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April 14, 2015

Welp.

Durand Johnson was suspended for the past season for an unspecified violation of a university policy, though Pitt coaches were hoping he’d return for his senior season.

But that is not going to happen. Jamie Dixon announced today Johnson is no longer a member of the program and he will help the senior guard transfer somewhere to play his final season.

“It is time to move on,” Dixon said. “It is time to look for another guy to look for the opportunity to step up. We were aware of this [Johnson not being reinstated and moving on would be the likely outcome] recently.

“We are now going to help Durand in any way that we can find a good situation to finish his college career. I can’t obviously speak to the specifics of the situation but it should be said that we have had no other issues with Durand.”

That was kept well under wraps.

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April 13, 2015

Ready For The Season to End

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 5:39 am

This will be the start of an erratic review of the past season. Something a little new for me. I’m going to bounce around a bit as I look back on the past basketball season and games to try and figure out some of what we saw.

This was not a fun season for the team or the fans. The maddening inconsistencies, the horrid defense, hot or cold offense. Recency bias may play a role in it, but this season seemed worse than the disastrous 2011-12 season.

First up, the last game. Opening NIT game with George Washington. It seemed to be the summary of all the negatives of the season in one game.

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April 9, 2015

To the surprise of no one, Joseph Uchebo and Tyrone Haughton are not returning to the basketball team for 2015. Uchebo because he just cannot play because of his injury — though the official word has yet to me made presumably waiting until he graduates. Tyrone Haughton never made it off the bench. The JUCO transfer couldn’t show anything in practice to get playing time over a hobbled Uchebo, the warm body of Derrick Randall and then Aron Philips-Nwankwo even outworked him for playing time.

Pitt remains perilously thin in the front court. Rozelle Nix is coming, but the big fish is still out there. Chieck Diallo has yet to make his decision.

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March 28, 2015

Something to Chew On

Filed under: Basketball,Conference,Football,Media — Reed @ 7:48 am

I just saw this article from DiPaola of the Trib and thought it would be good to get your collective blood pressure up before you really start your weekend…

New Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said Friday former Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson never received proper credit for the Panthers’ move from the Big East to the ACC.

“I hope people realize what an unbelievable job Steve Pederson did for Pitt basketball and the university,” Howland said on TribLive Radio. “You would not be in the ACC today were it not for his vision.”

Pederson hired Howland in 1999 and guided the Panthers to two NCAA Tournament appearances in four seasons.  Howland left Pitt for UCLA, where he guided the Bruins to three consecutive Final Four appearances, including a national runner-up finish in 2005-2006. His lead assistant with the Panthers, Jamie Dixon, succeeded him at Pitt.  UCLA fired Howland after the 2012-13 season. Mississippi State hired Howland on Tuesday.  Pitt fired Pederson in December.

If Pitt was still in Pitt Stadium and playing in (Fitzgerald Field House), you’d be in the AAC in a no-bid league with (non-revenue) football and wondering what we’re going to do next,” Howland said.

Discuss please until we have news from today’s scrimmage to talk about…

Note: the number to call if you feel like you are about to hurt yourself or others is 1-800-STEVEAD

March 22, 2015

That NC State team showed up last night. The one loaded with talent. Swift, long guards who can shoot from the perimeter and keep the other team’s guards from getting open looks. A burly frontcourt that can dominate on both ends. Most importantly, their collective head stayed in the game the entire way. You watch them on a night like that and wonder how they are not a top-ten team.

Then you think back to the game against LSU where they didn’t show up for the first half (and a chunk of the second). The BC game. A slew of others, and it boggles the mind. I don’t trust them, but I’m not surprised by anything they do at this point.

Notre Dame made it to the Sweet 16 to keep the ACC perfect in the Tournament so far. Did not expect that.

The Big East is survived by Xavier. Other than Villanova going down last night, this is not totally surprising. Georgetown was a popular upset pick against Eastern Washington, so the fact that they made it to Saturday before losing is a kind of progress… I guess. St. John’s had no chance once it was learned that Chris Obekpa was suspended.

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March 21, 2015

Woefully poor form of me not to acknowledge the Women’s Hoop team. They made the NCAA Tourney and play today at 11 am on ESPN3.com against Chattanooga. An amazing turnaround.

As for the other NCAA Tourney…

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March 20, 2015

Well that first day was predictably bananas.

UCLA and the Alfords continue to lead a charmed life.

The Big 12 faceplants — hard. Texas down to Butler. Iowa State never put away UAB, destroying brackets everywhere.

Then there was Baylor blowing a huge lead against Georgia State. Creating an all-time moment at the buzzer. Both for the shot by R.J. Hunter and Head Coach/Dad Ron Hunter.

