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October 17, 2013

Pitt was picked to finish sixth in the ACC this year. Seems about the right range. Upper-half, NCAA bid. Safely within two spots of where they might finish come the end of the season.

1. Duke (50)        805
2. Syracuse (3)   753
3. North Carolina (1)       668
4. Virginia            612
5. Notre Dame  608
6. Pitt    477
7. Maryland        473
8. Boston College             457
9. Florida State  334
10. NC State       332
11. Georgia Tech              311
12. Miami            224
13. Wake Forest               220
14. Clemson       141
15. Virginia Tech               65

Something that will take getting used to is that the ACC’s preseason All-ACC team is limited to just five players. No 6th man. No 2d and 3d and honorable mention. Just the projected best five players. No surprise that Pitt had no player on the list.

Now in case you think it will be an adjustment simply to the styles (and officiating) in the ACC, there is the added component of new rules changes/slash emphasis across the NCAA this year.

A video was sent out to all Division I coaches last week with all the rules changes. Art Hyland, the secretary rules editor of the NCAA men’s basketball rules committee, highlighted the proper enforcement of hand-checking rules, which has been moved from a guideline into the official rule book.

“It requires fouls to be called when such action occurs against the player with the ball,” Hyland said.

These rules include:

• Keeping hand or forearm on an opponent.

• Putting two hands on an opponent.

• Continually jabbing an opponent by extending an arm or placing a hand or forearm on the opponent.

• Using an arm bar to impede the progress of a dribbler.

NCAA director of officials John Adams told that it will take time for coaches, players and officials to adjust. The changes could well result in an increase of fouls early in the season and also could force star players to the bench with foul trouble.

Not to mention a lot of yelling and complaining by coaches — even the ones who are supporting this — about the calls when they go against their players. The hand-checking will be the biggest deal. A lot of teams, especially those that like to press have players constantly reaching out and extending hands to try and slow or direct the opposing player.

There’s also yet more tweaking to the block/charge rule. One that favors the block over the charge and hopefully addresses flopping more.

Another rule that should clearly benefit the offense and is likely to increase scoring is the block-charge call, which now states that a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has begun his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or a pass. Previously, the player had to be in legal guarding position when the offensive player lifted off the floor.

“There will be no more flopping,” [Kentucky Coach John] Calipari said.

Adams said that the referees get more than 90 percent of all calls correct, but that number was at about 65 percent last season with regard to block-charge calls.

“It’s a tough play and it happens incredibly quickly,” Adams said. “A big reason for the change was aimed to help the officials get the call right.”

Not only will it give the referees a little more time, but it should also favor the offensive player.

We will see how well they deal with flopping in the ACC when Duke is doing it and Mike Krzyzewski is screaming on from his bench at the refs. New Pitt basketball beat writer for the P-G, Paul Zeise talked to ACC coaches about the new rules. Jamie Dixon downplayed the changes and thinks scoring won’t be that much of a jump simply because defenses are so much better.

“Teams would have to adjust, no question, but it is not going to change things a lot,” Dixon said. “The defenses are better, the players are quicker and stronger. When you are quicker and stronger and more versed in scouting and more aware of what the other team does, it is going to help the defense.

“And more teams are zoning and, if you move back the 3-point line, more teams will zone and, if you zone, there will be less possessions not more — all those things factor in. The charge is a significant change, but the rule really hasn’t changed. It is matter of getting the call right.”

There’s some truth there. There aren’t many coaches left that strictly embrace only one style of defense. Gone are most of the Bobby Knights who felt that if you played anything but man-to-man defense you had already lost. Most coaches expect to use adjust their defense during games and are willing to do so.

Most of the mid-majors that surprise in March are built on the back of playing a better defense. Not offense. It’s part of what made Florida Gulf Coast so exciting and different last year. They were shocking teams with a relentless offense. Usually you don’t see that because the players aren’t skilled enough scorers.

And Coach Dixon not only has some doubts about how the rules will be enforced, he is trying to protect his team.

“I think people saying that [rules changes will hurt Pitt] are just putting that out there and working the officials already,” Dixon said Wednesday at ACC Media Day. “They say they are going to do this every year, they talk about cleaning up in the post, cleaning up the drives, getting better on block/charge calls. When have we not heard about this?

