November 21, 2012

I went to pick up my son from kindergarten this afternoon. The principal helps direct out car-riders. He brought my son over, and I noticed he was wearing a Michigan tie. I was wearing a Pitt shirt, so I tried to engage him about the game tonight. Big surprise, he had no clue.

Sure they have a top-5 team. They are playing a big non-con game in prime time on ESPN2. Considered the best game of the night. Nothing. It’s all about Michigan-Ohio State this week. Their news coverage is really, really limited. Basically it’s, “hey, this is the first real game for Michigan, but, whatever.”

[As an aside, here I was all primed to give the Trib some grief for not using a regular beat writer so far this season — leading to some uneven coverage — but compared to the effort in Michigan…]

For Pitt, it is a little more coverage. And, you know, actually caring about the game.

“We’ll see how good they are,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “And we’ll see how good we are.”

“They’ve got a lot of great players,” Pitt guard Tray Woodall said. “We’re all aware of that.”

Michigan, through three games, is one of the nation’s best 3-point shooting teams.

“They do a lot of things very well,” Dixon said. “What makes them so good is their guards, and how experienced they are.”

In classic Pitt fashion, don’t expect Dixon to alter his defense to stop Michigan’s outstanding guards. Instead, Woodall and blossoming freshman James Robinson will be asked to stare down Burke and Hardaway.

“We’re just going to defend,” Woodall said. “We’re a better defending team this year. We’re just going to defend and help each other. That’s what we do. You’ve got to love playing against guys like that. These are potential NBA players, all-Americans.”

The three point shooting will be huge. It is a Beilein team, after all. They are going to take a lot of 3s. Pitt is going to have to have the guards play a lot tighter on them. That means the front court has to be ready to defend if they drive and get past the guards.

While the talent on this Wolverine team is high, there is the fact that Coach Dixon has familiarity with the coach and his system.

As I said, it’s a 9:30 game on ESPN2. I’ll be on twitter tonight, because up until game time I have to do all the Thanksgiving prep for tomorrow. No time for setting up and being sure I won’t have to DVR  delay for moments if need be.

I’m too tired right now to go back and look at who in particular mentioned that this game was on a neutral floor, but I was at the game and this was in no way a ‘neutral’ site game. There were about 25 kids from Pitt in one section representing the Zoo, but almost everyone else at MSG was a Michigan fan. The place ERUPTED at about the 8:30 mark in the second half and from then on it was basically a home game for Michigan fan-wise. Very, very loud “DEFENSE” chants and tons of applause and yelling on their scoring possessions. As soon as the Garden got loud in favor of the Wolverines, our team basically collapsed. Take a look at a replay and you’ll find exactly that. When the place was hush-hush except for the condensed ‘zoo’ and the few of us other scattered fans throughout the arena, Pitt had the ability to set up the offense. Once the noise kicked in, all hell broke loose and we couldn’t set up the offense at all. Not making any of this up, go back and watch tape and see if you can see where the crowd noise picks up at the 8:30 mark.

Comment by MikePITT 11.22.12 @ 2:19 pm

I would like to see Adams be more aggressive. Not sure this can be coached but I guess it will come as he gets more comfortable. if we are going to to run a half court offense, I would like to see dixon run some plays for Adams early as maybe a few early baskets will help him get comfortable.

On Robinson, love this kid and thinking he is our starting point guard. Woodall needs to be coming off the bench as back up point as he is not a 2 guard and is a poor shooter. Jamie can spot him at 2 guard but he can’t start there.

Comment by pittfan92 11.22.12 @ 2:21 pm

This team hasn’t been good at feeding the post players since DeJuan Blair was around and that was mostly LeVance doing the feeding. (what over 3 years ago)

Now granted McGhee didn’t have great hands, and Sleepy and now Adams are having much difficulty playing with their backs to the basket. But whatever the problem, this has been going on for quite a few years now.

