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January 3, 2013

Back From the New Years Eve Ledge

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 10:31 am

Part of me couldn’t help but feel that it was fitting for Pitt to lose the final game of 2012. Overall, it wasn’t a good year for Pitt. So much crap. So much that went wrong. How else could that year end, but with a loss?

That didn’t help my mood. A bit fouler than I wanted the rest of the evening.

Cinci made this a brutal game. And I say that in a complimentary way. They are not a particularly skilled team. They struggle on offense, and win by making the game ugly. They play defense extremely tough. They will force the officials to call fouls. They painfully reminded many Pitt fans of the Ben Howland and beginning of the Jamie Dixon time.

The romantics, will be upset about the loss because “that used to be the way Pitt played.” That somehow Pitt should still be playing that way. That, despite the obvious shortcomings of that approach. They will see the quote from Cashmere Wright and be saying, “that should be us!

Wright said the constant pressure the Bearcats used took a toll on Pitt’s players in the second half.

“The first 30 minutes we’re going to try to wear you out as much as we can,” Wright said. “The last 10 minutes we want you to be as tired as possible so you can’t make those same decisions and free throws and shots that you made at the beginning of the game.

“We just keep pushing and keep grinding. Most teams don’t play how we play. Most teams, sooner or later, will get tired, will start making bad decisions and their shots will stop falling.”

How limited that approach can be in a season and especially in the NCAA Tournament. When the fouls really get called, you still don’t make your own shots, and the other team is still making shots — and especially free throws.

There was a reason everyone wanted to see the offensive talent improved. That fans wanted to move away from just ugly defense to win games.

But, that’s not enough, reasons must be found for the loss. Cue blaming the non-con for not getting the team ready.

Well, Dixon’s demeanor quickly soured when he was asked about Pitt’s absurdly weak non-conference schedule. Specifically, he was asked how so many games against North Florida, Bethune-Cookman, Delaware State and Kennesaw State get Pitt ready for strong Big East teams such as Cincinnati.

“That question has been asked every year of every team in our league for the past 10 years,” Dixon fairly growled. “We’ve had the best record in conference play over those 10 years so that should tell you something. When you win, no one says anything. When you lose, it’s easy to find reasons. But it’s hard for me to say what happened a month-and-a-half ago had anything to do with today. I don’t think it caused us to miss free throws or be outrebounded. We just didn’t get it done.”

I beg to disagree.

No proof is offered, because when it comes to non-con schedules it is not there. It’s all about the “gut” or some other nebulous standard about how the team is prepared. Teams win playing a strong non-con. Teams lose. Then they play the conference slate.

Rebuttal:

Before embarking on their Big East Conference schedule in the 2002-03 basketball season, the Pitt Panthers faced a non-league schedule ranked 227th in the nation. They challenged themselves against St. Francis (Pa.), Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Southeast Louisiana. After all that heavy lifting, they went out and won the Big East regular season championship.

In 2003-04, they faced the 234th-ranked schedule, with games against Chicago State, New Hampshire and, again, St. Francis. And the Panthers won the league again.

I favor a stronger non-con because I like to see good games. I thought this non-con schedule was garbage and boring to watch most of the time.

It’s one of those losses that have people casting about for reasons. Cahsmere Wright offered a corollary as to why Pitt wilted down the stretch against their defense.

But Bearcats guard Cashmere Wright hinted that it was a major reason in the Bearcats’ ability to wear down the Panthers in the second half of Monday’s 70-61 loss at the Petersen Events Center.

“After those long breaks it’s hard to play to your full potential, especially when someone is coming at you for full throttle for 40 minutes,” Wright said afterward.

Pitt played Kennesaw State Dec. 23 and then had three days off before reporting back to campus. The players were to report back to late on Dec. 26, but at least two players had travel problems and could not get back until Dec. 27, when the Panthers began preparations for Cincinnati.

Cinci lost on December 27, and never left their campus. Was that a factor? I don’t know. Maybe, but who cares.

I’m still annoyed about the loss because it was to a good team, and since it was the opener of Big East play, it becomes that much more magnified.

The officiating didn’t help for Pitt. While the officials called a lot of fouls, rather than call it consistently, they tried to call it “fair and balanced.” By which, I mean they tried to keep the number of fouls on both sides about even. That led to some really strange — and phantom — calls going against Pitt at times. It also played a role in the second half struggles. It isn’t the reason Pitt, lost but it played a role.

