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March 13, 2012

A Confluence of Angst and Whining

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 1:29 pm

I apologize (sort of) if you think you are being singled out in this rant. Honestly, it isn’t directed at any one person. It’s just that I’ve gotten a little worn down over the course of this season — and especially in the last week. It just seems that too many Pitt fans have gone off the deep end.

Maybe it’s taking the success this program has had for granted. Maybe it’s the frustration of the season. Maybe it’s the frustration of feeling so close in previous years. Maybe it’s because the football program has been such a source of angst that the basketball side has been the tether on the sanity that got cut this year. Maybe it’s just a very vocal minority.

Pitt is somehow above playing in the CBI. That this is an embarrassment. The players and coaches should hang their heads in shame and apologize to all, personally for this season. When did so many Pitt fans think they should be as twisted and warped as the fringes of UCLA and Kentucky?

I don’t know, but suddenly Pitt finally has a season where they truly take a step back. Where they don’t just underachieve, but fall flat on their face. And now the previous ten years of going to the NCAA Tournament is ancient history. The prior eight years of Jamie Dixon being the head coach are reduced to the failures — and any success was merely an aberration. That this year is the true norm.

 

It think what really wears me down is that criticisms that have no coherence from one whine to the next.

The basic: this team isn’t really that talented or very good, and they underachieved by failing to be a top-25 team as the preseason rankings indicated.

Dixon screwed up the Khem Birch situation because he didn’t coddle and pamper him enough — wasn’t sensitive enough to him — but, by god sit Ashton Gibbs and Dante Taylor’s asses on the bench for pouting and/or bad body language.

Companion to the above is the complaint after games that Dixon has too quick a hook with the younger players when they make a mistake on the court, while they themselves were screaming to get them out of the game when it happens in real time (this is a favorite for the liveblogs).

Pitt needs more offense, and the underclassmen need to play more (and if you can’t see the contradiction then you have blinders to the offensive output of Gilbert, Wright and Johnson).

Pitt should have taken a flyer/chance or two on some project/not as talented big men like Gary McGhee just in case of this year. Sure, J.J. Richardson and Dwight Miller didn’t pan out and transferred. Sure, Talib Zanna is still a project. Sure, Jaylen Bond got squeezed out by the numbers when Birch reclassified. Sure, Khem Birch flaked out. But apparently those don’t count, since it didn’t happen like McGhee.

That Nas, Woodall and Gibbs wouldn’t start for any other major conference team with NCAA Tournament aspirations. Yet, they disappointments this year.

The assistant coaches suck and are mere yes-men. Bill Barton has just completed his first season, but apparently that is enough time to render a verdict. Pat Sandle has been by Dixon’s side from the beginning. Present Rutgers head coach Mike Rice tried to hire Brandon Knight as his assistant head coach two years before.

Then there are the old nuggets that are being re-used. The claim that Dixon won’t play freshmen and underclassmen. Taft, Blair and even Birch got to start as freshmen, but that doesn’t count.

Sure, most freshmen have seen around 10 minutes/game or more in the past 4 years including Gibbs, Wanamaker, Woodall, Patterson, Taylor, Johnson, Zanna and Wright; but obviously they all should have gotten more playing time. The ones who didn’t — McGhee, Nas and Moore were clearly the rule not the exception, and without any possible explanation. Also worth noting that except for Zanna, Woodall and Taylor all the other players in this sample (that are at least sophomores) saw their minutes at a minimum double.

What else? The Sam Young should have started over Levon Kendall back in the 2006-07 season. Not that anyone still having this argument 5 years later is saying more about themselves than anything else. (Like an inability to let something go.)

I got a kick out of the claim that Dixon doesn’t really develop players since Aaron Gray made most of his leap as a junior, but didn’t improve more as a senior (pay no attention to the significant drop in turnovers and increase in blocks — points and rebounds are the only metric). Or that most of the leaps by other players like Wanamaker and McGhee also happened from their sophomore to junior years. If they don’t make more of a leap by their senior years, then it is somehow obvious that they have not been fully developed. I mean, there’s no way they were already close to their ceiling before that.

I don’t like being the optimist. I’m not that good at it. I’m much better (and happier) with a fine coat of cynicism. Yet, the fact is, seasons like this happen to every program and coach. Sometimes it’s not this bad. Sometimes its worse. Lots of factors go into it.





just chalking this season up to one bad year every program has one is terrible reasoning….it is unacceptable whether it happens or not to other programs. I tried when i was a sophomore to claim it was just one bad semester, happens to everyone, but they would not change my transcript…In business, the loan officer didnt let me off the hook because i had a bad year….Jamie does not get a free pass. Some of what people whine about is a problem in the program…whether you like it or not.

