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February 2, 2014

Open Thread: Virginia-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 9:49 am

Hello, again. Offline world completely overwhelmed everything else this week. Hate to go to blaming the weather, but it was the major reason. Kids off for 3 days because of the weather. Wife in a fender-bender. Constantly moving, shifting and adjusting the work schedule to make everything work.

And now, after a Saturday when a drizzly, gray day was welcomed gratefully simply because it wasn’t bitterly cold and piling up more snow; it’s been snowing all morning. So after this post, it’s outside for shoveling.

Pitt’s had all week to stew over the Duke game. Now comes the Virginia team that is playing a lot like the Virginia team that was predicted to be a top ACC team and preseason top-25 team. They destroyed ND in South Bend — UVa had the Irish down 24 points with 7 minutes left before easing up to make it “only” a 15-point loss. Aside from their 4-point road loss to Duke, they have beaten all ACC opponents by at least 12 points.

Like Pitt, they are looking for quality wins. While they played a good non-con, they came away without any wins in those good games.

They have a stout defense and play at a deliberately slow pace. They value offensive efficiency. It all seems very familiar.

I’m not saying I expect this to be a slog of a game. I am saying that both teams will be keying on defense. Pitt, after the Duke game, will be trying to clean up a lot of their breakdowns. Practices were probably all about defense this past week.

Jamel Artis, by the way impresses me even more with his ability to handle criticism. He’s an older freshman and it shows in how he responded to not getting more playing time because he is struggling with the defensive aspects.

“I have to pick it up on defense so I can help my team out more,” Artis said. “If I can’t play defense, then there is no reason for me to be out on the floor. Most of that is just, I am too hyped. I need to focus on being in the gaps, help my teammates out. That’s basically it.

“I need to help more. I am physically able to guard anybody but it is more mental. I need to know where to be and know the offensive player [he is defending].”

Artis said he is trying to work through some of his struggles on defense and feels like he is getting better, but it is clearly a big jump for him to learn how to defend from the high school game to the college game.

He said the help defense, knowing rotations and understanding his assignments, are the areas he is working to improve. But he knows he is big enough to defend players in the post and athletic enough to defend players on the wing, so it is just a matter of time before he takes a big step forward as a defender.

“Coach Dixon said I am getting there, I know I am getting there,” Artis said. “I just have to keep playing hard every game and keep making sure that I improve at practice every day. I feel like I am learning and the more I learn, the more confidence I gain in my abilities.”

And of course more work is needed on his rebounding.

Not much for predictions, but I am going to say that Virginia-Pitt will score more points than Clemson-FSU yesterday.

I guess you can get ranked even if you lose on national TV. ESPN, CBS want those TV rankings regardless. If we win all games against no nation level teams and the games are not on TV, forget it.

Comment by Frank 02.03.14 @ 6:14 pm

My biggest bone to pick with Coach Dixon is his complete stubborness to adjust, either mid game or pre game, to another opponents style. I realize that he thinks “his” way is the best way for Pitt, but if Pitt had just put minor front court pressure on UVA they could have sped up the game and taken UVA out of their slow down pace, especially on the last UVA possession.
Whether it’s the NCAA’s or regular season, it’s the same plodding 1-4 offense with JD calling every set and a tepid man to man defense with players getting caught on switches creating mismatches. Speaking of mismatches, I counted 13 of them for Pitt when UVA got caught on switches with smaller playes covering Young and Zanna inside. Not ONCE, did Pitt enter the ball to the post or drive to the bucket to take advantage of it. To me, this is on the coaching staff.

On a good note, Artis seems to be breaking out and getting more confidence on offense. Miami has dealt Pitt some heartbreaking losses in the past and this game is looming.

Comment by Dan 72 02.03.14 @ 9:57 am


#1 post of the thread IMO….mainly because I agree with Dan 100% 🙂

Comment by Jackagain 02.03.14 @ 6:43 pm

Tonite’s games that can help Pitt’s RPI/seeding:

Syracuse over Notre Dame (31-18 at the half)

Howard over North Carolina A&T (Howard should win at home)

Savannah State over Florida A&M (@FA&M. Might be close)

Comment by xfmrman 02.03.14 @ 8:02 pm

Notre Dame has 4 white boys are the floor at the same time. No joke.

Comment by Upittbaseball 02.03.14 @ 8:18 pm

OK, I’ve just finished reading all of the in depth analysis of this Pitt vs. UVA game. First off, things could worse, we could all be Bronco fans.

Secondly I have only one opinion and one fact to share about this Pitt game on Sunday, Pitt played like $hit and we deserved to get beat, you guys can figure out on your own which is the fact and which is the opinion!

