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.

St. John’s did little with 11 second half offensive rebounds, since they offset the extra chances with 9 turnovers in the second half. St. John’s slowly unraveled with every miss. With every frustrating chance on offense where Pitt’s defense gave them no space. It’s what you do to a young team. You make them impatient. Frustrated. Careless.

The story of the game was Travon Woodall. So many games against St. John’s I can remember seeing the NY/NJ guys struggle badly. They so much want to show everyone back home their game. Woodall didn’t have that problem. Despite distractions.

Woodall was honoring his grandmother, Elizabeth Ratliff, who has been hospitalized for the past 10 days with stroke-like symptoms. A 5-foot-11 guard, Woodall put his worries to the side for two hours and played one of the best games of his career in Pitt’s 63-47 Big East Conference beat-down of the Red Storm, scoring a season-high 25 points before 9,129 fans, including many family members who welcomed a distraction from their family ordeal.

“My grandma is very sick,” Woodall said after the game. “I played for my grandmother.”

Woodall was 8 for 14 from the field, 4 for 7 from 3-point range, and had 2 assists, 2 steals and 0 turnovers in 31 minutes. He scored 15 of his points after halftime when the Panthers had to battle back after St. John’s took one-point leads twice in the early stages of the second half.

“He was terrific in every way,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “Every shot he took was a good shot. I can’t say enough about how well he played. I don’t think he took a bad shot or made a bad pass. That says a lot, playing 31 minutes.”

After the game he talked of playing “fearless.” I, for one, was filled with fear as he got knocked down, kneed in the head and generally showed little regard for the safety of his body at points in this game. I know that is how he plays, and he is at his best when he is that way. Still, Pitt really can’t afford to lose him.

Also related to Woodall, check out this piece on Woodall still being tight with his high school teammates. It also gives me a chance, once more, to highly recommend catching “The Street Stops Here.”

Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna started this game playing as badly as they did in the Notre Dame game. The difference was that Patterson responded to getting yanked early, and being on a short leash.

In a first half that saw him play only 11 minutes, Patterson committed 4 turnovers, took only a couple shots and just looked completely out-of-sorts. In the second half, he came back strong. 3-4 shooting, 5 rebounds, a couple steals. I don’t want to say a different player. Just the one we had seen up until the past week.

Zanna. Well, Zanna is a mess. He’s got no confidence in his game. He looks completely lost out there. This is the same kid who exploded against Georgetown. Who had made huge strides this season. But now looks so regressed. It has to be mental. Since he started his shooting slump, everything else has been getting worse. He only played 4 minutes in the second half.

Unfortunately there isn’t a lot that can be done for him. He has to get it figured on the fly, because he is still needed. The rotation isn’t deep enough in the frontcourt. He’s still a better defender and presence out there at the 4 than J.J. Moore or even Dante Taylor. The latter actually got some minutes at the same time with Adams. Taylor is not a four. Period.

Like so many other teams in not just the Big East, but in the top-25, this Pitt team is given to huge fits of inconsistency. We will see what team shows up on Wednesday.

In Zanna’s defense, I saw a few blockouts by him that opened up the lane for our guards to rebound. These things never show on the stat sheet.

But no doubt, he is a mess especially with the ball is in hands

Comment by wbb 02.26.13 @ 9:21 am

I like Woodall speaking the truth, gonna miss playing in the Big East.

Comment by alcofan 02.26.13 @ 9:54 am

Vey, very happy that Tray had the opportunity to end his NYC regular-season career on a high note. Hopefully that fire continues when we return to the Garden for the Big East Tournament.

Regarding Zanna…

He was at his best when he was taking pull up jumpers, which required that defenders respect his mid-range game. Their tight defense allowed for shot fakes and drives to the basket, at which point his speed with the ball (given his size) and his strength made for easy baskets or, at the very least, drawn fouls. This second half of the season has not seen sets designed in that fashion. Instead, Zanna is playing more exclusively in the post and can’t seem to muster up a respectable shot without that full head of steam he had when he was driving.

Don’t know why we abandoned that scheme, but I sure hope somebody watches tape and realizes we had a budding star a few months ago.

Comment by MikePITT 02.26.13 @ 10:12 am

I disagree that Taylor “is not a 4″. If you recall, when he came to Pitt, as a McDonald’s All American, he struggled mightily with is back to the basket. So much so that his H.S. coach publicly criticized JD for making him play post instead of his natural position of facing the basket and shooting from 15′ in. He is the perfect 4 for Adams because he is also more physical than Zanna and rebounds better but can also shoot well.

Comment by pittman4ever 02.26.13 @ 10:13 am

I think Taylor is a natural 4 who needs to learn to move his feet on defense. He has never been a “back to the basket” guy.

MikePitt, could not disagree more on Zanna. It wasn’t those “sets” that made him good, it was inferior competition. Running the 1-4 against man defense allows all options to be set. The good teams are simply taking away that one look that Zanna got where he would score. Some teams are not even guarding him at all, allowing the defender to double up on Adams/Taylor at the 5.

He is not a mess…just not that talented!

Comment by Dan 72 02.26.13 @ 10:22 am

Dan 72: While I agree that the level of competition was certainly different in the early goings, that doesn’t change the fact that Zanna was knocking down jumpers pretty consistently for a big man. My point is that the number of jump shots he attempts is WAY down, while the number of low-energy layups (that get blocked) are WAY up.

If you’ve got a good stroke you you’ve got a good stroke. That’s all I’m saying.

Comment by MikePITT 02.26.13 @ 11:54 am

Yeah, while there are only very limited circumstances under which Taylor should play the 4,
dismissing the notion of Taylor as PF is bit narrow minded. He can help create mismatches for us, which can be both bad and good depending on the scenario.

