May 27, 2015

Temporary Frontcourt Depth

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 7:39 am

Over the last five years, depth in the frontcourt has been a major issue. A decent to very good starter — not as much an issue as it sometimes gets portrayed. It’s been the drop-off when that player has to come off the court. With agonizing misses of top-ranked recruits,  injuries, transfers, and players who were overmatched when they got to Pitt, though,  it has been a struggle to simply have one decent frontcourt player to come off the bench.

After this past season and lack of front court depth looking acute, Coach Jamie Dixon has gone hard for the short-term fix.


May 7, 2015

Newkirk’s Knee

Filed under: Basketball,Injury,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 12:15 pm

Josh Newkirk had knee surgery last week.

Pitt guard Josh Newkirk, who averaged 5.9 points and was second on the team with 93 assists last season, is expected to be out four to six months after having surgery to correct damage in his left knee, coach Jamie Dixon said Wednesday.

Team physician Dr. Bryson Lesniak performed the surgery last week. It involved repairing Newkirk’s lateral meniscus and a micro fracture on the outside part of his knee.

“We expect Josh to make a full recovery and rejoin his teammates for the upcoming 2015-16 season,” Dixon said. “He’ll start summer school on Monday. The surgery was a success, and we know that Josh will work hard during the rehabilitation period.”

I remain continually amazed at the ability of the Pitt athletic department to keep information so tight.


May 5, 2015

As early as December — barely a month into the college basketball season — the stats were already damning the college basketball season as likely to be one of the slowest. Sure enough, it came to pass.

Everyone has their favorite reasons. Lack of skill by incoming players — which goes in several directions. To the pernicious effect of AAU basketball in this era and all the societal blame that follows.  Or that it necessitates coaches of those particular teams to slow the game down to give them a better chance to compete.

The increased emphasis on defense, coupled with the rising trend of statistical analysis and film scouting to have players in better position. Correlated with that is the use of offensive efficiency which values the possessions and slows things down on the offensive end as well.


May 4, 2015

Grad Transfers Galore

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 7:28 am

After adding some perimeter help for the 2015-16 season in Sterling Smith, Coach Jamie Dixon and Pitt basketball grabbed some frontline help. Rafael Maia is a Brazilian-born forward who played at Brown the last three years. Like Smith, Maia is a graduate transfer and eligible to play the upcoming season.

He’s 6-9 and averaged 9.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last year. He brings good size inside and will be looked to to help on defense and rebounding more than anything else.

Maia had Southern Cal and Nebraska pursuing him, but decided on Pitt after his visit to USC and without taking a trip to Nebraska.


April 26, 2015

The Chancellor cast the die; the future is determined; there are no more options; events will proceed in an irreversible manner; the point of no return has been passed and we have received unto us a new Athletic Director.  In other words and as Justin states so well: “Pitt has hired Utah State Athletic Director Scott Barnes to replace some jagoff none of us liked”.

So it was announced yesterday that ex-Utah State AD Scott Barnes has been hired to fill the position that layed vacant for the last four months. His full resume can be found in this Blather article copied word-by-word from the subsequent PITT press release.

Before we get into the meat of the matter here are two good pieces that the PITT media dept. put out.  PITT rolled out the blue and mustard gold carpet for the introductory press conference. Here is the video introducing the long drink of water as our AD and the second is a photo slideshow of the same presser with photos of all involved including the only non-blond adult female in Utah, his wife Jody Barnes.  Funny how much more intelligent she looks then the last HC’s wife from west of the Mississippi. Plus he has a daughter named after a fantastic Pepperidge farm cookie – Milano – so he’s got a sense of humor also.

The local media seem to be happy with him, at least Jerry DiPaola doesn’t take any overt shots at the guy.

Just for local balance here is Sam Werner’s take on Barnes’ presser.  An even better read is Werner’s Redshirt Diaries where he lays down some of the more interesting and important pieces of information regard the Barnes hire.


April 25, 2015

The new AD has been announced and he’s taller than me so I don’t trust him right off the bat.  Everyone knows that people over 6’7″ tall are shifty and not to be trusted.

Here is Barnes’ press conference and it was nicely done.

Statement from Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford:

“Scott is a veteran athletic director who is highly respected nationally, as evidenced by his chairing the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee. He will be an excellent addition to Pitt and the Atlantic Coast Conference. I congratulate Chancellor Gallagher and the search committee on an excellent choice.”

Here is the official PITT Press Release

April 24, 2015

The Panthers’ new A.D. brings a distinguished and decorated résumé to Pitt.

 PITTSBURGH—Nationally distinguished as one of the top administrators in collegiate athletics, Scott Barnes has been named the new athletic director at the University of Pittsburgh by Chancellor Patrick Gallagher.

Barnes arrives at Pitt following an impressive tenure at Utah State University, where he was honored as an Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year for his work elevating the Aggies’ program. He owns 26 years of administrative experience at the collegiate level and recently served as chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.


April 24, 2015

Help On the Perimeter

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 7:21 am

Well, a domino fell Pitt’s way. Damion Lee is a graduate transfer from Drexel, and yesterday he opted to go to Louisville. That was enough for another graduate transfer, Sterling Smith, to rule out the Cards and opt for Pitt.

BorzSterlingSmith is a 6-4 guard, though I’ve also seen him listed at 6-2. Love the accuracy of measurements of high school and college players.


April 21, 2015

Talking Philly Recruiting

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:12 am

In light of the utterly predictable, but still frustrating, decommitment by Mustapha Heron. Coupled with the transfer of Durand Johnson. Pitt has been offering some other players. Notably some players for 2015 and 2016 in the Philadelphia area.

Friend of the site, and former contributor/liveblog moderator, Josh Verlin has been back in Philly making a name for himself with relentless work covering the local basketball scene. That makes him one of the go to sources for information on recruiting of Philly kids. You can find him at his site and on twitter.

Josh was nice enough to take time out of a busy time of the year for those that cover recruiting to answer some questions.


April 14, 2015


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 against Chattanooga. An amazing turnaround.

As for the other NCAA Tourney…


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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