Before Adams gets totally frustrated, let him play PF, facing the hoop, let him score some points and freelance a little and use his unique athleticism for a guy his size. All that athleticism gets bottled up with him stuck in the middle. However they let him play at ND Prep, let him play that way.

He can practice his post moves over the summer.
Maybe they can hire someone to teach both him & Gilbert who also appears to have limited offensive skills with his back to the basket.

Maybe get a two for one deal 🙂

Comment by Emel 11.22.12 @ 3:01 pm

I was thinking the same thing Emel…Pitt can’t operate it’s offense without feeding the center. His job then is to either score or pass the ball back out to someone who’s open. That’s Pitt’s basic and best offense offense.

It looks like Robinson and anyone else with the ball is afraid to feed either Taylor (too short & weak), or Adams who doesn’t know what to do with the ball. Hopefully he’ll yearn soon…

Adams has no post moves…his chuck it up layup leaves much to be desired. He needs to dunk the ball….he seems worried that he’ll foul someone trying to score. That’s almost impossible…

I don’t like the idea of Adams playing the 4 though…it will just waste another year for him and Taylor will have to play 35 minutes. Would take Zanna off the floor too….not to mention moving Moore to the 3.

Well, no matter what happens with Adams, Pitt won’t have the most improved player in the BE next year 🙂

Comment by Jackagain 11.22.12 @ 3:18 pm

Still am baffled how these weren’t set up to play in the final. Robinson and Moore will be the go-to guys by the end of the year. We should all be happy, this is what we’ve been waiting for a team that will grow as the season goes and being playing it’s best ball come March. They are a young team, but they fight for everything. If these teams play again in March Pitt wins by double digits. H2P

Comment by Pitt Rob 11.22.12 @ 4:55 pm

It as a fun game to watch and should show that this should be a good team by tourney time. Would like to see one of our two starting guards get more incidence in their shooting. We should see Adams get better with time. Zanna, Adams, and Patterson also will get better working together more as they get experience playing together. Seems like they still gotta work out some bugs and get used to each other. Michigan is a good team and so is Pitt.

Comment by Dish 11.22.12 @ 6:02 pm

Yeah I got it. I was aiming at those who label him a bust.
Wow. That comes outta nowhere.
I like this team. I hope I like it more after we play the chickens from that slave holding state (they don’t talk about that part if their history) of Delaware!

Comment by SFPitt 11.22.12 @ 6:42 pm

I coached hs basketball off and on for 16 years. I have been a Pitt BBall fan for 40 plus years.
This is the best total group of Pitt players I have seen in a long time. Yes, we lost to a very good team and lost our poise a few times. It happens. Adams has a lot to learn and does not have the physical presence to match up with top talent…Ziegler is the real deal. JJ Moore is an animal and needs much more PT..Patterson looks good, Woodall a liability against quick talented guards but solid as a rock against non top 20 teams. Dante is better but still needs work. Robinson is a freak of nature and the best (and headiest) player on the team.

We are all going to have a lot of fun and the sky is the limit for this Pitt team!

Comment by Dan 72 11.22.12 @ 6:52 pm

I honestly don’t get the negativity. Saw some very good things and some room for improvement in several areas. I like what I see so far and think this team has a very high ceiling. Adams is clearly raw but will improve as things slow down for him. Patterson showed some signs of life and Zeigler did as well. One or two shots fall and a call or two go their way and this may have been a W. I am hoping to see some more inside out play. But overall, at this point in the season I was happy despite the loss. Big things ahead. H2P!.6

Comment by Carmen 11.22.12 @ 7:00 pm

After 24 hours I can give a less emotional response.

PITT will be fine this year. They are a legit top 15 team. We will surprise a few top ten teams in big east .

Expect us to make the sweet 16 as we have the talent. We simply need more experience.

I love Moore, Patterson, Robinson and Zanna. Typical PITT hard nosed guys. Tough to go against them in march.

Team seems hungry this year along with Dixon. That’s a great thing for us.

