February 19, 2012

LiveBlog: Try Again, USF-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,liveblog — Chas @ 11:57 am

Well, USF doesn’t play well away from Florida. Pitt just isn’t playing well. Something has to give.

I’m probably going to be DVR delayed. Traveling back from visiting family. So, SilverPanther in NYC will be taking the reigns tonight.

Odd time,at 7pm  but when Pitt gets to the ACC, there are those Sunday night games.

Everyone should know the rules by now. I’m a bit pressed for so time, hence brevity.

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

Otherwise, just a little lower.

Searging for sanity and answers! Saw a comment that Gibbs “hates” Johnson and refused last night to hit him with a pass….so I went back and watched again. I saw two occasions of that behavior but the half-assed way Gibbs is playing, who knows whether he even saw him open.

And one more thing on Gibbs…did anyone else cringe last night when Gibbs again drove the middle, only to be tied up and lose posession?
He has made a habit of that…

Last but not least…as bad as this Pitt team is, when you cannot score, every defensive mistake looms large…think we lose the next three and end this nightmare.

Comment by Dan 72 02.20.12 @ 11:02 am

The more talent you get the more they do not fit the system. You were right that Dixon was furious with JJ last night when he took that shot. If he would have missed it he would have been pulled. Your right he was in a shooting slump but how much of that can be being afraid to make a mistake and then getting pulled. Next year will be interesting to see if Jamie lets them play or tries to structure everything around the system. Although the system works you need the players that buy into it which is harder to do as the raw talent increases.

Comment by JP 02.20.12 @ 11:11 am

Next year this COULD be the best lineup. I am not saying this will be or even should be the starting five. But it is the combination that has the most potential.

Center: Adams
Forwards: Moore, Patterson
Guards: J Johnson, Robinson

Offense: Run pick and roll with Adams and Robinson. Adams showed me more pick and roll ability in the HS game in Ambridge than I have seen in 10 years of centers at Pitt. He has really good hands and an ability to finish at the rim. Robinson has a great handle. If they over play Adams on the roll, Robinson can get free and create for the others. Johnson can knock down the open three. Moore can to the rim and Patterson can also knock down the open shot or get to the basket.

This group should also take care of the ball, none of those guys are turnover prone.

Defense: Adams will be a force in the middle. He can clean up a lot of mistakes. Patterson can bump with a PF in the lane, especially with Adams there to help. Robinson can gaurd the bigger gaurd, Johnson is likely to be able to stay in front of a quick guard. And Moore has the athletic ability to stay with most SF’s.

Rebounding: Robinson is an exceptional rebounder for a gaurd. Johnson is quick enough to get to loose ones. Adams will attract a lot of attention. Patterson and Moore can both board.

There will be enough size and athleticism in that five at 7′, 6’5″, 6’5″, 6’3″ and 6’1″.

Zanna, Woodall, and Gilbert will be big contributors too(a couple of them should even start). The rest (Taylor, Epps, Wright, D. Johnson) should have to fight for scraps.

Comment by boubacar aw 02.20.12 @ 11:12 am

I meant that UConn and UNC missed the tourney in 09-10… UConn, of course, won the national title in 11! Sorry, it was late.

Yeah, I don’t put a ton of stock in Youtube highlight videos. I could look good playing YMCA pickup b-ball if you shot enough footage of the few good plays I made and edited out that other 99% of me screwing up!!

I do think that Taylor was always more comfortable at the 4 though, since day 1. Birch, the supposed power forward, was actually coming along at the 5 when he quit. I thought that would give us a good chance to try Taylor back where he belonged, cut back Robinson’s minutes, and give us some real size in the frontcourt.

Wow… nothing has gone right this year.

I know it sounds like an excuse, but I really think Birch quitting hurt this team, as much and possibly more than Woodall’s injury.

Remember the early loss to LBSU, then we started playing Khem more and the team came around. Actually was winning handily for awhile after Woodall was injured, and he was only going to keep improving.

