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March 31, 2014

Going Link Diving

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:44 am

A few short hitters for the day.

Who is responsible for this? Who? I’m prepared to accuse a Hoopie or Nitter of doing it as negative recruiting.

Has Pitt taken some grief for the non-spring game? A little.

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March 30, 2014

What The Offense Offers

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 12:52 pm

I guess the only question I have is, why did they decide to work on this now?

While quarterback Chad Voytik goes through his first spring as the presumed starter, sharing snaps equally with Trey Anderson, he is working on cleaning up mechanics in his throwing motion.

“My stride length is a little long,” he said.

He said Chryst noticed it, but Voytik said he has been aware of it since high school.

If Voytik’s accuracy suffers in practice while making the changes, he isn’t worried.

“There are a lot of days before the first game,” he said.

Chryst said perfecting the details can make a difference.

“You have to teach what to do,” he said. “But how-to is important. That’s where you gain an edge.”

And by now, I mean why didn’t they work on it any time in the previous two years? Yeah, it beats deciding to fix this sort of thing in the fall, but Voytik is a redshirt sophomore. There was no coaching change during that time to throw any work on it off.

You would think that the time to work on it would be earlier when there is a lot less pressure and plenty more time to get it straightened out. This isn’t exactly the giant hitch in the throwing motion Pat Bostick had, but it just seems odd that the coaches waited until now to have him work on it. I guess Chryst being a lot closer to what the QBs are doing this year must have decided it wasn’t something that should be left uncorrected any longer. Well, as long as it is all taken care of before the end of August.

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March 28, 2014

Eyes On the Defense

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 7:33 am

Offense is what everyone notices. It’s always the focus of stories. Especially in the spring practices where contact is more limited, so it is easier for the skill positions to stand out.

It doesn’t feel this way for this spring. Even with all eyes on Chad Voytik. Even with the annual angst concerning the O-line. No, the questions, concerns issues of depth all seem to be on the defense.

It’s replacing the irreplaceable Aaron Donald. It’s the half the DBs being new starters. It’s the questions at the defensive end spots. And without any obvious stud players coming in this fall, it is about seeing who is developing this spring.

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March 24, 2014

The End Is Always Abrupt

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 7:42 am

Oh, the loss was obvious for at least the last 10 minutes of the game. Pitt just could not get their outside shot to fall. Another guard named Scottie was just too fast and too on to stop.

Still when the game ended. The realization starts to hit. No more games for Pitt this year. The season is over. It’s cliche to say that there’s only one team that is happy at the end of the season. There’s plenty of truth in it, though. Every game watched over the weekend you could see it in the looks, covered faces and tears on the losing end.

When the game ended, and they started doing the post-game interviews and studio work, I quickly paid my tab at the bar. The bartender said sorry. The other bartender who before the game had happily told me how about he used to party in Oakland while attending the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Sciences glanced at me and said, “Dude…”

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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 21, 2014

Intimidation?

Filed under: Basketball,Media,NCAA Tourney — Chas @ 7:39 am

I actually want to thank the reporter that asked this.

“Is there any intimidation level for you guys facing a No. 1 team?” a reporter asked of the matchup Saturday with top overall seed Florida.

“Intimidation?” Patterson said as he did a double-take. “Do you know anything about Pittsburgh basketball? No, we are never intimidated.”

The question was asked of Patterson and several other players in the locker room after Pitt’s 77-48 win against Colorado Thursday in the second round of the NCAA tournament — and this was before the hometown favorite and No. 1 seed even took the court to play its game.

That’s a great response by Patterson. Just the WTF response that it deserves.

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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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