December 15, 2013

Manhandling Penguins

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 12:16 pm

That was what they did.

“They manhandled us,” [YSU Coach Jerry] Slocum said, which is a great way to describe what the bigger, more physical Panthers did to the Penguins in the paint, and it also was the biggest reason the Panthers won the game.

What does “manhandling” look like in terms of one basketball team to another?

Start with the fact that the Panthers outrebounded the Penguins, 47-21, the largest rebounding margin they have posted in a game this season.

Pitt had 20 offensive rebounds, one fewer than the Penguins had total, and Pitt center Talib Zanna had almost as many defensive rebounds (11) as the Penguins had as a team (14).

The rebounding edge led to the Panthers rolling up impressive numbers of points in the paint (48) and second-chance points (20).

Offensively Pitt didn’t show much rust from a week off for finals.

Defensively, however, well there was a pesky guard that had his way with Pitt.

The numbers that Dixon can’t get out of his head are these: 73 and 28.

Youngstown State (7-5) scored more than any other Pitt opponent this season, even while losing its fourth game in the past five.

YSU guard Kendrick Perry led all scorers with 28 points, a season-best by an opposing player against the Panthers. Penn State’s Tim Frazier scored 27 against the Panthers on Dec. 3. Plus, Stanford’s Dwight Powell and Loyola Marymount’s Anthony Ireland each had 20 against Pitt in the past month.

“I don’t like a guy scoring 28 points,” Dixon said. “I don’t care how many points we were up by (26 midway through the second half).”

Dixon played four freshmen at the same time for short stretches, but that was no excuse.

“We have to get better defensively with our young guys,” Dixon said. “You probably heard that one before, and I’ll say it again. We have made that very clear to them. … There are reasons why we are under the radar.”

Quite the direct message from Dixon.

You want to worry about not being ranked in the top-25? Then play a complete game like a team that should be ranked. Regardless of the opponent.

As for the guards who have torched Pitt. Of course it is a concern. Simply because once ACC play begins there will be opponents with more than one weapon. That said, the one other thing all those guards had in common? All of them seniors. Smart, experienced players who understand the rules and know how to attack the basket — even against a zone.

Plus, this was a game where Dixon went deep on the bench to give everyone minutes. Ten players got at least 10 minutes of playing time. Lots of opportunities and chances for plenty of confusion on the defense.

Dixon will be seeking an effective mix of offense and defense from his new players, including freshmen Jamel Artis, Josh Newkirk and Young and junior transfer Randall.

“Offensively, they are hard to guard,” Dixon said. “You can just look at the numbers. Defensively, they have to get better.

“It’s to be expected, but we don’t have time to wait. They are playing significant minutes on a team that is trying to do some things.”

So… not a rebuilding year, then?

Not too much to say on this game. The veterans were solid, and had a relatively early and easy day. Only Durand Johnson had a bit of shooting struggles. 0-4 on 3s. 1-7 overall. He did have 4 assists, though, as he is continuing to be more willing to share the ball.

Pitt gave good minutes to Newkirk and Artis. Newkirk is really starting to impress me. He is much more of a scoring point guard, giving this team a very different look when he has the reins instead of James Robinson. It should provide a good shake-up to opposing teams that gameplan too much for Robinson and play off the point guard.

As for Artis, he is making progress, but as a frontcourt player it is a little slower. He is struggling on the defensive end to be in the right place. He’s showing more patience on the offensive end. Not trying to show his worth the moment he hits the court.

In other notes, per Paul Zeise’s blog:

Another player who people have asked about is Joe Uchebo, who is in the game notes listed as “he has been cleared to play”, which begs the question “why isn’t he?” Well, it is simple — he had a major, major knee injury and surgeries to repair it. It is now healthy enough to where he can go full speed ahead. But he is still, according to Dixon, just not really mentally ready to trust it and that is holding him back. It is going to be a process with him, it just is. I expect he will probably be ready to go and coaches would like to get him in a little bit against a couple of the late December nonconference opponents, but we will see. It is one of those things that will be a work in progress and the hope is with each passing day, he trusts it more and gets a little more confidence in it and sooner rather than later he is back in the mix.