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon called the loss “disappointing in every way.”

“The rebounding, defense, missed free throws while they made theirs,” Dixon said of Cincinnati making 25 of 35 free throws to Pitt‘s 15 of 25. “It just kind of all added up, and they came out with the win.”

Pitt shot 10-14 on FTs in the first half, 5-11 in the second. That, really was the most inexplicable difference from the first half. Cinci flipped it the other way. 9-16 in the first half and going 16-19 in the second half of FTs (including 8-10 in the final minute plus)

Pitt was 12-25 shooting in the first half, and 11-27 in the second half. Not a huge change, just a couple shots. Rebounding came mainly on the defensive end. Pitt was outrebounded on the defensive end 15-6 in the second half. Not too shocking since Cinci was 15-25 shooting in the second half (8-27 in the first half). Coupled with not missing many FTs. There weren’t many opportunities to get rebounds on defense.

Add in, that Pitt played a significant amount of zone in the second half because of foul issues, then you are also going to give up rebounds. Especially Steven Adams, who only played 10 minutes in the second half. In fact, when you look at the volume of missed shots and FTs in the first half, the first half rebounding really was inflated and masked the problems. Pitt was not strong in rebounding the entire game.

I would go so far as to say, that Pitt is probably average, maybe slightly above average on rebounds this year. The team wins with its offensive efficiency. Something that it had except for one glaring part of the game on Monday. Pitt went 0-10 on 3s. Nothing went from outside, despite shooting well inside the arc. In fact, far better than most opponents did against Cinci.

Opponents were making just 36.6 percent on 2-point shots [against Cinci], the lowest inside-the-arc figure of any defense in the country.

In other words, it was a bad day for Pitt to go 0-for-10 from beyond the arc. Actually, it is never a good time to go 0-for-10 from beyond the arc. The Panthers aren’t a bad 3-point shooting team — they make about 36 percent of their threes — but they don’t take many. Per the usual, Pitt’s strength lies on the interior, where the Bearcats are at their defensive best. So when the Panthers went 23-of-42 from 2, well, fine. You’ll take that. Assuming, of course, that you also don’t go 0-for-10 from 3. Yikes.

Like I said, frustrating.





Good news is we play Cincy at their place in February so a little payback may be in order.

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.03.13 @ 10:43 am

It was frustrating to see some of our better free-throw shooters miss. Robinson was 0-2 in the 2nd half and Woodall missed the front-end of a 1-1. Watching Cincy’s centers get offensive rebounds and score was also very frustrating.

This team has not played well in the 2nd half against the 2 best teams on the schedule. Maybe it’s inexperience or nerves, but it has to be overcome. As soon as Cincy took a 2nd half lead, I was convinced Pitt would lose. That’s not good.

The offensive sets in the last 10 minutes were very poorly executed. This is why we had Woodall trying to go 1-on-1 after the center sets a pick at the end of the clock. Woodall usually settles for a three, long-2, or drives and turns it over. That play doesn’t work unless you have an excellent guard like Fields or Wannamaker. Perhaps Pitt should let Robinson run that play at the end of the shot clock.

Comment by Omar 01.03.13 @ 11:17 am

It seems to me there are too many
players in the rotation. That said have faith
in the coach. Also Cincy is a very good team.

Ziegler has been a disappointment. How
did this guy score 500 points LY in the
MAC? Worse than lack of production
is his erratic floor play.

Adams is a talent however the guys need to
get him the ball occasionally. He will
be back next year if he has any sense.

Robinson is a stud however he was
worn down by the the full court
pressure. The fatigue effected his
shooting. Dixon asks a lot of this kid.

Comment by JR 01.03.13 @ 11:29 am

Not claiming a better non-conference would help.

Big fan of Dixons.

Disagree with his comment.

We had home and homes against Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Washington (who was a top 10 team at the time), over the last 10 years.

I don’t know the years, nor am I going to look it up, best guess, 06′, 07′, 08′?????

Fans deserve better non-conf schedule than what is offered.

***Everyone does it*** That is false. Perhaps, “many” do it. There are also quite a few BCS conference teams that have home and homes with each other.

I’m not saying the non-con has to be loaded.

