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January 24, 2014

Thoughts on Playing AT Maryland

Filed under: ACC,Basketball,Bloggers — Mike Zimmerman @ 6:22 pm

Good evening all.

My name is Mike, and I’m happy to announce that I’ll be joining Chas as a writer here at Pitt Blather. I’ve spent many years here, first as a casual reader and in more recent years as an active poster. You guys are a vital part of this great community, and I look forward to continuing the standard of excellence that the Blather has come to know.

As always, I will remain active in the comments section. Ultimately, the backbone of this site is the tremendous dialogue, and I wouldn’t give that part up for anything. If you like what I have to say, that’s great; if you don’t like what I have to say, that’s great, too.

Now, with introductions out of the way…

Maryland’s home court, The Comcast Center, is generally considered one of the toughest places for away opponents to visit. And with good reason: Terp fans are considered some of the nation’s most diehard, and their home game antics are ordinarily pretty devastating towards their opposition. They’re loud, relentless, and often, downright insensitive. With that said, there’s something’s different about this year’s brand of Terp fan.

A large part of the Maryland contingent seems to have already thrown in the white flag:

“Terps vs team without one of its best players. Definitely taking Pitt by 15.”

“82-69 Pitt [i]n a very similar game to the one that was in Pittsburgh—except being at home holds off the Pittsburgh run until midway through the second half.”

“Given previous experience against top rated teams and obvious coaching deficiency I think it will look more like 90-55 PITT. Just can’t see us getting over 30% from the floor and with the defense we offer it looks like Pitt will get to the rack at will. A change is gonna come.”

Others are somewhat more hopeful, playing up the idea that with Duke lurking in the distance, Pitt will regret looking past Maryland:

“They have Duke 2 days after us. Given they annihilated us last game out it could well be a trap game for them.”

Still, there are Maryland fans that seem very much alike ourselves when we’ve been faced with similarly depressing athletic circumstances:

“I’m just going to get drunk tomorrow and just pray to god that when I sober up on Sunday my TV is still in one piece. I’ll consider that a win.”

 

Pitt hasn’t played the Terps at their place since January 12, 1980 in a seven point loss. Selfishly, one might hope that the feistiest of Maryland fans come out for the game. It would be a shame not to experience that type of away environment, especially for our younger players, and especially with the Terps headed to the B1G. At the time of writing, the spread sits at Pitt favored by 3.5. So, perhaps there’s reason to think that the Comcast Center has got a few more punches to throw before it exits the conference.





I work near Comcast Center and am very sad that this is a one and done series. Would have been great to see Pitt every year. Any time you get pissed about the state of Pitt athletics, just take a look at how UMD was mismanaged over the past decade or so. I guess they landed on their feet, relatively speaking, in the B1G, but sorry Maryland-Illinois etc etc just doesn’t cut it.

Comment by BATR 01.24.14 @ 6:41 pm

UMD… You know, I don’t really care much about them leaving, I think we’re better off with out them, but. but. but. I hope that the ACC wins the lawsuit, presses full charges for 53 Million dollars just to see what happens to an institution that is hit with a fine that would cripple most companies, let alone a establishment of ‘higher learning” / greed.

Besides that, Pitt has their number, I expect a blowout. But Pitt has to make sure the crowd realizes this early on. Take the crowd out of the game and we have this in the bag.

Comment by Benzene 01.24.14 @ 7:28 pm

Same here BATR

Comment by tvax1 01.24.14 @ 7:39 pm

It is really too bad that Maryland chose to leave the ACC. Their proximity to us and their TV market will be missed.

I know from some of their alumni, especially athletes that many are not happy with the move. A lot of tradition being flushed down the toilet, for a money grab.

Most of us will miss Big East Basketball, but all are on board with the ACC, because of football.

Maryland could have been a great rival.

I hope I am wrong, but I am in fear of a trap game. Having just put on our best performance of the year, having already beaten Maryland rather handily, and looking forward to Duke on Monday sets up the perfect trap.

Hopefully our senior leadership and the fact that this will be a homecoming for a number of players, will work out in our favor.

That link to Temple was devastating. It must be pretty dire to do that in the middle of a school year.

Comment by gc 01.24.14 @ 7:44 pm

Welcome aboard Mike, What was your nom de plume?

Comment by gc 01.24.14 @ 7:48 pm

Most players raving about the new S&C coach, and they love the new workouts

Comment by rhyno527 01.24.14 @ 8:13 pm

Welcome Mike, now on to the business at hand.

Grab the turtle firmly by the tail, stabilize the shell by stepping on the juncture between the shell and the neck with your full body weight, then with a definitive yang, utilizing the total force of the large muscles of your shoulder, literally rip the frickin spine out of that defenseless Terapin!

