Khem Birch is gone. No use dwelling on it. Next year's Pitt frontline would've been incredibly crowded. Where would the minutes have gone? You'd have Taylor, Zanna, Khem, and of course mega-prospect Steven Adams all battling for minutes. With a year of the college game, could Khem have developed an offensive game and played at the 3 with Patterson in a Wanamaker roll at the 2 and Tray running point. With Adams at center and Taylor at the 4, that lineup would've been deadly. I could've seen Birch in a Devin Ebanks role (who gave Pitt fits with his length). But none of that matters. Exit Birch. Welcome to the party Malcolm. T. Gilbert (no idea what his middle name is, I like T)
Since this story never gets old: After one of the preseason games, my friend went to the Zoo exit to slap hands with the players as they were leaving. He yelled to Gilbert, "Gilbert my man!" Gilbert turns around and gives a Fonz impression back to him (and thus a photoshop was born).
This game was closer than it should've been for two reasons. SCST could not miss from 3 and Gibbs couldn't hit anything. Grades. (And a shout-out to one of my students who says he reads the blog, nicely done VC)
Malcolm Gilbert - He has replaced the Predator Gary McGhee as the big man you love to root for. Hopefully he isn't an abomination like Gary was his frosh and sophomore years. He played 5 minutes and managed to alter at least 4 shots from the Bulldogs. What a weapon he is defensively. He can alter shots without leaving his feet so there's never a threat of fouling. He also had a putback dunk at the halftime buzzer.
Ashton Gibbs - Horrible shooting night for Gibbs. He's been awful this season. Dixon has been playing him way too many minutes and I think he's just exhausted. That and jacking up 12 threes will take some out of you as well. Since Pitt has had its fair share of struggles this NC season (and add Woodall's injury to that) Gibbs has had to play unlimited minutes. The loss of Birch doesn't affect the backcourt, but with the Big East looming, it might help for Jamie to give Gibbs a bit of a rest these next 3 games. I don't have a problem with Flipp running point for 10 minutes with Wright or Patterson at the 2. I'd actually like to see Moore and Patterson on the floor together more anyway.
John Johnson - He ran the floor well and finished off 3 fast breaks for his only baskets. He did miss both of his threes though. Flipp has shot so well so far this season that I'm actually shocked when his shots touch something other than nylon. He continues to get more and more comfortable every game. He was trying to drive a lot more too.
Talib Zanna - His second double double of the season (12 points 14 boards). Interesting stat of the day: Both times Zanna has had double digit points this season, he's paired it with double digit rebounds. That's not really a coincidence since Zanna only scores on putbacks anyway. I'd give him an A, but he took a 19 foot baseline jumper, and had hands of stone down low (3 to's).
Nasir Robinson - I don't really remember much from Nasir except he hit an 18 footer. It's not the prettiest jumpshot (think Shawn Marion-lite) but it got the job done. He also took a tumble out of bounds into some camera people. Am I the only one that holds my breath every time that happens? I think we all remember Levance stumbling backwards out of bounds @Dayton in 07' and basically ruining our Big East season that year with the time he missed.
Isaiah Epps - Token 2 minutes. Made some passes around the perimeter.
Cameron Wright - He didn't take a shot in 13 minutes, even though he had a lot of open looks. He has no confidence in his jumpshot, always deferring to Gibbs for another contested 3.
Lamar Patterson - He led Pitt with 16 points and showed a compete offensive game. He was hitting 3's and slashing (had 2 and 1's but couldn't sink the free throw both times) His normal stat stuffing line: 16 pt 6 reb 3 ast 1 st 2 bl
Dante Taylor - Quiet game from Taylor. Outside of one huge facial he gave to some sap from SCST, he didn't score.
JJ Moore - Scored 7 points in 14 minutes of action. His nice alley oop finish, and a 3 he hit were pretty much the only things I remember from him this game. Oh and he followed Zanna's ugly jump shot with a nice put-back.
Pitt plays again on Tuesday night. Zoo will again be infested with regular people who've purchased leftover seats. Jokes. Will probably be bringing a friend to her first game in the Zoo (family has season tix so she's been to games just not in Zoo) so that should be fun.
Shameless pimping of another blog of the week: www.yaseeitsfunnybecause.blogspot.com
My friend just started this one, it should be pretty funny, since he's a funny guy. Will feature a lot of rage face comics.