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January 16, 2014

Nothing New With “Next Man Up”

Filed under: Basketball,Players — Chas @ 8:34 am

Primary stories on Pitt basketball focus on “character” and “resilience” of the team with Durand Johnson gone for the year.

They are nice stories. Positive stories. And nothing I really disagree with them.

At the same time, this is nothing new with Pitt under Coach Jamie Dixon.

We’ve seen the team handle the loss of Mike Cook and Levance Fields in one season. They weathered early issues when Gil Brown had to sit or Jermaine Dixon.

A good amount of that does indeed go to Coach Dixon not letting the team use it as an excuse. But as noted, it has to do with the guys who lead the team.

James Robinson is the floor leader without question. He gets the respect and attention of everyone on the team. Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna have grown into their roles as senior leaders, and showed in the GT game that they aren’t shrinking from it.

The only year it didn’t work out so well was when Travon Woodall got hurt and Khem Birch bailed. While that season had as much to do with the poor depth at the guard spots, there was a lack of players who had the presence needed to keep the team going.

I love Nasir Robinson and I think Ashton Gibbs takes entirely too much blame and grief for that season, but they were “lead by example” guys. They were expected to be leaders as the seniors, but really didn’t know what to do. They didn’t have to until then. Brad Wanamaker handled that the prior two years. Woodall was the leader that year, and they were happy with that. With him lost, no one else was there to do it.

I also think Coach Dixon learned something from that loss. That he can’t just wait to see who steps up to lead. While this team has clear leaders for this season, there is planning ahead to make sure guys are ready to lead in the future.

Dixon said he believes the challenge for Pitt will be to overcome his absence by replicating Johnson’s passion instead of his point production.

“There’s a void, but there can also be a way of inspiring or encouraging,” Dixon said. “Durand’s personality is a big part of our team, as well as his basketball attributes. I think we’ll fill that vacuum, that hole. I told our guys, ‘I want you talking. I want you playing with passion. That’s the only thing you need to do differently.’ ”

And Coach Dixon is doing his part to keep things positive with the guys who are supposed to see increased roles but clearly struggled the first time in them.

[Chris] Jones was given the first shot at replacing Johnson, but he struggled while playing only four minutes and quickly got into foul trouble.

Jones also got lost a few times on defense and did not return after his brief appearance.

“He’ll be back, don’t write him off,” Dixon said, with a smile. “He got the two fouls, and we got Josh [Newkirk] in there, but [Jones] will be back, he will be in there on Saturday and he will play good for us.”

No, no, no. The narrative is that Jones is not good enough. That Dixon will now bury him on the bench. What’s this crap about playing a freshman in a big game after a bad outing. That’s not how this works.

Check this out:

link to

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 4:33 pm

Cuse will find out tomorrow,,,,’Pitt Who’. lol

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 4:36 pm

Butler plays everybody, that is why they recruit so well. Akron, UCONN Anybody.
Pitt deserves the criticism.

Comment by frankarms 01.17.14 @ 4:36 pm

@Emel, Duke is struggling with a freshman superstar and poor UNC lost a top player to legal woes….boo hoo hoo…. Coach K is adjusting to to the awesome talent of his young squad while the poor Tarheels have been up and down. You know they beat Kentucky and Louisville and Michigan St. so the 6 losses to nobodies really shouldn’t count against them. Pitt might be beating the BeJesus out of everyone but they don’t play anyone and are physical. You know these new rules have had a greater effect on coach K because he teaches such disciplined quality defense with great athletes. Syracuse is a great well coached team worthy of ACC and ESPN accolades etc etc etc…..

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.17.14 @ 4:39 pm

Syracuse does not have 6’6″ MCW and 6’4″ Triche at the top of the zone this year. They have 6’1″ Ennis and 6’4″ Cooney (6’7″ Gbinije gets very few minutes) this year.
Getting the ball to the high post may be easier, this year, with less size and experience at guard.
But their front line is more formidable, Sutherland is replaced with Grant. Kieta, Christmas and (not Derrick) Coleman all have another year under their belts.
Syracuse does not have a deep bench.
So after you get the ball at the FT line, what do you do with it?
I would not be surprised to see Young/Artis at the high post with Patterson. Each freshman can make the shot and has the skill to pass out of it. Patterson may be the only one with the ability to pass into it.
Coach Dixon seems to be able to scout, gameplan and prepare well against this zone. I expect a competitive game.

