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April 6, 2017

Working Through the Offense

Filed under: Football,Players,Practice — Chas @ 9:45 am

A week and a half until the Blue-Gold scrimmage, and the pretense of who will be the starting QB in September remains comfortably intact.

“It’s good that you (reporters) don’t know,” Narduzzi said when asked if there was any separation in the quarterback competition. “It means we have no leaks in the office.”

No leaks and no fake news about the play of those vying to replace Nathan Peterman: redshirt sophomore Ben DiNucci, redshirt freshman Thomas MacVittie, freshman early enrollee Kenny Pickett and senior graduate transfer Max Browne.

“We have four very functional quarterbacks,” Narduzzi said.

While Head Coach Pat Narduzzi isn’t going to tip his hand, his offensive coordinator at least hints at the top-two.

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April 3, 2017

The first two years for Pitt under Head Coach Pat Narduzzi, have been mostly positive. The defensive-minded coach, though, has had to rely on the offense to be the side doing the heavy lifting.

The lack of depth and overall talent on the defense has been glaring — especially with the type of defense Narduzzi utilizes. Bringing pressure constantly without going all-out blitz. It relies on overall speed, depth to bring fresh bodies, and individual talents. All things missing from the defense.

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April 1, 2017

Cam Johnson Latest to Leave

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 8:02 am

Well, so much for an impromptu vacation.

You know it’s bad news when a press release is e-mailed out at 5:30 on a Saturday morning:

Redshirt sophomore Cameron Johnson will graduate and transfer following the spring semester school officials announced Saturday morning. The Moon Township, Pa., native will earn his degree in three years at Pitt and have two season of eligibility remaining after receiving a medical redshirt for the 2014-15 season

Johnson averaged 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game a year ago as the Panthers finished 16-17 overall and 4-14 in ACC play. A two-time All-ACC Academic Team and a 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, Johnson finished fifth in the ACC in three-point percentage (.415) and eighth in three-point field goals (2.36 3pg.).

Pitt currently has a seven-player recruiting class featuring highly-touted junior college prospects Jared Wilson-Frame and Troy Simons and high school standouts Aaron Thompson, Marcus Carr, Terrell Brown, Peace Ilegomah and  Shamiel Stevenson. The Panthers have additional scholarships available and will look to reshape the 2017-18 roster with graduate transfers, traditional transfers and late signees. Johnson will become the fourth player to transfer out of the program since the close of the 2016-17 season.

Man, I hadn’t even gotten the coffee made when I saw this. Probably a good thing, when you don’t want to do a spit-take on your phone.

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March 23, 2017

Pitt Pro Day Fun

Filed under: Alumni,Draft,Football,Good — Chas @ 7:24 am

Do campus pro days make a difference? Probably not for the players who received and went through the NFL Combine last month. Guys like Nate Peterman, James Conner, Ejuan Price, etc. who had their measurables taken in that setting probably won’t do much to change things. Any changes for them in the draft board will come from private team workouts and evaluations of their game film.

For the next tier, though, it is about getting noticed. Raising an eyebrow. Getting teams to reevaluate them.

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March 22, 2017

Digging in the Offense

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

It’s Pro Day today in the Southside. The donuts are available.

Perfect time to start catching up on spring practices from the weekend and yesterday. Let’s look at a couple of the things regarding the O-line and running backs.

I have to admit. It still feels odd to be positive about the offensive line. It has been ingrained in me for the past 15 + years to worry about the holes. Changes. Depth. Yet, this is the second straight year where the O-line has me feeling good about things.

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March 21, 2017

New(est) AD Introduced

Filed under: Athletic Department,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 12:41 pm

Yesterday was Athletic Director Heather Lyke’s introductory press conference (What? No pep band?). It was organized, direct and lacked a contentiousness that marked a press conference introducing another new athletic department employee a little less then a year ago.

People see what they want to see. I thought Lyke was fine in her unveiling. Not a revelation or makes me ready to endow a weight room or anything. Solid performance (PDF).

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March 20, 2017

Pitt Has A New AD

Filed under: Athletic Department,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 7:38 am

A few days after the P-G put out an article listing the top candidates for Pitt’s next Athletic Director, the news broke fairly late on Sunday evening of the hire.

Heather Lyke, late of Eastern Michigan, is Pitt’s new Athletic Director.

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EDITOR COMMENTARY: I hate that I feel the need to do this, but I’m going to get this out of the way before going any further. If you don’t like the hire, fine. There are legitimate reasons to think that, but be sure to explain them.

