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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.

The work by Taylor, was especially good in the second half as he stayed on Kilicli, and wore him down.

Kilicli went toe-to-toe with Pitt forwards Talib Zanna and Dante Taylor in the post. He looked strong early, mixing powerful drop steps with soft hook shots. However, Kilicli struggled down the stretch, visibly fatigued, and couldn’t finish in crucial situations.

“I shot horrible,” said Kilicli, who finished 6 of 13 from the floor after a 2 for 10 showing against Syracuse on Saturday. “It’s under 50 percent.”

Taylor was grinding in this game. He worked for the boards and was patient with his chances in the second half. And yes, the WVU  gameplan was to go inside more. The WVU players just didn’t do it.

West Virginia called a number of sets to give their front court good looks. Kilicli made a habit of running off Jones’ screens on the block, which gave the Mountaineers opportunities inside.

“That was our main focus to pound it inside, get something close and get us some easy baskets,” Jones said.

“Once the game starts slipping away, everybody starts panicking,” Kilicli said. “We start doing things we’re not supposed to do, and everybody’s mind goes out of the game.”

Wait a minute. During the losing streak, I thought Pitt wasn’t tough enough — mentally or physically. Too easy to panic. Now, they aren’t.

But West Virginia coach Bob Huggins gave Dixon more. It happened during their postgame handshake and embrace.

“I told Jamie they’re tougher than us,” Huggins recalled. “They out-toughed us.”

What sweet words they were to Dixon.

It’s funny; that’s the exact sentiment the Pitt players had outside of their happy locker room.

“We’re a bunch of fighters on this team, a bunch of winners at that,” guard Tray Woodall said. “We all come from winning programs. That’s why coach Dixon recruited us. We’re not used to losing and we don’t like it. We’re always going to keep fighting.”

A week ago, that would have seemed like so much hot air.

Now Pitt is  the tougher, hungrier team?

Those of you who have done the liveblogs where I have been around during the losing streak, probably know how irritated I would get when someone would call the team soft and not mentally tough. They were playing poorly. They were frustrated. They were without Woodall. A lot was going wrong. But I consider the “toughness” argument as silly as the “they wanted it more” claim that even Nas would trot out after some losses. Effort, desire, will, chemistry, even toughness can be a difference when all other things are equal, and maybe even when things are not equal for one game. But when things like injuries, skill and ability are not equal; the intangibles matter a lot less over the course of a season.

The primary story, though was Tray Woodall carrying the team in the first half. Unlike the Georgetown game where Pitt raced out to the lead and never gave it back, Pitt took a big shot from WVU early. The Hoopies raced out to a 17-9 lead and looked like they had Pitt’s offense bottled up. Pitt battled back to show that this game would be tight. That it would be a brawl. Both teams would go back-and-forth to the end.

Then Tray happened. In the final 6:32 of the first half he scored 13 of Pitt’s final 18 points to take a 33-29 lead into the lockerroom. A lead Pitt never relinquished.

“I’m confident in myself that I can get it going,” Woodall said. “I’m a creative point guard first. But at the same time I’m a leader, and if my team needs me to step up and score some baskets, I try to do that for them.”

Pitt sorely needed it after scoring just nine points in the first 12 minutes of the half. The Panthers scored 24 points over the final eight minutes, and they never looked back once they took a 30-29 lead with 48 seconds to go before halftime.

“That’s a big plus when he does that,” senior forward Nasir Robinson said of Woodall’s shooting ability.

“When he gets it going like that it’s huge.”

“He came out and played his heart out,” junior center Dante Taylor said.

“He was doing everything he worked on in the offseason tonight. He was doing that dribble and step-back 3. I’m happy for him.”

The one thing that has become clear, is that this Pitt squad is Woodall’s team. Not Gibbs. Not Nas. Those two are team leaders, but it is from their work-ethic and how hard they go in practice and games.  Woodall is the guy the rest of the team looks to set things up. To make everyone know what will happen. To talk to them. Make them know where they should be and that they will be rewarded for doing it.





A new MB girl. She’s practically naked.

