Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pitt's Satellite Sites Are Back

Pitt has again created satellite sites for a few of its players.  This year, Dion Lewis, Greg Romeus, and Jonathan Baldwin got the honors.  The pages are pretty extensive with photos, videos, stats, etc.

In past years, Lesean McCoy, Scott McKillop, and Andy Lee have had sites.

Pitt also has its special football-only satellite site again this year (

Running Back U?

With the recent commitment of running back Jameel Poteat, it got me thinking about Pitt's recent success with running backs.  Lots of schools can stake a claim to being called "Running Back U" all-time.  Pitt has two all-time NFL greats with Tony Dorsett and Curtis Martin, but is still behind schools like USC.  Here's a reasonable list from a year ago, before the success of Dion Lewis.  Still, I think Pitt is a little low.

But how about currently?

With Lesean McCoy and Dion Lewis over the past two seasons, Pitt has had one of the most productive running games in the country over that span.  And don't forget about Shady's backup, Larod Stephens-Howling. It's hard to imagine many schools having a backup capable of rushing for 220+ yards, as LSH once did against Syracuse.  Stephens-Howling is in the NFL and if Dion Lewis bolts for the pros either after this season or next as expected, Pitt will have its three starting running backs all in the pros.

No one can identify just how good Poteat will be, but Lewis' current backup Ray Graham has shown glimpses of being very good.

And if you really want to get technical, you can count Rashad Jennings, who transferred to Liberty and ended up with three straight 1,000 yard seasons (including a 1,500+ season as a senior).  Liberty may only be a I-AA school, but Jennings proved he's a talented back as he's in the NFL now as well.

Go back a few years to 2000 and you've got Kevan Barlow, who after that season was an NFL Draft Pick as well and had a fairly long career.

Over the past decade, Pitt might be it for running backs.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Terrell Chestnut Commits To Pitt

Consensus four-star recruit, QB/DB Terrell Chestnut, has committed to Pitt.  To save me the time of breaking down the story again, check out my post over at SB Nation Pittsburgh on the situation.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Poteat Version 2.0

So there's the news out there today about Jameel Poteat coming into the fold, verballing to Pitt.  The Bishop McDevitt pipeline is alive and well and it's always nice to get over on USC....twice:
Five years ago, the USC Trojans went all-out to land a premier tailback talent out of Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, PA. And though they failed to sign former Pitt Panther and current Philadelphia Eagle LeSean McCoy in the class of 2006, that attempt could pay off in a big way with class of 2011 standout Jameel Poteat.
Maybe next time, there, cheaters.  I've got to say it's great news, but I'm mildly shocked by the exuberance of Pitt fans hailing this as the second coming of Tony Dorsett.  Or far worse than that - those claiming this suddenly vaults Pitt amongst the elite.

Whoa there, slow down.

Poteat is good to be sure.  I'll even call him a great recruit.  There have been mentions out there that he had over 40 offers...though I'm sure he never came close to really considering that many schools.  Those offers came from schools such as Florida, USC, Notre Dame, and Tennessee.  He's rated as a four-star recruit by both Rivals and Scout and both sites rate him as the #15 running back in the country.

On top of all this, the underlying theme is that Dave Wannstedt continues to not only pursue big recruits, but he's getting some of them.  Even the group of his greatest detractors (of which I've been a card-carrying member at times in the past) cannot dispute his ability to recruit at a level significantly above Pitt's actual success on the field.

That said.

I'm not convinced that Pitt fans can point to this commit and proclaim themselves as getting close to moving in amongst the elite.  Poteat is a fine player, but he's not even a five-star recruit by most (if not all) accounts.  This is far from a monumental signing by any means.

Need further proof that Pitt has a lot of work to do?  All you need to do is check out this list of Scout's most recent recruiting rankings.  Pitt checks in at #20 after the Poteat signing.  That's pretty good and when it's all said and done, this could even be a top 10-15 class.  But that's not the important part.  Check out the number of five-star recruits and top 100 recruits.  Pitt has zero and one respectively.  Compare that to some of the top schools: Texas (10/7), Ohio State (5/2), and LSU and USC (4/2 each).  For the work that Pitt has done in moving up the food chain, they're a distant 20 behind some of those top 10 schools.

This chart is just one site's opinion, but it's easy to see that there's quite a disparity between some of the elite schools and Pitt.

That's not to say that Pitt isn't making progress - they're taking remarkably large steps compared to the Walt Harris era.  The good news for Pitt fans is that while programs aren't built overnight, the school is doing everything it possibly can to speed up its return to prominence.  Pitt is not going to land five-star prospects in bunches after a couple of good seasons.  It's going to take a while, but the school is on its way. 

So for that I tip my hat to Wannstedt.  However, for Pitt to be considered a serious player, landing guys like Poteat will need to become a regularity - not a special occasion.

Jabaal Sheard Hearing Delayed

The hearing for Jabaal Sheard, scheduled for today, has been postponed until next Wednesday.  There are a few reports out there right now.

KDKA-TV has been updating the story all day and they are reporting something less than ideal for Sheard:
Today in court, Sheard reportedly wanted to plea to a lesser charge. He also agreed to pay the victim's medical bills, totaling about $1,000.
However, the victim would not accept either and now wants the case to proceed.
Meanwhile, the Post-Gazette is reporting that Sheard's lawyer says the extra time is needed to determine the exact amount owed to the victim.  Either way, it sounds like more money to me.

With training camp coming up around the corner, I'm sure Sheard and Pitt are anxious to put this behind them and determine an appropriate punishment.  At this point, it's looking more and more like a quick fix may be out of the question.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jonathan Baldwin Is No Larry Fitzgerald

Jonathan Baldwin's gotten a lot of hype during the offseason.  While he's one of the best receivers in college football, I'm not necessarily ready to compare him to Fitz:
"I was at that game scouting Stull and [tight end Dorin] Dickerson," said one scout in attendance. "I knew who Baldwin was, but I had never seen him play in person. That drive was impressive, and it really showed how dominant he could be on the big stage. But, that catch he made in the end zone, against a pretty good defender, brought back memories of Larry Fitzgerald."
Fitz was too special of a player. I'll have to see a lot more out of Baldwin before I annoint him to anywhere near that level.  As great as JB has been, let's keep in mind his career high for yards came last season - 'only' 57 catches for 1,111 yards.  That, of course, is a pretty good year.  But it's not Heisman-worthy as Fitz' best season was - 92 for 1,672.