“We will see if they are going to call it. We’ll see. You can’t tell me they are all of the sudden going to start calling it differently. If they call fouls on defense, then, yeah, it will increase scoring, but they will need to stick with it.”

How wonderfully cynical.

In other ACC Media Day hype, there is the mantra of the “Best Conference — EVER!!!!!!!!

I don’t say this often, but god bless Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim for being the one to pump the brakes on this

…Swofford said of the expanded conference that includes former Big East powers Pitt, Notre Dame and Syracuse. “The competition within the league will be brutal. And I mean that in a very positive sense.”

The 15 ACC coaches, including Hall of Famers Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Roy Williams of North Carolina, own a combined seven national titles, appearances in 23 Final Fours and 15 national championship games.

“I’m not sure anybody understands the gravity of what’s happening,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “This is special.”

Boeheim cautioned that conference greatness is judged not by coaching resumes but rather by star power on the court.

The Big East, Boeheim said, was built on the backs of Patrick Ewing, Pearl Washington and Chris Mullin and not John Thompson, Boeheim and Lou Carnesecca.

“We sometimes forget the key to any team and any league is players,” Boeheim said. “What are players interested in? Not what fans are interested in. That’s different. Not what coaches or commissioners are interested in. What are high school kids looking at? What do they want? That’s a recruiting tool. That’s something that does matter.”

Seriously, Boeheim won media day just with this comment.

Don’t retire anytime soon, Boeheim. We need the cranky, old uncle.

wow Miami had over 540 yards of offense tonite.

Game would been a rout without the 4 UNC picks.

UNC’s TE was very good, Ebron or something.

Is PITT ever going to get any of these TE’s we have more involved in the game ?

Again it give’s the enemy defense just more to worry about.

This offense could be so much more, imo.

Look at what little old Ball State’s offense did to UVA’s defense.

Comment by EMel 10.17.13 @ 10:39 pm

As far as this pre-season media poll for ACC hoops.

Just some more disrespect for the Panthers.

Seriously, Virginia and ND are picked higher than us.

Based on what. Neither school over the last 10 years can hold a candle to PITT basketball.

Sheesh we’ve been a number 1 seed in the Big Dance twice in the last 4=5 years.

If I’m JD I’m using this media disrespect BIGTIME

Comment by EMel 10.17.13 @ 10:43 pm

Some of you guys think we’re a basketball school.

Apparently that thought hasn’t yet landed on the National Media.

We have come here (the ACC) to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And we’re all OUT of bubblegum !

Comment by EMel 10.17.13 @ 10:53 pm

With those new hand checking rule changes I would foul out of a pick-up game in 5 defensive possessions.

Comment by tacocat 10.18.13 @ 1:28 am

EMel – I wrote about the possibility of moving Boyd to RB in his SO or JR years after he has a few years in the PITT weight room. However, that was back during summer camp when we thought he’d take some time to acclimate to WR. Obviously he hit the ground running as a receiver and he’ll most probably stay there.

As to Paul Chryst being an offensive guru – it was never based on complex plays or multiple positions for his players at Wisconsin. It was based on the fact that he could take ‘average’ (according to recruiting rankings) players and get them to play well within his systems. Maximizing their talents in other words and as he did that his offenses scored a lot of points.

He’s using that same template at PITT so far also. I really think that PC inherited a rather mediocre football team when he got here. He did a great job designing an offense the really fit the strengths and weaknesses of his players, especially Sunseri at QB. But other than Sunseri and an injured Ray Graham the offense didn’t have a lot of play makers or much of an established OL.

Street has been a solid contributor and Boyd showed up well but really these offensive players are just regular talents for the most part and have been playing that way. That isn’t to say the other players are bad or anything, just that as a whole the QB play hasn’t allowed other players to be that involved in the offense – TEs for an good example.

Comment by Reed 10.18.13 @ 2:18 am

Emel, We need Boyd for at least two more years, let’s not get him killed this year. He took two nasty hits last week, we need him to make it through the season. We only have 3 decent options at Wide Receiver. Other reason not to do what you suggest is we don’t want him in pass protection and the recent weak play of the O-line.

What we need is a healthy Conner and some rollout throws to the tight ends. Also some better footwork on the O-line.

