Wow. There really wasn’t much on the line today (just some minor seeding issues that really don’t matter too much), but that was the definition of a statement game. Sam Young introduced himself as another weapon in our arsenal. Teams now have to play Pitt worrying about how to stop Blair AND Young from single handedly killing them. Thabeet had a good first half thanks to some good coaching by Calhoun (I know. It pains me to type that). They forced a lot of switching so that Thabeet was matched with Biggs instead of Blair, and he just abused Tyrell. But, in the second half, we went back to playing him physically. That’s obviously his achilles heel. I couldn’t be happier right now. We’re cheering for a very dangerous team that most squads don’t want to see appear on their schedule. That’s all any fan can hope for. Enjoy it.
Tag Archives: UConn
So after a great win last night, unfortunately one of the top stories was Jim Calhoun crying to the media about the officiating:
(Blair’s) a great, great basketball player. Terrific player, a great warrior. When he’s allowed to roam the post like that and use his physicality in the post, he’s absolutely wonderful. He’s a nightmare for every single coach. I’m sure in a couple of years, if he’s smart by staying around, he’ll be a great pro because you’re allowed to do that in the NBA.
The NBA is more physical than the Big East Conference? Wow. That’s news to me. But I guess he’s a coach and I’m a fan so he’s supposed to know better. Oh, and the other gem:
The game was played different than any other game we’ve played. … [The media has] got to come up the conclusions. I can’t. I’d like to, but I can’t.
So…….in other words: I can’t complain about officiating, but would you guys mind making a big deal out of this for me? You can just see it in the picture above. I think he’s trying to give one of those pouty faces that girls are really good at. I wonder if one of his granddaughters taught him that one.
I’m going to start with a disclaimer, though. Anyone with half a brain knows what Calhoun was doing there. He’s politicking real early for the March 7th game in Pittsburgh. So I realize that there’s not much of story here, but I’m going to blast Calhoun here anyway just because he’s acting like a sore loser. He’s made his living at physical basketball and he knows it. But he also knows that Pitt is at a more severe disadvantage in closely called games, so he’s going to make this an issue going into the next meeting so the refs will have to watch their step. I was impressed, though. He managed to get a point across multiple times without actually coming out and saying he didn’t like the refs. He absolutely toed the line sometimes where I thought the next word would get him a fine, but he always stopped short. I swear, whether it’s with the press or politicking the refs during a game, no one plays the game outside the game better than Calhoun.
But back to the original point: were the refs biased? Well, look at the box score. 18 fouls for Pitt, 19 for UConn. Both teams had a star foul out (Thabeet and Young). Seems pretty even to me. Just watching the game, there might have been a period of 5 minutes to start the second half where the refs lost some consistency and started calling some ticky tack stuff. But that was on both teams. There was never a period where one team was getting all the calls. The only argument UConn really has is that they didn’t like the style. Here’s coach C again just for kicks:
I still maintain that if it’s going to be called that way, let us know before. Let us know that the flow of the game’s going to be like that. That’s all.
No, Jim. One of the learned skills that all the greats have it the ability to feel for how the game is being called without being told. They pay attention to what’s being called and what they can get away with and they tailor their game to it. DeJuan isn’t there yet. This game was called to his style, but others haven’t (think Louisville and Villanova), and he hasn’t felt the different flow to the calls and reacted. And I’ve called him out for in on this very blog. So I feel perfectly fine saying this and not feeling like a homer: Pitt won fair and square so you should quit complaining. As I mentioned, the refs were consistent for the most part. They called blocks consistently. They let anything go on rebounds (including bodyslams). Pitt reacted to that (or just played a game that meshed with it as dumb luck) and UConn didn’t. End of story.
