November 28, 2012

Struggling Inside

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 2:33 pm

Pitt has size to compete inside, but it does not have strength right now. If there is one weakness in having Talib Zanna and Steven Adams as the starting frontcourt, it is that both lack the pure physical strength to bang and fight for position inside. Especially when teams are packing it inside whether in a zone or to crash the boards.

A passive defensive scheme still paid off for the Bison, who had a 17-16 edge in rebounding, held Pitt to six field goals on 17 shots from 2-point range and only trailed, 36-28, at the break.

“We wanted to control the paint,” Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry said. “We thought we could control the paint in the zone, make them make eight or nine passes, make them think a little bit, make it look like the paint wasn’t available.”

Howard’s big men, center Alphonso Leary and forward Mike Phillips, upstaged Pitt’s post players early in the game. Each scored 8 points in the opening half to help Howard finish with 24 points in the paint.

Pitt, meanwhile, had just 10 points in the paint.

Especially in the first half. It also helped Howard dominate inside by being extremely physical with Pitt inside. Even with a lot of stuff allowed, four of Howard’s starters had two fouls in the first half.

It helped Howard give Pitt a tough first half. Pitt could not get anything inside. Worse, they were struggling with getting rebounds.

Steve Adams, for all his size, has struggled in the last few games to squeeze the ball. He can get a hand on it, but has not looked prepared for opposing players to rip or tip the ball away from him. I had hoped that after the two games up at Madison Square Garden (where he had all of 4 rebounds), he would be more aware of the need to be stronger going for the ball. That was not the case — at least in the first half. Adams got shoved around and outworked for rebounds.

In the second half, Adams — and the rest of the team — looked a lot better at getting rebounds. Rather clear that Coach Dixon gave them an earful at the half.

“The first half, we came out flat-footed. And (at halftime), we got yelled at by coach, so everybody was focused,” forward Talib Zanna said.

Zanna, held to 2 points in the first half, made all of his second half field goal attempts and finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. And center Steven Adams, responsible for just one rebound in the first half, grabbed five off the glass in the second.

“The rebounding thing really stands out,” Dixon said. “It’s something that should be a strength of ours but isn’t right now. We spent two days addressing it, but it’s just not getting done.”

The rebounding was an issue against Michigan and to a lesser extent against Delaware. It was something Coach Dixon had made no secret about wanting to see improved after the trip.

For the season, the Panthers have outrebounded their opponents by an average of 7.5 per game. Dixon’s goal is to outrebound every opponent by 10.

“The rebounding was not where we wanted it to be,” Dixon said. “I thought this was going to be a good rebounding team. But we haven’t rebounded well enough from the beginning — even in our big blowout 35-point wins. Against Michigan, we got beat on the boards point blank, and that’s why we lost. No question about it.

“Our rebounding is something we’re known for. It’s something we’ve probably done among the best in the country over the long haul. Right now, we’re not. So, when you lose a game and get outrebounded by 12 in the second half, you can point to this and that, but, at the end of the day, that’s what we do. When we don’t, we come up short.”

This is going to be an ongoing issue. Especially once Big East play begins and Zanna and Adams have to go up against better skilled and and stronger frontcourts.

Some of it can be improved. Adams is still too casual going for rebounds, and Zanna’s propensity to float out of the paint rather than getting near the basket at the defensive end puts him out of position. Coach Dixon can also try to help them more by sending more players into the paint on rebound chances. Too often, the rest of the team is out on the perimeter waiting to see if the bigs can corral the board or tip it out.

A week earlier, Lamar Patterson was struggling with his shot. Shooting around 40% from outside the arc last year, Patterson was missing everything. He was expected to be a leading scorer and playmaker on the team. It wasn’t happening. Leading to questions about whether being expected to score more while handling the ball less wasn’t working. Instead he found his range last week. Last night he drilled four straight 3s against Howard and providing the spark to give Pitt some space before the the end of the first half.

James Robinson also showed signs of life on the perimeter. There is so, so much to love about Robinson. Decisionmaking, ball-handling, presence, energy and effort.  But his shooting had not been one of them. He came into the game 1-9 on 3s and 14-34 overall. Against the Bisons he was 2-2 on 3s and 4-6 overall. Hopefully his shooting becomes a bit more consistent.

As for why Durand Johnson only played a few minutes, Coach Dixon says that he has a hamstring injury.

Nice review…
Adams doesn’t look as good as he did at the Greentree summer league…
Teams have figured out how to be competitive with Pitt… Zone Defense… and Dixon had better figure out how to go against it soon!!! Expect to see it early and often for the remainder of the season.

How does Pitt get outrebounded with a 7ft and a 6’9″ with Hops… that is a headscratcher.
They need to go the the Dejuan Blair School of Rebounding…
What made Blair successful at rebounding even though only 6’7″… that many coaches admired… he had a big A$$… and many coaches were quoted saying that.
Adams is getting pushed around… he will need to add some weight to his frame.

Comment by Joe D 11.28.12 @ 2:42 pm

I agree. Those boys need to eat more and bulk up fast. Order up some ‘O’ fries for them and have them push tires up Cardiac Hill.

