February 5, 2013

At Least No One Was Hurt

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 7:36 am

There’s a tendency after a very visibly off-game. Where the team — as a whole — couldn’t hit water falling out of a boat. Well, you chalk it up to an off-game and burn the tape. That would be a mistake. If I’m Coach Dixon I use that tape and edit it to show every missed bunny. Every blown lay-up. Every ball thrown up, ostensibly with the belief that it was intended to be called a shot. I have the players watch it Clockwork Orange style.

This would hopefully accomplish two things. The first to give them a feel for what the fans were going through watching the game. The other to be a pointed reminder of why you can’t relax or let down for any game in conference play.

If you are hoping for trenchant analysis of this game. There really isn’t any. Pitt shot about as horribly as possible, yet still came away with the win. They wore down an undermanned team that had one player trying to will them to a win. But for Fuquan Edwin turning his ankle landing on his own teammate’s foot, Pitt doesn’t end up with a 10-point win. A win that come a March review looks like a relatively normal win over a lower-tier team.

In the area of positives, Pitt had a gameplan and stuck to it, even as Seton Hall tried to change it.

“We just didn’t shoot the ball well,” Woodall said. “It was one of worst shooting games of the season. They did a good job of switching up their defenses throwing junk defenses at us. I have to give them credit. We were trying to figure out exactly what defense they were in. They were playing pretty good defense.”

Willard’s game plan was to force Pitt into taking as many 3-pointers as possible. He did not think the Pirates matched up well with the Panthers inside.

But the Panthers spoiled his game plan by refusing to take the bait. They attempted just 12 3-pointers and made five. The Panthers made the game more interesting than it had to be by missing several layups and free throws. They shot a better percentage from 3-point range than inside the arc and were 19 for 29 from the free-throw line.

“We have to work on making layups,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “We had eight missed layups in the first half.”

And don’t think I wasn’t starting to wish Pitt would take more 3s. On shots that weren’t 3s, Pitt was an ungodly 11-34 (32.4%). On 3s, Pitt was 41.7%.

Well, there were two positives in the second half. Steven Adams neutralized some bad free throw shooting issues by going 4-5 from the line. Pitt finished at a tolerable 65.5% shooting (19-29) and hit nearly 70% of their free throws in the second half. The other was rebounding. Pitt completely dominated the boards in the second half. A 20-10 rebounding advantage and only allowed Seton Hall one offensive rebound in the second half. Yes, Pitt did nothing with the offensive rebounds — and padded them with the number of misses — but they mattered in terms of wearing down Seton Hall and getting them to foul.

Finally, Cam Wright continues his resurgence.

“Every day, day in and day out, I just try to bring a lot of energy to the table,” said Wright, who finished with eight points in 15 minutes. “When I get an opportunity to score, my teammates do a great job of getting me the ball when I’m open, and I just try to finish for those guys.”

Wright, who didn’t play Jan. 22 at Providence, came off the bench to provide several big plays for the second consecutive game. He sandwiched four free throws around a basket in the final 6:42 as Pitt turned a 42-41 lead into a five-point edge.

On a night where Trey Zeigler didn’t do as much driving to the rim, J.J. Moore continued to refuse to get near the hoop (How do you play 19 minutes mostly at PF and not record a rebound?), and no one else could finish. Wright was able to attack at key times. Even if he too couldn’t finish well, he went to the line and converted when they needed them.

That said we have won 5 of our last 6 BigEast games and that isn’t easy in this league.

Just don’t want them to get into bad habits of playing like they did last night and letting a team they should have blown out, hang around and hang around and actually start believing they could win.

That’s how you lose in the 2nd round of the NCAA’s.

Comment by EMel 02.05.13 @ 8:08 pm

If this team had that Edwin guy from SH, it would be dangerous. That guy can play.

Comment by EMel 02.05.13 @ 8:16 pm

Emel, for once I agree with you. Edwin was a beast last night.

Comment by Velvil 02.05.13 @ 8:22 pm

Emel, Around New Years it didn’t look like there was going to be any rounds in the NCAA this year.I think the Hall played some great D inside and we struggled but forced the game inside.To call our bigs soft off of last nights great second half board work seems too critical to me.This Saturdays game at Cincinatti really looks like a great test to see how far we have come and the team that wins the boards will likely prevail.I like our chances this time around.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.05.13 @ 8:23 pm

Emel, Edwin was sensational but he got tired and hurt because of our defensive intensity. We are already dangerous.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.05.13 @ 8:28 pm

My bad we’ve won 6 of our last 7 BigEast games.

