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January 17, 2013

And it already feels like Pitt has had its share of the latter.

Pitt got the job done. The front court continues to scuffle. James Robinson is finding out just how much tougher it is to go night-in-and-night-out in the Big East as opposed to getting up for a game or two in the non-con. Lamar Patterson had a bad night.

Thankfully Villanova was even worse. Some bad shooting by both teams made the defenses look even better. The thing is, as much as it was a defensive battle and both sides really did a good job of getting after it on that end. Coach Jamie Dixon felt compelled to play the offensive players.

Cam Wright saw a minute of action in the first half, and nothing more. Durand Johnson and Trey Zeigler were each out there for 13 minutes in the second half. Woodall played 17 minutes in the second half. James Robinson only played 10 second half minutes. At one point in the second half it was Woodall, Zeigler, Johnson, Moore and Adams on the court together. That’s a line-up I don’t think Coach Dixon ever envisioned using.

Durand Johnson had a very good game. As wild and poor shooting as he was against Marquette, he was on against Villanova. He stayed on his guy defensively and had active hands inside. The thing to remember is that this is Johnson’s first season playing. He’s going to continue to be up-and-down.

Trey Zeigler seemed find himself in the Marquette game, and he really stepped up against Villanova. Attacking the basket more, and being more confident out there. He went 6-10 (with all shots coming from inside the arc), grabbed 6 boards and only had one turnover.

The amusing/interesting thing is that the two seem to see each other as something of a team. Both looking for their chances to step-up.

Durand Johnson:

“In the first half, we were struggling offensively,” Johnson said. “Me and Trey decided when the opportunity presents itself, don’t let it pass. It came, and we were able to deliver and help our team get a win.”

Trey Zeigler:

“I think it was huge,” Zeigler said. “Me and Durand are scorers. We took advantage of the minutes we had. We wanted to give our team a boost. We‘re guys that can give offense.”

“We’re both guys who can make plays,” Zeigler said. “We can both score. We’re instant offense off the bench. It’s just about giving the team a boost — whatever coach needs offensively or defensively.”

And in this game, offense was needed. Painfully needed.

Of course we know what made Coach Dixon happy.

But it was the way Pitt (14-4, 2-3) crashed the boards that pleased Panthers coach Jamie Dixon the most. Villanova led the Big East in rebounding margin at plus-9.7, but Pitt finished with a 39-27 edge and held the Wildcats to one offensive rebound.

“I‘m really proud of our guys. We spent the last couple days and pep talk before the game talking about rebounding,” Dixon said. “We won it by rebounding and defending against a very good rebounding and defensive team.”

Rebounding margin is a little weird. The official box score gives Pitt 7 additional “team rebounds.” The big deal was in the offensive rebounds. Limiting Villanova to only 1 offensive rebound. That’s amazing on a good shooting night. Villanova missed 30 shots. They only had one second-chance opportunity. That seems almost impossible to have happen.

Actually, no sooner did I write that, I see that the Philly.com coverage similarly notes the offensive rebounding (“borderline impossible”).

“We didn’t make shots,” Wright said. “But you hate to say that. It means the other team’s playing good defense.

“They picked the right people to lay off of. But they were struggling, too. Then they hit some big shots.”

Darrun Hilliard was the only Wildcat to reach double digits, with 14. But he got all of them in the first 18 minutes, when he made all three of his three-pointers. He took only one shot in the second half, when he was hampered by foul trouble and a jammed right (non-shooting) thumb.

“They were tough,” Hilliard duly noted of Pitt.

In the meantime . . .

“I love this [rivalry],” Wright said. “It’s always a tough, physical game, a grind-it-out game. They always challenge your toughness. I do think about it [being over]. I will miss it.”

Coach Dixon, after the game, indicated he would like to keep playing Villanova. Specifically because of Philly. Between a large alumni base and recruiting the area it is a no-brainer. It’s a question of Villanova’s willingness. Of course, even if they aren’t there are plenty of teams Pitt could do a series in the Philly area.

There’s also a piece on the struggles in Big East play for Villanova’s precocious freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono. In so many ways he is mirroring the struggles that James Robinson is facing. Both are now struggling to score. Their committing more turnovers and their assists are down.