And as I've pointed out before, Baldwin had several games where he disappeared last year:

- 1 catch for 17 yards vs. Rutgers
- 1 catch for 5 yards vs. Syracuse
- 4 catches for 44 yards vs. Buffalo

That won't get it done if you're trying to slide next to the greatest wideout in school history.

Sticking with Baldwin but moving onto...fantasy college football?  My thoughts on that are another issue for another time, but here's one guy who isn't sold on Baldwin putting up big numbers:

Let someone else reach for...
Jonathan Baldwin. Sure he's one of the more physically gifted wide receivers in the country, but I'm not sold on the Panther offense in 2010. Only two offensive linemen return, Tino Sunseri has some big shoes to fill, and this will remain a run-first and run-second offense. I'm not telling you to avoid Baldwin, just that there are reasons to doubt that he'll match his 57-1111-8 from 2009.
I think the new line and QB will hurt Baldwin, but I think the running game will be enough of a threat to warrant a lot of looks his way.  So with that said, I expect him to improve upon his numbers from last season.

Stop The Madness

This time of year is admittedly slow.  There's always the usual Heisman hype in the Summer and there's been some pushes to find the next Ndamukong Su. thinks Greg Romeus may be said person:
Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh: With the Panthers projected to be a force in the Big East, look for the senior to improve on his numbers from last season. Romeus racked up a team-high eight sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss. The first-team All-Big East performer and Hendricks finalist just might be able to garner some votes if the Panthers are near the Top 15 most of the year. Keep an eye on how Romeus does in the team's biggest games -- at Utah (Sept. 6), Miami (Sept. 23), West Virginia (Nov. 26) and at Cincinnati (Dec. 4). isn't the only one out there looking for defensive players who can make a push for the award.  According to the Detroit Free Press, Sports Illustrated is also in search of some and apparently mentions Romeus:

The other seven defensive players SI mentioned for the Heisman were Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Jared Crick (Nebraska), Von Miller (Texas A&M), Greg Romeus (Pittsburgh), Patrick Peterson (Louisiana State), Rahim Moore (UCLA) and Greg Reid (Florida State).
Now Romeus, a 2010 "Lott watch list" candidate, will attempt to cap off a stellar Panther career as he matriculates his way to the NFL.
And perhaps thrust himself into the Heisman conversation along the way.
Frankly, I don't see it. First, for any Pitt player to be in contention for the award, the team would need to have a pretty good year. If they do, the team is going to need an offensive star and it's much more likely a candidate like Dion Lewis or even Jonathan Baldwin would be pushed.  Su was a rare case on a team that didn't have an offensive star large enough to chase the Heisman.

Continuing with Su...It's true that he did finish fourth in the voting last year.  But fourth is a long way from first.  Further, he was a distant fourth, despite being one of the most impressive defensive players I've watched in recent memory.

If a defensive player does happen to make it to New York this season, I don't think it will be Romeus.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Notebook 7/26

Jonathan Baldwin may be the best wideout in the Big East, but are Pitt's receivers the best in the conference:

When the Panthers are not handing off to speedster running back Dion Lewis, they will be passing to the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Jon Baldwin at wide receiver. Baldwin leads a unit that has potential, but lacks real experience. Baldwin is a genuine threat downfield, and defenses doubling him will take some of the pressure off the new guys. Last year Baldwin averaged almost twenty yards per catch. Two new guys on campus are expected to make an immediate impact catching the ball for Pitt. Drew Carswell and Salath Williams should be two of the best freshmen receivers in the nation.
Best freshmen receivers in the nation? I don't know about that. Isn't it a bit much to say two of the nation's best will land on the same team...espeially when we're talking about freshmen? And I was surprised to not see any mention of Todd Thomas who I don't expect to redshirt.

Meanwhile, looking ahead to the season,'s Brian Bennett pulls out what he believes is Pitt's key stretch:
Key stretch: at Connecticut (Nov. 11), at South Florida (Nov. 20), West Virginia (Nov. 26), at Cincinnati (Dec. 4). 
Considering that span is more than half of the Big East season, I'll narrow it down a bit.  For Pitt, it will come down to the two final games - vs. West Virginia and at Cincinnati.  The Panthers start off the conference season fairly lightly and even a loss to UCONN or South Florida alone won't be enough to derail their championship hopes.  However, wins against their final two opponents might be needed.

More Big Ten talk?  Eh, I'm not going there.  I will say this, though.  I'm mildly disappointed that there hasn't been more talk about Big East expansion lately.  That's not to say the conference is done discussing the possibility.  I'm sure it's just happening between closed doors.  Still, I hope the Big East is aggressively coming up with options because this expansion thing ain't going away in the long run.

NBE has a pretty short look at the upcoming Big East women's basketball season and doesn't see big things for Pitt.

And I normally don't discuss recruiting misses, but here's a mention on one only because the kid was local.  He chose Virginia over several schools including Pitt.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Football News and Notes

To start, I've seen the report out there about Greg Romeus possibly attending the famed Frank Gore party. I've waited on commenting on it because it seems as if it's a while away before any actual news breaks on it.  It's not confirmed that he was there, and it's certainly not confirmed that the party was paid for by agents or what kind of 'perks' there may have been. For now, I don't think it warrants much other than a brief mention.  We'll see.

But speaking about Romeus, he was named to the AFCA / All-State Good Works Team watch list. From the 100+ nominees, 22 will be selected (11 Division I-A and 11 from other divisions).  Players will be selected based on community work and academics.