I can’t tell you how many times I keep watching that.

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March 17, 2015

Open Thread: Opening NIT, GW-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 1:38 pm

7pm on ESPN tonight.

I’m assuming the hashtag #NITerrific will be in effect tonight on Twitter. Hopefully only with humor, cynicism and a touch sarcasm; but not bitterness. It’s fine line between being willing to poke fun at your own team and self-loathing/hatred.

GW was never a serious threat to make the NCAA Tournament, but they had a solid season. Big wins over Wichita State (and even, Hawai’i dammit) to win the Diamond Head Classic. Wins over NCAA Tournament teams Dayton and Rhode Island in the A-10.

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March 16, 2015

A Solid Addition For 2016

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 9:15 pm

For all the frustration of this past season. For all the questions about Pitt’s recruiting. It is easy to forget that the 2015 and now 2016 class looks pretty good.

Damon Wilson is a 4-star point guard that Pitt needs. I’m probably more optimistic about Rozelle Nix than others. Probably more than I should since the last good JUCO addition was Jermaine Dixon, and it has been nothing but whiffs since. There is still hope that Cheick Diallo chooses Pitt — which would change a lot of things.

Meanwhile the 2016 class remains anchored by Mustapha Heron. One of the top recruits nationally, and he has remained firmly with Pitt even with Assistant Coach Barry Rohhrsen going to Kentucky. Maverick Rowan was lost the minute Adidas asserted their influence (shoe deals giveth, and taketh).

The 2016 class still improves noticeably and with a position of need as Corey Manigault verbaled today.

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March 15, 2015

Sorry to have been offline most of the week. Had to do a bunch of overnights for work this past week, and the adjustment didn’t go well. Basically, I felt like a zombie all week. Missed a ton of games and couldn’t muster enough coherent thoughts in my down time to post. Not even on Twitter.

So, I feel recovered a bit now, just in time for the Selection Shows.

The NCAA Tournament selection begins at sometime around 6pm on CBS. That really doesn’t impact Pitt directly. Other than the discussion of bid steals and what that means in terms of pushing other teams down to the NIT.

The NIT announcement comes at 8:30 on ESPNU. As much as Pitt has lost 4 straight games to knock itself out of the NCAA  Tournament bubble talk. As negative as some have been after everything, Pitt hasn’t pushed themselves out of the NIT. It would be a complete stunner to see them not make the NIT. The only issue is whether they are going to be a high enough seed to host a game or two.

March 10, 2015

Slumping Into the ACC Tournament

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 7:41 pm

I had a bad feeling heading into the game with FSU. It’s why I put off the open thread. Left the laptop at my desk so I wouldn’t even look at Twitter. I was already feeling negative about the game, I didn’t need it amplified and then magnified.

Not much to say on that. Demoralized after letting the two games get away from them late, Pitt just reverted to the team that struggled so badly in the first half of ACC play. Weak defense. An offense that struggled and led to more frustration and mistakes.

Is the team tired from all the minutes logged? Probably. But that fatigue only became noticeable as the morale slipped on the losses and knowledge of how they had worked so hard to get to the cusp of an NCAA Tournament bid, only to fritter it away.

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March 7, 2015

Sorry. Busy morning. Half-assing it. Just got home.

March 4, 2015

A win won’t get either team into the NCAA Tournament, but it certainly knocks them down to the NIT.

Lousy ACC Network coverage tonight. Many will be forced on to their computers to watch via ESPN3.com for the 8pm game.

As mentioned earlier, it is Senior Night for Pitt. Those of you going, please get there soon to help send off the seniors before the game.

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Senior Night for Three

Filed under: Basketball,Honors,Players — Chas @ 8:48 am

I’ll toss up the open thread closer to game time. For now, just a focus on the players that move on after this year.

Senior night still matters. It gives us a chance to be reminded that the kids that have been wearing the blue-and-gold are more than the names on the jerseys. They are more than the victories and losses. The successes and failures. The way we support our school through their play.

They have their own stories. They have their own futures. While their playing career for Pitt is ending, so much more of their life is just beginning.

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March 1, 2015

Open Thread: Pitt-Wake

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 1:46 pm

I feel like I have to repeat this every time I post on basketball. The most important — and only — thing Pitt can do to make sure it gets into the NCAA Tournament is to keep winning. All bubble talk is reactionary and about “if the season ended today” speculation. That’s why I don’t worry or put much stock in the “last four in, last four out” stuff that every ESPN broadcast (and to be fair I caught similar stuff on CBS and Fox yesterday).

You can make yourself frantic for no reason by whipsawing between NC State losing to BC to BYU beating Gonzaga to Texas failing at Kansas while Boise beats SDSU meanwhile… oh, you get the picture.

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