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February 28, 2013

In the End, They Covered

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:26 am

The 17-pooint point spread may have seen a bit high, but after a sluggish shooting (and at times defending) first 25 minutes Pitt put the Bulls in the ground. At the end of the week this will be viewed as another blowout win.

Aside from Victor Rudd, there doesn’t seem to be much to this USF team. Not sure what happened to the Anthony Collins that killed Pitt in two games last year, but I’m rather sure that wasn’t the same Anthony Collins. It also doesn’t hurt that outside of the same Rudd, there are no USF players that like to go inside to get rebounds. It’s something sad when you can shoot 6-23, yet only manage 3 offensive rebounds. Not surprisingly USF had no second chance points in the game.

The two big storylines post-game was Coach Dixon letting the players “freelance.”

The Panthers shot just 27 percent in the first half, and Dixon decided to change things on offense after the Bulls took their lead.

Dixon instructed his players to freelance instead of calling his set plays from the bench. The switch proved to be effective as the Panthers scored 38 points after halftime to pull away from the last-place Bulls.

“It was just, ‘Play basketball,’ ” Dixon said of his message to his players. “It was more of a freelance-type thing. Just getting ball moved from one side to the other. I just wanted them to play basketball. I don’t know if they felt confident in that initially.

“They saw the results and felt better about it. I thought we were too stationary and too easy to guard. It’s something we have done and can use going forward.”

Woodall said it was the first time Dixon gave his players freedom all season. Woodall said the previous time Dixon gave his players carte blanche was four years ago when he was a freshman.

Dixon disputed that, but it was clear the change helped the Panthers Wednesday night.

“Guys settled down and settled in,” Woodall said. “Coach let us go play. We just went out and played how we do in practice.

Apparently they needed that. It also says something about how confident Dixon was that Pitt could ultimately handle USF.

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February 27, 2013

Apologies. I am working 10-12 hours each day this week. So posting has been tough. I’m hoping to get home in time for the game, but the DVR is set just in case.

USF is following up a great year with a much more typical USF year. Everyone knew they would struggle with what they lost from last year’s team, but it has been worse than expected. Not DePaul worse, well, okay we are talking DePaul bad. The Bulls have an inexplicable win over Georgetown and that is it in the Big East. DePaul at least has two wins. USF and DePaul meet on Saturday for a battle to own the basement.

As an extra insult, the cable provider who holds their rights in Tampa, St. Pete, Orlando — Brighthouse — is showing the game on tape delay. Yes, really. Not for maybe a Lightning game. No. High school basketball playoffs. Ouch.

For the rest of us it will be on ESPN FullCourt, Root, SNY, and MASN. On your computer it will be on ESPN3. Game time is 7pm.

I’d like to say this should be an easy win for Pitt, but I assumed the same for the Seton Hall game. I’ll just take the win. Thanks.

February 26, 2013

Sort of Rebounding Against the Johnnies

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:19 am

A day late but the football schedule stuff pushed things out.

Well, Travon Woodall did. It was a little different for the rest of the team. Lamar Patterson snapped out of his funk in the second half. Steven Adams had a great first half, but disappeared in the second. Talib Zanna… /sigh.

You could see from the opening miss by St. John’s that Pitt had put a re-emphasis all week on rebounding. Specifically, everyone better rebound. Multiple Pitt players were around the basket on every shot by the Red Storm.

Lamar Patterson said Pitt placed a premium on rebounding drills following losses to Marquette and Notre Dame in which the Panthers were beaten on the boards by margins of nine and 15, respectively. The focus was on boxing out and being aggressive, given that Pitt has found that winning the rebounding battle is a formula to its success. Even so, St. John’s finished with a 39-38 edge, including 15 offensive to Pitt’s 11. “In all of our losses, coach gave us a number like negative-eight on the rebounding margin,” Patterson said. “Numbers don’t lie. When we win, we usually outrebound teams. We didn’t do it (Sunday), but that’s usually the outcome, so we want to put the emphasis on rebounding.”

It helped St. John’s offensive rebounding in the second half that they shot only 26% (7-27) including 0-8 on 3s — providing plenty of long rebounds as Pitt crashed the glass.