Comment by drgags 03.13.12 @ 1:43 pm

I agree with you overall Chas. Rather than get lost in the details, I’ll stick to the big picture. My view of the Dixon era is that almost every prior season I have been amazed at how Pitt’s Big East regular season performance has exceeded the expectations I had relative to the talent level, never as much as 2 years ago. Compared to the number of NBA players who have passed through other programs, I am incredibly impressed that we have had the best BE record of the past decade.

Comment by San Diego Panther 69 03.13.12 @ 1:46 pm

Thank you thank you thank you … first time poster, drgags whose giving him a free pass? you’re the one that is discounting any and all success. Sky is falling sky is falling. Jamie is not in his first year, he has a track record a damn good one (and yes, with major disappointments, etc.) … The negative fans would give there firstborn up for adoption if they failed at test, becuase you know it’s not going away you failed that test even if you get an A on the next one … g@ddamn

Comment by jesuschrist 03.13.12 @ 1:50 pm

Chas — Can you do one for the football program? Please add that a if Pitt had rebuilt Pitt stadium rather then go across town to Heinz field and South Side then there would be more attendance and better recruiting. Juxtapose to the I cannot believe that the would not use the idea to co mingle with the Steelers. why would they not eat in the Steelers cafeteria. What a bonus to the player.

Comment by Tom Mc in Sql Hill 03.13.12 @ 1:52 pm

Well said Chas I don’t post a lot but read often and for the most part appreciate the incite on this board. I see it didn’t take long for someone to make a negative statement. If somehow we could have eked out enough wins and made the NCAA with this team then my guess is “We have no Problems”

We are fortunate to have not only a great coach but an individual who represents Pitt with class. And those that don’t get that I feel sorry for as they will never get it.

If Jamie would ever leave it will be our loss!!!

Comment by giveitarest 03.13.12 @ 1:57 pm

Dixon is obviously a great coach with what he did with such a lack of talent over the years. Only 4 NBA draft picks. These years will continue to happen without any talent. Kentucky and North Carolina will have half their rosters drafted. Until we have the talent they have we shouldn’t have such high expectations. We won’t be a Duke, Carolina, or Syracuse in the ACC but programs like Maryland, NC State, Pitt, FSU, UVa can make the tourney too.

Comment by Tony C 03.13.12 @ 2:22 pm

@drgags, please tell me what the problems in the program are??

After 10 years in a row in the tournament, plus 30 win seasons, BE championships, and one bad year, I was wondering what is wrong with the program exactly.

Several years in a row of horrible hoops, ya, he gets questioned, I’ll buy that.

DUKE- 94′-95′ 13-18 just 2yrs after NC
…….95′-96′ 18-13 8-8 in conf.
…….06′-07′ 8-8 in conf.

UNC- 01′-02′ 8-20
…….03′-04′ 19-11 8-8 in conf.
…….09′-10′ 20-17 5-11 in conf.

Not sure what you’re looking for, and allthough we are an elite program, we’re certainly not Duke or UNC, yet they seem to have some problems every once in awhile also????

Comment by Dan 03.13.12 @ 2:39 pm

The only other thing I can say Chas, is……..
link to youtube.com

Comment by Dan 03.13.12 @ 2:43 pm

I am one fan who is very pleased with the overall state of our basketball program. The fact that it took us this long to finally have a down year says a lot for the program’s strength. I also think that the way Coach Dixon carries himself and runs his program counts for as much as the won-loss record.

I remain confident we’re in good shape, and in good hands.

Comment by Navy Panther 03.13.12 @ 3:06 pm

It’s been an emotional 18 months for Pitt fans everywhere. The over-reactions are natural. It just so happens this blog and other outlets like it on the internet and the prevalence of sports talk radio have amplified the grumbling of a vocal minority.

Can you imagine the level of caterwauling if Pitt Blather were around during the Paul Hacket years? :))

Things ain’t so bad folks.

Comment by ECH 03.13.12 @ 3:09 pm

The biggest at-fault entity (albeit an irrational choice) in the overall angst of Pitt Basketball fans is our own success.
Each and every Pitt fan shares the common sentiment mid-way through football season that, “At least it’s almost basketball season.” That we had two teams fail this year was simply overwhelming. Basketball is always the reliable backbone of the student (and beyond) fan-base. This year we were crippled: both on the field and in our hearts.
When a team — any team — has risen to such a high level of success, falling short of said expectations is a recipe for disaster. There’s a reason that lesser mid-majors storm the court when they beat a ranked opponent (Hi, Iowa State). There’s a reason that schools are shedding blood and tears for an NCAA seed they’ve never had before (Hi, Harvard). We’re not one of those schools. We win games. We win a lot of games. We grind out ranked opponents both at the Pete and in the gyms of our opponents. We slam #2 NBA draft picks to the floor. We make the NCAA tournament for a decade.
And then we didn’t.
Take a look at Indiana. The Hoosiers, a team that have struggled for the lion’s share of recent memory, took college basketball by storm this year. They’re back because of one good year because of the tradition of Indiana basketball.
Pitt may not have a hoops championship banner to point to, but rest assured this year was not a program-breaker.
If you guarantee me 10 years of success for every 1 year of subsequent failure, I’m ready RIGHT NOW to sign on the dotted line.
This program has been too successful and has too good a coaching staff for this year to be anything other than just that: one year.
Hail to Pitt.
-Mike

Comment by MikeZimmerman 03.13.12 @ 3:45 pm

Great article Chas, someone needed to speak up about this issue

Comment by Kevin 03.13.12 @ 4:00 pm

RE: “Dixon not getting a free pass.”

