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April 23, 2014

The ACC released the match-ups in basketball for the next two seasons yesterday.

Here’s what Pitt looks like in graphic format:

PittBBSked2015-16

Syracuse and Louisville are Pitt’s permanent “rivalry” games. That works for me. Both very good teams. I like that Big East connection and history. Yes it means Pitt will always have a tough ACC schedule, but that isn’t a bad thing.

The next pair are the home-and-homes for the season. I assume that they are planning on rotating the pairs to some degree. Which means it could well be five years before we see a UNC or Duke home-and-home.

The next group of five are the home ACC games. Then the last five are the road games. The ACC knows Duke and UNC are still the glamor programs that will draw the crowds. Every ACC team has UNC and Duke split as home-away each year.

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April 22, 2014

Basketball Link Run Through, 4/22

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 6:21 am

Well, the Barry Rohrssen departure is finally official. It wasn’t money. It was about opportunities. As has been the case the entire time.

2. Money was not a factor. Pitt was ready to match and exceed any money Kentucky offered and Dixon met with Rohrssen last week to try and see if he could work this out but again, it wasn’t about Pitt, it wasn’t about money.

3. Rohrssen and Calipari have been very good friends for about 25 years. This is a long-time friendship they have always wanted to coach together but timing was never right. Rohrssen felt like this may be his last opportunity to jump on with Cal so he did.

I look forward to reading in the comments how this is still Steve Pederson’s fault.

Later this morning the ACC will be announcing all conference basketball matchups for the NEXT 2 YEARS. Amazing what a bit of membership stability can do. Very different from the Big East approach which maximized TV and competitive games between projected top teams. Either they expect the best teams to stay the best for a couple of years, or the ACC is looking at it more to rotate all teams in games with the unbalanced schedule.

But really, it is only three games. Every team plays once. That’s 14 games. One game is part of the protected “rivalry” game that is a home-and-home (I think for Pitt, it will be Louisville slid in there to take the place of Maryland). That leaves three other games to be chosen as home-and-homes.

I get a kick out of the fact that the ACC not only lets everyone know it is coming, but sets a placeholder on the webpage in advance. It does make it easy to bookmark and go there when it is up.

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April 21, 2014

Pitt Adds a Late Local

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 3:00 pm

Curious to say the least, but Pitt has added a new member to the 2014 recruiting class.

Cameron Johnson is a local kid. He goes to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Which is apparently in Coraopolis. He was the Trib player of the year. He’s had a significant growth spurt in the last year.

Johnson started his junior season as a 6-foot-2, 165-pound point guard. He now stands 6-6, 185, and can play almost anywhere.

“I expected to grow at least some in high school because my parents are tall and my mom grew late,” said Johnson, whose father is 6-8 and mother is 5-11.

“It’s allowed me to play more positions, that’s for sure. I’ve always stuck to point guard and shooting guard. Now, I can fill in at small forward and power forward. That’s what schools like to see, a guy who is versatile and can play multiple positions.”

He may be up to around 6-7 or 6-8 at this point. His father, Gil Johnson, played at Pitt from 1988-90.

Johnson is not a rated recruit. He has strong academics so he had schools like Rice, Penn and Columbia after him. Late in the recruiting season schools like Stanford, BC and Virginia have been sniffing around him.

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April 16, 2014

It’s not the same, I know.

Tyrone Haughton signed his letter of intent today, to become a member of the Pitt’s 2014 recruiting class. Haughton is a 6-9 C-F who came from the JUCO ranks.

Originally he was a 3-4 star recruit who signed to play with South Carolina. After Darrin Horn was fired and Frank Martin came in, things changed. Martin had a verbal from another big man at K-State. The player switched to South Carolina. Suddenly, the scholarship numbers weren’t right and it seems that South Carolina suddenly had a problem with Haughton’s grades.

Oh, but SC and Martin didn’t want Haughton to completely go away. Just go to prep school for a year and see how things look next year. Haughton said no thanks and went to junior college. Isn’t recruiting just a lovely thing?

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April 14, 2014

It seems assistant basketball coach Barry Rohrssen has been the rumored target to replace Orlando Antigua on John Calipari’s Kentucky bench. Granted it has been a slow week-long rumble, but everyone is presuming it will happen (and thank you KSR comment kids for demonstrating that Kentucky fans have little basketball knowledge outside their own team).

