Monday, January 30, 2012

Game 23 Live Recap: Pitt 72 wvu 66

I'm trying something different here.  I'm going to be making comments about the game as it is going on.  There are a lot of Pitt-WVU stories I could share right now, but I'm going to save it for the February 16 home game.  For that one there will be unlimited videos and pictures and jokes.

Well okay one joke for you:
This is a Syracuse blog, and one of the best things is a comic strip or something featuring the Big East mascots arguing about conference expansion and whatnot.  There are several posts about this, deemed "The Octonion", but this is the first one I read and probably the funniest.
"Love me some corner woooooo!"

Why you should hate wvu:  Refer to your Pitt acceptance letter or receipt from the last piece of furniture you bought.

The Hoopies are coming out hot.  They've made their first four shots and lead 10-5.  Zanna had a nice offensive rebound and putback after missing his first attempt.

Announcer:  "Jamie Dixon has a winning record against every team in the Big East."
-Unreal Stat
Thank God, hoopies finally missed on two chances and Pitt ran the other way with Nas finishing the layup.

Kevin Jones (the BE's leading scorer and rebounder) finally made an appearance.  Pitt is getting killed on the offensive glass.
Pitt recruited Jones and he was down to Pitt and WVU.  He chose wvu because he makes poor decisions.  Pitt signed Dwight Miller instead, who played here sparingly before transferring to Tennessee.  He redshirted in 08-09, played a little the next year, then went to a jc in Texas before coming to Tennesse this year.
Jones meanwhile has had a successful career as the 5th teenage mutant ninja turtle.

Hoopies in a half-shell?
Hoopies continue to make shots, I am not pleased.

Idiotic shot selection from Pitt.  Pitt down 17-9 midway through the half.

Huge sequence from Pitt.  Patterson stripped Kilicli (the Turkish Pitt assassin)
Then Taylor finished after several chances.  Patterson missed.  Taylor missed a dunk, but had the intelligence to let go of the rim as the ball bounced out so he wouldn't be called for basket interference.  Then he grabbed the board and got a 3 point play out of it.

5 minutes without a field goal for the hoopies as Pitt is making a run, had a chance to take the lead but Tray threw the ball into the stands for the umpteenth time this game.

Passes in this game are horrendous from both sides.  Woodall is playing out of control, and yet he just tied it at 21 with an and 1.

Fun fact, watching gamecast on and the feed is 3-4 seconds ahead of my tv at home.  My dad thinks I'm a profit, just told him how I'm predicting Nasir Robinson turnovers (well actually it's not that hard since he does it quite frequently).

Tray just buried a huge 3 just in front of the buzzer.  33-29 Pitt at the break.  Woodall has 16.  Kilicli held to 1-5 from the field.  He had 19 at home against Pitt last year.
Huge sequence from Taylor to start the second half.  He got an offensive board at the free throw line then dished underneath to Robinson for easy bucket.  Then they switched roles and Robinson gave to Taylor for the and 1.

Huggie Bear is pissed.  He just got a technical before the free throw.  Hoopies throwing shit on the court, most likely their corn cob pipes.  Gibbs makes 1-2 of the technicals and Taylor completes the And 1.  Pitt by 10.  Jones is all wvu has.  What a soft team.  Or should I say "soff."

They're trading baskets right now, not too much to talk about.  Pitt leads by 7.  Gibbs is invisible.

Johnson had a breakaway and took 7 steps before laying it in.  No traveling call.

Nas just picked up his 4th foul with 9 minutes left and Pitt has only one timeout left.  Buckle up.  Turnover Pitt but wvu freshmen with a careless charge.  Pitt still up 4.  Gibbs with a great cut but the Turk blocked it.  Pitt leads 54-52 under 8 minutes.

My Dad: They [wvu] sure do love that corner 3.
wvu:  Woooooo!  Love me some corner!

Last media timeout:  Pitt 63 wvu 58 and headed to the line.  2:26 left

Woodall with a very nice Dwyane Wade drive and pull-up off glass to give Pitt the 68-62 lead with under a minute to play.  Time to make some free throws.
Pitt made them.

Hail to Pitt,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Game 22 Not Bad: Pitt 72 Georgetown 60

Pitt's making their run.  Unquestionably their best performance of the season.