Is anyone giving him a total pass? He’s the head coach, it’s clearly on him. Some players didn’t develop, others left, others were recruiting misses. I don’t see him hiding from any of this. Has he had an “it’s not my fault” press conference I’m unaware of?

I do blame Jamie and I’m sure he accepts the blame. It’s his fault. The thing is all the success is his fault too. These things just happen sometimes. A few misses, a bad bounce here or there, and injury, and then you aren’t the same team you once were. You don’t have the same level of success. Yeah, we’re bad. We played poorly all year. No one is happy about it.

But whenever someone chalks it up to a one-off season that happens to every program there’s some clown who has to hold their feet the fire:

“This isn’t acceptable, how can you be OK with it!”

I’m sorry I’m not outraged enough, I’m sorry I’m not crying in a corner and demanding that heads roll. I’m a fan, but I’m also an adult and I have things to do. Is your moaning, whining, hard line stance going to hold the program to a higher standard? Oh you! With the uncompromising values and “won’t take no for an answer” attitude! I’m sorry I’m being so soft in not expressing infinite frustration and rage on an internet message board. How could my standards be so low?

Did it dawn on anyone else this is a competitive business we’re in? Georgetown is out there, Duke, UNC, UConn, Syracuse, the list goes on. All solid schools, with great fans, offering good educations for free to guys willing to put a ball in a hoop. No school is such a unique quantity that it’s very brand guarantees tournament success year after year.

Comment by Cavalier Panther 03.13.12 @ 4:11 pm

OK guys here is a dose of what life looks like from a different perspective. I didn’t go to Pitt, but did attend and graduate from TOSU.

Pitt, both the univeristy and the sports are what set Pittsburgh specifically and western PA apart from and frankly, above, the competition.

I love OSU, but I don’t admire them because I know long ago that the program became more important than the university…it happened the day the athletic department established itself as separate and distinct from the university…look where it got OSU. Look what happened at PSU and to a lesser extent at ND.

The day the university comes in second place is the day the inmates start to run the asylum. OSU lost institutional control 15 years ago, it merely has the sanctions of the NCAA to support it.

PSU took a grand reputation and let an old man, a wimp of an AD and a loser of a President decide that the fate of a a friggen football team was more important to protect than kids placed under their roof and “Yes” under their control.

ND let a young man die because no one (including the young man) had the balls to challenge a football coach. Catholic my left nut (I am a RC)…they pray to one God in South Bend…the eye on the dollar.

Pitt is not perfect and I think it can be much better than it is, but (Graham being an exception) the focus is where it needs to be.

Stay within the framework and do things the right way and you can look in the mirror. I will take Jamie Dixon any day and trust him with my son (which by the way, i do every summer at the hoops camp).

Comment by sfpitt 03.13.12 @ 4:37 pm

Huzzah @SFPitt!

Comment by Chris 03.13.12 @ 5:20 pm

Fab Melo. sezitall

Comment by steve1 03.13.12 @ 5:32 pm

One CBI for every 10 NCAA appearances? I like those stats! This was an off year and perhaps next year will be as well. In the end PITT will be fine. What we lacked this year was a sense of humility, desperation, and hunger. Not going to the ncaa or nit will instill all of that. Young guys needs the games so CBI was needed. Take a deep breath and get ready for spring football.

Comment by Pitt fan in Atlanta 03.13.12 @ 6:25 pm

Personally, I think Chas is overreacting. Fans whine…its part of being a fan, it’s what we do. And complaining does not make you any less a fan or supporter of the team than anyone else so let’s stop that tired argument. You think it’s just Pitt fans that act emotionally after one bad game or one bad year???

Hell, if the steelers lose one game or don’t hoist the Lombardi trophy the fans are ready to burn down the city.try talking rationally to a Philadelphia sports fan sometime. I assure you the Blather is tame compared to Philadelphia Eagles blog.

For me personally, I use the Blather to get out some of my frustrations. I come here to complain when things are bad and rejoice when things are good. It’s Pitt sports therapy. I live in the DC area, none of my friends, neighbors or co workers here went to Pitt or care one bit about Pitt sports therefore its places like this where I can go when I want to bitch and complain.