Comment by TX Panther 11.28.12 @ 3:06 pm

Howard had “11” blocks. Thats weak.

Comment by alcofan 11.28.12 @ 3:13 pm

Are you kidding me 11 blocks. From 1-6 Howard who was destroyed by Iowa 66-36. And even lost to Lincoln College or something.

Wow it’s really a blessing in disguise, I guess that the non-con is loaded with weaklings.
Last year’s team had no inside toughness either.
As Taylor & Zanna are both finesse players. And it appears Adams game is more finesse as well.
We need to get that guy that puts the physicality back into PITT. Do we still have an open scholie?

Good think Duquesne is starting over, last year’s DU team would have given this team all they could handle in the upcoming City Game.

Comment by Emel 11.28.12 @ 4:11 pm

Hold on a minute…Pitt won, is 6-1, just battled the #3 team to the wire, seems to have some very good depth, is getting good production from some young players, and is suffering through a few growth pains in the front court. Is this the end of the world? Was this completely unexpected?


Based on Pittsburgh’s reputation for being one of the least sunny locales on earth, I’m thinking that some of you guys have been significantly and permanently affected psychologically by Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Some of you guys could find something wrong with cold beer and free pizza.

You guys are NEVER happy. Ever. Win or lose, there is always something amiss, doom is always around the corner, our guys just aren’t as good, our coaches are always wrong, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Joe D, what kind of 40 time do you need to run away from the black cloud that perpetually hovers over you and your band of merry men on here?

Oh, I know, I know…this is the reasonable forum for this kind of “enlightened debate”.

Comment by ECH 11.28.12 @ 4:35 pm

Yeah, come on now with the doom and gloom. Adams has played all of 7 games as a collegiate. He’s a little underwater right now. Let’s accept that and understand that it’ll get better as we go.

Taylor’s actually done a fairly good job overall at hitting the boards. Maybe he eats into Adams’ minutes a little more in the short term while he gets the work in at practice. I don’t think Adams has the same attitude as the Canadian Princess, where he’s gonna run and hide if he doesn’t get handed to him what he hasn’t earned. But relax, everybody. If a 24-point win over anybody is cause for concern, we’ve got the best kind of problems.

Comment by 85 11.28.12 @ 4:42 pm

And I think Dixon knows how to play against the zone. Somehow he used to destroy Syracuse zone when he had Nasir Robinson and others who knew what they were doing. I just don’t think the current bigs know how to move against the zone, and hope they will be getting a lot more practice on it.

Comment by San Diego Panther 69 11.28.12 @ 4:47 pm

I hate seeing Zanna and Adams on the perimeter. They don’t belong there, they’re not quick enough to get back to the paint.

We need to play more zone defense.

Comment by steve1 11.28.12 @ 4:48 pm

I’m not doom and gloom on Pitt basketball.
In fact I expect this team (preseason) to be Elite 8… but, Adams is not performing like what I saw at Greentree.
And right now…
what I see is a coaching issue… not a player or team issue. This is the deepest Pitt team I’ve ever seen.
Really… just because Pitt won 6 games you think they are great… C’mon man. This team needs to improve greatly if they are going to compete in the Big East. They have the players to do so.. lets see if Dixon can pull it off.

Comment by Joe D 11.28.12 @ 4:53 pm

Our reputation as a strong rebounding team precedes us and teams have adapted to this by packing in and sending three and sometimes four players to crash the boards. They are taking advantage of our lack of intensity and Adams’ inexperience. I don’t think Zanna floats out as much because he’s not rebounding. We just tend to run a lot of high post play against zone and that’s where he floats to as a matter of responsibility. I actually think he’s been pretty tenacious on the boards. He’s gotten a lot stronger since he got here. On defense, Adams is at the same point Taylor was three years ago. He just doesn’t know what is going on 100% of the time as a team defender. He pays too much attention to his individual man and not enough on the ball and the developing play. On offense, he’s just getting outworked or caught too far from the hoop. I don’t know what’s wrong with the other guys. Lack of intensity for sure.

The packing in has made dumping the ball down low difficult. There is less space to create and even when we can get the ball down, the defense will collapse on to whoever has the ball. This is why we keep seeing Adams, Zanna, and Moore undergoing a few frantic moments of trying to maintain hold of the ball and get it back out. This is all a result of how teams are playing us. It has nothing to do with Jamie Dixon deciding that Adams isn’t ready to receive entry passes. As mentioned, against a tight zone, the most successful approach is to pop a man out to the high post and attract attention there for either screen, 15-footer, low distribution, or swing it back out. In Pitt’s system, this is the responsibility of the power forward, but they sometimes it seems run the small forward (high ball IQ Patternson) to the high post as well. This, along with effective shot fakes and short dribble penetration make the motion offense more lethal against zone. Robinson and Patterson do both of these well and even Cam Wright is more confident. Durand Johnson seems on his way. In the second half last night they executed this all perfectly. They used intense defense to create turnovers and run full court and they used smooth, patient motion offense to break Howard down in the half court. Let’s see if we can keep it up. Traditionally we shred zones.