Why you should hate Georgetown:  In addition to cooking meth in their free time, we can look back on the end of the world and the role the Hoyas played in it.  You see, in August, Georgetown played a friendly exhibition game against the Bayi Rockets in China.  Then this happened.

Way to piss off 1.2 billion people G-Town.  Jokes.  One kid from the zoo wrote on a white board "Fight this kid?" and had an arrow pointing to one of his friends (who was Asian naturally).  That's pretty darn creative, offensive maybe but the guy I was next to (also Asian) thought it was hilarious.  So it's okay then, I guess?

Oh and Hoya Fans stink.  Here's them talking all kinds of smack on one of their blogs.  So smug

Anyway, Pitt went on a huge 15-1 run in the first half.  Midway through that run, this happened.

That would be me on the far right


Ashton Gibbs - Quiet game from Gibbs.  He only hit 1-3 3's, and finished with 13 points with 4 of them coming off garbage free throws in the final minute.  He got blocked a few times, but generally I liked his game.  He tried for the mid-range.  His biggest moment was probably a baseline jumper in the middle of the second half that keyed a Pitt run after G-town had closed to 6.  The shot was a rainbow that just got over one of the Hoya bigs.  Unfortunately, he had 4 turnovers vs 0 assists and for that I gotta bring him down to a
Grade:  B+

Woodall - He continues to be a turnover machine (4) and shoot poorly (a combined (1-12 now in his return) but he still had 10 assists and Pitt is much better with him out there.  Once the rust is off and we get the Woodall of November, Pitt will be dangerous.  Grade B+

Patterson - MVP of the night.  Patterson was on fire (6-8 fg 5-5 ft for 18 points) to go along with 4 rebounds and 7 assists vs 0 turnovers (the only Pitt player who played significant minutes not to give it away).  Patterson has incredible body control, he'll start to drive and you'll be like "Oh God he's outta control" but then he'll twist his body in some weird way and lay it in with ease.  Play of the game goes to him.  After the Hoyas had cut the lead to 6 again with just under 8 minutes to play, Lamar went right at their bigs and laid it in and got fouled.  After the TV timeout, he knocked down the free throw and Pitt was safe again.
Grade:  A+

Nasir Robinson - Nas made all 9 of his shots and 5-6 of his free throws for a season-high 23.  Huge coaching adjustment by Dixon to play Patterson in the high post where Nas usually is and letting him instead backdoor all day for countless layups.  This is the Nas we should expect if he plays to his strengths, which is down low and using his body to muscle it in.  Anytime he handles it, well bad things will happen.  He also had 8 rebounds.
Grade:  Anytime he makes 83% of his foul shots, an A+ is the only grade I can give him.

Zanna -  Talib had 8 points and 10 rebounds (I swear he had at least 20, I question those stats), doing most of his work in the first half.  He hurt himself  in the second half and played limited minutes (giving way to Dante down the stretch).  I'm pretty sure he got hit in the nuts, in fact I know he did.
Grade A, mostly for the sympathy, nobody likes to get hit in the nuts.

John Johnson - He took a couple open threes when it was given him, and he made one of them.  It was an important three (as all of Pitt's second half baskets were) helping keep the Panthers comfortably ahead by 8-10 points.
Grade: B

JJ Moore - Crap in 10 minutes.  Didn't make a shot.  High point was getting fouled on a 3 and only making one ft.  Grade D

Dante Taylor - I give up on Taylor, he's just not good.  I was super hard on Taylor last year, then optimistic that he would make the Dixon junior season jump but yeah it's not happening.  He was strong defensively actually but overall just disappointing.  He did have a dunk on a defensive lapse by G-town for his only basket.
Grade C

Malcolm Gilbert - I love this kid.  He is so happy to be out there.  He always looks over and waves when we yell his name (not during game action obviously he's not easily distracted).  Pitt has yet to pass him the ball on offense in his Pitt career (at least I think), but he'll get better.  He'll get a post game.
Grade:  Not really enough to warrant a grade.

Cameron Wright - 6 minutes and recorded 0 stats
Grade: n/a

Telling Stat:  Pitt shot 19-22 ft and Gtown 7-12.  Well look at that.  Pitt won by 12.  Coolbeans

Headed to Hoopieville on Monday,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Game 21 Break on Through to the Winning Side: Pitt 86 Providence 74


Let's pretend it says basketball okay?

I'm going to start this post off by wishing my mom a happy 57th birthday today.  She's pretty awesome.  A little back story, my dad used to have season tickets to Pitt basketball during most the 1980s.  After they got married in 1980, he started bringing her.

