November 6, 2017

Introductions Out of the Way

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 12:25 pm

Pitt won its exhibition game over Slippery Rock 71-59. It’s a big deal only so far as it avoids any additional embarrassment and stress on the team.

Attendance wasn’t great, but not unexpected. At the end of the day it was an exhibition game and even the defending NCAA Champs couldn’t get 5k to show for an exhibition.

For the only two returning players, they picked up where they left off from last year. Ryan Luther got in foul trouble in the first half and didn’t play much until the second half. Jonathon Milligan didn’t start and played 10 mostly forgettable minutes.

Three of the four players that made an impact were the guys expected. Marcus Carr, Jared Wilson-Frame and Shamiel Stevenson were solid overall. Wilson-Frame showed his range inside and out. Carr is the starting point guard, and I hope he is very well conditioned to handle 30+ minutes a night.

I expect that Pitt will be trotting out a very small frontline quite often. Kene Chukwuka is raw as hell and will give Ryan Luther a run for his money in foul issues. While it was nice to see that Peace Ilegomah in the game after the struggle to be declared eligible this year was in doubt; he is almost certainly looking at redshirting. I am sure the coaching staff really wants to redshirt F/C Terrell Brown, but they may not have much of a choice.

That means a frontcourt getting trotted out at times of Wilson-Frame and Stevenson with a three-guard backcourt could actually happen at points this coming season. Conceivably a line-up with no Pitt player taller then 6-6.

Parker Stewart did not have to share/compete for shooting guard duties with Khameron Davis in this game because of an ongoing heel injury to Davis. Stewart took advantage of his 29 minutes to shoot a lot. Unfortunately, not with great accuracy. On the plus side, he was active in going after the ball as the guard did get 6 rebounds.

The Lafayette transfer Monty Boykins seemed a little too keyed up, and it impacted his shooting. As much as the team settled down and looked steadier — offensively — in the second half. There is definitely a sense among the players about finding how they fit in the rotation, and making the most of their opportunities when on the court.

“We work on that type of stuff, so that for a team like us who’s young and new, our poise is a little higher than it might be for other young teams,” said Wilson-Frame, who led the team in minutes with 31. “So, we weren’t really nervous or worried. We just kind of came together, looked around at each other like, ‘OK, we’ve done this a thousand times. Let’s buckle down, make some plays and win this game.’ ”

Except they hadn’t done this a thousand times. They hadn’t even done it once, and technically still haven’t, given that this result won’t ever register as an official victory. But there were occasional flashes of savvy from Carr — the freshman point guard who finished with a nice all-around stat line of 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 3 turnovers — and Wilson-Frame already had the look of this team’s go-to guy.

It also helps that Wilson-Frame wants to be coached. And coached hard.

“The conversation we had was just unlike one I had with other coaches through that recruiting process,” said Wilson-Frame, who also had offers from West Virginia and Wichita State.

“It was more like a genuine, I-could-care-less-about-you-getting-on-the-court. (It was) ‘I’m trying to help you.’ From that first conversation, I put Pitt at the top of my list.”

Yet, Stallings had more to say to Wilson-Frame, some of it in the way of a warning.

“He and I still laugh about it,” Stallings said of a face-to-face talk that occurred later.

“We had a very, very pointed conversation. I told him he has some JUCO habits that needed to be broken. I’m not sure he was going to want to listen to me (to) help him break them. But he said, ‘No, coach. That’s what I need. I need to be coached hard.’

“I kept saying, ‘Jared, you realize what you’re signing up for? Because if I see this (bad habit), you’re not going to like me very much.’ ”

Stallings said Wilson-Frame responded with, “I may not like you at the time. I’ll like you later because that’s what I need.”

Stallings described some of Wilson-Frame’s junior college bad habits as “some things from a focus and concentration and discipline standpoint that needed to be tightened up.”

Wilson-Frame heard it and bought it.

“Giving my total effort throughout the game was the biggest thing he would tell me about, and it’s something I’m working my hardest to improve,” he said.

Early returns are promising there.

First real game is on Friday night at Navy for the Veterans Classic. We’ll find out if the sight of a Pitt jersey still inspires fear and not wanting to play against them in Ed DeChellis.

SRU won on the boards (including offensive). SRU
shot 10-20 from the line and 3-20 from 3. SRU led on points in the paint, second chance points and bench points.

Even with JWF having a good game, Pitt’s starting backcourt was 14-34 from the field and 4-14 from 3. Carr had 3 assists and 3 turnovers.

I think it’s a good thing that Pitt played a team that is typically around .500 in the PSAC rather than say IUP.

Comment by Barvo 11.06.17 @ 1:17 pm

“Early returns are promising there”….
In attitude and effort, yes.
In basketball, not so much.

Peace was invisible. Brown was not; except for a couple tap-out rebounds, he really looked lost.

