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April 23, 2014

The ACC released the match-ups in basketball for the next two seasons yesterday.

Here’s what Pitt looks like in graphic format:

PittBBSked2015-16

Syracuse and Louisville are Pitt’s permanent “rivalry” games. That works for me. Both very good teams. I like that Big East connection and history. Yes it means Pitt will always have a tough ACC schedule, but that isn’t a bad thing.

The next pair are the home-and-homes for the season. I assume that they are planning on rotating the pairs to some degree. Which means it could well be five years before we see a UNC or Duke home-and-home.

The next group of five are the home ACC games. Then the last five are the road games. The ACC knows Duke and UNC are still the glamor programs that will draw the crowds. Every ACC team has UNC and Duke split as home-away each year.

It’s hard to really project out how the 2015-16 schedule will look in terms of difficulty. Right now it looks a touch easier than next season’s, but that can change quickly. I’ll keep most of my thoughts to the slate for next year.

It’s not brutal, but it will be a tough one. The home slate for Pitt is obviously keyed by games with UNC, Syracuse and Louisville. After that it is ND, FSU and Miami (I think Miami will be significantly better than this year). GT, Clemson (no more McDaniels) and BC.

On the road is a different story. Duke, Virginia, Louisville and Syracuse will all be ranked teams. Florida State and NC State will have talent but who knows what kind of team shows up. Then the bottom with Wake Forest, BC and VT — all three with new head coaches.

In terms of winning percentages in conference, Pitt is right in the middle of the pack with next year’s schedule. Louisville may get a marquee introduction with its schedule, but it is also the hardest looking one.

I know I’m repeating this, but I really do like having Syracuse and Louisville as permanent rivalry games for basketball. If they are going to do two permanent ones (which is a bit of a placation to the NC schools — Wake and NC State — who would have howled forever if they lost UNC or Duke from their annual home slate), I like playing teams for which I already have a healthy hate going.

The only downside is that it gives Jamie Dixon a little more cover to schedule a bit weaker in the non-con because he can point to the conference slate with a bit more ease. Eight of the conference games are against teams that were in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. And if I’m guessing for next year’s NCAA projections, I would put it at 9-11.

Interestingly, Virginia is really being cut a break. Their schedule is automatically easier with a VT as one of their permanent rivals. The counterbalance being Louisville being slotted as their other as the Cards assume the Terrapins spot. But on top of that, they get Wake and NC State as home-and-homes. Their schedule may look more daunting if ND comes back strong and Miami is as improved as I suspect — both road games. But otherwise they have the lightest schedule for a team projected to be in the upper-half of the conference.

Syracuse gets a second straight year of home-and-homes with Duke. Overall, the Orange have to like their schedule. Virginia and Louisville come to the Carrier Dome. Along with Miami and FSU. They only have two challenging road only games in UNC and ND.

Clemson. Poor Clemson. Not only is McDaniels gone, but their road only line-up is Duke, Virginia, Pitt, Louisville and Miami. They are being set up for mediocrity as a best case scenario.





@Dan, I think if Duran doesn’t get hurt we would have been back to top 15 this year.

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.25.14 @ 8:42 am

Trolls like to take peoples thoughts, turn them around and inside out, to fit their own argument, then spew them back out, like, “gotcha”.

Grain of salt my friend, grain of salt.

Comment by Dan 04.25.14 @ 9:49 am

Agree Dan-o, we need to get back to being a Top 15, Top 10 type of team.

2 of the last 3 years we haven’t finished ranked in the Top 25.

I am more than a little worried about next year, as we don’t have much stock piled like we usually do, due to the attrition in the program. We have one 4rth year senior (Wright) and one 3rd year Junior(JR). For the first time that I can remember, we are going to be relying much on 5 true sophomores (Y,A,N & J) and another true sophomore transfer in H.

That is a really young team !

Comment by Emel 04.25.14 @ 4:16 pm

Parker averaged 19 ppg and 9 rpg so I wouldn’t say he was mishandled.