You can’t schedule one respectable friggin’ non-con for the fans???

Love Dixon, his non-con is embarrassing, especially for what is now known as a “power” team and a top basketball program.

Comment by Dan 01.03.13 @ 11:31 am

I thought that it was pretty obvious that Pitt just came out in the second half and pretty much layed down. No answers for the full court press, standing around on the perimeter on offense, no attitude on the boards at either end of the court and lousey free throw shooting. What other answers do you need to account for this loss?

I came away wondering if this squad was just extremely over rated in the first place. I hope that Rutgers doesn’t put another hurt on us on Saturday.

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.03.13 @ 11:39 am

Cincy out worked us. We did not move on offense and did not hustle/work on defense.
The soft schedule let us win without doing these things for long stretches. We are conditioned to expect to win without 40 minutes of hard work.
Losing is the natural order of things when conditioned this way.

Comment by SFPitt 01.03.13 @ 11:45 am

I was disappointed in Pitt’s free-throw percentage last season and I guess it will be the same this year. I just don’t get it. How is it that other teams (women included) can make their free-throws while Pitt struggles at the charity line? Until they get above the 75% free-throw percentage, Pitt will never win an ACC championship and not be a serious contender in the NCAA tournament. If Jamie works on free throw fundamentals during his practice sessions, he needs to try another technique because it’s just not working.

Breaking a full-court press is not that difficult unless one depends on one player to bring the ball down court. Again, fundamentals are hurting Pitt this season. Even in the games they won by double figures, Pitt had mental lapses in ball handling.

Let’s hope Jamie can rectify Pitt’s shooting and ball handling issues before the Big East conference season progresses.

Comment by MariettaMike 01.03.13 @ 12:02 pm

This is probably old news but i saw on dokish’ twitter that Jaleel Hytche(sp?) will be committing this saturday too.

his final 3 are Pitt, Kentucky, and Tennessee

Saturday is going to be interesting..HTP

Comment by rhyno527 01.03.13 @ 12:09 pm

IT is miller time.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.03.13 @ 12:11 pm

Pitt seemed to play tight in the second half. Cinci extended the defensive pressure (especially on the ball) in the second half and it really bothered Pitt.

Clearly the plan was to be patient against the pressure and not turn it over. And while they were successful in breaking the press and limiting TO’s, they never made Cinci pay for over playing. There were plenty of opportunities to push it after beating the initial pressure but Pitt decided to slow it down and run the half-court offense. They could have gotten a few easy baskets and MAYBE backed Cinci off a little if they had attacked the press when the opportunities presented themselves.

Robinson is the guy who controls the pace of Pitt’s offense and he played it too carefully. Certainly that could have been Dixon’s instruction. Regardless it emboldened Cinci’s defense and they clearly controlled the pace of the second half.

And by not being more aggressive, Pitt didn’t force the refs to make more calls on Cinci. The more aggressive team, the Bearcats, got and made 10 more free throws and won by 9.

While Adams grabbed 9 boards, he played much too tentatively. Maybe he was concerned about fouls or making a mistake, whatever the reason, he needs to be much more assertive on offense. Zero points and only a couple attempts is inexcusable. He has to give Pitt more. Jamie has to get more out of him.

Wright and Zanna were really the only two who played with any confidence on the offensive end. Patterson passing up a wide open look at a three when the team desperately needed it was a defining moment in the game.

Maybe playing a few tougher non-cons would have helped the new guys (Adams, Robinson and Zeigler). But Woodall and Patterson have played in plenty of tough games, no excuse for them being tight. Both of them could have done more.

Comment by boubacar aw 01.03.13 @ 12:12 pm

Miller isn’t better than Dixon. In fact, Dixon beat miller head to head when it counted.

Comment by Omar 01.03.13 @ 12:14 pm

Ziegler has been a disappointment. How
did this guy score 500 points LY in the
MAC?
Comment by JR 01.03.13 @ 11:29 am

Since he hasn’t shown much, maybe cause his father was the Head Coach at Central Michigan.

Comment by Emel 01.03.13 @ 12:14 pm

I think the non-conference schedule should be better. But I think this was a year where you can’t really blame Jamie Dixon. Pitt was supposed to play Kentucky in the Big East-SEC Challenge, and should have played an ACC team in the NIT. Michigan, KY and UVA are three good tests and all the team would need.