For Rohrssen it is almost a no-brainer. Kentucky is a blue-blood job with huge exposure. No, John Calipari assistants haven’t had the greatest success rates, but they get opportunities. Rohrssen obviously wants another crack at being a head coach. His odds increase being on a staff like Kentucky  This may shock some, but the money may have very little to do with it.

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April 11, 2014

Is there anything more absurd than posting a top-25 list for the next season within minutes or hours of the final game of the season? Yes. Compiling a list of the rankings to see where your team fits. I’m nothing if not ridiculous so here are the ones to date.

Gary Parrish at CBS Sports had his out minutes after the UConn-Kentucky game ended. Pitt got slotted in there despite the departures of Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna at #23.

After that Pitt tends to get lumped in with others who may crack the polls but not ready to be ranked before the season begins.

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April 2, 2014

Basketball Notes, 4/2

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 7:12 am

Congrats to former Pitt player and assistant coach Orlando Antigua on his first head coaching job. It’s a suicide mission tough road with USF, but everyone will be watching with interest. Obviously for Pitt fans, there is our own biased angle.

He mentioned the characteristics that made it possible: Hard work. Determination. Focus. Vision. An unrelenting thirst for excellence.

They were qualities he learned at Pitt, where he played from 1991-95, then later served under Jamie Dixon for five seasons (2003-07) as he learned the coaching profession.

Antigua, 40, was born in the Dominican Republic. He grew up in the Bronx section of New York. He’s most associated with Kentucky, where he has helped John Calipari’s Wildcats assemble five consecutive No. 1-ranked recruiting classes, where he finishes his UK run this weekend during the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.

But make no mistake, Antigua considers himself a Pittsburgh guy.

“It’s the foundation of who I am,” said Antigua, who was presented with a five-year USF contract and an annual salary of $900,000, which will escalate by $25,000 each season. “I’m a Pitt man. I’m so grateful for everything I learned there.

“Just the blue-collar mentality, the tenacity, everything that town stands for. It’s still who I am.”

If you want to read one of the better pieces on Antigua, this one from ESPN magazine, November 2013 stands out.

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March 24, 2014

The End Is Always Abrupt

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 7:42 am

Oh, the loss was obvious for at least the last 10 minutes of the game. Pitt just could not get their outside shot to fall. Another guard named Scottie was just too fast and too on to stop.

Still when the game ended. The realization starts to hit. No more games for Pitt this year. The season is over. It’s cliche to say that there’s only one team that is happy at the end of the season. There’s plenty of truth in it, though. Every game watched over the weekend you could see it in the looks, covered faces and tears on the losing end.

When the game ended, and they started doing the post-game interviews and studio work, I quickly paid my tab at the bar. The bartender said sorry. The other bartender who before the game had happily told me how about he used to party in Oakland while attending the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Sciences glanced at me and said, “Dude…”

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March 22, 2014

I can’t be home for this one. I mean I could, but I am a little too tense to be home watching the game while the kids are bouncing about the room. Better to be in a bar with strangers who will not see me again.

I don’t know who the Florida homer they gave a press pass to, but you have to believe the same guy who went around asking Pitt players if they were intimidated at the prospect of playing Florida was at it again on Friday.

A reporter asked Cam Wright if there was a “gosh, wow thing, where you go [Florida] just looks incredible and there’s no way we can compete with them.” Wright, baffled by the question, answered “Next question, please.”

Wait. What? It wasn’t a Florida homer. Dejan, Dejan, Dejan

I asked Wright if, in watching video of the Gators, he had any gosh-wow, no-way-we-compete-with- those-guys sense, and he hesitated awhile before answering beautifully.

“Um, next question?”

Man, I don’t even know anymore. Spin the column and the question anyway you like, but that was some first-class troll bait.

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March 21, 2014

Intimidation?

Filed under: Basketball,Media,NCAA Tourney — Chas @ 7:39 am

I actually want to thank the reporter that asked this.

“Is there any intimidation level for you guys facing a No. 1 team?” a reporter asked of the matchup Saturday with top overall seed Florida.

“Intimidation?” Patterson said as he did a double-take. “Do you know anything about Pittsburgh basketball? No, we are never intimidated.”