Poll Question:  If you asked my mom what her favorite thing to do at these games was, what would she answer?
A) "I loved watching Big East basketball at its peak."
B) "The food."
C) "I loved slapping their big butts when they went to the locker rooms."

If you answered, C, then you would be correct.  Her favorite ass?  Well that would belong to hall of fame Georgetown and New York Knicks great Patrick Ewing.

"Dat ass" - My mom

On a much less gay note, it was also the 24th anniversary of this:

This was voted the #1 NCAA dunk of all-time.
Video of the top 50 is here (worth watching if you have 14 minutes to spare)

#6 on the list belongs to this man
Forgot to add this from last game.  What a player.
Julius Page does a pre-game show on the radio and he had an interesting comment.
"They can't let their offense lead to defense."
Normally, you hear coaches saying that you want your defense to lead to offense, meaning turnovers and easy points in transition.  But what Julius meant is that the Panthers can't let the fact that they're not shooting well on the offensive end impact their hustle on the other end of the floor.  He pretty much hits the nail right on the head for the last several games for Pitt (until tonight).  Pretty solid analysis for someone who wears his hat backwards.

And lastly, before I actually recap this game, I can't talk about Pitt Providence without posting this:
"Releases it in time...AND BURIES THE SHOT!!!"
"They just don't lose at home"

Oh man, that second quote stings a little this year, doesn't it?

But Pitt won.

They might not lose again the rest of the year.

"Yeah but Providence stinks"

Jump in a pool of acid.  Hail to Pitt.

Grade Time.

Gibbs - He was on fire in the first half, picking up 16 of his team-high 22 in the first 20 minutes.  During about a 45 second stretch he hit 3 triples in a row and broke the Friars' will to live early.  Here's one of those threes:

The crack against Gibbs is that he has been too reliant on the three this year.  He used to hit 3 or 4 mid range J's a game and it did wonders creating space for him and his teammates.  With the way Pitt has been struggling and giving up early leads Gibbs has had to let fly from deep a lot more than he should.  Here's a play that happened a few minutes before Gibbs caught fire from deep and it has a lot greater impact than the 2 points on the scoreboard.
Gibbs coming off a curl, gets a screen and pops the 17 footer.  Money in the bank.  Why does Pitt not do this more?
Regardless, very nice game from Mr. Gibbs.  Grade A+

Travon Woodall - Well the rust from last game is gone.  Woodall was hotter than Gibbs from deep, going 4-4 from downtown to finish with 17 points and 9 assists vs 1 turnover.  We need this from Tray every night for the rest of the season.  You want proof of the effect Woodall's absence had on this team, watch this game tape.  Grade A+

Lamar Patterson - Almost a double double from Lamar with 9 points and 11 boards.  He was a force on the offensive glass keeping several plays alive by tapping the ball away from the Providence bigs down low.  Something I noticed about Patterson is sometimes it seems like he's going in slow motion when he's driving.  I'm not sure it's a bad thing, it's pretty obvious he doesn't have Woodall or Johnson speed, but it's just something I thought watching tonight.  Anyway.  Grade A

Nasir Robinson - Nas shot better in this game (7-13) for 14 pts and 6 rebounds, and most importantly he only turned the ball over twice (2 to's or less has to be a goal for him every night).  However he also tried to knock down a jumpshot from just inside the foul line.  Let me just say that if Nas' jumpshot fell out of the ugly tree it would every branch and twig on its way to not being in the basket.  Honestly, can Pitt hire a shooting coach to work with him?  His jumpshots rotate sideways.  Shooting a basketball is not that effing hard.  I'll even volunteer to help him.  Nas if you read this (you obviously aren't cuz only like 3.7 people actually do)  Help me help you.  Help me help you.
He's a lot more effective when he's doing things like this

Grade A-

Talib Zanna - He had a couple tip-ins and a few rebounds, but nothing spectacular.  I'd give him an A, but he attempted to drive and pull up for a contested shot early in the shot clock once in the first half and for that he gets a B+

Dante Taylor - Shit game from Taylor 1-4 from the field for only 4 points to go along with 2 rebounds 2 turnovers and 3 fouls in 14 minutes.  His best play was getting a homerun pass with 28 seconds left in the game and rather than try to beat the last defender off the dribble stopping and pulling the ball back out.  Smart play, even though it didn't really matter.  Grade C