Oh well, I just want this nightmare to end.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's My Dad 02.20.12 @ 11:16 am

The root of this teams problems on offense and defense can be found under the basket. In a nutshell, we miss and give up too many shots near the basket. Correct that and the poor perimeter shooting is manageable. For this reason alone I think Adams will start or play equal minutes with the starter to begin the season, and then be the starter for BE play…Woodall will be the PG, and he should be.

Comment by HbgFrank 02.20.12 @ 12:02 pm

boubacar, no way in hell would i start james robinson at pg over tra unless robinson is an absolute monster. starting 5 will likely be tra, johnson, patterson, zanna, and adams with jj moore and james robinson the first two off the bench.

Comment by pk 02.20.12 @ 12:03 pm

No way is Woodall not our starting PG next year. Robinson may spell him or get time with Trey at SG. But I think Trey’s starting at PG.

He’ll be a senior and a guy that’s worked his entire career earning his spot. Dixon just will not giv that up to a freshman no matter how good that freshman may be.

Besides, we have no idea how Robinson will translate to D1A ball. I’m optimistic. There will nonetheless be an adjustment period, and he won’t be ready to start point until at earliest mid-year. At which point it will be too late to disrupt whatever system is inplace then with Woodall at PG.

On Moore: He’s shown the most consistent effort of anyone on the floor the past 5 games. Not to say guys like Patterson, Woodall, Nas, Wright or Johnson have half-assed it. But Moore hasn’t really taken plays off or lost focus where as each of the guys above have.

I’m surprised to write that sentence as anyone it to read it but its true. He’s looked worse than he actually has been, only because he’s not found his outside shot yet. Everything else is more or less in place. He just needs to find is shot and/or have a clear message as to what his role is so he can get into a groove. He’s only a Sophomore. His career trajectory is going the right direction. Its a good thing (maybe the only good thing of the last few games).

Alos that shot that pissed Dixon off last night — I could be wrong but I don’t think Moore had any choice but to shoot it that way when he did. It had to happen. The clock was running. So if Dixon was pissed about it, it means Dixon just unjustifiably hates Moore and is looking for reasons to be upset.

I’m a huge Dixon fan — but there is a flaw in the coach-player dynamic here and I think its more Dixon than Moore. (imagine if he treated Gibbs the same way. Gibbs would be getting 10 minutes a game for how poor his decisions and lackadaisical his effort has been).

Nonetheless, the future remains bright I believe, so long as Dixon does indeed play his best players in their optimal positions next year. (I support the “let Dante play PF” movement on here….especially if he starts adjusting that way now.)

Comment by PantherP 02.20.12 @ 12:12 pm

I saw Slice sitting behind the bench at the Seton Hall game…is there any chance we can get him back into the fold?

Comment by ECH 02.20.12 @ 12:29 pm

From watching Adams play on tape, I think he has a long way to go on the defensive aspect of the game. However, his offensive game is pretty solid. I hope Pitt will run sets designed to get the ball down low next year, which is something they really didn’t do much of this season.

Comment by The Incline 02.20.12 @ 1:06 pm

Incline, Adams defense can not be any worse than Zanna/Taylor this year. Jamie needs to throw him in immediately.
I liked last night that the announcers were not afraid to get on the Pitt kids for the lack of effort and sloppy play, too often that has gone unsaid.
The next pass Trey throws to the other team should get him a seat next to Dixon, and Naz should join him when he starts his spinaroody crap before a turnover or blocked shot.

Comment by Jimbo 02.20.12 @ 1:16 pm

Some thoughts;
If you don’t go the games you don’t see the introductions. This is the first Pitt team I have seen that acts like they don’t want to play. They just walk out, no jumping around, high fives or any enthusiasm at all.
Gibbs was told he needed to improve his ball handling and driving so he worked hard to do this but he just doesn’t have the talent and this took away from what he can do, shoot.
We don’t have finishers. Last night we had 1 less offensive rebound but 10 less points as a result. Note; we lost by 9.

