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March 3, 2014

Open Thread: NC State-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 7:21 pm

Final game at the Pete for the season. Aaron Donald will be there.

Game is on ESPNU at 9pm. Mike Patrick and LaPhonso Ellis calling the game.

Not sure what kind of effort will be coming from the Wolfpack. Obviously not the effort they gave versus UNC last week. Or Syracuse the week before. They likely won’t be as pathetic as they were in the games immediately after those losses.

N.C. State (17-12, 7-9 ACC) will play at Pittsburgh on Monday after a sobering letdown in an 85-70 home loss to Miami on Saturday.

The Wolfpack poured everything into Wednesday’s game against North Carolina, an 85-84 overtime loss, but couldn’t duplicate the effort against the struggling Hurricanes.

Gottfried understood those challenges before the season. He had talked to his team about the danger of Saturday’s game with Miami.

He saw the same pattern after a difficult loss to Syracuse on Feb. 15. The Wolfpack couldn’t avoid some of the same issues that cost it a 73-56 loss at Clemson after the Syracuse game.

At this point, the goal for NC State is to finish at .500 in conference play. They end the season at home against BC, so this should be a big deal for them.

It’s obviously a big deal for Pitt. Especially for the seniors.

“We will be ready, we need to rest up and get our bodies right,” Patterson said after the Panthers beat Notre Dame, 85-81, Saturday in overtime. “This means a lot, my last home game, last game at the Pete. I want to make sure we go out with a ‘W.’ I let Pittsburgh down with a loss on senior night so why not go out and get a ‘W’ in our last game at the Pete.”

Coach Dixon is also bothered by the play of Pitt at home.

Coach Jamie Dixon said he believes the best way to honor his senior stars is by winning their final game before a pro-Panthers crowd at the Pete.

“It’s the last home game. It’s not senior night, but in a lot of ways, it is,” Dixon said. “Most importantly, we have not played as well at home as we have on the road. To me, that’s got to change. We’re 6-2 on the road and 4-4 at home, and that’s never been the case with Pitt. We’ve got to get that changed. We can’t deal with what’s past, but we can deal with what’s in the future. We’ve got to go and play well.”

As usual, Coach Dixon looks to rebounding as being key.

As inconsistent as NC State has been, T.J. Warren has been the one constant. Even when the rest of the Wolfpack was mailing it in against Miami, Warren went for 20 points and 7 boards. He will get his points. Pitt has to do what they did last time with him. Which was make him work for it and have to take a lot more shots to get them.

NC State to be successful needs to attack the basket. Pitt will probably be playing a fair amount of zone to limit their penetration. Just as they did in the first meeting. Their frontcourt is still playing raw, and their 3-point shooting is actually more inconsistent  than Pitt’s.

Yes CN…also some poor talent evaluation. For instance Malcom Gilbert should have never even been recruited.

His numbers at Fairfield. For a scrub scrub team that is 7 wins 24 losses.

Gilbert is avg’g 2.6 ppg and 2.8 rpg in 27 games.

You can have 1 year where you miss some, but as our upper classmen suggest after this year, it’s been several years of recruiting blunders. Doesn’t take long for a program to tumble in hoops.

Comment by Emel 03.04.14 @ 12:15 am

One last thought and a few facts. I saw terrible telegraphed passes from Pitt tonight, something I have not seen all year. We were really trying to force the ball.

The facts are these. Every year Dixon has coached, we have been the kings of December and early January and looked tired And less enthusiastic in Feb and March. Record reflects that. And here we are again!

Comment by Dan 72 03.04.14 @ 12:16 am

We could not get a defensive stop in the second half. A lot of that was Warren, but we used to be able to handle a team with one great player.

It may be the change in refereeing, anyone that breathed hard on Warren got called.

Comment by gc 03.04.14 @ 12:18 am

The one & done thing with Adams is a mute point. He was supposed to be one & done all along.

So you have to factor that into the recruiting. If he stayed well it was a bonus.

His answer was signing a stiff and a cripple in desperation.

Comment by Emel 03.04.14 @ 12:19 am

Good point Emel. I probably should have included Gilbert in the recruiting misses category.

Comment by CNorwoodAZ 03.04.14 @ 12:20 am

I’m not 100% sure about that Emel. I really think Jamie (mistakenly and/or foolishly) thought he would have Adams for two seasons. If he didn’t, our signing of a hurt Uchebo 4 months before the season is unfathomable.

Comment by CNorwoodAZ 03.04.14 @ 12:27 am

We would be finally getting Maui next year. I really hope it’s a weak field out there.

I just don’t see Young playing the 5, it would be a real waste of his talent and shooting ability.

Comment by Emel 03.04.14 @ 12:28 am


Adams told Dixon he was gone in late March, early April. After he went to Australia after we flamed out of the NCAA’s.

