Sunday, January 1, 2012

Panthers lose again: Cincinnati 66 Pittsburgh 63

Once again, the Panthers lose due to lackluster defense, poor three point shooting, and bad ball handling.

Nasir Robinson led the Panthers with 19 points and 10 rebounds, but also had 3 turnovers.  Ashton Gibbs had 18 points, but was 2-7 from three and had 2 turnovers.  Lamar Patterson had 13 points.

Dante Taylor had the rather unusual stat line of 2 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 turnovers in 29 minutes.

Cameron Wright once again started at the two and in 18 minutes he had 3 points and 2 turnovers in just 18 minutes.  As usual, John Johnson got more minutes in reserve, this time to the tune of 22 minutes, and came away with 4 points, 5 assists, 3 turnovers, and 5 fouls.  Talib Zanna played just 9 minutes after getting hit in the eye and came away with 2 points and 4 rebounds.

Pitt shot just 5-19 from three.  Gibbs and Patterson combined for 5-13 which obviously means the rest of the team was 0-6.

The Panthers are now 11-4, 0-2 in the Big East, and it's starting to look more and more that the wheels are in danger of falling off the team.  Next up for the Panthers is a road game at DePaul on Thursday.  If they lose that game then obviously things are going to start getting really ugly.


  1. Quick observation Chris. I noticed at the end of the game with the timeout with three seconds left, Coach Dixon was basically by himself (I think Brandin came up to him briefly) drawing up the final play of the game. I found this somewhat unusual. Normally assistants convene with the head coach to discuss strategy but no assistants were to be found at the key moment of the game. Has Dixon made bad hires since Herrion left with the hires of Skerry and Bartlett (or whatever his name is)? Were those hires strictly based on recruiting? I also notice that since Herrion left, we have not seen the individual progress in players like we used to see. Dante is the prime example.

    I really think this team could end up being around .500 overall (not in the BE) because let's face it, if they lose to Wagner, follow that up getting a beatdown to ND, and then losing at home to Cinci (missing three guys), the wheels have already fallen off. The worst part of the past two games is that there has not been any improvement. It's one thing if they lost a close tough game but played well, but they played like crap tonight and against ND. Same story - poor defense, turnovers, etc. That's what worries me most - there has been no improvement whatsoever in any areas.

  2. No improvement is right. That's what makes me feel pessimistic. And I think there's no doubt that Skerry and Barton were not Herrion as far as coaches, but obviously it goes to the players, to Dixon, to all of them. Sometimes this happens. It's just a miracle that it took this long for it to happen to Dixon. But there's a fine line between excellence and mediocrity, and Dixon's teams have always fallen on the right side. But this time, there's a problem here, and a problem there, and then it all adds up to this.

  3. I just don't understand why Jaime doesn't give some of the other guys a shot when what they are doing right now clearly isn't working. The defense just isn't good enough and the team can't handle the pressure. It seemed like Johnson was the only one creating anything off the dribble, everyone else was stagnant or just didn't have the athleticism to shake anyone. Johnson at a minimum has to play more and not sure why Dixon won't go to Epps a bit more to spell Gibbs as 37 minutes are too many for him. We just got killed at the 2/3 spot and in particular, Patterson just got abused on D. At least Jaime needs to get them to be more aggressive. How can Gibbs and Wright have 1 foul between them? Be a bit more aggressive. The Steals # was incredible - 11 to 1 as was the TO numbers.

    It's just sad.

  4. Their shooting right now is poor. They are letting way to many offesnive rebounds and turning the ball over. Why JJ Moore, who might be the most gifted guy on the court lets ungifted athletes go right around him is unknown. There is no way Taylor is this bad, he seems to be playing lazy. Wright is not helping them on the offensive side at all. Gibbs is getting way to many minutes at point. Epps cannot ball handle. Zanna is getting the worst double-double's I have ever seen. Their number one problem though is missing open shots and turnovers. Their in trouble, but they still can make the tournament. Let's see what Jamie does.

  5. Chris:

    You wrote earlier this year that this would be yet another 25+ win Dixon team. What has changed between that post and now. Obviously Birch leaving and Woodall getting injured have played a role, but is it also that you expected taylor, moore, etc. to come into their own and that simply hasn't happened?

    To add insult to injury, last month I bought a flight and made hotel reservations for NYC for the BE tourney. Unfortunately I fly in Wednesday morning. Assumed we would have a double bye or at least a first round bye. Now it is starting to look more and more like the panthers will have already been eliminated before I even touch down at La Guardia. Honestly, I think the only thing worse than being a Pitt basketball fan right now is being a Pitt football fan.