Comment by xfmrman 01.17.14 @ 4:41 pm

Less than 24 hours ’til tip-off.

Comment by xfmrman 01.17.14 @ 4:46 pm

link to

tells you what county scholarship players came from pretty interesting

Comment by Scott in NEPA 01.17.14 @ 4:47 pm

Glad that Sutherland guy is gone, he was killing it that one game against us. Guy could shoot the 3.

correct xfmr. Cuse hardly has a bench at all.
Last game they started Kieta just so they could bring Grant off the bench.

Pitt needs to push the ball at every opportunity and wear down this not deep bench Cuse team.

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 4:47 pm

@ sos22…..of course not taking into account, that the Dookies and the Tarholes are still loaded with 4 & 5 star recruits.

They (the media) will always find ‘excuses’ for their favorite, ‘blueblood’ teams.

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 4:49 pm

Really excited about this game tomorrow and feel Pitt has a legitimate shot in this game. Although I think Durand Johnson’s ability to knock down a few three’s would really have helped against Syracuse’s zone defense.

James Franklin was apparently at Mt Lebanon today, hopefully it was just to meet with Pedo St recruit Apke, and not an attempt to flip Alex Bookser.

The media attention and the drooling local media has done over this guy has been absolutely sickening. Have always thought the amount of attention the Pittsburgh media has given Penn St is ridiculous, but this is just over the top.

Hail to Pitt and beat Cuse tomorrow! I can’t wait…

Comment by Pap76 01.17.14 @ 4:50 pm


Better that the 3 point treat is 6’4″ than 6’8″.

Comment by xfmrman 01.17.14 @ 4:51 pm

But sometimes Sutherland did not seem interested in playing defense.

Comment by xfmrman 01.17.14 @ 4:53 pm


Comment by xfmrman 01.17.14 @ 4:54 pm

btw Coleman hasn’t seen the floor much since conference play started.

If he’s put in, it’s to try to hack on Z and then try to make him retaliate with a cheap foul.

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 4:58 pm

That’s why I make sure to point out that he is not Derrick.

Comment by xfmrman 01.17.14 @ 5:00 pm

Coach K has had his hands full this year trying to guide the future NBA superstars and teach them the nuances of the college game of which no one knows on his omnipotent level. Don’t write off the storied Tarheels either as the loss of so many great athletes to the NCAA’s ridiculous rules have proved to be just another obstacle to Hall of Fame coach Roy. He is sure to right the ship shortly. Of course they trail Pitt , who does not ever play anyone and only bullies a bunch of patsies and Syracuse who has one of the best teams in program history.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.17.14 @ 5:02 pm

@ Pap76

Franklin fit’s the media agenda, so yes he will be treated in a grand messianic manner and very similar to another guy (charlatan) who sometimes can be found at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Funny how this stuff is played out in sport as well.

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 5:03 pm

College Basketball Talk has the game of the week at 4pm tomorrow. You might want to tune in to watch #9 Oklahoma St. 2losses vs. #15 4 loss Kansas. You wouldn’t want to miss it , Kansas were to lose there is a possibility they might fall out of the top 20 all together.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.17.14 @ 5:15 pm

@ sos22….espn is also pumping that game.

Guess they want as few as ppl as possible watching Pitt beat Cuse.

This might a good sign. lol

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 5:20 pm

From Myron Medcalf:

No. 22 Pitt at No. 2 Syracuse, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN:

Nope. Nope. Not again. Not doing it. I’ve learned my lesson about picking against the Orange in Syracuse, N.Y., this season. Not happening this time, even though I think Pitt could pull off the upset. Pitt has kicked off ACC play with a league-leading 51.6 percent clip from the field. And James Robinson has the country’s top assist-to-turnover ratio (5.33). That will be critical against a Syracuse squad that’s fourth in defense turnover rate, per Ken Pomeroy. But Durand Johnson’s knee injury puts even more pressure on Lamar Patterson (2.4 TPG) to be a playmaker and 3-point shooter. By forcing things, he committed seven turnovers in a win over Georgia Tech earlier this week. And when a team is rattled, Syracuse will pounce. Jerami Grant is capable of dominating this game. And Tyler Ennis will be a problem all afternoon for Pitt on both ends of the floor.

