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February 10, 2014

Getting By

Filed under: Basketball,Injury — Chas @ 1:53 pm

You know all those years of Pitt teams where there was no “go to guy?” The guy on that the team looks to score. The most visible offensive threat. Kind of think Pitt has one of those this year, and the VT game was what happens when he’s not right. Still, I’ll take escaping (again) with the win.

Lamar Patterson had the tape on the right  hand and thumb, and it was evident how much of a problem it was when he couldn’t aim straight. To say nothing of struggling with his handle.

It isn’t right to say Pitt is decimated by injuries, but there is a toll at the moment that is rather high. Durand Johnson’s injury has been an issue but plenty of teams can withstand losing their 6th man.

It’s the nagging injuries to Talib Zanna and now Lamar Patterson that are the concerns of the moment.

Zanna is gutting out the ankle sprain/roll/whatever. He’s out there giving minutes, but he isn’t able to get to the ball and rebound as he was. It is also hurting his position around the basket, making it harder on whoever is at the 4 to play defense and rebound. It is no coincidence that Pitt’s rebounding and defense — especially after not corralling a defensive rebound — has become really bad since Zanna got hurt.

This isn’t to say that Zanna’s injury should be an excuse for the performance by Jamel Artis and Mike Young the last two games — they have been pretty sub-par — it is just one more factor that effects them.

After playing three games in a seven-day span, two requiring overtime, the Panthers need rest and took Sunday off. Lamar Patterson (43.5), Wright (42.5), Talib Zanna (40) and Robinson (37.5) all averaged heavy minutes the past two games, so it’s no surprise that signs of wear and tear are showing, particularly in Patterson (thumb) and Zanna (ankle). The fifth-year seniors are the team’s top two scorers, averaging about 30 points a game, but combined for 12 against Virginia Tech.

It hasn’t helped that the Panthers aren’t getting much help from their supporting cast. Freshman guard Josh Newkirk contributed 11 points in 27 minutes off the bench, but power forwards Mike Young and Jamel Artis combined for five points and two rebounds in 41 minutes and Chris Jones, Derrick Randall and Joseph Uchebo were all scoreless.

“Obviously, you’re not going to have guys score their average every game, and you’ve got to play through it,” Dixon said. “We’ve got Cameron and James and Josh, but we need other guys. We’re playing through injuries and fatigue, but we’ve got to get it figured out.”

Patterson’s injury is frustratingly vague.

Patterson scored a season-low five points and was 1 of 9 from the field, which included several airballs.

“The pain is on the inside of my thumb so they say it is not that serious and it is going to heal,” said Patterson, who wasn’t able to practice leading up to the game because of his thumb. “It is not that serious, it is not something that is going to need surgery or anything like that, so I am not too concerned.

“[I had to play], I am more of an all-around player so my scoring is not necessary. I can create, I can pass, I can rebound, I can get stops, get defensive steals and definitely tried to do all those things.”

But, mainly Pitt needed his scoring.

No real details though as to the nature of the injury or how long it will take to heal. Is it a couple days? A nagging injury stretching out over weeks because there won’t be much rest until after this week?

I love Cam Wright. I think he is a fantastic team player for Pitt. Excellent defender and vastly better on offense from last year. But when he and James Robinson have to shoulder the scoring load it is hard not to be unnerved.

Josh Newkirk did well in the VT game, but he is a freshman and he has been up-and-down as you would expect (like the Virginia game).





Getting Max Wittek into a Panther uniform for 2014 sure would make the loss of Freebeck’s verbal commitment a lot easier to swallow, plus giving Pitt an immediate boost in the depth department at QB. No doubt about it though, Chad has earned the right to be the starter going into the Spring. IF Wittek realizes the opportunity he has at Pitt to be an immediate contributor, IMO, he’d be a fool not to come on board with the Panthers.

It would be nothing but good news for the team, added depth and experience at at QB plus it builds a fire under Chad to make him even hungrier to keep his #1 spot. It is his job to lose going into Fall camp.

Let’s hope that HCPC can get both Campbell and Douglas into the coaching staff. If that happens it will be another stroke of good fortune for the team. Still sad for Pitt about losing Engram, but then again, happy for him personally from a positive professional career move perspective.

Now,,,, can we shock the world tomorrow and raise the roof at the Peterson Center by beating Syracuse tommorrow night? Now THAT would be SWEET!!!

Comment by Dr. Tom 02.11.14 @ 7:45 am

BTW, if Chryst hires the two men rumored as hires then everyone needs to give him credit.
Replacing an empty position (WR coach) is a no brainer but they are in desperate need of a CB coach right now.

