January 20, 2013

Finishing UConn

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 2:03 pm

It seemed like it could have slipped away in the second half. Adams was in foul trouble and didn’t play the final 6+ minutes. And while the box score might suggest that Taylor wasn’t much of a drop-off (fewer rebounds and blocks but more points and less turnovers), Adams’ defensive impact was huge. His blocks had the effect of keeping UConn wary of going inside as much as they wanted — yes, even as Ryan Boatright appeared to spend the second half continually driving to the lane. Adams had their frontcourt wary of going all the way to the rim. They didn’t want to challenge him.

Taylor was not that intimidating presence. And after a Napier 3 next three offensive opportunities for UConn had them going right into the paint after Adams departed. That said, Taylor came up huge in a way that Adams cannot. He drilled both of his freethrows with under 3 minutes left and Pitt clinging to a 2-point lead.

Pitt’s overall freethrow shooting still looks weak (17-23), but when you look at who took FTs and their general numbers it is hard to say that Pitt left much more than 2 points on the table (Zanna 1-3, Patterson 4-6). But in a way that reminds me of Dixon excusing the poor FT shooting of the Page/Brown teams of his first couple years, Pitt “made them when they had to.” Pitt all six FTs in the final 3 minutes to keep UConn from being able to snatch the game.

James Robinson came up exceptionally big in the final minutes. He drained all 4 of his FTs in that final 3 minutes and hit a huge 3 after UConn had tied the game at 58.

Robinson‘s 3-pointer came on a pass from Dante Taylor, who spotted him open in the right corner after running a pick-and-roll with Lamar Patterson.

Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie couldn‘t complain.

“We played our percentages there,” Ollie said. “He‘s a good player, and he stepped up and hit a shot.”

Ollie spent 13 seasons in the NBA, so he‘s used to seeing one of the oldest tricks in the playbook. What he wasn‘t happy about is that when the Panthers ran the play again, Taylor took a pass from Woodall and popped a 15-footer.

“We got beat on a pick-and-roll,” Ollie said. “It‘s the toughest thing to guard. That‘s why Malone and Stockton ran it for so long.”

It was the smart percentage by Ollie. Give Ollie some credit for knowing what the Pitt players were and weren’t doing. Robinson had really been scuffling on the offensive end for the last few games. His shots hadn’t been falling. His confidence in his shot looked shaky. He still had the trust of his teammates.

“That’s what he does,” senior captain Tray Woodall said. “He’s a patient player. He’s poised in clutch situations. This team has trust in him. A lot of people don’t have trust in a freshman like we do with James, but he’s instilled it in us. We’ll definitely go to that guy, and we know he’ll be ready when the time comes.”

Robinson’s 3-pointer came right after Connecticut rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to tie the score at 58-58. Ryan Boatright, who scored 16 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, made a 3-pointer to cap a 15-6 Huskies run just 27 seconds earlier.

Robinson had been struggling. He was shooting 29 percent in Big East games; 14 percent from 3-point range. Coach Jamie Dixon benched him for a game at Rutgers two weeks ago, and his production in other areas had slipped considerably in recent weeks, too. He was coming off a game at Villanova where he did not make a field goal.

Still, it was no surprise to his teammates when he confidently stroked the shot that stopped the bleeding and got the Panthers headed back in the right direction. After Robinson’s clutch shot, Pitt finished on a 9-3 run over the final four minutes.

“He’s always wanted to take the big shot,” junior guard Trey Zeigler said. “Even in practice, at the end-of the-clock situations, he always wants to take the shot. It wasn’t a surprise that he wanted to take the shot. And he knocked it down for us.”

He is still having some struggles. It seems that his passes are slower lately, almost telegraphed at times — leading to more turnovers. The reality is more likely, that he is learning the difference between playing mid-majors and Big East quality teams. He has to make stronger passes or more will get picked.

