Gilbert! My man!
First a quick word on La Roche. They're D3 and not very good. Last year, their longtime coach of fourteen years, Scott Lang passed away at age 41. The zoo wore stickers with a red S.L. on them. I thought it was a nice touch.
Onto the game.
Pitt dominated. Not a whole lot really to say so we'll grade rather quickly. Well that and I'm watching Jaws on Encore and it's getting good.
Ashton Gibbs - Normal solid game from Gibbs. He had his normal array of jumpers but also had a couple nice drives as well. This is good to see because sometimes Gibbs would go several games without any points in the paint. Grade A
Travon Woodall - Most of the shots Woodall took last year were off the dribble. This year it seems he's learned how to play off the ball a lot better. He hit 3/4 from 3 point range in this game and all of them involved him going to a spot on the court and waiting for the pass. It's obviously something he can't do all the time since his main job is to distribute, but nonetheless it's great to see him progressing into a complete offensive player. Grade A
JJ Moore - Another strong offensive output from more. He had 12. He has a sweet stroke. Again, he's still my pick to start this year at the 3. Grade B+
Dante Taylor - Not a whole lot from Taylor in this game. He had a few dunks and some post moves, but nothing really stood out. Grade B+
Talib Zanna - Zanna seems content on developing a 8-10 foot baseline jumper. It's the only shot he's taken in the first two games. He's hit a couple, but it definitely needs more work. Definitely more bricks than swishes at this point. While it's great that he's doing that, he needs to get back to getting rebounds, which is what he does best. Grade B
Cameron Wright - Wright's been in my doghouse so far in his career (which really only play in preseaso games the past two years) but he seems to be turning a corner. He still has no jumpshot, but the hustle plays he makes are becoming too difficult to ignore. I don't think anyone on this team hustles like Cam. He also had an awesome entry pass to Dante in the first half that Taylor didn't convert, but still it was sick. Grade A-
Isaiah Epps - He was outplayed by Cam tonight. The two of them are in a battle right now for the first backup guard position. The Blue-Gold scrimmage gave the edge to Epps but Cam was definitely the better player tonight. I really don't remember a whole lot from Epps tonight, I don't think he played much either. Grade B
Khem Birch - He had 16 points on 7-7 shooting. Most of them were awesome dunks and he even stepped out and hit a jumper from the free throw line. Granted, 14 of his 16 points came in the second half when La Roche very clearly gave up and was letting Pitt dunk it on just about every possession, but still 7-7 can't be ignored. Grade A+
John Johnson - As Ben Wachsman has pointed out on several occasions, Flip can play. He showed more of what he can do tonight. He hit a few jump shots and made some passes. In the race to not get a red shirt this season, Flip has now surpassed both Durand and Malcolm. He looked a lot more confident today. Grade B+
Durand Johnson - Peewee really didn't show anything in this game. He's looking at a redshirt. He's going to be good, but Pitt is chalk full of wings right now. Grade C+
Malcolm Gilbert - The most important thing Gilbert did in this game was become Mitch's new best friend. At the end of the game, Mitch, Joe and I went down to the Zoo exit and Mitch decided to give high fives to the Players. When Malcolm passed him, Mitch yells "Giiiiiiiilbeeert!!! My man!!!" Gilbert heard this, turned around and did the best fonz impression I've ever seen from a 6'11" black guy back at Mitch. Highlight of the evening for sure. BFF city. Grade A+ for the fonz, Grade B+ for the game. His only two highlights were back to back blocks in the first half.
Lamar Patterson - He had a couple nice drives, maybe an and 1 somewhere in there, but nothing too flashy. He's the typical solid Dixon player. He's still behind Moore for the starting position.
Tonight's starting lineup was
1. Tra 2. Gibbs 3. Moore 4. Zanna and 5. Taylor
I fully expect this to be the starting lineup when they open Nov. 11 against Albany. They're saing Nasir Robinson will be healthy in time for this, if he is then he takes Zanna's spot. Final tune-up is Monday Nov. 7 against some other joke school. I have class until 8:30 that night so there won't be a recap sadly.
Right now here is where I see the rotation being after the five starters.
11. J. Johnson
15. D. Johnson
Shout-out to Mitch Kaeler and Joseph Petrich for being at the game with me.
Hail to Pitt,