July 17, 2014

Regardless of the ability to help Pitt, can we at least agree that the best thing in the long-term for Joseph Uchebo was coming to Pitt and getting better medical help for rehabbing his knee.

In moments like these, it’s easy to forget Uchebo is still recovering from a devastating knee injury that put his basketball career on hold for almost two years.

But then he runs up the court with a noticeable hitch in his step, a clear reminder that his battle to get back to full health is not over.

“It still hurts,” said Uchebo, a native of Nigeria. “Sometimes when I’m running I feel the pain, but not like it used to be.”

The pain was so bad in the weeks after Uchebo collided knees with an opponent while playing for Chipola Community College in Marianna, Fla., that he could barely sleep at night.

But Uchebo said he continued to play for about two more weeks on the recommendation of team doctors.

“They told me it wasn’t that bad and I was happy to hear it wasn’t that bad,” he said. “But it was that bad; they just wanted me to play.

“As time goes, the truth starts coming out. You know, I was so [angry]. Like, is my basketball career going to end just like that? I was thinking about that every day, every night.”

Uchebo had to go through two microfracture knee surgeries. As fast as players come back from ACL tears, microfracture surgery is a far different animal. It is a much slower process, and a lot more time is involved. And there is no doubt that misdagnosing it back at the community college made it that much harder now to heal.


July 10, 2014

Basketball Notes, 7/10

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 6:29 am

Just going to run through a few things to clear tabs.

Arizona big man, Taleb Tarczewski hasn’t been in Arizona taking classes and working with the coaches and teammates there. Instead, he’s been back in Massachusetts working there. Including private sessions with Bobby Martin.

What made you choose to work out with Bobby Martin?

He was college teammates with my coach [Sean Miller] at Pitt, so I know that he is really good at what he does and a really good guy. What I love about him is that he is all about footwork – he’s really broken down my low-post game and built it back up, we go over everything and I find myself learning so much about the low-post that I never knew before.

It seems Martin has been carving out a career teaching big men.


July 9, 2014

At Last, The Completed Non-Con

Filed under: Basketball,Non-con,Schedule — Chas @ 6:43 am

I’m back. A bit of traveling for the holiday week(end). Try to get back into things Monday night and the storm that ripped through our area knocked the power out for a good 12 hours or so. The power outage wasn’t the worst — except to my 12-year old daughter who found her tablet useless without wi-fi. Especially since it happened at night and we were able to sleep through half of it.

The worry was all the contents of the fridge and freezer. Well, it was the worry of my wife. Within the first hour of the outage, she’s ready to declare everything in the fridge is doomed. Followed by the ice cream in the freezer. By the morning, she’s planning to toss everything from the freezer. Lose power for more than 24 hours and she is considering a new refrigerator, because who knows what may linger in the old one.

Keep in mind that the minute we lose power, she all but padlocks the doors to the fridge so none of the precious remaining cold escapes.

My only concern was how soon the water from the storm would get into the ground and into our basement. Every time there’s an outage I think about how I really need a battery back-up for the sump pump. And every time the power comes back I put off the move.



June 28, 2014

Basketball Notes, 6/28

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:56 am

Mustapha Heron is still a Pitt verbal.

“I’m able to focus on my game, working on my game to fit into Pitt’s system,” Heron said at the NBPA Top 100 camp. “I don’t have to worry about who’s watching me, what type of letters are coming in, what type of calls are coming in. I can just play freely.”

With that said, the departure of assistant coach and ace recruiter Barry “Slice” Rohrssen to Kentucky has had the rumor mill whirling once again. In fact, all six predictions in the 247 Sports Crystal Ball have Heron going somewhere besides Pittsburgh.

In Virginia, Heron addressed the rumors.

“I don’t pay much attention to it,” he said. “Right now I’m just working on building a relationship with coach [Jamie] Dixon, and that’s going really well.”

Is it possible he could decommit at some point?

“That’s just something I would have to talk to my family about,” Heron said. “But as of now, no.”

That’s really all he can say. He could make absolute declarations of fealty and they would still be taken with the same meaning. The fact is he has not decommitted. He has not reopened the decision and he has not gone around on even unofficial visits to other schools.