Now regarding Pitt. I’m more optimistic of Pitt’s chances with a healthy Tray in the line-up.

And give Jamie some credit for guiding the team through the adversity. He could have easily lost it but seems to have pulled through. Here’s hoping for a bid come March.

Comment by TX Panther 01.31.12 @ 2:48 pm

Always good to beat the Hoopies, especially on their court. I thought Woodall was the difference maker, but Taylor was very solid. In my opinion, Taylor didn’t get enough credit for his defense against Georgetown in the last game as well. G’Town’s big man was having his way with Zanna in the 2nd half until Taylor came in and put the clamps on him….Go Pitt. Let’s keep the momentum going!

Comment by CJK 01.31.12 @ 2:49 pm

who said we dont have a PG they were wrong.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.31.12 @ 3:07 pm

Yep, keep that momentum going.

I am thinking of the famous line uttered by the Wolf in Pulp Fiction today; losing twice more even makes much of this for naught. Having said that, it feel great to be on the good side for a few games. Who knows…perhaps we can keep it going.

It is a testament to Dixon and these kids that they still are playing so hard and clearly improving despite the fact they were dead last in the conference late in the season and going nowhere just 10 days ago. Hats off for the effort at the minimum. H2P

Comment by Joe 01.31.12 @ 3:09 pm

For all the optimism at this point, Jamie needs to keep them focused on just the next game. They need to not get ahead of themselves. Agreed Dante played one of his better games this year. Keep waiting for the light in his head to go off permanently.

Comment by John In South Carolina 01.31.12 @ 3:10 pm

Great game — man is it fun to beat the Hoopies…especially on their home court!

One thing I cannot get out of my head is why Jamie would put Nas back in the game with 2 minutes left when WVU is looking to foul. Is was quite obvious the second that Nas got the ball and Jones immediately mugged him. Not trying to question Jamie’s judgement, but if I have a small lead and the other team is trying to foul us to get back in the game, I’m sending Nasir to the locker room to get him as far away from the court as possible. I know he went 1 for 2 on the foul and didn’t touch the ball again, but why take the chance…put in your 5 best FT shooters when it comes to that point.

Comment by Hank the Tank 01.31.12 @ 3:22 pm

Tra is Big Time PITT gets consistant play from Taylor and Zanna with Lamar getting better all the time . We will do damage in Big East Tourney and Ncaa.

Comment by 63Team 01.31.12 @ 3:32 pm

All I’ll say is Hank…and it is befuddling–but Nas has been hitting his foul shots the last couple of games. Granted, he’s 50% for the season, but he’s probably > 80% for Georgetown and WVU. Maybe it was just a “feel” thing for Jamie. The contrarian approach, as they say in terms of investing.

Comment by Lou 01.31.12 @ 3:37 pm

Hank – you’re right on the money. I said the same thing last night on the open thread at the time it happened.

I thought he should have brought Nas back with about 5 minutes left. Let him bang with Jones for a few minutes then bring back Patterson/Moore, both good free throw shooters for the last two minutes.

Sure enough with about 3 minutes left, a gassed Patterson got the ball and missed a wide open jumper that Nas would have dribbled once and layed up.

That foul by Jones was brilliant. That kid would have looked good in a Pitt uniform. Best player pitt has faced this year.

Comment by boubacar aw 01.31.12 @ 3:37 pm

Hank, I thought the same thing. But I think its because i) Nas is our best, or at least most experienced, inbound passer. Not sure who else we could trust down there against a press (patterson maybe?); and ii) he’s shot FTs pretty well the last two games (6-8), so maybe Dixon knows he’s been practicing and figured his experience/calm was a fair trade off for whatever he’d get at the stripe.

Comment by PantherP 01.31.12 @ 3:38 pm

when there is no football post you use BB
we just lost are DT commit jarrett 6 foot 3 305 pounds to grades he has to go prep class is down to 14 now.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.31.12 @ 3:44 pm

These guys could’ve quit.

But they’re doing it for their school, for their coach, and most of all, for themselves.

