Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pittsburgh 97 VMI 70

An impressive victory, but as is often the case for the Panthers, most out of conference opponents will not tell us anything about how they will do against actual top level teams.

A few weeks ago a lot of people doubted when I said that the Panthers will end up with at least 25 wins again, but they are now 8-1 and with an easy schedule for the next month, 16-1 going into Marquette on January 14th and Syracuse two days later looks very possible.  The two best opponents before those two tough games, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame, are not very good this year.  There is also an excellent chance of a 4-0 start in the Big East with a road against DePaul, and two home games against Cincinnati and Rutgers, following the initial road game at Notre Dame.

As for this game, Ashton Gibbs struggled some early but then came up big with 20 points, including 6 for 15 from three, plus 6 rebounds and 3 assists.  Nasir Robinson was strong again with 19 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists.  Dante Taylor chipped in with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks, while Talib Zanna added 8 points and 7 rebounds in just 17 minutes and Lamar Patterson had another decent all around game with 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.

I'm still fascinated by what the youngsters are doing since their upside is what may finally get the program past their usual tournament exit point.  First the bad.  Khem Birch started but foul trouble led to him playing only 11 minutes.  He only had 2 points, but still impressively got 6 rebounds in his short stint.  For some strange reason, Cameron Wright started again, and failed again, this time with 2 points in 16 minutes.

On the bright side, John Johnson, who has quickly become a fan favorite, again replaced Wright and again had a good game.  The true freshman finished with 13 points and 5 assists in 24 minutes, and once again shot well with two three pointers and 5 for 5 from the line.  The best of the young players, however, was sophomore J.J. Moore who totaled 16 points, thanks to shooting 4 for 6 from three, while also adding 5 rebounds.

Next up for the Panthers they will host Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon.

13 comments:

  1. I just have a bad feeling that JJ and Birch will not see the minutes when Big Esst action comes around. I hope I am wrong. I also must be missing something with Wright cause I don't see it with him yet. I know Jamie likes his D, but I really can't see that right now. I like his potential down the road, but is he going to help us this year in NCAA, like Johnson or JJ could.

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  2. One of the few complaints I've ever had for Dixon is that he plays experience over talent. That method gets you a lot of regular season wins but it also gets you a lot of second round losses come tournament time.

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  3. Dokish, as far as i am concerned, you cannot update your blog often enough. keep up the great work man.

    i do agree that id JD's way - experience over talent, and his record does speak for itself for the duration of the year, unfortunately, his record also speaks for itself for tourney time too.

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  4. However much Wright or Epps contribute, Jamie is right to play them during the non-con as much as he can without jeopardizing a game. He's got to let them see what D-1 is like and to develop (if they can). He obviously sees something in Wright, just as he saw something in the young and hapless Wanamaker, Young, Nas and others as freshman (think Gary McGhee as a freshman and soph). Johnson and Birch will get plenty of playing time going forward assuming their play (and practice) warrant it; Dixon's no fool.

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  5. Chris what were your thoughts seeing Epps in person last night?

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  6. I'm not writing Wright off by no means. I think he could be a role player in his career. But John Johnson has to develop and if it means more minutes for him, and less for Wright, I'm all for it. This program has had a lot of role players in it over the years. What it needs is more top level players, and Johnson could be that. I want to see him get a lot of minutes so that he can get to that level faster, if that's what he's destined for.

    As for Epps, I'd be very surprised if he finished his career with Pitt.

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  7. Dixon may be playing Epps to see what he's like in games (as compared to practice;some do perform better in a game), and also because he needs the extra body on the floor for a few minutes. That Wright and Johnson are obviously already ahead of him playing time makes me think you're correct in saying Epps may not finish with Pitt.

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  8. Epps famously once said he would be a one and done guy.

    Chris, please explain this pathetic ooc schedule.

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  9. I can't. I can understand some softies, but Pitt has too many. It gets old to watch a bunch of mismatches every year.

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  10. One possible explanation for the soft non-con schedule, other than some games he hoped for fell through (Chris, didn't he think he was getting Duke in MSG at one point?)-- Dixon knew he had a young team that needed to develop cohesiveness and instead of getting their brains beaten out, he decided to treat them as the exhibition games they really are. The goal is to be great in March, not maybe entertain the fans in November and December with a young getting clobbered.

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  11. That would make sense if he didn't every year, even when he's loaded with seniors.

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  12. I guess I'd have to go back and look at past years. My sense is that in the recent past (last 2 or 3 years prior to this one) he toughened up the non-con and this is the weakest non-con in years.

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  13. Chris - That win over Tennessee looks like nothing. They just lost to Austin Peay. This schedule is pathetic.

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