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.

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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