It seemed that Pitt was going to run away with this game. Not simply because they raced out to a double-digit first half lead. They didn’t let up. Not at the end of the half — like they did against Michigan and Cinci where they gave up some quick and easy baskets to cut the lead. They didn’t let up to start the second half. You knew UConn wasn’t going to keep missing as many shots as they did in the first half. I mean, yes, Pitt played some great D, but UConn missed some wide-open chances.

Pitt kept the double-digit lead for 8 minutes into the second half. UConn whittled it down over the next 8 minutes to tie the game. You could feel the angst among Pitt fans that this game was going to be blown. But Pitt’s defense stiffened. They denied the lane for Boatright. They forced UConn to use clock to find a shot. Then denied second chances by getting the rebounds. And on offense, they bled the clock and finished.

They showed that they have been learning.

That‘s when Pitt showed what it has learned from home losses to Cincinnati and Marquette. Led by freshman point guard James Robinson, the Panthers showed patience and poise for a 69-61 victory over Connecticut in the final Big East regular-season meeting between the rivals.

It was the first league win for the Panthers (15-4, 3-3) at the Pete, this one coming one week after an overtime loss to Marquette. Where Pitt needed a last-second 3-pointer to tie that game, the Panthers took control of this one from the outset and didn‘t let it slip away.

“You like to finish every one,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “But we‘ve lost a few, and when you lose, you remember those ones a little more. (Connecticut) made shots. They made plays to get back and tie it up. But down the stretch I thought we came up with the rebounds. I thought we defended well and hit free throws and got a couple of big jump shots.”

“In the games that we lost, we let it go at the end,” said Pitt forward Lamar Patterson, who scored a team-high 14 points and had five assists. “We made a little change and fought through and got the victory.”

This was the first time Pitt has won back-to-back Big East games since the beginning of last February (WVU and Villanova). It’s also the first win at the Pete for Pitt since before Christmas.

If you are looking to find a reason for pure confidence in this Pitt squad. That they are moving to be a force the rest of the way. No. It’s not there. There are too many issues, and not enough time for that.

If you are looking to see signs that this team is learning. Is improving. Is getting better, than it was 2 weeks ago. Or even last week. Well, I think the signs are pointing that way. It’s not going to be easy with this team.

frankcan, FWIW, I do agree with you. It would be a major jump from an asst DB coach to a DC. Chryst hired the ex PSU WR (forgot his name) last year who was just an assistant staffer for the 49ers — but he is the WR caoch not the coordinator. The one plus for Jackson is that he is a Miami native and a LSU alum, so he may have ties to the southeast.

Comment by wbb 01.21.13 @ 2:49 pm

Frankcan, would you agree that they wouldn’t touch Leavitt?

Comment by marcus of schaumburg 01.21.13 @ 2:59 pm

Wbb the miami thing and lsu thing is good
but i fear it is like you said before a yes
man he has worked with before,

let me put it this way lets just look at the mans record and if he had not worked with chryst
do you think he would be hired on his record alone if he had coached at iowa insted of wisconsin.
i dont think he would even be looked at as a DB
coach yes he would as a DC NO.
I would hire him as a db coach but not as A DC.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.21.13 @ 3:02 pm

The Fan is reporting that Bill O’Brien is going to Clairton tomorrow to get Boyd to change his mind.

Comment by wbb 01.21.13 @ 3:09 pm

MARCUS leavitt sound good but he has no ties to
pitt or wisconsin or chryst
besides chryst does not seam to want any one on his staff who has more experence then him or eho has been a big time DC OR OC or ex head coach
who might know more then him look at his hires i think he is to new to want some one like that around.
even if it would help him.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.21.13 @ 3:13 pm

i could see boyd changeing his mind foe MS or
ohio state but not penn state still some from pitt should go up there and stay with the kid take him to a all day lunch.
bring him to pitt for a 4 week vist.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.21.13 @ 3:19 pm

What will obrien promise him? His own shower stall? Pedo State is toxic and obrien won’t be there to see Boyd graduate. So really what is he promising. Pitt has got some very good quaterbacks coming in. State Penn is on probation and there is no way they are getting off the sanctions anytime soon. Maybe if obrien throws in a real live girlfriend?