Yes, seriously, there's a watch list for this.

And speaking of parties, Tino Sunseri, Joe Trebitz, and Hubie Graham visited one in NE Pennsylvania.  Okay, well, it wasn't a party - just a gathering at a bar.  Yes, news in Scranton is slow.

Greentree Basketball Summer League Wraps Up

With the Greentree Basketball Summer League wrapping up this past week, I thought it was a good time to take a look back.  During the mid-point of the season, I took a look at some statistics that were out there courtesy of Rivals and Scout.  Before I provide some year-end stats, I'll again throw out the same disclaimer.  These numbers were gathered by both sites.  I've used Rivals' numbers and filled in blanks with Scout's.  However, be aware that the two sites even differed on stats for the same games.  So everything isn't completely accurate.  That said, I've filled these in the best I could and this is what I came up with:

Gil Brown - 23.6 ppg
J.J. Richardson - 10.8 ppg / 8.6 rpg
Ashton Gibbs - 22.5 ppg
J.J. Moore - 17 ppg / 5.4 rpg
Travon Woodall - 16.1 ppg / 5.0 apg
Cameron Wright - 10.9 ppg
Brad Wanamaker - 15.6 ppg / 5.7 rpg
Nasir Robinson - 11.9 ppg / 4.9 rpg (these may be incomplete)
Gary McGhee - 17.4 ppg / 10.9 rpg
Dante Taylor - 16.7 ppg / 10.9 rpg
Lamar Patterson - 15.1 ppg
Talib Zanna - 13.5 ppg / 10.8 rpg

Ashton Gibbs took home league MVP honors and he joined McGhee, Brown, and Richardson on the first team. Patterson, Moore, and Zanna landed on the second team.

You may be thinking the same thing I am - how in the heck did Taylor not land on the first or second team?  Beats me.  I'm sure they want to try to spread out the school and maybe even position representation around a bit, but I'm surprised they couldn't find a spot for him over even Zanna or Patterson.  But as I said, these numbers are almost assuredly not completely accurate, so who knows.

I'm really excited to see what Jamie Dixon does with J.J. Moore this year.  Pitt is a veteran team this season and has lots of guys that could see minutes.  But based on his summer league performance, it looks like it may be difficult to redshirt him...especially because he's a scorer - and Pitt sorely needs some of those at various points in the season.

DeJuan Blair And The NBA Return To Pittsburgh

Former Pitt standout DeJuan Blair will return to The Pete when the San Antonio Spurs take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in an NBA preseason game. I'm not sure, but I think I've heard something about the guy pictured not being there for some reason. I've gone to these games several times.  They usually are missing some stars due to guys taking it easy, but are always fairly entertaining.  Good seats can also be had if you get in early enough and it's a good chance to see the NBA up close.

The date/time has not yet been announced, but should be known next month.  The game will take place in October during the NBA's preseason.

And speaking of Blair, Ray Mernagh of NBE has discovered a disturbing music video featuring the former Panther. Not disturbing because it's rap or it's a tribute to deceased friends, but disturbing because he is singing with that stupid electronic voice sounding thing, which is a new trend in music.  Not bad DB, but don't quit your day job.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Big East Roundtable Parts III and IV

Pico over at The East Coast Bias has put up the final two installments of the Big East roundtable.  Part III looks at 2011 recruiting and Part IV discusses the current state of the Big East.

Big shout out and thanks to Pico for putting these together.  Reaching out to so many blogs and coordinating everything is no small task.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ireland Getting Ready For Pitt

The hype over in Ireland seems to be spreading.  Apparently there's something called a British Basketball League.  No, really.  Seriously.

Anyway, the capital city and host of a tournament the Panthers will play in, is hoping Pitt's appearance the tournament will help land a pro team:
The British Basketball League could have a franchise in Belfast by the year 2012, Ireland's most-capped international player has said.

Gareth Maguire made the statement at the launch of the Belfast Basketball Classic, a four-team tournament featuring the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, Australian NBL team the Melbourne Tigers, as well as the national sides of England and Scotland.
Maguire told the BBC: "This tournament is a stepping stone towards the [BBL] franchise."
It is proof we can run events like these. Wouldn't it be a fantastic story to launch this team at the Olympics in September 2012? That is what our aim is."
Meanwhile, this paragon of journalistic virtue, claims 'Pittsburg University' has quite the following back here in the states:
The Panthers, Pittsburg University's team, are one of the biggest names in American basketball, while the Tigers -- owned by former Belfast man Seamus McPeake -- are one of the top outfits in the Australian NBL. Both are watched regularly by crowds of 20,000.
Seriously?  You're going to roll with Pittsburg University?  Can't we at least get the name correct?  And I wasn't aware that the Pete added about 7,500 seats to its venue. Regularly watched by 20,000 people?

Look, I certainly have made my share of mistakes in this blog.  I do this in my spare time and don't get everything right.  But man, come on.

Seriously, though.  I've been downplaying the whole trip to Ireland trip a bit.  But it's got to be kind of exciting for basketball fans to see.  Now the question comes - will Pitt lose any games?  Hmmm...

News and Notes 7/22

Pitt comes in at #5 in Dennis Dodd's top five schools for football and basketball. This is a slight surprise to me - not that they don't belong there, but Pitt never seems to get the credit they deserve for having a top basketball and football program. It's not yet been sustained as they had some down football seasons this decade, but the school's teams have had quite a bit of success.  The best part, though, is that it doesn't look like it's slowing down anytime soon.  Both programs have recruited extraordinarily well and could be successful for quite a while.

My bets for the others? If we're talking about the past 2-3 years, let's go with Texas, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Florida not in that order. Pitt fans might not be happy with it, but you could also make the case for WVU even instead of the Panthers.  But his article seems to indicate Pitt made it instead of WVU.