Comment by Pitt Letterman 02.20.12 @ 1:17 pm

Robinson could start next year but not in place of Tray — Woodall could slide over to the 2 spot. I actually like that idea, put your two best guys on the floor, and I think Tray has the offensive skill to fit. I think he can be a lot more efficient if he doesn’t have the ball in his hands 100 percent of the time. (Cut down on TOs, etc.) I do agree that it is unlikely, because that may seem like a “slight” to Woodall, but it really would be the best option in my opinion.

Comment by JW 02.20.12 @ 1:42 pm

Where does Durand fit in all this? I hear he’s the best pure shooter on the team. I assume that he’s going to get time at the 2.

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 02.20.12 @ 2:15 pm

Wasn’t Moore’s turnaround jumper a desperation buzzer beater? Why would Jamie be ticked off about that?

Comment by gc 02.20.12 @ 3:06 pm

Agree with most of you. Woodall, even healthy, does not have the quickness we need at point guard. That is why I had hoped many times that JJohnson would get a shot there. Quickest on our team. Woodall would be a very good 2 guard. Re-watching him today, in last night’s game, he really looks hurt…cannot execute a simple defensive slide without wincing or reaching…thus Collins “owned” him last night.
Taylor can only be a 4, Moore at the 3,Johnson backing up Tray at he 2 or playing the 2 when he gives our new point guard a spell. While most all of our problems eminate from lack of play under the basket, Adams can only help. Still cannot get over teams driving our middle whether we are in zone or man. Either defense, it’s inexcusable in any basketball game.

Comment by Dan 72 02.20.12 @ 3:17 pm

Durand Johnson is 6’6″. I think that makes him, at first glance, more of a swing man than a SG.

That said, he’s apparantly a phenomal pure shooter, but lacks the dribble-driving that the position calls for.

I think its conceivable for him to play a SG. And it may be a good idea. Consider: Our SFs may be our brightest spot (of returning players) with the highest upside. It’ll be hard for Durand to steal minutes from Moore or Patterson.

Also, one thing that seems a problem to me is the lack of length in our back court, which seems to have opened up 3pt shooting against in a bad way. I’d like to see our back court get a little longer. D. Johnson would do that.

The idea of John Johnson and Woodall as our back court is not pretty. The ave height would be 6ft even (Woodall 5’11”, J.Johnson 6’1″, both measurements exaggerate their height).

D Johnson is apparently not a great ball handler either, which could be hidden if everyone else is in natural positions and he’s just coming off screens like Gibbs did in his hey day.

He can take Cam Wrights minutes. Dixon will have an issue at SG next year, between J.Johnson, D. Johnson and C. Wright, depending on if he needs quickness, length, offense or defense.

In any case, I D Johnson being this years Cam Wright in terms of amount and type of minutes.

Comment by PantherP 02.20.12 @ 4:03 pm

Comment by giveitarest 02.20.12 @ 5:02 pm

Hopefully with Gibbs playing in Russia next year, Dixon will walk the walk and play the best defenders.

Not sure who Durand can guard at this point. He is not strong enough to guard three’s and not quick enough to defend two’s.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 02.20.12 @ 5:57 pm

@giveitarest. Good article, I know Ben’s been on the hot seat.

Entertaining, ehhh, when you win, doesn’t really matter. If you go 27-5, it’s pretty entertaining.

Our system may not be that entertaining, but, I don’t know, watching Fields, Young and Blair, pretty entertaining every night.

Winning makes everything palatable!!

Comment by Dan 02.20.12 @ 5:59 pm

“right now, I would say pittsburgh, rutgers, ohio state, florida, oregon, and clemson are on me the hardest.”
– robert foster

This is great news. Its widely believed, especially by dokish, that pitt has the inside track and that if they match the effort given by ohio state, pitt will most likely get him. It appears pitts doing that. I hope it pays off.

