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February 13, 2017

The Way The Ball Bounces

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:40 am

Va-VTBall

If you were one of the handful of people watching the Virginia-Virginia Tech game, then you were treated to this incredible moment.

That wasn’t just a well-timed photo.

 

I was lucky enough to have turned for the last 10 minutes or so of regulation, and was treated to watching that really happen and Virginia-VT go to double OT on a Sunday night. London Perrantes drive somehow died there. Not wedged between backboard and rim. Just died on the back of the rim. Which, it turns out, is a “jump ball” situation. Meaning possession arrow determines for college basketball. VT got the ball. Didn’t score and the game went to the second OT where they finally won.

Oh, and VT will be at the Pete on Tuesday night.

Really don’t think fatigue will be much of a factor despite a less than 48 hour turnaround from when the game ended to the start time tomorrow. More likely could be the possibility of a letdown after a big emotional win against their in-state rival.

In other ACC stuff, there is the question of job security.

Clemson Coach Brad Brownell is starting to get questions as they fall to 3-10 in the ACC. Amazingly they are 39th in KenPom rankings. The best way to compare them is as either a slightly worse 2015-16 Pitt team or just unluckier. Lost to UNC in OT by 3. Lost at ND by 5. Lost to Virginia by 4. VT and Cuse beat them 82-81. Lost at Duke by only 2. Six losses by a combined 16 points. They have been just good enough to lose close (mostly). So, despite the record, the computer numbers still look good.

But at the end of the day, Clemson is 13-11 overall and their best win is at Wake Forest. Aside from his first season (2010-11), Clemson has missed the NCAA Tournament every year since.

Clemson may care about basketball as much as Alabama, but when your in-state rival has rebuilt itself and is heading to the NCAA Tournament pressure increases. Obviously the ACC is tough to maintain traction when not a top team. And when you compete for recruits in the same geographic area as the North Carolina schools. But sooner or later the results matter.

Brownell has not been able to find enough missed talent and develop them. That was the plan, but it just hasn’t happened.

On the opposite end is NC State and Mark Gottfried. If you followed his trajectory at Alabama, then you knew this sort of thing was coming. It was just a matter of when and how long the extension he had signed would inflate the buyout. Here’s the best piece you can read wrapped inside a game recap.

State’s season is a train wreck. There’s enough talent on this team to compete in the ACC. But after its third league loss of 25 points or more, the first time that’s happened since the 1993-94 season, Gottfried suggested time might be running out.

“I don’t think you can re-invent things at this point,” he said when asked if there is anything he can do to turn the season around.

Smith said the team could start to play harder and at least try to save the season.

“It’s effort,” he said. “It comes down to playing with heart.”

Smith was among the top recruits in the country when Gottfried flew to Fayetteville’s Trinity Christian School to convince Smith to come to State over Kentucky. It was considered a coup and signaled the beginning of an era of good feeling at N.C. State.

That’s over.

People are discussing Gottfried’s future now. They’re no longer discussing the program’s potential. His contract, which was extended after he signed Smith in 2015, runs through 2020.

This team was to be his best ever. Now he appears to have lost it.

State fell to 14-12 (3-10 ACC) with five potential losses to come. Now with five straight losses by a total of 91 points, the Pack will host Carolina on Wednesday, the team that beat State by 51 in January.

Things have gone from bad to worse with Anya missing the FSU trip for an undisclosed disciplinary violation and offering to meet a fan on the court Saturday only minutes after Smith walked to the State bench and told Gottfried to take him out of the game.

On paper, Gottfried seems like the coach you want. An excellent recruiter, who concedes nothing and wins a fair share of those battles. Flat out one of the best you can find. A proponent of up-tempo, offensive basketball. Where the game flows and the players are unleashed. Media friendly and open to the fans as well.

He was also the best they could do after NC State publicly aimed high (for the second time) and were spurned.

The next spring saw State fans putting out the last of the smoldering embers of shit from the 2010-11 season. Sidney Lowe was fired and went whistling his way back to an NBA assistant coaching gig. An unceremonious departure for a Wolfpack Hall of Famer who basically did them a favor after they were spurned publicly by Rick Barnes, Steve Lavin, John Beilein, and John Calipari.