Good riddence, hope you enjoy the B1G. Don’t let the door hit you in the a$$ on the way out of the ACC and just be greatful that the Panthers only had to school you twice this season on how the old Big East used to play basketball.

Hopefully your fortunes will be better playing the likes of ped state N@.

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.24.14 @ 8:32 pm

A nice read, Mike. Welcome aboard.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 01.24.14 @ 8:34 pm

I’ll be at the game tomorrow with my 6 year old. HTP!

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 01.24.14 @ 8:37 pm

@gc: Thanks. I previously wrote under the moniker “MikePITT”, though from this point forward my comments will be submitted under my real name.

@Dr. Tom: Thank you, sir.

@Bowling Green Panther: Thank you, too, sir. Though I must say, ‘Bowling Green’ still gives me the shivers. My first EVER Pitt football game was in 2008-2009, game one, with LeSean McCoy as a preseason heisman candidate, in the blazing sun, watching my precious Panthers collapse against BGSU. God, what a day that was.

Comment by Mike Zimmerman 01.24.14 @ 8:56 pm

Mike, nice post. Looking forward to your contributions. But it could be said you’ve turned from the dark side. Now you have to be reasonable and thoughtful and even-handed while the rest of us remain reactionary and hyperbolic. Good luck with that, LOL!

Comment by Iron Duke 01.24.14 @ 9:13 pm

After NC State took down MD without TJ one can understand how the Terp faithful are bracing for the worst on Saturday. How about them Panther wrestlers pinning a 25-9 L on the visiting Hoos today! Way to go men! Dare I dream about ACC championships in wrestling and men’s basketball in their first ACC season? H2P!

Comment by UPone 01.24.14 @ 9:26 pm

@Iron Duke: Yes, you’re right, but that doesn’t mean I will hesitate to call out Pitt when it needs to be called out.

Comment by Mike Zimmerman 01.24.14 @ 9:56 pm

See some of you at Looney’s followed by Comcast. I’ll be the Yeti with the Zoo shirt on surrounded by the sea of red.

Comment by Yeti 01.24.14 @ 10:15 pm

Excited to see us in another tough road environment. This should be a game Pitt wins, but I think we will slip up on one away game and I’m picking this one.

I’m predicting our team struggles shooting tomorrow coming off that red hot shooting performance in the second half of the Clemson beatdown. I really like the +3.5, but I hope im wrong.

This years team is definitely on track to exceed expectations and has been impressive. Still a lot of games left though.

I like the way Jamie Dixon has been more flexible this year. Switching to the zone more, extending the defense to generate more steals/up tempo and even rotating defensive assignments to slow down the hot hand. Im going to give him an “A” grade for his performance up to this point. If Dixon keeps it up through march that turns into an +A. That 10-year extension is looking really great right now.

James Robinson and Patterson have been awesome for a long stretch of the season. I posted during one of the out of conference games that Newkirk was better than JR and ready to take on more minutes. I was definitely wrong on that one. Im excited to see both develop into the future. Keep forgetting JR is only a sophomore.

Impressed with Cam Wright’s game and Zanna assertiveness. Zanna has been physical and taking it strong more often recently.

How the rest of the season goes will be determined by our bench and freshman. Im predicting a 13-5 ACC finish, ACC Conference tourney runner up, a four seed and sweet sixteen to end the year. Should be a fun ride.

Comment by jpeezy 01.24.14 @ 10:20 pm

Living in MD I am sad MD leaving ACC. I know several MD fans and most are not happy. I think MD dreaming that the B10 will solve their problems. FB Attendance may increase only for PSU and OSU as other B10 schools far from MD. I would be surprised if any ACC schools schedule MD for a long time. HTP

Comment by Frank 01.24.14 @ 10:28 pm

Maryland, we hardly knew ye

Comment by Chris 01.24.14 @ 11:24 pm

This move is a long term mistake for Maryland. Their travel costs will soar. Now, really, where would you rather travel to from November through April? Miami, Tallahassee, Atlanta…or Minneapolis, Lincoln, Ann Arbor? Maryland is run by a chancellor who is the equivalent of Smiling Steve. they will want out in ten to fifteen years, if not sooner.

I hope Pitt wipes up the floor with Maryland. I went to a Pitt-Maryland FB game in 1990. there were Eat $..t Pitt buttons everywhere. True class.

Comment by Penguins Fan 01.25.14 @ 7:51 am

Congrats Mike on the promotion. I am sure you will find more success than the other Mike and MIke sport guys.

I look at this game a little differently, almost like the Cincy game. Many of our guys are from the Baltimore Maryland area. As such, they could get caught up in individual performance with their respective families at the game. When they get outside their normal mindset, they will struggle as do most teams.

That said, I think they perform really well defensively and have a great effort. The struggle will be on offense potentially because each will want to impress their families. I see a low scoring, ugly squeaker. As with any road game, the start will be critical. Just my thoughts! Carpe’ Terps!