I normally don't mention Bleacher Report too much on here, but a writer for the site believes that Mark Myers can seriously contend for the backup QB job.  I don't see how that's even a remote possibility - especially in a year when they are starting a new quarterback.  No way Wannstedt doesn't use Pat Bostick as his safety net if Sunseri struggles.

Another gambling site predicts big things for the Panthers, calling them a darkhorse to win the whole shootin' match.

And Panther baseball coach Joe Jordana wins the ABCA East Region Coach of the Year Award.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Big East Roundtable Part II

Part II of the Big East Roundtable run by The East Coast Bias is now up - in this section, myself and some other bloggers look at 2010 recruits and their potential impacts around the conference.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Best Defensive Center

So I stumbled upon this Jamie Dixon Q&A from Scout.  There's the typical stuff in there - his thoughts on Pitt's upcoming trip to Ireland, practices, and the new version of the NCAA Tournament.  But buried near the bottom was this nugget, when asked how Gary McGhee and Dante Taylor were progressing:
“Gary, is easily the best center we’ve ever had, defensively. That’s half the game right there. That can’t be underestimated..."
Go ahead, let's hear it.  Let it all out.  Done laughing yet?  Well the fact is when you go through Pitt's roster of centers since Dixon or even Howland has been there, who was really a better defender?  I'm not the biggest McGhee supporter in the world and I think all this talk about him dominating the summer league has elevated him to a stauts that, frankly, I don't think he belongs in.  He's a fine center who has without question gotten better, but no superstar.

That said.

If you can get past the bobbles with the ball, the somewhat awkward-looking footwork, and the occasional misses from close-range, you'll find a competent and very sound defensive center.  And his ability to defend without fouling is amazing.  Consider this - he didn't foul out of a single game last year and reached four fouls only twice.  He averaged just over two fouls per game, but was physical enough to average almost two blocks a game.  How many starting centers can say that?  Plus, no other center in the Howland/Dixon era topped his 1.7 blocks per game that he achieved last season.

Here's the lineup of true starting centers in the Howland/Dixon era:

DeJuan Blair - Clearly the best of the past decade and a pretty good defender.  His rebounding ability was unbelievable, but as far as being a face up defender, I give McGhee the edge over him.  Blair's phsyical play sometimes led to foul trouble, which forced him to the bench. His shorter frame also allowed taller players to shoot over him.

Aaron Gray - I don't know if there's any other adjective to more adequately describe him than 'good.'  He was a solid Big East center, and improved greatly over his time.  But I think McGhee is a little quicker on his feet and better defensively than Gray was.

Toree Morris and Ontario Lett aren't even in the discussion.

Gary McGhee may not be Pitt's best center and may not play in the NBA as Blair and Gray currently are.  He also hasn't shown the ability to score or rebound as well as either yet.  But as a man-to-man defender, while at Pitt, he may be the best the school has seen in the past decade.

Big East Blogger Roundtable

It's been a while since I mentioned Pico and his outstanding East Coast Bias website, but he invited me to participate in another roundtable session with several other Big East bloggers.  In the basketball roundtable, we take a look at a variety of topics.  Part I is now up and we discuss personnel losses.

Be sure to stop by and take a look at my take for Pitt as well as that of other bloggers for their respective teams.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jabaal Sheard Does His Best Gilbert Brown Imitation

The only thing that may potentially derail Pitt's chances of having a great season is Pitt itself. Pitt does a fairly good job of staying out of trouble, but like any other school, problems do surface.

One such issue surfaced over the weekend when Jabaal Sheard was arrested and consequently suspended from team activities.

Of course the issue apparently happened after midnight. Say it with me - nothing good can come out of being in bars past midnight. There won't be a preliminary hearing until July 28th, so there likely won't be any kind of immediate decision (at least a good news type decision) anytime soon.

The good news, obviously, is that the season has not yet begun. But with camp coming up soon, it would be nice for him to get back to the team as quickly as possible. Facing Utah, Pitt doesn't exactly have a walkover opponent in its opener.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pitt Lands Running Back. Almost.

On Saturday, Paul Zeise of the Post-Gazette helped break the story of running back Breon Allen out of Warner Christian Academy in Daytona, Florida committing to Pitt. 

Rivals has him as a commit, but Scout says he is holding off on his commitment right now (need an Insider account).  They also previously had him committing (also need an Insider account), so sounds like a potential change of heart.

Allen is unranked by Rivals and Scout and judging by his offers, not highly sought after - at least not yet. His best offer outside of Pitt was Marshall.  Still, he's a two-way player who racked up over 1,300 rushing yards and had nine interceptions last season. 

Pretty impressive.

Clearing Basketball Links

“All the exposure and media attention, it really helped us get a feel (for) what it’s going to be when this season starts,” said swingman Gilbert Brown. “If they expect you to win, you have to exceed expectations. If they expect you to lose, you have to prove that you’re worthy.
“The expectation to win is (like) what we’ve had when we were No. 1 in the country.”
Before the season kicks off, however, Pitt has that much-discussed trip to Ireland first.  The freshman have been preparing by jumping right into things with summer practices, not backing down from the veterans:
According to some of the team's veterans, Wright and Moore didn't take long to get acclimated to the environment of Pitt's practices.
"From the first day, you could see that both freshmen were pretty physical themselves," senior guard Brad Wanamaker said. "Especially Cameron: he's a very physical two-guard. He's always tough on me."
One such practice, this Friday morning, was open to the media.  Not surprisingly, it was a little bit different than the closed-door sessions:
While Pitt practices are legendary for their intensity, this one was toned down as far as bodies -- and language -- flying.
"It wasn't as physical as we usually practice," senior guard Brad Wanamaker said, "when there's no one around."
Part of the reason the media was allowed in (I'm guessing) was because of Pitt's announced partnership with 93.7 FM The Fan that day.  The station broadcasted some shows directly from the facility and the hosts commented about the practice as it occurred.

