December 23, 2017

Pitt Beats Towson — Yay?

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 11:14 am

So many conflicting emotions over this game. Towson is a good team this year. They were a top-100 team. A top contender in the Colonial — one of the better mid-major conferences. They were the legitimate favorites in the game. This was Pitt’s first win over what could be considered a quality opponent.

On the other hand…

It’s still playing Towson. And pardon the elitism or snobbery, but that’s a hard mental block no matter how young, inexperienced and not particularly good Pitt is this year. Pitt had to comeback multiple times. The fact that Pitt was a home dog against them is more then a little troubling even with Ryan Luther on the shelf.

It was an ugly game and Coach Kevin Stallings was right in noting Pitt did a lot to put themselves on what could have been the losing end of this game.

Pitt coach Kevin Stallings counted his blessings after the 63-59 victory against Towson, the last of 13 nonconference games this season.

“We were very fortunate to win,” he said.

But he also counted down the reasons why it would appear — if you didn’t know the truth — Pitt had lost.

“We didn’t make our free throws (12 of 21),” he said. “We didn’t make 3s (1 of 16 in the first half). We turned the ball over 21 times.

“There are so many things you can look at why we should have lost. We won because we fought hard. As a coach, I would take that every time. That’s a good as it gets.”

Pitt dug itself a hole early in the game and somehow climbed out of it to only trail by 3 at the half. It helped that as bad as Pitt was shooting 3s in the first half, Towson was that bad for the entire game. And that while Pitt found something approaching an offense in the second half — 6-12 on 3s, 12-25 overall — Towson remained in an offensive funk.

Then there is this. Pitt rebounded. Oh, there were moments where it lapsed, and lapsed horribly. But Pitt got after the ball and got second chances on the offensive glass. They didn’t give Towson too many multiple scoring opportunities.

It was definitely the freshmen leading the way. Jared Wilson-Frame — who has had a truly miserable December — spent a chunk of time on the bench in the second half after getting a technical foul. As an aside, JWF shot 18-37 on 3s in November (7 games) — earning the right to shoot wherever and whenever he wanted. In December (6 games) he is 11-42. He’s been slumping ,and especially last night you could see him trying desperately to shoot himself out of it and causing him to stop attacking the basket as much. His shooting from the perimeter is rising and shots around the basket have dropped.

The big guys filling in for Luther inside — especially Terrell Brown — started showing some growth with their increased playing time. More comfortable with scoring inside and not being pushed away from the basket on offense. Defensively, they aren’t even close to where they will have to develop for major conference big men; but that was a given.

The win was not only notable because of Pitt’s heralded fight, but because some of the factors that led to the victory have been what has plagued it for much of the season. It held the Tigers (10-3) to just 0.83 points per possession while hauling in 33 of their 40 missed shots and getting offensive rebounds on 15 of their 34 misses. A frontcourt that looked incapable in its first two games without injured forward Ryan Luther, the team’s leading rebounder, looked suddenly formidable, a sharp uptick exemplified by 6-foot-10 freshman Terrell Brown, who had a career-high 12 points and brought down seven rebounds.

The turnovers remain a concern. Towson is not a team that runs a lot of press, but even running a weak one disrupted Pitt quite a bit. More problematic in my view were some of the passes Marcus Carr thought he could make to get the ball inside.

In the first half, when Pitt couldn’t hit anything outside, Towson started packing it in. Daring them to shoot. Carr made several ill-advised passes to try and get the ball in there. The result were easily picked off passes in the lanes.

There is the natural growing pains that come with a team this young, and the fact  — that continues to be beat into the ground, however, legitimate the point is — that Ryan Luther is the only 4-year player on the team. The growth is there, but it is not going to be fast or consistent.

I’ll take this younger, less talented, but hard playing team over last years more experienced, more talented, but dysfunctional team any day. Other than turnovers, the thing that worries me most about this team is the seemingly high percentage of open look shots they miss…you can’t coach that away.

Comment by HbgFrank 12.23.17 @ 11:33 am

Nice to see domination on the boards. If that can continue, it will help aswage a lot of freshman mistakes. Also, like HCKS’ statement about the team fighting all the way thru to the end. Don’t know if it will play out in conference play this year, but these guys are learning how to win.

Comment by Savannah Panther 12.23.17 @ 11:45 am

No comments from the KS haters after the Townson win. Who said they should have hired the Townson coach and the game was a definite loss. They will not win many games in the ACC but this team is working hard and getting better.

It is not right watching Cam Johnson play for NC. We could have used his leadership this year.

