December 18, 2013

Horrid And An Aberration

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:17 am

(At least I hope so.)

Like most people, every now and then I dream of work. And it is miserable and soul-sapping for the next day. Last night I managed to combine the work dream with that replays of that game. I’ve locked up all the knives in the house.

The number that reflects the ugliness is the way that killed the adjusted tempo. Coming into the game, per, Pitt’s AdjT was at 66.3 while Cinci was at 66.7. Nationally that was 271st and 255th respectively. That one game of misery dropped both teams’ averages by 1.7 to 64.6 and 65.0. One game (admittedly over only 11 games) did that.

There’s no way to pretend it didn’t happen. I want to, but too many are going to treat this like some indictment of Pitt’s schedule. Or as evidence Pitt is not that good. That may all be true, but that game is not the proof. That game was  a complete outlier. A freak game. They happen. They happen to really good teams at strange times.

One of the great examples involves the #6 ranked team at the time in 2008. Michigan State was 14-1 in the second week of January. They had played their usual challenging non-con. Wins over ranked teams like BYU (#20), Texas (#4), NC St. (#24). Battle-tested. Ready for the B1G. They head to Iowa City to face a 7-9 Iowa team that was already 0-3 in the Big 10.

They don’t just lose. They lose the game 43-36. They didn’t have a slew of injuries. They weren’t resting players. Until that game, their lowest offensive output was 63 points. It was just something that happened.

Iowa would finish with a 13-19 record. MSU was a #5 seed in the NCAA Tournament and beating Pitt in the second round (dammit) before losing to Memphis in the Sweet 16.

Lots went wrong in that game. Lots needs to be improved. Try to stay calm. But if you can’t, remember to cut with the vein, not across it.

That’s good advice, Cha… *slump*

Comment by BigEgg 12.18.13 @ 8:35 am

At least Artis and Young learned that they can get “manhandled” as well.

Comment by steve1 12.18.13 @ 8:39 am

I have no remaining veins to cut after football season.

Comment by TX Panther 12.18.13 @ 9:12 am

The 4 missed free throws at the end were costly, and ironic given that this is a very good FT shooting team, and in years past, the poor FT shooting teams seemed to make them in the stretch. Didn’t Dixon say at timee something like it’s not how many but when you make them? And one of the Cincy kids is quoted in the Zeise column today as saying they knew Patterson would miss.

But I do think they lost because of missing so many opportunities, like not scoring on the breakouts, etc. etc. I sure do hope this was a one-off.

Comment by velvil 12.18.13 @ 9:27 am

Last night may have been an outlier for this season to date, but it was right in the wheelhouse of what has been the core of Pitt’s struggle as a program to take the proverbial next step.

With a couple years as exceptions, they are traditionally a team that struggles offensively, and lacks natural scorers; a go-to guy, a player who can create and WANTS the ball in his hands when it counts. I thought finally this year Patterson would be that guy, but again last night I saw hesitation and lack of confidence, always looking to pass first.

Last night’s game reminded me of the ND games the last few years that were just excrutiating to watch. It also reminded me of how Pitt’s offense has disappeared for long stretches in tournament games over years, most recently last year vs. the Shockers. At least Wich St. was a good team.

The other reason Pitt lost was that they were out-rebounded. Cincy had 16 offensive rebounds, and scored almost all of their points in the paint. There was some debate on the previous thread about whether the front court or the back court is Pitt’s greatest weakness – I vote front court. Zanna is no 5 and the 4 is Young (literally). I think Pitt will struggle on the boards in conference play. I had hoped that this was a better scoring team, and that might off-set the rebounding issue. After last night…hmmm.

Comment by Iron Duke 12.18.13 @ 9:37 am

Whether or not this is a good team remains to be seen but there are a few things that have happened every game and did not happen last night.

1. Free throw shooting has been excellent for 10 games, poor in 1.
2. Rebounding has been not the greatest of Dixon teams but still, a Dixon team: good, up until last night
3. mid-range shooting has been excellent, at least by Pitt standards, up until last night

So either one of those happen last night, and we win.