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February 25, 2013

Full Pitt Schedule Finished

Filed under: Football,Schedule — Chas @ 3:30 pm

Okay, here it is.

Sept. 2 (Mon.) — Florida State* (ESPN) — 8 p.m.

Sept. 14 ———— New Mexico —————- TBA

Sept. 21 ———— at Duke*  ——————– TBA

Sept. 28 ———— Virginia* ——————– TBA

Oct. 12 ————–  at Virginia Tech* ——— TBA

Oct. 19 ————— Old Dominion ————- TBA

Oct. 26 ————— at Navy (CBS-SN) ——– TBA

Nov. 2 —————- at Georgia Tech* ——– TBA

Nov. 9 ————— Notre Dame ————— TBA

Nov. 16 ————– North Carolina* ——— TBA

Nov. 23 ————- at Syracuse* ————– TBA

Nov. 29 (Fri.) —– Miami* (ABC, ESPN or ESPN2) — TBA

So don’t get too used to almost an entire season of non-weekday games (when there isn’t a holiday weekend), but this is a sweet start to Pitt in the ACC.

FSU Will Happen, ODU Fills the Void

Filed under: Football,Schedule — Chas @ 2:11 pm

Wow. So this is what it is like to be in a competent conference? Could get used this. I realize that there will be plenty of time to find the warts of the ACC. And I am sure Clemson, FSU and VT fans will spare no effort in explaining them. That said, when you are used to a certain level of incompetency from the Big East, the ACC is like a well-run machine.

I mean, the competence is such a change.

After last year’s scheduling snafu with West Virginia, the Seminoles ended up learning an important lesson. When it came to making the Labor Day opener with Pitt come to fruition, Spetman and his staff requested the ACC and ESPN work specifically with Wofford to make the switch.

Thirteen months ago, FSU was on its own as it had to replace West Virginia for a game scheduled for last September. The Seminoles talked to more than 70 schools before adding Savannah State.

FSU ended up winning the weather-altered, mid-September game 55-0. The game was ended in the middle of the third quarter.

Due to the ACC’s efforts, Spetman said FSU will not have to pay Wofford the $475,000 cancellation fee that was outlined in the original game contract. FSU and Wofford agreed to play one another in July 2011. In a separate fee, the Seminoles were going to pay the Terriers $475,000 for the appearance.

A team with a spread option scheme, Wofford was first put on FSU’s schedule as the Seminoles anticipated seeing cross-divisional foe and fellow option-based team Georgia Tech come back into its rotation. Before the additions of Pitt and Syracuse, the Seminoles and Yellow Jackets were expecting to play in 2013 and 2014. That no longer is the case.

Last December, the Seminoles beat the Yellow Jackets in the ACC championship, 21-15.

Pitt needed help getting Villanova off its Week 1 schedule. After a little manuevering, the Panthers were able to do that, and the Wildcats were able to add a Football Bowl Subdivision team in their place, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reported.

That’s right the ACC helped FSU with their issues for the start of the season. What’s more, it seems they helped Pitt as well. The new Villanova road game they play will be up at Boston College — who got out of their game with Stony Brook.

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February 24, 2013

Any chance of that? Please?

Pitt has come to call Madison Square Garden its home away from home. It’s not something St. John’s probably likes to hear, but the Panthers have enjoyed a lot of success on the home court of the Red Storm over the years.

“We like to think that way,” Dixon said. “It’s St. John’s home court. It is different. I don’t know if you call it a home court, but it is different. We have a lot of people come to the games because of the tradition, the history and what we’ve done. We look forward to it.”

Pitt junior J.J. Moore is one of three players on the roster from the New York area. He is from Long Island. Dante Taylor and Tray Woodall also grew up in the metro area.

“It’s New York,” Moore said. “We all love playing there.”

I don’t suppose reality might point out that Pitt hasn’t “owned” the Garden in recent years?

No. 20 Pitt (20-7, 8-6) returns next month for its final appearance in the Big East Tournament.“We’re excited about playing in New York,” said Dixon, who has a 21-13 record at MSG, including victories against Duke, Louisville, Memphis and Georgetown. “We’ll have friends there. We’ll have family there. We’ll have fans.