…And James Robinson. Man I love that guy. I’m gonna mention that in every post.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 11.28.12 @ 4:54 pm

Just heard on the FAN that the ACC decided on going with Louisville as thir 14th team, because of their strength in football and basketball.

Comment by Justinian 11.28.12 @ 4:55 pm

Silver, me too re: Robinson. He anticipates so well, 2 passes forward. He brings back memories of Brandin and yes, even Bob Cousy.

So from now on he’s “Cousy,” to me anyway.

Comment by steve1 11.28.12 @ 5:03 pm

We need to conserve our doom and gloom for March

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 11.28.12 @ 5:06 pm

Great analysis Chad/Panther – you both sound like ex BBall coaches…the game will slow down for Adams sooner rather than later. He is like every freshman center who has ever played big minutes early. The muscle and speed can be overwhelming. He’ll be fine.

This is the best talent on any Pitt team I have seen in a long while. I think Jamie (like all coaches) is learning how to use it as he goes along.

The easiest offense to install and make work is against a zone. Trust me, Jamie knows how to teach offense against a 1-3-1 and a 2-3. That’s all we’re going to see.

Growing pains on every team but Indiana, Duke and KY are a bitch. That’s why we play Howard et al early.

Comment by Dan 72 11.28.12 @ 5:07 pm

ECH, you get the award for comment of the year! Loved it.

And, for the record, he never said this team was “great,” only that the gloom and doom has been a bit much.

Comment by Carmen 11.28.12 @ 6:11 pm

Hey we take some delight in this our bosom buddies over on the eastern side of PA are 3-3.
That being the Villanova preps

Lost to LaSalle last time out and even got trounced by 20 by Ivy League liteweight Columbia.

Agree with steve1, more Zone Defense.

Keep your bigs close to the hoop instead of running around the perimeter in man to man with arms flailing ! Zone has to increase your defensive rebounding !

Comment by Emel 11.28.12 @ 6:13 pm


lol well we know it wasn’t for their academics, ranked #160 by US News & World report.

I personally don’t like the choice, L-Ville to me has always run a sleazy program. Look at who some of their recent & current coaches are, Petrino & Pitino. Nuff said !

Well one more thing, Tom Jurich.

Comment by Emel 11.28.12 @ 6:17 pm

We can be cheerleaders on Saturdays for football and on game nites for hoops.

Although I’ve never been exactly the cheerleading sort. Legs are too hairy, lol

Comment by Emel 11.28.12 @ 6:25 pm

I agree with the majority of you on here. Adams needs to hit the weight room.

Here are some additional thoughts on the game, sprinkled in with poor photoshops.
link to

Comment by Jordan 11.28.12 @ 6:27 pm

Living in Columbus, Ohio. I find it most difficult to get to Pitt hoop contests. Thank goodness for Espn(etc) and my computer. As Coach Dixon pointed outin his postgame interview last night the opposition is “packing in” in the paint. Pitt’s big men may be tall, but not wide. What we should be doing we are doing: shoot and HIT 3 pointers. The reasons are obvious. Patterson, Woodall, Robinson Johnson and J.J.Moooore all kave been RELATIVELY successful in bagging treys. We also need a gridder type power foward who can rebound. There is no one to fit that description on the horizon. The Panthers are a good, but npt GREAT yram. We will have a SUCCESSFUL SEASON, BUT i ENVISION NO final four AT this time. loyal FANS SHOULD BE REALISTIC. eNCOURAGE THE BLUE AND GOLD HOOPSTERS THEY WILL MAKE YOU PROUD. REV. gEORGE FROM cOLUMBUS.

Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 11.28.12 @ 6:30 pm

He doesn’t need me to defend him, nor does he need any defending at all, but I will take the time to comment on this newer post so as many people as possible can see.

Take it easy on FRANKCAN!!! He has said many times on here, his typing can’t keep up with his thoughts!!!!!!!!

He’s a great poster, a great Pitt fan, and doesn’t really need anyone telling him his capitals and punctuation aren’t that great.

He knows this, he mentions it, give the guy a break!!!

Comment by Dan 11.28.12 @ 6:38 pm

I’m going to need a long time to get over the notion that playing more zone defense would lead to improved rebounding.

Comment by JW 11.28.12 @ 8:36 pm

JW, I’d rather have Adams jostling for position to rebound in the paint than at half-court.

At this point in his career I need him to be more successful.

Boeheim I think would agree.

Comment by steve1 11.28.12 @ 8:51 pm

Boeheim would agree that the zone leads to better rebounding? If that’s what your saying, don’t look for Jimmy to speak up anytime soon.

Comment by marcus of schaumburg 11.28.12 @ 9:24 pm

Nice work as usual Chas. Does anyone know what’s happened to WBB. I miss his comments and knowledge of the game. I hope he didn’t pack it in cause of the negativity.

In any case, I was at the game last night. I have to say that Adams is definitely feeling his way and not assertive. Probably afraid of foul trouble. Pretty obvious he didn’t grow up on the streets on New York or Philly etc. Not a project because of his athleticism, but he has a steep learning curve ahead of him. He is getting pushed around and like Zanna doesn’t appear to have real strong hands. Having watched Jerome Lane and DeJuan Blair I agree that he will improve as his ass gets bigger. All three big guys also lack the quick and strong move to the hoop. None of them have hops. Zanna is much better but still gets pushedaround underneath, always seems to lose balance and end up on the floor. They don’t play neartly as big as they are.

