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January 27, 2014

Slight anticipation. Bit of excitement. Hard ticket to get.

Pitt got through their road game with Maryland. Duke throttled Florida State on the road.

Briefly, I’ll get some thoughts from the Maryland game out of the way, first.

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January 25, 2014

Maryland Inside and Out

Filed under: Basketball,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 10:24 am

I’ve written at least once this week, that I don’t think Pitt will look past Maryland. If for no other reason than the amount of friends and family that the players will have at the game. Whether it turns out those players press and try to do too much because of said friends and family are in attendance is something entirely different.

Coach Dixon doesn’t seem to be pushing that warning in public, either. Instead talking about the focus they have shown.

He said one of the things that has impressed him the most about this team is, despite having five new players (four freshman and a transfer) playing large roles, the Panthers have been mature and task-oriented and he doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.

“We have been a very focused group, we have been able to key on the next opponent,” Dixon said.

“I think the guys will be prepared and know what to do, but we have to execute as well. We’re not going to be surprised by things and we should have a better handle on where they are trying to score from and how they are trying to attack us.”

I will be curious about the crowd at College Park. This has been a disappointing season so far, and they aren’t playing one of their old foes one last time before heading to the Big Ten.

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December 25, 2013

Friends, Future and Finales

Filed under: Bowls,Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 4:34 pm

From a storyline, perspective this bowl has all three.

Merry Christmas everyone.

I still don’t have a handle on this day. I’m Jewish, which meant Christmas was just a really dull day other than watching NBA games on TV. The wife is Christian, though, so there has been a shift in how I have to treat the day. I’ve been doing Christmas with her family or just her and our kids for 17 years (Holy crap! It really has been that long?). You would think I would have a better approach by now. Yet, I still find myself looking at what movie theaters are open and something else to do. At the very least, I shouldn’t let myself whine about it any longer. Yeesh.

Okay. Time for a media run-through. There’s a bowl game tomorrow evening.

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December 8, 2013

As expected, Pitt is headed to Detroit, Michigan for the Little Caesars Bowl. Their opponent? MAC Champion Bowling Green.

While obviously this isn’t the most exciting bowl game, it’s a bowl game nonetheless.  (more…)

December 3, 2013

Sure they lost to Bucknell, but hey that happens to everyone at some point. They had a decent trip to Brooklyn. Beating St. John’s in OT and losing to Ole Miss by a few. Pat Chambers has done a nice job of trying to build this team. Tim Frazier has come back really well from his injury last year. D.J. Newbill has been outstanding. They have a very talented backcourt — on offense.

Their weaknesses are just as obvious. The defense is lacking. They’ll gamble on steals — as much because they struggle to guard players as by design. Not much of a frontcourt. And they lack depth. Frazier, Newbill and Ross Taylor all are averaging over 33 minutes a game. And this is just 8 games in, with a decent amount of scrub teams on the schedule. Don’t be surprised if Frazier and Newbill are out there for nearly the entire 40 minutes (barring foul trouble). Though, as you would expect, their coach downplays the minutes issue.

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November 30, 2013

Open Thread: City Game 2013

Filed under: Basketball,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 12:27 pm

I kind of miss Ron Everhart. Oh, sure there was a certain level of sleaze on him. But, at least he put together teams who at least challenged Pitt and were not a threat to Pitt’s non-con strength of schedule.

Presently the old Stage Magicians are at 2-2. They lost a game to West Virginia and New Hampshire (from the American East conference and presently 2-3… so, not a good loss).

The game is at 1pm on CBS Sports channel. Hopefully you have it on your tv package.

When you spot a good opponent 14 points and you miss an easy FG, you won’t win many games. Those mistakes gave Miami a 17 point cushion and the final was only a 10 point difference. It’d be infuriating if it wasn’t so common. For some reason, this program likes to start games slow then try to crawl back. Unfortunately, they just aren’t good enough to do that. Maybe in a year or two they will be, but not yet. There were some positives and many negatives, but let’s look at both. (more…)

November 29, 2013

Open Thread: Miami-Pitt

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 11:12 am

If you aren’t a little dazed and groggy this morning — whether by binge eating/drinking or shopping — then you may have done our present iteration of Thanksgiving wrong. Needless to say, I’m keeping it simple this morning. Setting the open thread with media run-through.

It’s going to be cold but sunny. I don’t think the temperatures will make anything but the smallest difference for Miami. Sam Werner made the correct observation in his chat earlier this week.

I don’t think it’s a hard-and-fast rule that all Miami teams play poorly in the cold, since the 2003 ‘Canes came into Heinz Field and beat Pitt in the final game of that season. But I was also in El Paso in 2010 when the Hurricanes came out bundled up like they were venturing out onto the planet Hoth. They got smoked that day. If this Miami team is focused and strong-willed (like that 2003 team), then I don’t think the weather will play a factor. But if they’re mentally checked-out and just waiting for the season to end (like the 2010 team was), the cold is just another reason for them to want Friday’s game to be over.