Finally onto the pro ranks, DeJuan Blair will apparently get more time at power forward this season (video) for the Spurs.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fan Deal Confirmed

This morning, Pitt announced its new radio deal with 93.7 FM The Fan to broadcast football and men's basketball games.  This has been long reported by the Post-Gazette's Bob Smizik and the deal is finally confirmed.

Pitt has also confirmed via a subscriber email that the women's games will be heard on WJAS-AM.  Additionally, Dave Wannstedt and Jamie Dixon will have shows on 93.7 FM The Fan while Agnus Berenato will have a show on WJAS.

Dick Groat, Bill Hillgrove, and Curtis Aiken are all expected to return.

EDIT: Also, forgot to mention Bill Fralic (and I'm sure maybe a few others) - he should be back as well.  Also, on The Fan now, they're saying there should be a lot of ancilliary programming as well.

EDIT #2: For more analysis on the move, check out my recent article on SB Nation Pittsburgh.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tyrell Biggs Getting A Look

Things are slow...real slow.

So slow in fact that I've reverted to NBA Summer League games with the wonderful invention that is NBA TV.  Seriously, even if you're not an NBA fan, the quality of broadcasters and analysis is second to none.

Last night, Chris Webber basically went head-to-head with the Minnesota Timberwolves' GM during a broadcast for picking up Darko Milicic.  C-Dub really didn't appreciate being even mildly compared to Darko.  At all.  I've also learned that John Wall can really play and Hasheem Thabeet still can't.

In the nightcap of last night's games, I noticed some fellow by the name of Biggs on the Bulls roster.  A closer look revealed that it was in fact Pitt's very own power forward, Tyrell Biggs.  Tyrell looked oh so fashionable in his cotton tank top with shorts hiked up.  Fortunately for him, he's not the only player that wears those awful practice-type unis.  I can understand if that's what was worn before the games were ever televised, but if the league is spotlighting them on NBA TV (and even selling an online package where you can watch the games on your computer), they might want to outfit their players in apparel that doesn't look like it was from a $.99 bin at Gabriel's.

Just sayin'.

Anyway, I believe Biggs was a late addition to the team.  I didn't see him on their initial roster.  But he was a long-shot to even get a sniff at the team and averaging only 1.5 ppg and 1.5 rpg through two games getting 18 minutes a game likely won't help.  Still, good to see him in a camp.  There are some guys in the summer leagues pushing 30, so it's not too late for him to ever get into the league by any stretch.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dorin Dickerson Follows Byham's Lead

Former Pitt Tight End Dorin Dickerson has followed Nate Byham's lead and has signed a four-year deal with his team - the Houston Texans.

After a monster season, Dickerson slipped into the seventh round.  His deal is believed to be worth approximately $1.85 million over the length of the contract.

Like many rookies, Dickerson is expected to contribute first on special teams:

Kubiak expects Dickerson to contribute on special teams before cracking into the rotation at receiver.
"He's got to prove that he can help us out there. If he was a fifth receiver on game day or a sixth, you can suit six guys if they're all playing special teams. I think that's his number one priority, doing it for (special teams coach) Joe (Marciano) right now."
Dickerson by all accounts is doing okay so far.  Still, the speed of the game is what you usually hear first when rookies talk about the biggest hurdle - Dickerson is no different:

"It gets overwhelming when you're in the huddle and they say the play so fast," Dickerson said. "You've got to think a lot faster and react a lot faster."
For someone who's had to adjust so much, I have a hard time believing he won't make it in the NFL.

Pitt Again Reportedly Near Deal With 93.7 FM The Fan

Stop me if you've heard this one, but Pitt is again apparently near a deal to move its radio broadcast from Clear Channel to 93.7 FM The Fan.  Bob Smizik first reported this a while back and he's now reporting that after some stalled talks, the move appears back on.

Even though Pitt is already on an FM broadcast in Pittsburgh the move will benefit fans for a few reasons.  93.7 FM is a full-time sports talk station and there should be plenty of Pitt discussion for fans around the clock.  And because Pitt is the only broadcasting rights currently owned by the station, keeping the school happy will likely be a priority.  That probably means lots of Pitt discussion and maybe even some specialty programming such as extended pre- and post- game shows or Pitt-only shows.

Mallorie Winn Returns To Pitt

Former women's basketball player Mallorie Winn has accepted an assistant coaching gig with Agnus Berenato and the Panthers.

Winn averaged nearly 16 points per game during her junior season.  She was one of Pitt's best players in recent memory and a big part of their resurgence several years ago.  Her hiring now fills out Berenato's staff.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Baskeball Notes 7/13

The Panthers are excited and gearing up for their trip to Ireland.  J.J. Richardson sees big things for Pitt and credits the Summer League and this trip as reasons for his optimism:
 “Not many teams get the chance to have an organized practice during the summertime,” he said. “This is helping us get closer. Last year, we were all still getting used to each other because we were young. This year, with us in the summer league and going over to Ireland, we’re going to be real good.”
I think he's got a point.  Not only does the Greentree Summer League allow them to practice with some teammates, they're also going against other D-1 players.  Now, with the opportunity to go overseas and play others will give them some good game experience. 

Speaking of that Summer League, Ashton Gibbs led the way during Monday's games with 30 points / 7 rebounds / 6 assists.  Dante Taylor continued his strong play going for 19/13 and J.J. Moore keeps scoring (22).  Taylor's consistency has been pretty good.  He's got to be close to a 20/10 average during these games.  As of my last analysis in the beginning of July, he was at 15.5 and 8.5.

A few more quick hitters:

The NCAA Tournament format including the four newly added teams has been released.

Chris Dokish has a little more on New Zealand recruit Steven Adams.

And Chas over at Pitt Blather has some stuff on DeJuan Blair.

Football Notes 7/13

The Post-Gazette had a really interesting article up today talking about how Pitt is helping high school kids who they might not even be recruiting:

"We'd get 100 or 200 kids here [in camp] and, really, we might only be interested in four or five and maybe one we'd offer a scholarship," Wannstedt said. "That just didn't sit right with me. I thought we could make the experience better for the players and really make the camps something that could help more kids play college football.