No way he should start. Even he doesn’t want to start (as he said in a PG article not long ago) and would rather come of the bench as an energy guy. Whatever PF skill he may have had, they’ve atrophied under Dixon (and that failure to develop those skill may or may not be something to criticize Dixon for. Who know really? Hard to argue something that never happened would have been better than what did, though in this case… i dunno)

Our option really only seem to be to start Moore, but I just don’t see Zanna coming off the bench as an impact guy the way Moore can. Zanna needs confidence so taking him out of the starting lineup up may not help. Think the only thing that can be done is what Dixon already is doing, starting Zanna then limiting his minutes depending on how he appears, using Moore and Taylor depending on the circumstances..

Comment by PantherP 02.26.13 @ 11:54 am

Not that it really means anything but Joe Lunardi has us as a 6 seed playing in Salt Lake City against LaSalle for the chance to play the winner of Arizona (hi Seth)/South Dakota State for the chance to go on to LA. Gonzaga, Mich St, Arizona and KState are the 1-4 in the region.

If that’s the actual bracket, I’d be really unhappy.

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.26.13 @ 11:56 am

I don’t disagree at all with above 2 posts. I know people say that he can’t defend at the 4, but the fact is that on the offensive side, he is clearly a 4. The other side of that is that being put at the 5, he was never required to lose weight .. who knows what would have happened if he lost weight and worked on his footwork.

I said this before but my main criticism is that it seems every year that someone is playing out of position (usually out of necessaity.) If not Taylor, then JJ is certainly not a 4.

Comment by wbb 02.26.13 @ 11:56 am

Despite Zanna’s disappointing play, and the inconsistent scoring of Lamar, JJ & Zeigler, we are within reach of a double bye for the BET. Da Cuse are struggling, and still have to play Louis & G-T. ND still has to play at Marg & Louis. So if we win out, and Syr loses 1 & ND two, we sneak into that 4th spot. Selfish on my part because I’m going up to NYC that Thurs, but its within reach. Finish reg season at 24-7, win one game at BET, and grab a 5 or 4 seed in the NCAAs. HTP

Comment by Bossdaws 02.26.13 @ 12:13 pm

looks like Jim B is feeling the heat

link to

Comment by wbb 02.26.13 @ 12:14 pm

you show me a pretty successful head coach who has been at it for a long time, chances are I’ll show you one obnoxious S,O.B. (Hayes, Shembechler, JoePa, Knight, Calhoun, ect) .. the 2 exceptiosn I can think of are Wooden and D Smith

Comment by wbb 02.26.13 @ 12:17 pm

Journos are looking out for their own. Boeheim had a very public beef with Andy Katz over the Bernie Fine incident and other reporters trying to have Katz’s back. Most coaches have at least some degree of an adversarial relationship with the media and at best tolerate it on some basic level. Someone as firmly entrenched as Boeheim can probably adopt the Bobby Knight approach if they don’t like it.

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 02.26.13 @ 12:32 pm

Pitt Dad: Agreed. We’d be massacred in that section of the bracket.

Comment by MikePITT 02.26.13 @ 12:44 pm

not sure I would fret any at a proposed bracket

Comment by wbb 02.26.13 @ 1:17 pm

Pitt isn’t good enough right now to get to the Sweet 16 in any bracket. But, I’m hoping that this year they catch lightening in a bottle and surprise people including myself. Elite 8 here we come.

Comment by TX Panther 02.26.13 @ 1:53 pm

Good win Sunday at St. Johns. Pitt needs to finish the season off strong in the next 3 games. Then on to the Big East Tournament! It’s the last Big East Tounament……….. and would be nice to finish with florish. Go Panthers!

Seize the Day.

Comment by Justinian 02.26.13 @ 2:13 pm

What is so maddening about this team is that they are, at the same time, good enough to beat almost anyone and bad enough to lose to most. I hope they use the St. John’s game as a reminder of how good they can be, carry that through the next 3 regular season games and into the BET. If they can string together some success, consistency MAY follow which can carry them deep into the NCAA tournament. Emphasis on the word may.

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.26.13 @ 2:38 pm

Zanna isn’t as bad as some of the recent posts make him out to be.He had a great game at Cincinatti and has done some things well.He is shooting fouls way better this year as an example,and gets to the line often.He is a fairly good rebounder and a decent defender.All of us would love to see him gather himself offensively and are at a loss as to why he isn’t doing better.I don’t think it is a lack of talent as some here imply,but I can’t put my finger on why he isn’t doing better either.Confidence problem is my guess though and I hope he regains some soon.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.26.13 @ 3:30 pm

Got to disagree spiritos22

Zanna other than the blip at Cincy has been useless pretty much since the first week of BigEast conf. play. Including the Jan 12th game with Marquette,
Zanna has scored a TOTAL OF 65 POINTS IN 12 GAMES.

That’s a 5.4 ppg average (it’s incredible he’s even still starting)

Over the same time period he’s garnered 67 TOTAL rebounds in 12 games.

For a 5.6 rpg average. And this is in about 25 minutes per game.

Those are about 1 ppg & 1 rpg above Sleepy numbers who plays about 12-15 mpg.

And I’ve written about this before, when you’re not getting much if any production from the 1 spot and the 5 spot, you can’t afford to have Zanna averaging 5 & 5.

He should be sitting and only used against teams/situations that don’t call for physical play, cause he’s soft. Actually plays more like a SF than a PF.

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 3:53 pm

One of the main reasons this team is so inconsistent is:

You have 2 spots of the starters of guys getting large minutes that are averaging less than 5 ppg
in BigEast play. (Zanna & JR)

And a 3rd Adams average less than 7 ppg in conf. play.

You can’t take Kiwi Steve out because of his defensive attributes and you have limited options, but you can certainly sit Zanna & JR more.

If Woodie can handle the point I would move a combination of Zeigler/Johnson at the 2 and play Sleepy/Moore more at the 4 for now.

Those two moves could result in at least 10 ppg more than the current lineup.