Cameron Wright - Missed all three of his shots and didn't do anything of merit.  Grade C-

JJ Moore - He made a shot, but didn't do much else.  I really hope his career mirrors Sam Young's (wishful thinking probably).  Young had a very solid freshmen campaign (avg about 7.4 a game) then regressed his sophomore season as he struggled to find playing time behind John Degroat and Levon Kendall (seriously Dixon, he couldn't beat those guys out?)  I don't think Sam left the gym that entire summer and he came back and dropped 22 and 9 on Houston Baptist in my first game in the Zoo in 2007, and we knew we had a star.  Maybe it'll happen with JJ?  I'm really looking for him to make the traditional Dixon sophomore to junior jump (previously seen with B. Knight, A. Gray, S. Young, G. McGhee, B. Wanamaker, etc.)  Grade for this game though, C+

John Johnson - He shot 3-4 from the field for 7 points with  2 assists vs 0 turnovers.  You can't ask for a better game from him. He gave Ashton and Tray a breather, didn't turn the ball over and knocked down open shots.  Also, at the end of that Nas video is Flipp drilling a three.  Grade A

Stats of the game:  Pitt only committed 10 turnovers and shot 55% (11-20) from 3.

Georgetown comes to the Pete on Saturday.  Let this game be a springboard back to respectability.
Hail to Pitt,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Game 20 College GameDay Edition: Pitt 63 Louisville 72

Disclaimer:  Please don't read this if you are easily offended.

But this game just pissed me off and I'm going to show my anger through pictures, because all blogs are better with pictures (something I had forgotten now that I don't have photoshop anymore).

As I said before, the GameDay crew was here.

GameDay Bus in front of Sutherland Hall
GameDay Set

 Which of course means Erin Andrews.

Erin looking quite lovely

She definitely got the loudest cheers

And after seeing Erin, the Zoo was very excited.

And now that all of the material from my crappy iPod touch camera has been shown, time to actually talk about basketball.  A depressing thing that I realized during this game was the fact that Louisville is the only team I have not witnessed Pitt beat at the Pete since I've been a student here (5 years).  My freshmen year they lost (but beat them in the BE Tourney).  My sophomore year they lost at Louisville (When Pitt was 16-0 and ranked #1 for the first time).  My junior year they staged an epic comeback to win at the Pete but I couldn't attend.  And last year they lost at Louisville again.  Shame.  Oh well, plenty of wins over the Cuse and UConn to brag about.

Again, I'm getting sidetracked.  Rather than give actual letter grades for this game and all future games pending some miracle,  I will instead answer the question "Did he give a fuck?"
And I'm going to have a fellow mathematician help me out with this one.
Current Fucks Given 0
Pitt jumped out to an early lead, but when Woodall left with two early fouls, the Cardinals started to make a comeback.  The sad part about Pitt losing this game is that Pitino didn't even have to press and Pitt would turn the ball over.  We all know the Pitino matchup press, but if you don't here's some material to familiarize yourself with it.

This Louisville team isn't as strong defensively compared to the past so Rick laid off it.  When he did bring it out, late in the first half, this was Erin's reaction.

One last comment on Louisville.  Their pg is almost always someone you would enjoy punching in the face (I hate Edgar Sosa)
The current model:  Peyton Siva

Punch me in the face

Onto the player grades

Gibbs - He had an okay game.  He was 4-10 from three and finished with 14 points but he didn't get to the line at all.  In fact, Pitt was 1-6 from the line as a team.  Which is absolute bullshit, but whatever.  They could've made more than 16% of them anyway.
Did give a fuck?:  Yes, but the problem is that he isn't a leader.  He's alright with being the scorer, but he doesn't have a leadership bone in his body.  You want an explanation for Pitt's downfall this year.  Well, besides the fact that they can't shoot.  It's that their two seniors have regressed to their freshmen selves.  Remember the turnover-makin layup missin machine Nas was a freshmen?  I just described his current play.

