January 16, 2012

LiveBlog: Pitt-Cuse

Filed under: Basketball,liveblog — Chas @ 5:08 pm

UPDATE: Tip-off pushed to 7:40

There might be room for optimism after playing better than Pitt has in this losing streak against Marquette. Yet it was still another loss. Now Pitt is facing the #1 team in the country. A team yet to lose a game. This is likely going to be an ugly game.

Yet it is hard not to have at least a touch of hope as one other factor is in play. For whatever reason, Pitt has owned Syracuse in the last few years. Even when they looked better and were ranked higher, Pitt has found ways to win. Whether at home or the Carrier Dome. No I don’t know that it will continue, but at the very least it has to be in the back of the players and Cuse fans minds tonight. Right? Right?

It is still Big Monday. A 7:30 pm prime time game on ESPN.

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.



What I saw was a lack of coaching. A team that turns the ball over 50% or more of the time when pressed is not coached well. A team in a half court offense that stands around the perimeter 3 out of 5 times down the court shooting a desperate 3 poiner, passes to the corners for double teams, does not go inside and try to attack the basket even if your big men are questionable (since they are not involved in the offense we really do not know) is poorly coached.

Dixon does not have the luxury this year to annoint a medicore guard as the actual coach of the team (Krauser, Fields and now Gibbs). He has to read Gibbs the riot act about palying for Pitt not for a future NBA contract he will never see.

He has to coach Taylor and Zana to use head fakes when attempting to put up offensive rebounds. He has to let them step away and face up to the hoop and take a shot when receiving the ball down low since neither is a post player with any power moves.

Defensively work on help out defense when guards are beat. Not overplaying your man to block passing lanes since this team is not quick enough to get back to their man.

Stop playing favorites one of Dixon’s problems. Robinson should be a spot player with McGhee gone he is a liability. Forget that he is a senior he has know upside.

Take Taylor aside talk to him positively with the attempt to get his confidence. My guess is that Dixon uses alot of negative reinforcement. Tell Taylor he is the man and he wants him to take over not to be afraid to step away from the basket for a short jumper. Not to put the ball on the floor from 10 ft. away and go to the basket.

Sit Robinson down and play Taylor and Zana, Johnson, Gibbs, Moore, and Epps a point if he can handle it. Tell Moore to drive to the basket and forget the 3’s unless he is open.

Next year we will have a true point guard a 2 guard (Johnson) who is a good as shooter as Gibbs, a legitmate defensive and offensive big man in the paint and a big SF (Taylor/Zanna). We need to let Taylor and Zanna move away from the basket and get comfortable taking short jumpers.

Comment by DRW 01.17.12 @ 10:24 am

I credit those individuals that said Epps needs more time @ the point == offensive spacing & flow much better & more consistent. Gibbs more effective @ the 2 spot coming off screens. PITT handled Syracuse zone well == Although, PITT missed 16 lay-ups & 11 of those were blocked. Maybe Zanna needed to be @ the high-post other than Nas who is under sized.

Comment by DC33 01.17.12 @ 12:05 pm

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Comment by TonyinHouston 01.17.12 @ 1:28 pm

fatal error, can’t post.

Comment by Dan 01.17.12 @ 1:58 pm

It is shocking how many shots Taylor gets blocked CLEAN under the hoop. You would think that a 6’9″ dude would at least get a foul call if he takes it up strong. He gets a ton of offensive boards but then he just gives it right back. He lacks explosiveness and goes up too soft and slow. Don’t know if there’s much he can do about.

We need to hope Gilbert develops quickly (reasonable) and/or Adams is the real deal from day one (?tbd??). Zanna will move over to the 4 next year. Not sure what to do with Taylor. He does not move his feet well enough to guard most 4’s.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 01.17.12 @ 3:58 pm

While we know Taylor or Zanna are not the physical specimens we are used to see ing at the 5,(McGhee, Blair, Lett, Troutman, Gray), they don’t seem to be quick jumpers either .. thus, the reason why they get blocked so much

Comment by wbb 01.17.12 @ 4:24 pm

The way Pitt fought back last night was impressive. After the initial 13 – 0 run, Pitt played a more talented team to a draw in a tough environment.

My big take away was just how stark the talent difference is between Pitt and Syracuse. Size, speed, and athleticism wise they are in different leagues

Comment by Boubacar Aw 01.17.12 @ 4:34 pm

Early in the season I was so high on Nas, now he just drives me crazy. The TOs and the freakin’ FTs. Doesn’t he get sick of not being able to shoot FTs? Doesn’t it drive him as crazy as it does the fans? How can he NOT have fixed his shooting motion by now? Why is that not a priority? As a senior at a major college program, would you not want to improve and lead by example?

Taylor still needs to get much stronger. Again, he’s had 2 years to make that a priority. Moore had his worst game of the season last night. Firing up jumpers, poor help defense, lack of rebounding.

Wright and Zanna were really strong in the second half. Perhaps a light has gone off for Wright. He was aggressive and decisive.

Overall, don’t think you can fault the effort the team gave last night. Execution continues to be a problem at times But Syracuse shot the ball really well in the second half. A few of those 3s don’t go down and it’s altogether different game.