Adams needs a lot of work. A lot of work. Let me say it again. Adams needs a lot of work. Clearly he hasn’t faced this type of athleticism in talent in the KiWi nation. HE MUST GET AGGRESSIVE and stop letting folks take his lunch. Dixon must slowly give him more PT but he should watch for now. He isn’t ready

Comment by Pitt Fan in Atlanta 11.22.12 @ 9:44 pm

I watched in pure shock & amazement as Jamie Dixon & Company turned Gary McGhee into a forceful talent, who’s being paid to play basketball. Remember when GM picked up 3 PFs in one second against Thabeet & UConn, trying to spell Blair? Remember how GM couldn’t even catch a ball to save his live?

What I saw last night was a guy who isn’t nearly ready to play D-1 hoops, let alone in the NBA. But he has more natural ability & upside than McGhee. Adams will get there if he stays, they say big men are the slowest to develop.

But if Adams leaves early, then all bets are off

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 11.22.12 @ 10:57 pm

Michigan was using 3 OLs from their football team. There is no way Adams could survive that, let alone Sleepy.

Both must bulk up.

Comment by steve1 11.23.12 @ 8:30 am

Pitt missed a lot of easy shots in the second half of the game. Adams, Patterson and Robinson missed layups. I believe Zanna may have also missed one. Moore missed two short, open jumpers.

Plus the refs made one definite bad foul call near the end on a clear steal. They may have made another on slight touch by Patterson as the player was going, or may have already been, out of bounds.

Besides poor shooting, offensive rebounds hurt Pitt in the second half.

The team looked great in the first half.

Other than poor defense on Michigan’s last possession of the first half, Cam Wright played really well. I wonder why he didn’t play in the second half.

I see the athleticism in Adams. I saw the potential on a blocked three in the Oakland game. However if he is one and done somebody in The Association is taking a flyer.

Comment by Barvo 11.23.12 @ 8:41 am

IMHO James Robinson is the most impressive freshman to wear a PITT uniform in the last 20 years. Poise & confidence. Sees the entire floor & runs the offense like a senior. PITT played a nice game against Michigan. Team gaining confidence & learning to play w/each other. Need to follow up w/a win today against the Bluehens. Hail To PITT

Comment by DC33 11.23.12 @ 8:42 am

DC33 you are right on point with Robinson. I have never seen a Pitt freshman play with such poise. This young man is by far the best point guard on the team. When things shake out, Robinson and Zeigler will be the starting guards and Woodall will be coming off the bench. Woodall is too small and slow to guard two guards.

Comment by Floyd 11.23.12 @ 9:31 am

Things i think i know maybe, i have read every thind i could find on maryland and the ACC in the
last 3 days.
1 the acc will take its time on expansion they
are meeting on dec 1 and on dec 3.
they are thinking abought 2 teams who are not in the big east.
2 they are thinking to may be go to 16 teams
i dont know if that is 2 and holding a space for ND, or 3 and leaveing ND as bb only.

3 if they take just 1 to go to 14 and if it is some one from big east it will be L VILLE to keep
FS in line.
4 one of the teams not in big east might be penn state dont know this but there are hints.
5 could GEORGETOWN move up to div 1 in football.
who knows ?

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.23.12 @ 9:47 am

Adams has played in us for all of one year and in 5 meaningful d1 games. Also his first road game and on a big stage at that. Blair spoiled us. Adams is normal and there’s no reason to panic. Teams recognize that he’s getting acclimated to the game and he’s a bit indecisive. Again – normal. They’re attacking that to get him into foul trouble. He’ll adjust.

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 11.23.12 @ 9:58 am

I live in DC – impossible for G-Town to move up to D1. It would be like Carnegie Mellon trying to move up to D1. Very very small school.

If they go the G-Town route, it would be to add Navy for football only and G-Town for basketball only. It would be harmonious for both because Navy would not want to compete in the ACC for basketball and G-Town couldn’t in football.