Comment by Pk 02.20.12 @ 6:19 pm

“Four-star quarterback prospect malik zaire visited pitt on monday and raved about the experience.” the article is entitled ” ‘a great experience’ “

Comment by Pk 02.20.12 @ 6:23 pm

Both offense and defense was a problem against USF. Woodall and Gibbs didn’t even show up.

Comment by gdodson 02.20.12 @ 7:54 pm

I think next year’s team may be the best we’ve ever had. Now I’m not saying they will be for sure, but it’s certainly possible. Pitt could possibly have 3 bonafide NBA players on their roster next year(Adams, Robinson, Moore). Now that may seem like a stretch, but it’s definitely possible. If Moore finds his inner Sam Young, this team might be really good. Also if Robinson and Adams both turn out to be studs, you’d have 2 great players at the 2 most important positions. In this scenario, the players this year(minus Moore) can go back to doing what they do best, being role players. Once again this isn’t me saying this will definitely happen, but it is more than possible.

Comment by Pitt Rob 02.20.12 @ 8:15 pm

Before this season i thought that 2012 would be pitts best team, like you said. However, im not sure i still feel that way. I think losing gibbs and robinson helps the team more than it hurts. Addition by subraction. Shooting guard is my greatest concern for pitt. I didnt used to like the idea of woodall moving to the two spot, but its growing on me. I think that would help on both sides of the ball. Offense: more scoring, more scoring threats, multiple ball handlers, less turnovers. Defense: two lockdown defenders (when healthy). Itd also add another leader into the mix. My other question is at pf. Zanna and taylor dont have the size/toughness to play the 5 and they dont have the skills to play the 4. This is why i think pitt should add a shooting guard and a juco power forward. Yes, theyd oversign by 1, but i dont think you can argue that pitt needs more talent and depth.

Comment by Pk 02.20.12 @ 8:38 pm

I think next year’s team may be the best we’ve ever had. Now I’m not saying they will be for sure, but it’s certainly possible.
Comment by Pitt Rob 02.20.12 @ 8:15 pm

Calm down Pitt Rob, take a valium or a strong drink on the rocks. No women drinks. haha (just kidding dude) Your reasoning is filled with “ifs” which means a lot of question marks. We had DeJuan Blair, Sam Young & LeVance Fields all coming back in 2008, the Elite 8 year. They weren’t if’s, they were all proven commodities.

Same thing in 1988 with proven players, Charles Smith, Jerome Lane & Demetrious Gore & Rod Brookin. All proven commodities.

Same thing in 1974 with proven players, Billy Knight, Mickey Martin, Keith Starr, Jim Bolla, Kirk Bruce & Tom Richards. This team won 22 straight games and is probably PITT’s best team ever. IMO As Billy Knight was PITT’s best Pro player ever, no question.

Now who is coming back from this year’s team to be on next year’s team. Dante Taylor, Talib Zanna, Travon Woodall, Johnson (2), Moore, Gilbert, Patterson. None of those players other than Woodall is a proven commodity and he’s very loose with the ball, so where exactly do you play him.
He’s a turnover machine at PG.

What the more likely scenario is; they begin unranked and work their way into the Top 25 by the middle of January. Provided Adams & Robinson & who ever else (and there better be a couple else’s) are immediate impact players. Because with what they got now, it ain’t(emphasis) happening.

Veritas et Virtus !

Comment by Emel 02.20.12 @ 9:08 pm

Btw, those returning players in 2008, 1988 were ALL STAR players. Nobody coming back in 2012 is anywhere close to any of those players.

The 1974 team only had one true star, Bily Knight but they played the phenomenal amoeba defense and had played several years together, so they were very tight as a group. Had they not had to play eventual National Champion NC State on virtually their home court in NC, they would have made the Final 4 and quite possibly won it.

