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November 1, 2013

More Basketball Links to Dump

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 11:07 am

Tonight is the final exhibition game. This one against Slippery Rock. Coach Jamie Dixon is suggesting that the first exhibition playtime  is over.

That’s why tonight, when the Panthers play their second exhibition game against Slippery Rock at Petersen Events Center, he expects them to put forth a much better performance, especially the three returning starters — James Robinson, Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna — and starting shooting guard Cameron Wright.

“I didn’t think any of those four played their best games and all know they need to play much better for us to be successful,” Dixon said. “Those are four good, smart, versatile players, and we expect a lot more out of them than what we got the other night, but they know it.

“I think the other thing is, they all four did a lot of good things, too. And we saw some things in that first game from UC San Diego that we really didn’t work on or prepare for because it was just an exhibition.”

Dixon said he is treating the game tonight against Slippery Rock as more of a regular-season game and has prepared for it, watched film and game-planned for the Rockets since the season begins next week.

Back-up center Derrick Randall is healthy, so Mike Young will get more work at power forward in this game.

Cam Wright definitely struggled with his shot in the opening exhibition game. Now, based on last year, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to type or read that. But coming into the season, the drumbeat has been that Wright has taken a significant step forward in his game. Dixon referenced it at ACC Media Day. Wright was hitting his shot in the first Blue-Gold Scrimmage.

Redshirt junior guard Cameron Wright sank an off-balance, 3-point buzzer-beater to capture the Blue-Gold Scrimmage crown for the Blue team, 68-67, at Peterson Events Center.

Wright stole the show, leading all scorers with 27 points, and was followed by redshirt senior center Talib Zanna, who scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

And doing it again in the second scrimmage which also saw him go 10-12 at the free throw line. Dixon has continued to praise him.

“Every year we’ve had a guy that, all of a sudden, everybody says is a lot better player,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “He’s in better shape. He’s shot the ball with more arc. He’s just playing really well. It’s pretty evident he’s going to have a really good year for us.”

And it would be nice to see. He lost his father at the beginning of the season. Rumors swirled at the end of the season that he too would be transferring. Instead, it appears he worked that much harder on his shooting and his game.

Wright has been a defensive specialist for the early part of his career but said he knew that in order to take the next step and be able to fill a starting role, he would have to work on his shot and his overall offensive game.

He said the biggest change in his game is his shot but he has also worked hard on every aspect and has made sure he has paid attention to the details and little things, as well.

“Defense is definitely still a big part of my game and I make sure to continue to take pride in my defense,” Wright said. “I definitely worked on my jump shot and handling the ball in the offseason. As a unit, we all take pride in our defense but I feel like my shooting has improved.”

Wright said the best part of this preseason so far has been the competition for playing time as he battles with Chris Jones and Durand Johnson for the starting job.

And it would appear that in practices, he has earned the starting job. A kid like Wright who clearly grinds to improve is someone I want to see succeed. Add in the fact that he would completely flip/contradict the perception of him by most fans, and that’s a good story. The issue now is doing it in the games. Otherwise, nothing really changes.

Now for the rest. Ex-UCLA and Pitt coach Ben Howland stopped by to watch Pitt’s second scrimmage. Sitting with Coach Dixon the entire time. That got some attention.

Howland sat courtside Friday night for the Oakland Zoo Blue/Gold Scrimmage, a 74-67 victory for the Gold team, as a sideshow reminder of the radical transformation the program — and the entire Pitt community — has undergone in the past decade since Dixon took over for Howland.

Howland applauded chancellor Mark Nordenberg and athletic director Steve Pederson for the development projects around campus that have culminated in Pitt’s current standing as the newest member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which Howland called “arguably the best basketball conference in the country.”

After taking in practice and the scrimmage, Howland was impressed with the Panthers’ perimeter play and speed at the dawn of the 2013 season, Pitt’s first in the ACC.

Howland is hoping to do a bit of studio work this year, and then get back into coaching.

A little more Ryan Luther, because P-G HS beat writer Mike White seems really excited that he’s coming to Pitt.

In a way, Luther is like some Eurpoean players — long with a variety of skills.

“I guess the way I play, I can play a couple different positions,” Luther said. “Coach Dixon never said ‘You’re going to play this position.’ He just thought I was a good, versatile player with skill who could play a couple different positions.”

