December 17, 2014

Open Thread: Manhattan-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 6:39 pm

Basketball? Anyone? There’s nothing else happening at the same time as far as I’m concerned.

I wish I could tell you more about this game, other than the cursory stuff you can read for yourself in the local media piece from today. Just been a bit preoccupied.

Game tips at 7pm. Curses that it is online only on

December 13, 2014

Open Thread: Bonnies-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 1:11 pm

2 pm ESPNU

St. Bonaventure is off to a strong start. Coming off a NCAA Tournament appearance last year, they are 6-1 with a nice road win over Ohio U. It’s a team with a good deal of confidence. They are run by former Robert Morris head coach Mark Schmidt.

Pitt, meanwhile, gets their first game back at the Pete in a month. Not to mention a healthy Cameron Wright. Coach Jamie Dixon isn’t fooling around on making sure the players know there is some pressure to play well from the start.

In his mind, there might be legitimate reasons the Panthers have struggled to start the season, but they aren’t relevant now — especially since they got their most experienced player, Cameron Wright, back in the mix after he missed 10 weeks with a broken bone in his foot.

“We need to get right into this,” Dixon said. “I mean, we can make all the excuses we want, but we have to get right into it and get going. We have had five practices, we can’t have any more excuses.

“We can’t have any more reasons for coming up short; we have to figure it out. I think we are fine. It can’t be a thing of ‘Well, we aren’t playing good because Cam has only been playing with us for five days.’ That can’t be a thought, a reason — it can’t be an excuse, it has to be seamless.”

A little more public bite from Dixon this year.


December 9, 2014

Pitt Basketball Breaks for Finals

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:47 am

This is not what has been a “typical” Pitt basketball season just 8 games in. Only two games at the Pete through the second week of December. Three quality opponents faced in the non-con. Three losses in the non-con. So, while finals are happening and the team is off until Saturday, there is a chance to look at a few things regarding this team.

What the hell, I’ll steal borrow from Reed’s three positives and three negatives football thing for this one.


December 5, 2014

Open Thread: City Game 2014

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 6:42 pm

Well this is as close to a home game Pitt has had in almost three weeks. Down at the Con for a 7pm start on Not even a FullCourt TV option.

When Cam Wright was hurt before the season, this was believed to be the return game. It now looks like extra caution is being used — and I don’t have a problem with that — and his return will probably be next Saturday. As much as he is needed to help on perimeter defense — especially against a Dukes team that shoots a lot of 3s — it is best to have him all the way recovered and not mostly recovered for the purposes of the entire season.




December 2, 2014

Everything Old Is New Again

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:27 am

Team loses two key senior players to graduation. One of the team’s best defensive players out with an injury. A redshirt junior wing player moving up from reserve to starter suspended before the season starts.  A complete decimation by a top-20 team in a pre-season classic. And now, Indiana?

Oh, man, it is 2009 all over again. Only instead of Jermaine Dixon, Gil Brown and a Texas program that was peaking really early;  we had Cam Wright, Durand Johnson and San Diego State. It’s not exactly the same, but here comes Indiana under Tom Crean once more.


November 27, 2014

A Good Win Brightens Thanksgiving

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 4:20 pm

A day after getting royally thumped by San Diego State, Pitt returned the favor on Kansas State. I saw it suggested on twitter this morning — by someone who only saw the final score — that K-State was having a “hangover” game after playing so tough against Arizona.

That ignores the fact that it was the Wildcats that jumped out early on Pitt. The Panthers didn’t take their first lead in the game until there was 7:30 left in the first half. At the half, Pitt only held a three point lead.

Pitt took control and  slowly pulled away from K-State in the second half, but even then the Wildcats got it to under 10 points with under 8 minutes left. Pitt responded with a 21-6 run to make the game appear to be a laugher.


November 26, 2014

If you are a major conference program, you don’t accept/wrangle/beg for an invite to an early season tournament with the expectation of losing. You (and your fans) believe there is at the very least a chance. Things may not play out that way — isn’t that right UNC — but there is always that possibility.

Two years ago when Pitt to the Maui invite, that was exciting news. Then this year rolled around and things haven’t gone as hoped. Now it is salvage time for Pitt and Kansas State.

This could be interesting. Neither team is exactly a defensive juggernaut. K-State relies on scoring to win. They don’t rebound well. Like Pitt they are 3-2 with a road loss to a low mid-major. They played Arizona tough last night, but could not quite get there.

Given the way Pitt has played in Maui, I don’t exactly know what to expect without sounding negative.

7:30 on ESPN2.

Rough Night Doesn’t Cover How Bad It Was

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:40 am

Before my 7-year old son went to bed, he implored me to DVR the game so he could see it later. I’m not going to let him see it because he should not be exposed to that kind of sick violence at his age.

Hard to find the positives when a 17 point difference in the final score was more cosmetic as to how badly Pitt was beaten. San Diego State thoroughly dominated Pitt from the beginning to end of the game.

