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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 20, 2014

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.

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.

March 8, 2014

Open Thread: Pitt-Clemson

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 2:47 pm

Guess who has two thumbs, but has been without power in their house since 6am?

Yeah, it’s been a day. A bit overly optimistic that things were settling down last week. Now, I’m being pessimistic and saying it might not be until the end of next week.

Anyways, precious power on my phone is being used so it’s time to keep it simple. A Pitt win and they clinch 5th in the ACC and are relatively safe into the NCAA Tournament. A loss can drop them as low as 7th and puts them legitimately in bubble talk.

Hopefully power comes back soon so I can watch some of this. It’s on the ACC network syndication along with ESPN3.com and ESPN Full Court package.

March 3, 2014

Open Thread: NC State-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 7:21 pm

Final game at the Pete for the season. Aaron Donald will be there.

Game is on ESPNU at 9pm. Mike Patrick and LaPhonso Ellis calling the game.

Not sure what kind of effort will be coming from the Wolfpack. Obviously not the effort they gave versus UNC last week. Or Syracuse the week before. They likely won’t be as pathetic as they were in the games immediately after those losses.

N.C. State (17-12, 7-9 ACC) will play at Pittsburgh on Monday after a sobering letdown in an 85-70 home loss to Miami on Saturday.

The Wolfpack poured everything into Wednesday’s game against North Carolina, an 85-84 overtime loss, but couldn’t duplicate the effort against the struggling Hurricanes.

Gottfried understood those challenges before the season. He had talked to his team about the danger of Saturday’s game with Miami.

He saw the same pattern after a difficult loss to Syracuse on Feb. 15. The Wolfpack couldn’t avoid some of the same issues that cost it a 73-56 loss at Clemson after the Syracuse game.

At this point, the goal for NC State is to finish at .500 in conference play. They end the season at home against BC, so this should be a big deal for them.

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March 1, 2014

Open Thread: Pitt-ND at Joyce

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 9:49 am

2 pm on ESPN2. Dave O’Brien and Doris Burke on the call.

Even if Pitt wasn’t struggling and a bit beat up, I’d be worried about this game. Losing five straight to a team will do that to you.

It just seems that much in the same way Pitt matches up well and knows what to do against Syracuse, Notre Dame does the same to Pitt.

“Whenever we play against Pittsburgh, it’s one of our biggest games of the season,” said Atkins, who leads Notre Dame in assists and steals. “I don’t think it’s going to be any different, another tough game on Saturday.”

Asked about Notre Dame’s success against the Panthers — Pitt hasn’t beaten Notre Dame since January 2009 and hasn’t won in South Bend since March 2005 — Atkins credits coach Mike Brey’s game plan.

Last season, Notre Dame limited the Panthers to 34 percent shooting and won the rebounding battle, 40-25. No Pitt player scored more than 11 points.

“We do a good job of scouting them and trying to take away their easy looks for their better players,” said Atkins, who contributed 10 points and seven assists in last year’s victory. “Also, limiting them on the backboards because they usually beat up teams offensive rebounding.”

Their defense has been solid, but the problem has been dealing with their offense. The Irish aren’t too far from Pitt’s adjusted tempo, but when they play Pitt they take it to the next level down.

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February 23, 2014

Open Thread: FSU-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 5:32 pm

This isn’t Pitt’s final home game but it is the last one on a weekend. Hence, time to honor the seniors Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna. Fifth year seniors who already have their undergrad degrees and have been taking graduate level classes this year. And both who needed this eight-day break to try and get closer to healthy.

ESPNU at 6 pm for the ACC Sunday night game. Carter Blackburn and Dino Gaudio will be the announcing duo.

All games are crucial at this point. As disappointed as the outcome has been in a lot of the games in the second half of the ACC conference play, Pitt is still firmly in the NCAA Tournament. It may be hard to believe when we tend to only look at Pitt, and what they haven’t done. But when you look at the other 31 conferences and start looking at their records. Their wins. Their losses. You realize Pitt is not on the bubble discussion because they are solidly in the Tournament.

At least right now. The Panthers can absolutely play themselves to the bubble if they struggle with this final five-game stretch. The final three of four being on the road.

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February 12, 2014

7pm on ESPN.

Dave O’Brien and Doris Burke are the announcing crew, so it’s going to be all about the game.

You may have heard and will hear something about that 9-0 versus top-5 teams at the Pete. So that’s out there.

There’s also the fact that the last time Syracuse beat Pitt at the Pete was 10 years ago in a 48-45 mess of a game.

Questions abound on the overall health of the team. How severe is Lamar Patterson’s thumb injury, really? How is Talib Zanna’s ankle?

This will be the fourth straight game versus ACC teams that play at a slower tempo than Pitt. ACC purists can complain all they want about the change to their conference, but the slower tempo is really being driven by their own teams not Pitt and Syracuse.

February 8, 2014

We’ve got ourselves a nooner.

Let’s get this out of the way quickly. Obviously it’s ESPN3.com or ESPN Full Court’s package. But there are plenty of other outlet options for this one. Root Sports Pittsburgh, Sports Time Ohio, YES, NESN, CSN Fox Sports South and others.

It’s been a decade since Pitt faced the Hokies in basketball, but it seems like nothing has changed. In the Big East they were a bottom feeder with rare spurts of slightly below average performances. In the ACC, more of the same.