Still I think the flaws are there:

1. Slow, non-penetrating back court (though by all the foul shooting we have seen this year, it is clear despite all the knocks against our guards on this forum that they are at least willing to drive).
2. Non-physical frontcourt
3. Sub-par 3 point shooting (sure we had, what, two good games but I suspect the average for the year is not good).

One last thing that has not been mentioned about last night: up until the point of the rebound, the defense was really, really good. Maybe too aggressive at denial, and thus not in position for the rebound?

Comment by DD 12.18.13 @ 9:41 am

There was one play at the end where Cam Wright took the ball off the inbound and waved off Robinson and I could almost see Robinson roll his eyes. That one good game gave Cam some confidence and that is not a good thing.

I’ll never forget when Carl Krauser made it the length of the court in under 4 seconds against Miami in 2003-04 for the game winning bucket. The last shot was a terrible look. Out of a time out none the less.

Comment by Todd Gack 12.18.13 @ 9:55 am

I think the press again hurt Pitt and forced the slow Robinson into a lot of hard work just to bring the ball up court. Another bugaboo from our past

Comment by Dan 72 12.18.13 @ 10:15 am

Generally speaking, when a team goes nearly 22 minutes in a game without scoring, they lose.

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 12.18.13 @ 10:42 am

Cal Poly and Albany should show us a lot.

Can work on some stuff against them!!!

Comment by Dan 12.18.13 @ 10:45 am

Chas, don’t fool yourself. Unlike the Michigan State example you provided, this game was much more predictable. It was no aberration.

Until Pitt gets guards that can create shots or can drive and creae opportunities for others, games like this will continue.

Comment by wbb 12.18.13 @ 10:45 am

Pitt needs, and has always needed, a badass. Someone who says, “Give ME the ball, we are NOT going to lose.” Or if a D-oriented player: “Those guys are NOT going to score.”

Either those types of kids aren’t attracted to Pitt, or Pitt (i.e. JD) doesn’t want them. Pitt wants “system” kids, conformists. And so when the system isn’t working, there’s no way out.

DeJuan may have been the latest one who came close. A passionate, let’s-DO-this badass, at least somewhat.

That’s why we fail in the Dance too. I know this opinion is nothing groundbreaking, it’s been put forward plenty, but I think it holds water.

Comment by BATR 12.18.13 @ 10:52 am

My feelings on Cam Wright are really pulling me in different directions right now. On one hand I think his progression has been awesome, he is a decent defender, and he has a great knack for scoring in transition/off of cuts to the basket.
On the other hand, as Todd Gack noted above I think he’s trying to assert himself a bit too much in the offense right now — too many 18-foot jumpers, and the ball just too often stalls in his hands on the perimeter. Hopefully an effective balance is established where he can maintain his transition/off ball work while being only the 4th or 5th option in the half court.

Comment by JW 12.18.13 @ 10:58 am

I wonder if we pursued Sean Miller hard when he was at Xavier and let Jaime go what the program would look like. He has the #1 team in the country and we aren’t even in the Top #40.

Pederson strikes again.

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.18.13 @ 11:18 am

I said yesterday that the game against Cincy would have little meaning… UNLESS Pitt lost.

However, this was far from a normal loss.

Was it a matter of Jamie being out coached? Or the team being unprepared to play?

Well, even with some new personnel… apparently some of the SAME PROBLEMS of a year ago have again raised their ugly head.

From the Post Gazette…

The biggest indication that the Panthers were out-toughed came from the rebounding statistics as Cincinnati out rebounded Pitt, 35-27,including 16-8 on the offensive glass.

“It is hard to believe we were out rebounded like that,” Dixon said.


Yes, it was only one point and Pitt’s shooters went cold.

But, the lack of rebounding against a comparable but still inferior team… is somewhat telling.

Comment by PittofDreams 12.18.13 @ 11:28 am

To say Pitt is not in the top 40 teams in the country is incorrect.

Comment by Hollywood 12.18.13 @ 11:41 am

Also, Sean Miller hasn’t achieved anything at Arizona (Elite 8, number 1 ranking) that Jamie hasn’t also done here. And that’s at a school with a lot more tradition, resources, and ease of recruiting.
Yes you’re right, Pederson has really screwed up Pitt’s basketball program.

