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June 27, 2014

Patterson Goes to Atlanta

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 6:58 pm

I’m thrilled to be wrong. Lamar Patterson got drafted a bit earlier in the second round than even the few mock drafts that still had him listed.

University of Pittsburgh senior forward Lamar Patterson (Lancaster, Pa./St. Benedict’s Prep, N.J.) was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the No. 48 pick in Thursday evening’s 2014 NBA Draft. Seconds later, ESPN announced that Milwaukee traded Patterson to the Atlanta Hawks.

Patterson is the second Pitt player drafted in the last two seasons as Steven Adams was taken by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the No. 12 overall pick last June. Patterson becomes the sixth Pitt player selected in the NBA Draft in the last 10 years: Chris Taft (2005), Aaron Gray (2007), Sam Young (2009), DeJuan Blair (2009), Steven Adams (2013) and Lamar Patterson (2014).

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Patterson helped guide Pitt to three NCAA Tournament appearances, a 122-49 combined record, five consecutive 20-win seasons and a 78-17 record at the Petersen Events Center. An all-around player, Patterson became just the third player in school history to surpass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists in a career (the other two players were Carl Krauser, 2002-06 and Brad Wanamaker, 2007-11). He set a school-record for most career games played (148), started 106 games, scored 1,410 points, grabbed 588 rebounds, dished out 427 assists and hit 171 3-pointers over his five-year career.

In Pitt’s basketball history, Patterson is just the 29th player drafted to the NBA or ABA.

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June 26, 2014

Draft Night for Patterson And Zanna

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 6:37 am

Talib Zanna is not going to hear his name called tonight. He will get a chance in the NBA summer league with the possibility of a free agent signing, but he is likely heading overseas.

Lamar Patterson has a shot at the end of the second round.

What do the mock drafts say?: For what it’s worth, Patterson’s stock seems to have dropped a bit by this standard. In April, NBAdraft.net had Patterson going to Miami with the 57th pick. Draftexpress.com had him 59th to Toronto and CBS Sports’ Matt Moore, 45th to Minnesota.

Patterson did not show up on any of the current mocks of those three as of Wednesday night. He does show up on two of the four “final” mocks at BasketballInsiders.com, Steve Kennedy’s (to Indiana, No. 57) and Steve Kyler’s (Denver, No. 56).

The NBA Draft has very, very few sure things — even in the first round. Here’s a quick review of the last 19 drafts. So many of those picks weren’t mistakes. They just never translated.

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June 25, 2014

Isn’t it great that when all else fails we revert right back to discussing the apparently seminal topic of what wins college football games.  Of course it is the recruiting season, and recruiting season means star gazing, so let’s have at it.

Back in the spring of 2012 I did a three piece series on here about how recruiting stars equated to peer production – that is how many stars did leading college producers have and what the 1st and 2nd string All-Conference (BE and ACC) players had when they entered their respective college programs.  Just for fun, and especially if you are bored, here they are in sequence… remember to read the comments also as there was some spirited discussions back then too.   They are a bit lengthy but you guys can handle it.

So here they are:   Hitch Your Wagon to a Star,   Hitch Your Wagon II and Hitch Your Star III – ACC .  I don’t have the time or inclination to do all that research again to update to the 2013 results but I have a feeling the findings might not be that much different now and probably aren’t year to year.  Why?  Because unless you are running a huge, heavily financed football program such as the perennial Top Ten finishers do then your recruiting is going to look much like those posted results we see from two years ago.

To me there are two requirements as important as recruiting to building a winning football program. First and foremost you have to have a Head Coach and his chosen staff who get the best possible production out of the players on his roster, regardless of the players’ star factor.

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Recruiting and Ranking

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 6:37 am

It’s been well established that Coach Paul Chryst does not find recruiting to be one of his favorite things. His approach has annoyed, puzzled and infuriated plenty in just a short time.

At times he can be slow to offertalent. Ostensibly based on wanting to see them in a camp or meet with them first. Yet, he’s jumping right on that sophomore QB/punter in Wisconsin.

That’s just a side bar. The issue is that the players he gets to commit  — by and large — are not highly starred. A good chunk are players with their biggest offers from MAC schools and lower tier major conference teams.