Also, best to Aron Nwanko and his family. Hope his mom gets well soon.

Chas, agree about Newkirk, he looks less like a freshman every game. Very good since Robinson may be prone to fouling the faster ACC guards.

I think this team will really buckle down on D when they play more competitive teams. Good test on Tuesday.

Still surprised at how well the new kids appear to be filling their roles and that Wright seems to be stepping up just at the wright time.

Can’t see how Uchebo or Mostella will contribute this year, will be much needed next year.

Also amazed that everyone on this team can score, that must be a first at Pitt.

Comment by gc 12.15.13 @ 12:35 pm

Newkirk is amazingly quick with the basketball, which is in stark contrast from Robinson, who tends to take his time — but don’t get me wrong, that’s perfectly fine because he makes all of the right decisions and can hit his FTs at a high percentage with his eyes closed.

So does Mostella lose a year of eligibility? I don’t really understand that situation.

Comment by MikePITT 12.15.13 @ 4:29 pm

Cincy got clocked by Xavier yesterday.

Which Cincy will show up?

Will be a battle which we will win.

Comment by steve1 12.15.13 @ 5:12 pm

Steve, I watched some of the Cincy game, they really struggled, which doesn’t help Pitt’s non-con. Still, they are a decent, athletic opponent, more like the type of team Pitt will see in conference. At this point, can’t wait for the conference schedule to begin.

Comment by Iron Duke 12.15.13 @ 6:36 pm

Thanks, Iron Duke (Carnegie Tech!).

Looking forward to watching the game in person.

Comment by steve1 12.15.13 @ 7:11 pm

Agreed on Newkirk. Great quicks..great decisions. Not sure Robinson can hold up against quick PG’s and I believe Newkirk is the key to beating the “big boys” down the road.

I have communicated with EMel. He is fine. Just a little pissed at having his comments zapped during the Miami debacle. He’ll be back.

Comment by Dan 72 12.15.13 @ 7:50 pm

Ah, Dan 72, don’t dismiss Robinson and his baby fat so soon.

He’s elusively quick. He did what #3 did a number of times, but sort of in slo mo.

But he did it.

Comment by steve1 12.15.13 @ 8:01 pm

Pittsburgh CC getting drilled by Philadelphia CC 35-10, late.

Comment by alcofan 12.15.13 @ 9:06 pm

What is Pittsburgh CC?

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 12.15.13 @ 9:30 pm

Central Catholic.

Comment by Mailman 12.15.13 @ 9:42 pm

Could be that Cincinnati was looking past Xavier because of their coming game with us. I think they’ll be a very tough test on Tuesday.

Comment by Howard 12.15.13 @ 10:00 pm

Hopefully Zeise is correct in his prediction that Uchebo returns to the court in the next few weeks. While I don’t expect him to dominate offensively, I think his presence in the post defensively could be huge, especially against driving guards like Kendrick Perry and Tim Frasier.

Comment by PatMac 12.15.13 @ 10:33 pm

I am quite sure that Cincinnati did not overlook Xavier, because of their upcoming game with us. For Cincinnati, the Xavier game is their biggest rivalry. Surely you remember the fight that resulted in multiple suspensions 2-3 years ago in the Cincy-Xavier game.

Comment by RogerH 12.16.13 @ 7:24 am

The big news coming out of this weekend IMO was twofold. First the explanation about or weak non-con schedule. It seems Ohio St. was supposed to be in the Legends Classic but after we committed the promoters switched them after Kentucky bailed on another NYC tourney, and Villanova and Georgetown turned down our invitation to work home and home deals. The thinking being they couldn’t win at the Pete. The second big news is that Mostella could be here soon and if he isn’t we could lose him to the NBA.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 10:10 am