"We can only take 15 to 25 kids every year but there are an awful lot of really good football players out there who we'd bring to our camps and I felt like we could do a better job to make the camps something that would be helpful to them and help them get a shot that maybe they wouldn't get otherwise."
That's how Wannstedt came up with the idea to start inviting college coaches from all different levels to come to the camps. This year's prospect camps -- which took place in four one-day sessions June 11, 12, 18 and 19 -- were the most attended of Wannstedt's tenure.
Here's a behind-the-scenes video of Pitt's new commercial that should be airing soon.

Bob Smizik has the scoop on the ACC's new deal with ESPN - it's more money than I thought and might stress the fact that maybe the Big East doesn't need an entire channel to itself after all.'s Brian Bennett hit Pitt pretty hard recently - here's a story on center Alex Karabin, who, as has been discussed before, is without a scholoarship:
Karabin is expected to make all the calls and anchor an O-line that was arguably the best in the Big East last year. And to do so while still paying his own tuition. He said earning a scholarship would be great "but that it's more important to win games."

Whether Pitt can win as many games as people expect this year may depend a lot on how their walk-on center performs. Karabin knows one thing: after all this time waiting for a shot to play, he's going to give his best effort.
"I definitely don't want to give it up now," he said. "I will lay it all out on the line to keep my job."
BB also talks about the Big East's home run hitters including Dion Lewis and Jonathan Baldwin and has a video breakdown of the Panthers.

Nate Byham Inks Deal

Former Pitt Tight End Nate Byham signed a four-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers.  The Niners drafted him in the sixth round of the NFL Draft this Spring.

Byham joins several Pitt Alumni out in San Francisco including last year's draft pick Scott McKillop, Andy Lee, and Shawntae Spencer, who's been offering some advice during the recent minicamp sessions:
As a proud University of Pittsburgh alum, Spencer was pleased to see another Panther drafted by the 49ers in consecutive seasons. Spencer approached rookie tight end Nate Byham in the locker room on Thursday to check in and offer advice. “He said it’s been tough and I told him, ‘Just keep swinging. Keep your head up and stay positive.’”
He's also been busy out there making charity visits.  The 49er website has some video up of their new signee.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Game Of The Year

Both Mark Schlabach and Brian Bennett over at are predicting Pitt Vs. Cincinnati as the Big East Game of the Year.  It's easy to point to this one on the schedule as the main event - especially because it's lined up for the final week of the season once again.

I'm not so sure I agree.

I would point to the Backyard Brawl as possibly the game to decide it all.  Cincinnati should have a strong year, but I'd look to the game they have November 13th AT West Virginia.  Cincinnati will have their hands full playing on the road, and with pretty manageable schedules playing some of the conference lightweights early, both teams could enter the game with no more than one loss.  The Bearcats should hope that it doesn't turn into a night game in Morgantown (time is currently TBA) or that could make it even harder to win.

Sure, you can argue that Pitt could just as easily slip up as well.  But the bottom line is that Pitt Vs. Cincinnati is no guarantee to be the conference's featured game.

Chris McKillop The Coach

Former Pitt player Chris McKillop isn't playing in the NFL, but he's taking his chances as a coach at Duquesne.  He took some cracks at professional football, but nothing worked out:
McKillop started for three years at Pitt and was invited to the New York Jets' rookie minicamp in May 2008. Later, he had tryouts with the Chicago Rush and Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League, but the league canceled its 2009 season.
I'm a little surprised he's apparently given up on the dream of playing professional at such a young age (25).  Especially since it seems he got a few looks by teams. 

The worst part is probably dealing with the man who is essentially going to be one of his bosses:
McKillop will work closely with defensive coordinator Dave Opfar, a former defensive lineman at Penn State. McKillop said Opfar showed a lot of faith in him during spring drills.
No job is perfect, I guess.  Opfar just took his job himself.

Just less than two years ago, he was still chasing the dream (must be an Insider to read).  But it's tougher to make it than most of us will ever know and if you really enjoy the game, you'll do anything you can to be a part of it.

Dion Lewis Named As A Preseason Favorite For Doak Walker Award

Pitt Associate AD EJ Borghetti has the news that the Sporting News has named Mark Ingram and Dion Lewis as its first two picks for the Doak Walker Award, presented to the nation's top running back.

Not a big surprise here as Lewis is the nation's top returning rusher and Ingram won the Heisman last year.  Still, Devine has been gaining some steam lately in preseason articles and could be a threat to Lewis in the Big East.  I wasn't able to find the news on their website, so I'm guessing this may have been (or is due to be) released in the print version.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Basketball Recruiting Stuff

Chris Dokish has what many of us have been waiting for - more information on recent commit, Steven Adams out of New Zealand.  For starters, his coach thinks he's still growing:
“He’s about 6′10″, 6′11″, and about 225 or 230 pounds,” says Kenny McFadden, Adams’ coach in Wellington, as well as the Development Officer of basketball in the country. But I think he’s going to eventually be over 7′0″ feet. He’s only sixteen.”
You might ask how Jamie Dixon found him all the way in New Zealand.  Here's your answer - he played professionally with Adams' coach:
“We played professionally in New Zealand together many years ago,” says McFadden, who played for George Raveling at Washington State. “And we have been friends ever since. When Jamie was down here for the World Championships, we sat down and I told him about my players. He was interested in Rob Loe (6′11″ center) at the time, but he went to play at St. Louis. And I told him about Steve, and I told him that he was even better. He is bigger and more skilled than Rob was.”
His coach also thinks his NBA aspirations can be reached:
As for the future for Adams, McFadden doesn’t mince words. “His aspirations are to play in the NBA and I think he can. We’ve had a few others from here play in the league, like Sean Marks (9-year veteran who played at California), and he is going to be better than all of them.”
I've seen Marks play and trust me, he's no Shaq.  Still, NBA players are the best in the world and if you get there, you're quite a player.  Here's hoping he remains a relative secret, though that will be tough as he's scheduled to make his first visit to the U.S., playing in Las Vegas soon.  He's only 16, so it's a long way before his commitment to Pitt will be finalized.