Comment by Dr. Tom 02.03.14 @ 8:38 pm

Coach Cronin obviously took a page from Coach Brey. Coach Boeheim slowed the pace at the Carrier Dome. And I am sure that Coach Brownell would have loved to have the slow pace affect Pitt when Clemson was in town. Coach Bennett learned from them.
Now, I expect Coach Larranaga will use the same strategy on Wed (especially because Miami is the slowest team in basketball). And Coach Brey will make the trip to South Bend a nightmare (at least to watch).

I hope that Pitt is learning from these games.

I was firmly in the camp of work the ball, wear the defense. Not any longer.

Pitt is not the slow, deliberate team (this year) that past teams have been. They score better in transition and when they take advantage of early opportunities.
This year’s team is more athletic and capable of working quickly.

Is it time to let them play and have fun?

Comment by xfmrman 02.03.14 @ 8:39 pm

Emel… you have a job?? can you spend so much time on here??

Comment by Keith 02.03.14 @ 8:43 pm

Jamie doesn’t believe white boys can play unless they’re 7′ tall though. Same with Mike Tomlin… 😉

Comment by Jackagain 02.03.14 @ 9:07 pm

Thank you Jackagain…EMel wins for pure volume though!

One more tidbit I picked up coaching HS BBall for a few years. When I first coached I was a raving maniac pacing the sideline, screaming at refs (baiting them actually) constantly firing up my team…we won some lost some and it took me a few years to realize that my sideline behavior was really negatively affecting my players and my decision making toward game’s end.

I had a long talk with a few well respected local coaches, attending a clinic, drank more scotch and was determined to put out a calm cool sideline appearance. I could not believe how much better I was in control of strategy during the game, how much looser my players were, and most important …now much less the parents got on my ass. We had the best year ever in my last year.

Also, I stopped being a micromanager which goes with the lunacy.

I know Jamie must know better. Slice, when he was HC at Manhatten was a very calm coach. Jamie has gotten worse and worse. red faced and screaming for almost the length of a game. His team is tight and afraid to make a mistake…no way to win at any sport. I hope he takes some counsel soon and slows it down. He appears as a lunatic at times, red faced and crazy on the sidelines. I genuinely worry about his health.

It’s fixable and needs to be addressed by his boss and fellow coaches.

Anyone remember the game last year when he just stayed cool and let his team play?

Comment by Dan 72 02.03.14 @ 9:37 pm

I saw the end of the Syracuse game and Notre Dame gave them they could handle. Even when Cooney hit the corner 3 and then cut the hoop on the following possession, to extend Syracuse’s lead to 10, Notre Dame kept coming back. The Notre Dame game is not going to an easy one for Pitt. Typically Notre Dame gives the Panthers fits

Comment by Justinian 02.03.14 @ 9:42 pm

@Justinian – don’t forget that we did the same thing to Cuse – in fact we did it first.

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.03.14 @ 9:43 pm

Dan….I’m guessin’ it was the game against Albany…LOL.

Comment by Jackagain 02.03.14 @ 9:46 pm

Dan, Yes I’m with you, I think that yelling is counter productive. Paul Evans’ players would tune him out by mid season. One of the things, I liked about coaching kids, is that you could sit them down next to you and tell them what they need to do. It’s lot easier to get a point across when someone sitting next to you on the bench, then when they’re running across the court. Actually most of what you do is really in practice.

Comment by Justinian 02.03.14 @ 10:02 pm

Pitt Dad, Yes I remember the Syracuse game. With Pitt up by 3 points and one minute to play, Talib Zanna released what looked like a perfect jump-shot, but it rimmed out. If that shot falls, I think the Panthers would have won the game.

Comment by Justinian 02.03.14 @ 10:09 pm

Pitt Dad, Yes I remember the Syracuse game. With Pitt up by 3 points and one minute to play, Talib Zanna released what looked like a perfect jump-shot, but it rimmed out. If that shot falls, I think the Panthers would have won the game.

Comment by Justinian 02.03.14 @ 10:09 pm

Anyone remember the game last year when he just stayed cool and let his team play?

Comment by Dan 72 02.03.14 @ 9:37 pm

I believe it was the first DePaul game.

Comment by TVax 02.03.14 @ 10:10 pm

ESPN takes on the topic of recruitment flipping. Yep, Wednesday is going to be a big day with signing day and the BB game.

link to

Comment by Jackagain 02.03.14 @ 10:14 pm

From the Pitt blog by Zeise:

• Two numbers that are amazing to me – in the final 13 minutes of the Cincinnati game, the final six minutes against Syracuse and the final seven minutes against Virginia – Pitt managed to make a total of three field goals. Three field goals in the final 27 minutes of three close losses speaks volumes as to why they have lost those games.