Comment by notrocketscience 02.11.14 @ 7:45 am

Anybody have the inside info on the Douglas and Campbell offers? And I’d like to learn of their recruiting potential as well.

Comment by Dr. Tom 02.11.14 @ 7:47 am

Pitt2Cali nailed it at 3:22. These rankings, whether they be recruiting rankings or Top 25 polls, are simply someone else’s opinion in numerical form. Purely subjective and purely speculative. They are not fact and they don’t PROVE anything.

Proof is in results.

Comment by ECH 02.11.14 @ 7:48 am

If Patterson’s thumb is an issue, and it certainly was Saturday, Dixon should have him play the four ON OFFENSE against ‘cuse. Have Young and Artis play the three.

Patterson can still be effective at the high post, forcing the zone to collapse and then finding the open guy(dump down to Zanna or kick out for three) or attacking the rim. Young and Artis can both knock down open jumpers. The added bonus would be offensive rebounding, this guys can crash the offensive boards from the wing.

But if Zanna and Patterson aren’t practicing, this will never happen. Jamie would never try something new in a game if they haven’t practiced it for weeks.

Never mind.

Comment by Boubabcar Aw 02.11.14 @ 7:53 am

Based upon the quality players he’s coached,Troy Douglas is likely pretty good when it comes to recruiting.

However… there is no doubt he’s GOOD when it comes to Coaching… Master at KEEPING IT SIMPLE.

Douglas’ Two Rules…

Rule No. 1) The ball is the issue.

Rule No. 2) You are what you put on tape.

Read more on Douglas and you get a sense of just how important landing him could be to Pitt’s immediate future.

link to amestrib.com

Comment by PittofDreams 02.11.14 @ 8:30 am

There is absolutely no way Z would accept being told he has to sit out for Cuse. Talk about a great way to lose the entire team.

Wittek isn’t as good as Savage. Savage also had an entire season while he sat to learn the offense. Not sure how a guy who couldn’t win the USC job is going to come into Pitt learn the offense and win the starting job. Although, Chryst hates short QBs so I could see Wittek be basically handed the job. I don’t Chryst’s love affair with tall QBs. His best season was with Russell Wilson, when he had to tailor his offense more to Wilson’s athleticism. Give me a more athletic shorter QB over a tall immobile QB any day.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.11.14 @ 9:03 am

Boubacar – good suggestion re: Patterson at the 4. I’d love to see that move for this game, but yeah you’re right, probably no chance.

Re: Wittek, we need QB depth, and competition never hurts. I don’t care if he ever sees the field, if he is interested bring him in.

Comment by Iron Duke 02.11.14 @ 9:18 am

Info for you all football scoop brett mcmurphy ESPN and coach search all say Troy Douglas is pitts new secondary coach that is good news.
now we just need a new WR coach.

Comment by Frankcan 02.11.14 @ 9:44 am

@Iron Duke,

I expect that we’ll see a lot of Patterson at the 4 on Wednesday. Newkirk will come in at the 1, Robinson will move to the 2, and Wright will move to the 3.

Comment by Howard 02.11.14 @ 9:52 am

Pitt could win tomorrow:

If they again way out-rebound Syracuse as they did in Syracuse

If Robinson shoots well from three point land. His 3 for 4 against VT was an indication that it could happen.

If they pick apart the Syracuse zone with excellent team passing from Wright, Patterson and Robinson.

If Patterson and Zanna play as if they are close to normal.

If they keep it close.

Comment by Howard 02.11.14 @ 10:07 am

@ Howard, “Pitt could win tomorrow” Your post to God’s ear brother.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 10:15 am

If Pitt runs over 150 yards, they normally win

If Pitt outreboounds the opponent, they usually win. They did outrebound Cuse especially in 2nd half at the Dome, but were outrebounded in every other loss this year as well as the last 2 games.

Comment by wbb 02.11.14 @ 10:20 am

@wbb, The zone is good for creating turnovers and confusing offenses but one of it’s weaknesses is that it can be hard to rebound. Dixon has exploited that effectively against Syracuse many times in the past. IMO you are correct to look at rebounding as crucial to any hope Pitt has at an upset.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 10:35 am

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

Clemson over Notre Dame (Should be close in South Bend)

North Carolina State over Wake Forest (State should win at home)

NC St. and Clemson are just out of the RPI top 50. If they can get in, and Pitt can beat them again, it would really help the tourney resume)

Comment by xfmrman 02.11.14 @ 10:52 am

@Notrocketscience, While you are putting together a list of articles they should write, how about some reporting on the injuries to the basketball players and what is the prognosis. We don’t even have the facts on Chris Jones let alone Zanna and Patterson.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 12:00 pm

SOS22:

Yes, we hear about Blackshear (Louisville, concussion), Embiid (KU, knee), McGary (Michigan, back), Keita (Syracuse, knee), Ashley (Arizona, foot), Appling and Payne (Michigan St.), Cobbins (OK St., Achilles).
Yet we hear nothing about Zanna and Patterson being injured. We just hear that Pitt cannot score and look lethargic, etc.
But, at the time, Durand Johnson’s knee was discussed.