NC State AD Debbie Yow opened her search with Sean Miller before moving on to Shaka Smart and Gregg Marshall. Yow, to her credit, was and continues to be very open with the fan base. She ended up issuing a statement to more or less temper the expectations of NC State fans before she announced the person who accepted the job.

Mark Gottfried was announced as head coach 24 hours later.

Unfortunately, with Gottfried, it stops right about there. The one thing he can’t do is coach a whole season. NC State, for all the talent. For all the potential. The Wolfpack has bumbled and stumbled through every season. The best you can say is that they have gotten it all together in the second half of conference play. Parlaying eking their way into the NCAA Tournament into a couple runs to the Sweet 16 where all is forgiven for what came before.

Gottfried at NC State is the living embodiment of what Syracuse Coach Jim Boheim said over a month ago — after beating Pitt — in response to a local columnist.

“Also, one quick thing,” the Hall-of-Fame coach announced following five perfunctory minutes of give-and-take about the triumph just earned. “If you go to the Final Four, you can lose 20 games and it doesn’t matter. Last year was the fifth best year I’ve ever had here. Ever. Forty years … fifth best year.”

Boeheim was responding (and with some oomph) to an unpleasant Friday offering — that would be mine — which pointed out that the Orange’s middling 53-39 record since February of 2014 had represented a dip, maybe a telltale one, when compared to the glorious 155-28 run that had preceded it.

Thus, at that moment, and in the ones that followed, the “happy-for-a-change” fellow wasn’t.

“Those are just numbers that you put in the paper that don’t mean anything,” Boeheim argued. “You’re putting numbers that are saying it’s been a bad three years. Last year, we lost 14 games, but it was one of the five best years we’ve ever had since I’ve been coaching here because all that matters is what you do in the NCAA Tournament. That’s all that matters.

“Just ask Pittsburgh or Virginia, who won 30 games last year, if they would have our year. What I’m saying is, last year was a great year. The year before that, we weren’t eligible for the Tournament, so how many losses doesn’t really matter. And this year certainly could be a bad year, but it isn’t over yet.”

That quote has been with me since he uttered it. As much as I love the regular season, and want it to matter. It really doesn’t. Not compared to the NCAA Tournament. That’s just the way things are.

UConn won the National Championship — twice — in the last 10 years after muddling through their seasons. After being a bubble team coming into their conference tournaments. No one cares about that part. Just how it all ended.





25 comments

Seems like Anya is a Dixon “miss” about which Pitt fans should be very pleased. While Rowan’s shooting stats have respectably improved this season, his defense and decision making haven’t been very good in the games that I have seen. Seems like Pitt fans should feel ambivalent about that decommit as well. Heron remains the significant Dixon decommit/miss that seems like he could have helped this team. On the other hand Heron is so intriguing that he may be done after one season.

I for one actually care about the regular season. I had this conversation a few years ago with former coworkers who were WVU fans (old BE) and they agreed. The auto bids for conference tourney wins is ridiculous. You’re basically diminishing all that grinding conference play resulting in a champion and giving undeserving teams a second chance in a one and done tournament. For example the 2011 BE regular season championship (11 bid league) that Pitt won meant a lot to me. I didn’t care all that much that Pitt lost to UConn in the BE tourney other than listen to WVU fans deride me for the #1 seed having just lost to the eventual national champion. Still remember Jim Calhoun proclaiming after Pitt lost to Butler that the 2011 Pitt Panthers were the best team UConn had faced that season.

Consider this, Pitt lost 3 BE conference games in the 2010-2011 season by a total of 9 points. Throw in the UConn tourney loss and they lost 4 BE games by a total of 11 points.

Comment by Barvo 02.13.17 @ 10:44 am

2011 was definitely Pitt’s best shot at a NC. Pitt’s last 2 losses were to the NC finalists, and bost last second losses.

I actually saw that shot last night in the UVa vs VT game (it was either that game or the Grammys) … and was just telling a co-worker this morning that I have never seen that before, and I have been playing/watching BB since mid 60s.

Comment by wbb 02.13.17 @ 11:02 am

The way Dixon recruited worked well for the regular season but the lack of top 50 players killed Pitt in the NCAA’s. In a one and done situation, over 6 games, God given talent will rise to the top because of the play making required in such a setting. For Dixon it was about BE titles and the BE tourney.

