January 23, 2013

More of the Same In Providence

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 11:41 am

In a way it shouldn’t be a surprise that the final score of the Pitt-Providence game was so close. In the prior four games Pitt lost once when ranked #1 to the Friars and in two others needed a just past half-court 3 to win and blew another lead before Woodall hit a go-ahead 3 with under 45 seconds left in a game. So, when you look at the recent games between Pitt and Providence, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the game finished with more drama than we wanted.

Then there’s the nature of this team. They just aren’t putting teams away at this point. On the bright side, it is better than the way Big East play started. When they didn’t just fail to put teams away but blew the lead and couldn’t get it back. Cinci, Marquette, Michigan. There’s improvement but isn’t always easy to watch. Coach Jamie Dixon will just take the win and accept the nature of this team (for now).

“Teams are going to make runs,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “We‘re on the road. We didn‘t give up the lead. We kept the lead, and we made free throws. If you watch games in our conference, there‘s always going to be runs, always going to be teams make it a challenge.”

It was the third consecutive conference win for the Panthers (16-4, 4-3), who had lost close games to Cincinnati, Rutgers and Marquette, and one where they relied more on 51 percent shooting (26 of 51) than their trademarks of defense and rebounding, as both teams had 30.

“We had a nice lead, played well early,” Dixon said. “I thought our offense really carried us the whole game. We don‘t want to rely on our offense to win games for us, on the road especially, but that‘s what it was. They made shots, and they rebounded evenly with us.”

Okay, on to the thoughts from the game.

Those first 3 minutes were a microcosm of the promise and pain of Steven Adams. A couple baskets close to the hoop. A monster block. Even managing to hit a free throw on the “and one.” Active inside at both ends. Then two quick fouls — the second being especially stupid — that forced him to the bench the rest of the half. Adams played 15 minutes in the second half without committing a foul. Unfortunately that was because he took what happened in the first few minutes and played timid the rest of his time. Afraid to pick up another foul. He scored 8 points, but only gathered 3 rebounds.

With Adams out, that meant a lot would be needed from Talib Zanna. But since his big game against Georgetown, he hasn’t hit much of anything. 3-9 from the field which has him shooting 7-25 in the last four games. Early in the season it looked like Zanna was going to lock down another Most Improved Player in the Big East award for Pitt. But he has been in a major slump the past two weeks. Shooting from the field, free throw shooting, even his rebounding. All… off.

The only player in the backcourt who had a solid night was J.J. Moore. He was scuffling through most of Big East play. Falling back into old habits of taking more jump shots and not attacking the baskets. His shooting percentage and minutes were falling. In this game, where Dante Taylor wasn’t as effective and Adams in foul trouble, Moore got some more minutes and did a much better job of finishing at the rim. He still had that moment where he got the ball on the perimeter, and before the ball even reached him, you could see that he had made up his mind to take the 3-point shot. But overall, he was much more active inside.

So that kind of negated an area where Pitt should have had the advantage on the Friars — size in the backcourt. Naturally it was Pitt’s frontcourt and overall depth that did the job. Providence was effectively a 3-man team. Batts inside and then Cotton and Council in the backcourt. Only two other Providence players scored (accounting for 12 of their 64 points). Pitt had all 9 players scoring. They spread it out. Woodall, Patterson, Robinson, Ziegler and Johnson playing in the backcourt.

Only one Pitt player — Lamar Patterson scored in double-digits. Patterson has responded nicely after his miserable game against Villanova. Coach Dixon makes no bones about part of what is spurring Patterson to turn it up.

[Durand] Johnson didn’t have much playing time to get any other shots because Lamar Patterson played so well in front of him. Patterson led the Panthers with 17 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists. He was 7 for 10 from the field and scored 11 of his points in the first half when the Panthers raced to a 34-27 halftime lead.

“Durand is making Lamar play better,” Dixon said. “Those two going at it, and the way Durand has played in practice is making Lamar better.”

But. But. But. The narrative is that Jamie Dixon plays favorites. Especially with the upperclassmen. He doesn’t play the younger guys only because he likes his veterans more. Not because they are playing well. That’s why redshirt sophomore Cam Wright is seeing… Oh, wait. Wright didn’t play at all in the Providence game and only five minutes in the prior two games with Durand Johnson and Trey Zeigler earning more minutes. Well, we’ll just tuck this chestnut away for another time to make the claim.