There is a chance Luther could end up maybe 6 feet 10 by the time he is finished at Pitt. He grew more than an inch over the past year or so. On a recruiting visit to Dayton, he was measured a little over 6-8 — and he might not be done growing.

Hampton coach Joe Lafko has mentioned often that versatility is one of Luther’s best attributes.

If Luther grows a little more and has another big season, then Pitt might find itself with a bit of a steal. Remember the recruiting of shooting guard Jon Severe last spring. Severe was lightly recruited with little more than A-10 offers, before a big season and less options for other teams at SG. Then he got the slew of late offers.

Finally, a Pitt preview from by John Gasaway (Insider subs).

Praise of Pittsburgh’s offense has often struck me as somewhat forced. Observers will grant that the Panthers score efficiently at their deliberate tempo (only South Florida, Notre Dame and Cincinnati were slower in Big East play last season), but the thinking seems to be that Jamie Dixon’s men get all those points by simply throwing the ball up on the glass and grabbing the rebound.

It’s true that Pitt has long been outstanding when it comes to offensive rebounding, and, last season, Dixon did have two of the best performers on the offensive glass in all of Division I with Steven Adams and Talib Zanna. Then again, in Big East play, Marquette, Louisville, Syracuse and Providence were all better than the Panthers on the offensive boards. If offense were merely a contest to see which team can grab the highest percentage of offensive rebounds, Pitt’s offense would have ranked No. 5 in the Big East in 2012-13.


Instead, Dixon’s offense ranked second only to Marquette’s, and a major factor in that performance was the fact that the Panthers made 36 percent of their rare 3s in Big East play. That figure might not sound all that stellar, but in a league in which the average level of marksmanship was just 32.3 percent, Pitt’s perimeter shooting in fact set it apart.


Unfortunately, the Panthers also set themselves apart with a foul rate that jumped suddenly, unmistakably and rather inexplicably in conference play….

Pitt as a program and Dixon as a coach have built well-deserved reputations for consistency, but this is a really unproven rotation. Viewed in the simplest terms, the Panthers lost Woodall, Adams, Moore and Zeigler. They have gained Mostella (maybe), Young, Newkirk and Uchebo. And even assuming that Patterson, Zanna and Robinson all develop and improve, that exchange of personnel is still a net loss. Dixon’s team will take a step back on offense and finish around 9-9 in the ACC.


Projected 2013-14 conference finish: 7th

A little low, but right in the expected range of predictions.


Since JD knows what he has in Wright, why not try someone else (i don’t care who) at shooting guard.
These would be the perfect games to do this.

I thought we heard Durand Durand might be tried there since Patterson in NO WAY can play Power Forward and expect PITT to compete in the ACC.

Let’s see what some of these other kids can do, do any of them ‘got game’.

Now’s the time to find out.

Comment by EMel 11.01.13 @ 11:34 am

I’m afraid to click on the…

“Shocking French Video”

Is she a hottie ! Whatever happened to the slightly porn pics we use to have btw…

Comment by EMel 11.01.13 @ 11:37 am

Hopefully FREE throw shooting, 62% improves from last exhibition game.

Comment by alcofan 11.01.13 @ 11:41 am

9-9 sounds generous now with no Uchebo and no Mostella. Even though I’ve been saying the ACC is no great shakes the last several years.

Comment by EMel 11.01.13 @ 11:42 am

Exhibition game tonight against Slippery Rock is on ESPN3.

Comment by PITT-cocks fan 11.01.13 @ 12:49 pm

Without looking at the stats, I remember being pleasantly surprised by Wright’s shooting last year. My concern was his ball handling. I like this team and I’m excited to see how it comes together.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.01.13 @ 12:49 pm

Potential starting line-up: Zanna,Patterson,FRESHMAN,Wright,Robinson. 9-9 in the ACC may be generous. Small. Who scores? Freashman Ice Artis had a nice stroke in Blue/Gold game. Does JD have the personnel for up-tempo game??

Comment by DC33 11.01.13 @ 12:53 pm

@Emel, I respect your opinion but would be extremely upset to start the ACC with a .500 record. I see us winning 11-13 because we drew a soft schedule and hope we do well at home. In past years when Dixon was expected to have down years he has managed to exceed expectations. The factor that I worry about is the rule changes. I still see us finishing above BC and Virginia which should put us above 7th.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.01.13 @ 12:54 pm

Will the game be on Comcast on the Pitt network?