Comment by TX Panther 01.21.13 @ 4:28 pm

O’brien is going to offer him visiting rights to see Uncle Jerry. And perhaps a front row position in next year’s Pedo vigil for Pedo Enabler Joe.


Comment by EMel 01.21.13 @ 5:57 pm

After that piss poor defensive performance in the Sayonara Sunseri Bowl,

PC better bring in a real defensive coach, not some guy who is going to get “on the job” training at Pitt’s expense. One is plenty. haha

Comment by EMel 01.21.13 @ 6:00 pm

I feel certain we will be in a tough game at Providence. Traditionally they always give us a game.They are good at their best and woeful at their worst We are very good at our best and not quite as sorry as them at our worst.This is another good test for our gradually improving team,and I am a little encouraged by the fact that we have won 3 of 4 with the loss having an excuse (Woodall). I still think Adams is the key to any real future to this season.He could sure use a breakout game before we get into the harder part of our schedule.It was nice to see JR step up off of some criticism of his play.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.21.13 @ 6:25 pm

EMel if it is jackson it will be on the job training it might work out but based on his record i would not hire him for DC .
MAY BE DB COACH . but not DC look him up there is not mutch to him there are a lot of outhers out there with way more experence.
he will be a risk.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.21.13 @ 6:26 pm

Providence has done Pitt no favors. Pitt needs to beat them badly on their farewell tour of the Big East. Providence is one of the freeriders of this conference made strong by the football schools until Providence ruined it. Georgetown and st johns might have gave the Big East respect in the early years but it was destined to fail when conference survival depended on football and Providence was blind. The Big East has not been providence for Pitt. I am glad Pitt is in a conference that values football and has schools with football programs.

Comment by TX Panther 01.21.13 @ 6:41 pm

Back to “Sleepy” for a sec. His facial resemblance to Sleepy Floyd (at least in my mind) was the only reason for the nickname.

Comment by steve1 01.21.13 @ 6:45 pm

for those who may care about what Mike Young did on ESPN2

link to

Comment by wbb 01.21.13 @ 6:52 pm

Wbb thanks a good read we will need him.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.21.13 @ 7:04 pm


lol I believe you bro, if you say Jackson has no experience…..he has no experience. And you are right, if this guy isn’t even a DB coach, just the asst. DB coach….he shouldn’t even be considered for the DC job. Let some other school/team pay him to learn his ABC’s. This is PITT we’re talking, not some schlepp program.

Comment by EMel 01.21.13 @ 7:17 pm

Also looks like he just woke up, most of the time.

Comment by EMel 01.21.13 @ 7:27 pm

Was looking at Sleepy’s career stats, ikr.

While he’s not come close to McDonald’s All-American hype, he’s been nothing but consistent in all 4 years at Pitt.

Averages around 4.5 to 5 ppg and 4 to 5 rpg.

So while he’s been consistent, he’s not improved much either. Or another way of looking at it.
His talent has not been realized. Shame cause he seems willing enough.

Comment by EMel 01.21.13 @ 7:34 pm

Important week for Pitt weeks (aren’t they all,lol)

Pitt teams of the past always took care of business against teams they SHOULD BEAT. Providence & DePaul fall into that category. And that category is BigEast bottom dwellers. If this team has any hopes of being a top tier BE team this season, we must win these next two games. And convincingly would be even better.

The Friars lost to the Creepsters of Creepy Valley, so we SHOULD REALLY HAMMER THEM.

Just because of that fact alone.


Comment by EMel 01.21.13 @ 7:40 pm

If I’m coach I would double this Bryce Cotton kid who averages 22 ppg and effectively take him “out of the game”. You hold him to 10 or so points, and you should win this game easily.

He’s only 6-1, if you’re going to play him man up, put Wright at 6-4 on him.