Besides, Pitt didn’t lose leads in the second half because of lack of prep. They lost because they were playing really good teams. FYI Michigan is the number 2 team in the nation. No shame in barely losing to them. And Cinci is a dirty grimey team that is ranked pretty high and plays really good D. Give the opposition some credit fellas.

Complete and total BS to suggest the team layed down in the game or did not hustle or isn’t conditioned to win. They battled the entire game and had the lead down to 3 with free throws. Sometimes shots aren’t going down and you are going to lose to good teams. The offense is 6th in the nation in efficiency, the missed threes are an aberation and not what the team is.

I’m not one to blame the officials, but that game was horribly called. I am still trying to figure out how Woodall only gets a 1-1 when the team was down 3 in the last minute-ish, while a minute or two back Cinci got two shots when the guy wasn’t even close to shooting.

Comment by Wardapalooza 01.03.13 @ 12:14 pm

Sorry, should have included Moore in the could have done more category.

Comment by boubacar aw 01.03.13 @ 12:16 pm

I worried we lack a go to guy, a guy who when we need a bucket will consistently step up and knock a basket down from anywhere on the floor.

Comment by Justin 01.03.13 @ 12:23 pm

Pitt had no trouble breaking the press. They maybe had one turnover against it. I thought their problems came from not aggressively enough attacking once they did.

Give Cincy credit, though — I really did think their constant pressure in the full and half court wore on Pitt. I can think of a few instances when Patterson, in particular, missed woefully on open shots (not to mention his hesitation several times earlier to even shoot).

I think their biggest issue in these games remains identifying a “go-to” playmaker when a basket is needed. I think Patterson could be the guy but does not always seem mentally ready to do that. Otherwise, I want the ball in Robinson’s hands as much as possible — run Woodall’s sets for him.

Comment by JW 01.03.13 @ 12:25 pm

Sorry, Boubacar beat me to a lot of what I posted while typing — didn’t mean to be redundant!

Comment by JW 01.03.13 @ 12:26 pm

Pitt has been getting out physical’d the last 2 years against any teams that are above average and even some that are merely average. And well last year……don’t want to even go there.

In both losses when the other team turned it up a notch on the boards in the 2nd half, we had nothing. Strangely we snuck to within striking range of a basket or so around the 1 minute mark in both losses as well. So it’s easy to say we came close and your tempted to think we’re not far away. Maybe we aren’t.

None of our big guys play physical pure & simple.
Except against over matched rent-a-win teams.
And even against some of them they struggle on occasion. They are finesse players which is why I suggested they speed up the tempo of the game and get Adams upcourt for easier looks before the defense gets entrenched. Sleepy plays better this way as well.

It’s either that or live & die with the halfcourt offense which gets minimal points from the 5 spot and from the 1 spot.

With this scenario you better hope the other 3 players manning the, 2 3 & 4 spots score enough points to carry the team.

We’ll know much more about this team in 10 days.

Comment by Emel 01.03.13 @ 12:30 pm

Agree with Warda that you have to give Dixon a pass this year on non-con schedule, but they need to do better by consistently participating in some of these high profile early season match ups with other perennial top 25ers.

Not only are those games a good test, they generate buzz for the program which ultimately helps with how the program is perceived nationally and with recruiting. Sure it doesn’t help as much as a Final Four appearance, but it is another way to promote your program, win or lose.

Comment by Iron Duke 01.03.13 @ 12:30 pm

I came away wondering if this squad was just extremely over rated in the first place. I hope that Rutgers doesn’t put another hurt on us on Saturday.
Comment by Dr. Tom 01.03.13 @ 11:39 am

If we lose to Butgers, that would be a definite downward trend indicator. For they got manhandled last night up at Cuse.

Comment by Emel 01.03.13 @ 12:37 pm

I pretty much agree with Omar, particularily when Cincy took the lead, I felt the game was over. It was a combination of the way they were playing and the body language of the players. I don’t like to give up hope, before a game is over, but that’s they I felt. Hopefully they are still working things out. They have to work hard untill the end. There were several offensive rebounds that Cincy got in the closing minutes that the Panthers need to get. When you’re behind you can’t afford to give your opponent 2nd chances.