Comment by xfmrman 02.11.14 @ 12:33 pm

@sos

i believe you mentioned earlier that pitt is in the top 5 programs in wins in the last ten years. my question is of the top 5, how many of those teams have been to the final four? i truly do not know the answer. it pitt is the only team that hasnt, why? if dixon is such a great coach and pitt is such a great program, shouldn’t they have made ONE final four appearance?

Comment by goalie44 02.11.14 @ 1:19 pm

@tom

why does it matter that frankcan uses all lowercase? big deal.

Comment by goalie44 02.11.14 @ 1:21 pm

On BB in some ways I think we are more of an underdog Wednesday then when we played them there earlier… they have gotten stronger since, and we banged up and slumping… to win would not only be huge but would also lift this team into a late season surge.

On FB… wow, so much Chryst has to stay in a comfort zone of buddies. both sound important for coaching and recruiting.
– Is Douglas the DB coach really coming only to be DB coach? lateral move? Perhaps more shake up coming on the D side of the ball??
– WR recruits Big 10 midwest, DB coach the southeast… shows where recruiting strategy going.
– I keep thinking of Henry at WVU… wow, what a mess up… now their D coordinator Leaves (what writing does he see on the wall…), and we get a real DB dude…. Too bad signing day not next week!!

Comment by Pittscript 02.11.14 @ 1:33 pm

Goalie44,I honestly don’t know the answer to your questions, I do know that Pitt has been about as close to the final four as you get without going. I think Dixon is a great coach and has gotten way more wins out of way less talent than most and has done that consistently playing in the toughest conference. His record speaks for itself and he is one of the most respected men in his profession. He has more than held his own competing with the most successful coaches in the country. Calhoun, Patino, Boeheim, even Coach K. He has done this at a school that had never been much in basketball and without attracting many top recruits. He has consistently developed talent and his players graduate and move on to successful lives. As for Pitt being a great program that didn’t come from me. I think the Pitt program has had considerable success for a decade and has reached a level of a top 20 program. The great programs of college hoops still are perched a notch above the Panthers however. Kansas, Kentucky, Duke are great programs. We have a good program at Pitt.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 2:13 pm

@ goalie 44, There is an element of posters here who seem to enjoy stressing the fact that JD hasn’t yet gotten to the final 4 or won a national championship. They overlook the fact that prior to him being here that was hardly ever even a consideration. They aren’t satisfied being on the map and think those loyal to JD are holding us back from some imagined level of greatness the next guy would surely achieve. Those of us who watched us fail for most of the last 40 years figure he is about as good as it gets and hope and pray JD will mature into the championship level like many others have done.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 2:48 pm

The lack of information on Patterson and Zanna is extremely frustrating. Feel like they almost have to be on the floor tomorrow for Pitt to have a chance, but that has to be weighed against what is the best thing to do to ensure this team is as healthy as possible heading into this last part of the season.

But assuming that both will play and neither will be 100%, major offensive contributions from Artis and Robinson, and rebounding on both ends from Young, seems like a must for this team to make tomorrow’s game competitive.

Comment by Carmen 02.11.14 @ 3:08 pm

I just watched the preview of the Syracuse game on the ESPN site. They didn’t mention Patterson or Zanna’s injuries however they made a big deal about The Orange’s forward Mousa-kita’s sprained knee. He averages about 15 minutes a game. I’ll gladly give them 3 Mousa-kitas for a healthy Zanna or Patterson.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 3:19 pm

@sos.

good posts. i mostly agree. i am one of those fussing about the final four. maybe it has more to do with unrealistic expectations of fans, vs actual success of the program. is there a better coach? maybe.. are there worse coaches? absolutely and i would never want sp to be in charge of any coaching search again!

Comment by goalie44 02.11.14 @ 3:26 pm

Goalie44 I with you 100% on the search angle.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 3:31 pm

^I’m

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 3:36 pm

@spirit,

Just found this, “Andy Katz discusses the thumb injury that may be hampering the shooting of Pitt’s Lamar Patterson.” It’s just a 34 second clip, but I can’t get it to load. Judging from the title, it’s just an educated guess:

link to espn.go.com

If you can get it to load, tell me what he says.