And lets face it, Pitt hasn’t exactly been blessed with many things to be thrilled about. Our last national title in football came over 35 years. We have not even played in a title game since then. In bball, our only final four appearance came during WWII. Over the last ten years, look at all of the heartbreaking losses we’ve endured in both football and bball…we’re frustrated and deservedly so. Add all of the football coaching circus to the mix and I think we have a right to blow off some steam with our online blather posters.

Chas, love the blog but think you are being a little over sensitive on this one.

Comment by Coach Ditka 03.13.12 @ 7:12 pm

Amen, Chas. And thank you.

I can’t call it over sensitive when many posters continually contradict themselves (as Chas correctly pointed out) with many actually openly wishing for Dixon’s removal.

Reading the comments on here may me wish occasionally that Dixon would leave for TCU or USC, etc. just so we could hire another Ralph Willard and see how that worked out. Then I would wake up and think “What a bunch of idiots!” What I’ve tried to avoid reading on here has gone well beyond the normal fan psychosis.

Why would any coach or player want to come to Pitt if they read blogs with comments like we’ve seen?

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 03.13.12 @ 7:33 pm

This is the best, most rational assessment of the situation I’ve read. I’m normally a glass half empty guy myself, however, when it comes to Pitt basketball, I’m more of an optimist.

Pitt was due for a down year at some point. It happens to the best of programs. Just have to write it off and regroup for next year. And with Adams and Robinson coming in, along with some potential improvement of the underclassmen, I do expect things to be better in ’12-’13.

In a way, I’m kind of glad this season happened. For one, it taught me never to take another appearance in the Big Dance for granted again. But it also made me realize just how fortunate I am to have such a great program to cheer for. Mediocre seasons are no longer acceptable at Pitt. Such are the standards for excellence this program has established.

My formative years as a Pitt b’ball fan came during the Ralph Willard era. Back then, I would have considered a 17-16 season a major accomplishment. Today, a .500 season is cause for much distress and consternation in Panther Nation. To me, that’s indicative of the remarkable strides this program has made over the last ten plus seasons. And it’s an ascent I fully expect to continue in the years to come. Jamie Dixon has given me no reason to believe otherwise.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nor are elite college basketball programs for that matter. Pitt’s not “elite” yet, but I do have full confidence that they will reach that point in the not too distant future. For now, though, I’ll just continue to enjoy the ride, bumps in the road and all.

H2P!

Comment by Swinging Gate 03.13.12 @ 7:38 pm

Amen Chas. Haters will hate and there’s not much you can do about it.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 03.13.12 @ 8:01 pm

Coach Ditka, it’s one thing to complain and another to completely forget the last ten years. I don’t think Chas is annoyed with the general complaints about the program and team. That’s all fair game and, I agree, good therapy. It’s the woe is me attitude some of the fans take and the entitlement factor that rubs me the wrong way.

I’m in the DC area too and the only people I can complain to are damn WVU fans…part of the reason why I’m going to miss the Backyard Brawl. VA Tech will be fun though and the annual Maryland game for bball.

I’m in the DC area too and only have WVU fans to bitch too which makes it even worse.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 03.13.12 @ 8:09 pm

Wow comprehensive. Tough year obviously I’m not even filling out brackets. Their kids, it’s a game, next year will be better I’m sure. Obla-di obla-da

Comment by Justin 03.13.12 @ 8:34 pm

Nice piece, Chas. Thanks for posting. Thabeets you just hit the nail on the head as well. It’s the woe is me (justified to some extent) and the short memory that get old. Some folks will always look at the negative and not the positive…that’s cool it’s who they are and it won’t change. But if you’re gonna be negative, at least be logical about it.

I’m beyond pleased with the Howland Dixon era..it’s still unbelievable what they’ve done with our program. One down year is not going to change anything….we’ll be fine. HTP!

Comment by FG 03.13.12 @ 8:35 pm

Spot on Chas. I won’t say anything more on the subject.

Comment by Wardapalooza 03.13.12 @ 9:07 pm

Great post, Chas. I, too, am sick of all of the whining and second-guessing. I believe Dixon deserves more from us after so many great years.

Comment by panther94 03.13.12 @ 9:17 pm

@Coach Ditka, a sincere post, with some excellent points.

I gotta say, you got me thinking, and we may need some clarification on this from Chas.

I didn’t take it personally, because I’m pretty much a Dixon apologist, and have fought trolls and naysayers ad nauseum over 10 years to the tourney, 30 win seasons, BE championships and players to the pros, VS. one bad year.

However, I have raised concerns over the lack of Freshman getting playing time, allthough Chas pointed out several that did.

@Tossing, you and I always seem to be in agreement, and I will bow to your comment, that Coach Ditka is right, this is a place for therapy and getting some things off our chests, but, at the same time, Chas was really talking about “Fire Dixon” people, and “Same ol Pitt” people and the whiners and woe are me crowd.

I have to say, allthough a few, I don’t see a whole lot of that on here, which leads me to wonder who Chas was pointing out, just a little?