Comment by dhuffdaddy 01.25.14 @ 8:00 am

Mike, welcome aboard.

A small bit of advice … don’t feel the need to staunchly defend your viewpoint every time someone disagrees like your predecessor did in the beginning, but of course that’s up to you.

Also remember that all on this site are Pitt fans (even UPittbaseball I guess) but our viewpoints can be very different …. and like most things, there is rarely a clear solution.

As your distant relative once wrote “the answer my friend is blowing in the wind”

Comment by wbb 01.25.14 @ 8:53 am

@dhuffdaddy: Thanks! As a New Yorker, I listen to Mike&Mike every morning. So I can only hope anyone ever wants to do that. (My girlfriend would have a good chuckle at the idea of it)

@wbb: Thank you, too. Like I said above, the most important thing about this site is the great dialogue. I’m just as happy to be criticized as I an to be applauded, believe it or not. Also, I’m a fan of all of you guys.

Comment by Mike Zimmerman 01.25.14 @ 9:01 am

@@@@@@

Personally sorry to see the Terps leave the ACC. Geographical rivals are the best for fans and players. Rather
see Pitt play UM than Miami as an end of the season opponent. UM’s leaders should have called WVU on travel
costs and rivalries. WVU must be relieved to leave the BE but
can they really be pleased to be in the B12??

Comment by JR 01.25.14 @ 9:08 am

@@@@@@

Before we get too critical about the quality of PC’s recruits
remmeber Aaron Donald had 4 offers……Pitt was the only
major school. So much for the questionable ranking of
players and the star system.

Really happy for AD. Classy kid who represents Pitt well while
demonstrating humility. Hoping he is rewarded with a huge
contract!! He will be on the board when the Steelers draft.

Lastly very cool to see the zoo honor DJ last week by wearing
the signature headband. ACC coaches seeing firsthand what
BE coaches always knew……Pete is a competitive advantage for Pitt.

Comment by JR 01.25.14 @ 9:20 am

Best of luck Mike with the new position. I think 4 pts. looks like gift of the year. If Pitt takes care of business the line is about 10pts. low. Maryland is an also ran in the conference ,we aren’t. Our team has been extremely consistent at blowing out the teams it beats so unless you think we are going to lose figure us to cover easily. I admit that Maryland will probably hang tight into the second half but eventually our defense and rebounding is going to overwhelm them.

Comment by spiritofsection22 01.25.14 @ 9:45 am

Welcome, Mike.

How do you and Chas plan to divide the “job”? Justin seemed to focus more on the football side and Chas on hoops.

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 01.25.14 @ 9:46 am

JR Yes it’s nice to get 4 and 5 star recruits, but it’s also important to be good judges of talent. Jackie Sherrill’s staff discoverered Hugh Green when scouting Rooster Jones. Steeler stars Jack Lambert and James Harrison played at Kent State. There are a lot of very good players flying under the radar. The trick is to have the ability to recognize them. Aaron Donald is a classic example.

Comment by Justinian 01.25.14 @ 9:54 am

@Mike – welcome aboard as a full timer. As a fellow New Yorker, looking forward to your official posts.

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.25.14 @ 10:12 am

Welcome Aboard Mike.. Are you Marietta Mike? WBB – I sometimes have varying opinions but in my mind it is to help make us a better program. I want people to talk about Pitt proudly in a National Perspective not just SWPA.

Comment by Upittbaseball 01.25.14 @ 10:30 am

If you saw AD in high school, you knew he had a special talent and loads of potential. The problem for coaches is predicting which players will realize their potential, which players have peaked in HS and which ones are on the rise.

Two years ago, when you watched Patterson and Zanna play, you would not have predicted their output this year. JJ Moore looked to have more athleticism and more upside. Lucky for us Jamie is the coach and recognizes potential. Jamie recruits guys that like to pass and are unselfish. That profile certainly fits this year.

Chryst and his team seem to know what they are looking for in new recruits. Let’s hope they follow the tradition of AD. Humble and Hardworking.

Comment by gc 01.25.14 @ 10:35 am

I replied to Yeti about his lingering concerns surrounding this year’s Panthers football team in a previous thread. His trepidations revolving around the historical “same old Pitt” mantra that some here attempted to stamp on losses like Navy, UNC or GT. In essence, my argument was that this young squad is far from the “same old Pitt” of the recent past.

I just got done reading a very well written article In Pitt’s Bleacher Report that touches on almost every point that I made in my reply to Yeti in the first place. This third tier bowl game that Pitt was invited to play in was discounted by many on this blog, who profess to be Pitt fans, and there where a number of comments that stated that even playing in such a game against a MAC team could amount to nothing more than a lose-lose situation for the Panthers.

