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January 17, 2018

Offense Continues to Exist Only In Theory

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:35 am

A 14-point loss in an ACC game for Pitt is nothing shocking. Sure the final score of 59-45 is on the stupid low side. Even for Pitt, but Pitt has now dropped to 0-6 in the ACC with the average margin of defeat being about 17 points.

But if you put yourself through the pain of watching this game on a Tuesday night after 9pm (Eastern). Well, you know that this was a game Pitt could have won. And, forgive me for going cliche, the game was a lot closer then the final score indicated.

The first half was tight. Pitt actually took the lead for a bit with 4 minutes or so left in the half. Syracuse, though, had a surge — such as it was for either team — and took a 5-point lead into the half.

Pitt and Syracuse are the worst shooting teams in the ACC. And combining them on the same court seemed to bring out the worst in both.

Pitt had a stretch of over seven minutes of failing to score in the first half. Yet Syracuse could only muster a five point lead since they only converted two possessions in that stretch. This was some bad basketball.

Basically it was the same as it has been in every ACC game after the first half. Pitt had a slew of turnovers. They didn’t get the offensive rebounds. They shot like crap — with one exception.

The bright spot was Parker Stewart. Stewart had his range last night. He shot 8-14 overall and 7-13 on 3s to account for 23 of Pitt’s 45 points. He was the only guard with any confidence in his shot — and with good reason.

Stewart kept Pitt in the game and was doing all he could to keep the team energized. But the poor shooting from everyone else and the long scoring droughts took a toll.

In the first half, Pitt went 12:11 without a made field goal from someone other than Stewart and didn’t get a made shot from a player other than Stewart or Brown until 4:22 remained in the first half, when Chukwuka drained a 3 to give his team a three-point edge, 22-19. Those would be Pitt’s last points of the half, however, as it was held scoreless for the final 4:21.

“For me, and I can’t speak for everybody, but I feel like we probably do as a team sometimes, that people get down a little bit,” Chukwuka said of the effect such droughts have on the team. “But that just comes with a young group.”

The rest of the team was 6-26 (23.1%) from the field and 1-10 behind the arc. All of the other guards on the roster shot 1-14. That lone 3 not made by Stewart came courtesy of Kene Chukwuka.

You could see the lack of confidence the guards had in taking shots. Hesitation when the ball came to them and passing out of clean looks.

Yes, Ryan Luther was sorely missed as he would have been set up in the high post to handle the ball and be able to attack the basket. In his place, Chukwuka and Brown struggled to handle the pass and simply are not developed enough to shoot there or make a move to the basket. Instead, they kept passing it back outside.

Still, the guard play was plain awful. 18 turnovers in this game. Marcus Carr looks like a complete shell at this point. He only played 19 minutes because of foul trouble but had 3 turnovers and was 0-6 shooting.

I’m going to end with about the only glimmer of positivity outside of Stewart. Forwards Terrell Brown and Kene Chukwuka have been getting much more aggressive inside. Brown took a lot more shots around the basket. He wasn’t efficient (2-9), but he grabbed 6 rebounds and was active on defense — including 2 steals.

Chukwuka just seems to be gaining confidence and a comfort level out on the court. He is starting to play closer to his size.

Duke up next. Good luck finding anything positive there.

Comment by alcofan 01.17.18 @ 9:43 am

The only positive I can muster is that watching this team has broken me to the point that I just don’t care anymore. I will still watch when I can but mostly laugh at the keystone cops like effort. I would say 2/3rds of the turnovers are of the unforced variety and have nothing to do with the other team playing solid defense. Movement on offense is non-existent at times and it feels like they are just doing dribbling and passing drills till there is a panic shot taken at the end of the shot clock. Knew it was going to be rough and tough but I can’t point to much that gives a glimmer of any hope.

Comment by The Ghost of Billy Gaines 01.17.18 @ 11:20 am

But…but…Stallings is an offensive GENIUS!! A stable, offensive Genius! (better yet a-la Wild-e-Coyote, a SUPER genius!!)

All 45 points of it anyway.

Comment by DD 01.17.18 @ 2:30 pm

And lets be clear…Stewart did what he did because no one knows him. Be sure to expect opposing teams to treat him a little differently moving forward now.

Comment by DD 01.17.18 @ 2:31 pm

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