March 5, 2013

With more than 15 seconds left, Villanova still had a chance to avoid overtime and grab the win. They were bringing the ball up-court looking to score (or more likely, draw a foul call from King Karl Hess). Ryan Arcidiacono had killed Pitt all game was bringing the ball up court. Pitt’s defense was solid — but just as important — Villanova didn’t do a good job of executing an attempt at a pick-and-roll (click the link, more explanation, pictures and video to explain). Poor spacing, clogged lanes and good defense led to Arcidiacono having no one to dish the ball to. Instead he had to run into Dante Taylor and hope for a foul call — that even Karl Hess couldn’t make at that point. The ball went out of bounds off of Tayler

Nova still got the ball back with a little more than 3 seconds left. Villanova called a timeout. Jay Wright diagramed up their play.

But before the inbounds play under the basket could happen, Coach Jamie Dixon called a frantic timeout. For many, this was an eye-rolling moment. Yet another micro-managing coach that had to further draw out the final seconds of a game. Too much of a control freak to trust his players.

That timeout, however, may have been the difference between the OT win and a buzzer-beater home loss.

“Yarou is the first look on that (inbound) play,” Wright said. “I wouldn’t say it is a great thing to throw a bounce pass to a five man out of bounds, but you have to trust your guys to make that play.”

Yarou, who finished with 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting, did not miss one of his patented mid-range jumpers from the foul line. He beat Pitt with the shot —open and contested — on five occasions during the game.

But with J.J. Moore guarding the ball, Taylor shedding toward the paint with an eye on Yarou — who was set at the top of arc waiting for the whistle so he could move — and Lamar Patterson guarding Arcidiacono on the baseline, Dixon furiously yelled for a timeout, racing almost into the play to call it.

“I didn’t want to use the timeout but I didn’t like the setup we had,” said Dixon.

“I wanted a big guy on the in-bounder. Having a bigger guy guarding the three (position), I knew it would be difficult to make that pass over the top. We put Talib on the ball and we thought that they would either throw the lob or a screen-and-pop on the top.”

Dixon assumed that Yarou would still be the target of the in-bounds pass. Wright came out of the timeout with the same play as previously planned. Zanna was now guarding the in-bounder, Patterson was tightly guarding Yarou, Robinson clamped to Arcidiacono –who tried to spring off of Yarou through an off-ball screen — and Woodall was eyeing both Yarou and guard Darrun Hilliard in the paint.

The play resulted with a bounce pass to Yarou, who had it contested by Woodall. He scuffled with several Villanova players for the ball until the horn sounded and overtime came with no shot even attempted.

“They played him and he we thought he was open,” Wright said, “but they threw a bounce pass and the point guard stole it from a five man.”

That’s just some great reporting by the way. Details of a key point of the game that were otherwise overlooked.

The moment where the coaches make moves. Counter moves. In this case, Dixon recognized and made the adjustment. We know what he saw. And stopped it cold. Without it, Pitt possibly goes down. Zanna is still scuffling offensively, and Villanova cements their NCAA bid status.

Yaba daba doo! Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Digdug 03.05.13 @ 7:24 pm

I didn’t understand why Arcidanno was driving in the lane anway when they could have tried to run him off a screen for a 15 footer … but I guess they thought Herr Karl Hess (sounds Gestapo to me) would blow that freakin whistle one last time

Comment by wbb 03.05.13 @ 7:34 pm

Turning toward DePaul, we need this week of practice for the following: get Z to stop pouting: get Adams healthy: work some different combos down low: focus on winning games from now thru April.
Villanova is over. DePaul is next. No one else matters.

Comment by SFPitt 03.05.13 @ 7:56 pm

The Fan reported today that Dixon said Adam will play vs DePaul

Comment by wbb 03.05.13 @ 7:59 pm

Great play by play and more kudos to Jamie. Coaches make a hundred of these decisions every game. Most work, some don’t. This one did and was documented proving again that Jamie is the real deal as head coach at Pitt.

Comment by Dan 72 03.05.13 @ 9:10 pm

I must admit that I figured when Jamie Dixon didn’t like what he saw and called the time out, Wright would just run something different. That’s what you expext afte a frantic time out. You would think your opponent recognized what you’re doing. Arcidiacono had nowhere to go, but I was still afraid he would get to go the line. It had seemed like they were getting the call every time. Congrats to Jamie on a nice adjustment.

Comment by Justinian 03.05.13 @ 9:36 pm

Didn’t get a great look at the initial set Nova was in big I’m surprised they stuck with it after the TO. Seems obvious Pitt was adjusting to their first look. Would have made sense to at least toss in a wrinkle on it. 3 second ls is plenty of time under your opponent’s rim

Comment by Ghost of Hornman 03.05.13 @ 9:38 pm

wbb, I knew Villanova was going to the hoop. Why wouldn’t they? They had gotten every call, even when the Pitt defenders had good position. They figured either on getting the layup or going to the free-throw line.