Like it or not, the recruiting rankings are more than simply guesses. It’s why there is more excitement when a 4- star or so player gives a verbal.

For every Aaron Donald or J.J. Watt that rises well above his star ranking out of high school there are more like Jadeveon Clowney overall in the NFL Draft. Especially versus the total number of 4- and 5-star recruits in each class. The recruiting sites do a better job than we like to admit.

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June 24, 2014

Three More In the Fold

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:37 pm

Over the weekend Pitt pulled a verbal from Florida. Today two more were added. Chryst really likes June.

First up, running back Sekai Lindsey verballed over the weekend.

[Sekai] Lindsay, who attends Melbourne Palm Bay High School, joins defensive back Malik Henderson of Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Lindsay, 5-foot-10, 205, is rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com. He also has offers from Cincinnati, Florida International, Georgia Tech, South Florida, Temple, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina State and Georgia Southern.

Lindsay is also considered a 3-star running back by 247. Scout.com has him at 2-stars and ESPN.com does not have an evaluation on him (and mixed up his name). Still, some decent offers do offset the star situation.

Today, saw two more verbals.

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Unleash the Irrational Optimism

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 6:27 am

Don’t lie. You read the articles on the pro-am games last night. You try to tell yourself to take it all with a grain of salt. To keep perspective. And yet

Derrick Randall looks different.

He’s got a different aura about him this June. Physically, he’s night and day from last summer with a stronger, leaner frame. The rising senior has more energy as he sprints up and down the floor.

But it’s more than just the physical appearance, because Randall has a different feeling about him. He walks upright with his head held high and a smile on his face. It’s a far cry from the quiet, reserved – at times isolated – junior from last summer.

It has showed on the court, too.

Randall recorded his first double-double of the summer Monday night when he played opened at the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am summer league at Montour. His 22-point, 15-rebound performance keyed a PGT 110-87 victory over Shaler Attorneys.

Teamed with Josh Newkirk, who had 34 points and 8 assists, they were a force.

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June 23, 2014

Pro-Am Starts Tonight

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 6:44 am

The Pittsburgh Summer Pro-Am kicks off tonight.

There are seven teams. Only one lacks any Pitt players — past or present. Five of the other squads has at least one key Pitt player who will be scrutinized or have hopes projected on them.

Joseph Uchebo is on one squad, and given the way he looked afraid to run in the limited time last year, I have a great deal of curiosity as to how he will look.

Chris Jones and Jamel Artis are teamed up on another. Jones was hampered by a hand injury. If he is healthy, he could play significant time in the role that Lamar Patterson had. I am hoping Jamel Artis is working more on his inside game, not just looking to shoot from outside.

Josh Newkirk and Derrick Randall (yes, he is still at Pitt) are on another squad.

Sheldon Jeter will have to fight for his playing time when the big boys are in town. He’s on the alumni team with John DeGroat, Chevy Troutman and even Lance Jeter. Incoming freshman Cameron Johnson is also on the squad — which is probably safer for him from a physical standpoint. That will be a brutally physical team.

June 20, 2014

Basketball Notes, 6/20

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 6:42 am

I tweaked my back yesterday. No idea how.  Got out of my car at work and it abruptly hit. About once or twice a year I suddenly find myself moving very gingerly and grimacing when doing anything too sudden. It fades after a few days. A week at worst. My dad has the same problem, and has never gotten a good explanation from doctors as to how or why. Or how to prevent it. Just something that happens. Who doesn’t love the unknown.

Dick Vitale lists Durand Johnson as one of five players coming back (mostly from injuries) that will make a difference.

Grading Steven Adams first NBA season.

I am trying to work on a post on UNC’s neverending academic/athletic scandal in the wake of Rashard McCants statements regarding his fake education and what Roy Williams knew, but spare time  for a side piece has been hard to come by. ESPN’s Outside the Lines will be having a roundtable talk on college basketball coaches role in the education of players with some coaches. Jamie Dixon will be one of the panelists. If you want to see it, consider DVR-ing it because it airs at 8am on Sunday.

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June 18, 2014

Marlon “Smoke” Williamson was introduced as a new Pitt assistant coach yesterday.