Looking over above posters, looks like a bunch of us regualrs, so????

Or, maybe Chas got a bad deal on a car and he’s tired of all of us???

Or maybe it’s just me?? The whole world always has been out to get me!!!! The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!! You never loved me!!!!!

Comment by Dan 03.13.12 @ 9:33 pm

Great coaches adapt and learn from adversity and failure. We’ll see next year if Dixon learned anything and if his coaching can rise to the occasion. Another year like this, and Jamie’s seat will be getting hot. He knows it and will probably try things that take him out of his comfort zone. I believe he has what it takes and will be extra motivated next year. Here’s hoping he begins trying some new things in the CBI. What does he have to lose? A humble man treats failure as dirty window. Once cleaned, the picture ouside becomes much more clear. Jamie has been humbled this season.

Comment by TX Panther 03.13.12 @ 9:51 pm

Yes, Chas has this right but for one thing. The CBI is a waste of time and money (if in fact Pitt really loses any). It does nothing for Pitt going forward. We shouldn’t pretend otherwise. A couple of practices or games more, particularly to a field that looks like Pitt’s non-con this year, doesn’t help the players or the program. I don’t get why Pitt is doing this — and who really believes the players really really want to be in the CBI. Not me.

Comment by velvil 03.13.12 @ 10:34 pm

Velvil – IMO PITT is doing it for the sole reason that the university can claim an unbroken streak of post-season play.

Tom Mc – just to clarify some points… there is no co-mingling between the PITT and Steeler players. The main building is evenly divided right down the middle with the Steelers training and admin stuff one one side and PITT’s on the other. The don’t share anything really.

The practice facilities are set up almost completely separate with clearly defined scheduling for the common practice field (The indoor field). There are four 80 yard outdoor fields, with different turfs, used separately by the two programs.

There are firm rules in place for PITT players not to approach Steeler players.

There isn’t a “Steelers” cafeteria, it was a joint one with separate eating times. Graham split off and used a separate one for PITT last year but it was built with two dining areas.

That said, I agree that the situation is better than the PITT football program being stuck in the old stadium.

Comment by Reed 03.14.12 @ 5:49 am

Dan, glad you see my points. I would think most of the people that come on here yelling “Fire Dixon” actually dont feel that way they are just blowing off frustration. I think also, a lot of people like to take the negative view of a situation because it lowers their expectations. If you go into the season with the worst expectations than you wont be let down and you will be thrilled when the team (in your eyes) over-achieves. Just saying it may be a psychology thing.

I have great admiration for Jaime Dixon and just for the record I am not one that ever said he should be fired and I don’t think I’ve ever been critical of him on this blog. Not only is he a terrific coach but he is also an outstanding human being that seems to do things the right way – and we all know every coach doesnt have those qualities (ummm fraud graham…). However, if you are going to give Dixon all of the credit for all of the successes you must also give him credit for failures. I see these situations much the same way people view Presidents – when things go right it’s a coincidence or it was the previous Presidents policies kicking in, when things go wrong it’s all the president’s fault…same sort of deal with coaches.

Keep in mind the word fan is short for “fanatic”. Fanatic as defined by webster:

“Marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion.

Latin fanaticus inspired by a deity, frenzied, from fanum

Synonyms: extremist, extreme (or fanatical), rabid, radical, revolutionary, revolutionist, ultra”

At the end of the day we are all Pitt fans/alum wether you choose a negative view or you are the eternal optimist we all want the same things for our great University.

Comment by Coach Ditka 03.14.12 @ 5:55 am

By the way you gotta love Ditka. At the Dappen Dan awards where he was given the lifetime achievement award he “made special mention of Hopewell running back and Pitt recruit Rushel Shell, who was on the dais, reading off his statistics and accomplishments. He also looked over at the new Pitt football coach and said, “To Paul Chryst: Good luck. Kick some ass, will you?”

They don’t make them like that anymore.

Comment by Coach Ditka 03.14.12 @ 6:00 am

For the record, I’ve never mentioned wanting to get rid of Jamie Dixon, who in my opinion, is a fine college basketball coach. We Pitt fans should be glad we have a quality basketball coach in Jamie Dixon.

My critical remarks stem from not seeing this Pitt team playing with any emotion or discipline. Perhaps it was lack of senior leadership that cost Pitt several wins this season but I didn’t see any underclassmen taking the reign’s either. Hopefully, this was just an off year for Pitt basketball.

Although I am one who thinks playing in the CBI tournament has no redeeming value and would like to see our players work on their GPA instead of playing in this tournament, I do think Pitt was unjustifiably slighted by the NIT committee. Pitt may have had an off year but deserved to get an NIT invitation. That said, I feel Pitt should have ended its 2012 basketball season at the conclusion of the Big East Conference Tournament. After all, there is always next season.