Prediction: Syracuse 76, Pitt 70

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.17.14 @ 5:24 pm

Another Nigerian Center

(H)Akeem Olajuwan; stats at University at Houston

Sophomore Year: 8 ppg & 6 rpg
Junior Year: 14 ppg & 11 rpg
Senior Year: 20 ppg & 13 rpg

Olajuwan’s front court mates were All-American Clyde Drexler (6’7″), strongman Larry ‘Mr. Mean’ Micheaux (6’9″) and lefty Michael Young (6’7″).

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 5:34 pm

Collectively known as Phi Slamma Jamma. That was a whole lot of fun to watch.

Most fun game to watch was #1 Houston vs #2 Louisville who were known as the ‘Doctor’s of Dunk’.

In the NCAA Final 4 of 1983.

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 5:39 pm

Pap76 he was in pgh to see a 6 foot 8 300 pound ot named sterling and if he goes to penn state next year i will be very up set becuse his dad and mom both went to pitt.
if he was my son they would not get in my front door i would tell the kid if you dont want pitt ok but make it UCLA or ND but dont you even look at penn state or WVU i might even say ohio state or bama but no penn state

Comment by Frankcan 01.17.14 @ 5:39 pm

Why watch projected 1 seed Syracuse play the patsie pasting panthers when you can watch Kansas’s storied program take on the mighty OK St led by their All American ESPN touted star guard.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.17.14 @ 5:56 pm

I’m glad our posts aren’t this long….

link to

Comment by Jackagain 01.17.14 @ 5:56 pm

I’m glad our posts aren’t this long….

link to

Comment by Jackagain 01.17.14 @ 5:56 pm

“It’s going to be a beatdown. Syracuse will win by double digits.”

Michael Wilbon on PTI

Comment by wbb 01.17.14 @ 6:04 pm

Dan 72 – I like Seattle at home not sure the line but I think they win by 4.

I also like the Bronco’s by 8 against the Pats. I just see Brady having a bad game call me crazy.

I like Cuse to win. I think they win by 7.

We are getting really good but Cuse is already really good and home.

Comment by Upittbaseball 01.17.14 @ 6:12 pm

Check this out titled, Know Thy Enemy:

link to

Comment by Jackagain 01.17.14 @ 6:15 pm

IMO, a very poignant article

link to

Comment by wbb 01.17.14 @ 6:27 pm

Thx jackagain for that link.

Typical arrogant Cuse fan. Love this line.

“Syracuse is more explosive offensively, but (at this particular time) more prone to offensive slumps.”

Yep this is why Pitt is avg’g 78 ppg in ACC games and Syracuse is only avg’g 61.8 ppg.

But let them go ahead and believe their own false reality. Cuse will be the one slowing the tempo of this game, not Pitt.

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 6:35 pm

Opened at Pitt +5 @Bookmaker

Those of us who had +4.5 were pretty close.

Comment by Boubabcar Aw 01.17.14 @ 6:37 pm

And that guy must be awfully young for Pitt had some excellent teams in the late 80’s, one with Smith & Lane even won the BigEast regular season title on Cuse’s OWN Carrier Dump floor.

And the Brian Shorter, Sean Miller, Bobby Martin teams of the early 90’s weren’t bad either.

Syracuse thinks they’re a blue blood, but in reality they have one (1), count in one national title.

What they are is: Classic Underachievers.

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 6:40 pm

Gotta blame some of the schedule on the NCAA using the RPI. A lot of these “bad” teams Pitt plays help the RPI more than playing a mediocre BCS team. Also, just scheduling a home and home with a random BCS team doesn’t always make sense. Say Pitt schedules a home and home with Nebraska. Playing at Nebraska provides Pitt really no benefit in terms of recruiting. Playing a random team in NYC makes more sense. Or playing a small school that will win their small conference and will have a decent RPI makes more sense. Also, any of the top teams don’t want to come to Pittsburgh because it won’t help their recruiting. You saw that this year with Georgetown and Nova.

Comment by Wardapalooza 01.17.14 @ 6:41 pm

My guess is we want this game and need it more than they do. Hope they believe they are really number 2.