Cudos to Kiwi Steve, thought he might have some problems with their 6-9 290 lb center, but he held him in check(way below his scoring avg) and got a career high 15 rebounds.

@Velvil,,,,,only once 🙂


Only noting that Zanna & Sleepy have a real tough time finishing around the rim. Adams to an extent to, but alas he’s a true freshman, the other two have been in the program for 4 years.

And you are correct sir, we’re going to see how far they have or haven’t come, this Sat. @ 6pm against a very aggressive & physical UC team.


Comment by EMel 02.05.13 @ 8:30 pm

Emel, If we can bring the A game Saturday (big if)and win there it changes the the whole expectation picture.We would be a likely contender for a 4 seed.I still think it is possible for us to win the BE,do you? What do you think of the 10 player 20 minute scenario? Maybe Dixon has found something that will help our style of play be more succesful in the late season.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.05.13 @ 8:47 pm

If Adams stays next year..he will absoulutly dominate…and we’ll run thru the acc..h2p!!

Comment by Keith 02.05.13 @ 8:55 pm


Agree with more wins, expectations get higher as well. Just as at one time we were ecstatic to get an NCAA bid and now it’s expected.

To win the BigEast, hmmmmm, good question. Let’s see we’re 7-4 with 7 games left. Cuse and Quette both only have 2 losses. That doesn’t give us much margin for error does it. We’d almost have to win all 7 games left, as besides the two with 2 losses, there’s a bunch of teams with only 3 losses. Our last 4 games are quite doable, it’s the next 3, Cincy, Marquette and then two days later Notre Dame. The next two are on the road.
I think the Rutgers loss eliminated our chance of winning the BigEast, but hey 2nd or 3rd would give us a good NCAA seed. Provided we don’t flame out early in the BE Tourney.

As far as the 10 player 20 minute thing, I like it, provided we try to push the ball quicker up court to score before the enemy defense is set up.
Since we know this team is offensively challenged in the half court.
This team plays a lot better when getter some easy baskets in transition, uncontested ones.
With 10, use em and try to tire out the enemy team, but running at every chance.

Comment by EMel 02.05.13 @ 9:19 pm

Here’s a guy we’re on for Center, hopefully we get him.

link to

Comment by EMel 02.05.13 @ 9:22 pm

I think as many of you have alluded to but are hesitant to call Dixon on it since we have won 19 games. I think if we played 7 to 8 consistenly we may have beat Marguette and Cinncinati, and probably Rutgers.
Those of us who have played any sport know that if we are playing well having to sit will hurt our performance/Patterson last night if left in the game would probably been different.
Johnson is not better than any of the top 8 players and should not get any minutes unless major foul problems.
Rotating so many players breaks up any offensive and defensive continuity. It is really bullshit.
Playing your best 7 maybe 8 and substitue only for foul trouble, if someone is fatgued, or is playing out of control.
What is so novel about having 10 players score but no one scoring in double digits.
7 players with Adams/Robinson/Patterson playing most or entire game.

Comment by pittisit 02.05.13 @ 10:09 pm

I see Pitt ending up anywhere in the 3-5 area…..6th at the worst. I think 5th is a good bet.

Adams will be here next year….he loves school and his girlfriend Kayla Kiriau is being recruited by Pitt for BB.

link to

Comment by Jackagain 02.05.13 @ 10:35 pm

Latest Rivals football recruiting: Pitt up 31; PSU down to 42

Comment by TonyinHouston 02.05.13 @ 10:39 pm

pittisit, I respectfully disagree. Every player has contributed on this team. To bench Zanna and Moore is nonsense and Johnson has provided a spark and is instant offense. I don’t think Robinson is ready to play 30 minutes a game on a consistent basis. Every player has had their ups and downs. Jamie is doing an amazing job of maximizing the productivity of everyone.

So we could have three guys score in double figures, Syracuse did and lost.

Having 10 players with skills will be a real advantage if we go deep in either tournament.

I thought Jamie would shorten the bench as he has done in the past, but he has never had the quality bench he has now as evidenced by their productivity. Playing more players allows them to play suffocating defense, be fresh at the end of games, and run more which most of us want to see.