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.01.13 @ 12:56 pm

@ sos thx.
Hey I hope we win 18 games in the ACC.

But who is going to provide consistent scoring on this team that we know for certain. We both know how Patterson & Zanna disappear for long stretches or even complete games. Then it drops down to JR and the rest are all question marks at this point. Again I hope we win em all.

My previous enthusiasm for this year has somewhat dissipated with the news of no Uchebo, so that Zanna didn’t have to play Center fulltime and no Mostella, who would have been a big addition at shooting guard. Randall & Wright don’t do much for me.

@ Tossing, didn’t Wright avg about 4 points a game last year. And shot horrible FT’s.
What may I ask impressed you ?

Comment by EMel 11.01.13 @ 1:18 pm

Quite frankly I thought Pitt played better that stretch in the BigEast when they had Wright on the bench.

Comment by EMel 11.01.13 @ 1:21 pm

@Emel, I don’t see where we lost any “consistent scoring” Adams didn’t add much offense and so we need to replace Woodall’s contribution. Surely we should be able to pull that off. Your concerns are valid but I think it’s possible that this group could play a good bit better than last years team, and I think the schedule certainly appears easier. I can understand your lack of faith in Wright but Young looks like he might have some game and Patterson and Zanna could benefit from a less physical ACC style. Am I wrong to be cautiously optimistic?

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.01.13 @ 1:51 pm

@ sos22

Nope, we’re all allowed to be whatever we want to be.

We’ll know more as the season goes along in the non-con. Whether we blow some of these rent-a-win teams off the court or struggle.

When you add up all the points per game lost off last year’s team it’s about 50% of the scoring.
(Woodall, Moore, Adams, Sleepy & Zeigler)

Also Adams clogged the middle, who’s going to do that this year. We could see teams having a field day driving to the hoop with no intimidator in the middle ala the 2011-2012 season. That’s why JD recruited Uchebo.

You’re right about Young, he’s our only real stud coming in since Mostella’s status is up in the air. But again, until he does it for like 10 games in a row, he’s a question mark.

Comment by EMel 11.01.13 @ 2:12 pm

Any injury news/updates for the fball game tomorrow?

Comment by JJ 11.01.13 @ 2:13 pm

Detrick Mostella has been tweeting about December and Pitt today. That’d be a nice addition going into ACC play, if him being available is actually the case.

Comment by Mailman 11.01.13 @ 2:17 pm

oh btw

Nice to see you again Tossing Thabeets(love the name).

You a smart guy, you don’t follow Pitt football !

Comment by EMel 11.01.13 @ 2:22 pm

Cautiously Pessimistic is the Panther Way. Hey Emel. Don’t sleep on Artis. Kid can score. Check out the Blue.Gold game if re-played.

Comment by DC33 11.01.13 @ 2:27 pm

Emel, Still thinking your 50% of scoring theory has some cracks. The guys lost also took half the minutes. The real question is can those replacing do as well as those replaced? Sure Adams clogged the middle but he did very little on offense and stunk at the line. Woodall was better than Wright at the foul line but not defensively and didn’t score anymore than Wright on a per minute basis. Sleepy did a good job off the bench and might be one of the hardest players to replace and I like what we have now better than Moore or Zeigler who both added little. I don’t see this team going 10 deep but I really don’t see the dropoff you suggest either.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.01.13 @ 2:43 pm

With the conference schedule we drew, I’d honestly be surprised if we don’t win at least 12 ACC games. I really dont see much getting in our way.

We get Syracuse 2, Duke, Virgina, UNC, BC, ND 1. That’s 7 tough games. We win 4 lose 3 and fall twice at random. That’s 13-5, maybe a game more and we 12-6 but that’s it, IMHO.

Comment by PittHW 11.01.13 @ 2:44 pm

I agree with Tossing. I think the team gained more than they lost from last year. Am cautiously optimistic as well.

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 11.01.13 @ 2:44 pm

@DC33, IMO there is very little caution exhibited in most Panther pessimism.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.01.13 @ 2:45 pm

I think this year’s team certainly has potential but we may have to have patience. Young, Artis, Newkirk and Jones are first year players … which usually means inconsistence.

Comment by wbb 11.01.13 @ 3:21 pm

Hey don’t get me wrong, I’m excited basketball is starting, for real this time next week.

