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March 29, 2012

Getting Through CBI Game 2

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 1:56 pm

I’ve gotten most of my say regarding the officiating out of my system. The only thing I’ll add is that I’m stunned to see the sanitizing of the officiating in the print accounts of the game. Not even a slight hint of it, with use of “dubious” or “questionable” regarding the intentional foul call in the final seconds in the stories. But then again, the Trib story refers to it as a flagrant foul — which I guess can happen when you send a guy who doesn’t follow much more than hockey this time of the year.

The good news is that Pitt was much better defending the 3-point shot this time out. Abe Lodwick was given very limited space and Washington really had to work for their shots in this game. Pitt definitely was  little more patient on defense in this game. They were getting frustrated in the second half with Reggie Moore getting to the free throw line by driving to the basket.

This game was different for Pitt since Ashton Gibbs was out with an ankle injury. There have been reports all season that he had an ankle bothering him, so maybe that played into his poor play in the last few games. Not to mention a sour look on his face. If he was fighting through the pain to play. At least, maybe, that’s what I’d like to think was happening.

Without Gibbs, the one big issue was trying to spell Tray Woodall. Or not spelling him. In the first half, twice Coach Dixon trotted out Isiah Epps and John Johnson to be in the backcourt for two minute spells that could be combined with media timeouts. Pitt survived but looked very shaky. The team’s movement stopped and no one was sure what to do on offense. The coaches noticed, and Woodall played the entire second half. Woodall also had a nasty split he performed when he tried planting one foot on the “Zebra Pen” sticker-sign temporarily placed on the court, mid-way through the 1st half. It looked painful, and given his injuries this year, probably felt even worse. Those two factors definitely impacted Woodall in the second half. Woodall scored all of his points in the first half and was 0-7 in the second half.

The lack of Gibbs also meant the first significant minutes for John Johnson in a while. He responded with a rather solid game. Not brilliant. Not abysmal. Just what you would expect. He nailed a couple threes. Had an egregious turnover. Stayed all over whoever he was guarding on the perimeter.

Cam Wright got the start without Gibbs in the line-up. He does relish playing defense, and given the officiating struggled with foul problems. I do like his defense, but he has to work on finishing around the rim and his passing. He can actually get in there and fight for rebounds, but either kick it out or get the contact.

After shooting 0-6 in the first game (which when I looked at the box score freaked me out to realize he took 6 shots), Washington State was daring him to shoot. Hell, they were daring Pitt to pass Wright the ball. During the game, you could see Wright left entirely alone on one side of the basket. Just waiting by the 3-point line. No Cougar player was near him. And still, Pitt didn’t even swing the ball over to him. It was comical. And at the same time all I could think was, “This is exactly right — for both teams.”

Nasir Robinson remained a constant. Never questioning his heart or effort. Just that he took a couple 3s in the game (and made one).

Sadly, you could see this kind of game coming with J.J. Moore. After the Butler game where he went inside and attacked, the last game had him taking most of his shots from outside. This time he was a non-factor, barely venturing into the paint. He only took 4 shots — all from outside the 3-point line — and managed to have 0 rebounds and 0 free throws in 21 minutes. His play was especially upsetting to me, because¬† the officials were calling anything on the defense if the offense attacked the basket. He could have helped keep Washington State from closing that gap so much in the second half. He never drove to the hoop. He just wanted to shoot. Just when you think Moore has really started to get it. He reverts back to the form that had him a non-factor for a huge portion of the season.

Dante Taylor had another minimalist performance. Some had to do with Zanna playing so well, but a lot had to do with Taylor struggling to handle playing so far from the basket on defense. Washington State’s slow-tempo offense features nobody near the basket for large stretches of the shot clock. Trying to spread out the defense to find a jump shot or let Reggie Moore or, well, mainly Reggie Moore drive to the basket. Taylor only managed 2 rebounds in 14 minutes.

Talib Zanna is one of two Pitt players who really seems to have taken advantage in the CBI to show something. In the 5 games, he has averaged 11.8 ppg and 7.4 rebounds. What’s more his shooting percentage is .719 (23-32), and he is actually hitting free throws (13-19, including 6-8 last night). No he is not a defensive force, but he was actually able to stay with the forwards of Washington State who roam all over the court. He is still very deficient in passing the ball, but if he can develop that more over the summer — he might (I stress might) be the perfect compliment at power forward to Steven Adams at center next year.