Comment by Jp 12.23.17 @ 3:30 pm

Screw that rat Johnson. He was too stupid to realize he would have been featured in Stallings offense. Could have put up some big numbers

Comment by Steve h 12.23.17 @ 6:42 pm

Pitt non con opponents a combined 97-59. 20 of those losses come from Del St and Mcneese. Montana lost by 3 at Washington last night

Comment by Steve h 12.23.17 @ 11:37 pm

Miami only scores 54 in loss to New Mexico St. interesting to note one of NMSU losses was to San Diego. SD lost by 10 to UC Santa Barbara. Just food for thought

Comment by Steve h 12.23.17 @ 11:59 pm

Steve – and I believe this young 8-5 team beats Navy and Montana in a rematch today. They are improving in my eyes.

Thanks for the positive statistical news – if I get time I may do the same with TCU’s schedule. I Lyke Jamie and am proud he coached at Pitt, but his non-con opponents were cupcakes.

Comment by Erie Express 12.24.17 @ 7:36 am

I think Stallings has done a very good job of recruiting. I see a lot of individual talent and well rounded skills. They should be a lot better next year. Hopefully they don’t get mentally crushed by what is about to happen to them (ACC)

I saw three improvements vs Towson, rebounding, defense, getting the ball to the hoop.

Also impressed with Milligan, this year vs last year.

Comment by gc 12.24.17 @ 8:38 am

One change I would make to the starting line-up is to swap Milligan for Parker.

Parker coming off the bench to fire threes could be a spark when the team needs it. Milligan seems to have earned a starting spot with his resent play.

Comment by Erie Express 12.24.17 @ 9:10 am

Season’s Greetings Chas and followerers. Thanks for the commentary and conversation.

Comment by gc 12.25.17 @ 10:11 am

it was good while it lasted, but after winning 7 of last 8 …. we may not see a W for a while.

still, the object is to learn and improve

Comment by wbb 12.26.17 @ 6:53 pm

I have a gut feeling we beat miami. The played in Hawaii on Sunday, flew back to miami and have to then fly to Pitt to play Saturday.

That’s a tough road trip in one week. Let’s hope Pitt and Luther are well rested and healed for the canes.


Comment by Erie Express 12.26.17 @ 7:11 pm

Hope you are right Erie…I’ll be there with hopefully more than a few dozen others cheering them on.

Comment by Lastrowofsection4 12.27.17 @ 6:02 am

@EE, if we could just play outside the Peterson Center – Hawaii, Miami then on to Pitt OUTSIDE tomorrow, 😉

New meaning for “throw me the ROCK”

Comment by tvax1 12.29.17 @ 3:44 pm

Aaand the flight TO Hawaii is never quite as bad as the flight home IMO. :))

Comment by tvax1 12.29.17 @ 3:45 pm

Pitt is a 10.5 point underdog to miami tomorrow night. Sounds about right, although I think Pitt catches the canes on an off night due to travel weariness.

Pitt has to win the rebounding battle and shoot 45% or better from the floor and 75% from the free throw line.

All doable – the crowd could be light for an ACC game because the students are on break.


Comment by Erie Express 12.29.17 @ 7:49 pm

I’m assuming you’re still reading the Blather every once in a while. It is in my humble opinion that I tell you that I think you should come back to the Blather, if you and Chas are cool. Your write-ups are and have been always well thought-out and passionate. The difference at the POV is that you feel so personally invested. On the blather, I’m guessing the pressure is a bit off. It would be nice to see you and Chas working together again to have the best Pitt blog out there. I know when you left the Blather, Chas went silent for quite a while and that initiated the big migration to the POV. Also, there was the promise of a new post every day, which you mostly kept up with…amazing. I don’t see PIttPov lasting when a single commenter causes you to shut down comments. Maybe you could help Chas modernize the Blather a bit? Take it or leave it, but I hope you take it. Chas, I hope you’re listening too.

Comment by panther94 12.29.17 @ 10:13 pm

Btw Erie, I love the enthusiasm. Go Pitt!

Comment by panther94 12.29.17 @ 10:17 pm

JP, not sure who you are calling a JP hater. Personally I have been off the Blather due to a combination of huge work projects finishing up, and some pressing family commitments. Not sure where Dan72 is who I think you are referring to…but since there are like 18 comments here it is safe to say, a LOT a Blatherers have been silent since the Towson game.

