Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pitt 67 UConn 57

Ron Cook can suck it. Please Ron, keep doubting, because apparently people are noticing. If Geno pops off for an HT tonight, I'll start a campaign for a Dapper Dan award.

Quick thoughts. Gary McGhee played very well tonight, both on defense and the glass, he was due for a solid performance and I'm glad to see him get it. Wannamaker was trying to do too much early in the season, but when he sticks to the basics and gets to the rim, he performs at a much more consistent level (and 9/10 at the line was huge). Gibbs played well again, as UConn clearly made him their number one priority, which Gibbs handled appropriately by letting the game come to him and not forcing anything (I can't blame him for missing that FT towards the end, it's the law of averages that he has to miss eventually). Taylor and Woodall were non-existent, but this can be expected from time to time due to their lack of experience (although I would prefer that it didn't occur on the same night). Unfortunately this put too much of the load on the other six players, and it showed with the progression in both halves (Pitt came out flying in the first eight minutes, then hit a funk from minutes 12-6, but finished the strong).

I'll have more to say later, but there's one final point that I'd like to make. Tonight was the first time I didn't feel like Pitt was playing with house money when they had the lead. During both the 'Cuse and Cinci games, I never felt completely comfortable when Pitt was leading. I always felt like it was only a matter of time before the lead evaporated, or even worse, a deficit might be built. Maybe it was just because I had watched too much of the ugly/non-conference Pitt, that I couldn't believe they would be able to stick with those teams on their court, let alone hold a consistent lead (I came to minor epiphany a few hours after the game; I think part of my hesitancy comes from the after-effects of the 'Nova game last year. I still can't believe they lost that game). But Pitt thoroughly outplayed UConn tonight (check out the game game flow chart), and they deserved to win. I could get used to this.

And to make things even better, Dejuan had what Jay Bilas likes to call, a "man night." 28 and 21 (10 offensive). A good night all around for Pitt hoops.

A few more thoughts:

How good is Jerome Dyson? He just took over in the last 12 minutes. The Panthers could do almost nothing against the pick and roll they kept running. The only time they defused it was when Gibbs stole the ball and then drew a foul on top of it. Gibbs defense has been something that has flown a little under the radar, especially when you consider he committed just his first foul in forever.

Pitt needs to improve it's transition defense, of which I think the most important part is getting men back in the paint first. There were too many missed jump shots that lead to fast-break points for the Huskies.

This was probably Jermaine Dixon's worst game I've seen since he got back from injury. He couldn't get a jumper to fall, didn't look comfortable or confident, had trouble with Dyson and Walker all night, and then almost blew the game when he missed that free throw and then layup with a little more than a minute left. Just not a good game, but I have confidence he'll bounce back.

Why does Nasir Robinson keep shooting threes? He does so many other things well (particularly the fundamentals), but he keeps on insisting that he take these wild shots. And it's not like it goes unpunished, as soon as he bricks one, he is immediately taken out. He's got an ugly looking shot too. Hopefully Jamie will break him of this habit, before it costs us more than just a groan.

What a fortunate way to end the first half. Momentum had shifted completely with the crowd back into it and Pitt looking a complete mess on their last offensive possession, only to have Gibbs bail us out like the houses of Congress. And then UConn slams it home right after the buzzer. That's a four point swing that could have made the score at halftime 30-31 Huskies, instead of 32-29 Pitt.

As I said earlier, I thought Pitt was going to blow it at the end after Dixon missed that FT, but thank God UConn was just as sloppy. That last minute of play was a clinic on how not to finish a close conference game.

How bad was Fran Fraschilla? I didn't learn a single thing from that broadcast... all but for Broken Play Ability (BPA). Thanks for coming up with the most irrelevant acronym ever. He got one thing right, which was about transition defense, although he would not let it go and harped on it continually. Now you know why I hoped for Jay Bilas.

What a break to have the game in Hartford. That place is like a Church Christening compared to Storrs. If I was UConn, I'd much rather play the have-not's in Hartford (teams like USF, DePaul, Rutgers) and leave the big boys for Storrs.

When was the last time Pitt hit at 85% from the foul-line with a minimum of 20 trips? Unreal, good for us.

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