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 4:02 pm

All of this lack of scoring puts a lot of pressure on guess who……Patterson & Woodie.

If one of them has an off game, we more than likely lose.

Pretty easy to defend a team with 3 players starting that average less than 7 ppg in conf. play.
Especially in the halfcourt.

Which is why I’ve been ranting all season that this team needs to play uptempo, try to get some easy baskets in transition, since it’s a real struggle for them to score in the halfcourt.
And all our bigs can run and are better playing face up rather than back to……the basket.

Have a little faith Coach, I think they could be much better this way and anyway we’re not going far in either tournament with the way things are now !!

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 4:20 pm

Pitt is now #13 BPI, #7 KenPom – if only that translated into real time results.

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.26.13 @ 4:20 pm

ANYthing that happens in the NCAA Tourney is gravy and I’ll enjoy it. Mentioned previously that this team is built for next year with 4 seniors returning (ok 3.5 but maybe Zanna will loose the funk.) Now that Jamie has a taste for freshman contributing the addition of Newkirk (athletic PG) and Young (animal at the 4) could pay immediate dividends. We’ve got major work to do @ Greentree for everybody. Need to get a hint of what we’ve got in Jones. Read some stuff in Carolina rags that the Tabacco Road schools may have misjudged just how good Newkirk was gonna be! Dont want to jump the gun though. Prowl Panthers. UPone

Comment by UPone 02.26.13 @ 4:32 pm

Emel, You are too quick to notice what he doesn’t do,and don’t seem to notice what those who would replace him bring to the table.I am not praising Zanna’s play however Taylor has plenty of shortcomings of his own and Moore isn’t a legitimate answer either.I think the answer is to correct the play of Zanna and think that is what Dixon is attempting.He isn’t soft nor untalented,my guess is he isn’t real bright and gets frustrated easily.I’d like to see improvement too but we don’t have a solution sitting on the bench.He is our best option although not a good one at this point.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.26.13 @ 4:40 pm

Emel, Concerning your uptempo thoughts I think the area where our offense is missing the boat is Adams.He needs to shoot AT LEAST twice as much as he does.I am amazed that Zanna doesn’t shoot more too,but I am sick of watching Adams only settle for wide open shots.Go to the F-in hole with authority often.That should be our offense.Zanna can be a good garbage clean up guy if Adams quits thinking he is Larry Byrd.1 get ball 2 force your way to the basket while shooting 3 get rebound and return to step 1.If Gray could get rich doing it certainly Adams can at least try it a few times.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.26.13 @ 4:51 pm

Let’s play for Tray this year.

Groin injuries, concussions, you name it.

He has deserved it.

Comment by steve1 02.26.13 @ 4:59 pm

lol well it wasn’t a quick thought, my assumptions are based on watching his play deteriorate over the course of the last 6 -7 weeks.

Btw he also doesn’t pass very well…Zanna has 6 assists in BigEast play and a ToTAL of 17 assists all year.

Pitt’s interior players use to all be good passers, Zanna is one of the worst ever.

Given the same minutes Moore or Sleepy would have to do more.

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 5:12 pm

@Steve 1 – so the football team’s mantra was “Mason Up”. Should the basketball team’s mantra be “Tray Up”?

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.26.13 @ 5:12 pm

Oh and for a guy being 6-9 and with his body, he gets his shots blocked routinely.

Which is incredible by itself.

Like I said he plays more like a Small Forward.

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 5:19 pm

Woodie is a tough little guy, wish our bigs played with his fearlessness.

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 5:24 pm


agree Kiwi Steve needs to shoot more. They need to isolate him on one side of the court if the other team is playing man.

He could take most other Centers, one on one with his dribbling skills and quickness for a big guy.

He’s really a 4…not a 5…as I wrote at length about this on a previous blog.

Kiwi Steve will be a 4 in the NBA.

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 5:30 pm

Zanna needn’t ever get an assist,and Taylor is a good indication of the strength of my second argument.He at least tries to force shots inside so he scores and if he wasn’t a defensive liability he would play more.For every point he gets he gives one back and his only real advantage is he is a good offensive rebounder.Moore is a worse waste of talent than Taylor.Despite a sweet looking shot and huge jumping ability he shoots a pathetic percentage and never boxes out.He is lucky to get the minutes he does now.Any improvement offensively needs to come from Zanna and Adams.We need to pound it inside and draw fouls.Our bigs have a size advantage which is ignored and the last thing they need to do is pass better.They need to quit passing and go to the hoop with the ball whenever they get their hands on it.Our bigs don’t get in foul trouble because they are to busy feeding passes to guys who are less likely to score.Does the world end if someone fouls out?

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.26.13 @ 5:37 pm

Cincinnati has the same problem as us…as they have gone from 18-4 to 19-9 and could be on the bubble. After being in the Top 10 the first time we played them and #16 the 2nd time. This from Yahoo.

Cincinnati already was overly reliant on its backcourt “because none of its big men are viable scoring threats in the post.” A stingy defense and dominance on the glass were enough to overcome those issues up until mid-January when point guard Cashmere Wright sprained his right knee against DePaul.

The Bearcats had kept most games close with their rebounding and defense despite those issues, but Sunday’s Notre Dame loss was a step backward. And the Irish shot well from the perimeter and won the rebounding battle 41-25, building a 14-point halftime lead and rolling to one-sided victory.

Coach Mick Cronin bemoaned his team’s lack of scoring options, admitting to the Cincinnati Enquirer, “there’s no reason to help off SK ever.” Kilpatrick acknowledged the Bearcats need other players to be more aggressive with defenses geared toward stopping him and Wright.

“That’s been happening all year and it’s going to continue to happen,” Kilpatrick told the Enquirer. “More people on this team have got to be more assertive. Two people just can’t win the game for you.

Sounds just like PITT…with only Woodie & Patterson as viable scoring options.