I don’t think Miami head coach Al Golden is a great coach, but he is a very good one. I think Golden will have Miami ready for this one. At least in the first half. This article goes through most key cold weather games for Miami. Not surprisingly, the cold only seems to be a factor when they lose.

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November 26, 2013

Know Your Enemy: The U

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Justin @ 12:52 pm

The U comes to town the day after Thanksgiving hoping to end their season on a high note after a disappointing few weeks. Miami was looking great; they were a top 10 team with BCS aspirations and even after the beat down by FSU they still had a lot to play for. Then they lost to VT and Duke, dropped out of the rankings, and faded into obscurity. However, a victory over Pitt and in a bowl game will give Miami a ten win season that will probably enable them to finish ranked.

Pitt clinched bowl eligibility with a win over Syracuse last week and will go to a bowl for the sixth straight season (which is a miracle given all of the turmoil in that time frame). I don’t want to say a loss is acceptable, but with a bowl game clinched and a highly talented team coming to town, it won’t be a disaster unless it’s an ass-kicking. Let’s look at The U. (more…)

November 23, 2013

Let’s Go Bowling!!!

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Justin @ 8:58 pm

Well, it wasn’t pretty, but something I’m a big fan of is that this team has now won several games fans normally expect them to lose. I expected Duke to pull off the miracle comeback. I knew when Notre Dame’s TJ Jones went 80 yards to get a 21-14 lead, Pitt would collapse. Sure, we’ve seen a few moments only Pitt could pull off, but at the end of the day, we’ve seen this team come back and tie three games in a row after being down in the second half. Then they won two of those three.  Six wins in the ACC is significantly better than six wins in the Big East. (more…)

November 21, 2013

Know Your Enemy: ARCHRIVAL ORANGE

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Justin @ 12:59 pm

This week Pitt heads to the Carrier Dome for a no questions asked, must-win game. Pitt cannot rely upon a win over Miami next Friday to get to bowl eligibility. While Miami isn’t a top 10 team like they were a few weeks ago, they’re still a better team than Pitt across the board. Syracuse, however, is a flawed team still in transition after Doug Marrone left to coach the Buffalo Bills. The ACC set the ARCHRIVAL ORANGE up as Pitt’s cross-division rival, meaning the two teams will play annually even though they’re in different ACC divisions. (more…)

November 20, 2013

Lehigh’s Back

Filed under: Basketball,Opponent(s),Players — Chas @ 8:42 am

Well, not in a competitive way. Just, you know, the second straight year of having them come to the Pete. Once more in the guise of an arranged game in the Progressive Legends Classic. Last year it was for the NIT Tip-Off Classic. The common thread for Pitt is that these preseason tournaments put Pitt in the NYC area. Something that Coach Jamie Dixon wants every year. Both for alumni support in that area and recruiting.

Lehigh is not as good as they were last year with C.J. McCollum graduated. Sporting News picked them for 3d in the Patriot League, and honestly, they haven’t looked that good. They lost to Minnesota, Fordham and recently to potential Legends Classic opponent — Houston.

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November 18, 2013

Blowing By The Bisons

Filed under: Basketball,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 8:37 am

When talking about the 2-3 zone last week, I mentioned how disastrous it was when Pitt attempted to use it back in 2011-12. That was nothing compared to what Pitt did to Howard’s attempt at using the 2-3 zone.

Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry blamed it on the Bisons (2-3) packing the paint in a zone defense, allowing Pitt to penetrate and kick out to shooters.

“I told them the bigs can’t beat us, the guards have to beat us — and the guards killed us,” Nickelberry said. “We tried to cut off what we thought was the head of the dragon.”

Howard lacks big guards, so packing inside on a zone was practically begging Pitt to shoot over the zone. And that is what Pitt did. Getting wide-open looks from outside.

A reasonable person would say it wasn’t an unsound strategy upon reviewing Pitt’s 0-11 3-point shooting in the prior game. But even the biggest optimist on Howard’s staff would have to concede that it wasn’t a shooting performance that would be repeated. Instead Pitt decimated Howard from outside. Shooting 6-8 on 3s in the first half.

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November 16, 2013

Pitt-UNC Game Thread

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Justin @ 12:16 pm

I’m not sure if Chas is able to post this so I figured I’d throw this up. Here’s my game preview. Unfortunately Adam Bisnowaty is out for the game, Dorian Johnson starts in his place.

November 13, 2013

Know Your Enemy: Tarheels

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Justin @ 2:13 pm

The UNC Tarheels are heading to Pittsburgh in a matchup between two teams desperate for a win. Both need a win to continue to change the perception of their season; UNC wants to prove they’re better than their 1-5 start and Pitt is eager to grow off of the Notre Dame upset that may have been a season-changer. UNC is hot; they’ve won three straight games by an average of 21 points. Pitt has lost two of their last three, but last week’s upset suggests they may be ready to put their mid-season struggles behind them. It’s safe to say UNC and Pitt have reasons to be optimistic headed into Saturday’s contest. (more…)

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