Comment by Howard 02.11.14 @ 4:33 pm

“Coach Jamie Dixon tells me that Lamar Patterson’s thumb has really been bothering him.” Really? That’s it? What, pray tell, is f@#$ing wrong with it, Andy? Was this information shared? Was it requested? Is there a timeline on when said thumb will not be really bothering Patterson?

Perhaps we should ask the NSA. If yinz guys are, like (cough) following along, inquiring minds would like to know.

Comment by Carmen 02.11.14 @ 4:43 pm

@Howard, Carmen is right ,I knew more before I viewed the Katz piece.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 4:45 pm

link to cbssports.com

CBS has Pitt on the front page.

Comment by xfmrman 02.11.14 @ 5:29 pm

@xfmrman, Again no mention of the Pitt injuries, but concern for the Orange’s 2nd team center’s knee problem.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 5:54 pm

SOS22:

In the article, it is briefly mentioned along with Keita.
But Norlander, Parrish and Borzello, all think that Pitt can (will) win the game. (In their podcast from yesterday)

Comment by xfmrman 02.11.14 @ 6:02 pm

Although hopeful, I am not as confident.

Comment by xfmrman 02.11.14 @ 6:03 pm

Sorry, it is mentioned in this article. One sentence vs paragraphs for the Keita issue, and line-ups.

link to cbssports.com

Comment by xfmrman 02.11.14 @ 6:12 pm

@xfmrman, What happened historically isn’t really a factor….., We might well have been the better team last time we played….., Our injuries are substantial and have severely limited us offensively……, The zoo will be rockin and everyone will be pumped…., Syracuse has struggled in true road games this year….

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 6:13 pm

I do hope Pitt will try to force some things and put pressure on Ennis to get him to foul. And get Christmas into foul trouble.
Pitt must not forget Cooney. Cannot let him go-off for 32 points like he did @ ND.
And force Grant and Fair to take jump-shots.
Robertson and Gbinije are not offensive threats (but Gbinije is 10-21 from 3).
If Zanna/Young cannot contain Christmas/Grant inside (rebounding and scoring), Pitt is in real trouble.

Comment by xfmrman 02.11.14 @ 6:30 pm

Last 10 Years
322-69 John Calipari, multiple final fours, Nat’l Champ (NC)
318-64 Bill Self, multiple final fours, NC
313-68 Mike Krzyzewski, multiple final fours, NC
298-86 Roy Williams, multiple final fours, NC
295-89 Thad Matta, final four
290-68 Mark Few
290-88 Jim Boeheim, multiple final fours, NC
287-95 Billy Donovan, multiple final fours, NC
285-95 Rick Pitino, multiple final fours, NC
282-90 Jamie Dixon

Pitt is third in Home wins over the last 10 years.

While final fours and national championships are not the only measure of success, you can’t totally ignore them either.

So throw in Michigan State, UCLA, UConn, Memphis and Butler, then it becomes really tough to make a compelling case for Pitt being any higher than the 16th most successful program over the last ten years. Most “independent” pundits have ranked Pitt around number 20.

Bottom line, neither extreme opinion, “fire Dixon” or “Dixon is the best coach in the country and can do no wrong”, is supported by the facts. Pitt has a really good program with a really good coach. Neither the coach nor the program can be considered elite without more post season success.

A win tomorrow would be enough for me for a while, well at least until Saturday.

Comment by Boubabcar Aw 02.11.14 @ 6:43 pm

With Zanna, Randall and Uchebo, Pitt has 14 fouls to give at the 5. I would like to make Christmas work for 40 minutes.
And not give easy lay-ups. Make Syracuse earn their points from the line.

Comment by xfmrman 02.11.14 @ 6:43 pm

@Xfmrman, I think Pitt will be fine on defense, as long as our offense doesn’t allow the Orange to get out in transition. The question is can we score on the zone and rebound while not turning it over. If we aren’t too beat up to compete this could be an old fashioned Big East slug fest. A lot of people hate low scoring slow paced basketball but it is our best chance of winning a tough one against the Orange.HTP

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 6:43 pm

Sorry 15th.

Comment by Boubabcar Aw 02.11.14 @ 6:45 pm

Early spread is Pitt -2.