Robinson - I kinda started talking about Robinson in the previous post, but again same thing.  He just is not talented enough.  He's getting the ball too high in the post.    If you force him to drive a little he will undoubtedly lose control of it.  On his big nights, he's almost always getting the ball directly under the basket and using a nice reverse to avoid the block.  Someone told me Nas has like 17 more turnovers on the year than any other player.  Makes sense.
Did he give a fuck?  No, because if he did he would stop trying to drive and commit infinite turnovers.
Current fucks given: 1

Woodall - He missed all 5 of his shots and only 2 assists vs 3 turnovers, but Pitt seems so much more relaxed breaking the press when he's in there.  They still stink at it, but there is marked improvement.  
Did he give a fuck?  Two actually, corresponding to the two quick fouls he got that killed Pitt's early game surge.
Current fucks given: 3

Patterson - Pitt's best player last night.  He hit a pair of threes to go along with 5 reb and 7 ast vs 1 turnover.  He had a couple nice drives  in the second half.  He was using the glass like Tim Duncan (with the left hand even).  He also buried a 25 footer from the top of the key at the first half buzzer that gave Pitt hope and cut the lead to only 3.
Did he give a fuck?  Yes, Patterson needed a game like this as he had been struggling lately.

Current fucks given: 4

Epps - He played one minute and had one assist and one turnover.
Did he give a fuck?  Nope, or else he would spend every waking minute in the gym fixing his jump shot.  Here's a video of him warming up with Tray.  Tray's in black.  

Look at the follow through for both of them.  Nice one for Tray, non-existent in Epps.  He actually shoots better than Tray in this video, but that's because they aren't in a game.  In game action when you have a split second to shoot with a guy in your face, not following through will lead to a brick almost every time...or in Epps' case, every damn time.

Current fucks given: Still 4

Taylor - He was 4-5 from the field and 3 of his buckets were dunks (including one incredibly athletic putback slam).  No player's confidence matters more than Taylor's to this team right now.  I could argue Moore as well, but his swagger is completely gone because Dixon yanks him after every mistake.  Maybe next year for him, but back to Taylor.  If Taylor gets an early bucket, he gets pumped and plays the rest of the game inspired.  You can see it in his eyes.  He got that bucket tonight and he went after it the rest of the game.

Did he give a fuck?  In this game yes, but it's infuriating that he doesn't show that kind of intensity every time he's out there.

Current fucks given: 5

Wright - Played 8 minutes, missed a jumper from the wing for his only contribution.
Did he give a fuck?  No not really, not enough action to warrant it.

Current fucks given: 5

Johnson - He made a three and had a nice steal and layup in the first half (it put Pitt up 13-7 at that point).  Pitt should start looking for him more in the same way they did with Gibbs as a freshmen.  If teams are going to not let Gibbs have any space on the perimeter, then Johnson has to look to get open.  He was a few times and Gibbs didn't feed him, which is more an indictment on Gibbs passing skills than Johnson, but whatever.
Did he give a fuck?  Yes

CFG: 6

Zanna - 7 points 6 rebounds in 19 minutes.  I wish Zanna had more of a mean streak in him.  He tried to showcase this new 5 foot jumper he's been working on but it missed.
Did he give a fuck?  Yes, he will improve, as long as he doesn't break his finger like he did last March.


Moore - Played 12 minutes.  Had one bucket.
Did he give a fuck?  No, because Dixon has reduced him to mush.

Final CFG - Seven, corresponding to the number of Big East games Pitt has lost.

This Pitt team isn't making the NCAA's or even NIT
If you have a problem with this, then my father has an answer for you

I'm out,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Game 19 Meh: Pitt 63 Syracuse 71

No one on Syracuse's team had ever beaten Pitt.  That is now no longer the case.  Pitt had won 5 in a row at the Carrier Dome (longest streak ever by an away team).  Also no longer the case.

I still believe in this team.

I do not know why.
They played well in this game and could have won if not for just some awful free throw shooting.  More on that later.

Let's give grades now before I get too upset about Pitt starting 0-6 in the Big East for the first time ever.

Syracuse started the game on a 13-0 run.
Then Pitt sacked up and got it to 19-15.  But they could never get any closer.  Syracuse would open up a huge lead (highest of 14 in the second half) but then Pitt would battle back.  A Zanna jumper made it 49-45 with about 8 minutes left and I was thinking about believing in Miracles.  Then Captain Boeheim called a timeout, designed a perfect play for an open 3, a Pitt miss, and another uncontested 3 and the lead was back to ten and Pitt never challenged again.