I have to chuckle when I see posts showing concern about how Zanna will hold up against tougher ACC frontcourts. I have seen all the significant front courts of the ACC play. Florida St. excepted only Syracuse has what I would call a strong frontcourt and Zanna did real well against them both games last year. Florida St. is big and strong inside but that is all they have. Our guards will have them for lunch. Those are the two best frontcourts he is going to face so get used to the double doubles he is throwing up. The delusion that there is some dominant center that is going to dominate our frontcourt is a myth, as there is no such opponent on the schedule.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 10:22 am

Cincinnati shows up at the Garden off a two game losing streak. It will be 3 when we get done with them. We area significantly better offensive team than the one that split with them last year. They don’t look to be as good as they were either. Look for us to have a nice little coming out party in the Big Apple.HTP

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 10:26 am

Where is the Mostella news coming from, spirit? Inside sources or published reports?

Comment by Carmen 12.16.13 @ 10:36 am

The Mostella info is free from Zeise, and the situation is summarized in a misleading way above. According to Zeise, of the 3 options, the NBA option is listed as ‘remote’, though possible, whereas the other 2 options are far more likley. Link:

link to

Comment by 1618mt 12.16.13 @ 10:52 am

1618mt, No desire to mislead, just the 1st I ever heard of the NBA being an option. He does look good on video. Hope he shows up soon.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 11:41 am

Lunardi’s latest bracket has us 7 seeded against LSU while Notre Dame is 1st 4 out.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 12:30 pm

The only ACC teams seeded higher are Syracuse Duke and NC. Looks like somebody besides me thinks we aren’t going to finish 6th in the ACC.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 12:36 pm

I watched NC play Kentucky and was amazed how anyone could have thought this Kentucky team would win a national championship. They don’t have any chance of that happening as defense and passing are a foreign language to these tall skinny pampered superstar types. They won’t even finish in the top 25.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 12:45 pm

Where is EMel? Spiritofsection22 love your imput. Hope you are correct. Now if only we had EMel’s imput. Hope he is okay.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 12.16.13 @ 12:49 pm

I hear Emel is pissed off about the Miami game or something. I hope he gets over it soon because everyone misses him. EMEL WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME??????????

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 12:58 pm

I need some advice for the Maryland game at the Pete on Jan 6. I’m coming in from out of town but don’t have tickets yet. Should I buy early (via Stubhub or similar) or wait to see what is available on the street? It’s the first home ACC game but also a Monday night. Thoughts? Thanks!

Comment by CalvinHobbes 12.16.13 @ 2:13 pm

We haven’t made the Top 25 yet. Looks like we are 27 this week. Hopefully, a win over Cincy will be a big plus and put us in the Top 25 next week.
link to Slowly moving up which is probably better to keep team focused.

Comment by TonyinHouston 12.16.13 @ 2:18 pm

Still no top 25 love for Pitt.

Comment by MWPanther 12.16.13 @ 2:19 pm

I wouldn’t worry too much about the top 25. It will work itself out.

I’m not in the camp, that Pitt doesn’t get pub.

Hell, they’ve been on tv constantly for the last 12 years.

Several guys, Bobby Knight included picked them to win it all a few years back.

Top 10 and top 20 for the last 12 years.

For several years in a row, CBS was promoting some Pitt games, with comments like, “these two powerhouses will meet Saturday”. etc. etc.

I know, I know, a couple years, we didn’t get seeded high enough for some, and that was some kind of slight?? Those same years, there were probably 20 other fan bases saying the same thing about their team.

I was just flipping through the channels this weekend, forget what teams were playing, but the announcers started talking about who would be the top teams in the ACC.

They were Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas, and both were talking Pitt up big.

Keep winning, especially in the conference, we’ll be just fine.

Comment by Dan 12.16.13 @ 2:31 pm

They weren’t saying we’d win it mind you, just talking about who could, mentioned Duke, Syracuse, and they both started talking about “don’t forget about Pitt, still have that defense, they’re fast, don’t fall asleep on them”.

That type of stuff.

They actually only mentioned 4 ACC teams during this discussion, and we were one of them.