But as sos22 noted, “The real question is can those replacing do as well as those replaced? “,

we have more questions than answers at this time.

How much these news guys contribute is anyone’s guess. Some will and some won’t.

It’s like that all the time when new players enter the system.

Comment by EMel 11.01.13 @ 3:31 pm


Durand Johnson can shot the 3 ball. Can’t understand why
he doesn’t play more minutes. Don’t fear the ACC. It is
not the BE. Pitt will be successful. JD is the best.

Comment by JR 11.01.13 @ 3:41 pm

As far as Adams, yes he was limited on offense, however he could rebound and ended up being the leading scorer in Pitt’s last game last year, posting a double/double in his farewell game.

Ironic, #13 finished his Pitt career by scoring 13 points and gathering 10 rebounds as he was about the only Pitt player to show up against WSU.

But Adams true worth last year, was his the defense he provided. If you remember the previous year Pitt’s interior defense was almost non-existent. Matador defense by Taylor and your boy Zanna as Pitt’s D was a joke and major reason why the team stunk.

Adams changed a lot of that last year. Regardless of his foul shooting from playing with a banged up thumb for most of the year.

Comment by EMel 11.01.13 @ 3:59 pm

The only real loss off of the 12-13 team is what Adams “might have been” this year. Although we haven’t seen them yet, I think it likely Dixon comes up with a team that gives us a lot to be proud of. He isn’t going to let these ACC pukes get the best of us. We’ll be fine.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.01.13 @ 4:24 pm

I think this team will be exciting and will win games after gaining the needed experience.

Jamie is stepping it up in recruiting and getting better athletes and shooters. And having Slice helps.

We may not give Duke or NC a scare but watch out in future years. Transitioning from a non finesse conference to an up tempo one like the ACC may be difficult early on.

Jamie will still teach D but he’ll have more offensive minded players.

Comment by TX Panther 11.01.13 @ 5:18 pm

This: “He isn’t going to let these ACC pukes get the best of us. We’ll be fine.”

Hell yes. It’s about time we stop being so cordial to these schools in coastal fly-over country. We have to be in football because, well, Pitt, but we don’t have to pretend the ACC has the depth of the Big East in hoops. Boys, outside of Duke and UNC there is nothing in this League that could have finished in the top half of the Big East.

We joined the the ACC because of football, the ACC doesn’t have anything on the Big East in basketball and we don’t have to pretend it does. The ACC is a step down from the Big East.

We’re gonna be just fine. Hail to Pitt.

Comment by PittHW 11.01.13 @ 6:10 pm

Pitt 24-SR 10, ten minutes in first half.

Comment by alcofan 11.01.13 @ 6:27 pm

Good feed on ESPN3. Not going to learn much against Slippery Rock, good practice though.

Comment by gc 11.01.13 @ 6:56 pm

There’s one thing I can say for certain… Pitt Hoops would win the PSAC.

Comment by Mailman 11.01.13 @ 7:07 pm

Pitt hoops are not impressing me at all tonight…it doesn’t look good for the year…ugh

Comment by Keith 11.01.13 @ 7:15 pm

Pitt hoops will be fine. These are exhibitions. We just ain’t winning the ACC this year and will probably go to the NIT. We’re a bubble team this year. Could go either way. Transition year.

Comment by TX Panther 11.01.13 @ 7:27 pm

Pitt 68 SR 36 ten minutes left, on to Savannah St.

Comment by alcofan 11.01.13 @ 7:45 pm

Uchebo was gimping through the hand shake line at the end of the game. I would be shocked if he plays this year

Comment by Nick 11.01.13 @ 8:16 pm

Artis should be redshirted.

Don’t know if we have the bodies to do it though.

Durand Durand leading scorer with 21

Wright with the double/double

Solid effort, blowout win which was needed after last week

Comment by EMel 11.01.13 @ 8:56 pm

Slippery Rock gave Southern Mississippi a game the other nite.

Comment by EMel 11.01.13 @ 8:58 pm

Pitt leads the all-time series with them Georgia boys down in Atlanta…5 wins & 2 losses.