    Here is to hoping pitt gets it together sometime around late January / early February, is 9-9 in the BE going into the tourney, and gibbs catches kemba walker disease and leads Pitt to 11 straight wins.

  6. This is just a very inexperienced team. The only guys who came into the season with significant playing time under their belt were Gibbs, Robinson, Woodall, and Taylor. With Woodall out, the experience is very thin, and it shows with guys just not knowing where to be on either end consistently. Too much thinking and reacting, instead of just playing. There is just no substitute for experience.

    This year reminds me a lot of two years ago when Wanamaker, Brown and Dixon were the only returning experienced guys. Yes, that team won 25 games and got to the second round of the tourney. However, they nearly got upset by Wofford, and needed buzzer beaters and/or OT to beat Louisville, WVU, and Providence. That year the breaks went their way, but this year they have not been.

    This team isn't great by any stretch, but they also aren't as bad as these last few games. Getting Woodall back, and getting the younger guys more experience will go a long way.

  7. That's a great connection to that squad from two seasons ago -- they pulled out some remarkable wins that year to boost their stock and confidence. This year, things are going in the opposite direction: they cannot make important plays when they need to, and their confidence is dwindling. You can see it in their body language. When the young guys make a mistake, their heads go down, etc. They need something positive to happen, quickly.

  8. I go back to your post from a week back or so about recruiting misses. We hitched our cart to Dante instead of Thomas Robinson. Khem Birch instead of Jaylen Bond. Isiaih Epps instead of who knows. I really dont think cam wright is a bcs level bball player but maybe I will be wrong by the time he is a 22 yr old senior. Fortunately, John Johnson looks like a player and I think Malcolm Gilbert will be good. Steve Adams should be a stud, though only for a year. James Robinson should be very good for 4 years. We need another 1 or 2 guys in the 2012 class. However, the only guys who are uncommitted in the espn top 100 are savon goodman and amile jefferson. Goodman might have academic issues and has many schools after him. We arent even in the running for Jefferson anymore. IMO Dante Taylor and Khem Birch have collectively made this a lost year.

  9. Lack of leadership on the court is what separates this team from the prior ones. The problem is that in order to lead, you need to show by example. Gibbs and Robinson are limited in their abilities. Gibbs has been pouting because he came to the realization after last year, that he wasn't getting promoted to the league. Instead of working on his shortcomings, he pouted. He didn't step up his defensive ability (which is heart and pasion) and he didn't improve his quickness and ability to beat defenders off the dribble.

    Robinson is just physically limited offensively and defensively. He has more heart but can't just get it done without a strong supporting cast. Jamie Dixon needs to have a come to Jesus meeting with his troops but the issue is the off season improvements or lack thereof and it is too late to teach. Travon is serviceable when healthy, but he struggles against pressure as does the rest of the team.

    Pitt is soft offensively. They would rather shoot a three than go to the rack strong. That is one of the areas that are most disappointing as an observer.

    Finally, the point about Herrion as a teacher and a recruiter is spot on. The guy just knows how to do those things well. Look at what he is doing at Marshall of all places. I expect him to move to a Big Conference next year. Hiring coaches that bring big time recruits instead of teaching ability can be problematic.

    Jamie needs to meld the lunch pale guys with the elite without causing locker room issues. This is something new for Jamie so let's see how he does.

  10. I never thought much of Dixon as a headcoach, Pitt has always under achieved, he has been here 9, 10 years and they have not made it to a final 4.

    I think the entire basketball program has jumped the shark.

    They will be lucky to make the NIT this year.

  11. Those bloggers who are optimistic, why? What essentially you've described is a dire situation. If the team isn't fired up to play week after week, that's a coaching problem. Jamie Dixon, who never won a big game in the NCAA tournament, will suffer repercussions far more than these no-name players. All he had going for him was being a great regular season coach. Nine wins? Teams like Seton Hall will wrap Pitt up. A lot of programs have a much stronger desire to beat Pitt for two reasons: Losing to the Panthers this past decade; Pitt deserting the Big East for the ACC.