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 5:52 pm

We can’t pound it inside for multiple reasons.

First they’re dropping off JR into the passing lanes, and his assists are down to 2.6 per game in conf. play.

Secondly none of our bigs are particularly good at receiving entry passes.

Third none of our guards are particularly good at making entry passes. They’re either too low, bounced, or just easily telegraphed.

4rth, none of our bigs are that good with finishing even if the pass happens to be good.
Unless it’s like a wide open dunk. Opposing coaches are telling their players, rather than giving up an easy 2, put our bigs on the FT line and more than likely they’ll miss one.

As far as going to the hoop, Zanna never did this when he WAS playing good in the non-con. His strength back then was making 15-17 feet jumpers over guys that were smaller than him against the North Florida’s, Bethune-Cookmans and Howard’s of low D1.

Much as I would like them to be able to pound it inside…….against most teams with good frontcourts it isn’t going to happen.

Maybe tomorrow against woeful South Florida (1-13)

Let’s Hope (lol)

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 6:08 pm

I like that, Pitt Dad.

Comment by steve1 02.26.13 @ 6:11 pm

Let’s root for Detroit tonight.
If they beat Loyola it will improve Pitt’s RPI, and possibly seeding in NCAA.
We have to face it. Pitt needs help to improve its status in the eyes of the brain-dead committeemen who only look at RPI.

Comment by xfmrman 02.26.13 @ 7:13 pm

It’s not hard to understand why Zanna doesnt shoot more from inside. A 9 year old girl from any opponents sideline could stop him from getting the ball above his belt into a shooting position. Moore has expanded his game this season, playing defense, making steals and passing (i.e. recently to Cam as an example) Moore really is the only current viable option at the 4. UPone

Comment by UPone 02.26.13 @ 7:22 pm

Moore’s defense has improved greatly this year. Now he is needs learn how to get into position for rebounding. He is the only Panther without a block.
Zanna seems lost on D when Pitt goes zone. He is afraid to challenge in the paint. He is soft. Could this be because he came from a soccer background, where contact is frowned-upon?
Taylor is the only front-court player who can finish thru contact.

Comment by xfmrman 02.26.13 @ 7:36 pm

Usually foreign born players are finesse players, generally speaking of course.

Zanna & Kiwi Steve fall into this category.
Which is why Zanna plays like a SF and Kiwi Steve is really a 4 who would really like to play away from the basket.

However Zanna can’t handle the ball well enough to be a 3 and is a terrible passer.

I would imagine since all the frontcourt isn’t very physical, the practices HAVE to be that way as well.

This team has to …..Team Rebound….as was evident against the Johnnies. They were all told to crash the boards and still we had less rebounds than St. John’s, though it was only 1 less.

If this kid Young that’s 6-8 230 coming in, is truly a low post player, I’d let him play the 5 and move Kiwi Steve to the 4.

There’s no written law in basketball that the tallest player HAS to play Center.

Just a few years ago, Biggs at 6-9 didn’t, Blair did at 6-7. Why…..well because Blair was truly a low post player while Biggs wasn’t.

You could still play Kiwi Steve at the 5 on defense or if it’s zone. no problem he’s plays the middle of the 2-3, which I prefer anyway since it keeps him in the middle of the paint acting as an intimidator rather than chasing around the perimeter on screen hedges.

So your frontline next year looks like:

Kiwi Steve at PF, Young at C and Patterson at SF.

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 8:29 pm

I didn’t realize Young is 230. Awesome.

Comment by xfmrman 02.26.13 @ 8:32 pm

Just checked ESPN, they list Young at 245#. Even better.

Comment by xfmrman 02.26.13 @ 8:41 pm

Although I like Adams’ physique, he could add 10# or more, easy.
With Young, Zanna, Pitt will have a huge front-court.
I like Moore, but at 215# he cannot body-up in the post.
I hope that there is a JUCO center out there with ambitions to play in the ACC.

Comment by xfmrman 02.26.13 @ 8:54 pm

Why the surprise on Zanna, he has all the tools and none of the intangabiles. He has folded like a tent three years in a row, one hard foul against him and he is done for the game.
He could be a big time player at Slippery Rock or IUP.

Comment by Jimbo 02.26.13 @ 9:30 pm

With the future BE powerhouse losing to mediocre A10 Xavier tonight, the (paper) Tigers, a Lunardi 5 seed, may have opened a higher slot for Pitt.
Detroit squeaked by Loyola.
Every little bit helps.

Comment by xfmrman 02.26.13 @ 9:32 pm

link to

We may get to see Young on ESPN.

Comment by xfmrman 02.26.13 @ 9:55 pm

Incredible analysis of Zanna and Co.on this site.What a knowledge you folks have of the game. I have actually been taking notes of your comments
Wish I had a lot of you as asst coaches!

Let me say this, Pitt is not a perfect team by any stretch but:
* Indiana #1 lost tonight
* Tennessee has Florida in all kind of trouble mid way through.

Why can’t Pitt finally be the team to catch fire for once in the playoffs? We may have our flaws but so does every team out there. Our team of 3-4 years ago would have torn up the NCAA”s this year.

I say Woodall stays hot…Robinson comes out of his shell and starts averaging 10 pts a game abd takes care of the ball vs all comers. Adams gets “fed” regularly and Moore/Zanna/Taylor find a way to manage the 4! Jamie makes all the right coaching decisions and Pitt becomes the hottest team in the country. Why NOT??

It happened to Butler, VCU, et al.

OK – I’ll put down the scotch tonight..I can dream can’t I?

Comment by Dan 72 02.26.13 @ 10:21 pm

lmao Gonzaga is probably gonna be #1 next week

Indiana goes down in flames against unranked Minnesota. IU has also lost to unranked Illinois.

And #19 Memphis loses at Xavier.