“Obviously, St. John’s, it’s their home court, but it’s a place we have already played in (this season). It’s not normal that you play in a place you already played in earlier in the year.”

Pitt lost to Michigan and defeated Delaware in November in the NIT Season Tip-Off.

From the 2008-09 season to the present, however, Pitt is 6-7 in the Garden.

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February 23, 2013

One way or another Villanova was going to get paid. Ultimately it looks like they will go for the double-dip.

The way has been cleared for Pitt to play its first ACC football game Labor Day night Sept. 2 against Florida State at Heinz Field, and the conference will make an official announcement Monday, a high-ranking college football source said Saturday.

The game will be televised by ESPN.

Pitt was scheduled to play Villanova on Aug. 31, but that game has been canceled.

Villanova has scheduled another game against an FBS opponent to replace Pitt this season. Florida State and Pitt officials declined comment, and an ACC official did not respond to phone calls and an email for comment.

Army looks like the likely team for Villanova.

As for Pitt, it will almost certainly be another 1-AA patsy, given that Pitt would have had to buy their way out of the Nova game. Not to mention Pitt will need to find a team that has an opening in their schedule, and willing to go on the road somewhere midway in the season (apparently Stony Brook is available).

Still, for those who want Pitt to make every effort to enter the ACC with a splash, this is a no-brainer.

Poteat Happy to Be Back (and have a job)

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 9:18 am

I’m not saying he isn’t happy to be back in Pittsburgh. For god’s sake he was living in Grayson, Kentucky — which is spitting distance of West Virginia. I’m just saying he may have known that the time at KCU was drawing to a close.

Former NFL wide receiver and Kentucky Christian University football head coach Mike Furrey resigned to become the wide receivers coach at Marshall University, according to a Wednesday press release from KCU.

The release announced the naming of former assistant coach Gene Peterson to succeed Furrey.

Although Marshall officials said Furrey has not been officially hired, family sources confirmed Wednesday afternoon Furrey would be making the move to join the Thundering Herd.

Poteat met Furrey when they played together on the Browns in 2009. Furrey made him cornerbacks coach in 2010. Obviously coaching kids in NAIA is not the same, but at least he already has a foundation.

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February 22, 2013

Back the Oakland Zoo

Filed under: Basketball,Fans — Chas @ 7:44 pm

I wish I could have posted this earlier, but I’ve been out and away from the computer since early this morning.

The Oakland Zoo is trying to win the Naismith Awards Student Section of the Year prize. Along with basically showing that they can mobilize their base to vote over and over in an internet poll, the Pitt general scholarship fund gets $10,000.

It’s been neck-and-neck. VCU has been the upstart trying to pull off the late win. Voting ends tonight at midnight.

Vote here and support the students that have been the reason the Pete has been such an awesome place to see a game.

UPDATE: The Oakland Zoo took 1st in the fan voting.

The Short Shrift to Defense

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 8:01 am

I’m going to let go of the decision to promote House to defensive coordinator soon. I don’t like the decision, but I’m not going to spend the next six months angsting over it. And I sure won’t be rooting for it to fail. But it is only fair to try and articulate some more of why I find this a bad decision by Coach Paul Chryst. Not simply reducing it to House’s lack of experience, or whether Pitt was being cheap, or Chryst valued familiarity and comfort higher than experience and past performance.

When I broke down the connections of the staff to Chryst, I also took note of their overall experience. Particularly how there were several very experienced coaches and then very inexperienced coaches. And few somewhere in-between in experience.

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February 21, 2013

Maybe I’m actually tired of expansiopocolypse. Or maybe this one doesn’t seem worth the effort.

It started with a report from a 247 site. That the Big Ten would give an offer to UNC to join, and probably take Virginia (or GT or FSU) to make it an even 16. Sure the Baylor and Clemson iterations were dead wrong over the summer, but since this came from a Maryland one. And they got it right with Maryland to the Big Ten, it has to be true. Forget that Maryland-based rumor reports of the end of the ACC at the hands of the B1G could well be the next version of West Virginia-based rumor reports of the end of the ACC at the hands of the Big XII.

