Just when you thought your facebook newsfeed was safe. BAM! I'm back! It's time for another year of Pitt basketball. As always I am your preeminent voice on all things Pitt Basketball.
Before I begin let's recap last year for those of you just joining us. (And for those of you who weren't reading these last year, well why not hater?) I decided that the Pitt News (in all their glory) wasn't fit to cover Pitt basketball. None of this "panthers looking to continue to get excellent contributions from taylor" Ummm, no Taylor was awful for a good portion of the year. If you're looking for nice, kindergarten commentary about the state of your Panthers, go read the Pitt news (the grammar will probably be similar as well). If you, much like Tom Cruise, want the truth, read these notes. You also might learn something. I tend to actually do a bit of research before typing these things. There will also be jokes, and probably a photoshop or two as well.
(Before I begin I have to go chaperon a homecoming dance, God help me)
Chaperon recap: My soul hurts...
On to the actual game,
Blue Team won 57-49, their roster consisted probably of these cats:
Ashton Gibbs - He led all scorers (naturally) with 26 (10-10 from the line). The knock on Gibbs is he isn't a playmaker or he isn't fast enough to guard point guards in the nba. He seems quicker this year. He definitely worked on getting faster. Grade A+
Talib Zanna - Zanna broke out a little last year. I don't know why but he looked totally lost out there. If he doesn't watch it, he'll get behind both incoming freshmen in the big man depth chart. I'd recap what he did, but he didn't do anything. Grade C-
Lamar Patterson - Right now the Panther starting line-up has 3 certainties. Woodall at point, Gibbs at 2, and Robinson at 4. Patterson is in a battle right now with JJ Moore for the starting 3 spot. Right now, I have to give the edge to Moore and it's not even close. Patterson hit a couple jump shots but other than that he was lame. Pitt absolutely needs to find a #2 scorer after Gibbs. They need a Gil Brown who's a threat to go for 20 every once in a while when they need it. Patterson just isn't that type of player. Pitt needs to find a Robin to Gibbs' Batman. Moore is that guy. It's a shame really, Patterson would've been a great fit in that role, if only because he's majoring in Administration of http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=uKqTjVqilnY#t=8s
Isiah Epps - Omar's little brother (I'm kidding...or am I?...yeah I'm kidding) played a solid game. He redshirted last year and it appears he spent every day working on his jumper because it is smooth. He's a lefty so it still looks awkward coming out of his hand to me, but it is pure. Epps was talked up as the next Fields when he came in. Look for Dixon to give him about 10-15 minutes a night this year to spell Woodall and Gibbs in the backcourt. Grade A
Malcolm Gilbert - the first freshmen I will talk about
6'11 C - 133th ranked recruit in class of 2011 according to Rivals, 15th ranked Center
He's in the Gary mold, but thinner and more athletic. I'm gonna make comparisons to the other freshmen center (mcdonald's all american khem birch) throughout the year so let's start off with what Gilbert does well. He blocks/alters shots down low. The gold team's guards were having a bit of trouble penetrating with him in the middle. He also is not half bad offensively. I don't remember any game highlights, but he did hit a three in warm-ups. I'm not sure if he'll ever attempt any in a game (anyone remember Tyrell Biggs' 3 point shooting exploits?) but if he can hit one of those, it'll definitely help him get more pt. He may have scored once or twice. Grade B
Durand Johnson - 2nd frosh
6'6 sf - 120th national 27th position
I didn't notice much from him. I'd really like to tell you what he did, but it was really hard trying to pay attention to all ten players on the court at once. I don't even think he attempted a shot. Grade: n/a
Nick Rivers - Rivers is a walkon. I'm pretty sure he was a senior last year, but somehow he's back again to handle the role of pumper upper guy for the rest of the team before tip-off, and also to be the guy all the Zoo cheers to get in the game when we're thrashing some joke opponent in non-conference.
Having said that, Rivers buried the Gold team. He hit back to back 3's that killed any hope Gold team had to rally in the last minute and a half. Grade A for those two daggers.