“We are excited about Marlon becoming a member of the University of Pittsburgh community and I know he is ecstatic to be coming aboard,” Dixon said. “As a former point guard with strong knowledge of the game, Marlon will help us in recruiting, scouting and player development. We are fortunate to have a coach with his well-rounded background. Marlon is also extremely excited to be a part of our staff considering his family ties to Pittsburgh.”

The former YSU point guard is openly ambitious and perhaps a little cocky.

“Actually, my pursuit is to become a great assistant coach right now. In the future, I want to become a head coach,” Williamson said. “When you say ‘great assistant,’ you have to fill a lot of bullets. Recruiting is definitely one, but I don’t want to be singled out as just a recruiter. I can get in the film room and break down Xs and Os. The relationship with the players is a huge factor for you as a coach. It’s much easier to play for someone you respect and love versus someone you just play for. That’s what I want to strive for as a professional in this business, being able to relate to the coach, co-workers on the staff, as well as the players and their parents.”

So, like [UMass Coach Derek] Kellogg before him, Williamson made a move to put his career in an upward trajectory.

“This is a big step,” he said. “When you talk about the University of Pittsburgh and ACC, you’ve got to go get players first. Our position as assistants is to put Coach Dixon in a position to be great. I look at coach Dixon as a legend. I don’t think he hired Coach Knight or Coach Barton to be mediocre. We want to give him the tools that he can go coach those guys. Our goal is to win the last game. Why not us?”

These are not bad things for a young assistant.

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June 17, 2014

And The June Commits Continue

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:31 pm

A definite position of need. Defensive tackle is a spot Pitt needs to bring in some players. Today, it looks like Pitt got a good one in Kraig Howe.

Howe visited Pitt three times in the last year, with two visits in the fall and another unofficial visit this spring. After the spring visit, he spoke very highly of the Panthers.

“Pitt has been one of my favorites for a long time; really, since I got that offer,” he said after the visit. “They were my second offer and they’ve always been up there with my favorites and top choices, and this visit was really a boost for how much I could see myself playing for Pitt and going to school in Pittsburgh and playing for these coaches. I can see myself fitting in well with program and the defensive scheme and the school and the city. It’s all clicking.”

Howe had offers from BC, Northwestern, Iowa St. and Illinois. 247 ranks him as the the 53d best DT nationally (Rivals.com says 37th and Scout.com has him 45th). He is a 3-star recruit by every site.

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Quick Hits, 6/17

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 6:29 am

Summer camps. The reasonable thing is to find a decent day camp relatively nearby. As long as they don’t get hurt or abused it is all fine.. Dump the kids and run. But not these days. No. My wife has to find camps that enrich them. That offer chances for them to do activities they actually want to do. Obviously it means more money. It also means hauling them even further out of the way. So, somehow with summer vacation we are actually leaving the house earlier and I am still getting to work later. I know. I know. First world problems.

I’m sure everyone read the wonderful Father’s Day piece on Paul Chryst and the impact of his dad George. The part that just struck me as pure Paul Chryst came when it got to the stuff about getting Bo Ryan — the present Wisconsin basketball coach — to come and be the head coach at Wisconsin-Platteville.

Ryan, who took Wisconsin to the Final Four this year, hasn’t forgotten. When asked to comment for this story, he said: “Anything for George Chryst and Paul Chryst.”

Paul said Ryan and his father were different on many levels but the same in their core values of hard work and loyalty.

Ryan had “that East Coast flash, confidence, swagger,” Paul said. “My dad was more of what you would picture as a Midwest offensive line coach. It was a pretty neat relationship.”

Only Paul Chryst. Only he could consider Bo Ryan to be flash and swaggy.

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June 16, 2014

It’s been something of an open secret for at least a week or so. One of the lead candidates to join Jamie Dixon’s coaching staff has been Marlon “Smoke” Williamson. An assistant coach on the UMass staff.

Williamson is an interesting choice, and not exactly what was expected. He’s a Youngstown State grad and his ties in recruiting are more midwest. Especially the Detroit area as he is reasonably tight with the AAU program known as “The Family.”

Williamson had spent the previous nine years working with The Family, an AAU program in Detroit, Mich. where he served as President of Youth Operations and Head Coach.

Williamson’s duties with The Family included opponent scouting, practice scheduling, monitoring of the athletes’ academic progress and counseling them on educational programs.