Dixon needs to work his magic this year. How does he stop Zanna and Patterson’s offensive disappearing act? Who can he rely on for a 3 point shot? Does anyone play defense? How do the new guys fit? Will a freshman power forward be enough?

I think we are getting the respect we deserve an maybe then some.

Comment by gc 10.18.13 @ 8:47 am

Spirit – I am not concerned about the guards and speed in the ACC. I am concerned about Pitt’s lack of both. I live in ACC Land and have followed it closely for 30 years or so. Robinson simply does not match up with any PG’s in the ACC and there is no way for JD to hide it.

Zanna is a plague on offense. He has no natural offensive moves and cannot creat a shot. He gets out of position on rebounds and generally gums up the works for Pitt’s offense. While other players have been playing BBall since they were 5, Zanna never had that opportunity an thus what he does is not natural for him. He has to “think” on every offensive set and when you “think” rather than react in BBall you are dead.

EMel – Boyd would get killed playing RB behind this offensive line!

I do not consider N Caroline a “win” after last night’s game. A shame they could not hold on and beat Miami.

Great week of football starting Sunday in B’more.
Wearing my Pitt shirt next week all week and my Steeler’s shirt (and drawing many bad looks and sneers) for the weekend.

Comment by Dan 72 10.18.13 @ 8:48 am

North Carolina deserved to lose on their uniforms alone!

Carolina blue and white. Brand recognition all to yourselves, everyone knows you.

Looked like any other team trying to be trendy and trying to sell 500 jerseys.

Comment by Dan 10.18.13 @ 9:08 am

As much as I don’t care for Smug Smilin’ Steve and the loss of Pitt script, at least he hasn’t gone to some new garbage uni’s.

He could get rid of the white pants if I had my way, but at least we still look like a college football team, and not some futuristic transformer!!!

Comment by Dan 10.18.13 @ 9:10 am

“QB Adam Bertke broke his hand out for the season
pitt 247 says dravon henry might go to WVU
And shi mckenzie to V Tec.”

Bertke will be redshirted either way with Freebeck coming in and Voytik returning (I wouldn’t be surprised if Freebeck starts)so it’s not too concerning. Henry going to WVU doesn’t make sense, do they even send a defense on to the field? Doesn’t look like it most games…

Losing shai would be a big loss, but there are other RBs at his level that have Pitt on their short list. C.J. Leggett, Chris James, etc.

Unfortunately, I think this is a bit of an understatement. There are so many gaps in our recruting classes and in our talent level compared to the ACC teams we’re going up against.

“I really think that PC inherited a rather mediocre football team when he got here.”

Comment by PittHW 10.18.13 @ 10:40 am

I’m still going to miss the Garden’s. Semifinals on Friday night and Finals on Saturday night.

Got to get this ACC basketball tourney out of Mayberry ASAP! (If not Boeheim will start resembling Andy Griffin)

Comment by Pitt Fan In Atlanta 10.18.13 @ 1:50 pm

It will be at MSG very soon, you can see it coming. And coach K wants it to so it will happen! I agree! Nothing like watching a hoops tourney at that place! I really think we will surprise some people, Dixon will have a great coaching year and this whole acc thing will land us more and more recruits! Hail to Pitt! Hopefully we get it done this weekend and hopefully early! You can’t let these teams hang around. And on a personal note I teach wit about four odu grads so I better be able to show my face to work on Monday!

Comment by Sweet Caroline 10.18.13 @ 6:13 pm

Dan 72, Is it possible that your geographic situation has clouded your view as from my perspective both Zanna and Robinson should excel in the new ACC. I actually think it is likely we seriously threaten the top 4 in the conference with this group which admittedly isn’t one of Dixon’s most talented. Maybe you think a lot more of the ACC than I do because I haven’t been impressed by them for a few years now and look forward to playing their overated underbelly and am quite confident we can hang with their elite as well. I would just as soon be playing Virginia,Duke,and North Carolina as Georgetown, Marquette and Louisville. I would rather play BC,Vtech and Gtech than Cincinatti,UConn,and Villanova. Our kids will do just fine, and the overhyped ACC will have a harder time adjusting to us than we will to them.

Comment by spiritofsection22 10.21.13 @ 3:33 pm

Kenpom has Pitt as #20 in his preseason poll.

Comment by xfmrman 10.27.13 @ 4:43 pm

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