Comment by xfmrman 02.11.14 @ 7:00 pm

@boubabcar, I have been active on this site for well over a year and have never seen a single post suggesting “Dixon was the best coach in the country and can do no wrong” I have seen lots of posts calling for his replacement however. Meanwhile Dixon isn’t close to the bottom of your elite group this year. In fact based on preseason projection might be considered to be among the leaders. Another factor worth considering is how many NCAA tournaments did they qualify for. Dixon is like 9/10. Another factor you might want to consider is that none of these men are looking to change jobs and some of them work at places that were perennial contenders for the National championship when they got there. That has to be an advantage.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 7:01 pm

I think if Dixon were coaching at UNC, Duke, Kansas, or Kentucky he might well have won a championship too, but next time Coach K or Bill Self express an interest in the Pitt job I have to agree we might be wise to have a look.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.11.14 @ 7:10 pm

Hard to believe spread of Pitt -2.

If I were a gambler, I would put lots on Syracuse getting 2. And with my luck, it would guarantee a win for Pitt if I did.

Hope the wise guys are very close to right on, now that we “know how to win a close one”.

Comment by TVax 02.11.14 @ 8:44 pm

Memphis and Butler aren’t better programs than Pitt. Memphis Final 4 doesn’t exist anymore. And they haven’t done much without Coach Cal. And Butler had one really good coach and was really good for a couple if years.

Pitt favored. Don’t get how. Gotta go big on Cuse.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.11.14 @ 9:56 pm

Opened at Pitt -2.
Now it’s Pick ’em.

Comment by xfmrman 02.11.14 @ 10:17 pm

Since 2000, roughly the Dixon-Howland Era, Butler has had three coaches:

2000-2001 Thad Matta, 24-8, NCAA second round
2001-2007 Todd Lichliter, 131-61, Two Sweet Sixteens
2007-2013 Brad Stevens, 166-49, Two NCAA Championship games, 5 NCAA tourney appearances, 1 elite eight.

Memphis is a tougher case, but here it goes, since 2000, two coaches:
2000-2009 John Calipari, 230-69, six NCAA appearances, 1 second round, 1 sweet sixteen, 2 elite eights, 1 Final game*
2009-2013 Josh Pastner, 105-33, 3 NCAA appearances, 2 second rounds, 1 elite eight

Both have better tourney records, even if you take away Memphis’s championship game.

*NCAA ruled that Derrick Rose had someone else take his SAT before he was committed to Memphis and with no Memphis involvement. Rose denied the charge and still does. NCAA vacated the wins in ’08-’09, including final game.

That same year, assume Gilbert Brown stops Scottie Reynolds and Pitt made the final four, then went on to the final game. Then a few years later the NCAA accused Dejuan Blair of cheating at Schenley and vacated the season, what would we think about that season? Would we pretend it never happened? The NCAA is a joke.

Comment by Boubabcar Aw 02.11.14 @ 10:58 pm

This season could go in many directions. I get the downside, easy to follow that path. However, somehow if Z & LP can get healthy & Cam and JR, who could be benefitting from needing to lift their play sustain this level and throw in efforts from Newkirk Young & Artis this team could peak at the right time.

Comment by Old School Panther 02.12.14 @ 7:09 am

I’d argue Butler is worse. Butler is 12-12 this year, which just happened to occur when they started playing teams Pitt would play every year. I’m not denying Butler’s tournament success in those two years but I’d imagine their overall record isn’t as good if they played in the Big East. Butler has also missed the tournament 5 times in year 2000 cut off and 4 times since Dixon became head coach.

Memphis with Coach Cal better. Coach Cal is a better coach than Dixon. But he also cheats. Coach Cal just is really good at cheating because he insulates himself from it. Memphis without Coach Cal is probably worse. Coach Cal coached the 2008-2009 season at Memphis. Pastner has same tournament results as Dixon. Slightly better record but in a worse conference.

Gonzaga definitely is a worse program too. Most of their wins are from a bad conference. Only 1 sweet 16 since Dixon became coach at Pitt.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.12.14 @ 8:34 am

I too think Pitt has a better program than Gonzaga, but they are similar. Both have great regular season records and horrible tourney flame outs. Gonzaga has feasted on an easy conference schedule, but has traditionally played tough non-cons. Pitt has done the opposite.

Comment by Boubabcar Aw 02.12.14 @ 9:03 am

@Old School Panther, Did you see the movie The Perfect Storm? Your post made me think of the scene where the boat had been pummeled all night when suddenly the wind stopped and the sun came out and for a moment or two the crew thought they were going to make it. Then they realized they were in the eye of the storm and they sunk about 5 minutes later. I read your post and for a minute I thought we were going to make it.

Comment by spiritofsection22 02.12.14 @ 11:51 am

I just have no words anymore……

Comment by WorkinOnMyPittness 02.12.14 @ 9:31 pm

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