Because of the basketball only morons of  Big East history, VT only played basketball in the Big East for four years. They finished last in the conference/division three times. This year in the ACC, VT is dead last with only one conference win (Miami). But on the plus side, they did beat the Hoopies.

Their head coach was hired on the cheap and out of desperation. The new VT AD is all but being forced to declare the guy a dead coach walking for the few VT fans that actually notice they have a basketball team and not pining for Seth Greenberg.

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February 5, 2014

2 game losing streak. Road game. Another slow-paced defensive-minded opponent.

Miami is off to a 2-6 start in the ACC. In no small part because their schedule has been brutal for what should be a middle to lower middle team in the ACC — Syracuse (twice), Duke, FSU, at Maryland.

The team plays a matchup zone defense.

“Theirs is a matchup zone, we haven’t seen a lot of that matchup zone this year. We’ve seen more of it in other years, but not so much this year,” Dixon said. “They also play a little bit of the Syracuse zone, a type of 2-3, but we saw it a little more in the Big East. It is something that coach Larranaga hasn’t played a lot of [in the past], but is this year because he feels it matches his personnel.

“They match up more with their three perimeter guys, they play more man-to-man on the ball than say a 2-3 zone.”

Dixon said the key to Miami’s zone is it slows teams down on offense. That meshes with the Hurricanes’ philosophy of keeping the possessions low and scoring down.

He said the only way to attack it successfully is to be patient. Dixon thought the Panthers were pretty good at that Sunday in the loss against Virginia but noted they were not good at making shots.

“I think we are good against a zone,” Dixon said. “The matchup zone is something that we prepare for, but we are also built to have success against zones because we pass it well and shoot it well. But it is something that we are going to have to be patient with and adjust [to] as they adjust as the game goes on.

The Canes have some length on the perimeter which is why they play the zone.

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NLI Day 2014

Filed under: Open Thread,Recruiting — Chas @ 6:28 am

Morning everyone. Got some coffee? Good. Did you add something to it other than a dairy product or sweetener? I’m not judging.

As expected the snow in the Cleveland area is closing schools, so I am homebound for at least the morning with the kids. The wife is still deciding whether to drive in to work. Either way, the National Signing Day open thread is ready for business.

The whole thing is so much more twitter driven, that this feels a little archaic, but it serves its purpose.

Pitt’s website goes live with signing day chatter at 8 am.

The key twitter accounts to follow are naturally from PantherLair (Rivals.com), PantherDigest (Scout.com) and Panther 247. Along with the Pitt football twitter account and local beat writers Sam Werner and Jerry DiPaola.

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February 2, 2014

Open Thread: Virginia-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 9:49 am

Hello, again. Offline world completely overwhelmed everything else this week. Hate to go to blaming the weather, but it was the major reason. Kids off for 3 days because of the weather. Wife in a fender-bender. Constantly moving, shifting and adjusting the work schedule to make everything work.

And now, after a Saturday when a drizzly, gray day was welcomed gratefully simply because it wasn’t bitterly cold and piling up more snow; it’s been snowing all morning. So after this post, it’s outside for shoveling.

Pitt’s had all week to stew over the Duke game. Now comes the Virginia team that is playing a lot like the Virginia team that was predicted to be a top ACC team and preseason top-25 team. They destroyed ND in South Bend — UVa had the Irish down 24 points with 7 minutes left before easing up to make it “only” a 15-point loss. Aside from their 4-point road loss to Duke, they have beaten all ACC opponents by at least 12 points.

Like Pitt, they are looking for quality wins. While they played a good non-con, they came away without any wins in those good games.

They have a stout defense and play at a deliberately slow pace. They value offensive efficiency. It all seems very familiar.

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January 27, 2014

Open Thread: Duke-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 6:15 pm

On Saturday I turned on the noon game on ESPN which was Miami-Duke. My 6-1/2-year old son came into the room to see what I was watching.  He’s at that stage where he is trying to watch some sports with me. He looked at the TV and with an exasperated sigh turned to me and said, “Really, Dad? Duke is on TV, again?”

I was so proud of him.

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January 25, 2014

6pm on ESPN2.

Tonight is a father-daughter night for me. It’s a “Cinderella Ball” that my daughter’s school has, so I have to set the DVR and hope the Western Ky-Louisiana-Lafayette game doesn’t cut too far into the start of the game. It’s probably wrong that that there’s a small part of me hoping that snow we’ve been getting today in the Cleveland area cancels the event. Especially since in another year or two it will be about some boy trying to take her to a dance.

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January 21, 2014

Open Thread: Clemson-Pitt

Filed under: Basketball,Open Thread — Chas @ 3:30 pm

First up this game is not an easy one to watch outside Pennsylvania and the Carolinas. The syndicated ACC Network is only showing up in a handful of markets on the weekdays (but at least Happy Valley gets to watch some good basketball). So the other viewing options are online at ESPN3.com or if you have the ESPN FullCourt package (hooray for a wife that forgot to cancel the package!).

It’s an 8 pm start, so that feels a little awkward.

As a brief aside, it sure seems like the early returns on ability to watch non-ESPN aired ACC games is inferior to the old Big East. Say what you will, and I know we have said plenty, but at least the Big East got their syndicated football and basketball games on wider reaching sports channels.

I’ve convinced myself that this is going to be a very tough game for Pitt. Clemson has only one inexplicable loss — at Auburn. After that, their other losses were to good teams like FSU and UMass and at Arkansas — which is one of those bad road/great home teams.

 

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