I’m glad they realize that now.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's My Dad 01.31.12 @ 3:55 pm

Upittbaseball (or whatever his name is) has misteriously disappeared.

Frankcan – I’m not too worred about our class. We have a star RB, WR, T and TE in this year’s class. We will pick up some quality lineman next year.

Comment by CBC 01.31.12 @ 3:58 pm

Woodall has a cool demeanor — he seems to settle everyone around him. You could see the difference when he was on the bench.

I would still say this team is soft defensively compared to other Pitt squads in the Dixon era. I can’t remember ever seeing this much zone. There was improvement last night, but WVU got plenty of good looks at the basket and just didn’t shoot terribly well. With Woodall in the lineup they at least have a prayer of making some noise on the offensive end and staying competitive.

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 01.31.12 @ 3:58 pm

Upittbaseball (or whatever his name is) has mysteriously disappeared.

Frankcan – I’m not too worred about our class. We have a star RB, WR, T and TE in this year’s class. We will pick up some quality lineman next year.

Comment by CBC 01.31.12 @ 3:59 pm

i asked dokish what he thought about bam bradley and he said the following.

Pitt, Stanford, and Arizona. I’m guessing it will be Pitt but it’s just an educated guess. From what I can tell, even he doesn’t know yet.

this would be good news for a few reasons. obviously because hes a top player and two hes being recruited by pitt as a linebacker instead of safety. dokish has said many times that hes not quite fast enough for safety, but that just means hed be a very fast linebacker. hes got the measurables:6’2″ 200 lbs and he would really help with pitts lack of depth at linebacker

Comment by pk 01.31.12 @ 4:06 pm

Good article just posted on ESPN

link to espn.go.com

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 01.31.12 @ 4:11 pm

wow, things are moving fast.

bam bradley is now down to pitt and arizona because stanford was angered when he visited arizona.

Comment by pk 01.31.12 @ 4:23 pm

Where is the poster who said that Woodall is not a D-1 athlete? That’s what I want to know.

Also remember that when Isaiah Epps is pretty good a year or two from now . . .it takes time for players to develop.

Comment by Wannstache 01.31.12 @ 4:23 pm

I see the Mutually Benefitial Arrangements has a new ad.

That is smokin’!!! Something a little exotic!!!

I think it’s a Shelby, love the orange w/ white!!!

Comment by Dan 01.31.12 @ 4:25 pm

Dokish just said that Bam just tweeted “Burgh Gang or Die”.

Comment by Mike 01.31.12 @ 4:26 pm

added note, dokish reporting that bradley just tweeted “burgh bang or die”

take that as you will but it sounds promising for pitt

Comment by pk 01.31.12 @ 4:27 pm

gang but i was beat to the punch

loving the new mb girl

Comment by pk 01.31.12 @ 4:28 pm

I’d also like to thank “Truck” Bryant for whatever role his nickname and the associated technical had in inspring that classic Thuggins meltdown and trash shower. Luv ya, hoopies.

Comment by Lee in Altoona 01.31.12 @ 4:30 pm

Seems like Graham recruited many players that didn’t quite cut it in the classroom and wouldn’t have qualified this season. Pitt’s standards are a bit higher than Tulsa’s I guess.

Comment by TX Panther 01.31.12 @ 4:32 pm

I think we have a good chance for 2 DBs from Cleveland who have yet to commit.

as far as BB … one game at a time … yes, it’s a cliche, but also very pertinent for us right now

Comment by wbb 01.31.12 @ 4:34 pm

Sean Draper already went to Iowa so if he is one of the DBs you are talking about, you may want to rethink that.