Uchebo wasn’t signed until May 6th.

link to

Comment by Emel 03.04.14 @ 12:31 am

With the success Dixon has had there is just no way Pitt can even contemplate making a change. As @CNorwoodAZ said, Jamie has earned the right to fix this. He has been more willing to play freshman than in the past, although in a couple cases he has had no other choice.

Sometimes I think we are being unreasonable, If this team makes the tournament, then Dixon has still only missed it once in his tenure.

But I don’t think anyone can say there aren’t some legitimate concerns and there is evidence this program has become stagnant.

Dixon set the bar high, and as fans we want more. Everything is there for this program to be a consistent top tier program.

I hope Dixon sees what some of us do, and looks for ways to get this program to where it can go.

I haven’t given up. I still think we have a good coach, who wants to be here and isn’t looking for his next job.

The next few years are very important to this program and for Jamie Dixon…

Comment by Pap76 03.04.14 @ 12:31 am

If Aaron Gordan and Nick Johnson stay for Arizona, they are going to be very scary next year in Maui. They had one senior who rarely played honored at senior night last night.

Comment by CNorwoodAZ 03.04.14 @ 12:33 am

Emel. That’s my point though. If Dixon thought Adams was leaving, we should have had a big man signed in the fall of 2012, not taking a questionably healthy transfer in the spring of 2013. If he KNEW and the best we could do was Uchebo then that bordering on unacceptable. Perhaps I’m giving the benefit of the doubt mistakenly.

Comment by CNorwoodAZ 03.04.14 @ 12:39 am

This team has lost some very close games to some of the better teams in country with NO NBA players on the roster.

We are not DUKE, NC, Kansas, or Kentucky yet and have yet to recruit the same type of players those schools get year in and year out and yet this team has shown it can play with anyone in the country and has had a shot of winning most of games we lost. Many of you complained about the SOS early in the year and yet it seems you bought into those early wins with this team.

We lost a very good player Durand Johnson to injury not to mention that JJ Moore & Steve Adams both left. We have 3 freshmen playing considerable time because of this and Zana is NOT really a center. At the start of the season to make the tourney with this team would look like a good coaching job and yet people on here want to blame Jamie Dixon for every loss and expect to win every game.

I feel very confident in saying that Jamie will have a Pitt team in the final four in the next 4 years. We will get the foul call, or the last second 3, or have a guy in the zone at tourney time.

If your pissed I get it I think ALL Pitt fans are are but coming down on the program and the best coach in it’s history (JD is that guy) isn’t going to put anymore points on the board or remove the L off the record so what’s the point?

Comment by Tony In Harrisburg 03.04.14 @ 12:51 am

I’m upset with myself for letting my expectations get to high. I should have saw it coming after barely beating BC and ND two of he worst teams in the acc. I sit and wonder how every team we play manages to shoot lights out or at least better then their averages and finally I let myself see that pitt is simply atrocious on defense. Just another player to notch a career high against pitt 41 points god I’m gonna throw up again then pass out from the bottle of jack this shitty ass team makes me drink

Comment by Carey 03.04.14 @ 1:20 am

@Tony In Harrisburg:

Good post man. Sometimes I think we’re spoiled.

The one thing you said though, the no NBA players on the roster. That is what a lot of us can’t grasp. This program should be able to attract more of those types of players. whether it is Jamie not wanting to go after that kind of kid, or that kind of kid not wanting to play in this system is the question.

The bottom line is, Pitt needs better players. There are times where it is so apparent we just don’t have the athletes some of the other teams in our conference has.

I have always believed it was just a matter of time before Dixon got this team to the final four. I have to admit I”m not as sure anymore.

Said it in my previous post, next few years are very important for Dixon and this program…

Comment by Pap76 03.04.14 @ 1:30 am

Does Pitt ever invited potential recruits to pro day? This could be you in about 4 years kind of thing

Comment by DCPinPGH 03.04.14 @ 3:22 am

Driving to the airport this morning I was listening to 93.7 the Fan. Immediately heard the host talking about how Pitt played itself onto the bubble. Didn’t think too much of it, until I realized, this wasn’t a local guy, this was CBS Radio. Then in the next segment, they had their college basketball guy on who said the same thing. One win against the top 50 and that was in December.

Let the bubble talk begin.

Better Win in Clemson and get one win in ACC or it is NIT.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 03.04.14 @ 5:23 am

I am by no means making excuses, BUT the way that game was officiated had a material impact on the outcome. I don’t think the calls were biased, but the game was called differently than any other game I’ve seen this year. There were many more, touch fouls called. Certainly foul trouble on Wright, Robinson and Patterson had an impact on how Pitt defended (or didn’t) Warren. It also caused Jamie to play too much zone. Both of which contributed to Warren getting hot and once someone gets hot, it is tough to cool him down, especially if you’re in foul trouble.