The grind and pressure Robinson is facing in each game has been very noticeable in the last two games. Versus Marquette, he had to play through his struggles because Woodall was concussed.

He saw limited minutes in the second half last night. In no small part because he was no threat to score. Villanova was daring him to shoot. They played the passing lanes and stayed on top of whoever they were guarding. They knew he wasn’t going to shoot. Robinson is a wonderful, pass-first point guard who has plenty of room to improve. When Pitt’s offense is struggling like it has the last couple of games, however, he becomes almost a liability.





@wbb- haha. if i named him after a panther, then it would have been my man mr. wannamaker.

Comment by Omar 01.18.13 @ 1:47 pm

Jamie Dixon has done a great job at Pitt if you take away last year. My fear is that either his best recruiters are gone or the current mind set of high school players has changed greatly since Dixon took over. Going into the living rooms of these kid’s against the Calipari’s of the world when he is promising the NBA to everyone regardless of talent is not easy. Dixon telling recruits, come here and play good defense and keep passing for the open shot might not be selling too well.I think he is still a good coach, but this group isn’t that talented.

Comment by Wayne 01.18.13 @ 1:51 pm

@Wayne..Calipari and Dixon are not going into the same living rooms to recruit kids…if you think that some day Pitt will be competing with Calipari for kids you will always be disappointed. This is not a knock on Dixon or Pitt; it’s the way it is.

@sfpitt – you have every right to feel used and digusted with the OCC home schedule..but I think the real problem is with Colllege BB and no necessary just a Pitt thing (though they deserve some heat as well for it.)

As far as making fans pay for tickets they can’t give away…. I still think my ticket price is a good deal after when you spread it out over the season…sure we over pay for the ‘exhibition’ games but they are a bargin once Big East play starts. (I don’t take into account my donation to keep my seats since I tack that on my football seats.)

Comment by milo bloom 01.18.13 @ 2:38 pm

Pitt’s 0-3 in games at noon or ealier this year..another noon game tomorrow…maybe Dixon should have a 3:00 AM wake up call.

Comment by milo bloom 01.18.13 @ 2:39 pm

Does anybody else follow Shady on Twitter? He just retweeted some guy from Harrisburg saying that Matt Cavanaugh is the new Pitt QB coach?? One tweet before that Shady had Cavanaugh going to the bears to be their QB coach. Very confused.

Josh Reed?@reedabc27sports

Matt cavanaugh back to #pitt. Panthers new qb coach

Retweeted by Lesean McCoy

3hLesean McCoy?@CutonDime25

Hail 2pitt RT @AdamSchefter: Bears reached an agreement with Matt Cavanaugh, making him their quarterbacks coach

Comment by Kenny Powers 01.18.13 @ 3:08 pm

NEVERMIND

sounds like it was all a bunch of BS

And thank god at that.

Comment by Kenny Powers 01.18.13 @ 3:10 pm

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.18.13 @ 3:11 pm

On another note, how about KC Keeler for Pitt DC?

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.18.13 @ 3:36 pm

Looks like the ACC is about to be no more.

Comment by Chris 01.18.13 @ 3:52 pm

@Chris – huh?

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.18.13 @ 3:55 pm

Yeah what is going on?? I can’t find anything to the like.

Comment by JJ 01.18.13 @ 4:01 pm

@Chris. Did you really make me find out that Johns Hopkins may join Big 10 for lacrosse, for your own amusement??? LOL

Comment by Dan 01.18.13 @ 4:38 pm

You’re telling me that it takes until mid January to figure out you got three stiffs playing under the basket?

The fact that Jamie admits that it took him this long to realize this is astounding.
Comment by PittofDreams 01.18.13 @ 11:15 am

I’m with you, that is a truly astounding stmt from Coach. He just figured out that Adams, Zanna & Sleepy are softies under the boards.

You could tell that in the 2nd half of the Michigan game way back in November, when Michigan played volleyball on the backboards, especially on their offensive end. And you can’t say well it was only Adams inexperience, because he only played 10 minutes in that game and hardly any in the 2nd half. Sleepy had 2 rebounds in 22 minutes and Adams 1 in 10 minutes.