Xavier despite the win tonight has gone downhill since Sean Miller left. Which further suggests he’s a really good coach. And an excellent recruiter.

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 10:40 pm

@ Dan 72

Thank You :-)

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 10:41 pm

I’ll drink to that.

And will forgive you for drinking scotch. lol

If you’re going to drink something aged in bourbon barrels it must be bourbon…..right ! haha

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 10:42 pm

IU must be acting as a bubble conduit for these Big Joke bubble teams.

Minnesota had been reeling….losing 8 of their last 12 games and getting destroyed in their last 2 games by Ohio Fake 45-71 and an average Iowa team 51-72.

Now both Minnesota & Illinois, NCAAA bubble teams have signature wins against #1 Indiana, pretty much assuring them of NCAA bids.

And making the Big Joke another $500,000 to a Million dollars.

Nah you don’t think……lol

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 10:51 pm

Pedo State might go winless in the Big Joke

0-14 to date….lol

They should only play women’s basketball. And of course…..hide the soap in the boys shower stall.

Comment by EMel 02.26.13 @ 10:54 pm


After last season’s fiasco with Cinci, Xavier jetisoned 2 of its troubled players (Lyons & Wells). It seems that Coach Mack is trying to salvage the teams reputation.
Arizona took Lyons. I lost respect for Coach Miller because of this.

Comment by xfmrman 02.26.13 @ 10:54 pm

Here’s a thought, maybe JR has been laying low so he can spring up in the tournaments and take other teams by surprise. If IU can be laying down to let other B10 teams make the tourney, anything is possible.

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.26.13 @ 11:33 pm

I agree with Dan 72. Taylor was a natural strong forward coming out of high school whose assets were his athleticism and quickness off his feet. Criticism had to work on his offensive game. Recurited by Pitt to play 4.
OPPS could not recruit a center since McGhee. This was inexcusable since McGhee was no big recruit out of school and there had to be many 6’10” legitmate centers who could have been McGhee’s equal (not very difficulut/build them up to 270 put them in the middle and tell them to keep their body between their man and the basket).
Instead Taylor is force to put on 20 pounds that lead to tendenituis, back problems, and most importantly the quickness he had coing out of high school.
To add insult to injury coaches this year could of had him lose 15 pounds and see if despite his chronoic injuries incurred over 3 years would regain enough of his former attributes to play 4 with Adams at 5.
He could still play the 5 as a backup based on his experience; he may have been better from the beginning even at the 5 with the initial quickness rather than attempting to make a McGhee clone of him. His body obviously could not carry the extra weight.
Water under the bridge but what if he never had to mave to the 5 with Adams here now. This is not implying he may have been overated in high school as most of the strong forwards are but my quess he would have been one of the better rebounding 4 in the big east and perhaps a double figure man off garbage baskets.

Comment by pittisit 02.27.13 @ 1:13 am

Be warned: This is written by Gottlieb.

link to

Comment by xfmrman 02.27.13 @ 2:13 am

Good info, pittisit, and once again reinforces my criticism of hoe many of Dixon’s players have to play out of position out of necessity. However, that doesn’t go for Adams … if he stays, I have little doubt that he will be one of the best 5s at this time next year

Comment by wbb 02.27.13 @ 7:27 am

BTW, how come I don’t remmeber this guy

link to

Comment by wbb 02.27.13 @ 7:27 am

Has Pitt ever caught fire in the Big Dance? That’s why but there is hope that this year it will finally be different. I like Pitt’s chances if they are a 5 seed. Any seed higher, will be tough to get to the Sweet 16.

Comment by TX Panther 02.27.13 @ 7:37 am

Congratulations to Pitt recruits Tyler Boyd and Terrance Webb in their Clairton ” neighborhood” b-ball win over the Lincoln Park “all star” team.

Comment by alcofan 02.27.13 @ 7:40 am

@wbb – because he played in the days when the fb jersey said “PITTSBURGH”

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.27.13 @ 8:06 am

alcofan, don’t forget Titus Howard who had 19 pts

Comment by wbb 02.27.13 @ 8:41 am

Xfmrman – thanks for the link, maybe the only smart/interesting thing to ever come out of Gottlieb.

Love the Sendek idea. He is a good coach, very smart, knows how to attract/develop too notch players (James Harden) and knows the ACC.

Went to the Montour – Mars game last night. Montour has a 6’3 guard, Devin Wilson, who Pitt should consider. He is lightning quick, but plays under control. He has what Pitt is missing, someone who can break down the defense off the bounce. Jamie would love his ability to take care of the ball, no turnovers.

I hope Josh Newkirk has that kind of skill set.

One of the main reasons Pitt struggles in the post season is that they need to rely on screens, player movement and passes to get shots. When defenses really care, they can make it hard for Pitt. At some point, you have to be able to beat someone off the dribble, force the defense to move and either get to the hoop or find an open guy. Pitt hasn’t had that kind of player.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 02.27.13 @ 8:50 am

Devin Wilson is a enigma. He is a 3 star rated WR who has produced major numbers at Montour yet received no major offers.

He is allegedly on Pitt’s radar in BB but no offer as yet, but will no doubt play D1 BB

Comment by wbb 02.27.13 @ 8:58 am

He is painfully skinny, smallish frame. That could be the issue?

Comment by Boubacar Aw 02.27.13 @ 9:07 am

I always thought that Dixon recruited Taylor as a 5 and always saw him as a 5. I used to think Taylor is a 4, but I don’t think he shoots well enough and is quick enough to be a 4.