Comment by Hollywood 12.18.13 @ 11:45 am

It was truly an ugly loss. I don’t think there are any positives to take away from this. Lots of questions are left to be answered. What the heck happened on the last play? High schoolish to say the least and we called a timeout to set that up?

Passive offense and running the clock down is not going to work with this team. You can’t let the opposition dictate pace. Where was the aggressive style we saw earlier this season? I understood we would have problems with active big people, but the defense in the paint was horrible. The only way this team is going to rebound is by committee.

Comment by Virgil 12.18.13 @ 11:51 am

Well let’s fire Dixon and spend over 30 years in the desert like our football team has.

Comment by TX Panther 12.18.13 @ 12:02 pm

You notice when we lose we get the lead story in the PG with a full color shot and a second picture. And this from Zeise whose kid is coming.

When we beat Stanford it was too late for the edition and never mentioned again.

I guess the painful sells more papers. They did a nice job on Donald’s awards but an even better one when they gushed about how great PSU is handling the sanctions.

Comment by gc 12.18.13 @ 12:22 pm

I think this loss is in some small part Dixon. I saw the frustration in Dixon but he needs to fire the team up. The team was asleep. It repeats the many times the team played like this in the NCAA tournament. If the other team scores first Pitt seems to choke up and then it is hard for them to get going. In the second half they still came out asleep.

Comment by Frank MD 12.18.13 @ 12:28 pm

“they might have to fix the rims for the Florida Memphis game” LMAO!!!

Comment by Dan 12.18.13 @ 12:33 pm

Fire Dixon??? Are you insane? He is the best coach in the country! He has done more winning with lesser talent than I have ever seen. Give the guy a chance, he will adjust to the ACC and will eventually get to the final four!

This is reality, not a video game…you don’t win every game all the time…
Relax and Hail To Pitt!!!

Comment by Mr Pitt 2001 12.18.13 @ 12:59 pm

I guess sarcasim escapes you. :)

Comment by TX Panther 12.18.13 @ 1:05 pm

When Jay Bilas says how can a team go this long in both halves with scoring a FG? He is directing that at Dixon. Good question.

Comment by chethejet 12.18.13 @ 1:49 pm

Have a theory that the site of UC, Mick Cronin, etc., somehow morphed PITT back into time. Where they are that team that:

*can’t shoot straight
*can’t grab a key rebound
*shoot a middling 65% from the Charity Stripe
*basically only play 6 players
*are indecisive on offense
*have long scoreless stretches
*have a PG who can neither penetrate nor defend nor score many points

By the way besides ND playing this style in the ACC, so does Tony Bennett’s Virginia squad.

Comment by Emel 12.18.13 @ 1:56 pm

uPittbaseball — are you actively trying to achieve “Joe D.” status on here? It’s hard to tell if you are serious sometimes, or if you’re just trying to rile everyone up?

I know you’re frustrated with the never-ending circus that is Pitt sports, but I’d recommend either getting used to it, or jump on someone else’s bandwagen. In response to your scenario, what happens if you let Dixon go, and then Miller won’t come…what do you do then? Blame Pederson I guess.

Comment by WWADD? 12.18.13 @ 2:07 pm

EMel you is it really you glad to hear you are ok
pitt players and the coach should all wear paper bags on there head after that game shame they sure dont need to be rated in the top 25 .
i thought i was watching a game from 1940.

Comment by Frankcan 12.18.13 @ 2:10 pm

As for that rag called the Post-Gazette:

the day following the night of Aaron Donald winning BOTH the Outland Trophy and the Bednarik.

There wasn’t a peep, an article, a pic, a line or ANYTHING on the Home Page of that worthless POS, concerning Aaron’s incredible winning of BOTH the Outland & the Bednarik the night before which brought his National Trophy haul to an unheard of 4 NATIONAL awards.

Whereas the Pgh. Tribune had a nice featured story right in the center of their Home Page, with a pic.