Comment by Justinian 01.03.13 @ 12:38 pm

There’s a history of teams that build a program on playing anyone anywhere… Gonzaga comes to mind and in football Bobby Bowden did it at Florida State before he was “BOBBY BOWDEN”. You might take a beatdown once in a while but I believe your teams will get tougher and better over time.

Comment by Pittastic 01.03.13 @ 12:38 pm

Sorry, should have included Moore in the could have done more category.

Comment by boubacar aw 01.03.13 @ 12:16 pm

Good analysis boubacar.

Did anyone hear why JJ Moore (who was/is the 3rd leading scorer on team) only played 10 minutes?
He only had 1 foul.
Did any of the esteemed Burg sportswriters ask this of Coach?

Comment by Emel 01.03.13 @ 12:46 pm

@WARDAPALOOZA, and Iron Mike, good comment, points taken.

Comment by Dan 01.03.13 @ 12:47 pm

Forget about us being one of those type teams Pittastic. Coach is very staid in his ways.

Don’t we know. :-)

Comment by Emel 01.03.13 @ 12:49 pm

This team has alot of new moving parts from the previous year in addition to young players who have been thrown into the fire early. This combined with the weak non-conf schedule has resulted in a team that is still trying to figure things out. This is a good team with good depth and I expect this team to really start to gel and play to its potential by the middle of the Big East season.

Comment by Floyd 01.03.13 @ 12:49 pm

Off-Topic, but have a request from my fellow Blatherites…
A coworker is retiring at the end of the month and he is a WVU alum. We banter back/forth all the time, but I want to frame a picture of the scoreboard from 2007 showing Pitt-13 and WVU-9 to give him as he walks out the door. I have scoured the internet and cant find anything. Any ideas or help?

Comment by Big Bill 01.03.13 @ 1:04 pm

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.03.13 @ 1:26 pm

better version

link to tinyurl.com

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.03.13 @ 1:28 pm

Big Bill — sending him the picture of Ronald Ramon draining a three at the buzzer. That pic is easy to find and fantastic.

Its pretty clear across the NCAA that there is nothing relevant about non-conf SOS. The issue should be dropped other than to mention you wanna see better games for your own viewing pleasure.

The game was lost simply because we couldn’t hit threes and we missed the few minor chances to make up some ground elsewhere, particularly at the stripe. Adam’s foul trouble didn’t help but he wasn’t rebounding very well, still doing the one-hand stabs. Anyway, the lack of any go-to 3pt shooter is currently our biggest weakness and maybe the only one worth any concern.

Comment by PantherP 01.03.13 @ 1:40 pm

@PantherP – you mean this?
link to cbssports.com

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.03.13 @ 1:44 pm

@ ryno527, Jaleel Hytchye is a **** according to ESPN and has ONLY officially visited Pitt, and that was just recently. On top of that, a couple of assistant Pitt coaches went to Cincy to visit him at his own school just this week. This kid would be a fine get for the defensive secondary if he goes with Pitt. The feel I have is that he saw all he needed to make a decision to commit to Pitt after his visit. He actually has moved up this announcement a couple of weeks from a previously planned announcement date that was later this month.

Hope we get him, he would be a prime addition to this recruiting class. I have good vibes with Boyd coming to Pitt as well. I think that Boyd “wants” to be “da man” at Pitt, unlike Foster, who seemed to shy away from that immediate limelight, IMO. Boyd also, probably won’t have the same issues with qualifying academically that was a question mark with Foster. We’ll know soon enough come Saturday on both of these guys.

Am I wrong, or does Pitt play in a bowl game this Saturday? CRICKETS from Chas and Reed on the subject though up to this point.

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.03.13 @ 2:23 pm

Thanks Dr. Tom, i havent even heard much about this kid. If saturday goes well we could have two nice wins. and two nice recruits

HTP

Comment by rhyno527 01.03.13 @ 2:55 pm

Pitt Dad – yes, exactly. That pic has been my computer wall paper on and off for +4yrs!

Also, to clarify, I guess non-conf SOS is relevant if a team is on the bubble. But it doesn’t lead to good or bad performances in conference play and also can cut the wrong way (ie losing to the good teams you play which can be worse than not playing them at all)

Comment by PantherP 01.03.13 @ 3:03 pm

Our losses to supposedly “soft” non-con opponents in football certainly hurt us and didn’t prevent us from almost beating ND. I’m not worried about losing to Cincy. An early loss doesn’t hurt as much in tournament seeding particularly if you learn and overcome the errors that caused the loss.