  12. I think Jamie realizes he needs teachers who will stay a while - the reason for his last hire. Pitt has a true leader coming in next year (Robinson) and a legit big man (Adams). Adam's will play from the start. If Dixon sat Taylor for Birch he will do the same with Adam's - Adam's is Dixon's pet project. This team has the role players in place to be good (Patterson, Moore, JJ Johnson, Zanna, Gilbert), they just need that superstar or two to put them over the top...and they're on the way. There is no need to jump ship and if this team can cut down on turnovers Pitt may win a couple of games that will surprise you.

    Chris, is Jamie still trying to redshirt Gilbert or is there another reason for his lack of playing time the last few games. Even if he is raw, he would have helped a few minutes a game. If he's trying for the redshirt, it makes sense. If Adam's leaves after one year but the time Gilbert starts he will be in his 3rd year, possibly fourth if Adam's hangs on for two years. The drop off from Adam's to an experienced Gilbert would not hurt the team as much.

  13. Wow, Dixon has been here 9, 10 whole years and hasn't made a Final Four?
    There are many many people in this world who need a dose of reality. 300 or so programs out there would die to have Pitt's record and resume this past decade, despite not having reached the Final Four. That's not to dismiss the incredible disappointments of recent years, or put a positive spin on the especially poor play of this year's team, but it just demonstrates the unfortunate bandwagon nature of so many Pitt hoops fans. I'll take an incredibly successful, competitive team with a legit shot at Final Fours 9 out of every 10 years. I guess I forgot about Pitt's rich tradition and birthright to be among the nation's elite. I must have missed that somewhere between the Evans and Willard "eras."

    This is a flawed team, and the coaching staff shares responsibility. But let's try to maintain some perspective.

  14. Chris:

    1 - Can you explain Jamie Dixon's coaching decision to not use Gilbert? I hear people say that Pitt had to adjust to their guard lineup. Well, why not make people adjust to what you are doing? Impose your will.

    2 - This team has a major problem with ball pressure. I actually think Louisville may seriously crush Pitt. Why is that?

    3 - All this praise for Dixon when his guys win the most improved player award. Why no criticism when no one develops. All of a sudden it was Herrion's fault? No, Dixon deserves blame for not developing guys.

    4 - For those who think Adams and Robinson will replace Nasir and Ashton and actually take this team from crap to final4 are nuts. Dixon needs several classes now after all these misses.

    5 - I thought JJ Moore was supposed to be good?

    6 - John Johnson is good but not a program-changer.

    7 - Brandin Knight doesnt appear to be as good an assistant as originally thought.

    8 - What are the chances we lose to Depaul?

    9 - Could Adams still change his committment to somewhere he could win the NC? Has anyone heard this down year could change his mind on Pitt?

  15. 1. I'd play him more but Dixon has exactly 227 more wins than me so what do I know?

    2. Because they don't have one true PG on the team.

    3. All good and bad ultimately comes down to the coach.

    4. Nobody thinks Pitt is going to the Final Four next year.

    5. He's still a sophomore. TIme will tell.

    6. Nobody called him a program changer. He's just part of the puzzle. You need excellent players and good players and he's a good player.

    7. Hard to tell how good any assistant is, or isn't.

    8. Definitely a chance.

    9. He's not changing his mind. Kids don't just jump shit at the first sign of trouble.

  16. Atleast we sort of know what we're getting with Coach Knight and he's still young but what's the deal with Coach Barton? Isn't he much more experienced than Brandin Knight? What's his expertise? What position(s) does he coach? Does he have recruiting ties? Who's he recruiting? Questioning that hire.

  17. He started the juggernaut ND Prep basketball program. That's why Barton is on Pitt.

  18. 9 - Kind of like Khem Birch didnt...

  19. Birch didn't change his mind because of how bad Pitt was. Birch changed because he was told he has to play four and he wasn't playing at four at Pitt, so they told him he better leave. And he's so easily led that he believed it.

  20. Adams probably doesn't know a thing about college basketball in the states. all he knows is Dixon has opened up doors he didn't know existed.

  21. 9 - Are you suggesting there wont be advisors and scouts lurking around ND Prep trying to get Adams to change his mind? Based on Birch coming from the same program, you don't think its possible that Adams could get worn down by other advisors to go to Kentucky, Uconn, etc?

  22. No, I don't. He was out in ND Prep for a reason. He is being looked after. Don't worry about it.

  23. Has Gilbert's redshirt been burned or does he still qualify of Dixon has a documented injury?

  24. His redshirt is burned but I wouldn't worry about it. If you're 7'0" tall and don't leave by your fourth year, then you aren't very good anyway.