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November 13, 2012

Pitt rolled the Rams as expected. As the game was decided early, with J.J. Moore enjoying an outstanding game, much side conversation quickly turned to the status of John Johnson.

Johnson made his displeasure at not getting any playing time on Friday — and having Coach Jamie Dixon explain it away as him being a little under the weather. It surprised few that rumors swirled over the weekend that he was planning a transfer. Now it is official that he is doing so.

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said he and Johnson talked several times and that he plans to help the Philadelphia native find another school. Minutes may have been hard to come by for Johnson, as this appears to be one of Dixon’s deepest teams.

“We’ve got a lot of good players and a lot of good guards,” Dixon said.

And that was the problem for Johnson. Despite his own confidence in his abilities, he isn’t as good or experienced as the guys in front of him.

I won’t say that I loved Johnson’s overall game. I flat out hated his defense. He would overextend, leaning too far himself trying to slap the ball away from opposing players without any thought to the situation, size, or skill of his foe. He got away with this in the non-con last year against lower-level talent, but getting into Big East play with bigger, smarter, better guards he was exploited. They could spin away from him and get room to drive to the basket or find an open man when someone had to help as Johnson tried to recover.

Yet, he was a fun, confident shooter who had no fear taking a shot from anywhere on the court at any time (for good and bad). He was an exciting player when his shot was on. He could be streaky with his shot at time, but that figured to improve as he matured. Eventually learning to pass more. But John Johnson was never going to be a primary piece. He could have developed into a vital cog in time, but he simply wasn’t satisfied with that.

The truth is that Travon Woodall is better than him and has more experience. James Robinson is bigger, better and fits the team’s offense and defense much better than Johnson. Trey Zeigler as well. Even Cam Wright, offensively challenged as he may be, plays much better in Pitt’s game as the emphasis returns to working the ball inside with much more frequency. Add in the fact that next year Pitt adds point guard Josh Newkirk, and Johnson won’t exactly see a growing role on the team.

This is probably a good situation for both sides. John Johnson wants to be more of an impact player. He wants more minutes and a primary role with this team, and that won’t happen at Pitt. For Pitt, it obviously frees up a scholarship for next year, but it also frees up minutes on what looks like a very deep squad.

It seems clear that Coach Dixon isn’t too concerned.

Johnson’s departure could mean more playing time for Durand Johnson, a redshirt freshman who scored eight points in his college debut against the Rams. It also means Trey Zeigler will be playing more point guard. Zeigler ran the point for the final five minutes or so after Dixon pulled his starters.

“Zeigler has played the point,” Dixon said. “He’s picked it up really well. He’s a great leader that the guys respect and trust. That gives us some real versatility. I think that’s something we can really use to our benefit this year.”

Zeigler had seven points and one assist. All of his points came after halftime.

Senior point guard Tray Woodall was asked about John Johnson’s departure, and he said the following: “Honestly, I’ve been here for a while, I always knew Pitt’s not for everybody. Some guys like it here but just don’t feel comfortable. Honestly, it’s just not for everybody.”

In the Fordham game, not only did J.J. Moore thrive as he embraces a spark-plug role off the bench and play at both forward spots. Durand Johnson got his first minutes and baskets. He got 8 points in 10 minutes as he can play both shooting guard and at the wing. Adding more size on the perimeter. The potential length on the court when desired this season is something unseen in the Dixon era.

Pitt went 10 deep in the rotation, and everyone had at least 10 minutes of playing time. Obviously the bench will shorten and minutes will shift as the competition improves and the season gets deeper. But right now, Dixon is giving everyone a chance to earn their playing time and see action.

The first test comes tonight. A good, experienced Lehigh team. How does Pitt contain a dynamic guard like C.J. McCollum and a solid inside player like Gabe Knutson? How does their perimeter defense do against a team that has shot better than 40% on threes to start the season (19-45 in the first two games)?

Pitt has handled the lower tiers of the NEC and A-10 with ease. Now it’s stepping up to the best of the Patriot League.





Taylor < Lecak or Nwankwo?!?!?!

Taylor will work as a serviceable back-up C all year.

Adams doesnt need post up moves yet, though they will come. For now, garbage buckets are plenty and he's already better at that than McGhee or Taylor. Big question will be how he fairs defensively against legit BE Centers posting up on him. If he's merely average, Pitt's a much better team than last year.

Love Moore as super-sub, love that Zanna seems to be flourishing now that he doesnt have the weight of Taylor as the other big man.

