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December 14, 2013

God bless, Aaron Donald. Not only did he sweep the awards this week. He did it during finals week at Pitt when there was no real news or games. (Let’s try not to think too much about the student part of the student-athlete, I’m sure the athletic department worked something out with Donald’s professors on the finals.)

Not sure what kind of crowd will be at the game. The weather looks like it will be kind of nasty. A wintry mix of snow and ice. Up here in the Cleveland area, it’s just snow. A noon start. But, hey, it is on-campus so you know that’s all people need as motivation to show up for games.

Okay, so about the game and other stuff.

The primary storyline is that Youngstown State has a dynamo guard. The third straight team Pitt will be facing that has one of those. This one, however, played in the Greentree Summer League.

“He’s a workaholic,” Wright said about [Kendrick] Perry, a 6-foot-1 senior who was teammates with Pitt’s Lamar Patterson and Mike Young in the Greentree Summer League. “In the summer league, he was very aggressive, a very athletic guard. He was a guy in the summer league that I really had respect for his game.”

Pitt (9-0) hosts Youngstown State (7-4) on Saturday at Petersen Events Center.

The Horizon League preseason Player of the Year, Perry leads YSU in scoring (20.7 points) and assists (4.9) while ranking seventh nationally in steals (2.9) and shooting 51.4 percent from the field. He is the only player in school history with 1,500 points, 400 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals.

Perry kind of fell to YSU. A Florida native, he was getting a lot of attention from FSU, Florida and Miami as a high school sophomore, but suffered a broken leg as a high school junior.

I guess we will see how much Pitt worked on its defense during finals week.

After the Panthers’ 85-68 win against Loyola Marymount Friday, Dixon said they still are not playing well enough consistently in either area to be the team he would like them to be.

“I thought early on we were not aggressive enough with our hands on defense and they hit some shots,” Dixon said. “We did a better job as the game went on and there were some stretches in the second half where we did lock them down and make them take some tough shots, but we have to get better. We have to continue to try to play a complete game.”

The hands were definitely not as active. In the first couple weeks, Pitt was really moving their hands on defense. Not putting them on a guy, but keeping them in motion so that it obscured the offensive player’s vision and helped create more turnovers. When they stop moving their hands and just keep them up, it makes it easier for teams to move the ball.

“We also didn’t get a lot of offensive rebounds, but you don’t get a lot when you shoot it as well as we did. But we also need to do a much better job on the other end and not give up 16 offensive rebounds.”

Of course Coach Dixon would also toss in the rebounding.

The game is a nooner. It is on ESPN3.com, but also ACC Network affiliates. Root Sports (Pgh) has it. As does NESN, SportsTime Ohio, CSN-Mid Atlantic, MSG+ and a bunch of regional Fox Sports stations.





Students will still find an excuse not to walk up the icy hill to the Pete. Hopefully many are still around after finals. But I expect a half empty arena. At least if you make it up you can slide down after the game.

Comment by TX Panther 12.14.13 @ 8:04 am

4000 or so season ticket holders will opt to miss this gem of a game.

Comment by TonyinHouston 12.14.13 @ 8:22 am

I’m in Shadyside. The snow is coming down pretty good right now, and it is sticking. The Pitt campus was almost completely empty yesterday afternoon (last day of finals). Doubt if the Pete will be half full.

Comment by PetePitt73 12.14.13 @ 9:58 am

@Pete, That’s looking at it positively, some would point out it will be half empty.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 10:03 am

YSU has very competitive guard play and should give us a good warm up for next weeks game against Cincinati and Kirkpatrick in the Garden.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 11:03 am

Hail to Pitt! We owe YSU a good licking, It won’t make up for what they did to us last year, but still needs to be done.

Comment by gc 12.14.13 @ 11:06 am

Now that’s Advertising, Go Frederick!

Comment by gc 12.14.13 @ 11:07 am

@gc Please don’t look to our hoop team to cover for the mess that is our football program.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 11:33 am

current line @ -18.5

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 11:45 am

Its a good thing they’re rebounding well.

Comment by Nick 12.14.13 @ 12:27 pm

Given all the rebounds, there are still a lot of empty possessions. They look sloppy and are playing without much urgency. Jamie looks very unhappy.