Comment by Dan 12.16.13 @ 2:34 pm

WE need to keep winning to get recognized where as Kentucky was picked to win the national championship by half of the ESPN staff so they will have to get beat a few more times before they remove them from the rankings. It really doesn’t have all that much to do with how good a team is, polls by there nature are inaccurate. WE keep playing the way we are and by the end of January everyone will be talking about us.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 3:04 pm

Pitt’s schedule took a huge beating on ESPN and CBS this weekend. Think I counted 5 references to the weak schedule, including a typical snarky comment from Gottlieb that the “Little Sisters of the Poor” were next up for Pitt.

But most of the comments were from reasonable commentators, with more than one calling out the fact that Pitt will not play a good team until going to the Carrier Dome on Jan 18th.

It has now gotten to the point where the first thing the basketball-watching public thinks of when they hear Pitt hoops is “they don’t play anybody for half the season”.

This stuff has to bother Dixon by now. He’s got to change the public perception — it’s embarrassing.

Comment by hugh green 12.16.13 @ 3:28 pm

@Hugh, I have to ask, were the announcers wrong when they spoke of our OOC schedule??

I know one way to change the public perception.

Comment by Dan 12.16.13 @ 3:42 pm

@Hugh, you jolted my memory. As a matter of fact, I think even Vitale or Bilas mentioned it during their conversation.

Something to the effect, “even though they haven’t played anyone and you can’t really tell, don’t fall asleep on Pitt, they have a really good team”.

Comment by Dan 12.16.13 @ 3:46 pm

Every year it seems like the non-conference portion of their schedule gets longer and longer. Next year we play in Maui, right?

Comment by Don Walnut 12.16.13 @ 3:48 pm

2014 Maui Invitational Field:

Pitt, Arizona, Missouri, Purdue, BYU, San Diego State, Kansas State, and host Chaminade.

Comment by Mailman 12.16.13 @ 4:00 pm

Pitt will have to try to improve the ooc, but it won’t be that easy if the big boys don’t want home and aways.

The new problem is that the ACC hasn’t had the depth of the Big East lately. We add NC and Duke but we lose UConn, Georgetown, Villanova, WVU, Marquette, all tournament teams most with National Championship trophies.

It will balance out over time, but we will have to win a lot of ACC games to move up in the rankings.

Comment by gc 12.16.13 @ 4:01 pm

Rankings are interesting. Two old ACC teams Duke and NC both have two losses. New ACC team Syracuse ranked #2. Next years ACC, Louisville, 1 loss also ranked.

Pitt 10-0 still unranked. This is BS.

ACC really needed an influx of good BB teams.

Comment by gc 12.16.13 @ 4:34 pm

Our ranking problem this year is because the preseason perception was that we would be an also ran in the ACC because we lost Adams. The schedule is softer that what it should have been due to NYC tournament promoters and teams being too intimidated to visit the Pete. Neither of these setbacks are reality. We are a top 20 team, maybe top 10. We will contend in the ACC while some of those picked above us tumble. The same talking heads moaning about our sos picked Kentucky to win the national championship. They are likely headed for the NIT. Some of these same idiots had the likes of Boston College and Virginia finishing above us in the ACC. They all had Notre Dame ahead of us. The real teams to beat this year are Arizona, Wichita St, Oregon , Syracuse, and Wisconsin and we can give most of them a game, probably beat some of them at home. When we start beating up on the ACC these same detractors will have a revelation. They won’t be talking about our schedule they will be talking about how our defensive toughness has taken the ACC by surprise and how this is Dixon’s best shooting team. I suggest we ignore the polls and pundits start talking about how many we are going to beat Cincinnati by. I am creaming with joy over getting to beat the overhyped, can’t play defense Dukies, at the Pete. This is going to be a great year.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 4:36 pm

Spirit – that Miami game to a lot out of both of us! EMel will return!