I have to hate the Sendek idea. If you include this year as a NCAA tournament appearance, he’s only made it 2 out of the last 7 years. He’s only made the Sweet 16 once. I don’t think it really matters though. First, Dixon has already turned down USC in the past. Gottlieb always hates Pitt by the way. His article might as well be written by one of us. Second, even if Dixon leaves, I think there is no way that Sean Miller turns down the opportunity to lead Pitt into the ACC.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.27.13 @ 9:12 am

I meant to say *His article might as well be written of us because it is based on absolutely no real facts or inside information.* Sounded like I was saying we hate Pitt at first.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.27.13 @ 9:14 am

My point with the warning: Gottleib hates Pitt and is a jack-ass with a bunch of manure spewing from his mouth. But, maybe I am being too harsh;).

I disagree that Coach Miller would return to Pitt. He has a plum job @ AZ. Top notch facilities, easy recuiting, weather, and a truly elite program in a conference that he should be at the top of every year (Unless UCLA can get its act together).

Comment by xfmrman 02.27.13 @ 9:28 am

The only game that exists is the next game and that means USF.
I am not looking just for a win or even a big win ala DePaul.
I am looking to see if Pitt challenges itself and works on weaknesses or just enagages in a puss fest where it falls back on what it did well in game 15 to beat a team it can beat in its sleep.

No reason for emotional letdowns or stuff like that.
Zanna must play like he has nothing to lose. Adams can’t resort to relying on his height. Work the post and use your body.
Robinson, Moore and Patterson must take open jumpers.
You don’t get many games like this late in the season so you have to use it as a clinic for humgry dogs.

Comment by sfpitt 02.27.13 @ 9:28 am

Taylor doesn’t have the upper body strength for a 5 or the quickness to be a 4, but he was definitley thought to be a 4 when he came out of high school. Due to the fact that he was overweight when he arrived and that Blair left early, he was groomed for the 5.

I still contend that if he didn’t have to gain/maintain weight, and in fact lost some, he would have been a much productive 4 than what he is as a 5.

Comment by wbb 02.27.13 @ 9:28 am

sfpitt is right. Cannot look past this game.
Even with Noriega being out, USF is still an expeinced team that has decent size.
Remember last season. Pitt had two chances to beat them, and could not.

Comment by xfmrman 02.27.13 @ 9:48 am


Comment by xfmrman 02.27.13 @ 9:49 am

xfmrman, you aren’t being too harsh with Gottleib. I got your warning but I was just adding to your warning. I realize the Arizona job is really good. But you only have one home. He’s not just from Pittsburgh, he was a star at Pitt. Lots of people can’t get enough of the Burgh. Coach Calipari really pushed hard to be coach at Pitt and he could have gone anywhere.

wbb, gotcha about Taylor. I remember reading how people thought Dixon was crazy for wanting Taylor to play at the 5 when he started, but I must have confused it.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.27.13 @ 9:52 am

Hadn’t been reading lately but was surprised the Dixon leaving talk was started again and just read Gottleib article.
He makes a bad assumption right from the start: ” But my view is that Pitt will never be able to overtake North Carolina or Duke as a consistent top dog in that league.” Maybe that is his view but I am sure that is not Dixon’s view and even if it becomes true he isn’t going to bail before he tries…also you could say the exact same thing about USC never being any better than UCLA and Arizona.

And I’ve said before Dixon is more Pittsburgh than he is Southern Cal any more..he’s benn here 14 years and both is kids were born and here and only know Pittsburgh.

But here’s a race nobody is talking about..ALL TIME BEST PERCENTAGE COACH IN BIG EAST a battle between Dixon and Boeheim. Since both are leaving the leader at end of they year is going to hold this distinction for quite a while.
Conference Regular Season and Championship Games combined as of February
26, 2013

JAMIE DIXON, PITT 124 65 .656 10
Jim Boeheim, Syracuse 411 217 .654 34

3rd place is John Thompson at .653

Comment by milobloom 02.27.13 @ 10:14 am

Gottlieb is just an idiot troublemaker always trying to put the screws to Pitt.

I barely remember the name Matt Morgan. Started four years and played in the NFL. Congrats to him, he should have got more press locally, oh yeah, like that’s a priority. Positive news about a Pitt player doesn’t make the list for the Post or Trib, from Plum Boro to boot.

Tonight’s game is just the kind that we have lost so many times. If we win, we’re supposed to if we lose the vitriol is back, and rightfully so, good teams put the hammer down. We will probably play to their level and hopefully squeak out a win. amazing that we are 5 and 5 vs. S FLA.

One positive about this team, although we have lost some at home, we are much better on the road than other years. Let’s hope it continues at Tourney Time.

As far as Taylor, I agree, He never got skilled enough with his back to the basket. Always better with a running start. Still don’t think he would have played at the next level, but would have had more success twenty pounds lighter. Unfortunately centers are tough to come by and somebody had to play the 5. Turns out he is a great kid, a real team player. Let’s hope he takes advantage of his Pitt education and has a successful life. As a senior he has contributed this year and provided leadership which was sorely missed last year.

Comment by gc 02.27.13 @ 10:15 am

Emel ,You are writing off Zanna way too soon.He is a big body 6’10” and he can actually shoot 17’footers.He is also a reasonably capable foul shooter.He has long arms and should be scoring 15 pts. a game cleaning up garbage after Adams.The problem is Adams is taking shots like he is at the doctors,NO THANKS HERE YOU TAKE IT.He needs to use his superior size and strength to force teams to defend low.Instead we get a pass around folly that not only looks stupid ,it doesn’t work.Zanna needs to hang around and clean up after the 10 missed shots Adams should be generating.Our guards need to learn to lob,give Adams and Zanna the ball above the shoulders so they can go straight up,it isn’t rocket science.I am amazed at how bad our offensive pattern is.The most amazing part is that we still win a lot of games anyway.Other than Georgetown,Syracuse,and Depaul we haven’t played well in any games this year.This team has the potential to murder teams inside and instead runs the dumbest looking offense I have ever seen.If they ever catch on to the simplicity of the lob-force-follow mindset on offense we will dominate.Short of that I don’t see any hope of climbing out of the inconsistant, sloppy looking,mess we call an offense.The good news is we are actually very good at D,and we turn the ball over less than most of Dixon’s teams.Another peculiar thing about these guys is they are afraid to foul.I think we should be the exact opposite.I could live with Taylor fouling out of every game,Zanna too.If we physically pounded some of these guys they wouldn’t be so frisky come crunch time.We are falling prey to this concept by depending on Woodall too much.How many more times can he knock his head on the floor and still be effective?When you have a size and strength advantage and don’t use it you look like a pussy.Apologies for the sexist verbage,but that is the exact mindset this team needs to adoptand soon.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.27.13 @ 10:16 am