So, Johnson didn’t see as much action last night since Patterson was playing so well. Zeigler got 20 minutes off the bench. He wasn’t as sparkling as against Villanova but he was effective. He looks so much more comfortable out there. He knows that the team wants him to drive to the basket. That he is allowed to probe on the perimeter with the ball to see if there is a lane, not just take a jumper or immediately pass.

Tray Woodall and James Robinson were excellent last night. Robinson may not appear to be so in the numbers, but he was grinding.

“What he does never shows up in that sheet,” Woodall said. “But as you could see, he was in there poised and knocked down the two free throws we needed. That’s the guy we’re used to. He’s not a guy who’s going to have big numbers, but he’s going to go out there and have a big heart. He stepped up and knocked them down.”

Those were the only two free throws of the game for Robinson, who otherwise struggled with one field goal, no assists and two turnovers in 25 minutes.

Robinson has been struggling to finish his shots. He has found some range once more on 3s, but conversely he has been leaving the ball on the rim when driving to the basket.

Woodall killed Providence by pulling up and draining some mid-range jumpers. Unprepared and no answer to stop it. Even with Pitt not able to rely on the frontcourt, Pitt only attempted 7 3-pointers. The emphasis was to go inside on Providence. Which makes sense with the Friars’ defense. They are not strong defensively on the drive.

I will say, if Providence can get better on defense, they will be a potential sleeper team next year. Cotton and Batts will be seniors. Dunn (assuming he doesn’t go pro) will have a chance to be fully healthy and take over for Council. They have some nice pieces in place and I think Ed Cooley is a pretty good coach.

This season has reminded me some of the teams from a number of years back. We’ve had a number of teams that Win Ugly. And sometimes it is hard to watch. But as long as they win, in the end it doesn’t matter. Pitt used to be good at making other teams look ugly with their defense. I don’t think this team is quite there yet defensively but they’ve definitely improved from last year.

Comment by JJ 01.23.13 @ 11:59 am

Good effort last night. The game isn’t close if they hit a couple more free throws. Didn’t they miss a couple at the front end of the 1 and 1? Not sure what you can do about the free throws other than sitting Adams.

Nice to see Lamar to start to put it together. No better motivation than having maybe the best shooter on the team looking over your shoulder and trying to get your playing time.

Before the season started, I thought Zeigler would end up starting by the end of the season. I thought I was way off once the season started. But now that Zeigler is getting accustomed to the system he’s starting to get it so I might not have been too far off.

Comment by Wardapalooza 01.23.13 @ 12:16 pm

I think the early foul trouble took Adams out of what looked to be a promising game.

Also at the end of the game when the Panthers shied away from taking the ball to the hoop, when they had a 3 on 1, it almost cost them the game. They were lucky that Robinson made both his free throws.

Comment by Justinian 01.23.13 @ 12:46 pm

Nice win for Pitt. The first foul on Adams was a complete head scratcher. The second was aggressive play trying to deny a layup. I guess he should have let it go, but I can’t get upset by a player denying a layup.

If Adams plays his routine 10-12 first half minutes, then Pitt wins by 15-20. Pitt was coasting to a 10-point win while never giving up the lead until a few bad defensive possessions and an ill-advised turnover. The team showed some poise by sticking with it and getting the W. It should not have been that close.

JJ Moore hit a few shots, but he has played terrible basketball the last 2 games. He takes an inordinate number of stupid shots. Never looks to drive the ball on the baseline and has trouble remembering his assignment on defense. This kid is an enigma.

Pitt needs to take care of business against Depaul on Saturday and try to steal one against Louisville and Syracuse. I think it is possible, but it will take a 40 minute effort. This team looks outstanding defensively for 5-8 minutes at a time and then loses focus. Pitt can’t do that against the top big east teams. Louisville/ Syracuse have too much talent and Marquette/Cincy have veteran leadership. It takes 40 minutes of solid basketball to beat those teams.

Comment by Omar 01.23.13 @ 12:54 pm

Wardapaloozw, I would still like to see Zeigler and Woodall in there together more. I still prefer Woodall at point over Robinson. The best solution is probabaly to play all three of them, with Woodall and Robinson splitting time at the No. 1 spot. Woodall seems to give you good offensive pay at either the 1 or the 2 spot, and when he’s at the point, Zeigler gives them more offence than they get from Robinson.