Let’s make it 6-2


Comment by EMel 11.01.13 @ 9:00 pm

SOS22 I would love for Zanna to show for his senior season. I have more faith in Mike Young being our go to guy underneath by the ACC Tourney in Greensboro, NC! So okay we learn tonight that Young may gets some rebounding help from Randall. Like that don’t back down attitude he showed. Just rebound man! Don’t know about scoring DC33 but Artis can foul. Good luck in Atlanta Panthers. UPone

Comment by UPone 11.01.13 @ 10:12 pm

My Thoughts on the game:

Pitt will have a 7-8 man rotation
Robinson, Wright, Patterson, Young, Zanna
then Johnson, Randall, Artis. Johnson likely 1st off the bench, moving Patterson to PF.

Chris Jones shot lights-out in Greentree. Now he has his right thumb wrapped and can barely hit the rim.

If games are officiated like this the rest of the year, Nwonkwo will get as much PT as Artis. Artis and Young need to defend without fouling.

Newkirk may be a diamond in the rough. Very rough. Wright may be a better choice at back-up PG for now. That would also allow for Wright and Johnson to be on the court together. I expect Robinson will play 35+ min/game.

I bet that Randall will prove to be a good acquisition. I would have liked to see him and Zanna on the court together. But he has a lousy stroke (I would not be surprised if he shoots below 45% from the line).

Both Young and Randall seem to seek contact. I can see this bothering a lot of “athletic” ACC bigs.

Comment by xfmrman 11.01.13 @ 10:28 pm

Durand – instant offense. Can’t figure out why he is not a starter unless they will need his offense off the bench. He is big, can shoot lights out and has dramatically improved his defense. He executed a fast break to perfection last night the way I think of ACC basketball.

Comment by JP 11.02.13 @ 7:09 am

It was just an exhibition and means nothing. Now let’s get the season started. Let’s make our presence known in the ACC and win a game or 2 in the NCAA’s

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.02.13 @ 7:58 am

This is a CBS Sports article on Mike Young. Yes, it is only 2 exhibition games but what I have seen, he really is the real deal

link to

Comment by wbb 11.02.13 @ 8:45 am

@WBB, “The names may change but the movie remains the same” enjoyed the article thanks for the headsup.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.02.13 @ 8:55 am

@Tx Panther, Don’t be in such a rush to cave in to Duke and UNC. We get the Dukies at home and UNC isn’t any tougher to beat than 20% of the teams we faced in the Big East. In fact I would have loved a shot at them the last few years. I think we will do well against both. They need to worry about having to play us instead of the easy conference schedule they have been playing.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.02.13 @ 9:03 am

All Pitt fans living in the Marietta (East Cobb)vicinity, I have two tickets to the Tech game which I can’t use. If you came come to my place to pick them up, they are free. The seats are in the visiting (Pitt) section. Sorry for the late notice but I thought I’d feel better by game time and could get to the game. Not sure if I can leave my cell number here. State your interest and we’ll get in touch some how. H2P

Comment by MariettaMike 11.02.13 @ 7:00 am

Comment by MariettaMike 11.02.13 @ 9:10 am

If Zanna and Patterson up their games a little and don’t do their disappearing act we may be decent.

I said last year Cam Wright was reminding me of Wannamaker. It looks like he is ready to make that next step. If DJ is legit, who knows.

Young and Randall to provide muscle.

Still a lot of ifs, but I feel better than right after Adams left.

Comment by gc 11.02.13 @ 9:13 am

Not expecting much good tonight. Love to be surprised.

Comment by gc 11.02.13 @ 9:16 am

I hope you are right. I can see the season going either way given the breaks. Those two schools are the standard in which Pitt will be judged. With so little experience and no go to player or clutch shooter, I see Pitt struggling this year.

Comment by TX Panther 11.02.13 @ 9:35 am

When Zanna looks great in the non con games don’t get too excited. I fell for that act the last two years. His drop off when the games are for real has been terrible. Hope the budget allowed for enough shrink time with a sports psychologist to help him combat the issues.

Comment by Jimbo 11.02.13 @ 9:43 am

Maybe Z will think all the games are non-con this year, you know since they’re gonna be all new schools except for Cuse & ND.

Hey it’s a hope. Kid certainly has the body and all the tools.

Comment by EMel 11.02.13 @ 10:54 am

I didn’t say Cam was a barn burner but he shot 50% from the floor and a lot of those were jumpers. I was just saying he improved from his deer in the headlights first season. He did shoot terribly from the free throw line with a sample size of 35.

link to

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.02.13 @ 11:13 am

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