Tag Archives: Pitt vs. WVU

Pitt 98 WVU 95 (3OT)

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Game Recap

Wow.  Just wow.  I wrote a post a while ago about the top 10 games in the Pete (you can read it here).  Well, we have a new #1 by a landslide.  That was one of the best college basketball games I’ve watched, on TV or in person.  As usual, some thoughts:

  • Rebounding should have cost the Panthers the game.  It was pretty tight statistically, but Pitt was getting killed on the glass.  At the end of regulation, WVU had a 14 rebound advantage, and that’s after Pitt had grabbed a few towards the end.  In the overtimes, Pitt out-rebounded WVU by 7.  You bet that’s why they were in control most of the way.
  • WVU missed 3 of 5 free throws in the final minute  of regulation which started with a 7 point Mountaineer edge.  It was eerily similar to Louisville’s collapse.
  • Speaking of that 7 point lead with a minute left, I saw a lot of people leaving at that point.  I noticed a lot of those seats re-filled during the overtime (I guess they caught the game in the lobby and turned back), but there were still some empty chairs left.  They deserve it.  I’ve never gotten leaving early, and I hope this teaches them a lesson.  Oh, well.  It’s one more thing to add to the legend of this game.  You have to love when a team is counted out by their own fans, then proceed to resurrect themselves like Lazarus.
  • All those rebounds?  They led to a 15-0 second chance points lead by the Mountaineers at the end of regulation.  More proof that Pitt got away with one here.
  • Huge bench night for Pitt.  The Panthers got 34 points from the reserves.  Travon Woodall looked good.  Gil Brown had a lot of those points even though he’s a de-facto starter.  J.J. Richardson had another solid game.
  • Speaking of J.J., he definitely out-played Dante Taylor again.  Big time.  Dante’s an amazing athlete, but he just doesn’t have the hunger to play the low post (and before you say anything, I’m not sure he’s quick enough to play PF in the Big East, either).  He just needs to get stronger in the off-season.
  • I’ll expand on Travon, as well.  He had a great game at the point.  12 points, 6 assists, and 0 turnovers in 31 minutes.  That sure looks more like a PG line to me.  If he can do that consistently, Pitt will be in great shape.  But consistency is the key.
  • Good job by the Zoo.  I heard a few rumblings of a bulls**t cheer, but that never caught on.  Besides that, there was only a few go home mountaineers chants (some kids switched the last word around to involve a word that starts with q, but they were also drowned out by the kids saying it the better way).  I can live with that.  Overall the kids were loud, intimidating, and positive.  I’m proud to have them representing my school.  I’d like to think that the jerk who threw stuff in Morgantown is very unhappy somewhere tonight.  It’s a good thought.
  • Ashton Gibbs missed a free throw to ice the game at the end of the first overtime, but got redemption by draining two in the third to make WVU try for a 3.  You’ve gatta love that.
  • Brad Wanamaker had a huge night going 7-14 from the field and 9-11 from the free throw line.  He did have 4 turnovers and 3 minute stretch at the beginning of the second half with a bunch of mistakes, but I’ll take this performance any day.  He was one of the few guys who wasn’t afraid to drive on this Mountaineer defense.
  • WVU is a better team than Pitt this year, but Pitt had the desire down the stretch.  I love that.  I need to see it every game.

Great win.  I’m all smiles tonight.  Pitt parlayed the Syracuse upset into a few more quality wins.  They’re going to have an opportunity to do the same thing coming up against Marquette, Villanova and Notre Dame.  I’d love to see a repeat performance.