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.14.13 @ 12:43 pm

If Jamie is unhappy maybe he and Smilin’ Steve ought to think about their habit of playing too many patsies. If that was a top 20 team they were playing our players would be more focused, the zoo would be full and the place would be jumpin’ instead everyone is bored and lethargic. Meanwhile who cares if we win by 20 instead of 30.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 12:59 pm

It stinks that Pitt was supposed to play Ohio State in Brooklyn and it didn’t happen.

Comment by Mailman 12.14.13 @ 1:02 pm

It stinks that Pitt relies on preseason tournaments to play quality opponents. Schedule them & start hitting the road early.

Comment by Nick 12.14.13 @ 1:07 pm

We finally get to play somebody Tuesday and I love playing in Madison Square Garden. Mailman, where did you hear we were to play the Buckeyes?

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 1:09 pm

Andy Katz reported that tidbit the other day. Also claims that Pitt attempted to get home-and-homes from Georgetown and Villanova, but they wouldn’t do it.

Comment by Mailman 12.14.13 @ 1:11 pm

Here is the Katz link:

link to espn.go.com

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.14.13 @ 1:30 pm

These games are not as good for the fans, but it gives a lot of guys playing time and keeps the first string fresh for when it counts.

A couple more competitive games would be nice, but meaningless by tournament time.

Comment by gc 12.14.13 @ 1:40 pm

@Pitt Dad and Mailman, Thank you very much for the insight and the link. If Katz can get this information is it absurd to think that the local media should have reported it. If it wasn’t for the Blather we would be blind to half of what is going on. Katz’s explanation of why we couldn’t play Villanova and Georgetown seems logical and the fact that the New York promoters cost us an Ohio St game actually makes sense too. To sell tickets to both of these tournaments they separated us and the Buckeyes. I never considered the Pete being such a tough road game as to be a deterrent to attracting home and home contests. Maybe I have been too critical of scheduling.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 2:17 pm

Good non-conference teams don’t want to play at the Pete. Who was the best non-conference team to ever play at the Pete? I remember beating Wisconsin several years ago.

Comment by gdodson 12.14.13 @ 2:28 pm

Zanna: 10 points 15 rebounds
Randall: 11 points 7 rebounds
Total from the 5: 21 points 22 rebounds!

Comment by Howard 12.14.13 @ 2:38 pm

No teams want to play at the Pete. 22 losses since it’s been open. Interesting fact they pointed out in the game – the visiting team with the most wins at the Pete is Louisville with 3.

Why would a competitive team want to sully their non-con record by playing us at home?

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.14.13 @ 2:47 pm

22 assists on 35 made baskets – good
FT shooting 80% – great
10 players with double digit minutes and 5 with double digit points – excellent

This is why you play a team like the Penguins. Work out the kinks. Check out depth. Check out how a different mix of players on the floor works. Playing a game – even against a weaker opponent – tells you things you can’t see in practice.

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.14.13 @ 2:50 pm

Pitt beat 24th ranked Wisconsin 73-64 on New Years Eve 2005. This is the highest ranked non/con game in Pete history that I could find.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 2:56 pm

Pitt is 9-0 against at the Pete against opponents ranked in the top 5.

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.14.13 @ 2:58 pm

First was a # 5 ranked Notre Dame team on 1/6/03.

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.14.13 @ 3:01 pm

Wisconsin is the highest non-con. All other were Big East teams.

The teams that have turned down home-and-home series since we left the BE are both former BE opponents.

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.14.13 @ 3:03 pm

Good teams love to play at Heinz.

Comment by TX Panther 12.14.13 @ 3:05 pm

Robinson had been in a bit of a shooting slump, but today he was 3-6 from the floor, including a big basket as time ran out at the end of the first half with Pitt only up by 9.

Comment by Howard 12.14.13 @ 3:07 pm

Howard, There are those who post here who remain concerned about the 5 slot once the ACC starts. I think that Zanna has been consistent and Randall has shown promise. The game next week will have them facing first rate rebounders and defenders and it is my guess they will both do very well. Don’t be surprised when Talib gets all conference votes at the end of the ACC season. He seems to have matured and is playing with more confidence. He is averaging almost a double double in about 25 minutes. He isn’t Wilt or Kareem but for his size he has more than held his own at center. He will give out more lumps in the ACC than he gets. Randall will continue to improve and will be a big contributor by next year.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 3:10 pm

Howard if the game were tied I would have no problem with Robinson taking the last shot. He looked pretty confident going into the half didn’t he?