I do agree it is more challenging to manage with ten, to make sure you take advantage of the players with hot hands and particular matchup advantages.

I would agree if your first string was so superior, but obviously it isn’t when the bench can outscore them on any given night.

I can also counter your argument that we might have lost a couple more if we only played 7 and missed the hot hand of Zeigler, Johnson, Moore, or anyone else that you choose to bench.

Comment by gc 02.05.13 @ 10:56 pm

Looks like Boyd to Pitt to me…

“Clairton senior Tyler Boyd plans to sign a national letter of intent at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the school’s library, alongside teammates Terrish Webb and Titus Howard, he posted on Twitter Tuesday evening.”

link to

Comment by Jackagain 02.05.13 @ 11:03 pm

Still, not crazy about the mystery, I hope it’s not delusions of grandeur.

Comment by gc 02.06.13 @ 12:02 am

I think the 10 man rotation thing is getting a little too much attention. Between foul trouble, off nights, poor/not smart play, etc. we’ve had 1 guy play significantly less 10 minutes per game in 6 out the last 7 games. We’ve got 5 guys playing 24+ minutes and 3 or 4 other guys off the bench getting around 15 or minutes. What’s wrong with that? I suppose we can harp on the timing of the substitutions as being Pitt fans we have to have something to harp on.

More importantly, IMO, the reason we struggled so much last year and earlier this year is because we did not have experienced upperclassman running the team (aka being leaders) while the young guys learned the ropes and got beat down in practice. Hopefully with 8 LEGITIMATELY experienced guys returning next year, we will have the luxury to let the freshmen (true and RS) come along at their own pace pace and get back to the formula that had us winning close to 30 games a year.

Comment by cnorwoodaz 02.06.13 @ 1:33 am

I’m thinking 1 or 2 losses at most down the stretch.

The 10 man rotation is what they should be using. The depth is why Pitt is good this year. Pitt comes in waves and doesn’t stop. Cuse game is a perfect example. Cuse got no easy buckets and Pitt could make them pay cause they have fouls to use.

But for arguments sake if you went to an 8 man rotation that would mean the starters plus Moore and Taylor because both Zanna and Adams need their back ups and then who do you pick from Ziegler, Cam and Johnson? Each gives you something different, Ziegler with his driving, Cam with his D and Johnson with his shooting. And if you went to a 7 man rotation no way Ziegler makes that cut.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.06.13 @ 8:29 am

@pittisit — Seton Hall played exclusively zone defense, but they mixed it up and matched up out of it. That is why Pitt may have seemed more stationary to you. Their aggressiveness and length gave Pitt fits at times, partly due to them and partly due to sloppiness on Pitt’s part.

Comment by JW 02.06.13 @ 8:48 am

gc I agree with your point on defense/overlooked fatigue can play a part in defense. It is a traded off between fresh legs and consistentcy. Often Pitt, becuase of too many combinations has been exploited on Defense by not knowing assignments (Louisville)
I think fatigue is overated when talking about college age atheletes. Johson is a terrible defender in his mechanics and understanding of were to be on the court.
Pitt has 3 defensive liabilities in my opinion regardless of minutes played Johson, Moore, Woodal
They do have a game changing defender- Adams and the others work hard and usually match up well.
Overall all 10 of the players play hard on defense but playing hard is not playing smart, .e., Johson, Moore, and Woodall

Comment by pittisit 02.06.13 @ 9:42 am

Patterson and Woodall are defensive liabilities, Clearly the two worst defenders on the team both in terms of effort and Capability. Both give good effort sometimes, but not all the time.

Patterson and Woodall are leading the team in minutes played.

Dixon has preached for 10 years that defense comes first and the best defenders play.

Would love to hear him reconcile the obvious inconsistency.

Last year Gibbs lead the team in minutes.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 02.06.13 @ 10:45 am

Boubacar, you are right about Patterson and Woodall being the two worst defenders on the team. Their D isn’t so bad that you would actually sit them because of it. Plus, I think their offense makes up for their D.