That being said, they are heading in the right direction and this is going to be a pretty good season. The depth is excellant and Robinson is the real deal.

They may not have the go to guy, but on any given night they have multiple players that can elevate their game and be the star. Patterson hit five threes in a row and evryone was stroking it pretty well after a slow start.

The Pete was more than half empty last night, and I think the lack of energy and a competive opponent affects the output.

At least no one can complain that Jamie won’t start freshmen. His problem this year will be recognizing who has the hot hand and what combinations are working. Adams and Taylor played together for a couple minutes. I like it, hope to see more of it.

This team should be fun to watch come January and will get better. Let’s hope they plateau in March. I agree with the good Rev. George, no final four but a lot of highs and a few lows along the way.

Comment by gc 11.28.12 @ 9:30 pm

I understand the frustration. But I don’t think any coach beyond elementary school, including Boeheim, would suggest a zone is the answer. Think about it — how many times has Pitt just crushed Syracuse on the offensive glass the past 10 years. Out of the many reasons to suggest playing zone, rebounding isn’t on the list.

I’ve been to or watched every game this season, and I can’t remember a time Adams has been at half court or even out on the perimeter instead of fighting for a rebound. Maybe it’s a small issue I’ve missed, but not a prominent one. I think he’s been adequate in recovering on ball screens, etc. His problem is that he is just not winning the physical battles right now, both in positioning and in securing the ball. I really hope that changes.

With Zanna, I have seen him stray too often, many times in a wasted shot block attempt leaving him out of position, including biting on ball fakes. That probably wouldn’t change in a zone. He needs to be disciplined in his defensive effort regardless of the system.

Finally, we can all agree this non-con schedule is crap. But it’s crap that Pitt should handle regardless of what they “run.” Therefore, these fundamental defensive/rebounding issues need to be — and should be — addressed in the next few weeks without resorting to gimmick/zone tactics.

Comment by JW 11.28.12 @ 9:37 pm

I agree with Dan. Let’s not bash other passionate Pitt fans. Hoopies and Pedo State fans or trolls would be different however. Thank goodness few lurk on this site. We can all agree to disagree at times but we are all on this site to support the team we love through passionate discourse, opinion, fact and lies. Let’s not nitpick on things like punctuation and grammar around here. We can all be respectful without name calling. I for one have learned to appreciate FRANKCANS disjointed at times language and sentence structure. Hell, if Pitt can have a course on Vampires, there should be a linguistics course on the fine art of blogging.

Comment by TX Panther 11.28.12 @ 9:38 pm

Adams will be fine. One more year of O fries and heavy lifting will help, but mainly, a year of getting his ass beat in the BE will incentivize him to bulk up.

I wonder how our perspectives would be if we never had Dejuan Blair. He truly was a freak.

Have we forgotten?

McGhee Freshaman Year : 3 fouls in 1 min

Gray Freshman Year : two trips/stumbles per dribble

Dante Taylor Freshman Year : 2 fouls in 2 min

Dejuan Blair was a blessing and a curse for future Centers coming in as Freshman.

Relax, people. Adams will be fine.

Comment by Pauly P 11.28.12 @ 9:51 pm

I have watched every BB game and this team needs to play a full game. If they play a good first half then they play a not so good second half much like the football team.

Adams reminds me of past Pitt big men who started slow (except Blair) then grew into tough players.

Comment by frank MD 11.28.12 @ 10:13 pm

Dejuan Blair was 250-275…
with a big a$$ that could move people just with a hip check..
not to mention his quickness and could run the floor..
and he had the wingspan of a 7footer

Comment by Joe D 11.28.12 @ 10:31 pm

Dejuan Blair understands the game and where he needs to be. He’s not just a big ass and a pair of arms.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 11.28.12 @ 10:50 pm

Dejuan also had the quickest put back I have ever seen. The ball was through the hoop before the defender could react.

Comment by gc 11.28.12 @ 10:58 pm

Just to remind you… and article in NYTimes.. it’s his BUTT..

link to

Comment by Joe D 11.28.12 @ 11:25 pm

Wonderful. Pitt football fans who get their basketball knowledge from the New York Times sports section. I’m sure that article was at the top of the San Antonio Spurs’ reading list.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 11.28.12 @ 11:42 pm

Some thoughts on Steve Adams : if a player puts up a shot & it ricochets off the backboard/rim & you catch it to keep from getting hit in the face – THATS A REBOUND !! . If you’re in the game long enough, that will happen 5 times by accident. It is physically & mathematically impossible to be 7 ‘ tall and get 0 pts. and 1 reb. – with no contribution from Ziegler & Adams , this is pretty much the same team as last year.

Comment by ROCKY20 11.29.12 @ 1:08 am

@Joe D Did you say you expected an Elite 8 after what you watched in Green Tree this summer? Wow.

My bad…you aren’t Debbie Downer. You are nuttier than a fruitcake.