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Pitt 51 WVU 70

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Game Recap

Watching the highlights on ESPN and reading a few headlines, it seems like the theme for the game is that WVU won a game last night where tempers flared.  Well, I’m not sure that I really agree with that.  The fan’s tempers flared, but I didn’t see much on the court.  There was the one play that halted the game for a while, but that was more guys tripping over each other than anything.  And the actual game was no more physical than a lot of games I’ve watched in the Big East.  Emotional, yes.  Overly physical with tempers?  Not so much.  The actual game itself was a little more complex.  Pitt was right in it until about 8 minutes left when they just lost their shot.  I have no idea what happened there.  I didn’t see a defensive switch by the Mountaineer or anything else that would explain it.  Unfortunately, the cold shooting really did in Pitt because the other aspects of the game were all going to WVU.  If the Panthers would have won this game, it would have been a steal.  But they didn’t win, and they didn’t really deserve to, either.  Some other thoughts:

  • I’ve never seen Gary McGhee look so bad with layups.  Honest to goodness.  He was 3 for 11 shooting without taking a shot from outside 3 feet.  My theory is that he was juiced with adrenaline coming in, threw a few over the rim, and was trying to compensate and find his touch for the rest of the game.  But that’s just a theory.  I’m not in his head.
  • I think the biggest reason Pitt lost was the lack of rebounding.  Yeah, there was a big rebounding deficit overall, but to get a clearer picture of the problem you just have to look at the offensive rebounds the Panthers allowed: 17.  WVU is a good rebounding team, and they’re especially good on the offensive glass, but 17 is ridiculous.  This has got to stop or Pitt’s going to struggle to win every single game from now on.
  • WVU shot better from beyond the arc than they did from inside.  I have a feeling its because most of those were wide open attempts.  It’s not a pattern yet, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
  • Lots of people have weighed in on this, but the WVU fan behavior was inexcusable.  The student swearing is bad, but not the worst thing ever.  Pitt’s gone through the same troubles as does just about every school in the country with a student section.  But throwing things just can’t happen.  Ever.  What’s worse is this is not the first time this has happened from WVU fans, and it doesn’t seem to get better.  Both the fans and the administration have to do a better job of creating an atmosphere where that’s not tolerated.  I know you want to make the arena intimidating, but take it from a Pitt fan who has watched a game in Morgantown: the Colosseum (and Mountaineer Field.  I’ve been there too) is already intimidating because its filled with real down to earth people that aren’t afraid to cheer and make noise.  You don’t have to make it a dangerous place to be intimidating.
  • J.J. Richardson played fairly well considering the circumstances.  He got a lot more minutes than Dante Taylor who looked lost out there again.  I’m wondering if he’s starting to overtake him on the depth chart.
  • Anyone still think Gilbert Brown should start ahead of Nasir Robinson?

I guess the thing to remember is that it was a great team across the court (#6 in the country, remember?) and the Panthers hung tough for a while.  They had some spurts of doing the right thing, so I know they’re capable.  Pitt just needs to gain some consistency, which is not surprising considering how young they are.  The only real consistent problems with this team are the reliance on shooters and the lack of rebounding (both are fairly big problems, I know).  Who knows, if Richardson keeps bouncing up the depth chart, maybe he can bring a little bit of a solution to both problems.  Until then, I guess Pitt fans just have to cross their fingers and hope that this team has some more great shooting nights (a la Syracuse) and gets enough wins to get a tournament spot.

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Top 10 Games At The Pete

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I got to thinking after today’s game that there’s been a lot of great games at the Pete, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be there in person for just about all of them.  So, because lists are fun, I thought I’d put together a list of my top 10 games at the Pete.  Here goes.

10. 2/17/07 Pitt 65 Washington 61

The Huskies came into the Pete with Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes, two big men who were both McDonalds All Americans out of high school and very highly regarded.  Pitt countered with their own frontcourt combo of Aaron Gray and Levon Kendall, two guys with less credentials but a lot more collegiate experience.  Brockman and Hawes each scored in double digits, but balanced scoring for Pitt was the difference.  After a back and forth game, Ronald Ramon hit a pair of free throws to finally put this one away and protect Pitt’s #7 ranking.

9. 1/2/05 Pitt 66 Bucknell 69

I guess not every game has to turn out well for Pitt.  The Panthers lead for most of this game, until Kevin Bettencourt made a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left to take the lead.  A pair more after a missed shot by Pitt would bring Bucknell to the winning 3 point margin.  Pitt was ranked #10 at the time.  Bucknell turned out to be giant killers that year, bringing down St. Joe’s and Kansas (in the tournament) as well.  It hurt to see those guys jumping around like idiots after the game, but to be honest, you had to feel good for them.  Just a little bit.  They remain the only non-conference team to get a win at the Pete.

