Well, the less than stellar performances just keep on coming. It’s very easy to diagnose what went wrong in this one. The defense had too many miscues. The offense was struggling to hit jump shots. Then to top it off, when the game was on the line, Pitt couldn’t hit a free throw to save their lives. That was the most frustrating part after we had improved so much in that area this year. Just an awful game all around that I’d like to forget as soon as possible. Here are some other random thoughts:
- Pitt out-rebounded the Bulls, but the Panthers are still allowing way too many offensive boards. USF had 12 in this game. It’s becoming a bit of a pattern that I mentioned in previous posts. The problem as I see it is that we’re gambling for blocks too much instead of going for rebounds. You have to make the shot tough for the shooter and then immediately box him out. This HAS to improve.
- On offense, Pitt is getting the most production when it is getting assists for their baskets. Over the course of the season, Pitt has had 328 assists on 489 baskets. That’s an assist for every 1.49 baskets. The Panthers had 8 assists on 23 baskets in Tampa. Assists mean that you’re taking a good shot. That a teammate found you in a good position and you hit the shot. Low assist to basket ratios mean selfish play that always leads to offensive struggles.
- Remember when DeJuan Blair used to lower his shoulder to clear room for a shot, and all the other teams would yell for fouls and not get them? I saw the other side of the equation in this game, and it sucked.
- Dominique Jones scored 37 of South Florida’s 70 points. There are a zillion defenses to stop one guy. I’m shocked at that total. But I’ll also say that Pitt having it’s best defender on the bench doesn’t help matters.
- USF shot 13 more foul shots than Pitt. Even with the total being padded by some intentional fouling at the end, that’s pretty high. But it’s because South Florida pounded the ball inside. I miss watching Pitt do that.
- Coach Dixon got a technical after you can see on the replay that he yelled “that’s not right” after a bump at the top of the key (he claims to have said “Call that”. I think both are pretty much the same thing). Now, the T was given by Ray Perone who I don’t know too well because he rarely does Big East games, so I did some research. He’s mostly an Atlantic 10 and Northeast conference ref. And he’s very very quick with the technicals. Let’s compare him to Tim Higgins (who was also reffing the game), Ed Hightower and Jim Burr: three guys who have been doing tons of Big East games for years and really know all of the coaches and their styles. So far this year, Perone has 15 technical calls. Tim has 6, Jim has 4 and Ed has 2. That’s a pretty big gap (oh, and to be fair, Ray has 49 games this year compared to 41, 46 and 47 respectively). Last year Ray had 30 T’s compared to 16, 19 and 25 from the three other guys. So, he’s got a track record of not taking any crap whatsoever. Now, I’m pretty sure that both “Call That!” and “That’s Not Right!” would be acceptable in just about any game I’ve been close enough to hear coaches yell. But this was not a Big East ref who knew Jamie. It took me all of 5 minutes to get his background. I know reffing crews aren’t announced until the day of the game, but one guy with a laptop can do some reconnaissance for you. I call that mistake a lack of scouting.
- Lots of miscommunication between the Pitt players on defense. There were many instances where a guy got caught up deciding whether to help or not, and ended up leaving his man open without affecting the ball carrier at all. I’ll chalk that up to a young team, but that’s another area that needs to improve.
All in all, a lot of things to work on. But such is life with a young team. We get a chance for redemption on Wednesday in Morgantown. An unlikely win makes everyone forget the Bulls. A loss puts us in a bit of a hole.