The difference between the BE tourney and the NCAA’s was the rivalry factor, and the conference pride that Dixon instilled plus the NYC connection so many on the team had.

Pitt doesn’t need the one and done All-American’s. All Pitt needs is two top 50 recruits (that live up to their billing) with a solid foundation of role players. That formula alone will automatically improve Pitt’s chances come tourney time, regardless of regular season record, because of the play making required to advance deep.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.13.17 @ 11:20 am

link to espn.com

“Narduzzi told Watson point blank: There has been too much instability, and he wanted to make the transition as smooth as possible for his players. Some seniors would be going on their fourth offensive coordinator in as many seasons.

Watson understood what Narduzzi was asking. He agreed to learn the terminology and the offense Canada ran, while adding his own nuances. Watson faced a similar situation at Louisville, when he took over as coordinator midway through the 2011 season. He kept everything largely the same before eventually tailoring the offense to his talented skill players, starting with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

So far, Watson sees similarities between what Canada did at Pitt and what he tried to do at Louisville: power run game mixed with spread principles and some tempo. The biggest difference is the inclusion of run-pass options, which Watson studied and learned over the last season under former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson.”

Comment by NickC 02.13.17 @ 12:59 pm

You need some BIG stones to coach in the ACC.

Comment by alcofan 02.13.17 @ 2:27 pm

Jerry Sandusky’s Son Jeffrey Charged With Child Sex Crimes

link to newyork.cbslocal.com

link to clickondetroit.com

Comment by Jackagain 02.13.17 @ 4:36 pm

Sick, Sicker, Jerry Sanduskys son arrested for child sexual abuse. Look what you enabled Joe. Could have stopped this but you didn’t want to hurt your football team.

Comment by alcofan 02.13.17 @ 5:50 pm

and just like that … your Panthers are listed as First 4 Out on CBS Bracketology

link to cbssports.com

Comment by wbb 02.13.17 @ 6:12 pm

That’s quite a jump up wbb….

Comment by Jackagain 02.13.17 @ 6:36 pm

Considering all 6 games Pitt has left are against teams that most brackets have in the tourney no need to look at brackets to know Pitt fate.
I think if they can have a winning record 4-2 with these last 6 games they’ll be in….anything less and they are out….unless maybe they go 3-3 and three wins are NC, Virgina and FSU….don’t see that happening though.

Comment by milobloom 02.13.17 @ 6:43 pm

Agreed

Pitt is an NIT team

Seniors and KS have nobody but what they see in the mirror to blame.

What could have been

Comment by TX Panther 02.13.17 @ 7:22 pm

Let me get this right. Dixon actually didn’t want to win Games in the Tourney?

And intentionally recruited to settle for less?

Comment by PittofDreams 02.13.17 @ 7:37 pm

Nick… Canada had a “power run game”?

You’ll have to show it to me… because I missed it.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.13.17 @ 7:39 pm

The season was lost early cuz the four seniors didn’t want to play defense, there just now admitting their”buying in on defense” that’s a direct quote form Sheldon Jeter

The coach can’t coach the unwilling

But, I think their gonna go at least 3-3 in their next 6, that puts us at 17 wins, two wins in acc tournament and we might just get in!

Comment by Keith 02.13.17 @ 8:48 pm

milo – yeah, not only do they have to go 4-2 but they can only lose to UVA, UNC or FSU and they still have to beat at least one of them. Plus they’ll, most likely, need 2-3 games in the ACC tourney.

VT’s Chris Clarke out for the season tearing his ACL.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.13.17 @ 8:57 pm

Keith – if they go 3-3, I think they’ll have to beat 2 out of UVA, UNC and FSU and definitely 3 in the ACC tourney.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.13.17 @ 9:02 pm

Said to say Blather has taken on the look of “Fake Posts.”

Say it ain’t true.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.13.17 @ 9:27 pm

Dixon cooked the books on scheduling to get 20 wins a year and do well in the BE while hoping to get into the NCAA’s so he could keep a multi-million dollar job.

What do you POD about fake posts?