He’s heading into his junior year of high school. He cannot sign a NLI until November 2015 at the earliest. I’m not saying he won’t change his mind. I’m just not going to spend the next year plus angsting over it.


June 27, 2014

Patterson Goes to Atlanta

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 6:58 pm

I’m thrilled to be wrong. Lamar Patterson got drafted a bit earlier in the second round than even the few mock drafts that still had him listed.

University of Pittsburgh senior forward Lamar Patterson (Lancaster, Pa./St. Benedict’s Prep, N.J.) was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the No. 48 pick in Thursday evening’s 2014 NBA Draft. Seconds later, ESPN announced that Milwaukee traded Patterson to the Atlanta Hawks.

Patterson is the second Pitt player drafted in the last two seasons as Steven Adams was taken by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the No. 12 overall pick last June. Patterson becomes the sixth Pitt player selected in the NBA Draft in the last 10 years: Chris Taft (2005), Aaron Gray (2007), Sam Young (2009), DeJuan Blair (2009), Steven Adams (2013) and Lamar Patterson (2014).

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Patterson helped guide Pitt to three NCAA Tournament appearances, a 122-49 combined record, five consecutive 20-win seasons and a 78-17 record at the Petersen Events Center. An all-around player, Patterson became just the third player in school history to surpass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists in a career (the other two players were Carl Krauser, 2002-06 and Brad Wanamaker, 2007-11). He set a school-record for most career games played (148), started 106 games, scored 1,410 points, grabbed 588 rebounds, dished out 427 assists and hit 171 3-pointers over his five-year career.

In Pitt’s basketball history, Patterson is just the 29th player drafted to the NBA or ABA.


June 26, 2014

Draft Night for Patterson And Zanna

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 6:37 am

Talib Zanna is not going to hear his name called tonight. He will get a chance in the NBA summer league with the possibility of a free agent signing, but he is likely heading overseas.

Lamar Patterson has a shot at the end of the second round.

What do the mock drafts say?: For what it’s worth, Patterson’s stock seems to have dropped a bit by this standard. In April, had Patterson going to Miami with the 57th pick. had him 59th to Toronto and CBS Sports’ Matt Moore, 45th to Minnesota.

Patterson did not show up on any of the current mocks of those three as of Wednesday night. He does show up on two of the four “final” mocks at, Steve Kennedy’s (to Indiana, No. 57) and Steve Kyler’s (Denver, No. 56).

The NBA Draft has very, very few sure things — even in the first round. Here’s a quick review of the last 19 drafts. So many of those picks weren’t mistakes. They just never translated.


June 24, 2014

Unleash the Irrational Optimism

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 6:27 am

Don’t lie. You read the articles on the pro-am games last night. You try to tell yourself to take it all with a grain of salt. To keep perspective. And yet

Derrick Randall looks different.

He’s got a different aura about him this June. Physically, he’s night and day from last summer with a stronger, leaner frame. The rising senior has more energy as he sprints up and down the floor.

But it’s more than just the physical appearance, because Randall has a different feeling about him. He walks upright with his head held high and a smile on his face. It’s a far cry from the quiet, reserved – at times isolated – junior from last summer.

It has showed on the court, too.

Randall recorded his first double-double of the summer Monday night when he played opened at the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am summer league at Montour. His 22-point, 15-rebound performance keyed a PGT 110-87 victory over Shaler Attorneys.

Teamed with Josh Newkirk, who had 34 points and 8 assists, they were a force.


June 23, 2014

Pro-Am Starts Tonight

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 6:44 am

The Pittsburgh Summer Pro-Am kicks off tonight.

There are seven teams. Only one lacks any Pitt players — past or present. Five of the other squads has at least one key Pitt player who will be scrutinized or have hopes projected on them.

Joseph Uchebo is on one squad, and given the way he looked afraid to run in the limited time last year, I have a great deal of curiosity as to how he will look.

Chris Jones and Jamel Artis are teamed up on another. Jones was hampered by a hand injury. If he is healthy, he could play significant time in the role that Lamar Patterson had. I am hoping Jamel Artis is working more on his inside game, not just looking to shoot from outside.

Josh Newkirk and Derrick Randall (yes, he is still at Pitt) are on another squad.