Guard play is just too deep to be too flawed.

But long way to go….

Comment by PantherP 11.14.12 @ 10:52 am

Patterson is NOT struggling. He is playing solid. He’s had some nice passes, no turnovers, and is conservative on his shots. He’s also played decent defense. He got a third foul last night and Dixon gave Johnson the minutes as he was hustling on D and going after rebounds. Still, Patterson is a solid contributor.

Taylor is playing well. But when Adams is in, the game is altered in our favor just by his presence- especially on defense.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 11.14.12 @ 10:57 am

Michigan appears to be a Guard oriented team as 3 of the top 4 scorers are guards, albeit Tim Hardaway Jr is 6-6. Yep it’s his son. They also have Glenn Robinson Jr. Yep his son too. He’s a 6-6 freshmen as is their 6-10 center.

Just like Beilein’s Hoopie teams this team seems to hoist up 15-20 3’s a game. So there could be a lot of long rebounds, so PITT will have to be quick to the ball and Woody & Robinson will have to scoop up those long bounds.

So our perimeter defense will get a real good test in this game. Adams will be going up against another freshmen (McGary) who averages 6 & 8 in 13 minutes per game. They haven’t been tested yet, as they’ve played 3 lightweights including Slippery Rock :-). The last blowout win was against Cleveland State.

We can immediately move into the Top 20 with a win over the #5 ranked Wolverines. And since MSG is more a home to us then them, we have a good chance !

HTP

Comment by Emel 11.14.12 @ 11:04 am

Oh and it looks like they have a 7 man rotation with 3 guys averaging OVER 30 minutes a game.

With this being so early in the season and them playing lightweights so far, Beilein is obviously trying to get them up to speed early as they have us, K-State & NC State (which is #6 currently) in their next 3 games.

The TV networks are obviously hoping for a big early TV game of NC State & Michigan, both undefeated on Nov. 27th.

Let’s see if we can put a Monkey Wrench into that.

Comment by Emel 11.14.12 @ 11:16 am

Patterson is certainly struggling as evidenced by his 33% FG percentage and 20% 3-point FG percentage.

Taylor is not a good player. I have watched and played basketball my entire life. Taylor is one of the worst defensive big men I have ever seen. He is a good offensive rebounder. That is the best part of his game.

Comment by Omar 11.14.12 @ 11:29 am

Patterson’s shooting sample size is tiny and his main contribution is not scoring. 13 assists so far and two turnovers. And Dante has good rebound numbers and low opposition big man scoring. You’re using the Hugh Green methodology of selecting statistics that support your point and ignoring those that don’t. But anyway, agree to disagree on both counts. I wouldn’t call Taylor stellar but he has performed well so far which is the extent of my praise for him

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 11.14.12 @ 11:46 am

Fair enough. I should have said Patterson is struggling with his jump-shot.

I will not agree with your assessment of Taylor. The defense is considerably worse when he is in the game. Driving lanes open up by the dozen. He is simply horrible on the defensive end.

Comment by Omar 11.14.12 @ 11:57 am

I’m totally stoked about the Michigan matchup next week. Wife, both in-laws, brother-in-law are all Wolverines.

Emel, you pretty much nailed it. Michigan is guard focused, but they are not by any means small. They are long and lean at every position. Kind of how UCLA used to be every year. I think they may be a little bit overrated in the first few weeks of November, but a very good team, nonetheless. As deep as we are.

Fortunately, we have the bodies to match up up front and we all know that Tray likes to go right at big guys. I think Ziegler will be a good matchup too and could be in for a breakout game. When’s the last time we had a 6’5″ scoring guard?????

Oh, and PS:

FU Big East for leaving us out of the Big East/SEC Challenge. Instead we’ve got a marquee, primetime game in our recruiting hotbed of NYC, at The Garden against #5 Michigan.

Comment by CNorwoodAZ 11.14.12 @ 11:58 am

ESPN has the game time as 9:30 for Michigan. Primetime with everyone watching, I believe the boys will be ready. H2P

Comment by Vulcan Rob 11.14.12 @ 12:43 pm

I LOVE primetime Pitt basketball. Maybe Pitt football will experience it at some point in my lifetime.

Comment by TX Panther 11.14.12 @ 1:16 pm

Just found out I have to be in the burgh in mid-January and they have a home game vs UConn when I am there. Any ideas on the best way to get tix for the game since I am sure they are sold out?

