not done much of either penetrating or dishing this far, so i’m not holding my breath.

Comment by PantherP 01.16.12 @ 2:15 pm

We need Patterson & Moore to step it up this evening and have games scoring 10-16 pts. each.

Need another big game from Gibbs and Nas has to do his specialty against the Zone.

Oh and Epps has to play well on the big stage of the Carrier Dump and it’s vastness. That’s going to be a big key, because if he doesn’t, then Gibbs has to go back to PG and the whole offense becomes very muddled.

The Cuse is ripe for the picking, we just have to grab that big juicy orange and squeeze it.

We can turn around the season tonite. Let’s do it!!

P.S. What’s the status of Woody?

Comment by Emel 01.16.12 @ 2:20 pm

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