Other than UPitt, who I think have basically left the Blather in the past 2 months to hang at PittPov where people are much more supportive of his brand of rhetoric, I really can’t name a single KS “hater” among us, and its not so nice for you to label anyone that. KS is not a great coach. He may be a good coach. But I want a great coach. Sorry to be selfish about that. And yet as I have said before, and Dan72 has as well, and TT, and a dozen other Blatherites, we love and support the Pitt players. Maybe KS becomes a great coach. I hope he does. I don’t think he will, and think if Pitt could upgrade it should asap, but that does not make me a hater. The guy took a team JD took to the tourney and failed miserably with them, and in the process seemed to be a poor game time coach and publically blame it all on the players, basically. He failed last year to live up to what I want in a Pitt coach, and was not even close.

I am very, VERY happy to have beaten Towson. Yet I can still be troubled that we barely beat a team that missed more wide open shots than I have ever seen in a long, long time. I love our kids but we did not win as much as Towson had one of the most “off” shooting games ever. I still see this Pitt team getting 2 ACC wins, and I still hope I am wrong, and I will still watch as many games as I can and root for Pitt!

Comment by DD 12.30.17 @ 7:47 am

In less than 24 hours the line has moved to 12 from 10.5 points.

Miami players are athletic, but are know to be undisciplined and reckless with the ball. Pitt will need to take care of the ball, not necessarily going to happen as the season has shown so far.

Knocking down threes and free throws will be key as well.

Anyone know if the game is on TV besides ESPN 3?

Comment by Erie Express 12.30.17 @ 9:31 am


On Comcast, the game is on THIS.

Comment by xfmrman 12.30.17 @ 10:14 am

From what I have seen, WVU looks better than Miami.
I expect a light crowd (weather, holiday, apathy and distaste for coach) but it will not be dominated with Miami fans (unlike the WVU game).
Miami has played one P5 team, Pitt has played 3.
Miami was named in the FBI probe.
Miami Had to have been favored to win in HI (finished 3rd). And, after the long trip, they may be ripe for a let down.

Does anyone know if Lonnie Walker’s knee is ok?

Now, back to reality:
Pitt will probably lose by double digits, have 15+ turn-overs and see Miami’s guards getting to the rim at will.

I will be there to see for myself.

Comment by xfmrman 12.30.17 @ 10:31 am

DD – well said. Unlike some on the POV, who you correctly labeled with having a differing rhetoric, some of us may not like Stallings but we’re not rooting against him either. That’s a huge distinction.

I like the kids he brought in. This team competes hard. They’re young and inexperienced so the bumps in the road don’t bother me. I can still watch the game and find story lines to root for.

That doesn’t change the fact that I don’t think Stallings was the right coach for Pitt after Dixon. However, if he was going to be let go, it was after last season before the rebuild started. He wasn’t let go, so he probably deserves at least this season and next season to mold the team …

At the beginning of the season, I thought two more seasons was a lock minus outlier circumstances. I think as the season has progressed, it’s much less of a lock that he stays. In interviews, it’s almost as though he’s setting the stage for a clean exit. Maybe, I’m misreading this. Who knows.

I think Barnes put Pitt and Stallings in bad positions. My blame will always lay with Barnes. Stallings was just collateral damage and didn’t do anything wrong.

Where Stallings failed was not reading the room after he was hired. After that first presser, he should have realized that he had a PR nightmare on his hands and should have gone into cleanup mode ASAP. Pitt fans already didn’t like the hire and Stallings did’t help himself by laying low instead of addressing the concerns. When you’re an unpopular hire, your first instincts should be to make yourself as likable as possible. It’s harder to rebel against someone you like. Instead the hate just kept snowballing.

Just my thoughts on the entire situation. Like I said at the beginning tho, I’m rooting for Pitt and not against Stallings. I don’t want to see anyone fail. That does not mean failure is inevitable though.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 12.30.17 @ 11:15 am

If you have “The CW” on your cable network, the game is on at 4:00 (at least that is how FIOS has it scheduled).

Comment by HbgFrank 12.30.17 @ 11:49 am

Don’t get me wrong. I am like most of you and was not thrilled with the KS hire. But the negativity on this site has gotten to me a few times. I support Pitt and hope KS suceeds. I do like how hard the players seem to be playing for him this year as opposed to the 2 primaadnnas that were looking out only for themselves last year. With how Jamie was recruiting you wonder what their record would be this year..

I am not expecting much this year but I believe that KS has been the whipping boy for all that is wrong with Pitt BB. He was put in a bad sport by Barnes and JD did not do any favors with his last 2 recruiting classes. Just look at the players that left (except Johnson who was a 2 star) to where they transferred.

Hope for the best but not expecting much. I will be there today.

Comment by Jp 12.30.17 @ 12:19 pm

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