Comment by Jackagain 02.13.17 @ 10:17 pm

No matter how you look at Pitts final games I think almost impossible for them to make tourney without a win tomorrow night. So will hold off on any more projections unless that happens tomorrow.

I was reading USAToday projections and they have Pitt already out of contention yet they put Pitt in the good win column for Miami Syracuse and Clemson.

Comment by milobloom 02.13.17 @ 10:23 pm

C’mon Jackagain, be a little fair. From 2003 thru 2011 under Dixon, Pitt finished at or near the top of what was the best conference in college BB. Yes, they often played a weak non-con but they were no fluke.

Like it or not, JD was the best HC in the school’s history …. but it was time for hie to go (or at the least, hire a good recruiter with ACC footprint roots.)

Comment by wbb 02.14.17 @ 7:30 am

Dixon’s BE record, especially through 2011, debunks most of the rent a win criticism.

Haters are gonna hate.

The BE was the best conference in history for about 5 years and Pitt was right there with the cream of the crop. They reached a #1 ranking, a couple of #1 seeds. Taking that away from Dixon is a disservice to him, the players and the program.

I believe the new ACC runs deeper than the old BE right but I’d still take 1-5 in the old BE over 1-5 in the new ACC any day.

I miss the UCONN, G-Town and NOVA games big time. I love the ACC for football. I’m in the heart of ACC country … but the ACC basketball rivalries are so soft when compared to the intensity of the BE. BE rivalry games were like nothing else in basketball.

Having said all that, Dixon’s biggest failure at Pitt was the NCAA tournament. It’s a shame that an Elite 8 and a few Sweet 16’s are so overlooked. Very few programs have had the sustained success Pitt did, especially those programs that are not blue bloods.

5 years of stagnation would kill most coaches and, to be fair, the program didn’t look like it was going to rebound anytime soon. Dixon and Pitt parting ways was a good thing for both parties involved. The way some fans turned on Dixon though is sad.

I don’t understand why it’s hard for some people to say Pitt had a good run for 10 years. You can acknowledge the good with the bad. They’re not mutually exclusive.

… But, haters are gonna hate.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.14.17 @ 9:13 am

You can make a case for Doc Carlson but his winning % was over 100% less than JD’s

Head Coach Years Won Lost %

Benjamin Printz 1905–1907 8 14 .364
Harry Hough 1907–1908 10 6 .625
Wohlparth Wegner 1910–1911 6 6 .500
Dr. George Flint 1911–1921 111 68 .620
Andrew Kerr 1921–1922 12 8 .600
Dr. H.C. “Doc” Carlson* 1922–1953 367 248 .597
Robert Timmons 1953–1968 174 189 .479
Charles “Buzz” Ridl 1968–1975 97 83 .539
Tim Grgurich 1975–1980 69 70 .496
Dr. Roy Chipman 1980–1986 102 76 .573
Paul Evans 1986–1994 147 98 .600
Ralph Willard 1994–1999 63 82 .434
Ben Howland 1999–2003 89 40 .690
Jamie Dixon 2003–2016 328 123 .727

Comment by wbb 02.14.17 @ 9:51 am

Well put Tossing. Memories………

Jimmy Boeheim encapsulated the current state of NCAA BB when he said the Final Four is all that matters. And, now, the millennial progressives have their coveted FB playoffs. And so, money talks and the elites celebrate. Meanwhile, the Pitts of the world wax nostalgic about what once was and try to make sense of what is. Really, who cares if the Pete and Heinz are half full? You don’t understand they say. It’s all about TV stupid. The ACC will pay your bills. Shut up on put on the show.

My fear……it’s all heading down the same path as horse racing. Everybody watches the Derby. Go down to Meadows on most other Saturdays (in season) and count the live attendance. What happened?

It’s all about simulcast. Money. There is nothing special about going to the races anymore. All those race tracks are mausoleums for the losers who don’t get it.

Maybe someday Pitt will indeed play Duke for the number one seed. Let’s hope. Meanwhile, I got off on the last stop.

I’ll watch on TV.

Comment by wally 02.14.17 @ 9:58 am

Total of SIX invited to NFL Combine. Impressive.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.14.17 @ 11:47 am

Big question… Just how fast is Conner going to run?

Comment by PittofDreams 02.14.17 @ 11:48 am

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