Comment by Justinian 01.23.13 @ 12:54 pm

Justinian, I prefer Woodall at the point too. Gotta go with the senior who is used to the big moment. James Robinson is still a freshman and is still learning, so he’s bound to be shaky from time to time.

Comment by Wardapalooza 01.23.13 @ 1:29 pm

new football commit. Poker, LB from Wisconsin – unrated

Comment by wbb 01.23.13 @ 1:38 pm

I like the commit. I know nothing about him other than he was being recruited by a couple of the military academies. That tells me something about his demeanor. I’m sure he’s tough and has a great motor and work ethic.

Comment by JJ 01.23.13 @ 1:44 pm

He’s listed as a TE on rivals. 6’4” 220 lbs. Decent speed. Maybe he becomes an outside rushing LB?

Comment by TX Panther 01.23.13 @ 2:04 pm

I love Poker! Especially when one eyed Jacks and suicide Kings are wild. Who knows maybe this kid from Wisconsin ends up being our wild card at the linebacker position in the future.

On an earlier thread I hoped for one more LB committment and one more RB committment in this year’s class. Got the LB, now if Jo Jo Kemp shows up on the river turn card on LOI signing day, then my life will be complete. Welcome aboard Poker, H2P!

If Kemp commits, then I’m all in on this recruiting class.

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.23.13 @ 2:13 pm

Having 10 guys who are capable of playing solid minutes means that practices are so much more competitive, like game day.

This was something so sorely missing last year.

Comment by steve1 01.23.13 @ 2:14 pm

I agree Moore is an enigma, he appears to have more natural ability than anyone, but just keeps under performing. He should be driving to the hoop and giving several facials a game. He seems to make more unforced errors than anyone on the team, stands around and looks lost. That being said he still has to play and came through with a needed three at the end. We will need more out of him to beat the better teams.

Zanna needs to play through his current malaise. He just need to play more aggressively to get his confidence back.

Patterson looks like he is out of his slump and is driving to the hoop more routinely, he even looked faster last night.

I was one of the knee jerkers regarding Robinson. He sure has stepped it up, and is making shots at the end of games.

Ziegler is getting better, drives to the hoop and rebounds. It looks like he is getting all of Wright’s minutes.

I can’t wait for Adam’s breakthrough game, I think it is coming, love it to be against Louisville or Syracuse.

There is enough talent on this team, there are also plenty of weaknesses. Jamie needs to continue to maximize the former and minimize the latter.

Rebounding, foul shooting, and unforced errors, improve in these areas and with a little luck who knows…

Comment by gc 01.23.13 @ 2:48 pm

steve 1, Good point,I wonder if the Gilbert transfer has an effect on practice and improvement on our frontline development?

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.23.13 @ 2:48 pm

Chas I think you are dead on in your comments concerning Patterson’s awakening being due to the improvement being shown by DJohnson.Maybe we need to move Johnson to power forward and have him wake Zanna the xxxx up.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.23.13 @ 3:19 pm

Good point on Wright. Figured against a team with potent scorers like Providence he would see more time (or any). It was strange to see Cotton bust loose without without Wright getting a crack at defending. A lot of PT is based on practice,and we’re not always privy to who shines there.

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 01.23.13 @ 3:26 pm

Ghost, In the post game interveiw Dixon apologized for not getting Wright some time and said it was a mistake on his part.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.23.13 @ 3:31 pm

In the post-game interview last night, Coach Dixon said that not playing Wright, againt PC was a mistake.

Comment by xfmrman 01.23.13 @ 3:33 pm

You beat me to it!

Comment by xfmrman 01.23.13 @ 3:34 pm

I think Pitt needs more ILB help than OLB.

Comment by Jackagain 01.23.13 @ 3:41 pm

That will probably be the last time Pitt plays Providence in my lifetime….the only shame to that is we will no longer get to see the highlight from Jerome Lane breaking the backboard which they seem to always show when Pitt plays Providence.

Comment by milo bloom 01.23.13 @ 4:07 pm

Coach Dixon interview with Brando.

link to

Comment by xfmrman 01.23.13 @ 4:07 pm

Thanks xfmrman

Comment by steve1 01.23.13 @ 4:29 pm

Winning ugly is becoming commonplace all around the country. Big 10 games are ugly, ACC games are ugly (especially any game involving UVA, Miami or Maryland) SEC games are horrid as are the PAC 10 sans Arizona.

