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May 28, 2014

No one has been arrested so far this offseason. And I’m not saying I want any players in trouble with the law. It’s just been real quiet the last couple weeks.

Nothing with recruiting. No police blotter. No conference insanity. Just ridiculously quiet.

So, what are still in my browser tabs that need to go?

The Academic Progress Rate reports came out in the beginning of May. Since the APR can be such a flawed metric, I really don’t get too worked up one way or another on it. Pitt has not had any problem with its major sports in staying above the trouble point.* So, for whatever value you want to place on it, the basketball squad finished in the top 10% of the APR compared to other basketball programs. The third time in four years it has done that.

APR takes into account graduation rates over a four-year period between 2009-10 and 2012-13 and is considered a real-time measure of retention and eligibility. Pitt received recognition in 2009-10 and 2010-11 under coach Jamie Dixon and academic support services director Mike Farabaugh, joining Duke and Notre Dame as the only ACC schools to earn honors three of the past four years.

The ACC had 77 teams in all sports recognized, the most of the five major conferences.

“Jamie Dixon continues to prove that you can have one of the top basketball program in the country and still achieve the highest levels of academic success,” Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said in a prepared statement. “We are fortunate to have a gentleman leading our basketball program who personifies the ideals of this great university.”

Pitt had four players — junior Cameron Wright and freshmen Jamel Artis, Josh Newkirk and Mike Young — named to the Academic All-ACC team.

Wright also received the Skip Prosser Award, honoring the ACC’s top scholar-athlete in basketball.

Players being named to the Academic All-ACC team seems like a bigger deal than the overall APR score.

*Well, maybe not entirely true. If I recall correctly, when the APR was first instituted, Pitt basketball was at risk because the years it tabulated included the end of the Ralph Willard era. Tons of players booted, transferred and such made it look really bad to start. There was plenty of time for the APR to improve, though, before any penalties occurred. Which is what happened.

Feel like some early ACC basketball prognostications? Me neither, but the pickings are slim.

Over at NBC Sports, Rob Dauster sees Pitt finishing around 10th. 10th?

The Panthers stumbled once they hit ACC play and they couldn’t hide behind a week non-conference schedule anymore. Next season, they’ll be playing without Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna, who both graduated. There is some decent young talent on the roster, but the Panthers will have a lot of production to make up in a conference that could have four top 15 teams.

My quick thought is that I’ve heard this song before. Seniors at Pitt who departed and since there are no one-and-dones coming in, the roster seems like unknowns left on the roster.

There is no doubt that there will be plenty of questions on the team, but barring injuries I just don’t see this team finishing 10th in the ACC. No matter how potentially loaded the conference could be.

The only ACC Coaching news was Clemson basketball head coach Brad Brownell getting an extension and bump in salary after his run to the NIT semifinals. The extension was not surprising since he had less than four years on the initial deal and no one wants to have whispers of job insecurity. The extension merely moves Brownell from near the bottom of the conference pay scale to the middle. Most Clemson fan grumbling has to do with his buy out if Clemson decides to fire him:

Buyout on Clemson’s end to fire him

5+ seasons left: $5 mil
4: $5 mil
3: $3.5 mil
2: $3 mil
1: $3 mil

Yeah, that might annoy some people. Seems more like a way to be sure he gets at least three years without a fight. I happen to think Brownell is a pretty good coach, and Clemson has been, um, Death Valley for basketball so there has to be some extra protection with a middle of the road salary.





SOS22 – I agree on CJ. To look at him & the way he moves he reminds me of G’Town’s David Wingate… Those are some big shoes to fill IMO & he’s nowhere near that class of player now (& lets face it may never be). Regardless I like the way he stepped in last year, with a heavily taped thumb, and gave a great effort- showing glimpses at times… We just need a damn big man!

Comment by ptbreezeb 05.30.14 @ 12:47 pm

I have a hard time getting excited for transfers and Junior College recruits as they usually never live up to expectations. I don’t want to seem like a killjoy but I think our best chances at success will come from those who gave us minutes last year. With that in mind…

Robinson- If JR could start to finish better and gain some shooting confidence he could become a bigger contributor.

Newkirk- He needs to continue to gain defensive skills and improve his foul shooting. This could be Newks year to shine.

Wright- Cam is the senior leadership on this team and he is well suited for the role. Cam is tough and will give 100% every minute. What he lacks in ability he makes up for in guts. He is smart and will help Dixon get the most out of the team.

Johnson- Was starting to advance into an all conference performer when injured. His enthusiasm and drive is exciting and if he returns sound he could play a large role this year.

Young- Certainly appears to have some great tools. It is hard to gage what to expect this season because the injury might have held him back so much last year. He is another who could be a big contributor this season.

Artis- He had some sensational freshman minutes and one has to think he could show improvement in this his sophomore year. No one would be surprised if he sees significant minutes again this year. I wouldn’t count him out off of some of what he showed last year. Defensive improvement is required and he showed not only shooting touch but rebounding ability at times last year.

Jones- The fact that he saw as much time as he did with a bad right hand says a lot about what JD thinks. Look for a healthy Jones to see a lot of minutes and perhaps make a significant contribution to this years squad.

Randall- The arrest was a real boneheaded move but a lack of any experience inside among returners means a likely 2nd chance for the big man. He needs to grow up fast too because if he could just hold his own at the post we can probably field a pretty decent team. He has the ability but who knows about the head. He showed short glimmers of hope at times last year.