Given that Pitt is playing Wofford today in the first round of the CBI Tournament at the Pete, I wish them luck. Pitt played Wofford at the Pete in ’09 and came from behind to win 63-60. Let’s hope this Pitt team will keep its winning streak going against Wofford.

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by MariettaMike 03.14.12 @ 6:46 am

sfPitt ftw!!

Comment by Jimbo Covert's My Dad 03.14.12 @ 7:40 am

hear, hear Chas!

Comment by WCSteve 03.14.12 @ 7:59 am

I don’t think we saw enough of Malcolm Gilbert on the floor to assess his offensive prowess. Truthfully, Pitt hasn’t consistently integrated a big man in its offense since Aaron Gray graduated. DeJuan Blair was a force, but his production was largely through offensive rebounds.

My contention has been that Malcolm Gilbert could change Pitt’s offense by being a defensive presence with his length. He can block and alter shots and grab rebounds. The only deficiency I saw in his defensive game is his ability to artfully do the screen hedge. McGhee (soph), Blair (fresh) and Gray (soph) all struggled with this in their first year of play. Gilbert’s defense would allow Pitt to break and avoid their half court struggles without a Wanamaker type. Granted, Pitt under Jaime Dixon has not been much of a breaking team, but this year’s team appeared to have some ability to do so at times. They also showed some ability to press when forced to do so at the end of games that they were losing.

I know that Jaime has a way of doing things. I wouldn’t trade him for any other coach. However but he should have adapted more to his personnel this year.

In all honesty, Ashton Gibbs is an overall liability when he is not shooting well. Nasir Robinson, who was injured all year, was likewise an overall liability due to his size, and lack of shooting skill both from the field and free throw line.

Comment by Barvo 03.14.12 @ 8:13 am

Citing the “even the marquee programs have down years” argument is tired and myopic. Those programs generally have down years because 3 or 4 players left for the NBA and Williams or Calhoun couldn’t re-load fast enough.

Pitt built its success on a different foundation, which is why the down year is much scarier. The last ten years were built on consistency, three star players developing within a system, etc. etc. Right now the existing cupboard looks bare and the big man savior on the horizon might be here months, not years.

That’s why folks are scared and whining. They look at players like Miller, Richardson, Woodall, Epps, Taylor, Zanna, Wright, and Robinson and wonder “who could have possibly kept a program going at this clip with this level of player?”. These aren’t the type of players you can mold into Big East-championship-caliber performers. You’d have to be a magician.

And then they look at the few existing players we have with any potential……Moore, Patterson, maybe Johnson…..and wonder how much upside that really represents.

Stop comparing Pitt to the name programs. Very different animal.

That’s why fans are scared. Should they be calling for Dixon’s head? Of course not. But they have every right to be worried.

Comment by hugh green 03.14.12 @ 8:40 am

Pitt was and is today a bad basketball team. Having a down year happens and is to be expected, but prolonging the futility is not necessary. After being shut out of the first 100 teams to play in a tourney that you have to pay to play, surely one would think that the season should be over. I think it would benefit these kids to go to class and maybe get an education, that would be a good thing!

Comment by michael 03.14.12 @ 8:46 am

Soo….Pitt’s cupboard is bare also because Dixon “couldn’t reload fast enough”. UNC and UConn have full rosters just like Pitt does. So, to me, it is not apples and oranges like you suggest.

Comment by JCE 03.14.12 @ 8:51 am

I agree with Chas. Down years happen. More painful this year perhaps because of the football fiasco. Let us not forget that there is a top 10 recruiting class on the way next year. Pitt is, afterall, a basketball school, right?

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 03.14.12 @ 8:56 am

What worries us all deep down is that we know there is little local basketball talent in the Western Pa. area. Although we have great facilities, all of our players come from other areas. Also despite the % of wins over the last ten years few outside the big east consider Pitt a basketball power.

These facts being true cause us to fear a bad season. Face it Pitt is not Syracuse, UConn, or N. Carolina by reputation so when they faltered one year no one panicked.

I disagree with the notion that there is no talent on this team. In my opinion Robinson and Woodall although gutty are not D1 players. They hurt the team more then they help them. Our and defense was bad this year because of turnovers leading to easy fastbreaks and high% of shooting by the opposition and fewer number of offensive chances at our end of the court (poor coaching – say this because always a Pitt problem).

I think Moore, Taylor at the proper weight and position PF,Gilbert in 2 years, Patterson, and possibly J. Johnson and D. Johnson can have solid careers. Perhaps Moore since he is a better shooter than Brown can find a place in the NBA as a backup.

I know being from Pittsburgh playing freshman is scorned upon in football and especially basketball. Up until now Pitt has not had recruits capable of starting when they get off the bus on campus.

DeMatha is one of the elite H.S. and any starter as especially a major player is prepared to start immediately because of the coaching he has recieved and the competition he has faced. Robinson was a 4 year starter he can at least move Woodall to the bench.

