Tag Archives: Travon Woodall

So, Pitt’s Been Winning Some Basketball Games

image from bnd.com

Pitt58 Marquette 51

Pitt 70 Villanova 65

Wow.  This Pitt team sure is a lot of fun to watch.  Before I could even blink (or get in front of a computer for an extended period of time), the Panthers rolled off two more really quality wins.  I’m very impressed with how much the level of play has improved over the season so far.  Both of these wins come against teams that have typically had Pitt’s number, and with good reason.  Both are very quality teams year in and year out, and more to the point both teams are very small, quick and scrappy.  They’re able to give the traditionally slower and more physical Pitt teams a hard time with their athleticism on the offensive end, and they use their quickness on defense and rebounding to keep up.  But this is a different Pitt team than usual.  It’s much more guard-oriented and athletic than past teams.  They still play defense, but they’re a lot quicker and not as strong as past teams.  That means that Pitt can neutralize that quickness from Marquette and Villanova a little bit and win with their consistency and defense.  We saw this earlier in the year against Louisville.  The Cardinal’s press always gave Pitt fits.  But this year the Panthers were able to handle that pressure much better, and ended up winning the game.  So that’s one takeaway, but I’ve got more:

  • Gary McGhee played fantastic in both of these games.  He had 10 points and 5 rebounds against Marquette, and 7 points and 10 rebounds against Villanova.  Now, this needs to be put in perspective a little bit.  Both Marquette and Villanova are both guard oriented teams, and it’s easy to dominate guys you’ve got by a few inches.  But there are two things to take away from this and be pleased with.  First of all, Gary was quick on defense.  He didn’t let the smaller more athletic centers dominate him.  That’s a big part of what happened against Georgetown (Greg Monroe), Seton Hall (Herb Pope) and West Virginia (Da’Sean Butler).  The second thing I was pleased with was how much more aggressive he was playing.  He was taking the ball up strong to the hoop, and he was grabbing tough rebounds with both hands.  That’s what I’ve been looking to see (and what I hope to eventually see out of Dante Taylor).  Now, I’d like to see him do that again against some bigger competition to make sure he wasn’t just feasting on guys he could literally look down on and then I’ll be thrilled.
  • Dante Taylor.  He had 6 points against Marquette, then got in too much foul trouble against ‘Nova to be a factor.  While the 3 open dunks were a game changer, and they showed he could get himself open, I still wasn’t thrilled with his overall performance over these two games.  He missed a lot of defensive assignments in both games (a LOT), and it’s a big reason for the foul trouble.  I’ll give him a pass since he’s a freshman, but I see this as a bigger problem than the physical strength troubles.  He’s not grasping the system quite yet, and I hope the light goes on sooner rather than later.  As a side note, I’m sure the light will eventually go on.  It always does.  I’m not concerned with the long-term progress of Dante.  He’ll be fine.  But I’m kind of hoping against hope that he gets it before the end of the year because we could really use some more production from the frontcourt.
  • Jermaine Dixon was a huge factor in these wins, but rather quietly because he made his biggest contributions on defense.  He really put the clamps down on Scottie Reynolds for Villanova and Acker and Cubillan for Marquette.  I don’t think we would have won either game without him.
  • Rebounding!  Pitt won the rebounding edge against both teams, and pretty handily against Villanova (though a lot of that had to do with ‘Nova’s defensive schemes).  They allowed 11 offensive rebounds to Marquette which kind of irks me, but other than that I’m impressed.
  • Brad Wanamaker had 14 points over these two games.  That’s great, but coupled with 11 turnovers it’s not so great.  But that’s Wanamaker in a nutshell: Brad giveth, and Brad taketh away (or giveth away if it’s a basketball).
  • There was really balanced scoring in both of these games.  It’s getting to be part of Pitt’s reputation: lots of people can hurt you.  I guess it’s a philosophical debate whether you want one go-to guy or a bunch of capable scorers.  I’m not quite sure what side of the fence I’m on quite yet.
  • Travon Woodall continues to play very well.  He had 11 points 5 assists and 2 turnovers over these past two games.  Maybe the light switch has finally gone off for him.  I really hope so.  More depth is never a bad thing.

Next up is Notre Dame tonight.  Harangody is not playing.  So there goes the opportunity for McGhee to show what he can do against better competition.  It should  still be a great game, and South Bend always has a good atmosphere.  I’m excited to watch.

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Pitt 98 WVU 95 (3OT)

image from postgazette.com

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 Update 8/11/09

image from postgazette.com

image from postgazette.com

First and foremost, I’m sorry for failing to update in forever.  It’s been an extremely busy week for me, and I just couldn’t put in the time.  I’ll be better in the future.  As for the Buccos, I’ve missed two straight series recaps, but judging by the hits to the site when I put up Pirate posts, no one really cares about the Pirate recaps anyway.  The quick rundown of the Diamondbacks/Cardinals series are that we stunk.  A lot.  We were swept in both.  The offense stunk.  The pitching stunk.  Matt Capps plunked Albert Pujols out of what I’m sure was frustration.  It was bad.  So, now that that’s out of the way, I figured I’d put up a post about something else.  Usually Tuesday is the new ‘My Two Cents’ segment, but I felt like that was a rut.  I kept saying over and over again that if rules are set ahead of time, they have to be followed.  They can be changed, but they have to be lived with in the present.  People want to complain when the rules that are set up aren’t always ideal or fair.  Well, tough.  Learn from it.  Change them moving forward and live with what happened in the past.  Anyway, I figure I’ll take a week off to see if I can find a different tangent to take.  In the meantime, Pitt’s been in the news a lot lately, and I figured I’d give a quick update of their goings-on.  I’ll probably do likewise for the Steelers this week sometime.  I know that’s probably eagerly anticipated.  I’m pumped to write about something besides the Pirates.  So, without further adieu, here we go:

Uni Change

In case you haven’t heard, Pitt switched their sponsor from Adidas to Nike.  The new football uniforms are above.  They look pretty nice.  Classic and plain.  Just the way I like it.  I’m always in the camp that you can only do harm by putting a bunch of crap on a football uniform.  Isn’t that right, Oregon?

image from faniq.com

image from faniq.com

But, alas, I am no fashion expert.  You can make your own judgement.  Enjoy the future swoosh clothes, Panther fans.