Comment by Mike 01.31.12 @ 4:38 pm

I stand corrcted .. Standifer is from Illinois. He is scheduled to visit here this coming weekend, so unless he commits before then, we should have a decent chance

Comment by wbb 01.31.12 @ 4:40 pm

Mike, until he committed, I did think we had a good shot at Draeper … but you never know. The next 24 hrs will be interesting

Comment by wbb 01.31.12 @ 4:42 pm

standifer is considered a huge pitt lean. he wasnt able to go to nd. his top 2 is boise state and pitt but he didnt really enjoy his visit to bsu, so if the pitt official goes well then its a safe bet that pitt is it

Comment by pk 01.31.12 @ 4:45 pm

pk did you see my post DT jarrett wont make it grades

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.31.12 @ 4:48 pm

frank, i saw. obviously i dont know anything about the kid, but how a kid whos getting a full ride through a quality college to play a sport wont do everything humanly possible to get the minimun grades required blows my mind. youd think these kids would do whatever it takes to get their grades up to a level that they can go to a college offering to pay for their education.

Comment by pk 01.31.12 @ 4:53 pm

Was Draper a huge loss? Seems like this Standifer kid could be a good replacement. Plus, we have all those transfers and redshirts from last year.

And the Hilliard kid (6’6″ DE) we lost to the Cuse has to attend prep due to grades.

Did Graham not look at SAT scores and GPA’s before extending offers?

Comment by TX Panther 01.31.12 @ 4:54 pm

the class is down to 14 with a day to go and now only one D line men and coach thought that was a weak spot now it is worse.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.31.12 @ 5:05 pm

From a Hoopie friend of mine – Pitt won when WVU’s point guard Miles picked up his 2nd foul and sat in the 1st half. His replacement couldn’t guard Woodall – it’s when he went on his tear – and also threw the ball away a couple times. Makes sense to me, and also counts as capitalizing on an opportunity. Which we need to do.

I agree that Jones is the best player we’ve played, and I put the Turk above that goon from notre Dame.

Comment by KeyboardKev 01.31.12 @ 5:07 pm

frank, its looking good for pitt with deatsean rippy, bam bradley, anthony standifer, and if they offer, john guy. ill take that.

heres what i want to see for next years recruiting class from most important to least important: defensive linemen, offensive linemen, quarterback and wide recievers are tied, linebackers, cornerbacks, running backs. i would be shocked if pitt didnt get the limit commits. this class wil have a maximum of 19 commits so next year it will be critical to get quality players in positions of need and a lot of them.

Comment by pk 01.31.12 @ 5:13 pm

this class might be lucky to have 16

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.31.12 @ 5:21 pm

Lacking any integrity whatsoever, I am sure Graham never considered grades, police records, communicable diseases, etc in extending any scholarship offers.

As for the MBA girl, I am appalled…that the picture isn’t larger

Comment by Gas 01.31.12 @ 5:26 pm

I was one of many who didn’t think Woodall was a D1 player. His first two years here, I was right. He was skinny, weak, no shot, no left hand and no ability to use his quickness to create. He was too small and weak to guard anyone.

He made great strides to become an adequate back up last year.

Very few (if any) of us saw this coming.

But before we put him in the running for all big east, let’s hope this continues. It has been just three games fellas.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 01.31.12 @ 6:13 pm

Now let’s not everyone blame Graham for the questionable study habits of the young recruits, remember that he had his hands full with tracking down lost relatives in Arizona.

Comment by marcus of schaumburg 01.31.12 @ 6:13 pm

And I’ll take the bet on Epps. With Woodall around for one more year then having Robinson take over, Epps won’t start at Pitt.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 01.31.12 @ 6:19 pm

According to Dokish, Bam Bradley’s brother’s nickname is Freeze and Bam just said he is going to be with Freeze. That would be Nicolas Grigsby.

Comment by Mike 01.31.12 @ 6:38 pm

I’ve been excited about Travon Woodall every since he signed with Pitt. He looked promising his freshman year before he got hurt, had a rocky time the year after his redshirt though provided a couple of much needed sparks off the bench, and last year he proved he was Big East level by distributing well and coming up big in a couple of games- although he shot poorly for the season. But he comes out of one of the best high school programs in the country where he was a captain his senior year. He’s one of the better point guards in the conference at this point. Next year he might push for all-conference accolades if he stays healthy. This is basically a not unusual development trajectory for a Pitt guy. I’m not sure why year after year on this blog we get people constantly making pronouncements like this guy’s not a DI player or this guy can’t handle the Big East, etc. College basketball is the best major sport to watch athletes develop and improve year on year. This should be tattooed on the MBA girl’s ass so everyone here can calm down and stop spazzing out early in these guy’s careers.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 01.31.12 @ 6:51 pm

Not doubting their future development, but am I the only one who can’t look when we have 2 freshmen on the court at the same time? Yesterday a big lead disappeared quickly when it happened – not the first time.

