So, this Manti Te’o crap is overshadowing everything at this point. With no resolution in sight. No clarification or understanding appearing to get closer, it leaves everyone still trying to figure this out.
Te’o and his representatives seem to be doing nothing to make this clearer. The bizarre sitdown with Jeremy Schaap of ESPN — where there was no filming and limited audio — has me convinced that it was conducted that way to purposefully confuse things further. A confused and weary of the story public finally says, “F**k it” and gives up trying to figure it out or care.
Think about it. Late Friday night interview. No video and limited audio — ostensibly to make Te’o more comfortable. Jeremy Schaap gets trotted out on camera — clearly exhausted — tries to give some picture of what Te’o was saying in the 2.5 hour interview. It raises even more questions:
Schaap asked why Te’o didn’t go to see Kekua in the hospital.
“It never really crossed my mind. I don’t know. I was in school,” he said.
Somehow all this crap has managed overshadow thoughts about the game at noon against UConn. One more reason to hate Notre Dame.
It’s a big game for Pitt. The Panthers haven’t won two in a row — or even a home game — since before Christmas. Sitting at 2-3 in the conference slate, Pitt needs to go at least 8-5 the rest of the way to make the NCAA Tournament.
Sitting at 2-2 in the Big East and 12-4 overall, UConn has been something of a surprisingly good team. Despite the turmoil of the conference falling apart while being stuck. Despite NCAA and Big East penalties that have them excluded from the NCAA and Big East Tournaments. Despite playing for a new coach — who only recently had the interim tag removed. Despite a thin bench with transfers. UConn has played real well. They upset the Domers in South Bend. They also have an overtime loss to Marquette.
Vaughan won‘t allow himself to look at it that way. He knows he can neither change the past nor reside in it. He must accept it.
“I thought some things would happen where I would be a head coach, but it didn‘t work out,” he said. “I look at it as it was never meant to be.”
Vaughan now follows the career of his son, C.J., a 6-2 senior guard at Oswego East. Because Clyde — who also goes by his given name, Clive — was born in England, C.J. will play for the Brits in the U-18 European Championships in July.
“He‘s a really, really good ballplayer,” said Vaughan, now a substitute teacher and private basketball instructor. “His game is completely different than mine. He has the range, like I did, and can really shoot it. And he‘s a great defender.”
C.J. is a teammate of Mike McAllister, the younger brother of UConn guard Ryan Boatright, so Vaughan still follows the Huskies. A proud Pitt alumnus, he calls earning his degree in four years at Pitt his proudest accomplishment.
It does amaze me that he’s completely out of coaching after being tagged for solicitation (yet again), while Pitino still goes strong. And plenty of others who have done worse are still in the game.
There will be plenty of nostalgia during the game on ESPN2, given the games Pitt and UConn have played. The Blair toss of Thabeet. Kemba “effin'” Walker. Khalid El-Amin. Big East Tournament meetings.
I’m not worried about that today. I want to see if Pitt can shoot a little better and keep up the defensive effort.
Zeigler and Johnson accounted for nearly half of Pitt‘s points in the 58-43 victory at Villanova, scoring 13 points apiece off the bench. Zeigler played 25 minutes and Johnson 23, and their playing time figures to increase with every game in which they prove they are more than just scorers.
“They‘re playing better and better, and they‘re understanding what we‘re trying to do,” Dixon said. “I‘ve continually stressed rebounding and defense is the secret to playing time.
“It maybe takes some guys a little while to figure out. Again, it‘s a whole other level from where you played high school or somewhere else, defensively. It‘s not even comparable. It takes some time. You can preach it, but they‘ve got to go through growing pains.”
It has been the opposite for Pitt‘s two other newcomers, 7-foot freshman center Steven Adams and 6-3 freshman point guard James Robinson. They earned starting spots during the nonconference schedule, but are going through their own growing pains in providing an offensive punch against Big East competition.
Coach Dixon loves to keep stressing the rebounding margin. To some degree, the stats are bearing him out this year.
The Panthers were beaten on the boards in all three of their losses and entered the game against the Wildcats, the best rebounding team in the Big East, with a minus-3.7 rebounding margin.
Not only did the Panthers come away with a plus-12 margin on the boards, but the Wildcats, also the top offensive rebounding team in the league, were limited to one offensive rebound and zero second-chance points.
Dixon spent most of his preparation time in practice preaching about the importance of controlling the boards, and his message finally got through to his players.
“It’s no secret what you have to do in our league,” Dixon said. “You have to be able to rebound. For whatever reason, in our losses, we didn’t rebound. You have to play to your strengths. If you don’t, you end up coming up short.”
I don’t even know how much Coach Dixon truly believes in rebounding margin. He tends to be much smarter about numbers and stats. My (latest) working theory is that Coach Dixon looks at rebounding margin more as a measurement of the effort way the team is playing. Bad rebounding numbers suggest a lot more standing around. Not being active on the boards and especially on defense.
It’s a nooner on ESPN2. We’ll see what kind of effort Pitt shows today.