Comment by gc 01.17.14 @ 6:45 pm

Thank you for your weekly negativity towards Pitt. If the Panthers win tomorrow we won’t hear from you for a week

Comment by Chick 01.17.14 @ 6:49 pm

Something neat I found on the net. Check out photo numbers 3 & 4.

If anyone ever drank at the Luna Bar on Centre Ave & Craig.

This is what sat there about 70-80 years before we drank there ! lol

link to

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 6:50 pm

Photo #12 Oakland pre Cathedral Of Learning, that has to to be Soldiers & Sailors Hall.

Photo #11 You could take a Sternwheeler trip to Morganhole for $1 (don’t know why you would, but apparently ppl did, maybe for laughs)

Some of these pics are so clear, looks like they were taken yesterday.

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 6:59 pm

News flash the chemical found in wv water was fluoride dr tom it is unfamiliar to them .new t shirts here in central pa. Violate the state.

Comment by Paul Shannon 01.17.14 @ 7:02 pm

“Syracuse is more explosive offensively, but (at this particular time) more prone to offensive slumps.”

Yep this is why Pitt is avg’g 78 ppg in ACC games and Syracuse is only avg’g 61.8 ppg.

But let them go ahead and believe their own false reality. Cuse will be the one slowing the tempo of this game, not Pitt.

Comment by Emel 01.17.14 @ 6:35 pm

Syracuse (per Kenpom):
Avg possession on D is 20 seconds (last in the nation)
Avg Possession on O is 18 seconds (same as Pitt) Last season was 16.7sec (#41)
Tempo 62.4ppg (#343 of 351) Last season 64.2ppg (#252)

Emel, I believe that you are right. Pitt will not be the team to slow the pace.
Pitt has made a effort to playing faster this season. The converse appears true for the Orange.

Comment by xfmrman 01.17.14 @ 7:44 pm

EMel – Cannot thank you enough for the Luna photo link. I could do an entire blog of Luna Stories.

I frequented the place all 4 years at Pitt (after Quin Ques- pronounced Chi chis) closed. Another 3 years after that while I worked in the printing business at Addressograph Multigraph on Baum/Bigalow and every single trip back for Pitt or Steeler games for the next 27 years.

I can remember Larry (bartender/part owner) sneaking us out the back door during raids and we would literally walk thru the old amusement park rides.

Just stunned at how it once looked. My aunt told me that at one time Oakland was the richest place in Pittsburgh.

Thanks again….go Pitt…

Comment by Dan 72 01.17.14 @ 9:41 pm

This OKC/ Golden State game is great. KD and Steph Curry lighting it up. Adams has had a couple of nice plays on both ends…Well I won’t agree he’s a thug, but yeah, definitely gives guys the business sometimes. He’s on his way to fouling out of this one.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 01.17.14 @ 10:29 pm

Chick. My opinion was asked so keep your comments to yourself. I hope we win. I just dont see it. I forgot koolaid folks think we will make final 4.

Comment by Upittbaseball 01.17.14 @ 10:41 pm

Pap76, Of course Franklin will try to flip Alex Bookser. Didn’t you hear he’s going to dominate the state of Pennsylvania and recruite every corner of the state. If I had known he was going to be here, I would left work to drive home early…… so I could run the son-of-a-bich over!

Comment by Justinian 01.17.14 @ 10:44 pm

I actually liked Bill O’Brien, this guy makes me hate Penn State even more.

Comment by Justinian 01.17.14 @ 10:47 pm

Emel, thanks for the pictures. I saw the “Four Seasons” in Soldiers and Sailors in the 60″s. It must have been redone inside. There were “stage” boxes when I was there. We had those seats. The other couple was my drunk fraternity brother and his date. “Terry” became a dentist! I remember people yelling at “Terry’s” drunken antics. Frankie Valle actually told “Terry” to shut up. When I went to see the show “Jersey Boys” in the City, I had the same flash back

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 01.17.14 @ 11:17 pm

Tough position to put Chris Jones into. This could set the kid back. I hope not. I’m going to say some prays.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 01.17.14 @ 11:21 pm

LOL The Luna Bar. The sign over the bar said, “It’s nice to be nice”. Nice my ass. The joint had a bartender who was a double for Russia’s SOB Premier Nikita Khruschev and in my years of drinking cheap pitchers of rot gut (Iron City) I never saw Nikki smile…NEVER.