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 3:14 pm

@spirit, Emel had a theory last year that Zanna plays better when he plays the 5, not the 4. I think he was right.

Comment by Howard 12.14.13 @ 3:22 pm

Much improvement over last year from where I sit…and more enjoyable to watch. But, anybody else worried about our difficulty covering athletic guards (PSU and today as examples of teams with basically one real player and we couldn’t stop them)? Seems like something we have to figure out fast.

Comment by htp123 12.14.13 @ 3:39 pm

Doug Gottley on ESPN today said (concerning Pitt vs YSU)”Who are they playing next, the Little Sisters of the Poor?” Leave it to Gottley to insult 3 programs in one short sentence: 1. Cincinnati, who we play next 2. YSU, who is apparently also as weak as the Little Sisters, and 3. the Panthers. One thing that does make sense, though, as to why Gottley would mention the Little Sisters- I believe he was their backup point guard in the mid 90′s!!!! Hail to Pitt

Comment by pittman4ever 12.14.13 @ 3:55 pm

That’s an insult to the Little Sisters who could kick that jagoffs ass.

Comment by TX Panther 12.14.13 @ 4:09 pm

HTP, Everybody is having the same trouble as us in fact we aren’t as bad at it as many. Since you can’t man handle and arm bar the quick athletic types are free to roam. I know it looks like our guys can’t stop anyone but we have faced a steady diet of very quick quality guards of late. If you can’t lick ‘em join ‘em. The good news is we are soon going to be as deep and talented as anybody in the country at the position. Robinson and Wright are growing into a very potent set of quality guards. Newkirk has more potential and talent than either of them and is soon to be joined by Detrik Mostella who has even more potential than him. Redshirt freshman Jones continues to get playing time despite a hand injury and is fast developing into a topflight guard himself. The next generation brings a kid named Wilson a 6’6 left handed New York City magician due here in 2015. He is smart, long armed, and unselfish and looks like he should be starting for Syracuse as Junior in High School. People had better start worrying about how they are going to stop the Pitt guards because by developing the talent that is headed through Oakland Dixon will soon have the ACC wondering what hit them. Keep in mind of the kids I just described only Wright leaves before the 2016-2017 season.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 4:11 pm

Howard, I concur with Emel, Zanna had too much to think about at forward and he still is hesitant but looks more confident inside. Randall improving behind him doesn’t hurt either as iron sharpens iron. Get the boards, play D and make your fouls the guards and forwards are good enough to take care of the rest.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 4:17 pm

According to Paul Zeise, Joe Uchebo is cleared to play. So I wonder when we’ll see the big man in live action.

Man.. I’d love Pitt to be able to get Mostella for next semester. I’m not entirely optimistic about it, though.

Comment by Mailman 12.14.13 @ 4:41 pm

I think the guards we have faced in the last couple of weeks leave us well prepared for Kirkpatrick and Cincinnati. They beat us last year by outrebounding us down the stretch, particularly on the offensive end. We will beat them this time on the boards and at the line.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.14.13 @ 4:44 pm

After the 2011-2012 season were Pitt was a preseason top 10 with a small front court that got exploited all year. Regardless of our believes we are not looked at like Syracuse, N.C., Duke, or the top echelon teams.
The reasons are two fold one we do not recruit at the level of those teams. Two it is a fact that Pitt plays a soft non-conference schedule and glides into January undeafeated. Even the terriblr 2011-2012 team came into January rated in the top ten with one loss (Long Beach State).
A difficult pre-conference schedule in 2012-2013 a change in the Dixon philospophy to apadt his system to the luck he recieved in player acquisition in 2012-2013 and perhaps Pitt would not have crashed and burned as they do each March.
Building the team around Adams would have created more losses early in the seasoon but would of made incredible dividends in March/also sitting using Woodall as the 6th or 7th man would have had the same benefit.
I agree with Dixon the ACC is weak this year and the one loss going into January should help us get into the NCAA. However this team has no height and Zanna is easy pickin’s for a decent center.
The team has been living off of high percentage shooting. This is the same team (Zanna and Patterson) that when the defense is stepped up in conference games in the lasttwo years have often disappeared. Jamie is very worried about this team but he is not going to say it. And with the incredible weak 2014 recuits if he indeed can coach he will be tested.
Dixon is our’s his star diminished after the 2011-2012 season the misuse of Taylor, Birch, and Adams.