Comment by San Diego Panther 69 01.31.12 @ 7:06 pm

I saw an improved Woodall last year and thought he would be able to take the reins this year … but didn’t see him as such a potent scorer

Comment by wbb 01.31.12 @ 7:08 pm

I didn’t notice any tatoos on the Mutually Benificial girl’s ass, but I would be happy to look again.

Tray Woodall played very well last year coming off the bench and was important contributer in several big games. I was looking forward to him having a big year this season, but he got hurt. Since he’s come back he’s made a tremendous impact. Hopefully they can continue to play well and finish the season with a flurish.

Comment by Justinian 01.31.12 @ 7:11 pm

The purpose of playing zone is to force more outside shots from the other team. Make it harder to get the ball inside, etc. That it did last night, wvcc was only 4-19 from 3, a measly 21%. And only shot 40% FG overall. Zones work, mainly because they eliminate a lot of these easy layups players get from beating one guy off the dribble. Cause a lot of these guys are not good at help defense, even the Pro’s aren’t. Most teams are not good outside shooting teams. Why because these kids grow up trying to bust moves on each other off the dribble. They don’t want to take the hours a day it takes to become a good outside shooter. If I was coaching I would play nothing but zone, make them beat you from long distance.

In the man d, neither Zanna or Sleepy could handle the Ugly Big Turk. Pitt & Dixon would be wise to learn and play the zone more and more. As why ….would you want to play man D with a space eater like Steve Adams coming next year. Talk about clogging the lane with him in the middle of a 2-3 zone.

Comment by Emel 01.31.12 @ 7:16 pm

Btw, glad we got a new Mutual girl. The last one had like herpes or something on her lips. lol

Comment by Emel 01.31.12 @ 7:18 pm

Not doubting their future development, but am I the only one who can’t look when we have 2 freshmen on the court at the same time? Yesterday a big lead disappeared quickly when it happened – not the first time.
Comment by San Diego Panther 69 01.31.12 @ 7:06 pm

Agree SD Panther, I was screaming on the Live blog to get Wright & Johnson out of the game. Johnson threw up that wild layup attempt when WVcc was making a run and Wright was a potential turnover every time he touched the ball in the 2nd half. Playing in front of that Pitt hating livid crowd, foaming at the mouth is quite a first time experience for anyone., let alone freshmen. Blair wasn’t intimidated since he had grown up in Pittsburgh and knew all about the rivalry.

Time and place for freshmen to play in a place like Morganhole. It’s not the 2nd half of a very close game.

Comment by Emel 01.31.12 @ 7:29 pm

No, both Wright and Johnson need to come in there. Wright is turning out to be an excellent defender- both on man and in the zone. He’s playing both 2 and 3. He’s the perfect guy to come in and play tough D and get some rebounds to hold a lead. Johnson needs to come in and spell Woodall in the second half for a few minutes so Tray can be ready for the stretch run at the end of the game. It’s also possible he will at some point get into foul trouble, so we need the freshmen to be capable of being in there. Realistically, when Woodall comes out of the game, the best we can probably hope for is to break even or maybe even lose a few points. We are almost offensively impotent without him. Well, we really struggle anyway.

The problem with our zone defense is that we don’t rebound well in it- especially the guards. We were outrebounded last night actually, but it wasn’t a factor. Better guard oriented teams like Louisville and Villanova coming up, require us to play more man. Hopefully our newly reborn aggressiveness and toughness can sturdy up the defense against these teams.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 01.31.12 @ 8:12 pm

maybe we can get the MBA girl to sit behind the bench, she should cure any impotency problems.