How can you POSSIBLY extrapolate Elite 8 success from indoor pick-up games? Did you have your stopwatch out and were you timing them running up and down the court? Oh, you said what you have seen so far this season is “a coaching issue” not a “player issue”. Of course Jamie Dixon is the problem…especially as it relates to a raw 7 foot New Zealand kid who has only played a few years of organized basketball. Think of all the BAD influences Jamie has has on his game in the two months he has been working him. That’s a completely credible argument, right? Well, I guess the players just need to practice more 2-3 on their own in the Summer League and then we will finally be ready for that run to the Final 4.

And as for Dejuan Blair, Pete Thamel only focused on part of the story of the Big Guy’s secret to his success. He had a great body to bang against taller players in the college game, this is very true. But just as important was what Mike Rice was quoted as saying in the article: his feet. Dejuan was rarely out of position and had/has incredible instincts for where the play was going and where the ball would be. Steven Adams hasn’t developed those instincts yet. My guess is that WITH COACHING he will pick up that skill set. Or maybe we can borrow Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine and plop Steve on the blacktop of Hill basketball courts ten years ago so that he too can develop those skills organically.

Comment by ECH 11.29.12 @ 5:08 am

Rebounding is more about positioning and knowing where to be than anything else. Blair, Charles Barkley, Dennid Rodman – I enjoyed watching them play because they knew where to go depending on where the shot was coming from and how to box out and position to get the ball. To say it was all about the size of someone’s butt is just stupid. Adams will be fine over time and with experience. He’s learning very day at practice and with each game. I’m happy where there are after 7 games – a much better team than last year.

Comment by Dish 11.29.12 @ 6:07 am

Having toughness does make for a better rebounder. If you are tough, aggressive, know positioning and have that big bootie, you are unstopable. Adams does need to bulk up a bit and become those other things. Give him time. Believe me, late night trips to the Original will help. Blair had the bootie. Rodman had the smell, and psycho look. Barkley had it all. In my opinion, he was the best ever.

Comment by TX Panther 11.29.12 @ 6:53 am

Let’s also not forget our own Jerome Lane.

Comment by TX Panther 11.29.12 @ 6:55 am

If Aaron Gray could grab 10 boards a game, I’m pretty confident Adams will figure things out. Dixon should have done a little expectation management prior to the season so the fans would have some patience with the kid.

Comment by Denny 11.29.12 @ 7:16 am

Yes, but half of Aaron Gray’s rebounds were from his own misses, so that stat is misleading, haha.

Comment by Jordan 11.29.12 @ 7:51 am

Let’s all just hope Adams develops enough to make some plays in Feb/March. For this year, those plays will probably just be rebounds and a few blocks because I don’t see him becoming a reliable post scorer for a year or two. (Maybe not while he’s at Pitt) I think for now we just all have to hope that by Feb/March he’s impacting the game with his wingspan on defense and getting a few layups and putbacks on O.

The best Pitt looked against Howard in the halfcourt was when Lamar Patterson was penetrating and dishing to the front line for layups/dunks late in the game. Felt like Wanamaker was back. If only Dixon could get our backcourt to make plays like that……

I was watching Michigan/NC State the other night and Burke was getting his big guys (who aren’t world beaters by any means) dunks and layups in key situations, either off the pick and roll or via penetration.

Obviously Zanna and Adams and Taylor aren’t going to create points down low for themselves, but if Woodall and Robinson could run the pick and roll or penetrate and drop dimes, then I think the front line could deliver some offensive contributions.

But we can’t depend on Patterson to always be the playmaker because he’s not quick enough to make those plays against better competition.

So since everybody loves Robinson so much (I’ve given up on Woodall), let’s see if he can make some plays for our big guys…….it’s a guard’s game and our front line needs help!

Comment by hugh green 11.29.12 @ 8:13 am

Could be worse. A LOT worse: we could still be rolling out 6′-3 Nasir Robinson to play the 4.

Comment by Imma Man! Im 40! 11.29.12 @ 8:44 am

Nobody heard of Adams until Pitt recruited him. Because of Pitt’s interest and signing of him, the “expert” recruitng raters took notice. So which comes 1st (do the recruiters find them or does ESPN and Rivals, etal)?
Then after a couple of pick-up games in the US and a half-season in MA, we cannot expect instant success. As Coach Dixon said, there is no High School BB in NZ, only clubs. Before he got to prep school, Adams really did not play in a true program.
There will not be instant gratification with this team (or most others). I enjoy watching the improvment and development. But, like many others, when I see regression I cringe.

Comment by xfmrman 11.29.12 @ 8:50 am

I said elite 8… because the players are there from what I saw… the depth, etc.
Now, is Dixon playing to thier strength or does Dixon want them to play “his style” of game. I’d say the answer is obvious… go look at his mentor at UCLA.
Dixon should be:
1. Pressing more.
2. Run the court more instead of sets waiting till the last second to put up a shot… seems like they are counting passes before they are permitted to shoot.
3. Rotate 10 players (9 now)… run, run, press, press.
Adams looks like he is thinking toooo much… that is a Dixon issue. When I saw him at Greentree… he was all over… rebounding, swatting shots, etc. He wouldn’t take many shots though… most of his points came off offensive rebounds.