8. 3/7/09 Pitt 70 UConn 60

This was the culmination of a lot of UConn/Pitt matchups.  Earlier in the year, Pitt went up to Stoors and beat the Huskies.  It knocked them out of the #1 seed, and it provided the defining image of the rivalry: DeJuan Blair flipping Hasheem Thabeet over his back.  For the return battle, the Huskies had climbed their way back into the #1 spot and were looking for revenge against #3 Pitt.  They didn’t find it.  With one of the loudest Petersen crowds I’ve ever heard behind them, Pitt pulled out to a 10 point halftime lead and never looked back.  Sam Young had 31 points in the game which is still amazing to me.  How in the world did he do that against UConn’s defense?

7. 1/21/07 Pitt 74 Marquette 77 (OT)

Another great game that just didn’t go quite in our favor.  Marquette lead for most of the game and had a 9 point advantage with 4 minutes left.  Pitt made a serious run, but Marquette refused to miss free throws (they didn’t miss from about 5 minutes left in the game on, going 15-15 in the stretch).  Trailing by with 8 seconds left, Antonio Graves got fouled.  He hit the first and missed the second which Ronald Ramon collected and was fouled himself.  He then proceeded to hit both of his free throws to send it into overtime.  That sequence still amazes me.  The odds of it happening are so slim it’s mind boggling.  Overtime was as exciting as could be with 4 ties and 3 lead changes.  With Pitt up by 1, Dominique James was fouled while shooting with 1 freaking second left.  I still maintain that it should have been let go, but I digress.  Dominique made both free throws and Wesley Matthews was fouled on the Pitt inbound play (that definitely set me off), and put in two more to made the winning margin 3.  I’ve never left the Pete more upset.  This would have been much higher on the list because it was a phenomenal game, but I’m putting it further down the list because I want to forget it.

6. 2/15/04 Pitt 75 UConn 68

This was the first really big game at the Pete.  Pitt was ranked #4 at the time so they had been winning, but they never played a team in the top 5 while being favored.  That’s what happened when #5 UConn rolled into town.  Tickets were being scalped outside for hundreds of dollars, but those that didn’t sell their tickets got quite a show.  Jim Calhoun got a technical foul in the first 2 minutes.  Pitt built up a 9-2 foul advantage (I thought Calhoun’s head was going to explode) and the Panthers used it to gain a quick lead.  UConn came back, however.  Emeka Okafor (UConn’s star center) was in foul trouble.  He picked up some early fouls and sat which was a big reason Pitt jumped out to its lead.  He came back and UConn clawed back to single digits.  He picked up his fourth foul with about 10 minutes left, and Pitt went on an 11-0 run while he was back on the bench.  That was the ballgame.  I’ve never seen Jim Calhoun so upset.  Ben Gordan (UConn’s point guard) had 21 in an attempt to carry the team.  Pitt countered with a lot of points from it’s role players: Mark McCarroll had 15 points and Jaron Brown had 17.  I feel like the refs kind of gave this one to Pitt, but I’ll take it.  It was an absolutely huge win for the program.

5. 1/13/07 Pitt 74 Georgetown 69

Speaking of program building wins, this was another one.  Pitt was finally starting to get some respect in the 06/07 season, and along comes the biggest stage they had ever played on.  ESPN’s College Gameday came to Pitt for the matchup against Georgetown.  The big storyline matchup was again in the low post.  The Hoyas came in with Roy Hibbert, and Pitt had Aaron Gray.  Both were upperclassmen who were some of the best at their position.  The students were out in force at 9 am for the College Gameday taping, and kept the excitment up until the game finally tipped at 9pm.  By the time the game started, the arena was about ready to blow its roof off.  All people had to do was look up at the open concourse below the banners where ESPN set up a stage for Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis to know that this was a huge game.  Gray and Hibbert canceled each other out though Gray probably out-played Hibbert a bit, and the difference was again Pitt’s depth.  Pitt’s physical play put them over the top, though Georgetown was able to keep it within 10 or 15 for most of the second half.  Winning a game like that on national TV opened up a lot of eyes.