L’Ville is probably the choice but I still think they should at least reach out to PSU to gauge interest. PSU would have to sacrifice a lot but if they joined and it was a catalyst to ND joining full time, ESPN would be in a position to re-look at the conference contract.

Don’t underestimate ESPN’s influence in college football here. ESPN has a vested interest in the ACC and will not just sit around and let it get ripped apart from the SEC (CBS) or Big 10 (FOX).

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.23.12 @ 10:24 am

Zeigler cannot shoot at all. Seen him miss the rim on fts in the summer and he just nipped it against Oakland. He can only drive and when teams pack it in he is useless.
He is the weak link (IMO).
JD I think is limited in his ability to coach up the centers. He also is too damned stubborn.

Comment by frankarms 11.23.12 @ 10:51 am

Tossing Thabeets i know espn is screwing them selves if we stay under paid.
if acc should go to 15 and with ND giveing us 5 games then espn has to review the tv contract it
is writen that if there are changes they have to revist the deal.
so would that be enough to get ACC UP TO 24 MILLON
per team.
if it were Penn state and L VILLE yes.
if L VILLE and just the 5 games with ND most
likley not unlees they just want to bring us up to par with every one else to save them selves
becuse the ACC IS ESPN.

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.23.12 @ 11:06 am

Pitt got beat by the better team and no shame in that. The younger guys will benefit from playing in this tourney and against quality opponents. Don’t overlook this Delaware team this afternoon. They beat a decent Virginia team and nearly beat K State. This Pitt B-ball team is easy to root for and fun to watch. Why can’t football be this way?

Comment by TX Panther 11.23.12 @ 11:41 am

Still too early in the season around here with all the football-centric fans making wacky comments. Players that were floated as transfer candidates only a month ago are suddenly saviors. And every game, coach’s comment, decision, etc. is suddenly calling into question the status of the program. Hopefully this type of crap will get weeded out at some point.

A few comments to offer as things to look for going forward:

-Adams seems to have a few problems to work on. First and foremost is committing stupid fouls. That’s obvious. Another is that when he is getting fed on balls he is taking too much time to make a decision. He needs to read the situation faster and turn and shoot or kick out in a more timely fashion. He looked a little behind the speed of the game. The defense doubles down on him and the longer he waits to decide, the more chance they could steal or tie him up. And the more time he gives the other defensive players to re-calibrate their coverage… Lastly, he needs to turn on the killer instinct. Needs to put himself into beast mode. He can’t let the fouls get into his head and become passive on the boards. He’s got some ways to go with that but his physical skills will not be worth a dime if he can’t light the fire inside.

-As if responding to popular demand, Dixon played both Zanna and Moore at the same time. Zanna switched to center and Moore stayed at power forward. It will be interesting to see if he did that because Adams wasn’t dependable or in foul trouble, or if this is a usable combo going forward.

-Just as we saw last year, desperate times call for desperate measures. Late in the second half Pitt switched to a 2-3 zone. Dixon played a bit of possum with Beilein after a couple of time outs switching and then sticking with zone. But then he kept it on for a few minutes longer. It seemed like it was pretty effective- at least as a change up from man. Wonder if we will see more of it.?.?.

-I’m not completely sure if Dixon knows when to use JJ Moore or not. In both the Michigan and Oakland games it seems he was holding him back until it was nearly too late in Oakland game and it was too late vs. Michigan. JJ’s an inconsistent shooter but I just think he’s a weapon that needs to be on the floor if we are down late in the game.

-The crowd was overwhelmingly Michigan on Wednesday night. That SUCKED. But Oakland Zoo made some noise. They did a great job. Sucks that they didn’t have the bands for this tournament.

Headed out for lunch and the game soon.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 11.23.12 @ 11:56 am

Generally, Moore does need to be on the floor more and so does Zeigler. He needs more opportunity to get into the flow of the game. If this comes at the expense of Durand Johnson seeing more playing time, then so be it.