Wow. Just wow. DeJuan Blair just ate Hasheem Thabeet’s lunch tonight. It makes me a little worried for the return trip, though. Thabeet will be looking for some revenge. He just lost some draft stock, and the only way to get it back will be to prove this game was a fluke next time he meets Blair. I heard some complaining about the bench on the post game radio show. Man, Pittsburgers love to complain. The bench didn’t produce because they didn’t have to. If Blair and Young are going to take over a game and win it for you, why not get out of their way and let them do that? This was about as quality a win as you get and it was on the road. That’s huge for the tournament selection committee. I think if we take care of business the next three games, we can pencil ourselves in for a #1 or #2 seed in the tourney regardless of how we do against Marquette and UConn. I can’t wait for March 7th to get here. The Pete is going to be rocking.
Maryland @ Duke (Noon Saturday-ESPN)
Pretty lame slate of games this weekend. But there are a few interesting matchups. Maryland/Duke is always a good rivalry (or not depending on who you ask) game. It’s always entertaining to say the least. Both teams can play awfully fast when they want to. Coach K is famous for his matchup zone defense which always limits Maryland’s penetration. But Maryland has nipped the Dukies before through the transition game. If this game turns into a track meet, Duke’s in trouble. If Duke can slow the tempo down to about 100 miles/hour (down from the speed of light that the Terps usually prefer), then they win. Either way, this should be a high scoring game with a lot of pretty transition layups that make the majority of people say ‘ooooh’ and make people that know the game of basketball say ‘why didn’t the defense get back in transition?’
Player to watch: Gerald Henderson-Duke
I like the heady senior with the quick hands on defense to make some plays. I think he could cause some turnovers and get in the way of Maryland’s run and gun a little bit. Expect him to score a few points, but make a huge impact in the steals column.
Prediction: This isn’t Maryland’s greatest team in recent memory, and I don’t think they can handle Duke. Duke wins by about 15-20: 80 something to 60 something.
UConn @ Notre Dame (7pm Saturday-ESPN)
The Leprechaun Legion will be in full voice as college gameday is in the house (and being stupid for a chance to be on TV is a vital part of the college experience). I think a lot will be made of the Hasheem Thabeet vs. Luke Harangody matchup, and rightfully so. When two of the best players in the conference match up against each other, its a big deal. I’m going to give the edge to Harangody on this one. I think Thabeet is an excellent shot blocker, but he’s not the best at altering shots. Harangody has some of the best post moves in the big east and I’m ready to pencil him in for 15 points right now. However, the frontcourt matchup is a huge strength for UConn. I think UConn’s guards drive all day on the Domer defense, and run away with this one.
Player to watch: Jerome Dyson-UConn
If Dyson plays his game and goes right at the ND defense, he will get some points and may even get some fouls on Harangody as a bonus. That’s when you know it’ll be a really long day for the Irish.
Prediction: As long as Thabeet can hang with Harangody on the boards, I like the Huskies a lot in this one.
Pitt @ West Virginia (4pm Sunday-ESPN Regional)
This one’s going to be another game where the gym’ll be rocking. Not only is the hated Pitt coming to town, but they’re bringing a top 5 ranking with them. WVU’s been looking for respect, and they got some from Georgetown, but a win against Pitt would really put them on the map. I was very impressed by the way WVU played against the Hoyas. They rebounded extremely well. They drove the lane hard and often. That’s a good formula for beating Pitt if they can keep it up. Defensively, they like to try to deny the inside. So the game plan for Pitt might be to launch 3’s and let Blair go for rebounds to try and get the Mountaineers to extend a little bit defensively. I think the good thing in this game is that WVU has struggled to score against physical defenses, and that is Pitt in a nutshell.
Player to watch: Sam Young-Pitt
I mentioned before that Pitt may launch 3’s and go after the rebound. However, if Young can start driving the lane and drawing fouls (maybe look for Jermaine Dixon to do this too), it could be another way to score. That would make things a lot easier for Pitt.
Prediction: I don’t like this matchup for Pitt at all. Especially with the hostile crowd. But I’m a homer who can’t pick against his teams. Especially when they play WVU.