The question was asked of Patterson and several other players in the locker room after Pitt’s 77-48 win against Colorado Thursday in the second round of the NCAA tournament — and this was before the hometown favorite and No. 1 seed even took the court to play its game.

That’s a great response by Patterson. Just the WTF response that it deserves.

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March 20, 2014

You know why this beatdown has to really hurt Colorado? Pitt announced what they were going to do on defense a couple days before the game happened. They were going to double-team the Buffs. Especially in the paint. Make Colorado pass out of it and see if turnovers could be created. That was exactly what Pitt did from the opening possession. And Colorado had no answer.

“We knew they were going to double the post,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “We didn’t handle the doubles out of the post. It wasn’t just Josh, it was all of our guys.”

Scott finished with 14 points and six rebounds, but had just five points at halftime, as Pitt made him a non-factor when it mattered most.

“It’s something I’ve had to work on all year, and they were a good defensive team and they rotated out of it,” Scott said. “They covered a lot of space. So credit to them.”

In the early minutes of the game, CU tried to go inside, but couldn’t get anything going in the paint. The Buffs had four turnovers in the first few minutes and it took 6 minutes, 19 seconds for them to get their first shot attempt inside the 3-point arc.

“We really wanted to guard the ball screens, we really wanted to take away their post offense and we did that early, and I think that was evident,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.

Just a little.

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No games in front of Pitt, so barring a power outage the game should start on time.

1:40 pm on TBS.

I’m either DVR delayed or secretly watching the game at a bar while technically at work. Either way, that means you won’t be hearing much from me.

I do expect a close one. I wish the Buffs was more hateable. I like Colorado and their coach, Tad Boyle. He’s done an amazing job at a place where there has been even less historical success than at Pitt. This is the first time they have ever made the NCAA Tournament three straight years. It was 50 years ago from the last time they went in consecutive years.

Both teams will be emphasizing defense and rebounds. Similar philosophies and all.

The issue for Colorado is offensive efficiency. They turn the ball over a good deal. For Pitt, it usually comes down to the shooting. Not just from outside but are the shots going when they get close to the basket.

And hopefully doesn’t come to an abrupt end.

Going primarily links today, because time is precious. Not to mention I’m already kind of jittery for the game this afternoon. Going to be a long 5 hours or more.

Let’s start with a football note of sorts. We are all worried about the lack of depth at QB for Pitt. Well, Colorado had 6 QBs leave in the last year and are bringing in a member of their equipment staff to take snaps in spring practices.

Sheldon Jeter is in community college in Florida, so he is on hand to take in the game.

Injuries changed both teams. More so for Colorado, who had guys have to alter their roles significantly.

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March 19, 2014

Everybody Is The Underdog

Filed under: Basketball,NCAA Tourney — Chas @ 7:40 am

Pitt has staked the early claim to being the underdog against Colorado.

“We have been preaching since the start of the ACC tournament that we are the underdog,” Dixon said. “That was our mentality, that was our thinking and we wanted to play that way.

“But we also talked about playing on the road or playing in neutral court games. We have had great success.”

He pointed out that the Panthers’ 7-2 road record in conference play was the best in the ACC (tied with Virginia).

“We seem to play well on the road. … The key is we have had good focus on the road trips, good preparation and pretty good practices the times we’ve had them.”

It should be easy enough to claim. Colorado is seeded higher than Pitt. Even if it is only 9 vs. 8. The team seems to be buying into it a bit.

But, wait. Colorado isn’t going to let that underdog claim go to Pitt that easy.

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March 16, 2014

Brackets get announced at roughly 6pm on CBS. ESPN gets to take control of the conversation at 7pm.

It seems like there are two deserving #1 seeds (Florida and Wichita State) and then flawed #2 (and #3) seeds that will see  two of them in 1 seed spot to be prime targets for derision (Virginia, Michigan, Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin, Louisville, Iowa State and Syracuse).

Still don’t see the ACC getting more than 5 bids. T.J. Warren is the best player in the conference, and I look forward to him going pro. But I don’t see his NC State squad making the field when they took that long to realize they needed to let Warren score while the rest of the team does everything else.

Pitt will be a 9 or 10 seed by just about any projection. But then again, we know how those things have worked for Pitt before.

I’m kind of hoping Pitt is a 10 seed rather than a 9. I just think this group will respond a lot better with more of a sense of disrespect.

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