4. 2/29/04 Pitt 46 Syracuse 49 (OT)

The last game on the list without a happy ending.  Pitt entered this game with the nations longest home winning streak.  It was the second to last home game of the year when Jim Boeheim brought his guys to the Pete.  The game was fantastic.  The largest lead the whole way through was 6 points.  It’s was physical and defensive oriented and well played overall at both ends.  The last possession was Pitt’s, trailing by 1.  Pitt did the smart thing which was to get the ball down low to Chevy Troutman.  Chevy missed the layup, but the refs gave us a gift and called the foul with 3 seconds left.  I still think we got away with one there, but it didn’t cost Syracuse the game, anyway.  Chevy went to the line, hit the first, and missed the second.  In the overtime, we kept feeding Chris Taft, but Gerry McNamara had 5 points by himself, and Syracuse won.  It was the first loss ever in the Pete.  It was also the first really drama filled game there.

3. 1/16/10 Pitt 82 Louisville 77 (OT)

The game that was just played.  There are two reasons why I have this game above the other overtime games listed here.  First and foremost, we won.  Leaving happy moves you up the list.  I’m biased.  Second of all, like the Marquette game this one had a really improbable comeback.  We were down by 5 with a minute left.  I saw people leave.  We were dead.  But due to a 1-5 free throw shooting streak in the final minute by Louisville, we made it back to tie at the end of regulation.  Once again, the odds of a great shooting team like Louisville dying like that are slim.  It still amazes me that it happened.  Combine that with the expectations for this year, the lack of star players, and you get one heck of a game to tell people about.  The only downside to this game was that it lacked excitement in OT.  It seemed like Louisville was stunned to be there and threw in the towel.  We out-rebounded them in the overtime 6-2.  That’s a clear sign of their motivation level.  But, other than that, it was a terrific game.  The atmosphere was once again electric, and it got my heart pounding.  It’s the type of win you leave just loving life.

2. 2/7/08 Pitt 55 WVU 54

I don’t think I’ve ever left a game loving life more than when I left this one.  It has to be my favorite Pitt game of all time, and it would easily grab the top spot if it weren’t for a simply indescribable game I still can’t believe I got to witness.  All I have to say is Ronald Ramon.  You know exactly what game I mean, right?  Exactly.  If not, here’s something to jog your memory:

Man, there are so many reasons why this is a great game.  The fact that it was a rivalry.  The fact that it was won on a last second buzzer beater (as opposed to just a close game).  The WVU collapse leading up to it where they couldn’t make a free throw to save their lives.  It just all came together into a classic game.

1. 1/4/06 Pitt 100 Notre Dame 97 (2OT)

This was just a simply incredible game.  It’s another one that’s defined by one player: Chris Quinn.  Notre Dame was like Rasputin in this game, they just refused to die.  The Irish were struggling in this game, but hung around just enough.  With under a minute left they were down by 9.  Any other team in America would have been packing it in.  The fans sure were.  I was starting to see a lot of blue seats and jackets being put on.  But then something got into Chris Quinn and I’m not sure what it was.  In the last minute he hit two 3 pointers that, along with 2 more 3 pointers by Colin Falls, were enough to force overtime.  That was crazy enough, but he wasn’t done.  Pitt built a quick 7 point advantage in the first overtime and the crowd was going nuts.  Quinn answered with 8 points by himself to send it into double overtime including the tying three point shot with 5 seconds left.  He then proceeded to lead off the third overtime with the first bucket and the crowd was getting pretty restless.  But that was all the magic he had left in him.  He turned it over, missed a drive to the hoop, and that was it.  But it’s still the most amazing individual performace I’ve ever seen.  Chris wound up with Petersen Center records for points (37), field goals (13), field goal attempts (23) and opponent assists (9).  And he did all that with the Zoo getting on him harder than I’ve ever heard them get on anyone before, and the entire Pitt defense zeroing in on him because he was quite literally the only guy who could score.  And he wasn’t just hitting shots.  He was hitting from distance.  There were some shots he made that I swear were about 5 or 6 feet behind the 3 point arc.  Just incredible.