Epps - After playing well against Marquette, Epps did nothing really in his 9 minutes.  He missed another 3 (that's like 0-14 or something on the year) and he didn't play in the second half.  When Pitt got down 13 early on, there's no way Dixon could keep Epps on the floor with his poor shooting.  Grade C-

Patterson - Patterson wasn't awful but he didn't stand out either.  He had 10 points 5 rebounds 3 assists, but he did miss all three of his 3 point attempts as well as going 4-7 from the line.  Grade B-

Gibbs - Gibbs had no space whatsoever against the Cuse 2-3.  The fact of the matter is that the Orange are just huge.  And Pitt starts 4 guys 6'5 and under, which can work (see Villanova's 06 team) but only if they're small and quick.
Nasir Robinson is not very quick.  Gibbs shot 2-11 from 3, which is remarkable considering he didn't see the basket all night.  Grade B-

Zanna - Zanna has hands of stone.  He wasn't credited with any turnovers, but I think that if he gets his hands on a rebound and then fumbles it out of bounds (something Pitt did at least 5 times tonight) then they should give them a turnover.  The most impressive thing about Zanna's game tonight was the fact that he made 3-4 from the free throw line.  He along with Taylor, Robinson and Patterson all missed infinite Bunnies down low.  They'd get an offensive rebound (18 total) and then Syracuse would be in their mouths and the bigs would block it or the guards would knock it loose.  Just unreal  hands from all of Cuse.  Grade B

Robinson - Wow.  Just wow.  I don't even have words for how awful Nas was in this game.  1-5 from the field.  2-8 from the free throw line.  Three straight possessions early in the second half, Nas made a power move and got fouled, the 2nd and the 3rd shots were this close to going down for the possible and 1.  Each time it just rimmed out and Robinson had to go the the Charity Stripe (which I will now refer to as the LeMont stripe because for Pitt, that shit is never free.
Also of note:  Jay Bilas has a boner for Robinson.  "Robinson is a playmaker in the middle of that zone."  Bilas said that statement at least 10 times this evening.
I like Bilas, but he was just infuriating tonight with his commentary.  Of course they had to bring up the Butler game and then have the nerd to say that many people thought Pitt would have won the national championship had they gotten past Butler ("they were a better team for most of the year than UConn")  Yeah, well they probably would've choked against Wisconsin in the Sweet 16.
Nasir Grade:  Made me want to cut my wrists then go walk barefoot in the ocean on some coral.

Sleepy Taylor - Let's see.  Taylor would get an offensive rebound.  Then try to go back up strong and get stuffed.  That is Taylor's performance in a nutshell.  11 total rebounds (7 offensive) but only 2-7 from the field.  He is a joke.  Grade D

Moore - He hit an early 3 that was huge in cutting into the Cuse's gift-wrapped 13-0  cushion after tip-off, then he had a nice take in garbage time.  30 minutes of game action in between that he was invisible.  Grade C

Johnson - He hit his first 3 triples, but he was a little reckless with the ball.  He only had one turnover but he was losing control too much for my liking.  9 points from those 3's, at least he's finding his stroke again.  Grade B

Wright - His line 10 7 and 3 is actually not bad, but it was aided by a ridiculous last 2 minutes.  He hit a 3, had a nice pull-up in the lane in the last minute and a half.  In the first half he had a really nice coast to coast layup for an and 1 that he actually converted.  Grade B

Pitt was down 9 after the first half.  In the second half they actually outplayed the Cuse in the second half (37-36).  They had 10 turnovers in the first ten minutes of the game and then only 3 over the last 30.  So let's see, they won the first half against Marquette and the 2nd half against the Cuse.  They're close to putting it together.  Get Woodall back and let it ride.  Gameday in your mouths on Saturday.

I believe,

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Game 18: Pitt 57 Marquette 62