Comment by spiritofsection22 05.30.14 @ 2:37 pm

I guess I left out Uchebo but from what I saw he is lame and so is his game, I have no hope of him helping at all. It is sad that his knee got so torn up but even if he were healthy he isn’t very good.

Comment by spiritofsection22 05.30.14 @ 2:42 pm

sos22,

At least two transfers became important players on Jamie Dixon’s teams: Jermaine Dixon and Ontario Lett.

Howard

Comment by Howard 05.30.14 @ 8:07 pm

Lett was at Pitt under Howland. Howland also brought in Jaron Brown from Kentucky, but did play his senior year under Dixon.

Comment by Nick 05.30.14 @ 8:49 pm

Nick,

You’re right. Lett was with the Panthers 2001-2002 and 2002-2003. Jamie Dixon didn’t become head coach until 2003-2004.

Howard

Comment by Howard 05.30.14 @ 8:57 pm

Howard, I remember both, I also remember when Trey Zeigler was going to come in and start. Many posters here had him figured for at least 15pts. a game. I think these type of recruits are last ditch options that seldom have a large upside. I am not saying it can’t be a plus, just that I am not counting on it bearing fruit.

JD doesn’t get credit for Lett and the thing I remember most about Dixon was him being in the middle of screwing up the Villanova game that cost us the Final 4.

Again I don’t want to come off as a Killjoy but Jeter and Haughton have to show up and do something before I start figuring them into the mix. Past experience tells me to be wary.

Comment by spiritofsection22 05.31.14 @ 1:10 pm

The best transfer player besides Lett was Jaron Brown. He got hurt his senior year but was playing great ball and starting next to Levance when he tore his knee.I’m pretty sure he was a transfer or jc recruit.

Comment by spiritofsection22 05.31.14 @ 1:32 pm

Another not matriculating in regular order was a kid name Blount who played a few places before landing in the NBA for several years. He was like a gypsy in High School and college.

Is it OK to say gypsy as I have a hard time with political correctness. I mean no offense, he transferred a lot.

Comment by spiritofsection22 05.31.14 @ 1:37 pm

I really believe Haughton is gonna get stuck into the starting lineup replacing Zanna. About Zanna’s size and will block more shots but score a lot less. So, with this the team will retain some continuity from last year.

I thought Dixon would move Young to C… even though I didn’t like the idea… but now I don’t think he is gonna do that, although he will swing Young over to C to spell Haughton.

In the loss to UVA in the ACCT… Young only played 16 minutes… and in the loss to Florida… just 21. Not that many minutes for a starter.

Young plays good D but not so good O.

Artis, plays good O but I don’t think most posters realize how bad his ‘soft’ defense was. In the Florida, seemed like every time down the court Florida was taking advantage of his soft defense.. and Dixon had to get him out of there… only played him 16 minutes.

We are gonna need a lot of improvement across the board if we are gonna be a competitive team next year… but I would bet Haughton is gonna start at C… there really isn’t anyone else.

Comment by Zaratoughda 05.31.14 @ 6:27 pm

SOS22,

There are four reasons why Jeter may work out better than most earlier transfers:

1. He has three years of eligibility, not just two.

2. He was so good that he started 7 games on a good team as a Freshman.

3. He improved during his Freshman year, so he should continue to improve.

4. Transfers are increasing and thus more good players are transferring.

Comment by Howard 05.31.14 @ 8:45 pm

Jeter also has a year out of basketball. He hasn’t been idle, getting training down there in FLA. It may take him a game or two (at Greentree most likely) to get back into the flow of things but overall that extra year should help.

However, Dixon normally sees a player of Jeter’s size and says he is a PF. The thing is, we have Young and Artis at PF and nobody, until Durand is up to speed, to play SF (well, we have Chris Jones for SF, or Wright with Newkirk at SG).

I guess it is POSSIBLE, that Dixon moves Young to C, splitting the time there with Haughton, and has Jeter and Artis split the time at PF. But, IMO Dixon brought in Haughton as the next Zanna and so I expect Dixon will start him at C.

Comment by Zaratoughda 05.31.14 @ 10:30 pm

The one factor that I don’t know anything about is how Jeter will do on defense. Dixon will not start anyone unless they play good defense.

Comment by Howard 06.01.14 @ 12:06 am

I also like the fact that Jeter has 3 years remaining rather than 2. The big question is D, and as previously stated, if he plays D he could factor if he doesn’t he sits.

Comment by spiritofsection22 06.02.14 @ 9:02 am

@Z, Before we anoint Haughton the starting center position you might want to consider it is a big step going from JC to the ACC. If this kid starts at center he will have to be exceptional. Not that it couldn’t happen, but what you propose is farfetched in my opinion. It is highly unlikely he will be ready for such a huge step forward.

Comment by spiritofsection22 06.02.14 @ 9:37 am

@spirit,

I don’t see Haughton starting either. I’m guessing that Young will start at center.

I wonder who will show up in the Pro-Am summer league:

1. If Randall shows, that would tell us that his suspension is temporary.

2. If Uchebo shows, that would tell us that his knee is improving.

Comment by Howard 06.03.14 @ 2:17 pm

@spirit,

Back in April 2013, Dokish said some pretty good things about how good a healthy Uchebo could be. See:

link to panthersprey.blogspot.com

Comment by Howard 06.03.14 @ 2:34 pm

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