Courtesy of Ray Mernagh over at the NBE Basketball Report, 2011 recruit John Johnson talks more about his commitment to Pitt:
“When I went on my visit there it was like a family,” Johnson said, “the coaches can be like father figures to me and that’s important because I don’t want to go to college just for basketball…I want to become a good man too.”
Be sure to check out the article because Mernagh's got some first-hand experience watching him play recently and gives a good report on him.

And a quick mention on Pitt's recruits this year - albeit from Wednesday of last week.  J.J. Moore scored 23 points in the most recent Greentree Summer League games.  Cameron Wright contributed ten points in his game.

Football Notes

Sorry for the long delay in updates - this past week has just been flat-out hectic with a concert, power outage, vacation planning and a slew of other offline stuff.  Plus, not much has been going on with Pitt, so it was a good time for a respite.

Here are a few football things out there:

Stewart Mandel at talks about the Heisman race and some of the preseason favorites.  I think this is the first article I've seen where Dion Lewis is not mentioned as one of the top picks.  Mandel places him in a second group to watch for after his initial top ten.  With Pitt getting more play as a Big East favorite, I was a little surprised to see Noel Devine in that first group.  Pitt WR Jonathan Baldwin is also in that second group.

Lewis will be hard pressed to win the Heisman, but I do think he's right there in the discussion.  Along those lines, make sure to hop over to our SB Nation Pittsburgh site this week, where we'll have a breakdown of the area's top Heisman hopeful running backs (PSU's Evan Royster, Lewis - Wednesday, Devine - Friday).

Joe Butler of Metro Index says that Pitt could have five first-rounders in next year's NFL Draft.  We're a long way from that happening, but just the fact of it even being discussed is incredible. 

Dave Wannstedt, even with two straight very successful seasons under his belt, still takes a lot criticism about Pitt not getting to that next level.  Some of it is deserved and some is undeserved.  But one thing that cannot be denied is that he has Pitt on the right track.  His staff not only has an eye for talent, but they are regularly getting that talent to come to Pitt.  Programs are not rebuilt overnight and Pitt is still a ways off from being mentioned as a consistent national power.  The good news is that things have been looking up.

Brian Bennett over at had previously released a list of the Big East's top offensive triplets.  With Dion Lewis, Baldwin, and Tino Sunseri, Pitt was at the top of that list.  His defensive triplets are now out and Pitt (headlined by Greg Romeus, Dan Mason, and Dom Decicco) comes in at second behind WVU.

Keep in mind this isn't a team's three best players.  Rather, it's a team's best DL, LB, and DB.  If it were the three best, Jabaal Sheard would likely replace Decicco (in my opinion) and Pitt might be #1 on his list.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Minor Football Tidbits

Another day, another 'accolade' from a gambling site.  Pitt is picked as the odds on favorite to win the Big East along with UCONN and WVU.  I'm seeing a lot of love out there for UCONN this year.  Not sure I'm buying into it, but just remember, they did take Pitt to the wire last year - in Pittsburgh.

Speaking of that UCONN team, their local paper, the Hartford Courant has a very brief preview of Pitt.

And here's a story on QB Tino Sunseri that correctly points out he'll have help...and lots of it.  One thing caught my eye near the end of the piece:
While all expectations are that Sunseri will be up to the task, if 2009 was any indication, it won’t matter who is under center for the Panthers — they’ll be efficient and fun to watch every Saturday.
Ignoring the statement about it won't matter who plays QB for Pitt (because I don't buy that), Pitt SHOULD really be fun to watch.  If you think about last year, the team was extremely exciting.  Try to look past the loss to WVU.  Ignore the ugly effort against NC State.  And while you're at it, step right past the Cincinnati game that I only refer to as "Nova Part II."  The team was really fun to watch - Couple players like Dion Lewis and Jonathan Baldwin with a very good defense and it all equaled a talented team.  All indications point to it being another fun year.

Camp Kikakee With Larry Fitzgerald

If Camp Kikakee has no meaning for you, then you're either too old or too young.  At any rate, Larry Fitzgerald apparently has a football camp - and it's not for kids:

Now entering his seventh NFL season, Fitzgerald has turned into the mentor and turned his hometown into the place to be for professional pass catchers in the weeks before training camp begins in August. With a star-studded list of instructors, Fitzgerald invites players of varying experience to train with him at the University of Minnesota.
What started as a group of about five or six players a few years ago has swelled to about 40 athletes, all working on an efficient and demanding routine that lasts for three weeks.
Greg Jennings, Brandon Marshall and Sidney Rice have participated in the past. On Tuesday, Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley, Seattle rookie Golden Tate, New Orleans defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, St. Louis linebacker James Laurinaitis and Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson were among those in the group, which changes from week to week.
True, it might seem a little odd that Fitzgerald is training fellow NFL veterans, but he's got some help:

Legends like Jerry Rice, Carter and Irvin stop in to help teach youngsters like Tate and Denver rookie Eric Decker(notes) the tricks of the trade. One of Irvin’s lessons, for instance, was for receivers to anticipate the snap count rather than waiting to hear it from the quarterback to gain a split-second in the never-ending search for an edge.
It also sounds as if the camp is more like a training camp than it is for show:

The mornings are basically on-field chalkboard sessions. Ideas are shared and compared. But let there be no doubt, the workouts are as demanding physically as they are enlightening mentally. Different days are devoted to different things, be it improving speed, agility, strength, technique. One of the mornings concluded with the players running 16 110-yard sprints, with limited rest in between. It was enough to make an onlooker feel like he was going to lose his breakfast.
Don't get me wrong - I don't think guys are out there going until they hurl.  But as the article states, to get guys to go before training camp during some of their last days of Minnesota?  Yeah, Fitz has some serious pull.