And a more concerted effort needs to be made to get the ball to Adams early in the game today, get him some looks, maybe make a shot or two and gain some confidence. I suspect that some time in the next 3-4 games Adams is going to have a “breakout” kind of game where he puts up 14-16 points, has a bunch of blocks and rebounds. Of course, the upcoming schedule is pretty weak, so that scenario is more likely, but it will still be important to happen so that Adams can begin to gain some confidence and make meaningful contributions.

Comment by Carmen 11.23.12 @ 12:09 pm

That little chuck it up bunny shot of Adam’s has to stop too…he needs to go strong to the hoop and dunk. He only dunks when he’s alone under the basket. Let him draw fouls…

I also agree that they need to feed Adams inside. He should be instructed to score if one guys on him….if two guys are on him he needs to find and feed the open man. Should be simple enough for him to understand that.

Comment by Jackagain 11.23.12 @ 12:31 pm

Zeigler looks like a player that is used to playing w/the ball more & when Moore is on the floor he plays his best when he lets the game come to him. JJ usually has a shot in the air w/in 30 seconds of hitting the floor. Both have nice size. I agree, it would be nice to run the offense through Adams/center position

Comment by DC33 11.23.12 @ 12:35 pm

Also, i wasn’t overly impressed w/Michigan. Nice guards but thats all. PITT did not adjust to 1-3-1 & shooting went cold. PITT should have won. (How many times in my life have i said that mostly regarding football)

Comment by DC33 11.23.12 @ 12:39 pm

Anyone know what time the Delaware game is?Channel?

Comment by Dan 72 11.23.12 @ 12:41 pm

2:30, ESPN

Comment by steve1 11.23.12 @ 1:18 pm

chryst makes 1,750,000 per year TG made 2 million.
so i guess we did go cheap.

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.23.12 @ 2:09 pm

The Penn Stater’s are probably thinking this:

They’re going to get stuck playing Maryland & Rutgers probably more than the others. Since they are the ‘Easern Wing’ of the conf. Plus PSU had pretty much the exclusive big 10 recruiting rights in NJ & MD & NY. Now they are going to have 2 more big 10 schools that will be sharing that 3 state talent. And if you read that article on Grantland I linked, you saw that there aren’t that many D1 players coming out of NJ, NY & MD. Well that 3 state pie, just got sliced into 3 slices. They can’t be too happy about that as well.

Also Penn State is probably going to be scheduled annually against both Rutgers & Maryland, as the conf. prolly sees them playing in larger off campus venues when RU & MD had the home game.
So that means two less games against maybe quality opponents, Wisconsin maybe, Michigan maybe, Mich State maybe, Nebraska maybe, and maybe even Ohio State.

So you take all this and the $100 million dollar fine the big 10 imposed on PSU and the feeling of being a big 10 step child all these years and…..
who knows.

Comment by Emel 11.23.12 @ 2:28 pm

Emel, I think anything is possible, but with the big 10 talking $40M per team in the future it is not likey they make the move to the ACC. Their scheduling will actually be worse then you state for teams in the other side of the Big 10. For example, it is possible that they will play Mich once every six years (once every 12 at PSU)

Comment by HbgFrank 11.23.12 @ 3:38 pm

what the ACC needs to do is have off the books talk with espn you know one of thoes that never happend kind of talk.
it would go someting like this how mutch will you pay per team if i get penn state.what can i tell they they will get if they come to the acc 24 million a year good and we never talked ok.

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.23.12 @ 3:46 pm

I think i know how to explain it kentucky or
u conn or L ville get 1 or 2 super stars and the coach makes the team fit in with the super star
were if dixon gets a super star he makes the super star fit in with the team.
that is why they win titles and go to final 4 and we dont.
they build the team around the super star
and we make the super star blend in with the team
that is why players like KB will go to outher teams.
becuse with out one or two super stars who can take over games you will never win it all.

Comment by FRANKCAN 11.23.12 @ 6:08 pm

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