Comment by Dan 72 12.16.13 @ 4:43 pm

This years team looks way better than last years looked at this point. Last years team beat Villanova and UConn and manhandled Georgetown and split with the Orange. Anyone happen to notice where UConn, Villanova and Syracuse are ranked? Did they get way better and improve more than us? No they just didn’t get disrespected by the preseason pollsters. The same clowns that picked Kentucky overwhelmingly 1st. In about 5 more games we will be drawing all kinds of attention and about the time Uchebo and Mostella become big contributors it could be February before we lose.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 4:50 pm

@Dan 72, Quit wasting your heart and souls on football program when you can get just as abused by our hoop program.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 4:52 pm

spirit’s psyched, I’m psyched…and if you listen to Jamie and compare it to his rhetoric regarding previous teams…he’s psyched too.

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by steve1 12.16.13 @ 4:54 pm

Count me in. I really enjoy watching this team.

Looking forward to tmrw nights game.

Even if Cincy isn’t quite “Cincy” as some have said above. (haven’t seen them play, so I’ll go with your thoughts).

Still should be a good test.

Comment by Dan 12.16.13 @ 5:02 pm

We should be able to beat the Bearcats on the boards and at the foul line. I think we have a little more depth as well. They are coming off of their two worst offensive games so they should be hungry for a hard fought physical contest. I wish I could afford the trip to NYC as I would love to be at the Garden for this one.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 5:05 pm

Dan, The Cincinnati fans are crying about lack of offense and they are probably right as they have a great fanbase. Xavier crushed them on the boards. You might remember losing to them in our Big East opener last year when they out rebounded us down the stretch. They also wore out our guards with a lot of full court pressure. It was embarrassing. I really think the Cats are in for a long night this time. They are going to be surprised at how much better we are and we might be able to punish them a bit. I smell a step up game.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 5:15 pm

Another point about preseason BS. I remember when we were being warned about our team being disadvantaged by the rule adjustments. Pitt’s aggressive D would suffer the most from these changes. Several ACC coaches warned us and Dixon was put on the defensive at the ACC preseason rollout. Nothing could be further from reality. The new rules interpretation has allowed the fast guards to have some big nights at our expense but they have also freed up our guards and released our offense to new levels of success. The flop, a popular ACC rules abuse, has been abandoned as a strategy. Does anyone notice how much better a penetrator Patterson is when he doesn’t have to worry about charge calls. From what I can see not many teams benefitted more than Pitt from the changes. Other than Robinson there hasn’t been much in the way of foul trouble either. Robinson gets in trouble and in comes Newkirk who is fast becoming the prince of penetration. Thank you rules committee , thank you very much.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 5:39 pm

The biggest improvement of all is foul shooting. How many more games do you win when you make your foul shots? How many previous close games become 10 point victories?

We have always had several guys that were abysmal, now other than Randall you feel pretty good when we go to the line.

I know we can’t be as good as I think we are, but it looks to me that we have more weapons than ever. We still have our weaknesses and will have a few off nights, but how can you not like what you see so far?

Comment by gc 12.16.13 @ 6:00 pm

@ Calvin Hobbs, That is Pitt’s first ever ACC game so it will carry a premium. I would buy from a scalper on cardiac hill about a half hour before game time unless I was particular about seating and then I would go on line. You will be able to get nose bleed section seats for about 50 bucks each with a little negotiating skill. For a hundred you can probably get a decent seat. If the weather is bad you can do better. I hope that helps you ,enjoy the game.HTP

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 6:04 pm

CalvinHobbs, check out stubhub, $30 for the cheapest. $80 lower bowl corner. Great seats cost more but they are available.

You can do better on cardiac hill (the place not the website)if you know what you are doing.

Comment by gc 12.16.13 @ 6:15 pm

Comment by steve1 12.16.13 @ 6:30 pm

@gc It is hard not to agree with you about foul shooting as we have been so bad at it for so long. My thinking on the biggest improvement is the offensive flow. For most of the last 3 seasons we played keep away out front for 25 seconds then rushed to find a shot. Then we fought like hell for the rebound. This year we get the ball forecourt, find an open shot and shoot. Sometimes we even fast break. Heck Johnson even shoots when he doesn’t have a shot sometimes. This isn’t the turtle on it’s back approach we saw last year and I like it. We might even be able to beat Notre Dame this year for a change.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 6:37 pm

@spirit, I agree, they seen to pass effortlessly. For the past couple years it was think first, then pass, and they never looked smooth doing it.