Sheldon Jeter will have to fight for his playing time when the big boys are in town. He’s on the alumni team with John DeGroat, Chevy Troutman and even Lance Jeter. Incoming freshman Cameron Johnson is also on the squad — which is probably safer for him from a physical standpoint. That will be a brutally physical team.

June 20, 2014

Basketball Notes, 6/20

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 6:42 am

I tweaked my back yesterday. No idea how.  Got out of my car at work and it abruptly hit. About once or twice a year I suddenly find myself moving very gingerly and grimacing when doing anything too sudden. It fades after a few days. A week at worst. My dad has the same problem, and has never gotten a good explanation from doctors as to how or why. Or how to prevent it. Just something that happens. Who doesn’t love the unknown.

Dick Vitale lists Durand Johnson as one of five players coming back (mostly from injuries) that will make a difference.

Grading Steven Adams first NBA season.

I am trying to work on a post on UNC’s neverending academic/athletic scandal in the wake of Rashard McCants statements regarding his fake education and what Roy Williams knew, but spare time  for a side piece has been hard to come by. ESPN’s Outside the Lines will be having a roundtable talk on college basketball coaches role in the education of players with some coaches. Jamie Dixon will be one of the panelists. If you want to see it, consider DVR-ing it because it airs at 8am on Sunday.


June 18, 2014

Marlon “Smoke” Williamson was introduced as a new Pitt assistant coach yesterday.

“We are excited about Marlon becoming a member of the University of Pittsburgh community and I know he is ecstatic to be coming aboard,” Dixon said. “As a former point guard with strong knowledge of the game, Marlon will help us in recruiting, scouting and player development. We are fortunate to have a coach with his well-rounded background. Marlon is also extremely excited to be a part of our staff considering his family ties to Pittsburgh.”

The former YSU point guard is openly ambitious and perhaps a little cocky.

“Actually, my pursuit is to become a great assistant coach right now. In the future, I want to become a head coach,” Williamson said. “When you say ‘great assistant,’ you have to fill a lot of bullets. Recruiting is definitely one, but I don’t want to be singled out as just a recruiter. I can get in the film room and break down Xs and Os. The relationship with the players is a huge factor for you as a coach. It’s much easier to play for someone you respect and love versus someone you just play for. That’s what I want to strive for as a professional in this business, being able to relate to the coach, co-workers on the staff, as well as the players and their parents.”

So, like [UMass Coach Derek] Kellogg before him, Williamson made a move to put his career in an upward trajectory.

“This is a big step,” he said. “When you talk about the University of Pittsburgh and ACC, you’ve got to go get players first. Our position as assistants is to put Coach Dixon in a position to be great. I look at coach Dixon as a legend. I don’t think he hired Coach Knight or Coach Barton to be mediocre. We want to give him the tools that he can go coach those guys. Our goal is to win the last game. Why not us?”

These are not bad things for a young assistant.


June 16, 2014

It’s been something of an open secret for at least a week or so. One of the lead candidates to join Jamie Dixon’s coaching staff has been Marlon “Smoke” Williamson. An assistant coach on the UMass staff.

Williamson is an interesting choice, and not exactly what was expected. He’s a Youngstown State grad and his ties in recruiting are more midwest. Especially the Detroit area as he is reasonably tight with the AAU program known as “The Family.”

Williamson had spent the previous nine years working with The Family, an AAU program in Detroit, Mich. where he served as President of Youth Operations and Head Coach.

Williamson’s duties with The Family included opponent scouting, practice scheduling, monitoring of the athletes’ academic progress and counseling them on educational programs.

Some of the top players to emerge from The Family include Joe Crawford (Kentucky), Jordan Crawford (Indiana & Xavier), Chris Douglas-Roberts (Memphis), Draymond Green (Michigan State) and Malik Hairston (Oregon).

Both Matt Steinbrink at PantherLair and Chris Dokish have been tweeting about Williamson being a lead candidate, and today ESPN’s Jeff Goodman also tweeted it.

The upside is that Williamson is young — about the same age as Brandin Knight — and ambitious. He has AAU ties, which are a definite plus. The negative is that he’s still fairly new and has not shown track record of bringing talent yet. Plus his base for recruiting ties is not an area Pitt has mined — and has some stiff local competition with Michigan and Michigan State.