I agree about Boykins being too amped-up. But looked ok on D. His size will help on the perimeter.

Based on what I saw of Milli, I would not be surprised if Stewart is playing some point guard by mid season. Which could open minutes for Davis and Boykins at the 2.

Although I would not be surprised to see Pitt us JWF at the 4 (like Duke did with Winslow, a couple years ago). I can’t see them with Stevenson at the 5. Either Peace or Brown will have to be used if Luther and Kene are in foul trouble.
And with these small line-ups, Pitt must do something that they have not been able to do for years…put real ball pressure to deny post touches.

Comment by xfmrman 11.06.17 @ 2:28 pm

I agree with xfmrman’s post. You’ll like the effort (if it continues). It’s going to take us a while to see some Basketball. You are so right about the bigs. The only thing I wonder about is if Stevenson will get lost at the 5. Kid’s got some game. He was a very pleasant surprise. You are being kind to Brown and Peace. There’s nobody home there yet. I think it will come but I saw deer in the headlights.

Comment by The Hagen 11.06.17 @ 3:37 pm

If they’re going to play small, I agree they will have to put much more pressure on the ball than they historically have.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.06.17 @ 3:46 pm

RE: Stevenson
When SRU had the break-away (Till?), Stevenson ran back and fouled HARD. I like that he sent the message. Something that has been missing over the last few years.
Not a bunch of guys watching the play behind them and sulking, heads down.

Comment by xfmrman 11.06.17 @ 4:19 pm

Again tempered by the fact that this was a PSAC opponent in an exhibition game, the stat line that jumps out to me is 33.3% 3pt shooting on 21 attempts.
Digging into the numbers, the guards were 1 for 11.
Carr 0/4
Milli 0/0
Boykins 0/2
Stewart 1/5
I expect these numbers will improve.

And 21 attempts may be low for this team. I would not be surprised if they average 25/game.

Of the players expected to see the floor, Davis and Peace are probably the only two who won’t have a green light.

Comment by xfmrman 11.06.17 @ 5:49 pm

“Anytime you get a guy (Ben DiNucci) out there and you can see how he reacts in a game to find out what he does well, what he’s not doing well, what do we change, what can we do better, it certainly helps you that way,” Narduzzi said — Post Gazette

Well, what do you know… maybe HCPC is learning something?

Comment by PittofDreams 11.07.17 @ 5:52 am

Pitt is on National TV two nights in a row. FB Thurs vs UNC (HBO) and BB Fri vs Navy (CBS Sports Network). Good thing that the FB game is vs UNC and the BB game is vs Navy ….although of course neither game is a guarantee W. In fact, Navy is likely favored (and should be.)

Navy BB has 3 Western PA natives on roster versus one for Pitt, so there is some consolation for you provincial types.

Comment by wbb 11.07.17 @ 8:24 am

In so loving these BB posts. Honest player/coach assessments; relatively little negativity; no skunkhair name calling; no character assassinations. What have you done with my Blather, and where have you taken It?

Oh, wait. It’s only early November!

Really though, I’m like the rest of you. Max rebuilding project. With a few exceptions, it’s almost impossible to win with freshmen. I’d just looking for 40 minutes of 100% effort, and continual improvement. No need to look in the rear view mirror. Focus on the road ahead.

I hope these guys have a lot of potential. With all these freshmen, we won’t be doing much recruiting for 4 years – except for replacing those that are dropped or leave.

Comment by Savannah Panther 11.07.17 @ 7:09 pm

Thanks for the write-up, Chas. It’s going to be a long season, but I’m with Sav Panther…looking for effort and improvement.

Comment by panther94 11.07.17 @ 7:53 pm

Savannah – Yeah, it’s going to be really hard to get too down on this team. Hopefully, Stalling’s jackassery doesn’t rear it’s ugly head. That’s my biggest fear. The team seems likable enough. More so than the last couple of years anyways. That’s my biggest thing. I want a team that is fun to root for. The Aston Gibbs era thru the present has been hard in that regard.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.07.17 @ 8:12 pm

Good write up by the beat writer, Craig Meyer. I like both beat writers on Pitt sports right now.

link to

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.07.17 @ 8:13 pm

Savannah Panther: +1

Please let my assessments be taken as an objective view (although they are not, because I am rooting for this team).

TT: that write-up by Myers is the biggest waste of newsprint I have ever read. His series of the player profiles was great, and I generally read his basketball stuff.

This will be a hard team to root against (so long as they give effort). They all had to know that they were entering a difficult situation.
And this little vid during pregame warm-ups is priceless:
link to

Comment by xfmrman 11.08.17 @ 1:16 am

check out the first 3 names of this box score

link to

Comment by wbb 11.08.17 @ 8:12 am

xfmrman – it’s just a discussion starter article and really shows how expectations should be tempered. Best case would be the worst season since the 90’s.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.08.17 @ 2:32 pm

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