Comment by Joe D 11.29.12 @ 8:58 am

xfmrman, etc..
only clubs… please don’t use that as an excuse.
that is like saying… only AAU or only travel basketball… HS basketball is not very good and AAU is where it is at for development and training. Most college coaches go to AAU tournaments to see how players play against good competition.

Comment by Joe D 11.29.12 @ 9:01 am

Joe D,
I do not know the state of NZ club ball. Do you?
I am just referencing what Coach Dixon said (and inferred)after the Howard game.

My main points were: 1. This team needs time to gel and learn and 2. Adams “rating” may have been based more on the fact that Pitt signed him; rather than the actual 1st hand knowledge of the experts.

Comment by xfmrman 11.29.12 @ 9:14 am

Let’s stop with the Blair talk. Rarely do you find the size (including his @ss), skill and instincts. He played with maturity beyond his years.

I’m no expert on the quality of New Zealand HS basketball, but I assume Adams didn’t play against anyone near his caliber, ever.

It is apparent there will be a learning curve. It also appears that Adams will play at least another year at Pitt since he is not even close to being NBA ready.

Comment by pghFred 11.29.12 @ 9:20 am

Joe D…
I agree, saw him in Greentree also and he was much more assertive, had more leeway.

Comment by frankarms 11.29.12 @ 9:31 am

@Joe D

“Now, is Dixon playing to thier strength or does Dixon want them to play “his style” of game. I’d say the answer is obvious… go look at his mentor at UCLA.
Dixon should be:
1. Pressing more.
2. Run the court more instead of sets waiting till the last second to put up a shot… seems like they are counting passes before they are permitted to shoot.
3. Rotate 10 players (9 now)… run, run, press, press.”

There is no room for a legitimate debate with you when your position is so far removed from reality. This golden era of Pitt basketball has been cemented in the “style” Howland implemented in 99 and Dixon has continued and improved upon since 03. You don’t like it? You wanna see press and RAG basketball? I’m sure you can find it working successfully on the JUCO level somewhere.

How idiotic are you to endorse the POLAR OPPOSITE offensive and defensive strategy for a veteran and successful coach who is widely appluaded for his “system”?

Comment by ECH 11.29.12 @ 10:10 am

Yes, I agree Dixon should just incorporate the Greentree system. That would translate well. In fact, maybe we could convince that kid from YSU to transfer in, since he lit it up too. Maybe even see if John Degroat has some more eligibility left? He looked like a real player out there too.

Comment by JW 11.29.12 @ 10:17 am

Good point about Nasir Imma Man! Before the season started I said their would be addition by subtraction in regards to Nasir and Gibbs.

Comparing Adams to Dejuan Blair just highlights the difference in experience the two had before starting their freshman seasons. Dejuan Blair played AAU ball against top talent since he was little. Just look in 2006 Blair was on a team with Herb Pope and D.J. Kennedy two legit D-1 players. link to
I’m sure whoever Adams was playing with in New Zealand wasn’t nearly at that level.

JoeD I’m not sure that looking at his mentor would be a good idea. Howland has a lot more talent and does worse than Dixon. Dixon is the better coach now for sure.

Comment by Wardapalooza 11.29.12 @ 10:17 am

Dixon never had a team like the one he currently has…
so looking at the past is not a good comparison.

Howland’s style is not cutting it at UCLA… he is losing players left and right… I expect he will be booted after the year.
Dixon style needs to change as the ACC game is more an up and down finese game and different than Big East.

Comment by Joe D 11.29.12 @ 10:47 am

I admit that I am by no means a basketball scholar
but it seems to me that changing your style to fit someone else’s is silly when you’ve been successful using your own style! Didn’t this style
beat the likes of Duke in MSG a few years ago.

Comment by Class of 69 11.29.12 @ 11:02 am

We need to stop with this nonsense that Dixon has to change Pitt’s whole system to compete in the ACC.

I know facts are frowned upon with many of you guys, but do you know what Jamie Dixon’s record is against ACC teams? How about 20-2?

Fact is Dixon’s approach is PERFECT for beating those finesse teams. Tough man to man halfcourt D, superior rebounding, high assist, low turnover with good shot selection works at every level of basketball.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 11.29.12 @ 11:11 am

A basketball addage that rarely changes “The best thing about a freshman is that they will be a sophmore soon”!

Comment by Dan 72 11.29.12 @ 11:15 am

How far has Dixon’s style got him??
Did he ever make Final 4… No…

He now has the roster to make a deep run… and his style has to change… faster pace, press, etc.
Why not before, he didn’t have the depth to rotate players to play an agressive style of BB. He had to “pace” the starters and conserve their energy. Why do you think so many frantic shots in the last 5 secs of shot clock? He doesn’t have to do that anymore. I’ve seen tooo many open shots passed up this season… only to keep passing and frantic shot in the end… why, to conserve energy.

Comment by Joe D 11.29.12 @ 11:17 am

Joe D, His style has gotten him one of the best records in college hoops over the last decade,missed the final four when villanova shot21for21 from the line.We dont need to change anything Dixon is doing the question is why you think you know more than him?