Comment by Emel 02.20.12 @ 9:15 pm

Have any of you coaches out there ever figured out the amoeba? I have watched it a hundred times and still cannot figure out the defense.

Comment by Dan 72 02.20.12 @ 9:41 pm

Played league ball against Moon Knight, he was rehabing a knee. His team was Black Flash and a few football players were on it, Dave Garnett, Bryant Salter. Lost 57-32(?). Think Billy became ABA scoring Champ. That 74 team was a great team, so was that 88 team. Wish Evans had someone foul Goheen. Wish Dixon called called TO when J Dixon got trapped by Villanova. Wish Dixon pulled his guys from the lane on Brown’s 2nd FT, especially that numb skull who can neither dribble, shoot or make a free throw.

Comment by Old School Panther 02.20.12 @ 9:50 pm

Emel, no doubt. I am not inclined to believe that everything I said could happen, will happen. The possibility is there though. Young saw the light in his junior year, maybe Moore will as well. If my scenario plays out, I think we would all be very pleased. Let’s hope! HAIL TO PITT

Comment by Pitt Rob 02.20.12 @ 10:07 pm

I’m not even sure a serious discussion of Zanna at the 4 can be entertained. Yes, he can hit a 15 foot jump shot on occasion. And that’s about where his skill set for the PF appears to end, no? I don’t believe he has any ball handling skills, the few times I’ve seen him go to the rim he is clearly unsure of how to finish.

Taylor looks like a shell of a player right now. I seriously wonder if he will transfer. I know he’s going to be a senior and I guess he’d have to sit out, but seems to me a fresh start at a smaller school where he would be given a shot at PF might be in order.

As others have said, a juco transfer at PF seems like an absolute necessity.

Moore can make a big leap next year, but he needs to do a few things. First, he must shore up his mechanics. Fails to get set on the jumper too often, feet all over the place. Great to see him driving, but once he gets in the lane, he is expecting contact and shying away from it, fading instead attacking the rim. He got the fouls, but some of those could have been and one if he goes at the rim strong. And he’ll have to improve his D, although that’s gotten better.

I have no idea what happened to Patterson. He and Sleepy must be eating from the same cereal bowl or something.

Comment by Carmen 02.20.12 @ 10:14 pm

not quite Roc bottom yet… but we’re getting there

Comment by DeVanzo 02.21.12 @ 9:15 am

and by the way, another reason why I will never shed a tear when Dixon leaves

every single team Howland put on the court had an identity… that is the sign of a good coach

can someone please explain how Dixon has coached this team in any way? They are so awful and do not play with consistency or intensity on defense…

Comment by DeVanzo 02.21.12 @ 9:17 am

I’ll shed a tear when Dixon leaves because who would replace him? Do you you really think we’ll get a better coach? 9 successful years, with some disappointment in the tourny is better than rarely making the tourny and reverting 15yrs.

Admittedly, Dixon does need to adjust things a little. If it aint broke don’t fix it, and it wasn’t until about 10 games in this year when the whole thing fell apart.

Biggest problem here is one that started a few years back – we didn’t have an actual center. Not one that fits our scheme. The scheme didn’t change and we tried to shoe-horn Taylor into the role, hurting both the PF and the C position. But this is turning around. We have at least 3 more years of decent to very good Centers (Adams/Gilbert).

PF will absolutely benefit from a good center and we have the parts — if not Zanna, then Moore/Patterson and maybe even Taylor.

I think we can basically stay the course re – personnel and be much better next year.

Comment by PantherP 02.21.12 @ 9:47 am

Right, and Howland’s team this year has an identity too: a group of malcontents and quitters.

Not to diminish Howland as a coach, because it’s obvious he is exceptional in many areas. More to reinforce the idea that this type of slide happens even to renowned programs and high profile coaches. It’s been an awful season, but let’s see (hopefully not) one or two more before shoving everyone out the door.