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.03.13 @ 3:09 pm

I’ll throw this one out to the gallery — anyone think maybe the younger Pitt team came out flat in 2nd half because they overestimated their first half accomplishments and underestimated Cinci due to theirs?

I’m willing to just tip my hat to Cinci for playing a better 40 minutes of ball. This team will have to learn that’s what it takes for real success.

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 01.03.13 @ 3:22 pm

@DR. TOM, I myself am very pumped up for the game. As pumped as any recent bowl games anyhow.

Especially with Clemson beating LSU and new ACC members Louisville and Syracuse beating Florida and WVU, I think it would just add to help bolster the ACC’s image.

Yes, Ole Miss 6-6, doesn’t matter, beating an SEC team anytime is a good thing.

Also, think it would be a nice springboard and give momentum to spring football.

I myself am pumped, and I hope Coach Chryst has the team pumped.

Comment by Dan 01.03.13 @ 5:15 pm

Very psyched for the game. Having a house full of Pitt Alums and Fans on Saturday. Could really use a win to start 2013!Been a brutal year for fans of Pittsburgh Sports.

At least it will be our last time with Tino.

Comment by Dan 72 01.03.13 @ 5:55 pm

Pretty excited about 5+ hrs of Pitt sports on Saturday. Hoops really has to and should win. Football win would be sweet but I would not be devastated by a loss unless they get throttled. Who is starting in Doakes’ place at guard?

Comment by Iron Duke 01.03.13 @ 7:47 pm

Dixon beat Miller in his only head to head game? Give me a break. Miller was at Xavier, and Pitt was the Big East regular season champ, with DeJuan Blair, Levance Fields, and a host of others. And, in fact, Xavier was in that game until the very end, when Pitt was able to pull away. That was, lest we forget, the year Pitt choked against Villanova. Don’t blame anyone for not remembering – the chokes have occurred so often it is hard to distinguish.

Anyone seriously take Jamie Dixon over Sean Miller right now, even up? Did anyone watch the AU game tonight? Miller coached the last three minutes, behind by 9 points, brilliantly. I suppose it helps, also, that AU has recruited and plays real Division 1 basketball players.

Sean Miller is a hell of a coach. It is totally fitting that Pitt would hire the Carl DePasquas, the Tim Grgurichs, the Foge Fazios, and the Dave Wannstedts of the alumni world, and perhaps the best coach Pitt has ever produced (maybe Mike Ditka aside) is sitting in Tuscon, Arizona. And we sit with a coach that, even with a great team and a No. 1 seed, cannot get past the Sweet 16.

But, of course, no basketball coach in the country knows how to red shirt like Jamie Dixon.

Comment by PO'd Panther 01.03.13 @ 10:48 pm

How could we just back stab the best coach we’ve ever had? We would be right going after Miller only if Dixon and Pitt become perennial losers or Dixon leaves for some reason.

Comment by panther94 01.04.13 @ 12:34 am

Really? The grass is always greener? While Miller is proving to be a great coach, what makes you think he would want to come to Pitt? He’s living in Arizona, he is tearing up the Pac whatever. Arizona has a great tradition of top ten basketball, obviously fertile recruiting etc. What does Pitt have to offer to lure him?

Secondly, Jamie is our tradition of competitive if not great basketball. He is the horse that brought us out of the wilderness. He at the very least deserves the opportunity to put us back in the top 10. Any change is fraught with risk. How long did it take Georgetown after Thompson, Arizona after Olsen, Indiana after Knight, St. Johns after Carnesecca, will UConn, maintain after Calhoun?

How did Pitt do after Wanny? There are two ways to go when a successful coach leaves, most go down.

Comment by gc 01.04.13 @ 9:52 am

@PO’d Panther
Pitt didn’t “choke” against Villanova. It was a
tightly contested (and officiated) game which came down to the last play. Unfortunately we didn’t have the ball last and we had an SOL conundrum about about defending vs. fouling.