Some of the top players to emerge from The Family include Joe Crawford (Kentucky), Jordan Crawford (Indiana & Xavier), Chris Douglas-Roberts (Memphis), Draymond Green (Michigan State) and Malik Hairston (Oregon).

Both Matt Steinbrink at PantherLair and Chris Dokish have been tweeting about Williamson being a lead candidate, and today ESPN’s Jeff Goodman also tweeted it.

The upside is that Williamson is young — about the same age as Brandin Knight — and ambitious. He has AAU ties, which are a definite plus. The negative is that he’s still fairly new and has not shown track record of bringing talent yet. Plus his base for recruiting ties is not an area Pitt has mined — and has some stiff local competition with Michigan and Michigan State.

June 15, 2014

More Speed Added

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 9:25 am

There is an emerging theme to the recruiting class. Let’s call it what it is, “get faster.”

The latest addition to the speed force is Tre Tipton.

“I was thinking about it and me and my mom and my coach all talked, and we just said Pitt’s the place to be,” Tipton told Panther-Lair.com. “I called Coach (Paul) Chryst and I told him and he was excited. He said he can’t wait to start working with me.”

Tipton had been favoring Pitt for a long time – he was a fixture at the Panthers’ home games at Heinz Field last fall – but it was the two-day visit this past week that pushed him over the edge, since he spent those two days with current Pitt players, and that ended up being a major selling point for Pitt.

“It was the players and the people; they’re all so together, all so close-knit,” Tipton said. “The players are what sticks with you from the whole experience; they’re the ones who will mean the most when you’re there. I know that the guys that are there are the right ones for me; them and the coaches are the best ones for me.

“The coaches are of the best guys you can ever talk. They understand the process and what every young man has to do to be successful, and they’re like fathers to every guy that goes there. Everything just seems right at Pitt. I wanted it to feel like a family and ball out for four years with a family. They’re the ones for me.”

As a junior at Apollo-Ridge last season, Tipton, 6’1″ 170, caught 44 passes for 697 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. But it’s not just his scoring ability that led the Pitt coaches to offer him.

“They said I could be a very good fit for them,” he said. “They said they know I’m a hard-worker and wherever I can fit in, I’ll be able to play there. They said they think they can utilize me all over the offense.”

Tipton was also a standout defensive back, but it is clear that he wants to be on the offensive side of the ball.

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June 11, 2014

Pitt Has That Final Home Date

Filed under: Basketball,Non-con,Schedule — Chas @ 7:22 am

Pitt tends to wait until August to put out its basketball schedule. Most of us rely on piecing together the non-con by leaks and releases from other schools.

As you may recall, Pitt posted a need for a home game at the end of 2014.

The lucky team that accepted was  Florida Gulf Coast University.

FGCU has added a travel addition to its non-conference schedule, visiting Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Dec. 30, to go along with a previously announced game at Xavier on Dec. 28, FGCU athletic director Ken Kavanagh said today.

With 31 total games permitted each season, FGCU and other A-Sun schools have 17 non-conference games to find. Xavier, which is paying FGCU $95,000 with other compensation for the one-time game, and Pittsburgh are one-year deals. Schools can accept up to four “guarantee” games, although FGCU is planning to cut that number to three this season.

Have to imagine Pitt is paying close to the same amount for that game. Kind of a shrewd scheduling by FGCU to put those road games back-to-back. An extra night in a hotel instead of an additional flight.

June 10, 2014

A Couple More In the Fold

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:18 pm

Pitt has added a couple verbals to the 2015 football class. I know this is a stunner, but they are on the offensive side of the ball.

Over the weekend, Pitt added a QB (hands off, Vanderbilt!).

Malvern Prep’s Alex Hornibrook, a strong-armed junior quarterback, committed Saturday to play at Pittsburgh. He visited the school Friday and Saturday with his parents, and threw during one of the team’s camp sessions.

“Everything just felt right,” he said. “The campus is amazing, my interaction with the coaches was great, and it’s somewhere I could easily see myself playing.”

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound southpaw, who chose Pitt over Connecticut and Rutgers, added that he is excited about the Panthers renewing their heated rivalry with Penn State beginning in 2016.

Hornibrook is a consensus 3-star QB. He is also strong academically with an offer from Yale.

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