I hope none of my fellow Panthers are subscribing to that clearly bias anti-PITT POS known as the PG

Comment by Emel 12.18.13 @ 2:11 pm

We just don’t have the “horses” at this time. I believe our freshmen are good but none is ready to be that guy. So I guess Patterson is our number 1 option although he’s the but a number 3 option on most teams in the Top 25.

Comment by Pittastic 12.18.13 @ 2:13 pm

Thanks Frankie !

Yes I’m ok…that is….until the events of last nite at the Mecca of College Basketball.

We’d played as if we had NEVER had played in The Garden before. Like we were totally overwhelmed by the experience.

Concur with other posters who suggested we came out ‘tight’. Said this last year, JD needs to sit his fannie on the bench and pick his spots for screaming at the team. Besides helping his health, blood pressure, etc., perhaps the team will play a little looser on a Big Stage.

Organizations tend to mimic their leader (coach).

Comment by Emel 12.18.13 @ 2:20 pm

EMel so glad you are back this is what i think happened the first 10 games we were a runing team sort of. last night dixon went back in time to a old big east kind of game and over coached the team.he kind of lost his mind and forgot how they had won the first 10 games.
let the players play as you say sit on the bench more he some times becomes a control freak and hurts more then he helps.

Comment by Frankcan 12.18.13 @ 2:31 pm

I’m convinced that JD being “tight” or “over-controlling” is THE reason why we are choking dogs in March.

The team picks up his sphincter-puckering vibe and that’s all she wrote. And it gets worse every year it happens to the point it really is a huge psychological problem now.

Comment by BATR 12.18.13 @ 2:54 pm

EMel i thought that you were going so long that some red neck WVU fan was holding you on a pig farm in WVU for ransom .
or that a UFO had got you
or you went to rainbow bridge .
but glad you are back.

Comment by Frankcan 12.18.13 @ 3:02 pm

As bad as our non-con is, we did play some other BCS teams.

I know, I know, Stanford, Texas Tech and PSU are so-so at best.

But, they compare to this years Cincy team.

Against those three, as well as the patsies, Pitt looked much different, played differently, held themselves up differently.

Last night was some kind of time warp, I hope.

Comment by Dan 12.18.13 @ 4:46 pm

I’m sorry I wasn’t aware you guys couldn’t comprehend. I said, what if we hired Sean Miller a few years ago. I know personally he would have taken the Pitt job. I am friends with his brother and if Pitt offered him the Pitt job back then he would have taken it. AD’s who are forward thinking would have made that move but I also forget at Pitt we are excited to being mediocre and or just a bit better than average.

Would he now? Probably not now that he is a coach of a bigtime program. As far as Dixon being the best coach ever in NCAA is that even serious? He would have to perform in the NCAA, not bomb badly in March. Have a ranked team and actually progress the program not regress.

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.18.13 @ 9:33 pm

Upitt you are right. All that Dixon mediocrity like #1 seeds, victories over #1 ranked teams, BE regular season champs, BE tourney champs, BE tourney finalists for like five years in a row, beating Duke on a neutral floor with Dukie V calling the game (I think), elite eight appearance (two Jermaine Dixon mistakes from FF).

I like Sean Miller a lot. However I’m still struggling to see what exactly that he has done that places him head and shoulders above Dixon in your mind.

Looks like Stanford, who Pitt crushed on a neutral court, just beat the #10 team in the country on the road and helped Pitt’s RPI.

Comment by Barvo 12.18.13 @ 11:11 pm

Barvo – I agree Dixon has been solid until last few years but he can’t and doesn’t put us in position to win the big ones or even (Once in a Blue Moon) get there. It’s like we are just happy occasionally getting close. In football, I get it, football is no where near a priority at Pitt but baksetball supposedly is and we are a little above average. I think Dixon has reached his ceiling at Pitt. I’d also like to see him recruit some real studs and that happens once every 7 years. Should we just accept it that studs don’t pick Pitt? The tops out there want to go play for Sean. Not seeing it with Dixon. I hope things get better but Concy is not good this year and we looked atrocious. Tougher than playing Slippery Rock and Texas Tech I guess.

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.18.13 @ 11:27 pm

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