And he’s expected to be a Top 3 NBA pick.

I didn’t say it had anything to do with whether the team failed.

Comment by Emel 04.25.14 @ 4:24 pm

Look who’s showing up on this NBA board.

Lamar is in the 2nd round.

And Khem Birch is projected to be picked ahead of Lamar.

link to draftexpress.com

Comment by Emel 04.25.14 @ 4:27 pm

If they pick Birch ahead of Zanna they are making a mistake

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.25.14 @ 4:33 pm

Emel, This is another area we differ, the coaches job isn’t build individual stats and careers it is to win basketball games. Or is that what it takes to handle the elites.

Duke with all kinds of 4 and 5 talent and 2 early exit NBA guys didn’t accomplish squat. In fact their exit was embarrassing.

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.25.14 @ 4:39 pm

@Emel , Using your reasoning Dixon got Adams picked 12th in the NBA with no where near the rep Parker had. Was this a case of mishandling too?

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.25.14 @ 4:52 pm

Well we differ, Z never learned how to play on the block, even as a 5th year season, he would still bring the ball down low to get stripped, etc.

Several TV announcers mentioned it this year.

Now, what that poor coaching or Z not grasping it ?

Comment by Emel 04.25.14 @ 4:57 pm

@ sos22…

NBA drafts a lot on potential. Adams is one of those examples as are a lot of these Euro players they draft.

Comment by Emel 04.25.14 @ 4:59 pm

Haughton better start eating, a lot.

link to pittsburgh.sportswar.com

Comment by xfmrman 04.25.14 @ 6:58 pm

It is easy to point to what the Z man can’t do, I agree, however next years biggest challenge could be finding player(s) who can do what he did do. I will be amazed if this group is able to fill his shoes.

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.26.14 @ 8:38 am

I have a concern that Haughton has no idea of how big a task he is attempting and unless Randall has an awakening Young is going to get stuck at the 5 where he is over matched. Instead of developing at the 4 he gets beat up and lost inside.

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.26.14 @ 9:27 am

Look at the schools who offered Haughton both as a high schooler and then this past year before he picked Pitt. At this point, there is no reason to sell him short.

He is here to defend and rebound, and is surrounded by 7 players who are capable of scoring double figures … being they have already done so.

Comment by wbb 04.26.14 @ 9:46 am

Randall will be better. He is big and strong, will be in for rebounds defense and a few bunnies.

Haughton is a shot blocker, something we have not had for a long time, if ever. Jamie will use these guys effectively.

Young will play the five when they go small, giving us the ability to run.

Will there be times we get outclassed in the middle, of course. Face it, we won’t be a top ten team, but we still have enough talent to be very good.

We have a lot of role players. Jamie is going to have to do his best job working the chess board making sure to take advantage of match-ups.

Comment by gc 04.26.14 @ 10:30 am

@WBB, I love the optimism and wish I could get on board but JC transfers pan out less than half the time and they have a short lifespan to adjust and produce. Add to that the fact that our improvement inside last year probably coincided with Slice’s arrival for a reason, and I suspect my fears are realistic.

There is a big step up from 300 people watching you play a bunch walk on types in Jabutkyville to playing in the ACC.

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.26.14 @ 10:30 am

Although I am optimistic that Haughton will beef-up by October, and can be effective, he was originally recruited by South Carolina as a PF.

Same with Randall at Rutgers (PF).

I think with his bulk (240#), and improvement on defense, Randall will start at the 5. Haughton will get significant minutes though.

Add Doorson to the mix, and Pitt has a lot of fouls to give at the 5. I hope that they use the fouls (and Haughton’s shot blocking) to force the opposition to beat them at the free-throw line or shooting jump-shots. I hate seeing (opposing) teams drive for lay-ups with impunity.

I do not expect much scoring from the center next year.

Comment by xfmrman 04.26.14 @ 10:40 am

@GC, I think Randall has the ability, but can he get the focus. If he could he could make a huge difference, but he is running out of time to catch on.