I think Dixon plays who he think is the best players and a player’s D weighs heavily into that evaluation. However, sometimes a player is going to be good enough offensively that he has to play, which is why Gibbs lead the team in minutes. Also with Gibbs there was literally no one else to play. A walk-on was his back up at one point.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.06.13 @ 11:16 am

I think 10 playing is good for fresh legs in a game but I am intrigued by the possibility that it could make a difference over the wear and tear of a season.I can imagine it making a big difference at the BE tournament as an example.Conceptually that edge could be a difference maker and I am anxious to see it play out.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.06.13 @ 11:21 am

Nice article in the Post about the defensive prowess of this team. No doubt rebounding and defense have turned the season around.

You still have to score more than the opposition, that is why there is always time for guys like Johnson, who will get better on D, Moore and Gibbs.

Woodall and Patterson have to play because we can’t win without them. Boubacar, they are the proverbial exception to the rule.

Comment by gc 02.06.13 @ 11:22 am

I understand why Woodall and Patterson are leading the team in minutes.


They are the best shooters on the team. The three has become too big a part of winning in college basketball. Have shooters to open up the floor is huge. Having guys who can knock down the three makes life easier on everyone else.

Shooting (3pters) is disproportionately more important to winning than the marginal improvement in defense that the better defender (Wright or Zeigler) would provide. That’s why those two play more.

Trust me, I understand, so does Jamie. And so do the players. Which is why the defense first rhetoric bugs me.

Comment by boubacar aw 02.06.13 @ 1:19 pm

I tend to think that the 10 man rotation won’t have much effect on the team’s stamina down the stretch of the regular season. Rather it will only have game to game impact — but that will be relevent come tourny time.

I mean, whether they are playing in a game or not they are going to be running and practicing at the same rate. College athletes aren’t going to burn out as the season goes on unless the bench is atypically short (like a 7 man rotation) where one or two players play 35+ minutes a game in which case only those two players may lose their stamina.

But for tournaments, when there is one game after another, it may help. If all that makes any sense?

Boubacar — i think you (and whoever else made the point) are only partially right. 3pts do have a disproportionate impact (obviously 3 to 2) but I very much doubt 3pt shooting is more important than rebounding. They’re probably pretty close, but if i have to choose, i choose rebounding (as does Dixon i think, not just from his rhetoric but how he distributes minute).

Controlling the boards is like controlling the line in football — you control the pace of the game, the number of possessions and time of possession. You also give yourself an additional possession, which depending on your offensive efficiency, gives you basically an additional point every time down the court on average.

Comment by PantherP 02.06.13 @ 1:53 pm

@Boubacar, I thought you might have meant that but I wasn’t sure. I guess I should have asked first. The defense first rhetoric bugs me too. He talks about defense all the time. But when the team loses a lot of the time it is because they had trouble scoring. Defense doesn’t matter if you can’t score.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.06.13 @ 5:58 pm

Don’t listen to what coaches say, watch what they do.

Q: Who is the best rebounding guard on the team?
A: Trey Zeigler, and it isn’t close.

Zeigler is getting significantly fewer minutes than Woodall, who is a much better 3pt shooter.

Zeigler is also a better driver and defender. He’s arguably a better play maker, passer.

Obviously, playing time is determined by many factors not just one. All I’m saying is that being able to knock down three’s is a very important factor and much more important than Dixon will admit publically. Just look at the facts.

Comment by boubacar aw 02.07.13 @ 9:50 am

Just heard on 93.7, Zanna hurt his ankle.
Although I am not high on him right now, if he cannot play @ Cincy…

Comment by xfmrman 02.07.13 @ 6:22 pm

If Zanna is out, Moore will score 20 on Cinci. Kadeem Batts from PC lit them up. Athletic PF’s get opportunities against Cinci. Plus Moore will know he’s not getting yanked, so he’ll have a license to jack up shots.

How’s that for glass half full?

Comment by Boubacar Aw 02.08.13 @ 8:54 am

Boubcar we think alike on many issues – the negative impact on players playing tigh when they know their minutes are predetermined by performance or just sometimes idotic rotation (pattersons 2, 3’s against Seton Hall earned him a seat on the bench from which if never recovered his strike).
Adams must play a least 30 minutes of each game unless in foul trouble. His mere prescence in the lane takes at least 10 points a game from the other team. With him out teams make runs my attacking thebasket as they did last year.
However Taylor is playing with fire and needs time on the court shareed with Moore t the 4. Based on the circumstnces big or sll at 4.

Comment by pittisit 02.08.13 @ 11:07 am

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