Pitt’s offense could not find any consistency. There were brief spurts of competency, but SDSU’s defense continually disrupted Pitt. That Pitt came away with so many empty possessions wore hard on the team. Especially in light of what was happening at the other end.

In something I had not seen from a Pitt team in years, the kids out there stopped playing as a team for a spell late in the game. I don’t want to call it selfishness as much as frustration bubbling over. You could see the individual players trying to do everything themselves. Especially on offense. No looking to pass or find a better shot. Just angrily trying to make something happen on their own. It didn’t go well.

As far as defense. Oh, where to begin.


November 25, 2014

Pitt-San Diego State. The Aztecs are a very good defensive team that struggle with scoring. In past years, we might call them the mirror image of Pitt. Pitt is a team that has more offense than in past years, but will it be enough when the defense has been so porous? I don’t know.

Over the years with Pitt, the strong defense has usually prevailed — at least before getting to the NCAA Tournament. Especially when the team that relies on offense is not a clear juggernaut.

For Pitt to win this game, the three-point shooting will have to be there and the rebounding will have to at least match the effort shown last night.

10 pm on ESPN.

Struggling Through Silverswords

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 7:56 am

Pitt couldn’t lose this game, but they weren’t their most inspiring. It was a win, though, and Pitt plays tonight at 10 pm against San Diego State who made it through a late double-overtime battle with BYU. Mountain West payback on the Cougars.

The Panthers came out with much more energy than (I guess) they did against Hawai’i and definitely more than against Samford last week. They got the message about attacking the rim both for rebounding and trying to score.

Unfortunately they were struggling to score early. So even though they were killing Chaminade on the glass and getting a lot more shot attempts, they were not converting the opportunities with any consistency — other than when Mike Young had the ball.


November 24, 2014

Open Thread: Pitt-Chaminade

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 8:32 pm

Okay, so that first game in the 5oth state didn’t go as planned. Not in the least. If you are looking for the silver lining — and admittedly you really have to look — losing that way probably made the point about needing to play defense better than any lecture, practice session or film session could have. Not that Coach Dixon didn’t emphasize the film session.

And it was lots and lots and lots of film watching. And then when there was a little more film to watch before the day was done. It apparently was an all day affair in the video room as he tried to, as he said “get them to see the things we need them to do that they aren’t doing defensively. Each team had a designated practice time at the gym but Dixon opted not to use it and again, instead had a very long and at times, unpleasant, film session.

Hopefully things can only go up from there. Tonight Pitt takes on the Chaminade Silverswords.Which is just awesome to type. The game is on ESPNU at 9pm.


November 21, 2014

Open Thread: Pitt-Hawai’i

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 9:02 pm

No TV. Just radio or watching a gamecast refresh on your computer. The tip-off is midnight — which is Saturday — but they kept it confusing by saying Friday repeatedly. Turns out they were doing that by claiming the tip was at 11:59.

Either way, I’m not staying up to listen to a radio stream. TV or and I might have given it a go. In this case, I’m just going to get some rest. I’ve gotten old and soft.


November 20, 2014

Better to Be in Maui Than Buffalo

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:30 am

The Pitt basketball team is in Hawaii. They play the University of Hawaii at Midnight tonight/tomorrow morning.

If you watched the Samford game, then you saw Pitt go small for large portions of the game. The front court of Mike Young, Jamel Artis and Sheldon Jeter. It’s surprising only insofar as Coach Jamie Dixon has always played a true center. This year, however, the options at center are far less than optimal.

Both Joseph Uchebo and Derrick Randall are extremely limited in their skill sets. They can rebound. Play a bit of defense. But that is about it. When it comes to the offensive side of the ball, they are amazingly deficient.


November 16, 2014

Open Thread: Samford-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 11:30 am

I was starting to work on a recap rant diatribe review of the football game yesterday, but decided I didn’t want to start drinking that early on a Sunday morning when it doesn’t involve a tailgate.

So, instead, let’s get ready for Samford.

The game is at 1pm and is part of the Maui Invitational package. No, really. The game was set up for Pitt by the Maui organizers.

In the Pittsburgh area, it is on ROOT, but since it is a syndicated ACC Network/ESPN game you can watch it on line at ESPN3 and plenty of other outlets including the ESPN FullCourt package, FoxSports West, FoxSports South, Sun Sports and Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.


November 15, 2014

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Durand Johnson’s season long suspension.

“Durand will remain in our program and practice,” [Head Coach Jamie] Dixon said. “However, he will not compete in any games this season. While it is disappointing, we will encourage Durand to make the most of this year personally, academically and athletically.”

There was no nebulous “team rules” citation. This appeared very suddenly, as a week ago Johnson was playing big minutes in the final exhibition game. My instinct in a suspension like this, is that it is academically related. That appears to be the likely reason.

It sucks for Durand Johnson. Everyone raves about him as a person and a teammate. He accepted his role as an energy guy coming off the bench. He worked on his defense. There was a strong expectation that he could make a leap coming back from his ACL injury and with more playing time coming his way.


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