So, that’s my list.  If you think I missed something, let me know.  I think it’s pretty impressive considering that the building’s only in it’s eighth season.  But I guess that’s a testament to the quality of program that resides there.  As of today, Pitt is 125-10 at the Pete.  That’s incredible.  That kind of record means that lots of teams come in with extra motivation.  It means that we have a team that’s going to bring out the best in all our opponents, and who is talented enough to match that level.  That’s what’s been creating all of these terrific games.  I’ll be going to a lot more in the future, and I hope to have a list with a few new additions in a few years.

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Huge Recap

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Well well.  My computer picked an awful bad week to just decide to crap out.  Every team I talk about had at least one game.  So I’m just going to run down my current thoughts on each, and then I can move forward like nothing happened.  Sound good?  Alright.  Let’s go.

Steelers

I’ll lead off with ‘dem Stillers cuz I know that’s what yinz guys like to hear about.  Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that the world is ending for the Steelers.  We’ve lost 3 in a row for the first time in years.  We’ve got our quarterback and star receiver arguing.  We’re on the verge of missing out on the playoffs.  There is no doubt that the world is going to end tomorrow.  So.  Now that you’re caught up, how do we save the world (or just the Steelers)?  Well, first things first.  How do we get everyone to just get along?  I mean its bad enough that the Bengals took our division lead…did they have to give us their drama on the way?  C’mon!  For those that aren’t in Pittsburgh and/or haven’t been paying attention, Hines Ward said in an interview that he’s played hurt and insinuated that Ben should too.  Ben allegedly went through the locker room saying ‘good luck without me guys’ in a sarcastic tone.  That’s a very high level recap, but the actual details don’t matter.  What matters is  what happens on the field.  How do we cut this beef between Ben and Hines up, grill it up and eat it so that we can play better?  Well, the short answer is win.  There is no drama in a winning locker room because there is no blame in a winning locker room.  The long answer is that Ben and Hines need to sit down and talk about this.  It was an obvious misunderstanding.  Both were frustrated at the time of their incidents.  In fact, I’m fairly sure that they’ve already talked (being that they’re grown men and this is an obvious step to take for two people striving towards a common goal).  So, in short, I’m not worried and you shouldn’t be either.  So with that cleared up, what is wrong with this team on the field?  Well, besides the obvious injuries I mean.  The defense seems to be giving up a lot more ground (especially in the fourth quarter) than they ever have before.  I’m just stumped as to why.  It could be because they’re getting old and tired at the end of games.  It could be because we really miss Troy.  My personal guess is that it’s the cornerbacks.  These have been come from behind fourth quarter wins in the past 3 weeks.    That means the other team has been throwing a lot.  If a team is most successful coming back in the 4th because they’re throwing, and we usually step up our blitz when we’re ahead, the only thing left is the corners that need to step up.  Maybe if they just jam their receivers a bit more at the line to buy some time it would help.  But I really don’t know.  That’s just a guess.  The special teams has also been awful.  If it’s not a kickoff being returned for a touchdown, it was awful punt coverage against Baltimore.  We just can’t win.  But, unfortunately, you can’t do much with special teams beside get guys in who really want to be there.  The one thing you can’t say much about is the offense.  They’ve been fine.  The loss of Ben hurt last week, but hey, it happens.  We’re much more balanced lately which I love.  So, in conclusion, the secondary will hopefully improve with Troy coming back soon which I hope will shore up the defense, the offense looks good already, and we just have to cross our fingers and hope the special teams don’t cost us too many games.  Oakland comes into town next week, so that should be a great opportunity to get back on track (though I said the same thing about Kansas City a couple of weeks ago.  Gulp).