Comment by pittisit 12.14.13 @ 4:46 pm

Agree with pittisit..I want to see Patterson and especially Zanna continue this production when the competition gets better. Hopefully, in this their final go round they do, if not this team will be in trouble…

Comment by Pap76 12.14.13 @ 5:17 pm

Agree that we have to wait and see with Zanna and Patterson, but I’ll be surprised if it is not very positive.

Totally disagree regarding Taylor, Birch and Adams.

Comment by gc 12.14.13 @ 5:46 pm

Athletes like in many sports make coaches look good. But it takes a good coach to find the right athlete and make them fit and excel.

Comment by TX Panther 12.14.13 @ 5:50 pm

Oh nice it’s been a while since pittisit has gone on an anti-Dixon rant. Glad you are keeping up with saying the same points over and over and over and over and over, especially concerning Woodall and Adams.
Luck in player acquisition? Getting Mostella was lucky too. And I guess already getting a 4 star recruit for 2015 is luck too. And you might be the only person who says the 2014 class is incredibly weak. Many people say Luther is underrated as a 3 star, Shaq is a 4 star center on ESPN, Jeter played and did decent as a true freshman in the SEC.

Comment by Wardapalooza 12.14.13 @ 5:53 pm

Michigan State having a tough time against 2-8 Oakland. Maybe they are overrated even at #5.

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.14.13 @ 5:54 pm

Dixon is the best thing we’ve had in the history of our BB PROGRAM. You guys are way out of line on this one

Comment by pittman4ever 12.14.13 @ 6:00 pm

Love coach Dixon, but don,t like not scheduling at least one top noncon opponent. The truth is we don’t know what this team is made of at this point. How will Zanna perform against a big athletic center who can score? Will Patterson be able to dive to the basket against tall, fast guards in the ACC? Will our outside shooting be as good against the same? How will the team respond if we get down by 8 to 10 points against a quality ACC team? The only thing I am sure of at this point is that our free throw shooting is very good.

Comment by HbgFrank 12.14.13 @ 6:20 pm

10-0

Comment by steve1 12.14.13 @ 6:30 pm

Football team just got verbal from James Folston Jr. 2 star linebacker, with good bloodlines. His brother plays for Notre Dame and father played in NFL.

Not a homerun commit, but this class desperately needs some help on defensive side of the ball…

Comment by Pap76 12.14.13 @ 7:37 pm

pittman4ever:

Turn off fox news. It’s polluted your brain,

Comment by TonyinHouston 12.14.13 @ 8:18 pm

We don’t have the best talent. But we do have seasoned vets who can bring out the best from our young’ns.

It’ll be a fun season.

Comment by steve1 12.14.13 @ 8:24 pm

CBS ridicules Dixon, Panthers:
from Cardiac Hill:
Gottlieb and the rest of the CBS team took repeated shots at Pitt’s schedule during every break of the Az v. UM game. Every time they’d show clips from the pitt-ysu game they would follow up with jokes about us. We’re getting no respect at all. We need a statement game in NYC against Cincy. Otherwise, we’re really going to get hurt come tourney time.

Comment by TonyinHouston 12.14.13 @ 8:26 pm

Tony, I’ll be there to watch us dominate.

Comment by steve1 12.14.13 @ 8:33 pm

I know this is a basketball thread but here’s another Aaron Donald accolade:

link to espn.go.com

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.14.13 @ 8:45 pm

Gottlieb takes great joy in dogging Pitt. We have made him eat his words before, let’s do it again.

Comment by gc 12.14.13 @ 10:36 pm

No one is talking much about Jamel Artis, but that touch pass assist last night along with 70% FT, 60% 3pt, 6’7″ not so small forward size, and otherwise solid play and hustle are impressing at least ME.

He looks like a great 3-star find having had a 71 or 72 Scout grade rating.

Am I missing some deficiency?

Comment by TVax 12.15.13 @ 8:46 am

@TVax, no question he’s a great find. He’s much better than he was in high school, partly because he has trimmed down.

His playing time is being limited by his weaknesses on defense this year. Next year he could start at the 3.

Comment by Howard 12.15.13 @ 9:22 am

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