Agnes Goes Overseas

Women’s basketball coach Agnes Berenato was selected to go overseas and speak to the troops with a few other college basketball coaches.  I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Coach B a few times, and I can say that she’s one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met.  I always leave encounters with her more motivated than when I came.  I have no idea why.  But I know that hearing a personality like that can only do positive things for our men and women overseas.  Agnes is keeping a diary on the post gazette online if you want to keep up.

Couple of Basketball Commits

Chase Adams from Centenary College and Cameron Wright from outside Cleveland both committed to Pitt.  Adams will join the team this year as a point guard and be immediately able to start.  Centenary was a Division I school last year, but is dropping all the way to Division III.  That means all their kids can transfer penalty free.  The book on Adams is that he’s had decent production against good BCS teams (as he should being the centerpiece of the team) and he’s a defense first guy (defensive player of the year in the summit league last year).  He’s only available for one more season, so he better make the most of this year.  I’ve heard some rumblings that this is a sign that Coach Dixon is not impressed with his current stable of guards.  I disagree.  I think this is just a gamble free hedging of his bet.  Travon Woodall would be my next choice for starting PG (I know about Ashton Gibbs and how he’s been doing ok at the point, but he’s still a natural shooting guard).  Travon got hurt and sat out 90% of last year.  The plan was to have him play behind Levance last year and take over this year.  When that didn’t go as planned, Dixon brought in an insurance policy that doesn’t cost more than a one year scholarship we had in our back pocket anyway.  I think it’s brilliant and worked out quite nicely.  A team doesn’t move down in class with an experienced PG we can grab every year.

Wright is the more inconsequential of the two right now because he doesn’t come until next year.  He’s a solid recruit, but not outstanding.  Seems to be a typical Dixon guy.  Not a prolific scorer in high school.  Someone who will buy into the defense/unselfishness that Pitt preaches.  We’ll see how he  pans out next year.

Football Starts Practicing

The Pitt football team started practicing on the South Side again today.  It’s way too early to get a read on anything, but there are a few question marks that will be fun to watch.  Quarterback play first and foremost.  Pat Bostick, Tino Sunseri and Bill Stull will all compete for the job with it apparently being Stull’s to loose.  From what I’ve heard, Bostick had another terrific summer, so who knows what will happen with him.  Maybe this is the year he blossoms into a great QB.  I doubt it, though.  He’s not mobile enough to  be a star in the college game.  However, if there ever was a year for him, this is it.  He needs time to throw, and this is supposedly one of the best line’s Pitt’s seen in a while.  Sunseri is a wild card because he hasn’t played a down, and hasn’t really competed for a starting job yet.  Stull is the known entity.  Sorta.  He had a terrible second half to the season (which most Pitt fans remember and why this is even an issue).  But what most people fail to remember is that Stull had a concussion against Rutgers.  I noticed a drop in production after that.  Maybe a summer to (literally) clear his head will do him good.  Also, a change of system might help him as well.  Matt Cavanaugh’s offense was basically put the ball in Shady’s hands or wing it to Baldwin.  That meant most of Stull’s throws were screen passes or 40 yard bombs.  Well, Stull didn’t have much of an arm, so the over the top plays didn’t work so well unless Baldwin outran his opponent by so much he had time to run under the ball (which happened).  He also just couldn’t make a screen pass to save his life.  I have no idea why.  But he was pretty good on the few routes over the middle he threw.  His strength is definitely his decision making.  Frank Cignetti Jr. said he will open up the offense a little more.  That could mean asking Stull to make more passes that fit his skill set.  Just food for thought.

The other main concern is special teams.  We have to replace a kicker, a punter and a long snapper.  The long snapper is someone who no one will know once he starts playing, so why start now?  I know how important that job is (just ask the Steelers), but I think as long as you do it every day and with the same holder, you’ll be fine.  It’s a consistency issue.  I’m not worried.  The punter seems to be decided: Dan Hutchins.  The kicker will either be him or Kevin Harper.  Not sure about Hutchins’ kicking pedigree, but Harper was recruited as a kicker and had some impressive boots in high school.  We’ll have to just see if he can handle the pressure of NCAA football.

Pitt’s #1

Pitt was ranked as #1 in the Big East by the media.  Most people reacted to this with laughter.  Which I’m a little insulted by.  What’s wrong with us being #1?  We have some issues (see above), but we also have one of the best defenses in the country last year mostly in tact.  I don’t get it.  But I digress.  If you really want to laugh, you’re not looking at the total picture.  The first 5 teams were separated by only 35 points.  #6 was 52 points behind #5.  The #3 team had just as many first place votes as #1.  The voters are clearly telling us there’s 5 teams that could win and Pitt is one of them.  But, unfortunately, most people were too lazy to look at any number besides the one to the left of the team.

So that’s about it for Pitt about now.  I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to the first game.

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