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.29.12 @ 11:52 am

If the only thing you can say is that a leopard has to change his spots then you are neither insightful or informed. Get over it, Jamie Dixon will coach the style of play he believes in, the same way almost every coach would. Please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t begin spouting all the exceptions to this general rule you can come up with. In the majority this is an undeniable fact accepted by just about every knowlegeable fan of any sport.
From the games I’ve seen in person and on TV, Adams is doing exactly what an inexperienced, promising freshman should be doing, namely showing spurts of outstanding play, followed by longer periods of cluelessness. However the trait that is undeniable, even by the those who see only the black cloud, is that his effort is consistently good.
This team has the chance to be an excellent team and like almost all Dixon teams (last year being the exception) will get better as the season progresses.
Please get over the tired refrain, Dixon’s teams don’t play well in the tournament. He’s the best thing that has happened to Pitt sports in 20 years, stop the complaining. More importantly, stop saying stupd things like he has to change his spots. If you don’t like Pitt’s style, stop watching Pitt basketball and watch some other team. Dixon’s not changing and most of us are thrilled that this is the case.

Comment by Taxing Matters 11.29.12 @ 12:09 pm

Robinson is the real deal. Adams is just going to just get better. This team is fun to watch and has some real potential going forward. No gloom and doom from me. HTP!

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 11.29.12 @ 12:11 pm

Yeh… I watched Duke beat OSU last night.
both great teams…

Comment by Joe D 11.29.12 @ 12:31 pm

I’m not sure where some of you think Talib Zanna is deficient, but he leads the team in points per game (13.3), field goal percentage (68.5) and rebounds per game (6, a close second to Taylor in offensive). I doubt Zanna’s been able to do all that spending considerable time outside the paint. He’s averaging less than two minutes more per game than Adams, Taylor and Moore.

Throw in stat of the day, Zanna has the exact same assist to turnover ratio as Trey Ziegler.

Comment by Barvo 11.29.12 @ 1:49 pm

Dixon does need to reach a few Final 4’s to validate his coaching. He’ll never be a great coach until then. That’s life. Like I said last year, Dixon will need to tweak his ‘style’ to get there AND get some elite recruits. The talent is coming and already here. I’m sure the CBI experience last year has made Dixon hungry and more humble. He’s probably more receptive to tweaking a few things as well. Heck – he’s playing freshmen this year. That’s a start.

Comment by TX Panther 11.29.12 @ 1:56 pm

I didn’t actually see the Howard game, but the stats suggest that it was their guards that outperformed with regard to rebounding. Woodall, Robinson, Wright and Johnson accounted for seven rebounds. Howard’s two starting guards had eight. Three reserve guards had another eight. By my count that’s a 16-7 advantage from the backcourt.

Comment by Barvo 11.29.12 @ 1:58 pm

I agree with you TX Panther…
The players are there this year to make a deep run… provided he tweak as you say.
I’d like to see more full court presses for one.
Improved transition offense for two… translation.. run the doors off. He can still do sets and slow offense after made baskets.

Comment by Joe D 11.29.12 @ 2:01 pm

Tweaks to Dixon system = possible success
Abandon Dixon system = guaranteed failure

Comment by Taxing Matters 11.29.12 @ 2:05 pm

I don’t think anyone is saying completely abandon things but a few adjustments here and there probably can’t hurt and may be what is needed (along with elite talent) to finally reach the Final 4. I think we can all agree that Dixon is a very good coach. Pitt is blessed to have him. Most schools would kill to get a coach with such an outstanding regular season track record, runs a clean program and is a man of character. Just a few minor adjustments are needed and the appetite (humility and risk taking) to experiment with a few new things.

Comment by TX Panther 11.29.12 @ 2:21 pm

I dont think the press is going to fix anything,and think dixon is fine the way he is.He has been so close before and in time we will catch a break.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.29.12 @ 2:48 pm

you obviously don’t know anything about basketball and why you would press.

Comment by Joe D 11.29.12 @ 2:55 pm

What is it that makes you make such an absurd observation joe? I see pitt press only out of desperation and agree that Dixon is applying that strategy correctly,does that mean since he obviously doesnt agree with you either,that he doesnt know anything about hoops or is it that you are so astute as to know way more everyone else?The run the doors off approach might work at north carolina but this is pitt,we arent designed that way nor is it our style.joe maybe its you who doesnt know squat.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.29.12 @ 3:06 pm

You have shown your lack of knowledge of basketball… this team is unlike any other team Dixon has had… it is deep… it has a 10man rotation… did you every see Louisville play?

Comment by Joe D 11.29.12 @ 4:50 pm

yes three nights ago they got manhandled trying to keep up with duke,should have slowed it down,they would have had a better chance.We had nine available players tuesday night and one of them has a bad hamstring,another dante taylor is lost in transition ball comepletely lost.This team has potential and will go as far as the big kid will take us,and he is still just a rough stone project.this is the last time i would be experimenting with a new defensive strategy.I dont claim to be bobby knight but i bet i know as much about hoops as most and I fail to see who annointed you as some kind of authority cuz u arent

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.29.12 @ 5:27 pm

Sounds like Joe likes Rick Pitino’s style of coaching.

