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November 16, 2017

The Dream of A Perfect Season Is Dead

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 12:52 pm

Phew. That nightmare scenario is done within the first week of the season.

Pitt finally notched its first win in basketball last night. I would go with some cliche about how it wasn’t pretty, but let’s face it. Nothing about this season is going to be pretty.

I missed the first half (apparently this was a good thing), where Pitt continued to show no awareness on defense and left shooters on the perimeter alone. To the tune of UCSB going 8-15 on 3s.

The lack of defense on the perimeter coupled with no fear of the frontcourt defending the rim has led to an all-hands-on-deck approach. Redshirts be damned.

Terrell Brown and Peace Illegomah — both expected to redshirt before the season started — got playing time. In Brown’s case, he was a starter. Both could still redshirt if they don’t play too many more games, but at least in Brown’s case that is unlikely to happen. They need his size inside. Illegomah may have made his case for keeping that redshirt, as he played 4 minutes and managed to commit 3 turnovers and 1 foul in that time.

The second half was where life began to be shown by the team.

As the players gathered in the locker room, assistant coach Dan Cage rose and gave something that was less a motivational speech and more of a challenge.

“It wasn’t a negative thing,” junior wing Jared Wilson-Frame said. “It was just him letting us know you guys are either going to fight and win this game or the same things are going to keep happening. We obviously didn’t want that same thing to keep happening.”

When asked after the 70-62 win if any of the details of the monologue were news-conference appropriate, Wilson-Frame and his teammate, Jonathan Milligan, looked at one another before grins gave ways to laughs, with no words uttered between them. The specifics of the speech, after all, were largely immaterial (and presumably not G-rated). What they helped create was far more memorable.

The effort on defense began to assert itself, and UCSB found itself shooting (and missing) a lot more contested 3s.

This game also saw Jonathon Milligan asserting himself more as a scorer for the second straight game. Not trying to simply shoot (ineffectively) from outside, but to drive and attack the ball. He finished with 14 points, going 4-5 on the floor and 4-5 from the FT line.

Ryan Luther, despite foul problems, came up big. Especially late. A nice bounceback for him after a rough finish in the previous game.

As for the freshmen guards. Khameron Davis is still waiting to get his first basket. Marcus Carr does not look right at the moment with a nagging injury. Parker Stewart is starting to find himself on the court.

Jared Wilson-Frame and Shamiel Stevenson are the reason for hope. Both play with energy and are aggressive going to the basket. Yet, they have range to stretch the defenses. Both need a lot of work, defensively, but that applies to the whole team.

Now the bad. Rebounding. My god, the inability to get offensive rebounds. The team finished with 5. 5. For the game. With something like 5 minutes left in the game, Pitt still had only 2 offensive rebounds and 0 second chance points.

The team got 3 came  final few minutes — and even scored off them. Still, the lack of getting second chances was astounding. I don’t even know how you can get only 5 offensive rebounds without shooting something like 65-75% — and Pitt didn’t.





Coaches must have gotten on Milligan at halftime. He is probably the quickest guard Pitt has had in a long time. First half there were at least 2 times he could have easily driven with an open lane and did not. He can really continue being a scorer if he does not pass up such opportunities.

Comment by DD 11.16.17 @ 1:03 pm

Does anyone know how many season tickets were sold this year? I quesstimate they lost half of season ticket base from last year and maybe 75 percent from peak?

Comment by Steve 11.16.17 @ 1:39 pm

This team is fun to deconstruct. This is a good read from PittsburghSportsNow:

link to pittsburghsportsnow.com

It’s something I hadn’t thought of but kind of plays to what Stallings is known for. He doesn’t like to call timeouts. He prefers to let the kids play thru their mistakes and figure things out.

Against UCSB, he admitted they should have played zone. In fact, it would have been an easier game. He chose to stay in man to man because the team has to master it and short term results won’t lead to long term success.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.16.17 @ 3:44 pm

Wish I was in Brooklyn early next week, not getting there till sat.

Comment by alcofan 11.16.17 @ 3:52 pm

All time series, Penn St 75 Pitt 72.

Comment by alcofan 11.16.17 @ 4:48 pm

Regarding KS saying they needed to master man to man and under the context of learning from mistakes and not taking shortcuts that makes the first three games a bit more palatable. I have to admit the fan in me was getting a bit ticked when Pitt just kept leaving guys open for three and couldn’t get a rebound and energy was lacking. Definitely the energy level and emotional level ticked up greatly in the second half which helped ease some of my annoyance. I want to see Pitt win but know have to be realistic this year. Most importantly I want to see fight, energy and emotion even if mistakes are being made. The last few years sucked the life and fun out of Pitt basketball with players that seemed like they did not care at all.

Comment by The Ghost of Billy Gaines 11.16.17 @ 4:56 pm

Ghost – Agree on all fronts.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.16.17 @ 7:56 pm

Kham Davis is 3-4 on 2s and 2-4 on 3s and 0-1 FT.
In 20 Min/game, he does not shoot much.

Comment by xfmrman 11.16.17 @ 8:05 pm

x-man – but Kham does play D. Probably better than any Pitt player in the past three years.

I hope KS plays the “right” D against psu. That’s a game the fans don’t want to see experimentation. We want to see a W.

HTP!

Comment by Erie Express 11.17.17 @ 5:08 am

EE:

Chas stated in his write-up, “Khameron Davis is still waiting to get his first basket.” I was pointing out that he has actually had several. Although he has not attempted many shots, based on his shooting percentage (75%-2s, 50%-3s), he is taking good shots. From what I’ve seen of Davis, I am pleasantly surprised. He is much more athletic and a better shooter than I expected.

He may not have the “hops” that Julius Page had, but he kind of reminds me of him. And regarding his “D”, he had a block in each game.

Comment by xfmrman 11.17.17 @ 8:50 am

Erie – I disagree. I want to see this team in position to win next year. I could not care about W’s and L’s this year. No matter how you shake it, the W’s won’t add up to a post-season tournament. Even against Penn State. The basketball rivalry never developed. I want to see a team prepared for D1 basketball and ready to go next season. If that means sacrificing W’s for development I’m all for it. With the transfers and new recruits coming in, the honeymoon will be over. This is the rare mulligan season. Might as well take advantage of it.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.17.17 @ 9:52 am

Awe come on TT – can’t we just agree that we want to beat psu?

Comment by Erie Express 11.17.17 @ 4:56 pm

Yeah TT, it’s kinda like the FB season where we’d like to see Pickett develop now. Stallings knows this year is in the dumper and will get a pass based on youth, but not next year.

I doubt his feet will be held to the fire over a post season bid, that won’t be the case though in 2019. This season has to be a full training one….won’t have that luxury next year.

Comment by Jackagain 11.17.17 @ 10:52 pm

That being said, I hope they play zone on Monday 😉

Comment by Jackagain 11.17.17 @ 10:52 pm

There has been a lot of chatter about Brandon Stone, in the last couple days.
Does anyone have any insight? Chances of reclassifying to 2018?

Comment by xfmrman 11.18.17 @ 8:11 pm

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