Hindsight being 20/20, I would have liked to have seen Jamie come out of the zone quicker and let Young/Artis try to force Warren to put it on the floor and drive, where maybe they could have had some help.

No excuse for the lack of offensive rebounds, though.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 03.04.14 @ 5:55 am

That’s a damn bold projection: Dixon’s team in the final 4 by 2018. From where this program is now that’s a wish list projection. The system created by Ben and sustained by his asst coach Dixon was predicated on given components: angry defense, boxing and clawing for bounds being the core. That core has eroded over last 3 years and with it the energy and vibe of the team and its home venue.

Dixon deserves praise for sustaining the core & vibe that kept Pitt relevant in the BE; however now he’s challenged to resurrect the program as an outsider in new conference. I don’t think he knows how to use a new model, the kids he has now don’t play defense not because they can’t, because they don’t want to. Everything about Dixon is trending down. I think its more likely in 4 years we’ll look back at the blown opportunities v Villanova and Butler as the Dixon era highpoints.

Comment by Old School Panther 03.04.14 @ 6:24 am

I thought that Pitt looked winded at the 5 minutes to go mark. Zana usually runs the floor but I watched the NC State state sprint down the floor, Zana ran. The NC center scored. Maybe the overtime games are catching up to us. H2P

Comment by Caw Miller 03.04.14 @ 7:07 am

Harsh reality is that they just aren’t good and the talent is not there to be good. We all should have known that Cam is what he is and would not start on a good D1 team. The same for Lamar and Zanna. They are D1 players but cannot carry a team. Pitino was on college sports yesterday and said that you need 3 all conf. Players to win a conf. Championship ang 3 NBA type players to win a national championship. We have no NBA players. The closest we have come is with the Blair/Young team and they went about as far as they could go. Need much better talent to make a run.

Durand was the closest thing we had to a top talent athletically but they made him the 6th man. That is the JD way.

Comment by Jp 03.04.14 @ 7:33 am

Boubacar – I agree with you, the fouls really hurt the defense and forced the zone. Which affected the rebounding. But even so, Pitt has rebounded well out of the zone before.

Outrebounded by 16 to one of the worst rebounding teams in the conference? That’s where I think the game was lost.

Comment by KeyboardKev 03.04.14 @ 7:50 am

Last night made me realize, this team is really the same mix of players we have had for years. Same level of talent. With one difference. We might not have had more gifted scorers in the past (with exceptions), but we ALWAYS had above average talent on the defensive side. We have not had that for 2 years now.

I am not giving up on this team. But after last night my mind started to wander to the question: will we be better, the same, or worse next year?

Comment by DD 03.04.14 @ 8:02 am

It’s not a trend down. I’m still waiting for someone to provide a coherent argument why last year was not a good year. And this year isn’t that bad for a transition year filled with injuries. I’ve been plenty frustrated. But Pitt has lost a lot of close game. I realize you need to win the games. But I’m saying that it shows Pitt isn’t that far off from being good. And the most important thing about Dixon is that his recruiting isn’t trending down. Wilson is a really good recruit, Herron and Rowan are elite and they have a really good chance of landing Diallo.

You want Pitt to recruit elite talent but then you don’t realize that sometimes it will make you leaving. Birch leaving is the killer. If Birch was on Pitt, then Pitt would be a legit contender this year. It’s not Dixon’s fault Birch left. He left because the guy who recruited him wasn’t’ there. But say Dixon would have recruited a Chevy type guy instead, most of you would have said blah he’s not elite, but that kind of player would have helped this year’s team a lot. You can’t have it both ways. When you start recruiting elite talent you are going to have bigger swings in performance.

Pitt could make the Final Four in 2015-2016 really easily. 2015 is going to be a really good class, JR and DJ will be seniors and all the Freshman will be battle tested Juniors. 2016

I think James Robinson slows down the offense more than Dixon does. James Robinson was in foul trouble most of last night and there was rarely any burn down the clock. Newkirk will push Robinson a ton. Robinson better work on his game this offseason.

Jp, since I always pay extra attention when DJ is in the games, DJ was not ready to start until right before he got hurt. His freshman year and the start of this year he was mistake prone and a bit of a gunner. But then something clicked and right before he got hurt he was doing all the little things. I actually liked DJ coming off the bench because he gave the team instant offense. Starting doesn’t matter, minutes are what really matter.

Comment by Wardapalooza 03.04.14 @ 8:08 am

Boubacar, good point about the zone. Staying in the zone too long also really hurt Pitt against UNC. It’s hard to rebound out of the zone and we saw that last night.

Comment by Wardapalooza 03.04.14 @ 8:09 am

for those who need a change in subject to preserve their mental health, here is interesting blog from Panther Prey

link to

Comment by wbb 03.04.14 @ 8:18 am

Not only did that asinine TO in ND almost cost the game it required expenditure of high level energy for addnl 5 mins. Clemson game for NCAA berth. Beware the refs.