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.26.14 @ 10:43 am

@X, Everything I have seen says Dohrson is too much of a project to do anything but redshirt.

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.26.14 @ 10:47 am

SOS:

He was basically a freshman last year.
Stunted development at Rutgers (that surely had an effect on his confidence)…new system…teammates, and the loss of his mother.

I think he has the physical tools (remember the Kip-up).

I hope the lawsuit does not distract him from his development.

Comment by xfmrman 04.26.14 @ 10:59 am

Even if Doorson is a project, his size alone can be intimidating to a 6’2″ 185# guard.

FWIW, Doorson is 4 star per ESPN.

And I remember Gary McGhee as a freshman. 3 fouls in 8 seconds.

Comment by xfmrman 04.26.14 @ 11:11 am

And both Randall and Haughton are liabilities at the free-throw line. Not sure about Doorson.

Comment by xfmrman 04.26.14 @ 11:13 am

Let’s face it all 3 added together and throw in Uchebo doesn’t equal a Zanna.

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.26.14 @ 11:40 am

This past year, Tyrone Haughton was offered by Memphis, Tennessee, Wichita State and Pitt (and others) — 4 NCAA teams, 2 in Top 20. He is not asked to score, but to rebound and defend, something he has apparently done all his life.

He has to be quicker off his feet and a better jumper than anyone we have now, and especially Randall.

Again, at this point, there is no reason to think he will fail.

Comment by wbb 04.26.14 @ 1:25 pm

SOS22, your guy Zanna exceeded eveyone’s expectations this past year (except maybe yours) … but he is also gone.

Further, the coaching staff said on a couple of occasions that Young (broken back and all) was the best low post defender this past season.

Haughton is not here to replace Zanna … he is here to defend and rebound.

Comment by wbb 04.26.14 @ 1:29 pm

Doorson has to take a redshirt. There are 10 guys on the team that deserve playing time.

I think Jamie will have to adjust to not having five clear starters. Newkirk clearly deserves minutes. Young and Artis have different skill sets. DJ, CJ, and Jeter will all deserve minutes.

The five may be the weak link, but with the size of Randall and the hops of Haughton, we should be able to get by.

I do see Young getting minutes at the five if only to get more minutes for the other forwards.

This is a whole new team without Patterson and Zanna. Everyone will have to contribute to replace the production of those two.

Jamie will really need to be aware of who has the hot hand and who is favored by a match-up. He can’t just rely on Patterson heating up any more.

Randall will benefit from having one year of experience in the system and now being the go to guy. If Haughton passes him as the better defender and rebounder, all the better. My guess is without the bulk, Randall will play more. Unless he is wiry, 215 is a lightweight.

When will Haughton arrive on campus, I assume in time for the summer league.

Does anyone know how DJ and CJ’s rehab is going?

Comment by gc 04.26.14 @ 1:52 pm

GC, It sounds like you have a good handle on it, I agree that Randall should have the inside track. I think you hit the nail on the head about next years team being a whole new project. The one consistent element is JD has always figured out a way to make the dance.

JC college transfers are last ditch efforts to fill voids, otherwise they just don’t make sense. Haughton deserves an opportunity but despite his popularity with good teams, he is a stretch to be a big contributor. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen just that it isn’t a likelihood.

When does summer league start?

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.26.14 @ 3:29 pm

@wbb, The Big Kahuna leaving is hard for me ,you are right. Life goes on and you are right ,we don’t have to replace Zman , we just have to put a winning team on the floor. I guess we should be looking forward to enjoying the next player who will capture our imagination and charge us emotionally. HTP

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.26.14 @ 3:39 pm

Pitt played 36 games last year and 14 against teams in the NCAA. The non con was soft but still had us play sweet 16 Stanford and very competitive Cincinnati. To suggest Dixon has built his rep on softies is a stretch and as previously stated this years slate should be more aggressive.

Comment by spiritofsection22 04.29.14 @ 3:09 pm

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