Comment by EMel 01.21.13 @ 7:45 pm

Remember, Taylor was a face-up power forward in HS and Pitt turned him into a back to the basket center. Also, his knees and back have affected him greatly.

Comment by Joe Bull 01.21.13 @ 8:03 pm

Just as long as all ten keep on attacking the basket we’ll be fine.

Comment by steve1 01.21.13 @ 8:16 pm

Hoyas up 34 -21 at the half. Cooley looked absolutely terrible, bull in a china shop.

Can’t wait to take ND on.

Comment by steve1 01.21.13 @ 8:25 pm


After beating #27 Uconn, I thought we’d pickup a few more AP votes since Uconn had 70 votes last week. And we had 2 votes last week.

Inexplicably Pitt received even less votes this week (after 2 wins/week). Yes even less than 2,,,,we got 1 vote.

Didn’t expect us to be in the Top 25, but I did expect we’d get like 50 votes or so.
lol we got 5 votes in USA/ESPN after getting Zero last week. Polls are indeed a strange animal.

Comment by EMel 01.21.13 @ 8:31 pm

Cuse eked by Cincinnati 57-55 on a last minute lucky shot at the Carrier Dump.

Not impressive at all at home, Cincy controlled the tempo all game. Like I said, no great teams in the BigEast this year, nor the Nation.

Comment by EMel 01.21.13 @ 8:34 pm

Emel I think looking at the Penn St game is ancient history and does not give any indication as to Providence now. I think we will do well to simply win at the Friars homecourt.I also think that if we rebound and play D we should br fine.Our team still has some bad games ahead though,we are young and by no means complete.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.21.13 @ 8:48 pm

Hoyas stop attacking, sound familiar?

Comment by steve1 01.21.13 @ 8:53 pm

Back on the attack, back up by 13.

Comment by steve1 01.21.13 @ 9:06 pm

So quiet in S Bend. Ha!

Comment by steve1 01.21.13 @ 9:15 pm

looks like Notre Dame needs an imaginary 3 point shooter who also block shots and rebounds, and who doesn’t contract leukemia until April

Comment by wbb 01.21.13 @ 9:17 pm

good stuff wbb. If we beat Providence tomorrow, we will be tied for 4th in the conf. Moving on up, hopefully.

Comment by panther94 01.21.13 @ 9:46 pm

BTW, Depaul beat Providence by 10 on the road.

Comment by panther94 01.21.13 @ 9:49 pm

wbb, The 3 point shooter/shot blocker will go well with all the Notre Dame imaginary Alumni!

Comment by Justinian 01.21.13 @ 9:49 pm

Agree spiritOS22

However they lost to Brown as well.

We really need to trample the Friars in our last visit to the home of the BigEast, Providence RI.
As I don’t see us ever scheduling them in the non-con. We already play Duquesne.

Kick some ass !

Comment by EMel 01.22.13 @ 12:57 am

Looking forward to tonight’s game…but boy it has we worried…a lot to lose for Pitt tonight (and not much to gain).

Providence can really shoot the 3 well and has good guards…that normally is not a good thing for Pitt.

Comment by milobloom 01.22.13 @ 8:08 am

Pitt is a 6 point favorite, which has been the kiss of death. Cinci, Marquette, and Rutgers were all 6 (or so) point dogs.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 01.22.13 @ 8:23 am

The game will begin at 0-0 and vegas only sets the line where the money that is being bet tells them to put it so they make money.
I am out of the prediction business, but know that pitt has to take every possession seriously and play like there is no tomorrow.
Our best basketball has been played away from Pgh.
Hang your hat on that if you get concerned.

Comment by sfpitt 01.22.13 @ 9:21 am

Not to be cynical but our worst BB was also played away from Pittsburgh at well…first half at Rutgers.

I’m not predicting either anymore; just worried about the matchup….(there superstar guard had missed a lot of early season so Providence is playing better than their record shows right now.)

I like this team a lot and hope they show how good I think they can be tonight.

Comment by milobloom 01.22.13 @ 9:29 am

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