To consider starting anyone on Pitt’s roster or on any other roster with the possible exception of Kentucky, if Thomas does not go pro, is ridiculous.
c- Adams 7’0″
PF-Taylor 6’9″
Sf-Moore 6’6″
Pg-Robinson 6’3″
SG- either Johnson,6’0″, 6’4″ Patterson 6’4″
Robinson is an excellent ball handler, Moore also can handle the ball. Break the press the proper way by passing rather than drilling and brining Adams up for the inbound pass should stop giving points away. Adams great defender, so is Moore and Robinson,Taylor can hold his own with players his size or smaller.

Comment by drw 03.14.12 @ 10:11 am

There is no one named Thomas on Kentucky. And that is just the first of many problems with your post.

Comment by SilverPanther at NYC 03.14.12 @ 10:21 am

Part of the problem is, Pitt plays in the City of Steelers- a professional sports-minded urban environment. Heck, the staduim we play in is completely yellow! Unfortunately, Pitt suffers from all of the negativity and backlash that comes with the environment. The infrastructure is solid (facilities, etc), but the emotions and dramatics of our environment isn’t always positive. It’s something the University can never change.

Comment by Get the Glory 03.14.12 @ 10:23 am

@hughgreen Pitt lost 3 starters from last year’s team and another promising freshman in December (if Birch stays Pitt makes the tournament). That is a lot to replace. Losing a total of 4 starters in less than one season is a lot. I don’t care if the players go to the NBA or just graduate it is the same thing. And isn’t having a top recruiting class on the way the very definition of reloading? Right now the class is borderline top 10, with a stud center and point guard, the second best player in the state of NJ, and probably when all is said and done Jeter who lots of teams want.

And your list of players (is it really that fun to constantly rip on the level of talent of the team you root for, these are still 18-22 year olds who aren’t being paid)… let’s break it down. Woodall when he was actually almost 100% healthy one player of the week of the Nation, Nasir contributed and played well, Dante Taylor was recruited by everyone, Richardson and Miller were misses and were when Pitt had more difficulty recruiting. Including Epps and Wright in the list is just silly. Both are only Freshman. Everyone wanted to run Wannamaker out of town, but he turned into a great player.

Pitt is an elite program and elite programs bounce back. Besides it’s not like there is much to bounce back from just be more healthy, close out games a bit better and don’t have Adams leave the team in December.

Comment by Wardapalooza 03.14.12 @ 10:42 am

elite program??? really?

Elite programs regularly make final four appearances and occassionally win national championships. Pitt does neither. We rarely even win our conference tournament.

Pitt is a fine program but elite?? I dont think so.

Comment by Coach Ditka 03.14.12 @ 12:39 pm

Silver – thats was funny.

Drw — not picking on you but you keep talking about Robinson and DeMatha as if he is from some uber-elite school the likes of which Pitt has never recruited from. Woodall went to, and was the effective starting PG for, St Anthony’s!

Hugh, your point would be well taken if this was 2005. Its not, and we lost 2 guys borderline NBA (Wannamaker, Brown both were invited to NBA tryouts and the D-league) our starting Center. Our back up come starting PG was injured for essentially the whole year. We lost our center and his replacement was ourone borderline bust (Taylor). Everyone else was freshman or sophomores or an extremely over-extended and ultimately defeated Ashton Gibbs.

It is not a deeply troubling as it may appear to you that we had a down year. This was inevitable. It’s more amazing we didn’t have a down year 2yrs ago (when Young Blair, etc left) than it is disappointing that we didn’t bounce back this year.

Comment by PantherP 03.14.12 @ 12:45 pm

There is no program in the country that “regularly makes final 4s and occassionally” except Kansas. Not if you take at least a decade long view.

Also, 7 of the last 10 yrs were in the BE tourny championship game, and how many years were did we win regular season championship, let alone comein the top 2 for reg season championship? In the the toughest conference in the country?

But fine, we’re not elite in terms of top 5 programs in the nation, we’re just easily in the top 15 (of what 250).

General point, echoing Chas': We had a bad year. Dixon made some mistakes. We should be thanking our lucky stars our expectations have been raised so high that we’re this upset this year.

Comment by PantherP 03.14.12 @ 12:50 pm

I expect to be on the bubble next year and NIT in 2014. Vastly improved from this season. Let’s take this CBI title!

Comment by Tony C 03.14.12 @ 12:56 pm

“There is no program in the country that “regularly makes final 4s and occassionally wins national championships” except Kansas. Not if you take at least a decade long view.”

Really, only Kansas? what about Duke, UNC, Uconn, Syracuse, and Kentucky?

Sorry but regular season wins dont make you an “elite program”.

Again, Pitt is a very good basketball program but you’ve got to win in March if you want to be elite. and do it consistently.

Comment by Coach Ditka 03.14.12 @ 1:16 pm

We will be BACK next year. Come on have some faith.