Pitt Football

Hmmm……well that was a fairly depressing recap I just finished, and it isn’t going to get much better here.  The loss to WVU was ugly.  We didn’t just play poorly.  WVU played poorly and we played even worse.  I hate to say it, but this one goes on Billy Stull.  Now, as Mike Tomlin would say: ‘he’s got some money in my emotional bank account’, so I’m going to dismiss this as one bad game and not get on him too bad.  However, he played awful and he’d admit it.  He was overthrowing and underthrowing everybody.  It makes me wonder if he just gets tired at the end of a season (remember: he was alright leading up to the Rutgers game last year, though not as good as this season).  His inability to pass made us completely one-dimensional.  That will lose you a game every time.  Now, usually, when a quarterback is struggling, he’ll go with a lot of dump-offs.  Just to get back in a rhythm.  I saw a couple of passes to Dickerson (which he dropped.  He also had a terrible game).  But I only saw 2 passes to Dion Lewis.  You’ve got to dump off to him a bit more in that situation just to get some completions.  It seemed like he was chucking it to Baldwin every time.  I understand that Baldwin probably had a mismatch, but you can’t keep trying something that doesn’t work (well, it finally did in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t worth the total effort and wasted downs).  But, lucky for us, this game didn’t matter.  We still win the Big East with a win on Saturday.  And no matter what people will tell you, there was no way the Gator Bowl was taking us even if we won.  Especially with Bowden crying for one last gasp of attention (he wants to play his last bowl game in Florida and furthermore against WVU if he can because he used to coach there).  This loss probably just dropped us from Charlotte to Birmingham/Toronto if we lose on Saturday.  So crappy bowl to crappier bowl.  Hmmm…..  Not that big of a loss.  But this is still a huge game on Saturday.  Who would have thought that the River City Rivalry would ever mean anything?

Penguins

The Pens have been the most busy of any team.  Since I last left you, they’ve gone 3-1 including a home and home sweep of the Rangers.  Now that we’ve got some guys returning from injury we’re really playing at a high level.  Sid really seems to be on a role, but I think that may have more to do with the Rangers opening the ice to the coast to coast game that he really excels at.  The power play is still my biggest concern, by far.  I have no idea why this team struggles so much, except to say that we look for the perfect shot way to much.  The power play is a time for decent shots, not great shots.  But, overall, you have to be pleased with the play of this team.  Overlooking a hickup on Long Island, we’ve really been controlling the puck well and doing an excellent job being physical and checking teams.  It’s a return to that great play we started the season off with, and I’m going to run out of ways to say ‘we’re awesome’ before too long.  But Colorado will be a tough test on Thursday.

Pitt Basketball

Pitt only had one game over the long weekend: a fairly easy one against Youngstown State.  The game story was that it was a close game for the first 30 minutes before Pitt finally out-lasted them in the final 10.  I think the general assumption is that we had superior depth compared to YSU, and that’s what eventually won us the game.  I noticed something, but I haven’t read it in any recaps yet, so here it goes: we finally figured out their zone with about 10 minutes left and that’s what lead to the turnaround.  YSU played a classic 2-3 zone from start to finish.  It was fairly obvious that Coach Dixon thought it was very slow on the rotation.  He was having the team do a lot of perimeter passing trying to pass the ball faster than the defense could react.  Either it will open up an open 3-point shot or it will open up a lane to pass the ball into the post.  Well, the defense was slow to rotate alright, but when we saw the open space we didn’t take the jumper, our eyes light up and we drove the lane…..right into the teeth of the defense.  We had a ton of turnovers that way.  The only reason we stayed in the game was that Youngstown had a horrible offense and absolutely no frontcourt presence.  We also crushed them on the glass which didn’t hurt.  With about 10 minutes left, we finally started to attack the zone the right way and take what the defense gave us.  It was like the light bulb finally went on that ‘Hey!  Coach Dixon might know what he’s talking about.  Maybe we should try his advice’.  And, what do you know?  It worked.  I hope that’s the last of our struggles against the 2-3 zone, because as I said before, that’s something we’ll see a lot this year.  Duquesne is up next in the city game and the last college b-ball game in the Mellon Civic Arena.  I think this will be a really hard test for Pitt.  Much harder than most people think.  I wouldn’t even be surprised to come out with a loss in this one.  But I sure hope I’m wrong.

Pirates

….still suck.  Actually, they signed some guys this week, but no one of consequence.  We’re going to trot out a AAA team again next year.

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