I’m with @Omar — and I wouldn’t take Dixon for anyone. Pitt hasn’t needed to shop for a coach in nearly a decade. I find it funny how many commenters on this board assume Pitt even WANTS Miller, or if Miller even WANTS Pitt. It’s all speculation, and more importantly irrelevant as Dixon will likely be our coach until he decides when or if to move on.

With the holiday season behind us, there must be at least some of us (or our kids) who REALLY wanted some gift badly yet it turned out to be less of a big deal once in hand. That’s kind of how I look at Miller. Good coach, but there are a lot of those to be had. We already have a good one.

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 01.04.13 @ 9:57 am

You’re crazy if you think replacing Dixon with Miller was at any point a feasible option.
Like was said above, you can’t stab the guy in the back after building the best era of Pitt B-ball history and declining offers to go elsewhere.
Was there any point at which it made sense to switch Dixon for Miller? Miller hadn’t fully proved himself until that Xavier year when Pitt beat them to play ‘Nova. Prior to that, it would still have been a bad gamble to trade the sturdy, steadily improving Dixon for Miller. And at that point, Pitt had just had its most successful season in its modern history.

If — a big if — Dixon doesn’t get us past the Sweet 16 or in the final 4 in the next say 3-4 yrs, AND Miller remains successful at Arizona and yet is somehow willing to move back to Pittsburgh around that time, then maybe its worth considering. Until then, forget about it.

For now he’s respected across the NCAA and continues to get better and better recruits. And lets not forget that’s hes gotten more from less almost any coach (what, 3 NBA players in his tenure), whereas Miller has had NBA players at his disposal.

Comment by PantherP 01.04.13 @ 10:45 am

Well said PantherP and thanks for adding ‘in the back’ which I left out and made it sound much worse.

Comment by panther94 01.04.13 @ 11:00 am

I think one of the reasons the Cincinatti press was efective was although we didn’t throw it away we didn’t score on it. Pitt seemed much too satisfied to simply get the ball forecourt and seemed to never use passing to make the Bearcats pay for pressing.The result was we didn’t ever get any momentum on offense. The second half foul shooting was pathetic and I think we looked tired.The lack of momentum seemed to have a wearing effect on us.The officiating wasn’t any help but I still thought we would pull it out when Woodall went to the line. I expect him to make those fouls.The Bearcat guards would have and despite the many mistakes Pitt made if he makes 2 there I think we would have swung the momentum and won the game.It was like bad dream from there.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.04.13 @ 12:03 pm

Po’d The “choke” you refer to is a little off base.I haven’t seen Jay Wright doing squat since Nova won that game and they shot 22/23 from the stripe to win.I recall us scoring 4 or 5 points in the last 25 seconds to tie only to see our final four hopes die on buzzer beater.Sometimes the other guys get the breaks.I think Dixon will eventually have his day and frankly it gets me a little “Po’d” when folks like you paint him as some kind of Bozo. He has done wonders at Pitt and our day to get the breaks might well be right around the corner.Miller is doing a fantastic job at Az but last night he deserved to lose.That 3 pt bank shot at the buzzer was good no matter what the refs said.So if Az would have lost does that mean they choked too?

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.04.13 @ 2:04 pm

PO’d Panther:

Are you serious? I have witnessed so many Pitt comebacks similar to Arizona that I can’t even count them. Did you see the Oakland game this season? How about the triple OT win against WVU? Or the Louisville game that same season? What about the Syracuse game at the Dome when Pitt came back from 12 with 2 minutes left?

Many of you can pine over Miller if you want, but Jamie Dixon is clearly one of the best coaches in the USA. He isn’t perfect, but he is way above average.

Comment by Omar 01.04.13 @ 2:22 pm

I don’t think anyone would say dixon isn’t a good coach. he is. however, as someone said earlier, there are a lot of good coaches out there. I think dixon has taken this program as far as it’s going to go. above average. maybe some of those other good coaches can get us over the the top to at least 1 final four? That being said, i do not trust the current administration to find any coach, ever again.

Comment by goalie44 01.04.13 @ 4:56 pm

I have to stop reading this entry. too many painful memories of that ‘Nova game. the name Scottie REynolds still makes me cringe.

All I wanted was Pitt to the FF. I think we would have beaten UNC.

In my dark moments I think that was our one shot and we’ll never make it back.

Comment by BATR 01.04.13 @ 8:18 pm

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