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January 5, 2013

Hopefully there won’t be much overlap between the end of Pitt-Rutgers basketball on ESPN2 and the BBBVA Compass Bowl game of Pitt-Ole Miss on ESPN at 1pm. And if there is overlap, it would be nice if it was the end of a Pitt blowout of the Scarlet Knights.

Good news! Pitt will play with 11 players on offense despite Arthur Doakes suspension. Coach Chryst says so.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst refused Thursday to name a replacement at right guard for redshirt sophomore Arthur Doakes, who has been suspended for violating a team rule and won‘t play in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday against Ole Miss.

“We have a plan,” he said. “We are going to line up with 11 (players). I promise that.”

The plan involves shifting the line a little.

Chryst will deal with the loss of right guard Arthur Doakes by juggling the offensive line. Matt Rotheram, who has played right tackle all season, will move to guard, his natural position when he was recruited in 2010 from North Olmstead (Ohio) High School. Zenel Demhasaj will get the first start of his Pitt career at right tackle. Demhasaj, a redshirt junior who is not returning next season, has been at Pitt for the past two years after transferring from Nassau (N.Y.) Community College.

So, plugging in someone new and shifting one of the linemen from where he played all year. What could go wrong? Not saying there’s much of a choice. Just saying, that I’m not optimistic about what to expect from the line.

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Five or six hours of Pitt kicks off at 11 am with Pitt-Rutgers on ESPN2.

Last year, the team put forth what was probably their worst effort under Jamie Dixon. Something best not mentioned. Forgotten? No. Discussed? No.

Like Pitt, Rutgers is looking for their first win in conference play. They have already had a strange season. Their head coach has been suspended for several games by the school for his antics on the sideline and in practices. Being so out of control at times that his behavior has the school considering his future. To the point where the rumors are that anything short of making the NCAA Tournament could mean his job.

Pitt meanwhile is looking for their own answers. Starting with the inability to shoot.

Not only did the No. 24 Panthers produce their worst 3-point shooting showing in school history, but paired it with a poor performance at the free-throw line.

Pitt went 0 for 10 from beyond the arc and made 15 of 25 free throws in the 70-61 loss to the Bearcats on New Year‘s Eve.

“You‘ve got to make some, and you can‘t get beat from the free-throw line and make no 3s,” Dixon said. “That‘s not a recipe for success.”

Then there is the lack of production from the frontcourt — outside of Talib Zanna. Some of that help has to come from Steven Adams.

I’m hoping that Pitt comes out angry after the loss. It will also be their first real road game. Granted at an odd time, and kids still coming back from their winter break.

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