In contrast, I felt strongly that this game was an opportunity for the Panthers to close out their season on an up note and in fact I professed that the game against such a quality opponent like the BGSU MAC Champs was, in fact,a MUST WIN game for PITT if they were the team that I thought that they were.

This Bleacher Report article details those same thoughts looking at the results of that bowl game in particular. Yes, it was only a win against a MAC team, but we were the underdogs in that contest for crying out loud. No respect given to PITT and in fact that was quite apparent during the entire TV telecast considering the amount of disproportionate attention given to Bowling Green over PITT in sideline coverage, onfield interviews and the like.

So What does PITT go out and do. Playing short handed at many positions due to injuries and/or personal situations, they field a team that is bare bones with one guy, James Conner, even playing the role of an IRONMAN going both ways for some of the game and they just go out and mack Bowling Green square in the mouth with some old traditional PITT hard nosed football. Thento top it off, Chad Voytik makes his first meaningful debut under center and simply wows everyone with a stellar performance off the bench in the second half to bring PITT back from a deficit for an exciting come from behind victory. This was really good stuff when considering the fact that ALL OF THE SCORING FOR PITT was taken care of by FRESHMEN.

So once again I express my feelings on the matter, this squad is going in the right direction. These young guys don’t know what “the same old Pitt” mantra implies because thay haven’t been part of that mindset. They were back in HS winning championships while us old PITT fans were lamenting yet another mediocre season losing bowl games to the likes of SMU.

Gentlemen, those “old ways” are coming to an end. Pauly P has already stated that he’s waiting to call me out next season in October when “the same old Pitt” is stumbling and bumbling to a .500 record prior to the Thursday night VT nationally televised game. What satisfaction he’ll derive from that, I don’t comprehend, if in fact he’s a loyal PITT fan. But I’m more than willing to accept that challenge because I feel strongly as apparently so does the author of the following Bleacher Report article, that PITT is on the move up. Let’s hope that we are both right in our predictions.

Hail to PITT! and Beat the Terps!

link to bleacherreport.com

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.25.14 @ 10:41 am

Welcome to the Pitt Blather editorial staff Mike. We Pitt bloggers have something in common — we all have an opinion. But one thing we have in common, we are passionate Pitt fans. Some of us have followed Pitt when Paul Martha and Brian Generolovich wore Pitt uniforms. Pitt will always be it for us, win or lose.

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by MariettaMike 01.25.14 @ 10:42 am

gc, I saw Donald for the first time in high school on TV vs Fox Chapel (and 4-star Miles Dieffenbach) and knew right away he was someone special

To all others, Donald committed to Pitt in April 2009, well before his senior year. Some boards had him as a 4-star after his senior year but being that he was allegedly firmly committed to his hometown school may be the reason he didn’t receive more offers.

This current staff seems to base much of its strategy in this manner .. find 2 and 3 star underclassmen that shows much potential and hope they blossom. A hit or miss strategy but since it can’t draw in many 4-stars, this will have to do.

But don’t fool yourselves …. anyone in their right mind would gladly take any one of FSU’s, Bama’s or OSU’s recent recruiting classes anyday over Pitt’s.

Comment by wbb 01.25.14 @ 10:53 am

@wbb

Maybe. I would take from their recruiting classes only the players who Paul Chryst wants to be part of our team.

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 01.25.14 @ 11:32 am

Seattle & Denver’s rosters have more 2 star players than 4-5 stars.

Comment by Nick 01.25.14 @ 12:01 pm

Been my point for years Nick. There are more three stars drafted in the first round each year than 4 & 5 stars. That said, there is a disproportionate number of three stars in totality than 4 and 5 stars. Point is, three stars can be really good players. Pitt right now, gets more three stars than 4, so we need to coach em up.

The OSU’s and Alabama’s replace non-performing 4 stars, with more four stars. It’s a different depth issue. Pitt replaces three stars with three stars. If Chryst keeps the competition strong and lets the best players play, we should see terrific development which will lead to more wins… and ultimately higher ranked recruits that WANT to be at Pitt!! Now, if we can only get a strategic leader in the athletic department, we would really be trending high!

One of these days we should do a pitt panther football google search all at the same time so we are “trending” in the national spotlight!!

Comment by dhuffdaddy 01.25.14 @ 1:38 pm

Looking forward to your articles Mike…

I’m personally glad that Maryland is leaving, from a BB standpoint as far as recruiting goes. There’s a ton of BB talent from that area as our current roster attests. Any good BB player from that D.C./Maryland area who wants to play in the ACC that they grew up to love would take a long look at Pitt.

As for 2-3 star players, I think Chryst is well suited to making those kinds of players better players who will play inside a system much like Dixon does.

Comment by Jackagain 01.25.14 @ 2:13 pm

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