Comment by Old School Panther 03.04.14 @ 8:33 am

I agree that the OT win at ND cost Pitt last night as our big guy looked tired. NCS out rebounded us and that was the difference in the game. I also think Newkirk was as hot as Wsrren except Warren playe twice as long as Newkirk. Jamie need to reassess his starters. Perhaps Robinson should sitt more. But that’s my opinion. Jamie knows best.

Pitt is on the bubble according to USA Today but as someone on this blog mentioned, USA Today is the least reliable sports prognosticator and should not be taken seriously. But…

Comment by MariettaMike 03.04.14 @ 8:53 am

Jamie’s record as a coach is starting to look inflated. This year has been a real eye opener to his MO. Load up on patsies and win 20 / make the tournament and everyone thinks you are a great coach.

Comment by Pitt fan in Atlanta 03.04.14 @ 9:11 am

Wardapalooza: Your post about the bright future of the Pitt program is more than a bit off. Next years recruiting is the worst in the ACC with very little near term help. As far as Heron and Rowan, three years is a long way off. If they both improve Kentucky, Kansas and Syracuse will come calling. I doubt that either will end up at Pitt. I hope I’m wrong but the program under Dixon doesnt look to bright

Comment by Chick 03.04.14 @ 9:16 am

Jerry Palm has us mired deep in the bubble too. If we lose to Clemson I don’t think anything less than a run to the ACC champ game will save us.

Comment by ECH 03.04.14 @ 9:19 am

ECH, you are probably correct, and the pre-season schedule will come back to haunt us.

Comment by wbb 03.04.14 @ 9:44 am

I see no passion or excitement on these kids faces or actions. No joy of playing the game.

Been that way for about 3 years now. Don’t know why.

Like they’re in a trance.

Comment by Dan 03.04.14 @ 9:45 am

Hear some people say “The Pete’s lost it’s luster, not so hard to play at anymore”.

Thanks Mr. Obvious. The Pitt teams haven’t been as good as they have been in the past.

Hence, we lose more games, even at home.

Some real genius’ out there.

Comment by Dan 03.04.14 @ 9:49 am

Dan, I think it comes down to what Dick Groat said after the FSU loss: these kids are working basketball, not playing it.

It’s a game. It has to be fun, you have to have confidence that the next possession, the next shot, the next defensive stop is going to be successful. You could see the tension rise again last night when Warren got nuclear hot in the second half. Every shot he took was done confidently. Then the other NCSU guards started stepping into their shots and the dam was broke.

Pitt conversely continued to tighten. Lamar was frustrated at the foul line, the defense grew frustrated with every made shot by Warren, then on offense they started to pass up on open looks in search of the “perfect play” that rarely materialized.

The mojo is lost. It’s up to the team leaders and the coaches to find it. PDQ.

Comment by ECH 03.04.14 @ 9:52 am

We ran into a steamroller last night. Not only were they at their best we were tired and combined with the foul trouble I think we did well to hang in as long as we did.

We could actually benefit from sliding a seed or 2 at this point.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.04.14 @ 9:55 am

@ECH – last game they had fun was the DJ tribute game with the headbands. At least it looked that way to me, of course it is easy to have fun when EVERYONE is hitting shots from everywhere on the court.

@SOS – if we slide a seed or 2 at this point, we suddenly move to a line on the NIT brackets.

Comment by TVax 03.04.14 @ 10:04 am

The question is do we make the tourney if we do any of the following:

1 – 2 (lose to Clemson, win one ACC tourney game)?
1 – 1 (beat Clemson, lose first ACC tourney game)?

I think if we go 2 – 2 we are in, and in for anything better than that. I think we are out if 0 – 2.

So those two are the question.

Comment by DD 03.04.14 @ 10:37 am

Just a quick comment on the coaching comments above. I honestly believe that Chambers at PSU is a better coach than Dixon. Look what he is doing with little support. Yeah, they’ve lost a lot of close games and had some bad games but he lets his players play. If we had either Newbill or Frazier we would be a way better team on paper but we know Jamie wouldn’t let them do their thing.

Comment by JJ 03.04.14 @ 10:44 am

I think it all comes down to Clemson – win and they’re in. Lose and it’s NIT time. If they beat Clemson, a run in the ACC tourney will be for seed line. If they lose to Clemson, I would think they would almost have to win the damn tourney to get them in. Possibly if they made it to the finals and lost there. Pitt really doesn’t have a signature win, and they won’t get a chance to earn one unless they play a couple of rounds deep. The best games Pitt played IMO were against Syracuse and I think a lot of that is down to knowing their system so well.

The bigger question is; does it even matter? I don’t see them doing much damage in either the NIT or the NCAA.

Comment by thestumper 03.04.14 @ 12:18 pm

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