Another big difference is that they drive to the hoop like no Pitt team I can remember. Like Wannamaker after two years of throwing up clunkers, it seems like everything Wright lays up goes in. Robinson still have difficulty finishing his drives bur almost always gets fouled and he is money from the line.

Even Zanna’s hands look much better/stronger, like I said, we have to see what they do against the A teams, but they just look so much better.

Comment by gc 12.16.13 @ 7:14 pm

Spirit, I love our coach and think this team can compete in the ACC. However, we deserve the beat down from the pundits for this non-con schedule. NC has played Lville, Mich State, and Kentucky. They are a tested team. We are a team that is doing something positive by easily beating teams that we should beat easily. The Cincy game is more of a test, but we need a few such games and one really tough game in our non-con. This is not the first year our non-con has been a joke. Circumstances did not help this year, but if Coach Dixon is serious about improving the non-con, then do what it takes to lock down a tough non-con game on the schedule – don’t rely exclusively on tournaments. Stop making excuses…so and so dropped out of our tourney, so and so won’t agree to a home and home. C’mon man, set a goal to toughen up the non-con, develop a plan to make it happen, and then execute the plan.

Comment by HbgFrank 12.16.13 @ 7:27 pm

@gc Don’t overlook the rules adjustments as a factor. I am amazed at the difference too. Patterson and Wright are way better. Robinson and Zanna are better and everyone else but Johnson is new. They are very consistent 3 or 4 passes and someone shoots. They have rediscovered the midrange jumper, and like you said it all looks pretty effortless. This team seems to have a chemistry and unless I miss my guess they will be just as effective against just about anybody.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 7:27 pm

HbgFrank, our noncon is not a joke. It will not, and never has, disqualify us from tournament consideration.

Comment by steve1 12.16.13 @ 7:38 pm

HbgFrank, I have to agree with all you have said, but North Carolina also lost to UAB and Belmont. Syracuse hasn’t played any tough ones and Boston College who was picked by some ahead of us in the ACC has like 3 wins. We need to toughen up the non/con but these clowns need to show us some love. Dixon will be every bit as effective in the ACC as he was in the Big East and maybe more. If you polled these clowns tomorrow would they still pick us 6 to 9? We are more likely to win the ACC than finish 6th.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 7:39 pm

spirit, I don’t think anyone expected us to be good, I know I didn’t.

When Adams left, I thought we would be lucky to win 15 games this year. We also lost Sleepy leaving Zanna as our only big guy. We know he has been tossed around a lot and tended to disappear against better competition.

Patterson was solid, not flashy and he would disappear on O and D at times. We really had no known scorers other than these two. Durand could get hot but hardly a given.

Robinson, a leader but not a scorer

Wright was a decent defender not known to score, I had hope that he would progress, but who knew.

Randall was a journeyman and we had four freshmen.

It is easy to understand how pundits, that aren’t paying attention anyway could overlook Pitt.

Especially when we had one really bad year and even with Adams the team kind of underachieved last year.

This is why I am really pleased with what I am seeing. Not at all what I expected.

Comment by gc 12.16.13 @ 8:10 pm

The more I think about it the more it pisses me off. I can see where someone could have argued they thought Duke, NC or Syracuse or even all 3 would beat us in conference play. Anything beyond that was simple assumption that our team would be inferior and without any real insight they just checked us off at 6 to 9. Sports Illustrated had us out of the top 40. We didn’t get any votes in either preseason poll. We have been in the top 20 every year at some point for a decade. We finished in the top 4 of the Big East about 80% of the time. We beat Syracuse more than they beat us and rarely finish behind Notre Dame. Our history does lack non/con competition but so what. When we have played a Wisconsin or a Duke or even last years Michigan we have more than held our own. Yea we got pounded by Wichata St last year and they have lost 1 close one to the national champ since. I am not asking that we get kid glove love like the NC and Duke but how about some of the respect we deserve. 6 to 9 is an insult and no top 40 respect is ridiculous. After 10 wins in a row they decide to notice us and they take the opportunity to berate our schedule to justify their lack of accuracy. When they finally let us in the poll I think Jamie ought to say no thanks we are fine without you. Call us back when you have in the top 10 where we belong.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 8:14 pm