RE: Fouling
I could not agree more. The front court has 16 fouls to give (I do not count the 5th). Opponents should pay for entering the paint. Either block the shot or give a HARD (clean) foul.
The only draw-back is that Pitt’s opponents shoot well from the line (especially Villanova).
But, forcing a player to pick himself up off-of the floor to “earn” it wears on a team.
When Cooley dunked after Zanna lazily swatted at the inlet pass, while Zanna just watched, brought me out of my seat and skin.

Comment by xfmrman 02.27.13 @ 11:06 am

X,I don’t think Zanna is very smart.I don’t think he is lazy,lacks talent,lacks heart,lacks toughness,or any other form of failure.I think he lacks intelect and that is why he looks so bad so often.I am not an authority just a seasoned and close observer.Even though he is a 4th year junior I still hold out hope that he will have a lightbulb go off one day.Maybe I am only dreaming but I think he is a perfect bookend for the smart Adams.If Adams would become a selfish ballhogging force the ball to the hoop type not only would he score 15+ a game Zanna would too,simply cleaning up the garbage.These guys are as big and strong as any front pair in the country.I ask the question,why are they not feared by our opponents?We play 3 games in a row that make very little diference.I think it is high time for these two in particular to send a post season warning out.We are big and mean and it hurts to get in our way.Villanova didn’t play half as tough after Krauser poked that kids eye out in the garden,and I don’t think we have anything to lose by getting nasty.This team isn’t going anywhere significant without a mood swing.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.27.13 @ 11:46 am

Maybe Jamie will find a surprising “go to” guy next year.

Tyler Boyd hit the game-winner last night as Clairton pulled the upset against the defending Class A champs.

What can you say? Playmakers are playmakers.

Just kidding about Boyd playing two sports.

But expecting him to make an immediate impact in the fall both as a wideout and also out of the backfield where finding some speed has to be a major priority if the team is going to compete with the likes of FSU.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.27.13 @ 11:49 am

Gottlieb is stating his opinion. The reality is the Pitt does more with less than UConn and Syracuse in the Big East. In all probability that will also be the case with North Carolina and Duke in the ACC. Over the years Jamie Dixon has consistantly accomplished more with less than anyone else in the business. To his critics who say that Pitt has under achieved, I respond to the contrary, that they have made the very most of the talent they have had. In other words, they’ve over achieved. I don’t think they will change, because Pitt is not North Carolina or Duke and I don’t expect that Jamie will be putting 4 or 5 McDonald’s All-Americans on the floor any time soon.

Comment by Justinian 02.27.13 @ 12:02 pm

JUST, Your points are valid.We better hope he doesn’t put too many MacDonald’s types on the floor because those that he have gotten haven’t done squat.Duke and NC don’t recruit, they invite. It is to Dixon’s credit that we are competitve at all. In fact how do the Dukies and Tar Heels ever lose.With the talent that they attract they are the underacheivers.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.27.13 @ 12:11 pm

I’m interested to see how Jamie-Ball (a direct descendant of Ben-ball) plays in the ACC. I have a feeling not nearly as tolerated as in the BE.

Jamie may indeed to be forced to recruit all of the McD’s as he is able to.

Comment by wbb 02.27.13 @ 12:19 pm

Gottlieb is filling word space. He is thinking this thinking that. Dixon is hopefully at Pitt until he retires.

I like him as a coach and man.

Comment by Frank MD 02.27.13 @ 12:19 pm

Very good point Spirit. I was watching Marquette vs. Syracuse the other night, and could not help but wonder how it is that Syracuse ever loses a game. That team is loaded with long, athletic, very skilled players. Yet, Marquette won the game playing “Jaime Ball”. They just out worked Syracuse.

Comment by HbgFrank 02.27.13 @ 12:21 pm

Spirit, I have to disagree with you. I think you are way off base saying Zanna isn’t smart. I think it is all toughness and balance. In his first two years I never saw a big man on the ground as much as him. Part of it is because he is new to the physicality, part of it is because some guys just don’t have the balance and natural ability to keep their feet underneath them.

Some guys are like cats that always land on their feet. I don’t think he likes the physical contact or understands the use of leverage. He is not nonathletic, but certainly does not have the natural instincts of many players.

The fact that he has so few assists is an indicator that he does not understand or have a feel for the flow of the game. If anything he is thinking too much and the game has not slowed down for him as it seems it has for Adams. It may be in his head, but it has nothing to do with intelligence. He needs to play with an edge, he needs to play angry, he needs to assert his manhood, it may not be in him.

Everyone has their limits. Chevy Troutman was a most physical basketball player. But when he tried out for the NFL, he didn’t have the stomach for the violence. Is it a sign of intelligence to not want to take a beating? Most would say yes.

Some guys have a mean streak. When DeJuan dumped Thabeet, the play was over, he didn’t have to toss him. He did it to assert his manhood. Some guys are just hard cases, Ty Cobb comes to mind.

