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March 14, 2017

Who Are These Guys?

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 5:17 pm

That will be the question Cam Johnson, Ryan Luther and Pitt fans will be asking. The Pitt basketball roster continues to, um, evolve.

Freshman Corey Manigault and sophomore Crisshawn Clark will transfer out of the University of Pittsburgh basketball program school officials announced Tuesday. Both players are expected to finish the spring semester and leave the school in good academic standing.

“We wish Corey and Crisshawn the best of luck as they look to continue their collegiate careers elsewhere,” said head coach Kevin Stallings. “We will continue to support both of them through their impending transfers.”

Neither one is a shock.

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March 13, 2017

Nothing particularly coherent. Just the jumble trying to work through after a week of basketball and then the NCAA Tournament field (and NIT) being set.

Let’s all give a big cheer for the NIT having a fantastic sense of humor. Days after Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim, in a post game press conference, went off on the uselessness of Greensboro, NC as a site for the ACC Tournament (he’s not wrong). Followed by Greensboro’s twitter feed dropping the mike. And just for good measure, the minor league team piling on. The NIT gave the #1 overall seed a home game with UNC-Greensboro. It is truly an amazing thing when the NIT can actually pull a significant amount of attention from the NCAA Tournament bracket.

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March 9, 2017

Season Finally Ends

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:16 am

At least they didn’t go out like Duquesne. Ooof.

There was a brief period in the second half. Pitt had an energy that had all but disappeared before halftime. They were attacking the basket — and forcing Virginia to foul. The defense was showing effort. And Pitt pulled within 2 points barely 7 minutes into the second half.

This from a group that in the first half looked listless as the deficit grew. Whether it was being tired from the night before or simply ready to give-up. The energy from Pitt looked so negative that the ESPN crew of Sean McDonough and Doris Burke openly talked of how everyone at Pitt was ready to move on from this season.

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March 8, 2017

9pm, ESPN2.

The last time these two teams met, all of five days prior, it didn’t go so well for Pitt. Senior suspensions. Blowout loss. And the look of a team that just wanted to pack it in.

I know, getting hyped for this game, huh?

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Not Dead Yet

Filed under: ACC,Basketball,Conference — Chas @ 8:35 am

Wait. Pitt won?

Lots of gallows humor in this game. It was ugly. It was hard to watch. Moments of incredible stupidity. There were even a couple smart plays. But Pitt won in the end.

Pitt gave up more offensive rebounds (-4). They turned the ball over way more (13-7). With those differentials, Georgia Tech had a lot more shot attempts then Pitt (+8). But GT is an offensively challenged team (to be kind). While Pitt didn’t exactly light things up, they did just enough from the field and the free throw line to eke out a 61-59 win.

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March 7, 2017

7pm, ESPNU.

Wait. Pitt’s favored in this game?

I suppose when a team has only 2 wins away from home the entire season, there is reason to be skeptical. But against Pitt? Pitt has 4 wins outside the Pete, but only one in conference — against BC. Someone has to win.

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March 5, 2017

Over Before It Began

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 11:02 am

When Pitt Men’s Basketball tweeted out the starting line-up, there was no way this game was going to end with positive feelings. Whatever slight, sliver of optimism that Pitt could repeat the stunner of UVa was done. Milligan and Luther were in the starting lineup in place of Artis and Young.

This, barely 24 hours after it was announced that Justice Kithcart was dismissed from the team. As the news trickled out during the opening minutes of the game. It went from the players (and roommates) being late for practice to them being 10 minutes late to the team breakfast that morning. Coach Kevin Stallings held them out of the game for 10 minutes.

By the time Artis and Young saw the court, Pitt was down 19-2. Yet to score a basket. The only thing left in the half was the question of whether Pitt would crack double-digits before halftime. (They did. Yay?)

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March 4, 2017

UPDATE (11:58): Worth tossing to the top. Starting lineup will exclude Artis and Young. Milligan and Luther starting in their place.

12 pm, ACC Network Syndication or ACCN Extra/Watch ESPN.

Last regular season game and then an opening round game in Brooklyn for the ACC Tournament. Sadly, with the effort and outcomes in prior games, it is hard to believe Pitt will make any noise at the ACC Tournament.

Pitt goes into Charlottesville looking to lock down that 13th seed and meeting Clemson in the opening game. A loss would put them in a tie for 14th with NC State, and presumably because they lost in head to head against the Wolfpack drop them to the 14th seed. That would mean playing either Georgia Tech or Wake Forest.

I know, high drama.

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March 1, 2017

Offense Struggles, Defense Follows

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:25 am

There is nothing remotely surprising about the outcome of the game. Oh, hell, let’s jump right to Kevin Stallings in the post-game.

Thirty games into his first season at the school, Stallings saw a continuation of what has irked him for much of the past four months, including a lack of execution from a group, he said after the game, which sometimes lacks coachability.