Comment by Snala The Panther 03.14.12 @ 1:26 pm

If I have to believe we’ll be great next year then Adams and Robinson will both be NBA starters in 2 years. Chas said it best we are a spoiled fan base with completely unrealistic expectations. It’s not a lack of faith it’s just reality.

Comment by Tony C 03.14.12 @ 1:40 pm

Iron Mike is right. Pitt is not elite. Final 4’s make you elite. Elite talent gets you there. Both Robinson and Adams are elite. They will help but we need more of them. Jamie also has something to prove next year. I believe he wants to begin proving things tonight in the CBI.

Comment by TX Panther 03.14.12 @ 1:53 pm

Ditka, in the past 10yrs:

–> Duke — 1 final four, 1 nat’l championship. (so not “regularly” making final four)

–> UNC & UConn — each have 3 final fours, 2 champtionships. (OK, they count. but they also missed the tourny 2yrs of the last 10)

–> Cuse — 1 Nat’l championship. Missed the tourny 3 of last 10yrs.

–> Kentucky – 1 final four. Also missed the tourny 1 of the last 10yrs.

–> I’ll add Mich St. 3 final fours. but no championships.

So, fine. Kansas, UConn, UNC and Mich St are teams that “regularly” make the final four. But that’s it. 4 teams.

Depending on what kinda metric you want to use, other than those 4 plus Duke, there’s an argument that there are not any better programs in the country. You can add Florida if you want, but they’ve had 2 good yrs and a bunch of sub-Pitt yrs. Or Cuse, though their bad yrs offset their good yrs. Still that’s 6 teams ahead of us.

I think i know what you are saying. But think we need some perspective ourselves into thinking there is this big group of schools that regularly outdo Pitt. There’s only 6 teams (out of ~250 total, ~80 from power conferences), that have had a better decade than Pitt. We’ve been pretty darn good.

Comment by PantherP 03.14.12 @ 2:01 pm

Thank you silver panther I was wrong the player I was referring to was Anthony Davis. I am not going to be baited into arguing with you about other opinions. As with each of these blogs they are the opinions of the writer and mistakes concerning stated facts will often occur.
Also PanterP while you were joining it on beating me up, you reinforced a point I have made several times that the major problem this year was that Dixon had notrecruited a genuine center in three years.

Also Robinson is ranked as the number 4 PG I not going to go back to Woodall’s ranking because I would be wasting my time.

To all the naysayers concerning Adams watch a video of him. I hope he feels a commitment to Jamie and stays 2 years. Actually it would help him. The NBA is football without pads so he needs some experience being doubled and tripled teamed.

Comment by drw 03.14.12 @ 3:59 pm

DRW – I did not intend to beat you up. I have no objection to some of your comments. I’d agree Dixon has not successfully recruited a center in three years (unless you count Gilbert). Its excusable in my mind though — he, and everyone else, thought he had a beast in Taylor and would have Birch to supplement him. There’s no really glaring poor decision in Dixon’s front court recruiting, just some bad breaks.

James Robinson is the real deal. I totally agree there too. I’ll even bolster your point — DJ Augstin and Scottie Reynolds were ranked worse in the overall PG rankings when they were recruited than Robinson.

However, those two were ranked significantly better in overall rankings than Robinson.

Im also just weary of highschool tapes and recruiting rankings. And Woodall does not suck. and he’s our only real leader next year (unless someone else emerges). Can’t see him taking a back seat to Robinson unless and until Robinson proves he is,as a freshman, an elite BE PG AND a team leader. He’ll be good, and play ~15 minutes (like Levance his freshman year). I just wouldn’t hang my hat on him being too huge a difference.

Comment by PantherP 03.14.12 @ 5:59 pm

Ditka is one of those people who believe that historical powers mean that a team is elite. Pitt hasn’t had a relationsip with suecces and in his mind Pitt is not an elite program. So, in his analysis, does that mean that UCLA is an elite program because they were great in 60s and 70s? Or does that mean that a depaul is elite because they made the final four in the 70s? or an Indiana state? Just because Pitt hasn’t gotten to the final four does not mean that the last 10 years should be forgotten. In the past ten year, Pitt is every bit as elite as any of the other programs you mentioned. The NCAA’s are about matchups more than anything else and in an elimination game anything can happen.

Comment by muddiepitt99 03.15.12 @ 10:02 am

Coach Ditka thank you for a voice of reason. I also do not live in Pittsbugh anymore although I am a native son. Like you no one in my social circle cares about Pitt. In basketball they have no idead that Pitt has had such a successful program for 10 years.

I use this site to vent and a state my OPINION right or wrong, misspelled, grammatically incorrecct, or occassionally use the improper name of player. Too many of us take time to attack the others than state our opinions. The blog, I am afraid is reflecting the level of our decaying society that has lost the ability for civil discourse.

Comment by drw 03.15.12 @ 1:53 pm

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