Comment by marcus of schaumburg 01.31.12 @ 8:19 pm

Wright played his best game last night. His defense was stellar. Johnson has onions. Jamie has to spell his starters and these guys are not only the future, but they are part of the present and contribute. He can’t just ignore them.

Jamie has always done this, to Pitt’s benefit. Remember that out of control PG Woodall? Or the walking foul as freshman, McGhee? He played them in pressure situations too.

Comment by velvil 01.31.12 @ 8:22 pm

I agree that Johnson and Wright both need to play and will be much better in the next couple of years. Al McGuire used to say that the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.

Comment by wbb 01.31.12 @ 8:48 pm

The main thing we needed was a LEADER. Ash and Nas are too quiet to take over. Tray is the man

Comment by Tony C 01.31.12 @ 8:57 pm

wbb, Cam Wright is HORRIBLE. I hope Jamie cuts the kid

Comment by Timmeh 01.31.12 @ 9:01 pm

Wright will be a big time player by the time he graduates. It’s Moore we need to hope makes the leap next year to more than a bit player.

Comment by Velvil 01.31.12 @ 9:08 pm

If pitt lands rippy and bradley, which is extremely likely, they will have quite a bit of young talent at linebacker. Theyll need a ton of linemen in 2013.

As for woodall, i never wouldve thought hed make this much of a difference. Cam wright is a lot like wannamaker was. Turns the ball over, cant score, makes you want to tear your hair out, but tries really hard. Hes going to develop into a wannamaker type.

Comment by Pk 01.31.12 @ 9:14 pm

It’s so much easier being a fan than a coach. Many on this board ripped Dixon for not playing or never playing freshmen enough. Consequently they took too long long to develop and we lost Birch.

Now some complain about playing freshmen together or during crunch time. Not saying anybody is right or wrong, but coach’s can’t ever get it right. Unless they win, of course.

Here’s hoping Jamie keeps on winning and proving people like me to be fickle know-it-alls. May he keep over-achieving…

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 01.31.12 @ 9:17 pm

Dokish reporting that rippy will signing with pitt

Comment by Pk 01.31.12 @ 9:40 pm

HUGE commit! Had offers from EVERYONE link to postgazette.com

Comment by Tony C 01.31.12 @ 9:46 pm

Hmm.. apparently Rippy is maintaining he hasn’t committed yet on his twitter. We’ll see what happens

Comment by Tony C 01.31.12 @ 9:54 pm

Dokish said that rippy just wants his special moment tomorrow when hes got a big shin dig planned for his announcement, plus he hates mike white

Comment by Pk 01.31.12 @ 10:02 pm

Doesnt like mike white

Comment by Pk 01.31.12 @ 10:04 pm

In the last three games, from my armchair, I think that Coach Dixon has done his best job all season of pushing the right buttons and pulling the right levers in terms of line-ups, substitutions, and defense. There’s times when he has used pretty much every opinion that has been tossed around here- except for all those spasmatic benching demands. There seems to be right times and places to shorten the bench or play certain guys, etc. Hopefully he can parlay this successful experience the rest of the way.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 01.31.12 @ 10:05 pm

post says rippy to pitt are they wrong

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.31.12 @ 10:06 pm

Frank, mike white from the post gazette got that from the sto rox head coach

Comment by Pk 01.31.12 @ 10:08 pm

@FRANK, it’s Christmas Eve!!! Will we get presents or a lump of coal??

I’m thinkin’ quite a few presents!!

Comment by Dan 01.31.12 @ 10:09 pm

Rippy is a nice pickup. Hopefully the kid can qualify and then maintain in school.

Let me clarify my remarks concerning the playing of freshmen and shortening the bench. The time to play those guys a lot have come & gone. It was during the lightweight portion of the non-con schedule. None of them are dependable on a game by game basis. As is the case with Moore as well.

We have to win just about every game now, both JJ & Wright made several bad plays very close together in the last 10 minutes of the game. Why they were both in, at the same time is certainly questionable as you just lowered your % of scorers to 60% ( 3 of 5 ), as JJ wasn’t on his game last night and Wright isn’t much of an offensive threat at all. As far as rebounding being less in the zone, well how did those huge rebounding margins that favored us, in that 8 game losing streak work out for us.