“If the coach says run a play, how about just run the play?” Stallings said. “How about just don’t come down and charge before you give the play a chance to unfold? It’s a lot of things. It’s staying in your stance on defense. It’s staying between your man and the goal. It’s seeing the ball when you’re away from the defense. There are a lot of things that go into it. I get it. I get where they’re at. I get where we’re at in the season. It’s kind of a pride thing at this point. I just had hoped we would play a little better.”

Not that Stallings has been much for taking much responsibility for the way this team plays, other than the usual lip service of “it’s on me as the coach” stuff after blaming the players. But after this game, he didn’t even bother with the pretense.

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February 28, 2017

9pm, ESPNU.

As disappointing as ending up in the NIT is, there is one thing more embarrassing. Not even being able to qualify for it. To make the NIT, a team has to finish with a record at .500 or better. Pitt is poised not to make it, if they can’t win at least 2 games. With only 2 regular season games left and the ACC Tourney, the odds are getting longer.

Pitt is still looking for that second ACC road win (Boston College still counts). Georgia Tech is trying to clinch a first round bye in the ACC Tournament and possibly get into the ACC Tourney.

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February 27, 2017

Nothing Surprising, Only Disappointing

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:44 am

The loss on Saturday to UNC was not anything unexpected. Just because Pitt played them well in Chapel Hill a few weeks prior didn’t mean Pitt was going to pull an upset. UNC has been playing a lot better and Pitt has been… as they have been.

No one seems to have wanted to admit this around the team, but defense and rebounding make a difference. At least until it was absurdly beaten into them.

And led to a post game quote from Jamel Artis that kind of sums up this team:

“Obviously we would have liked to come out with a win and it’s very disappointing. We thought we had a good chance to win, but we didn’t go out and play as hard as we could have. I think we learned how important the defensive side and rebounding are to winning a game.”

Way to figure that out 29 games into the season. I’m sure you will take that lesson to heart with all the games still to play.

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February 25, 2017

Open Thread: UNC-Pitt, Senior Day

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 9:18 am

12 pm, ACC Network affiliates or ACC Digital Extra/WatchESPN.

Yeah, I have no idea.

It’s reasonable to expect a loss, but it is the final home game of the season. This team could rain down 3s and win big against an expected #1 seed for the NCAA Tourney. OR they could roll over 10 minutes in. And anywhere in between.

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February 23, 2017

Familiar, But Still Impressive Implosion

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:36 am

I can’t even muster the rage I had last week.

Saw it coming. Knew it would happen. Still, couldn’t hide my shock at the way it went down.

Pitt shot 4-24 in the second half. Which on its face would be amazingly bad. But it gets worse. They came out of the break going 3-6 in the first 5 minutes. Up 47-35. From there, Pitt would make only one more shot from the floor. An astounding 1-18 over 15 minutes. 12 points the rest of the way with the free throws.

Yet, they still only lost by 4 with a chance to send it to OT or win in the final seconds. That should tell you how bad this game was if you were lucky enough not to have watched.

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February 22, 2017

Tossing this up a bit early. Will be a tight window to get home for the start of the game.

7pm, various RSNs (ROOT, YES, NESN, Multiple FOX Sports) and ACCN Extra/WatchESPN.

I was watching a some games last night — Clemson-VT and Indiana-Iowa, primarily — and it seemed like half the conversation between the announcers (and 100% when they went to the studios) was about how teams needed this win to get off or stay on the bubble. They were talking about 4-10 (now 4-11) Clemson  in the ACC and the now 5-10 in the B1G, Indiana.

I know that bubble talk is always a big driver of interest late in the season. Especially in games with middling to below-average programs. But it is making me a little crazy. I swear, when 6-20 Mizzou was playing their best game of the season against Kentucky (ultimately losing), the game calling crew started talking about how if the Tigers kept this up and made a deep run in the SEC Tournament…

STOP!

There is no basis in reality, but the talking point is all about the bubble. I know in the cases of Indiana (big non-con wins) and Clemson (great numbers in statistical analysis). But in the end these are not good teams. Indiana between injuries and horrid inconsistency. Clemson is just good enough to lose. Painfully, heartbreakingly (possibly Faustian in nature for college football, but I can’t be sure), but still losses. Over and over again.

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February 20, 2017

Only Consistency Is In Unpredictability

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 10:48 am

To be fair to Coach Kevin Stallings, it isn’t as if this core hasn’t had consistency issues in the past two years. Games where the offense was non-existent. The defense couldn’t stop anything. It’s just that it wasn’t as frequent, and the blame was assigned elsewhere. (Jamie Dixon is too controlling! James Robinson is too limited as a point guard!)

Of course, anyone who has looked at Kevin Stallings career at Vanderbilt, knows that Stallings’ teams had their own issues with consistency of effort and performance.

Put those two sides together and the uptick of unpredictability from Pitt from game to game makes some more sense. No less maddening, but at least you can sort of make sense of it that way.

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