Another game, another loss.  What is encouraging is that Pitt actually played well in the first half.  They even had a five point lead.  I'm not much for recapping all of what happened so this will be brief.  Point is that Pitt had another second half  meltdown and they're 0-5 in the Big East.  In my four years as a Pitt undergrad, Gameday never came to Pitt.  They didn't come when they were #1 for 3 weeks and had a first team all american (Blair) and another guy who was honorable mention on some aa lists (Young).  They didn't come when Pitt won a conference outright that got 11 ncaa bids.  Yet it is becoming increasingly likely that this year, Gameday will come to Pitt to feature a Panther team that is 0-6 in the Big East and losers of 7 straight.  They play @ #1 Syracuse tomorrow night.  They seem to have the cuse's number but with the way both team's are playing, I don't have high hopes for this one.  As strange as it sounds, this game may be Pitt's last chance to salvage an NCAA tourney bid.  I know there are 11 BE games after this but 0-7 is damn difficult to come back from seeing as how I think around 10-11 conference wins will be needed to get a madness invite.  A win over the #1 team could be just the kickstart the panthers need to salvage a 9-9 record in conference.  And it would certainly help the RPI when the Panthers end up on Bubble watch in March.  A loss here and they're done for real.
For the first time in I'd say 10 years Pitt will go into a game as massive underdogs. Even when they were facing teams with a higher ranking than them, you were never incredibly surprised when Pitt pulled off upsets.  Pitt was always a tough game, especially at the Pete, but everywhere really.  It's because Pitt really hasn't been overmatched in a game since the 2001 Big East Tourney Final.  That would have been the year before Pitt started their Madness run.  They won 3 straight (remember at the time no one had won 4 straight to take it).  They beat Miami, then shocked an ND team with Troy Murphy on it, and then a decent Cuse team before getting obliterated by Troy Bell and Boston College on Saturday night.  Pitt had no chance.  They lost by about 30.  Another game might have been the Regional Semi in 2007 against UCLA.  It was a #3 vs #2 matchup but did anyone really think a team led by Aaron Gray was gong to have any chance against a UCLA team in the midst of a 3 straight final four run that featured idk maybe like 6 players who got drafted.  No chance.  Anyway, that's the type of matchup pitt faces tomorrow.  But quickly, let's go over Marquette since that's the point of this post.

Marquette coach Buzz Williams has beaten every BE team, except Pitt.  Until now.

I'm not giving everyone grades but there are a few things I'd like to highlight.

Gibbs put the team on his back.  If Pitt is going to be successful this will have to be the norm the rest of the way.  He put up a career high 29.  Something that is unfortunate is that Gibbs having a huge game is usually a sign that Pitt loses.

Robinson and Patterson flat-out sucked.  Every time I think, "Hey the Panthers should give Nas the ball more, he's like their only low post presence,"  he finds a way to turn the ball over 7 friggin times from the forward position.  Unforgivable.  Patterson had his fair share of turnover problems as well.

Epps started and he actually played well.  He still hasn't made a shot all season (like 0-12 from the field now) but this game had to be a huge confidence builder.  He ran the point well, he was driving into the lane then dishing off.  And most importantly he took the ball out of Gibbs' hands and moved him to the 2.  It's a shame that Johnson and Epps are two players because we could combine Flipp's shooting with the way Epps ran the point today we'd be in business.

Lastly, concerning Dante Taylor, I'll let a quote from the comments on PittBlather take it from here.
From some guy named Keith:

"I think Taylor became a McD’s all american by eating 67 McNuggets in 90 seconds,because it surely couldnt have been for basketball"

Well said my friend,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Game 17: Harlem Globetrotters 62 Washington Generals 39

On Wednesday evening, the Petersen Events Center hosted the world famous Harlem
Globetrotters basketball team in an exhibition against the walking punchline of a team, the Washington Generals.  The loss is the fifth in a row for the Generals and they remain winless in the Big East this season.  Meanwhile, the Globetrotters raise their record to 9-7 on the season.

Five minutes before the opening tip with the outcome already well at hand, the Globetrotters turned to entertaining the crowd with their legendary antics.  While attempting to check Trotter Dane Miller at the free throw line, Talib Zanna had his pants pulled down by jokester guard Eli Carter, resulting in two of Carter's 14 points on the night and giving the ladies in the crowd the biggest highlight.

At halftime, several Generals, most notably Ashton Gibbs, attempted to transfer to UNLV to join Khem Birch, but it turns out nobody wanted them.

Onto the grades:

Guy who gave me my wristband - Not a good performance from him, the wristband was very tight and not lined up right so i had the pain of the stickiness ripping off some arm hair.  Grade C-

Ticket Scanner Guy - Scanned my ticket on the first try.  Solid night.  Grade A

Ushers - Very kind and courteous all night.  Helped maintain a loose atmosphere among the crowd by joking with them and encouraging them to come again to see the team.  Grade A

Dance Team - A good night for the DT, they were in rhythm all night and maintained smiles despite the performance on the court.  They also continue to lead the Cheerleaders in the highly contested "most members I would like to take out to dinner" category.  Grade A+

Employee who gave me a bag of a chips after leaving the Zoo - My MVP of the night.  I hadn't eaten dinner yet so I was very hungry and the potato chips hit the spot as I was walking to my car.  Grade A


Monday, January 2, 2012

Games 13-15: Crap, Crap, Mega Crap. Pitt loses to Wagner, ND and Cincy

Let's see three losses to talk about.