Finally Lamar Patterson has been solid all season. But what he has shown in the CBI to this point is that he can produce in the closing minutes. He struggled on offense for most of the game, but got to the free throw line for 10 attempts (8-10) and made a clutch basket in the final minute. His defense is still a work-in-progress, but what I do like about him is that he wants to get better. Coach Dixon has let him know he is going to be expected to be a big cog for the coming season, and he is not shying away from it. He’s a bit selective in his shots and is too willing to stop when trying to penetrate — apparently in fear or anticipating being called for a charge. No doubt he can get better, but he is playing someone that wants more.





Nice write up. I had fun last night, hope more and Moore show up tomorrow night.

Comment by Yup 03.29.12 @ 2:04 pm

Agreed, that was fun last night! The crowd was really into it, even if it was small. And the game, while not beautiful, was highly competitive!

Agree on Patterson/Zanna. They’ve inspired hope. Also agree on Moore–drive the damn ball! You’re 6 6 and jump out of the gym!

Disagree on Johnson–he cannot guard anyone! And Wright’s lack of basketball skill is just too much for me…he has a long way to go.

As for Taylor…eh, what’s the point.

Looking forward to Friday. I really like this tournament format. To me it blows the gimmicky NCAA tourney out of the water. You get evenly matched teams throughout, there is just the right number of rounds, and the 3 game championship series is awesome. It ensures the best team wins and breeds a little rivalry between the teams. I’m pro CBI!!

HTP!

Comment by Joe 03.29.12 @ 2:18 pm

Joe,

For what it is, I really do like the 3 game format.

HAIL.

Comment by Yup 03.29.12 @ 2:22 pm

I too like the 3 game championship format but it’s better for the NCAA, their TV contracts and the gambling community if more teams get into the dance so it won’t happen there.

As for Woodall, he also took a nasty bump to the knee under the Washington State basket near the end of the game which certainly didn’t help him on those “drives” to the hoop at the end of the game.

Comment by Pitt Dad 03.29.12 @ 2:27 pm

I like to think we can survive without Woodall at 100% and without Gibbs so long as Moore realizes he’s a better driver than he a shooter (or that driving and shooting need to compliment each other) and Patterson remains consistent.

Moore showed so much promise during the past month, I’d really hate to seem him revert. I’m really curious what the relationship is between him and the coaching staff. Having them “on your side” so to speak makes a huge difference. You have to earn it — like Gibbs did — but once you do you get not only infinitely long leash — like Gibbs all year — but also the specific focus of the coaches to advise how you on how best to develop. There seems to be something missing here between Moore and Dixon and his coaching staff.

Its all speculation and amateur phsycology, but there are some pretty obvious flaws to Moore’s game that make me think he’s simply not being coached up. Sure in practice to the team the coach will teach defense and shot selection but its a differnet thing when there’s one-on-one advice. And I can’t believe that Moor would be so think headed as to actually be receiving advice like “pass or drive the ball as your first instinct and let that set up your outside shot which should be your second instinct” and then doing what he did last night. It makes no sense, except that he’s a sophomore.

I dunno, that’s a rant. I’m just thinking that despite the huge impact Adams likely will have (if he qualifies! dont jinx it!) and the steady presense of Patterson, the ceiling for next years team will be largely set by how well Moore develops. Adams, Patterson doing there thing, Woodall managing the game (w hopefully less TOs) and the rest of the team role-playing, sets the stage as the fairly steady constants come BE schedule. Moore being a play-maker is the variable. the x-factor. That’s what I foresee (in my hazy completely inaccurate crystal ball). So his play, and the coaching of his play, seems disproprortionately significant. Hope he makes the right impression tomorrow.

Comment by PantherP 03.29.12 @ 6:22 pm

Newsflash: Toad Graham has got a new boss.

link to espn.go.com

I give him just 1 year and back to coaching HS

Comment by steve1 03.29.12 @ 7:00 pm

I wonder where Todd Graham’s next “Dream Job” will be?

Comment by Justinian 03.29.12 @ 8:03 pm

Just read that myself. I believed the BS of Fraud Graham but I’m just a fan and not running a NCAA Program. People like him who don’t tell the truth leave a wake of destruction behind. PC may be dull at the press conference but at least he’s honest.