Comment by gc 02.27.13 @ 12:26 pm

We beat the Dukies on a neutral court the last time we played. Too much freshman Blair and the trump shot by his little buddy Feilds.One of my top 5 Pitt hoops memories all time.I can’t wait to play the Tar Heels.They are among the worst coached teams in college hoops.If Dixon had half that much talent in Oakland we would have won the national championship by now.The only thing I don’t like about going to the ACC is I will miss playing UConn and the West byGod Virginia hoopies.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.27.13 @ 12:41 pm

gc,I see merit in your argument however I am not willing to concede mine ,which I acknowledge is only a suspicion.Zanna runs the court well,and I don’t agree with your assertion as to a lack of instinct.I think the culture shock of leaving Africa and the adjustments to America both emotionally and intelectually have stunted Talib to some degree.Again this is just a guess because he is one of my favorite players.I keep dreaming that lightbulb will go off and the Big Z will shine.Maybe I just refuse too admit what I hear and see so often,Talib sucks.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.27.13 @ 12:55 pm

A year ago I argued that we would be crazy to let go of a natural, backyard rivarly like WVU. I guess I’ve changed my tune especially if we can get a home and home going with PSU which now seems to be interested.

It would still make sense to play WVU in pre-season BB but that’s about it

Comment by wbb 02.27.13 @ 12:59 pm

Spirit, lots of guys have come from Africa and done pretty well. Zanna is frustrating because he is 6’10” and pretty coordinated, runs well like you said. It’s not a lack of smarts that keeps getting his shots blocked. It’s that he pauses to think about it before he acts. He should be knocking guys down instead of getting knocked down. This takes will. I think that is what he is missing.

I too want to see the light bulb go off. Time is running out. Maybe Gary McGee could drop by to push him around a little bit.

Comment by gc 02.27.13 @ 1:22 pm

I too can’t wait to play Duke and NC. Just like Syracuse, UConn, Louisville, and Georgetown, they will always have better (higher rated) players than us.

Aggressive Defense and a team approach will make us competitive. It will be interesting to see how much the physical play will be tolerated. Coach K has always got the calls in the ACC.

If Adams stays next year will be great!

Comment by gc 02.27.13 @ 1:34 pm

I really don’t understand the apprehension over the quality of the BB teams in the ACC. Haven’t we been playing in the strongest BB conference for years now?

Comment by classof 69 02.27.13 @ 1:59 pm

I agree that the overall quality is better in the BE, but again, my concern is how much the Pitt style of play will be tolerated.

Comment by wbb 02.27.13 @ 2:59 pm

gc, I keep hearing the word confidence concerning Talib.He could use a big dose for sure and these next 3 games is a great chance to develop some.I hope he has a big night tonight.I thought he was coming around at Cincinatti but Marquette was a setback and I heard he had the flu at St. Johns.I think if Adams would start shooting it would help Zanna. 69 I’m with you,I think we will do just fine in the ACC and maybe it is their problem that they have to play us.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.27.13 @ 3:29 pm


agree with most of your thoughts, our halfcourt offense is mostly horrid to watch. And yes they need to throw the entry pass sometimes, over the defense…with a lob pass. Mind you not every time, but if they’re hedging on you and with a 7 footer, they don’t seem to EVER EVEN TRY IT !

As far as Zanna, yes he has the height (6-9) and a good body……but he plays small…most of the time. I’ve never seen anyone get his shot blocked so much.

I just think he’s a guy who can play well against low D1 teams ( as he’s proved over several seasons) and he can play in transition, but when up against the better teams and better opponents that of are equal size, he folds. Big case of the yips.

Watch he’ll have a big game tonight :-)

Hope he does….

Comment by EMel 02.27.13 @ 3:35 pm

Are you all crazy we have a 7ft center who can shot from 15 to 20 ft consistently. Who now has learned when he gets the pass at the waist use a head fake do not just take the ball up.
The guards have to both penetrate and back passes above the ankles and make entry passes far enoungh away so their defender can not just reach around and swat the ball.
Finally Dixon needs to impress that it is not Woodall who can carry this team (forget about the anomaly at the garden/he is a 30% FG shooter) it is Adams.
Dixon needs to demand it from him and work on play sets that get him the ball rather that play catch around the perimeter.

Comment by pittisit 02.27.13 @ 3:42 pm

Miami’s success this year in the ACC, has me encourages that we will be able to compete in the Top Tier. They are 13-1 having just suffered their first loss.

Also Virginia with Tony Bennett as coach, as brought his low scoring defensive style with him from Washington State and UVA has become a force in the ACC as well. And Bennett’s style is similar to Dixon’s style. Much as I hope someday it would evolve, it probably won’t. It is what it is.

Comment by EMel 02.27.13 @ 3:45 pm

I question who is crazy. Like it or not, in BE play, it has been Woodall who has been the most consistent .. by far.

Adams hsa the most upside but that is something we cannot depend on until next year.

Comment by wbb 02.27.13 @ 3:46 pm

Of course North Carolina is having a rare off year for them. Having lost 4 or 5 players (underclassmen) to the NBA last year.

They are certainly not up to snuff this year.

And as mentioned above, it is not just UNC & Duke, now Miami and UVA are going to be forces as they both have excellent coaches. As does NC STATE & Florida State and both usually recruit better players than PITT. And Clemson, Georgia Tech & Wake Forest have all had historical success either on par or better than us as well. Given the right coach, they can become major factors in the ACC as well. Same thing with BC.

And then L-Ville and ND are coming the following year. This is going to be one hell of a league.

Comment by EMel 02.27.13 @ 3:53 pm

You read it in the Post Gazette today via Smizik, just didnt know when the Big 12 travel whine would rear it’s ugly head as the reason why Huggins and Bball are in the toilet! Do not ever consider playing them home/home basketball series Panthers!Let them exhaust and rot in the midwest counting frequent flyer miles. Gives them more time to have Huggins regail the team with his freakin Bearcat stories! God I hope Zanna does something tonight for spirits efforts on this blog. He gotta be worn out trying to defend Zanna! Let’s go Talib! UPone

Comment by UPone 02.27.13 @ 5:09 pm

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