The beer was super cheap and the place was a hangout for fraternity members (I think mostly from Sigma Chi).

The bathroom stunk like a sewer! Despite all of the Luna’s shortcomings it was one of the best bars around the campus in the early 60’s.

Comment by isnore 01.17.14 @ 11:37 pm

It’s great to see new Panthers step up most seasons!

Fellow Panthers, don’t miss out on my latest business venture – a monthly sports auction house. Our sports auction ends tomorrow – bid live or on-line: link to

Comment by dishman 01.18.14 @ 12:08 am

When the LCB showed up at the Luna they would put everyone in the basement until they were gone. Oh the good old days. The Luna and Haddon Hall.

Comment by Jp 01.18.14 @ 4:58 am

More “junk” from the Mark Turgeon show this week. When commenting on their season so far and their 3-2 record in the ACC, Coach Turgeon states something to the effect that you could look back and see that they deserve their record but IF it were different, he could see them having won the Pitt game to be 4-1.

Really? WTF? You think you should have won the game at the Pete? I’m definitely starting to not like the Terps.

Expecting a good game today and a great game next Saturday where I will see them at Comcast Center dismantle Maryland again.

Comment by TVax 01.18.14 @ 7:40 am

Terry Fair vs Lamar Patterson, winner take all.

Comment by alcofan 01.18.14 @ 8:20 am

TVax, Trugeon is delusional, they got their butts kicked. I figure I should have won the 300 million dollar lottary too. He’ll get another shot at the Panthers at Maryland. Let’s see if they can do better. Go Panthers, let’s bring home a W from the Carrier Dome.

Comment by Justinian 01.18.14 @ 8:45 am

Lamar,brother of Perry.

Comment by alcofan 01.18.14 @ 8:46 am

More fun facts: 2016 (early) Pitt commit, Maverick Rowan scored 35 pts last night

2015 commit Damon Wilson dominated a tourney he played in last weekend

Pitt just offered 2014 prospect Kobe (yes Kobe) Eubanks, a 6’5 swingman who tweeted he was very happy at the offer. He supposedly is a great scorer … and probably a sign that Pitt will never see Mostella

Pitt is also in hot pursuit of a 6’9 JUCO. Late season pick-ups from last year (Mostella & Uchebo) may be failed experiments … jury is still out …. but thankfully Artis has been a pretty darned good player for a frosh

Comment by wbb 01.18.14 @ 8:53 am

I remember the Luna still being open in the 80s, but assumed it no longer exists. Any idea when it closed?

Comment by wbb 01.18.14 @ 9:11 am

I got drunk at the Luna while still in high school, Larry even cashed a check for for an older buddy, he was 17 or 18, so we could keep on drinking after we ran out of money.

I was the only one that was sober enough to drive, got rubber in all four gears in my buddies 442 going down Ellsworth after 2 in the morning, ah the good old days.

The Luna moved up the street years ago, may still be open.

Comment by gc 01.18.14 @ 9:35 am

Amazing job at Kennywood recreating Luna Park.

Comment by gc 01.18.14 @ 9:39 am

My history could be way off but the pictures of Luna do not have the “h” at the end. What is the history behind that?

Will be a good game today and I expect our troops to dismantle the orange zone as usual. Would solidify season should we score more points than the orange. Will be traveling during the game so best of luck to the mustard and blue!

Comment by dhuffdaddy 01.18.14 @ 10:10 am

dhuffdaddy,I assume you re talking about ‘Pittsburg’

If you look at much of the old newspaper accounts and other writings, you will see it was quite common to leave the H off until early last century. I have no idea if the name was officially changed, or if it was never used correctly in the first place … but Pittsburg was much more common until less than a 100 years ago

Comment by wbb 01.18.14 @ 11:33 am

Would that make him duffdaddy?

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.18.14 @ 1:30 pm

7-0 Cuse run spells doom for Pitt

Comment by Dan 72 01.18.14 @ 6:03 pm

Nice try Pitt. This game will make us a better team. Ps we better find some scoring and soon

Comment by Dan 72 01.18.14 @ 6:10 pm

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