It might be due to what the color announcer mentioned last night after a call on an offensive player for charging. He mentioned the defense seems to get the benefit of the doubt anymore and of course this leads to a more aggressive defense.
Think of G-town under John Thompson in the 80’s and 90’s and Cincy now. Just a bunch of slapping hands, too many on every play for the refs to call or the game would turn into a parade to the foul line and disqualified players.

So PITT might have started a trend that’s spreading across college basketball, play tough defense, rebound and just win. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Comment by EMel 01.23.13 @ 4:40 pm

Pitt got a couple easy layups when Providence pressed, by breaking the press and then taking advantage of numbers on the tail end of a broken press. Because they attacked the rim.

They also pulled up a few times when they could have attacked which almost cost them.

Got to make any team ….pay….for pressing.

L-Ville is coming up and you know they will press.

Comment by EMel 01.23.13 @ 4:45 pm

We’re 3/4’s of the way thru this 4 game stretch I mentioned we had to go 4-0 in to have any chance of getting into the upper tier of the BE.

We can’t overlook DePaul on Saturday as they beat us last year, which I believe really shook the confidence level of the team and affected it the rest of the year.

Almost there, let’s keep it rolling !!!

Comment by EMel 01.23.13 @ 5:06 pm

This from Philly.

Seems like Villimanilli isn’t such a hot ticket in Philly anymore.

“The Wildcats used to routinely pack the Wells Fargo Center, home of the NBA’s 76ers, for their biggest Big East games. Not even the No. 5 team in the AP poll was much of an attraction on Tuesday. Most of the upper deck was empty and the lower bowl had plenty of good seats available. When No. 3 Syracuse visits Saturday, the arena could be full of orange.”

And this:

“The Cardinals didn’t play like a team that was just the No. 1 team in the country. The Cardinals, a 71 percent free throw shooting team, was 12 of 24 from the line and shot 40 percent from the field.”

Louisville missed five straight from the free throw line (including two front ends of 1-and-1s) to keep Villanova’s simmering upset hopes alive.

”We did a lot of things wrong tonight, and they did a lot of things right,” Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said. ”It was really a simple answer as to why we lost. Our free throws were a turnover. Our foul shooting was despicable. Very simple tonight.”

Comment by EMel 01.23.13 @ 5:11 pm

Beat me to it EMel. For one of the few times, Pitt punished the Providence press making easy break out baskets.
Got a little bit sloppy late getting trapped in the weak side corner and turning it over but I see improvement every single game in this team.
I still believe this team can be special. I think we can play with Louisville but not Cuse.

Should be fun to watch.

Comment by Dan 72 01.23.13 @ 5:13 pm

emel, You are right it was very encouraging to make the Friars pay for pressing.The Cincinatti game sure could have turned around with that dynamic.I agree about us not overlooking DePaul.Although DePaul isn’t a heaviweight they aren’t easy pickings either.We need to keep improving and keep the momentum we have earned going.I have taken a page from a tip I got from you.Concerning last year – “it never happened” concerprefer to have

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.23.13 @ 5:24 pm

EMel,I am curious why you think we can play with the Cards and not the Orange?I see it the exact opposite.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.23.13 @ 5:46 pm

Dan 72, Sorry the Cards Orange question was for you.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.23.13 @ 5:55 pm

lol I’ll throw in a thought on that.

Cuse playing the zone will force PItt to shoot outside perhaps. Last night on a small sampling we were good (4-7) from 3. On the season we’re shooting about 34% from 3 I believe.

Also Nas was instrumental in several Pitt wins over Cuse with his ability to dissect Cuse’s zone from the high post. Don’t think we have anyone with that particular skillset. Someone will have to step up, Patterson seems logical, but he normally doesn’t play in the high post. Zanna is not a good passer so he’s out. It will be interesting who Coach designates to do this or come up with some other tactic to defeat the Cuse zone.

I actually believe the Cards will be much tougher for Pitt, as that game will be at the …..wait…..
KFC Yum Center. And they will press and have a much better press than Providence or anyone we’ve faced so far.

I like our chances against Cuse, hope they stay undefeated till then, they’ll be due for a defeat then.

Comment by EMel 01.23.13 @ 6:27 pm


meant Cuse staying undefeated in the BigEast.