In the last game Zeigler had more rebounds (6) than Adams & Zanna combined (5). And only 3 less than Adams, Zanna & Sleepy combined (9).

Having height is great, but if they don’t know how to use their bodies, get position (that’s on the coaches, btw) or chase after loose rebounds, they are pretty much useless. Add into that, their lack of offense, and you might have to look at going with a smaller lineup.

Comment by EMel 01.18.13 @ 4:59 pm

I’m thinking possibly the only thing wrong with Zeigler, was Nova was the first game he was on the court long enough to break a sweat.

Hard to find a rhythm or anything when you’re only the court for 10 minutes total in 2-3 minute increments. In fact it seems kinda counterproductive. I always played better after getting a good sweat going, you were looser.

I found sitting in the sauna for 10-15 minutes or so before the game worked really well.

Comment by EMel 01.18.13 @ 5:09 pm

My understanding was that Nova was leading the conference in rebounding.We gave them 1 offensive rebound for the game.Michigan and Cincinatti have made a lot of teams look bad on the boards.My hope is we will continue to improve.We have played 2 good games in the last 3.The Villinova game was an impressive defensive performance.We aren’t used to having a team develop as the season goes along and I don’t agree with those who say we don’t have talent.You can’t just throw guys together and expect them to perform as a team.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.18.13 @ 5:19 pm

As far as the non-con thing.

It takes two to tango. Not many good D-1 programs want to come to The Pete. Ohio Fake backed out of that series after we whipped them in back to back years. Pedo State said “no mas” after their annual beatdowns. Wisconsin didn’t want to renew, nor did Washington according to sources.

We got screwed on the BE-SEC challenge this year, you can’t blame that on PITT. And we did play Michigan who was only…wait…the #3 team in the country. On the road at a Neutral site. Again not Pitt’s fault that they had the matchups screwed up and we got the weakest team of the 4 in MSG trip in game 2. (delaware)

IMO this team needs as many W’s on the resume to get a NCAA bid. Much like Syracuse has done for decades and it never seems to affect their seeding in the Big Dance. Now does it.

Oh and one more rant, you’re supposed to be going to the game to support and see PITT, not the other team. That’s how the elite team fanbases and alumni look at it. As I’ve noticed lots of no shows against even BE teams the last several years.

Comment by EMel 01.18.13 @ 5:24 pm

agree spiritos22

The talent is there. It’s knowing how to use the particular strengths of your current group. And on the flip side of that, lessen their weaknesses.

John Wooden, who imo, was the greatest college coach ever, would adjust his coaching style to the type of personnel he had on the team.

He did not try to force square pegs into Round holes.

Could you imagine if Lew Alcindor(Kareem) only got to touch the ball in the post, 3 or 4 times a game. His talent would have never been realized.

His very first college game he scored 59 points
and averaged 29 ppg in first season at UCLA.

But here’s the key he averaged 17 FGA per game and 9 FT’s per game.

Comment by EMel 01.18.13 @ 5:49 pm

From watching Pitt play, they do not know how to isolate their Big Guy on the blocks.

How you do this is…. have your PG and the big man, you’re trying to isolate on the block, on one side of the court and then have the 3 others on the opposite side of the court. You then can have a much easier entry pass into the post, if the other team brings a guy over to double, which they only will AFTER your post player is successful scoring a few times, it’s a very easy pass from the doubled post player over to the player who was left to double team, cutting to the hoop for a layup.

Pitt never does this, they have their big mostly on the Free throw line, where he is smack dab in the middle of the opposing teams defense. Certainly not isolated at all. This is ok if you’re running a High post/ low post action, but we don’t.

The key again for successful post play is isolating him on one side of the court.

Comment by EMel 01.18.13 @ 5:57 pm

103–51. Jamie’s Big East record. Usually with inferior talent. The guy can flat out coach, so just stop it.

Why did he wait for the three big guys until January to figure out rebounding? I don’t know, maybe it’s because one of them is seven feet and a freshmen, and the other is playing a new position. If you don’t think Adams is going to be a great rebounder before he leaves Pitt, you’re not watching the same guy I am. He’s nineteen years old.