Comment by Tackle made by Hugh 03.29.12 @ 10:04 pm

Fraud Graham is no stranger to looking over the shoulder of the person to whom he is speaking but I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest heresy to some.

Sendek on the hot seat is not news, but what about Pikksburgh’s favorite ex patriot–Sean Miller (Michael Corleane to the “Don”, Padre Miller).

He has big recruits coming in and is about to land “all home game, nada on the road” TJ McConnell, but Sean is starting to appear on lists of overpaid and underperforming coaches. It ain’t lime the PAC 55 is good…it is not and while Xavier made its 4th sweet 16 in the last 5 years, things ain’t so grand in the land of whatever they call that place that won’t have water in5 years.

Miller had not produced either. You can make a good argument that they have not advanced either. After all, Sean Millers team only beat Duquesne by 11 or so at home. I know of another school that did the same thing, had the same kind if year and some people want that coach to be replaced by the ever rounding TJ err, uh.. Sean Miller.

Laughable to me.

Comment by SFPitt 03.30.12 @ 12:36 am

@SFPitt — It’s always: what have you done for me lately, in this land of instant gratification. If Jamie has a repeat of the 2011/2012 basketball season, he too will be on the hot seat.

Looking at Arizona’s in-coming basketball class, Sean Miller better produce or the moving truck will be parked in the front of his house. But we have our own problems in the ‘Burgh. HTP!

Comment by MariettaMike 03.30.12 @ 6:12 am

Sean Miller has been to 2 Elite 8s in his 8 years as HC … and barely missed a 3rd when Levance Fields made a desperation 23 footer while the shot clock expired late in the game. Arizona made the Elite 8 just last year.

This past year was a disappointment but still finished 23 -12 and 12 -6 in PAC 12. And we all realize that everyone can have a down year every once in a while.

Comment by wbb 03.30.12 @ 6:29 am

Moore needs to go to the paint, stop those threes, and play ball like he knowd how to play. The last couple of games put you on the board by slashing. Those threes are going to put you on the bench. Be consistant and play YOUR game.

Comment by Mamma Pitt 03.30.12 @ 6:58 am

Chas excellent overview. Hoping to resolve mental not physical weakness of Moore, upgrade Patterson, and move Zanna and Taylor to PF (taylor backup C if Gilbert is not ready). Pitt has a bright future next year and if Adams stays two possibly final four or better. However two years is not likely based on Adams ability and impoverished background. Still one year with improvement from the young supporting cast can possibly propel Pitt past the elite eight.

From his head to head confrontations against the top 2 centers in the country and the watching the current best college centers Adams is a level above. Unlike the others he is not limited to dunks and baby hooks because he can score facing the basket with a jump shot put the ball on the floor and force his way to the basket. Most importantly he is strong enough and nasty enough not to give quarter to American big men whose effectiveness is their physical strength at the basket.

Like everything it is only my opinion having played and coached basketball and seen numerous videos of Robinson playing and excelling against the best competetion in the country that with the exception of Lamb, and Silva he is comparable to the better Big-East guards. He ought to be able to step in and run the offense. Something Pitt has not had since Fields. Unlike Fields he can shot from outside, play defense, and penetrate and finish.

Get Moore to play the game he has the skill and physical abilities to play. Zanna or Taylor provide size and simply need to be garbage men, for Adams,if Patterson keeps improving at the 2G, Robinson hopefully be the player I think he is that can run the offense and at PG help more than hurt his team (Woodall) the stage will be set.

Comment by drw 03.30.12 @ 8:08 am

At some point Pitt is going to figure out how to run the offense without Woodall on the floor. I have no problem seeing Epps and Johnson out there because they have to learn to play D-1 Major college basketball. I hope that the guy from Dematha can come in and take minutes from Woodall when he needs a breather or two. BTW for next year’s team who’s going to be the 2 guard? Johnson is short, Patterson/Moore are more swing forwards than guards, so who is going play the 2? rumor is that Dixon is already sweeping through the JC’s recruiting someone to replace Gibbs, anyone know if that is true?

Comment by muddiepitt99 03.30.12 @ 2:14 pm

Don’t forget Durand Johnson at the 2 next year. Also, possible would be using Patterson at the 2 and Moore at the 3. Depends on if either improves as a ballhandler.

Comment by Chas 03.30.12 @ 2:33 pm

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