1. Pitt 54 Wagner 59
Why we lost - 
Gibbs and Patterson combine to shoot 6-26.  Yikes.  That'll make you lose.

2. Pitt 59 ND 72
Why we lost -
Notre Dame in the second half = this

Which brings us to
3. Cincinnati 66 Pitt 63

Get used to it, because these are how the majority of Pitt's games are going to go the rest of the year.  Press, press, and more press.  Grade time because I don't feel like talking about this game any more.

Wright - There was a really nice 3 or 4 possession sequence where Wright did everything he would do in the game.  He made a free throw, had a really nice block, had a driving layup and a nice offensive rebound.  There I just described everything Wright did in his 18 minutes of pt.  Grade C-

Taylor - Let's see 0-4 from the field with 2 points.  3 turnovers vs 0 assists.  Might as well have not gotten dressed this morning, because he was awful.  Cincy's small lineup attacked Taylor and Zanna like piranhas.  Grade D

Robinson - Will someone please give Nas some help.  It's really sad that Pitt's only legitimate low post presence is a 6'5" forward.  Steven Adams came all the way from New Zealand to watch this game.  Bet he's really glad about this decision because he could have played in his street clothes and been Pitt's best post presence.

We interrupt this recap to drool over Steven Adams and his awesomeness

Back to Nas.  19 and 10 from him.   What a beast.  Grade A

Patterson - He had 13 points and made 3 three's but his three pointer to tie it at the buzzer was a brick.  Nothing from his game really blew me away.  Grade B

Gibbs - My new nickname for Mr. Gibbs is 1-d as he is one dimensional as a player.  He can't do anything but catch and shoot.  He can't pass, he doesn't rebound.  He gets abused on defense.  You can make an NBA career from knocking down open 3's (Kyle Korver anyone?)  but see the problem with that is you actually need to be able to shoot over people for that to work.  Korver is 6'7"  Gibbs is 6 1 maybe.  That's not gonna work.  The entire nation has figured out how to defend Gibbs and it's only going to get more and more difficult for him.  He had 18 points somehow, but he also got blocked at least thrice.  Grade B-

Moore - He had a dunk off a great pass from Flipp.  That's about it.  Grade C-

Epps - Haaaaa.  Grade n/a

Zanna - He had 4 rebounds in 9 minutes.  Then he fell on his face and had no idea where he was.  He didn't return.  Grade:  Incomplete

Johnson - He couldn't knock down any three's, but his playmaking on a few fast breaks was a pleasant surprise.  He fed both Taylor and Zanna their only two buckets of the game with slick passes.  He had 5 assists in total.  Unfortunately, his charging call late in the game with Pitt down 3 was a killer.  He had the right idea just have to learn to avoid the charge in that situation.  Pitt eventually got another chance (actually several) but Gibbs and Patterson clanked a bunch of threes.
Grade B

So what am I taking away from this game?

1. Pitt can't break a press.  Pitt's plan to break a press is as follows:
Have two guards in the backcourt, slowly exchange bounce passes back and forth until one guard realizes that they have 2-3 seconds left to get the ball across midcourt, making them spring across the half court line and pick up their dribble, which is totally fantastic because then the other team can double you force a backcourt violation or an easy turnover.  Pitt likes to have two forwards lined up right inside the half court line for a pass from the guards to get it over.  This is just setting them up to get trapped on the sideline and halfcourt line.  Zanna with the ball in his hands 40 feet from the basket is a recipe for disaster.  The downside to a press is sometimes you give up easy layups because once a team breaks it it leads to some odd-man breaks.  The way Pitt tries to break it doesn't ever allow this.  I'll probably make a whole post about the press sometime later.
2. Cincy got away with a lot of reach-in fouls that should've been called.  Oh well. You have to adjust.
3. Woodall needs to come back healthy and Steven Adams needs to just stay here and play and not go back to New Zealand.

Pitt plays Depaul on Thursday.  If they lose, I'm handing in my fan card.