Big East Hoops

Archive for the 'Pittsburgh' category

Efficient Talent

March 9, 2009 4:12 pm by Dan'l B

Imagine that you are constructing an ideal college basketball team. How much would you change from this description:

Start with a big who dominates the glass at both ends of floor, capably attacks the rim when he gets the ball on offense, rarely turns it over, commits few fouls, clogs the paint, and deflects or intercepts anything within arms length. Add a point guard capable of leading the nation in assists per turnover because of his superior handle and vision. And then add a wing with 3-point range who always can create his own shot, either by creating space for that jumper or blowing by his defender.

Say hello to the 2009 Pittsburgh Panthers. I find this edition of the Panthers remarkably fascinating because of the efficient use of talent here. Consider how little the skills of the Big Three overlap. None of the three have any business whatsoever replicating what their two teammates do. With so little overlap, all three players’ contributions do not take anything away from the others.

But it’s a blessing and a curse. When Sam Young is not on the floor, Pitt can struggle to score. Without DeJaun Blair, the paint suddenly opens up at both ends. And without Levance Fields running the show, the half-court offense suffers.

I like Pitt against anyone if all three generally stay on the floor. It makes Field’s “injury” something to keep an eye on. Blair and Young must avoid foul trouble. Even with those worries, I’d put this in the “good problem to have” category.

Pitt proves Superiority Over UConn

March 8, 2009 8:45 am by Coach O

Some thoughts on the 2nd meeting between UConn and Pitt yesterday.

1) Pitt is the better team. Hands down. Pitt beat UConn in every aspect of the game each time. Pitt is more athletic (Sam Young), more talented (Young and Blair), and much much tougher than the Huskies. In each of their meetings this year the final score was much closer than the game itself.

2) Pitt has two POY candidates, UConn none. Young and Blair are bona fide candidates for the best player honor. Calhoun has to stop making excuses for why Thabeet didn’t dominate a game. He’s just not as good as those Pitt players.

3) Dixon has outcoached Calhoun both games. C’mon…. Jim really doesn’t think that Jeff Adrien can cover Sam Young, does he? The matchups here favor Pitt at almost every position, but the only Husky with enough athletic ability to guard Young is Robinson.

4) If Levance Fields was really hurt, he has to be related to Superman. A player who supposedly was on crutches the day before the game is not physically able to play 37 minutes as he did yesterday. Pitt doesn’t need  this type of trickery to beat UConn. This is the only negative I saw in yesterday’s game.

Now…. about UConn….. Please bring back the hard nosed Husky player that Calhoun developed during his early stay in Storrs. Teams, and players tend to mirror their coach. As Calhoun has become a celebrity he has gone soft. Players are now recruited with the promise of an NBA career. And as Calhoun has grown too important to watch over his players academic progress and behavior during free time, his players have shown the lack of desire to get their uniform messed by hard work.

We watched Rudy Gay choose to protect his draft status rather than carry his team to success in the NCAA tourney. Now we have the coach spending more time promoting his center for post-UConn accolades than demanding hard work out of team. Oh, yeah, they have some awesome talent. But Pitt showed yesterday that hard work and team concept will beat a group of all-stars intent on getting a big contract.

Rewatch yesterday’s game. Watch each team in half court offense. Watch each team in half court defense. I rest my case.

The Big Game

March 7, 2009 12:45 am by donald

This is a late post. By the time most of you are reading this, the Pittsburgh-UConn game will likely be over. But I want to put down some of my thoughts and predictions about the game before it happens, just so I can “I told you so”:

  • Sam Young will be large. Again: My prediction was right last time, and I stand by it this time. UConn has nobody to match up with Sam Young. The only person who might be able to shut him down is Stanley Robinson. Keep an eye on him during the game.
  • DeJuan Blair won’t have a big game: Don’t get me wrong. He is, without a doubt, a better player than Hasheem Thabeet. But this time, expect Calhoun to double down on Blair. He realizes that Thabeet can’t handle him on his own. But Thabeet will have to at least stand his ground more this time around, so that the double team has time to come over.
  • The game will be largely decided by Pitt’s shooting: With the doubling-down on Blair and emphasis on trying to contain Sam Young, there will be plenty of open shots. If Pittsburgh hits them, the game will be a blow out.
  • AJ Price will have a big game: Maybe we should start calling him Big Game AJ. He reminds me a bit of Mike Bibby in the famed Sacramento Kings-Los Angeles Lakers playoff battle. Bibby was the only one on that team with the balls to say “Get on my back.” AJ Price has that same swagger.
  • Kemba Walker: big unknown: Don’t be surprised if he plays a large role in this game.