Comment by Carmen 01.17.12 @ 5:24 pm

Taylor was 2-7 (not 2-11). Zanna 3-8. Nas 1-5.

I know we’re all disappointed in Taylor, but lets not exaggerate. He was playing against a pretty nasty front court. Taylor did almost everything else pretty well except his characteric occassional lapse on defense. Even playing the middle of the zone break on offense occassionally.
Comment by PantherP 01.17.12 @ 10:08 am

I posted those stats right after the game and that’s what they had.
The stats changed this morning or later last night. Which happens a lot after they review the
stat book.

Wasn’t trying to make him look any worse than he is. That’s what was listed in the Yahoo Game box, after the game. He did rebound pretty good.

But him and Zanna and Nas had some many ‘point blank’ misses it looked like a ymca game.

Comment by Emel 01.17.12 @ 6:24 pm

except I never faced 6’10 at the Y

Comment by wbb 01.17.12 @ 6:26 pm

After looking at our remaining schedule, there are 5 possible victories (Providence, Villanova both battles for last place, 2 games with USF and one with the Johnnies. And there are another 7 losses looming with teams that either very good, good or better than us.

So if that holds, we’d be 16-15 and NIT bound….baby ! Maybe we can win the NIT championship so that we can at least say…we won a championship in hoops. Yea,,,I know.

Comment by Emel 01.17.12 @ 7:03 pm

While we know Taylor or Zanna are not the physical specimens we are used to see ing at the 5,(McGhee, Blair, Lett, Troutman, Gray), they don’t seem to be quick jumpers either .. thus, the reason why they get blocked so much

Comment by wbb 01.17.12 @ 4:24 pm

Aaron Gray….a quick jumper….surely you jest.

Comment by Emel 01.17.12 @ 7:09 pm

Emel.. read it again.

Comment by wbb 01.17.12 @ 7:38 pm

Your right wbb, I misread that. My bad.

Perhaps they also got blocked so much because they’re both playing out of position. Neither Taylor or Zanna are Centers. And they were matched up against a 7 footer in Melo who had the majority of the blocks.

If one remembers towards the end of the game, Zanna hit a couple jumpers in the elbow at the FT line. Which is what you do if you have an undersized but quicker guy playing Center. You have to draw their big lumbering Center(Melo) away from the hoop. Too bad it took 3/4 ‘s of the game for them to figure that out.

Biggest problem this team has had, you had Gibbs playing out of position and you have Taylor & Zanna and even Nas playing out of position. Gibbs we all know is not a PG, which killed his shooting and the offense overall. Taylor nor Zanna play well at all in the lane with back to basket and Nas is an extremely undersized PF, much more suited to SF or put Taylor or Zanna over there at SF and create some mismatches.

You just have alot of players out of position.
And it took forever for Coach to get Gibbs back to SG and he has yet to figure out Taylor & Zanna.
As was him finally admitting (not really) this team can’t play Man defense.

Comment by EMel 01.18.12 @ 6:28 am

Well switching back to man defense in the second half is really what helped draw them closer. So it’s alternating between zone and man that may be the answer and that has been determined through trial and error. Regarding the positions in the frontcourt, I just don’t understand why everyone is so hung up on them. Plays get broken once the shot is up and whether any of them are playing center or power forward, it really doesn’t matter. They are all charged with going after rebounds. 6’9″ for a college center is normal these days. Robinson, everyone knows he’s undersized. But he’s not a wing player. The team, overall, rebounds well. Better in man to man…Gibbs played most of this game at point guard and a lot of the Marquette game at point. Losing Woodall and Epps’ slow development has forced Dixon’s hand. There was nothing to figure out.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 01.18.12 @ 8:17 am

I agree with EMel both neither Taylor or Zanna is a post player. Pitt should go to a 3 guard 2 forward offense, with no post player. Why not experiment with bot Zana and Taylor playing outside the lane getting them the opportunity to see if they can hit the short jumpers from the baseline and in the middle of the lane.

Demand Moore to take advantage of the open lane. Most of all have the guards in constant motion not just standing on the perimeter playing pass and catch and steal. If they moved without the ball inside and pickuped some screens from Zanna and Taylor (bouble screens) and popped out the other side or in the lane maybe they could avoid running the clock down to two seconds.

Drop the point guard play 2 guards and SF playing a swing guard. Johnson, Gibbs, Moore (pull him if he will not go to the basket), Taylor, and Zanna. Robinson should not play more than 20 minutes at most – he hurts as much as helps and will be gone.

Adams will have to start at center from 1st game so Zanna and Taylor need to determine now who can really play the 4.

Comment by DRW 01.18.12 @ 10:09 am

Well they have basically played 3 guards 2 forwards for years and against Syracuse, played for long stretches with basically 4 wing players. You still need size to play defense though. And Robinson has played lousy lately, but is a good passer from the high post, which can’t be said of Taylor and Zanna. It is important to have players in the low post for rebounding and for general spacing…Taylor will never play the 4 in his career at Pitt. That is clear.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 01.18.12 @ 10:22 am

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