Onto the Gold team
Travon Woodall - With the graduation of Brad Wanamaker, Woodall has been given the reins as the team's playmaker. Although technically Gibbs was at the 1 and Brad the 2 last year, we all knew Brad was the facilitator. When Gibbs hurt his knee and missed three games in February last year, Tra filled in admirably as the starting pg. We're gonna get a whole year of him in the starting line-up. If he can develop a consistent three point shot this year (he was very streaky last season) it will be huge for Pitt. Someone besides Gibbs has to hit a three. As far as the game is concerned, he may have had 8 or 10 points. Grade A-
Dante Taylor - The big man finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds and showed some pretty deft moves around the basket. Is this the year Taylor lives up to his all-american potential? Judging from Pitt's recent history of having players take a huge leap their junior years (Sam Young, Aaron Gray, Brad Wanamaker, Gaaaaaarrryyy to name a few) it could be Taylor's turn. And it damn sure better be, because I'm tired of waiting for it. Grade A
JJ Moore - Crowd favorite. Simply put, Moore wants the ball. He scored a team-high 18. He can hit the outside shot and he's super athletic. Known as Gil Brown's twin last year for their almost identical skill set, it makes sense that Moore would be the right person to replace Gil in the starting lineup. Grade A+
He also won the "Throwdown Showdown" after the game, though the whole contest was pretty weak (featured a lot of misses - but that's what you get when you have big men enter the contest)
Throwdown showdown video (taken by yours truly) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1XIFO_-yRE&feature=feedu
celebrity judges: julius page, curtis aiken (played in 80s) and sam clancy (played in 70s and had a long nfl career)
Cameron Wright - He's built like Wanamaker and has a similar skill set. He redshirted last year so we'll see how he does in game action this year. He can't shoot, but neither could Wanamaker when he first started. He'll probably see 5-10 minutes a night to keep the other guards fresh. Grade B
John Johnson - 3rd frosh
6'1 pg, not ranked in top 150
Umm, this guy is nicknamed peewee apparently. Umm, he stinks and shouldn't see any action this year. Redshirt city. Grade D
Aron Nwankwo - He actually might've been on the blue team, I don't really remember. He's a walk-on so he'll see nothing but a garbage minute on occasion. But he's got a full academic scholarship for pre-med so he'll probably cure cancer or something.
Grade A if he cures cancer, B+ if he cures something else instead
Last but not least
6'8 pf 9th national, 4th positional
First of all, he has a gold streak in his hair, it's kinda weird looking.
Birch needs a lot of work on the offensive end. We won't discuss it in detail, we'll just move on to the fun stuff.
His. Awesome. Defense.
Wow, what a shot-blocker! He hasn't played a game yet and he might be the best swat-artist Pitt has ever had (no question he's the best in my time as a fan-which dates back to 1996). He blocked like 7 shots and had 3 goaltending violations too. He might be the best weak-side shot blocker in college basketball already. Pitt's interior defense will be scary good this year. All of their big men get after it and alter shots. Nobody could penetrate at all today. I'd like to think that speaks volumes for Pitt's defense and not the offensive play of the guards. He's rail thin though and needs to put on some weight and his offense needs a ton of work, but damn is he fun to watch on the defensive end. Incredible timing. When I think of a comparison to another player I'll let you know. He had a subpar showing in the throwdown showdown, but at 6'8 spectacular dunks aren't his game.
One upside to his offensive skill set. He can dunk in traffic. Now, Gil or JJ or Sam could drive and then dunk on you. It is in my opinion much more difficult to grab an offensive board, and with guys all around you, elevate straight up and slam it. Most of the dunks done by our big guys Taylor and McGhee were of the alley-oop/putback/ nobody is near them variety. Today Khem picked a loose ball off the floor right underneath the basket, and elevated for the dunk over the 6'11 gilbert who was in his mouth. He also had a put-back dunk, which I believe was his first basket in a panther uniform.
Well that's all I have for now. In the next note, I'll do a little bit more analysis of the team as a whole, give some predictions etc.
Soon the hunt will begin,