Comment by OrlandoAlum 11.14.12 @ 1:59 pm

Check Craigslist closer to game day. Also, there are scalpers buying and selling on the street before every game. Don’t know how much inventory they would have or what the premium would be.

Comment by Dinosaur 71 11.14.12 @ 3:10 pm

Call the ticket office the day of the game. There are always tickets available. The Pete is very, very rarely sold out. 412648PITT.

Comment by Omar 11.14.12 @ 3:24 pm

Anyone remember that Lehigh kicked our butts in basketball same night as wVU slaughtered us in football…Wanny year #5 I think.

What an improvement. Look forward to Michigan.

Comment by Dan 72 11.14.12 @ 3:56 pm

Omar the Pete is always sold, hence the waiting list. Tix may come available on game day somehow but good luck with that for a uconn game

Comment by Wd 11.14.12 @ 4:38 pm

OrlandoAlum, Pitt is affiliated with stubhub.com. You should be able to buy BB there.

Comment by rayhpgh 11.14.12 @ 4:58 pm

Omar is correct about almost always being extra tickets for most games…They have to keep so many for visiting team and sometimes the visiting team doesn’t use them so they get resold. They also resell the student section seats during the games when students are away on break.
I have a couple friends buy tickets a few days before the game and they were a few rows from the court behind the basket.

That said for a UConn game (the last one ever at the Pete probably) if there are any being sold, it won’t be very many so I wouldn’t count on getting tickets thru box office for that one.

Comment by milobloom 11.14.12 @ 4:58 pm

Also in reference to Dinosaur about buying on the street…don’t do it..Pitt switched to barcode scanning on tickets this year so you could get a ticket that looks valid but has already been sold by barcode and the ticket is invalid.

Buyer beware……happen to some guys I was with at BE tourney a few years back when they started using barcodes. $200 for an invalid ticket that looked brand new.

Comment by milobloom 11.14.12 @ 5:19 pm

Very dissappointed in my fellow season ticket holders . Building was practically empty last night.

The only bright side, I was able to trade my ticket for a CLUB ticket with a scalper for just a couple bucks. The CLUB is the best way to watch the game! HD TV for replays and to catch the Duke/KY game AND alcohol.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 11.14.12 @ 5:24 pm

Was just on stubhub, tickets to the Pistons tilt against the Sixers in Philly are going for 10 cents.
lmao

In Charlotte, lots of Upper Deck tickets for $1 against most opponents.

Don’t know how this league pays their players and owners apparently make money(or is it some sort of huge tax write off for these guys who own mulitiple businesses). Don’t see how.
TV ratings are very low as well. Which means commercials aren’t exactly high dollar ones.

Maybe it’s Gov’t funded, lol

Comment by Emel 11.14.12 @ 7:29 pm

The Pete being sold out for season tickets is such a lie. Donate $200 and you will get season tickets. There is no waiting list.

Comment by Omar 11.14.12 @ 7:32 pm

agree Boubacar. Club ticket with the booze option definitely the best way to enjoy the Pete or any other venue across the country.

Unfortunately you need to go with a couple drinks in ya since the games are kinda short.

TaXI !!!

Comment by Emel 11.14.12 @ 7:33 pm

Why does the Pete allow alcohol? Is Heinz that way as well? I’m used to having to sustain my buzz from the tailgate until game end. If there is alcohol to be had in the club sections, my perspective will have to be rewritten. I might be able to be oblivious to the aweful football product that Pitt trys to sell. The tailgate buzz normally wears off at halftime forcing me to watch a second half of bad football. Watching on TV however allows me to drink throughout the game and forget Tinos terrible play and the inevitable Pitt loss. With basketball, I limit myself to remember the wins and good play. Gentlemen, we are a basketball school. Thanks stevie and nordy…in a way.

Comment by TX Panther 11.14.12 @ 8:53 pm

Good point Milo. I hadn’t considered that Pitt has gone to barcoded tickets this year. Makes any secondary market purchase suspect.

Comment by Dinosaur 71 11.14.12 @ 9:17 pm

Thanks for all of the ticket info.
@TX Panther – Heinz sells beer and wine in the club sections. I sat there for an 8pm game vs ND a few years ago. After tailgaiting for 4 hours and drinking in the club for another 3, I’m not sure how we walked across the bridge back to the hotel. However, I do remember that we won that night.

Comment by OrlandoAlum 11.14.12 @ 9:22 pm

[…] John Johnson: N/A. Transferred to Penn State. Attempts to sour chemistry on team, failed. […]


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