Very pleased with what I’m seeing from this year’s team. Will be in attendance tomorrow night at MSG (PittDad, you better be there, too! [kidding]) and hope that the streak continues against the Bearcats. Will be a nice test, and I assume Cincinnati is just about as good as Stanford, which bolds well for our Panthers.

Anyone else noticing that sometimes even when it seems like Newkirk can blow right by his defender he slows up around the free-throw line and brings it back out to the top of the key? If you’ve got your man beat, finish the play kid!!

Comment by MikePITT 12.16.13 @ 8:22 pm

@gc I have to admit we are better than what I expected but my expectations saw us winning at least 22 and making the NCAA. I have a lot of faith in Dixon and trust him to produce. I was right by the way, but now I am getting excited because if things fall right that 22 could be 32.It can happen. They have something special and are in a position to cruise right into the big picture. Don’t be surprised If we go into February undefeated. Syracuse is beatable and we can beat just about anyone at the Pete.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 8:23 pm

@MikePITT Bring us a big winner. Newkirk is still wearing his training wheels so he isn’t allowed to finish like the big kids. We are all hoping he gets a new 2 wheeler for Christmas.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 8:29 pm

Spirit, that’s the spirit! I think this program can be not just very good, but elite. To be so, we have to schedule games like we belong in the conversation. As you pointed out, it is even OK to lose those games when you give other top programs a good fight. Nobody is saying that Michigan sucks because they took Arizona to the edge but could not finish the job. You can bet the talking heads are just waiting for us to stumble against Cincy so they can say “I told you so”. Frankly, I feel like we have to beat Cincy by a large margin to gain any respect at all from those fools.

Steve1, I could care less about tournament consideration at this point. I will agree that we need a deep tournament run or two to reach elite status. I’m just sick of more than one-third of our games being “tune ups”. As the saying goes, if you want to run with the big dogs, then you have to leave your porch!

Comment by HbgFrank 12.16.13 @ 8:49 pm

Dear Santa, Please help Detrik Mostella pass his tests so he can come play basketball for the Panthers.

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 8:50 pm

HBGFrank, I think Michigan sucks and on a neutral floor we would beat them by 10 to 15. They are living off last years rep. Your overall point is valid though and in reality until we go to a Final 4 or two we are going to be snubbed a bit. Let’s change that now.HTP

Comment by spiritofsection22 12.16.13 @ 8:57 pm

Syracuse nearly lost to St. John’s at MSG. Michigan State nearly lost to Oakland and would have if Oakland hadn’t turned the ball over so much (unforced turnovers like a 10 second violation at that).

Pre-season rankings mean nothing. Don’t even care where we are ranked any day between now and April 7, 2014.

Comment by Pitt Dad 12.16.13 @ 9:42 pm

@gc and sos22 – - Thanks for the advice on tix. It will be my first trip to the Pete. I’ll probably look online so I can get in early and walk around. Appreciate the advice.

Comment by CalvinHobbes 12.17.13 @ 9:06 am

CalvinHobbes, If you can afford it, you want to be in the lower bowl. Huge difference. At the top of the building you are pretty far away from the action. Other than that, all the seats are good. Club seats allow you to get a drink and buffet food, again not inexpensive, but a nice convenience.

There is a Pitt shop at the lower entrance and also a Pitt Museum that you should see.

It should be a great game. Maryland has some losses but they are all to good teams.

The Pete will be rocking.

Comment by gc 12.17.13 @ 10:13 am

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