As for Adams….he did play some with the NZ pro league (Wellington Saints of the New Zealand National Basketball League – he didn’t take pay) and did well against the best in the country at Adidas Nations….not many high school kids can say that.

link to

But he needs to learn the center position of manning up inside and playing with his back to the basket. He needs to lift weights for a couple of years (see Zanna now).

I can realistically see Adams at Pitt for 2-3 years…

Comment by Jackagain 11.29.12 @ 5:40 pm

Jamie could call his press “high octane”. He could speak in a west Texas drawl…..”We’re gonna play fast, get in the left lane, step on the gas pedal, turn people over, get easy buckets, go, go, go”.

Too soon? Sorry.

Comment by boubacar aw 11.29.12 @ 5:50 pm

What one scout said about Adams:

“On the other hand, he clearly has no concept of how to play fundamentally sound half-court defense, giving up deep position without any fight, and showing a very limited understanding of help-side defense. He doesn’t really know how to use his body inside, does not box out his opponents, and is too quick to chase blocks wildly.”

link to

Sounds about right…

Comment by Jackagain 11.29.12 @ 5:54 pm

But instead of improving/correcting that, let’s just play zone.

Comment by JW 11.29.12 @ 5:58 pm

All of what you both say is right on about Adams but what I also see is an athletic kid who seems to have the desire to learn with huge times huge potential. I think he is fortunate to be at Pitt and we are just as lucky to have him.The best part is he might be here awhile and it looks like Dixon has a super group assembled to help us forget about last years team. I love that we have cut our turnovers,add d and rebounds and we can play with them all.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.29.12 @ 6:09 pm

Well played Boubacar Aw!

Comment by ECH 11.29.12 @ 6:40 pm

Several months ago on the blog we remarked about the possible slight by the BE for leaving Pitt out of the SEC/BE challenge. Well interesting how Notre Dame and Louisville got marquee match ups and are bolting for the ACC as well. Karma…hmmm could be.

Comment by J Bizz 11.29.12 @ 7:07 pm

Why is Uconn being held out of the ACC? I have heard BC doesn’t want them and I am sure the sanctions cant help but does anyone on this sight have any real knowledge? I like the hoop rivalry.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.29.12 @ 7:43 pm

2 problems with both UConn & Cincy in the ACC…their FB stadiums only hold a little over 35K.

35K at Cincy and 40K at UConn. They look like Div II stadiums.

Comment by Jackagain 11.29.12 @ 8:33 pm

maybe but duke and wake forest barely hold 30k,

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.29.12 @ 8:45 pm

Rumors in ACC country that UNC and Duke are being courted by SEC. Not sure that makes sense. Raleigh is not a huge market. Neither school is a huge brand name in football. Both are primarily basketball schools. In both cases, the alum’s would revolt if the schools bolted the ACC.

I think the ACC should make a play for Vanderbilt. Academically they are a much better fit in the ACC. The Nashville market is appealing. Throw some serious cash at them and see what happens.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 11.30.12 @ 11:08 am

And only about 30k Pitt fans actually show at our games despite announced attendance of 45k and playing in a stadium that holds 65k. Duke is expanding their stadium but Wake is small. Why is Wake in the ACC again? UConn doesn’t really bring a new market. BC doesn’t want them. I think the ACC would prefer bigger markets, with established football programs with proven recent success, and in the South or West. That rules out the Huskies. If they join, it will be as the 18th or 20th school.

Comment by TX Panther 11.30.12 @ 1:36 pm

Tx Panther..
Wake was a good BB program in 80’s and 90’s… up/down in 2000’s..
Tim Duncan, Josh Howard, Chris Paul ring a bell??

ACC is a basketball league first… don’t kid yourself that ACC thinks football first… even though it brings in the revenue… ACC basketball brings in its share of revenue whether tv or gate receipts… NC and Duke basketball are must see tv..

Comment by Joe D 11.30.12 @ 1:47 pm

I knew someone would mention that Pitt only draws 30K fans….but the stadium still holds almost 70K!

That’s all that matters once Pitt starts winning…those other teams have no choice. Also, Pitt can still draw if the game is big…like ND and the Brawl. They sell out.


Now back to hoops…..Dixon is called out on the development of Adams….

link to

Comment by Jackagain 11.30.12 @ 5:00 pm

Nice article. I didn’t know Joe D was a reporter too.

Comment by marcus of schaumburg 11.30.12 @ 6:05 pm


Comment by Jackagain 11.30.12 @ 11:55 pm

That’s an interesting exchange between Dixon and the reporter. Media is responsible for lot of the hype on Adams, but I think it’s fair to ask about his development. I might have asked in a different manner though but anyway.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 12.01.12 @ 10:56 am

marcus he is big on the “press”

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.01.12 @ 11:55 am

steve adams will be fine. remember pat ewing during his freshman year, i do he was awkward, offensively challenged, aloof and kind of a dissapointment to many, it takes a while sometimes. pitt needs to learn how to give him the ball when he calls for it, let him build his confidence with missed shot, bad shot, etc will become fewer with activity.

Comment by greg 12.04.12 @ 2:19 am

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