Take a breath.

Would the Big Ten like to add UNC and UVa? Probably if they want to go to 16. Delany has made it clear that it is now all about TV markets. It would fit with his East Coast interests and would be geographically contiguous. Is there really an offer to UNC? Maybe. There have been plenty of people saying that UNC has had a standing offer from the Big Ten for years.

I’m just not seeing UNC going anywhere.

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February 20, 2013

Chryst Only Knows

Filed under: Assistants,Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 8:36 am

Over the weekend while rumors percolated that House was looking more and more likely to be promoted to the DC postion; I noted on twitter that it seemed to be the sort of move that feeds the perception that Coach Paul Chryst only wanted to hire/work with other coaches that he knew on a personal level.

That assumption was challenged. Actually, it was disputed with the claim that “several Pitt coaches” never worked with Chryst. So, I wanted to be fair. Maybe it was merely my own mistaken perception. Maybe the whole Wisconsin in Pittsburgh meme got carried too far and created a false reality. I figured it was time to review the coaching staff and find see what reality says.

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February 19, 2013

Problems All Over

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 11:51 am

I guess it worked out that I didn’t get a chance to do a recap of the loss to Marquette. It would have been completely wrong and looked pollyanaish in the cruel light of the Notre Dame debacle. I would have called it just one of those games. Marquette was hot. Even Marquette’s own coach said that they played their best game of the season. They were at home. There’s a reason they had won 23 in a row at home. Pointed out Ohio St. getting blitzed at Wisconsin the next day.  Yada, yada, yada.

Dead wrong.

The ND game was Pitt’s worst game of the year. Near the end of the game, ESPN panned over to Coach Jamie Dixon and you could see him visibly seething. I’ve never seen him so openly pissed at his own squad while a game was still happening. At officials, sure, but never at his own team.

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February 18, 2013

Sorry that this is a little slap-dashed. Barely had time to squeeze in a real post earlier today, and the football news had to be done. So, that leaves a weak effort to lead into tonight’s Big Monday.

ESPN. 7pm. Raftery, Bilas, McDonough. Big Monday for the last time.

If there’s one thing to miss in the end of Pitt’s time in the Big East. It is no more Big Monday. Oh, there will be Super Tuesday. Whatever Wednesday. The Sunday Night Hoops thing. But Big Monday still ruled them all.

No doubt Mike Brey and his mock turtlenecks have had Pitt’s number in the last few years. Whether it was the burn offense, killing Pitt on the perimeter, or just plain beating the Panthers. Notre Dame : Pitt :: Pitt : Syracuse.

Hopefully Pitt is a little pissed after the Marquette game. Time to take it out on the Irish.

To The House

Filed under: Assistants,Chryst,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 2:55 pm

You’re doing it wrong, Pitt. You release bad news — or at least controversial news — on a Friday sometime around 5pm Eastern. Especially on a holiday weekend. You don’t do it on that Monday. And certainly not when there is a big basketball game slated for national TV and rather than have the Pitt fans fired up for the game, they are debating the long-awaited hire of a new defensive coordinator.

By now, almost everyone is aware, Pitt has promoted Matt House from secondary coach to the defensive coordinator position.

House, who will narrow his positional focus to the safeties this season, joined Chryst’s staff last year after working with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams (2009-11) and Carolina Panthers (2008). He previously held collegiate coaching posts at Michigan State, North Carolina, Gardner-Webb and Buffalo.

“I was very impressed by Matt’s work last year in the secondary,” Chryst said. “He has been a great fit for our program as a coach, recruiter and teacher of the game. His experiences and work ethic have more than prepared him for this opportunity to be a coordinator.”

It was a move that had been rumored for the past month in some form or another. House is not yet 35 and what makes this move subject to many questions is his paucity of experience. He started out at his alma mater, Michigan St., as a grad assistant for two years. Then it was two years as a “defensive assistant” at UNC. A year at Gardner-Webb. Then two years at Buffalo. Never beyond a position coach.

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