If you don’t like the hire because she is a woman, take it elsewhere.  If you don’t like the hire for valid reasons but still feel the need to express displeasure over the hire in a misogynistic or sexist way, I’m not going to waste any time with you. I’m not going to let you pollute the site. Instead, you will just be banned outright. Regardless of how long you have posted comments. Just as the old Diceman routine never held up that well, you’re not that funny. You aren’t railing against an overly sensitive, PC culture for it. You are being an asshole.

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March 19, 2017

NCAA Tournament has mostly gone according to chalk. Not been a good one for the ACC, as a whole. Down went Louisville, Virginia and Notre Dame. This is what it has felt like in the ACC for the last couple decades. Everyone flaming out and stuck hate-rooting for UNC and/or Duke to carry the banner for the rest of the conference. Sucks.

On the plus side, Villanova reverts back to form by exiting in the first weekend for the second time as a #1 seed in the last three years.

The first four days of the NCAA Tournament has been more interesting for the coaching moves, then any Cinderella stories.

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March 17, 2017

Media availability was pretty decent after the first practice. Both coordinators were put out there, along with Quarterback Max Browne and Safety Jordan Whitehead. Quadree Henderson, the team’s offensive utility knife and Defensive Tackle Jeremiah Taleni got some media time.

Max Browne had some attention for wearing uniform number 4 — which probably speaks to a lack of topics as much as anything else. It’s always been the uniform number he wore. Nate Peterman also wore it, and I had no idea that was any sort of conflict or problem. Like plenty of QBs in college now, Brett Farve was the idol to many.

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March 16, 2017

Spring practices start today. 14 practices mostly closed off to the public and media, culminating in the Blue-Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, April 15. There’s no way it will be as perfect weather as last year, but at the moment I’ll settle for it being warmer then this week in the Cleveland area.

Yesterday was the pre-spring practices press conference. (Is that really what we’re calling it? Shut up.)

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March 14, 2017

Who Are These Guys?

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 5:17 pm

That will be the question Cam Johnson, Ryan Luther and Pitt fans will be asking. The Pitt basketball roster continues to, um, evolve.

Freshman Corey Manigault and sophomore Crisshawn Clark will transfer out of the University of Pittsburgh basketball program school officials announced Tuesday. Both players are expected to finish the spring semester and leave the school in good academic standing.

“We wish Corey and Crisshawn the best of luck as they look to continue their collegiate careers elsewhere,” said head coach Kevin Stallings. “We will continue to support both of them through their impending transfers.”

Neither one is a shock.

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March 13, 2017

Nothing particularly coherent. Just the jumble trying to work through after a week of basketball and then the NCAA Tournament field (and NIT) being set.

Let’s all give a big cheer for the NIT having a fantastic sense of humor. Days after Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim, in a post game press conference, went off on the uselessness of Greensboro, NC as a site for the ACC Tournament (he’s not wrong). Followed by Greensboro’s twitter feed dropping the mike. And just for good measure, the minor league team piling on. The NIT gave the #1 overall seed a home game with UNC-Greensboro. It is truly an amazing thing when the NIT can actually pull a significant amount of attention from the NCAA Tournament bracket.

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March 9, 2017

Season Finally Ends

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:16 am

At least they didn’t go out like Duquesne. Ooof.

There was a brief period in the second half. Pitt had an energy that had all but disappeared before halftime. They were attacking the basket — and forcing Virginia to foul. The defense was showing effort. And Pitt pulled within 2 points barely 7 minutes into the second half.

This from a group that in the first half looked listless as the deficit grew. Whether it was being tired from the night before or simply ready to give-up. The energy from Pitt looked so negative that the ESPN crew of Sean McDonough and Doris Burke openly talked of how everyone at Pitt was ready to move on from this season.

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March 8, 2017

9pm, ESPN2.

The last time these two teams met, all of five days prior, it didn’t go so well for Pitt. Senior suspensions. Blowout loss. And the look of a team that just wanted to pack it in.

I know, getting hyped for this game, huh?

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Not Dead Yet

Filed under: ACC,Basketball,Conference — Chas @ 8:35 am

Wait. Pitt won?

Lots of gallows humor in this game. It was ugly. It was hard to watch. Moments of incredible stupidity. There were even a couple smart plays. But Pitt won in the end.

Pitt gave up more offensive rebounds (-4). They turned the ball over way more (13-7). With those differentials, Georgia Tech had a lot more shot attempts then Pitt (+8). But GT is an offensively challenged team (to be kind). While Pitt didn’t exactly light things up, they did just enough from the field and the free throw line to eke out a 61-59 win.

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