Comment by Justinian 03.05.13 @ 9:41 pm

Great post, Chas. Nice pick up on both articles.

Comment by Velvil 03.05.13 @ 10:35 pm

Freshman PG made a bad decision. End of story.

Comment by John Ramella 03.05.13 @ 10:38 pm

Beat DePaul and get the double bye!

Comment by JR 03.06.13 @ 10:06 am

Nice post.

Also — few things make me laugh more than the facial expressions news paper photographs catch Dixon making. The pic along with Fittipaldo’s PG piece today is a prime example.

Comment by PantherP 03.06.13 @ 10:06 am

and another thing — Adam’s shouldn’t play more than 10 minutes, if at all, against DePaul. They’re too weak for it to be much of a tune-up and we want him health as can be for the post season.

Comment by PantherP 03.06.13 @ 10:12 am

How does Jamie Dixon get Zanna, Sleepy, and Robinson continue to play the way they did against Nova–when Adams returns to the lineup?

Comment by Lou 03.06.13 @ 11:04 am

actually Sleepy was in initial foul trouble vs Nova but played a much more important role the game before (double-double) when Adams did play (but not real well)

Comment by wbb 03.06.13 @ 11:12 am

3 positive columns in a row about Pitt from Ron Cook. What is the world coming to?
link to

Comment by Iron Duke 03.06.13 @ 12:35 pm

Iron Duke – That was my first reaction to reading Cook’s piece. Maybe he sees what we all hope for JR. A PG that could be the point guard we have been searching for. Mike Bibby, Jason Kidd – or my pipe dream Dennis Johnson (Played great D, had an awkward hitch to his jumper but was so clutch & even though he seemed a step slow at both ends of the court, he always made his team better when he was on the floor – and I know thats a heck of a statement to make). This kid could be the real deal & with all of the freshman talk being centered (pun intended) on Adams hes making a statement with the rock in his hands for more minutes than any of us would have suspected pre-season. Its a LONG season and it has to grind on you. That grind is simply harder for an 18/19yo than it is for a 20/21 yo. How anyone could be any less than impressed with the freshman PG is beyond me.

Comment by ptbreezeb 03.06.13 @ 1:38 pm

Most had us picked to finish 6th in the Big East in the preseason,so it looks like a win at DePaul would allow us to slightly exceed expectations.I still remember getting beat at DePaul last year but I really can’t imagine this team repeating that mistake.I would think if we could make it to the Big East semi-final that would be another forward step and the final itself a huge step.It would be great to pick up a win or two in the tourney like we used to.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.06.13 @ 2:28 pm

Perhaps you start the game with Kiwi Steve on the bench, and depending on how the game is going, maybe you don’t play him AT ALL. Give that ankle a real chance to heal up completely to 100%.

Also if Zanna continues to play like DeJuan Blair at Center, maybe you just keep him there and play Sleepy at the 4.

Why screw with Zanna after a 14 & 19 performance after that long funk he was in !!

Comment by EMel 03.06.13 @ 4:42 pm

Depaul game still listed only on MASN at 2 pm Saturday.

Comment by Frank MD 03.06.13 @ 5:45 pm

Zanna goes from blocking Adams,Taylor and Moore from playing the 4(square pegs in round holes) to Blairlike center play in 1 game.Anyone watching Zanna play over the last few years knows he is a great kid with a lack of confidence.I have seen people claim he has no talent and at times I have questioned his intelligence.He is an inegma and between his improved freethrows and bounding skills an awful important part of this teams future. Talib needs to use this game as a coming out party and assert himself henceforth.When he plays well this team can be very good.Unfortunately there is no way of knowing which Talib will show up for future games.Two years ago our team did a flop after he broke his thumb.He was an important contributor off the bench filling in for Gary McGhee.When he got hurt McGhee had to play too many minutes and was never as effective again.I think Talib will be a late bloomer but wouldn’t be surprised if he has as good a career in the NBA as Blair.When he emotionally matures he has the size and strength to compete at any level.Earlier this year he showed a good jump shot and his foul shooting has dramatically improved off of his previous seasons here.He has always been a decent rebounder and runs the floor very well.I am convinced that the inconsistant play is emotional and rooted in the tough transition of an African culture to big time American sports. I have always pulled for him but sometimes he dissappears and like everyone else it frustrates me.He can be such a big part of our reach to the next level that sometimes I expect too much.Those who claim he has no talent however are wrong.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.06.13 @ 6:40 pm

I loved when Dixon called that timeout….he waited until he saw what Wright had drawn up and then made adjustments. He also made Wright go back to the drawing board…

As for Cook….I think he came to realize that they allow comments now under his articles…that and he needs to be popular on the Fan in order to keep his job there.

I thought I read that Pit was on WTAE on Saturday.

Comment by Jackagain 03.06.13 @ 9:54 pm

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