Comment by JW 02.21.12 @ 10:10 am

I caught the The Street Stops Here documentary about St Anthony’s High School. Woodall’s in it. He showed leadership skills but I wish we would have gotten Tyshawn Taylor also…

Comment by Pittastic 02.21.12 @ 10:40 am

I won’t cry for Ben Howland. For all intents and purposes the man treated the University and his players the same way Todd Grahmn did on his way out the door. Except Grahmn actully did ask for permission to speak with ASU. Don’t forget, Ben Howland signed a six year contract extention shortly before his last season as Pitt’s Head Coach. Then by that seasons end without a word to the University President, the AD, or his players he is out the door and in front of an LA news conference. It seems his “dream job” is a bit of a nightmare for now.

Comment by HbgFrank 02.21.12 @ 12:40 pm

I don’t see marked improvement on the horizon for this program.

Adams will help and we all have to pray he stays more than one year, but his play, like any freshman’s, will be uneven and Pitt will be lucky to get 10-12 pts and 8 boards a night out of him.

Anyone thinking Woodall is going to play the 2 guard is nuts. He’s going to start at PG and be the same sub-par PG he is now, physically overmatched almost every night in the Big East.

Moore will score 12-14 ppg and Patterson will distribute, but every minute they’re on the floor is a minute you give up on defense, because Patterson’s too slow and unathletic to play any and Moore is too clueless to play any.

There’s no answer at shooting guard. There just isn’t one on the roster, which is simply amazing. Maybe Durand Johnson will come out of nowhere, but I just don’t see it happening.

The game will look much faster to James Robinson and he’ll get backup minutes at the point and help as the season progresses and John Johnson will play some backup minutes at SG and maybe provide some bench scoring.

Taylor and Zanna will both continue to stink. Unfortunately, given Dixon’s system, they’ll both continue to get minutes,either subbing for Adams or playing the four. Mark McCarroll or Jaime Peterson or Chad Varga would be better and maybe some of you remember how bad they were. maybe Gilbert redshirts in order to come back with more eligibility after Adams leaves.

The whole thing is a clusterf___. The roster needs an overhaul. This is not a one year lapse.

Comment by hugh green 02.21.12 @ 12:59 pm

I have enjoyed every minute of the revivial of Pitt’s Golden Age of Men’s Basketball. It was a great run. It’s over.

Comment by Old School Panther 02.21.12 @ 1:19 pm

It’s only over, if Dixon is too stubborn to feel like he needs to hire a top notch assistant. Bring in some fresh ideas, some new offensive sets and a maybe some new defenses. You don’t have to junk the whole entire system, maybe tweak it here and there. And of course you should always be looking for a guy who can recruit elite players.
If we can figure out how to use them. haha

I really don’t want to see 7 footer Steve Adams chasing around players on the perimeter, lightyears away from the hoop. And then getting caught on a ball screen trying to guard a much quicker player.

Still trying to figure out why Gilbert’s redshirt was burned, since he hardly played in the part of the season he should have, the non-con. And I believe he had played a total of 5 minutes thru late December. I don’t see how you can now redshirt him next year since that means Sleepy or Zanna are the back up centers. No thanks.

But we have two strong recruits coming so far, we also need a real PF and a good SG and another good player. So 2 current players need shown the door.
Nice knowing ya Isiah & Cameron. Or get a pell grant and walk on.

If all else fails we can always put another new roof on The Pete ! Maybe buy a charter jet for our trips to ACC country !

Comment by Emel 02.21.12 @ 1:50 pm

There isn’t one player on this roster who is a rock solid starter next year. Not one! How does that happen to an elite program? I’m not talking a complete package, I’m talking one guy that can defend and has specfic ball skills like shooting, handling & passing. This team is the sum total of the individual deficiencies. If Dixon can bring the program back in one year from this debacle he’s a wizard. If one year from now we’re still scratching our heads, more questions than answers and longing for great Pitt basketball Dixon’s run at Pitt may be over.

Comment by Old School Panther 02.21.12 @ 4:51 pm

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