June 11, 2014

Pitt Has That Final Home Date

Filed under: Basketball,Non-con,Schedule — Chas @ 7:22 am

Pitt tends to wait until August to put out its basketball schedule. Most of us rely on piecing together the non-con by leaks and releases from other schools.

As you may recall, Pitt posted a need for a home game at the end of 2014.

The lucky team that accepted was  Florida Gulf Coast University.

FGCU has added a travel addition to its non-conference schedule, visiting Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Dec. 30, to go along with a previously announced game at Xavier on Dec. 28, FGCU athletic director Ken Kavanagh said today.

With 31 total games permitted each season, FGCU and other A-Sun schools have 17 non-conference games to find. Xavier, which is paying FGCU $95,000 with other compensation for the one-time game, and Pittsburgh are one-year deals. Schools can accept up to four “guarantee” games, although FGCU is planning to cut that number to three this season.

Have to imagine Pitt is paying close to the same amount for that game. Kind of a shrewd scheduling by FGCU to put those road games back-to-back. An extra night in a hotel instead of an additional flight.

June 7, 2014

The offseason for coaches isn’t simply about recruiting and going to AAU events and camps. It’s about getting out in the community and speaking. Whether it is something very worthy like a school that helps those with special needs. Or heading out on the alumni club circuit.

For Coach Jamie Dixon the other thing that needs to be settled is finding a new assistant coach.

Dixon arrived at the breakfast only eight hours after returning from a Nike coaches event in the Caribbean. He said it was a pleasant trip, joking he didn’t even mind that Florida coach Billy Donovan was on his return flight.

Thursday was a busy day for Dixon, who said he planned to interview two candidates for the coaching vacancy on his staff created when Barry Rohrssen left for Kentucky.

Well, at least that situation is getting closer to resolution.

June 3, 2014

Who Are The Other 24?

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Media,Mouse Monopoly — Chas @ 7:43 am

It’s only June and it is coming to this. I’m not proud.

ESPN is doing a list of the top-50 college basketball coaches in recent years. The standards seem very nebulous and hard to pin down.

We’ve been thinking about that question this offseason, looking for the best way to quantify the answer. Luckily, we’ve got ESPN Forecast. Last week, we asked a panel of nearly 100 ESPN writers, editors, broadcasters and researchers to rate college basketball coaches on all aspects of running a program, on a scale of 1-10. (The crucial distinction here is that the prompt was not career-oriented. This isn’t about legacy. It’s all about the present.) We compiled their scores and ranked the names, and now comes the fun part: The big reveal.

Right from the start there are some odd rankings — Scott Drew (Baylor at 50 should be higher based on what he has done) and Bruce Weber (K-State at 40 is ridiculously high) — that seem as based on liking or disliking some coaches as their actual performance.

Tom Crean was completely left off the list which seems ridiculous, but then, no one really seems to like Crean these days.

[And given this is and ESPN project, they have to have start the debate with this and immediately start questioning their own compilation to fan the debate.[


June 2, 2014

Basketball Notes, 6/2

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:43 am

One week left until the summer vacation starts for the kids. Which for the first time for them — and me — means camps most of the summer. No more staying home with dad all summer to do stuff. No longer. Everyone is working outside the house this year. Not sure how much really changes for theirs or my schedule. Other than everyone being a little more sweaty from the activities.

Speaking of camp. 2016 verbal commit to Pitt basketball, Maverick Rowan, has been selected to the US contingent for the Adidas EURORCAMP in July.

The team includes top sophomore and junior high school players in the country. Included on the team are five juniors and five sophomores. Among the top juniors are Carlton Bragg,’s No. 10 junior in the country. Other juniors are Dante Hales (No. 11) and Brandon Ingram (No. 24). Among the sophomores are 7-footer Thon Maker (No. 3 in the country), Dennis Smith (No. 16), De’Ron Davis (No. 23) and Kobi Simmons (No. 28).

The team will play against top international players who are eligible for this year’s NBA draft. The EUROCAMP is the only NBA-sanctioned pre-draft camp sanctioned by the NBA that is held outside the U.S.

“It’s a very big deal,” said Rowan. “Basically, we go over there and plays kids overseas who are training for the draft.”

Some very good company.


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