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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).





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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