Durand Johnson — Freshmen. Steve Adams — Freshmen. James Robinson — Freshmen. The people complaining about inconsistency are probably the same group that routinely complained about Dixon not playing Freshmen.

Don’t hurt yourself jumping back on the Dixon bandwagon once this team starts clicking, because it’s the most talented team he’s had as a coach.

Comment by Denny 01.18.13 @ 6:05 pm

Is this the end of the ACC per Chris?

link to nj.com

I doubt it. There are precedents galore.

A settlement is in the future.

Comment by steve1 01.18.13 @ 6:06 pm

Well it’s time for Happy Hour. Omg it’s a nooner tomorrow. That sux. I despise noon games.

Enjoy Friday Nite my friends.

HTP
Veritas et Virtus
GRP

Comment by EMel 01.18.13 @ 6:14 pm

Steve, Of course Maryland is sueing to get out of their 50 million dollar exit fee. What do they have to lose? They can’t make ends meet now and they cited their financial predicament as the reason for cutting athletic programs. Then they stated that they were joining the Big Ten despite the 50 million exit fee.

Comment by Justinian 01.18.13 @ 7:01 pm

And to think I could have gone to grad school at Maryland. What was I thinking?

No excuses for Taylor and Zanna for not getting rebounds.

I like Jamie playing freshmen. Its give and take.

I just don’t see leadership. Maybe Zeigler can be that guy. Woodall surely isn’t.

Lamar and JJ just need to shoot the damn ball.

Comment by TX Panther 01.18.13 @ 7:32 pm

frankcan, you may have some interest in this

link to blogs.post-gazette.com

Comment by wbb 01.18.13 @ 7:34 pm

Congrats to Omar and family! We are willing to play PSU home & home but they are to chickensh_t. Why help Luck, Huggins and his crew by letting them play local? Prefer the Big 12 jet-lag shuffle! Austin, Tx back the Cheat Lake, Aimes, Iowa, back to Cheat Lake, Norman, Oklahome etc, etc, etc. Like the idea of playin someone annually from Philly! Napier game time decision for UConn. Shoulder issue. Hope we can wear them down. Let’s go Pitt and Lamar loose the funk! UPone

Comment by UPone 01.18.13 @ 8:06 pm

Maybe Kansas and Kentucky wouldn’t come to The Pete, but I bet Xavier would. So would Temple, VCU, Belmont, Davidson and the like. So would any power conference school looking to make their mark. How ’bout Ole Miss? Maybe New Mexico could come for a football/ basketball weekend. WVU would, and I bet in future years some of the current BE rivals would too. The empty stands in the non con games are embarrassing, but I can’t blame people for not showing up to every lousy game.

Comment by Iron Duke 01.18.13 @ 9:17 pm

Yeah, bring in ‘Ole Miss and let us get some payback. Hotty Toddy.

Comment by panther94 01.18.13 @ 11:08 pm

Ormar, You have to thank Anwar for for us. The Panthers needed the good karma in the 2nd half at Villanova.

I wish you the best with the new guy and I’ll pass on my favorite comment regarding parenthood.

About Raising kids, By the time you know what you’re doing, you’re out of the buisness.

Comment by Justinian 01.19.13 @ 7:57 am

Big question going into the UConn game and any game for Pitt for that matter. Does UConn have athletic big guys underneath who can rebound?

If they answer is yes, well… not good.

But, no excuses for Jamie now. He says he and the players are finally on the same page with what they have to do to rebound and win.

Let’s see if it was really the mid-January changes Dixon instituted… or just Villanova.

Comment by PittofDreams 01.19.13 @ 9:04 am

Bad night for Pitt alumni hoopers. Gray and Blair never got off the bench.

Comment by alcofan 01.19.13 @ 9:24 am

@Chris, wait, I remember, aren’t you a WVU troll??? That would be a reason to put an ACC is done post up.

Hey pal, I have some advice for you.

Quit worrying about the ACC, and start worrying about WVU football and basketball.

No, you don’t even need to worry about the Big 12 falling apart in the future, you’ve got enough of a mess right in Morgantown with your hoops and football.

Talk about something being done!!!

Comment by Dan 01.19.13 @ 11:24 am

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