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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 18, 2014

Spring Practice Always Seems Too Soon

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 7:36 am

I’m not saying Coach Paul Chryst does his level best to minimize any hype and attention to football in the spring, but cancelling the Blue-Gold Scrimmage and having the first practice on the same evening as Selection Sunday. Well, it’s hard not to make some inferences.

Between my absences and basketball season, football talk has gotten a short shrift from me. Not that there has been much beyond speculation for most of the last month. Still, there were some items.

Bryan Murphy and Mark Giubilato have left the team, though the two will remain at Pitt to finish their academics. Both will be seniors. Some attrition was expected simply because the scholarship numbers weren’t adding up correctly.

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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.

How You View Reality

Filed under: Basketball,Fishwrap,Media — Chas @ 2:00 pm

I’m not fixated on the no-call on James Robinson’s score with 11 seconds left. Really. I am merely interested in how the moment is viewed.

Pittsburgh media:

Robinson scored despite drawing contact from Virginia forward Akil Mitchell that knocked Robinson to the floor to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to one point with 10 seconds left. To the protest of Pitt fans, whose chorus of boos echoed in Greensboro Coliseum, officials didn’t call a foul.

“What can you do? What can you do?” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “Everybody saw it.”

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Ehh

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 9:51 am

Pitt didn’t win its first Big East Tournament game until 1987 (their fifth year in the conference). The Panthers didn’t win more than one BET game until 2001. So, from that standpoint, Pitt is light years ahead of where they were when starting in the Big East. And man is that a reminder of just how badly those Paul Evans teams underachieved. The failures of the late-80s Pitt team, with the talent they had… Yeesh. Still boggles my mind when I look back on them.

Intellectually, I know better.

I understand that nothing I do has any real impact on what Pitt does. Most of the time I try to be very, very rational. Sometimes to the point of taking all emotion out of things. But there are moments. Times when I give in to the whims of superstition and the idea of streaks.

So, when I found myself so locked up with work I couldn’t even get a chance to throw up a weak open thread effort at the Wake-Pitt game in the ACC Tournament, I kind of talked myself into being too busy on Friday not to do the same with Pitt-UNC. (Did I sneak out of work and find myself in a bar for the second half of both games? No comment.) Next thing I know, Pitt is in the Semis of the ACC Tournament and faced with the heart and mind conflict.

It’s what made that damn Bud Light “Superstition” ad campaign during NFL games so effective. It may have been annoying and a little much — as most ads are — but there was just that element of truth to it. Where we all have those little quirks, habits and rituals we feel must be done we don’t want to mess with a streak.

I opted to keep the silence. Not to post. Not to go on Twitter during the games. Basically, being an internet mute.

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March 11, 2014

What Comes Next

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 7:39 am

Yes, the power is back.

You know, at the end of last season with Steven Adams leaving for the NBA. Trey Zeigler transferring. J.J. Moore’s slow decision to transfer. Missing out on remaining recruits like Lennard Freeman and Jon Severe. The fact that Dietrick Mostella couldn’t get his academics in order — for the entire spring and summer. If you just went from that point, this hasn’t been a bad season, given the expectations and losses.

Pitt finished 5th in the ACC. An 11-7 record and heading back to the NCAA Tournament. About what was expected. A little better than the 6th place finish predicted, but in all honesty that was due more ND being much worse than expected than Pitt being a bit better.

But of course we aren’t just skipping ahead months at a time. We went through each game. Each half. The individual plays, decisions and shots. Every disappointment and frustration magnified. Just as the encouraging signs and hope got blown to bigger proportion than they should have been.

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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 4, 2014

Simplifying The Loss

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:34 am

How did Pitt lose last night? One simple chart:

College Basketball Stats

As for why? That’s a different discussion.

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 2, 2014

We Can Laugh, Now

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 1:16 pm

Shortly after I finished watching the game, my son looked over at me and asked, “Did Pitt lose daddy?”

“No, Kian they won.”

“Then why are you lying on the floor?”

I uncurled from the fetal position with no really good answer other than, “It’s Pitt, son. It’s Pitt.”

Had to DVR delay the Pitt-ND game. Which may have been for the best in terms of avoiding the community meltdown with 2.8 seconds left in regulation. But I’ll get to that.

The good news about that game, other than the win. No “burn” offense from the Irish.

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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 28, 2014

Brief Comment Username Reminder

Filed under: Admin — Chas @ 8:26 am

As long-timer readers should remember, I’m not very tolerant of sock puppetry in the comments.

Consequently the filters  toss comments into a general queue for review if the username or e-mail don’t match-up to your previously approved comments under a different username/e-mail. And given the volume in the queue I may not get to them all, since that means I have to search through old comments and confirm its the same person. And make sure they aren’t playing games.

You can drop me a line if you feel that there is a problem, but be sure to let me know what username you are/have been using. It would also help if you could explain why you felt the need to change the name.

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