And then there is this – In the final 7 minutes against Cincinnati, the Panthers were 4-of-8 from the free throw line, in the final 5 minutes yesterday they were 1-of-4 from the free throw line and in the final 8:28 against Syracuse they were 5-of-10 from the free throw line. That is 10-of-22 from the free throw line down the stretch of three games they lost by a total of nine points.

Those two numbers, to me, say it all in terms of why Pitt has lost these games and shows that the Panthers need to execute a lot better down the stretch in some simple things if they want to start turning these games into wins.

link to

Comment by Jackagain 02.03.14 @ 10:44 pm

Wait you guys are commenting on yelling? Do you not watch Duke games ever? Plenty of coaches yell a ton. Just nonsense.

You guys are off base with the letting them play stuff. Dixon isn’t the one slowing down the games on offensive end. Pitt has scored plenty in most games and was averaging second most points in ACC going into last week. The shot clock runs down on offense because VA or Cinci or Cuse are playing really good D so takes a while to get a good look. The worst thing you can do is jack up bad quick shots you miss the shot and you don’t get the ball back for another 35 seconds cause they are going to burn clock on other end. Where you speed up the game is on the defensive side of the ball.

Mind you this pace problem is only a problem against teams with really good Ds. A team that doesn’t play good D can’t just say oh lets grind it against Pitt. Pitt will tear it up.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.03.14 @ 11:29 pm

ISU-Ok State in 3 OT and neither team has used more than 7 players. Not very deep I guess.

Comment by Pitt Dad 02.03.14 @ 11:45 pm

@ Keith

I own my own company so I am working when I’m posting.

Is that good or bad ?

Comment by Emel 02.04.14 @ 12:28 am

multitasking I think they call it now.

Sometimes I’m playing the piano at the same time too.

And getting entertained by a Redhead.

Life is strange…but fun !

Comment by Emel 02.04.14 @ 12:29 am

Do these kids get coached during the week and in between games?

Cause if they do, you shouldn’t need to coach them on each and every possession.

Comment by Emel 02.04.14 @ 12:33 am


To Emell

Does the PG have an anti Pitt bias? Hard to say however
the reporter covering Pitt FB is in my opinion terrible. His
commentary is weak and provides little or no insight/information/human interest. To me the assignment
of this guy to Pitt FB means this is not a priority fot the PG.

Comment by JR 02.04.14 @ 7:07 am

I think Sam Werner is getting better. The Pitt FB beat was his first big time assignment, and he also does Pitt WBB. I believe both his columns and blogs are much better written and informative now than when he initally took over for Zeise.

DiPaolo does a pretty good job also at the Trib. Trouble is both papers have PSU editors and while you will see more BB Pitt coverage than PSU (no-brainer), PSU FB gets equal billing and at times more than Pitt FB … even though both editors will swear that Pitt has more written about it. (I haven’t seen it.)

Comment by wbb 02.04.14 @ 7:39 am

jackagain, really pertinent data. Yet, who controls the ball during these critical times … JR, Patterson and Wright. Did anyone notice that Young wasn’t even on the floor for the final offensive possesion vs UVa?

I think they are better off if both Young and Artis are playing, I would sit Wright if you are playing offense-defense.

Comment by wbb 02.04.14 @ 7:43 am

A bit off topic, but in watching the Superbowl, I saw the Broncos play like Pitt football. The offensive line could not stop the defense so the quarterback could had to run around and not get his plays. The team had turnovers, usually after doing something well like a good gain or long 3rd down conversion. And, special teams gave up big plays. Also, just like Pitt, I was rooting for the Broncos (‘case I hate Pete Carroll).

Comment by Caw Miller 02.04.14 @ 7:44 am

Caw, Pitt looked better against FSU than Broncos vs Seahawks. Denver was best regular season offense ever. Shows why I want Chryst to concentrate on defensive recruiting more.

Jackagain, those stats are telling, Jamie will say more stops and more rebounds will win those games, but I call it choking or tight rectum, take your pick. How many short armed shots, poor follow-throughs, bad shot selection and missed layups and free throws have we seen? It’s called being cool under pressure, maybe Jamie’s stress level does affect the players.

This may be where the criticism of non-com is justified, the feeling of a tight game, emotion, stress, guts don’t show up when you are winning by 15.

Comment by gc 02.04.14 @ 8:37 am

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