I know they lost to Temple. Which could give Coach some clues in how to beat them !

Zone teams don’t like being zoned themselves ?

Comment by EMel 01.23.13 @ 6:35 pm

I would love to see Coach bring in a true large wide-body center for next year. And move Kiwi Steve to Power Forward, where I think he could be dynamic ala Dirk Nowitski.

People who have seen his pre-game shooting, this kid can shoot….and has almost unlimited range.
And there’s no way you can stop a 7 footer from taking 3 point shots ala Nowitski or farther back, one Bill Lambeer.

Comment by EMel 01.23.13 @ 6:40 pm

EMel, I would be amazed if we won at Louisville but I am counting on beating the Orangemen. History tells me that is how it will go. Marquette is another game that never goes right in their gym.I think the “Man-Dingo” can do anything but fly with another year or two of seasoning.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.23.13 @ 7:30 pm

emel–Since Adams can shoot with “almost unlimited range” why cant he Make FTs?

Comment by pitt1972 01.23.13 @ 7:53 pm

pitt 72 There isn’t anything basketball related that Adams won’t do well in time.I am certain that his free throw woes are related to his injured right hand.What I don’t understand is why I seem to be the only one who has noticed the injury.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.23.13 @ 8:00 pm

Pitt did get a couple quickies vs. press but they are still tentative. It appears nobody on the floor is taking charge. Even just in-bounding was a challenge. They were lucky at least twice on passes that could have been turnovers.

I like our chances better vs. Cuse than L’ville – home game, the Orange may be due for a loss, and Pitt has just owned their zone over the years, not with outside shooting, but with high/low and interior passes.

Comment by Iron Duke 01.23.13 @ 8:38 pm


The FT thing with Adams is one of two things imo:

1) Confidence at FT line
2) Thumb/Wrist injury on shooting hand

His shooting motion seems pretty good so…

Comment by EMel 01.23.13 @ 10:35 pm

agree Iron Duke

Every time we make that inbounds pass into a corner and the double team, I cringe. Anywhere but there.

Like to see a longer pass to mid-court area and immediately you have a 3 on 2 or better. But first you need an inbounds passer who can throw it that accurately and 2nd you need a receiver who can catch it and then have the ability to either pass it or dribble it forward from there.

Comment by EMel 01.23.13 @ 10:40 pm

More carnage in the Top 25 tonight despite not many ranked teams in action.

#1 Duke gets utterly destroyed at Miami 63-90
it was like 19-43 at half.

#9 Butler loses at LaSalle

#18 Creighton loses to Drake.

In BE, St John’s wins pretty easily at Rutgers
Seton Hall whips USF

Comment by EMel 01.23.13 @ 10:44 pm

Plus Northwestern up 7 on #12 Minnesota with under 3 to go.

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.23.13 @ 10:58 pm

oh good, yea I didn’t want to post until it was a final. Same thing with Oregon/Wazu.

Comment by EMel 01.23.13 @ 11:05 pm

Tough year all around in men’s BBall. Could be a very interesting March Madness.

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.23.13 @ 11:20 pm

If Zeigler could just improve with his foul shooting, he’d be great against the press when games are on the line.

Was it the Marquette game? The game was on the line and he dribbled right through the two defenders who were double-teaming him and passed it up court for the easy basket.

Comment by Howard 01.24.13 @ 8:08 am

Lehigh (without CJ) won @ Bucknell last night.
Pitt RPI #48 per ESPN. #50 per CBS.
At least one of the OOC teams can help Pitt’s standings come seeding time (other than Mich).

Comment by xfmrman 01.24.13 @ 8:50 am

I am thinking Zeigler will be a good weapon in the ‘Cuse game flashing to the middle of that zone. I know he’s a little smaller, but he can slash to the hoop, seems to have that short range jumper, and appears to be a good passer.

I think Pitt has a chance to win both of those games, but they will need to play 40 minutes, need real contributions from Adams, and just take care of the ball.

Comment by Carmen 01.24.13 @ 9:20 am

carmen,Sounds good on paper,I think Patterson and DJohnson could help a lot too.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.24.13 @ 9:42 am

No doubt, but I think they could do most of their damage on kick outs from the lane.

Comment by Carmen 01.24.13 @ 2:24 pm

I think you mixed up “frontcourt” and “backcourt”

Comment by TonyC 01.25.13 @ 2:20 am

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