I will be live-twittering the game over at http://twitter.com/bigeasthoops. This is the game of the season, and if you’re not pumped up, you’re probably some weenie ACC fan.

Lone Pitt/UConn prediction: Sam Young will be huge

February 16, 2009 2:06 pm by donald

I’ll only make one prediction for tonight’s enormous game between Pitt and UConn: Sam Young will be huge.

I have no clue about anything else, except that it’ll be a great game to watch.

Experience

February 14, 2009 4:19 pm by Dan'l B

Does experience matter in the NCAA tournament? This is the third year that Ken Pomeroy has published weighted average experience. It’s still too early to count on any trends, but here’s a quick look at the top seeds from the last two tournaments (NCAA rank, school, tournament seed, experience, tournament finish):

2008

  • ( 50) Kansas [1], 2.10 years: CHAMPION
  • (134) Georgetown [2], 1.78: 2nd round 70-74 Davidson [10]
  • (155) Tennessee [2], 1.74: Sweet Sixteen 60-79 Louisville [3]
  • (197) Memphis [1], 1.61: Championship 68-75 Kansas [1] (OT)
  • (205) UNC [1], 1.58: Final Four 66-84 Kansas [1]
  • (229) UCLA [1], 1.51: Final Four 63-78 Memphis [1]
  • (295) Duke [2], 1.22: 2nd round 67-73 WVU [7]
  • (300) Texas [2], 1.19: regional final 67-85 Memphis [1]

2007

  • ( 94) Wisconsin [2], 2.00: 2nd round 68-74 UNLV [7]
  • (103) Florida [1], 1.97: CHAMPION
  • (272) Georgetown [2], 1.35: Final Four 60-67 Ohio St. [1]
  • (276) Ohio St. [1], 1.33: Championship 75-84 Florida [1]
  • (287) Memphis [2], 1.27: regional final 76-92 Ohio St. [1]
  • (294) UCLA [2], 1.21: Final Four 66-76 Florida [1]
  • (309) Kansas [1], 1.11: regional final 55-68 UCLA [2]
  • (329) UNC [1], 0.87: regional final 84-96 Georgetown [2] (OT)

Not enough data yet, and there aren’t certain patterns. My observations:

  • The last two champions were experienced #1 seeds, the most experienced in fact. I think there’s something to that.
  • Two of the three upsets were experienced #2 seeds, not that such teams are prone to early exits; it refutes the idea that experience makes you upset-resistant.
  • There were 10 games played between #1 and #2 seeds in these two tournaments. The more experienced teams were 9-1 in such games. Take that with a grain of salt.

It’s worth looking at the top contenders this year and their experience levels. Here’s Joe Lunardi’s current #1, #2, and #3 seeds, which should capture nearly all of the #1 and #2 seeds in a month:

  • ( 8 ) Marquette [3], 2.47
  • ( 31) UConn [1], 2.20
  • ( 78) UNC [1], 1.97
  • (108) Pittsburgh [1], 1.88
  • (115) Memphis [3], 1.85
  • (146) Oklahoma [1], 1.75
  • (148) Duke [2], 1.74
  • (159) Louisville [2], 1.70
  • (181) Clemson [3], 1.63
  • (189) Michigan St. [2], 1.61
  • (274) Wake Forest [2], 1.31
  • (336) Kansas [3], 0.84

Compared to the last couple years when dominant freshman carried several teams to top seeds, most contenders are very experienced. I love seeing several Big East schools at the top.

Don’t hate me for my lists.