Don’t think that needs explained any further.

Comment by Emel 01.31.12 @ 10:39 pm

I don’t know what is true and what is not. I just hope that Rippy is coming to Pitt. He a guy they really want, he’s a local kid and I’d like to see him wearing Blue and gold next season. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Justinian 01.31.12 @ 10:44 pm

Dan i like presents lets hope you are right lets hope it is blue and gold

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.31.12 @ 11:03 pm

Obviously Rippy is committing to Pitt and he just doesn’t want Mike White talking about him since White has been critical of him all year.

Comment by Mike 01.31.12 @ 11:16 pm

No need to explain yourself, Emel.
As I stated in my post I wasn’t questioning anybody’s assertion about playing freshmen either way. Just pointing out how WE fans complain no matter what Coach does. Unless he’s winning. It’s our nature. That’s why I referred to myself as a know-it-all. Just further proves that coach’s can’t win with fans. Unless they win.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 01.31.12 @ 11:19 pm

If young Mr. Rippy does not like Mike White, then he has a very good head on his shoulders.
I won’t mince words.
Mike White is a fool of the highest order.

Comment by SFPitt 02.01.12 @ 2:55 am

On to hoops.
Playing guard in D1 is serious work. In the old days, phenoms like the Pearl or Lebo would come in a change a team.
They did change it too….changed college basketball into a guards game.
Now, that is the deepest and toughest position to play. Come in from high school and start at PG!! fairly common in the old days, i.e. Sean Miller.
I like all our guards actually..they all are good. But, they are rookies and the learning curve is steep, the competition cut throat and the pressure intense.
Next year, I suspect we will be talking about how much they have grown up with a year under fire in their satchel.
Especially liked Wright on the break in Morgandung. Villanova next.
HTP

Comment by SFPitt 02.01.12 @ 3:08 am

Robinson got into foul trouble, so Patterson had to swing over and play the 4, which meant that Moore and Wright had to take over duties at the 3. Wright has played well lately and is a better defensive stopper than Moore, so he was in to maintain the lead. Woodall is coming off a major injury. He cannot be playing 40 minutes per game. This is a young team and freshmen, redshirts, and sophomores are/will see playing time- especially if there is foul trouble from a starter. Dixon did what every other coach does and plays the subs around the media timeouts. Down the stretch, he always makes sure to have his most experienced lineups in- a la Georgetown.

This team has not proven to be totally effective at either zone or man defense. It is the combination of the two. The opponent and the situation dictates which and Dixon has been playing the right card as of late.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 02.01.12 @ 7:57 am

Silverpanther, well said.

I’d add that though the numbers can skew, rebounding margin is always important. During our stretch of losses, we did maintain high-ish rebounding #s, but its largely because we also missed so many shot, many of them put backs that result in inflated numbers. This doesn’t change the importance of rebounding — which is basically as valuable as TO margins in that it too usually results in more shot attempts.

We’re a little stuck between a rock and a hard place, because our perimeter D remains weak. Its getting better though we still need to keep mixing it up between zone and man, as Silver said. When/how to do mix it up is a tricky balance of opposing shooting % that night, the strength of their front court, etc, which is near impossible for fans to calculate. I trust Dixon with this. As said a few posts up, he’s done a lot of expirementing and seems to be pulling the right levers now. It’ll be really intersting how the rest of the season plays out defensively and a pretty definitive statement of his coaching ability (either as a pro or con).

Comment by PantherP 02.01.12 @ 2:10 pm

add to last sentence of first paragraph above: So that we had high rebounding # and still lost should not necessarily be read to mean rebounding margins are unimportant. (all in response to Emel’s comment)

Comment by PantherP 02.01.12 @ 2:15 pm

[…] I wrote it after the WVU game, but it bears repeating. This Pitt squad is Tray Woodall’s to lead on the court. When I watch […]


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