Kind of cool to see him doing this at such a young age.  Most NFL stars are busy running camps for high school kids, but how many are running them for their peers?  That so many NFL players would think there's value here and come out for these is just another testament to his ability as a player.  Having guys like Jerry Rice as instructors can't hurt, either.

Pitt Basketball In Need Of Another Staff Member

Pitt men's video coordinator Rasheen Davis is leaving the school to become an assistant at Xavier.  While he was in charge of breaking down video tape for Pitt, he'll have a larger role at Xavier:
Davis said recruiting will be his primary focus at XU. His main bases are in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, although he also has ties in Maryland, Georgia and Florida.
More ties to the area:
Davis was a point guard and later an assistant coach at Division II St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York. He served as an assistant varsity coach at national power Rice High (N.Y.) for two seasons and worked with the New York Gauchos AAU program for three years.
He has a master’s degree in guidance counseling from the College of New Rochelle (N.Y.) and for two years was a guidance counselor at Foreign Language Academy of Global Studies High School in South Bronx.
At Xavier, Davis will be a full-time assistant and is expected to be on the road recruiting this month for the second ‘live’ period which covers July 22 – July 31.
While he didn't do any recruiting for Pitt, he'll be another presence they'll likely run into out east.  Pitt fans may remember that video coordinator was the same position that Brandin Knight held shortly after coming back to Pitt, and head coach Jamie Dixon will likely look again at a young individual interested in breaking into coaching to fill this role.  Really not all that big of a deal.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lewis Vs. Devine's Brian Bennett completed his list of Top 25 Big East players and Dion Lewis finished at the top.  As expected, some weren't happy with the choice, thinking WVU's Noel Devine should be first.

It got me to thinking - just who IS better?

Lewis: 325 attempts, 1,799 yards, 5.5 yard average, 25 catches, 189 yards, 18 TDs

Devine: 241 attempts, 1,465 yards, 6.1 yard average, 22 catches, 177 yards, 14 TDs

The first thing you can throw out immediately is rece a iving.  Both have practically identical numbers in that department.

Looking at rushing, you see that Lewis got about 85 more attempts.  That number is fairly surprising considering that Pitt had a capable backup in Ray Graham who got a fair number of carries.  Pitt also had a fairly reliable passing game and could have relied more on that instead of giving a heavy workload to a true freshman.

WVU fans will point to the yard-per-carry as proof of Devine's superiority.  However, I'd counter that argument by saying the more carries a running back has, the more a defense will key on him and prepare themselves to defend against the run.

Here's why I think Lewis is the better back:

1. He has a nose for the end zone.  His 18 TDs were almost as much as Devine had in his entire career.  Yes, Devine was a backup as a freshman, but with over 200 attempts in 2008 as a sophomore, he only found the end zone four times.

2. He was more dominant in conference play.  When the non-conference schedule ended, Lewis was at his best.  He finished the regular season with seven straight 100-yard games and averaged 142 yards in conference playing.  He only failed to reach 100 yards against a Big East opponent once - and that was against Louisville when Ray Graham received a season-high 12 carries.  Devine, on the other hand, was only able to gain 100 yards in TWO conference games.  Further, several times he was shut down (42 yards against South Florida, 65 yards against Rutgers, 56 yards against Louisville).

3. He rushed for nearly 350 yards more.  Part of this goes into the attempts, but to have that many more yards, you've got to be given that many more carries.  To stay healthy and be able to do that has to count for something.

All in all, both are fine backs.  But I give the nod to Lewis.

Monday, July 5, 2010

News and Notes 7/5

After three non-stop days of grilling, finally getting to some links from the holiday weekend and a few random ones over last week.

Chevy Troutman is having a fine career in Italy and the Post-Gazette catches up with him while he's in town for the Greentree Summer League.  He still may play a few games in the league and while he's had offers to play in the NBA's Summer League, he's turned them down:

Troutman receives offers to play in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, but he has declined those offers in recent years because he has been under contract in Europe. He makes a six-figure salary and feels comfortable with his situation.
"For my size and the way I was being promoted, it was better for me to go over there than anything else," he said. "I realized that early. I said, 'Let me just start my career off as a pro over there and see how it goes.
"Now I'm very successful over there. I'm known in basketball. I don't think I'll ever have a problem having a job the rest of my career. I actually thought about coming back over here [to give the NBA a try], but for me it's probably not worth it.
"It's kind of difficult to get your foot in the door. They have to show the initiative."
Unfortunately, the most alarming part of the article is his new fashion:

Troutman, the former Pitt star, is no longer playing basketball in this country, and his appearance is proof positive. There was a certain European flair to Troutman last week when he strolled into the Greentree SportsPlex in shorts, T-shirt, sandals and a fanny pack to watch some Pitt players compete in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am.

 A fanny pack?  Really?  I think even senior citizens have moved on from those things.

Andy Katz of ESPN writes a little more about Pitt's trip to Ireland and has a good point about how this glut of forwards and big men will need to figure itself out.'s Brian Bennett looks at revenues of the Big East compared to other BCS conferences.  No, it's not pretty, but we already knew that.  According to the numbers, put together by a writer from Fanhouse, Pitt falls somewhere in the middle of Division I programs.

If you're into video games, NCAA Football '11 has some screenshots out for each of the Top 25 teams.  Pitt is ranked #16 in their game.

And former Pitt baseball star Joe Leonard was named to another All-American team. This time, the ABCA/Rawlings All-American First Team.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pitt Basketball Lands Mystery Man

I put off mentioning the apparent verbal of center Steve Adams, mostly because there was little information out there on him.  I'm sure it was partially due to the holiday weekend, but more due to the fact that he plays in New Zealand.  The Post-Gazette broke the news yesterday, but haven't had an update about it.

Scout has a page, but no ranking for him.  Rivals has no page at all from what I've been able to find.

In 2009, Adams was named the MVP of the New Zealand U17 National Championships, finishing third in scoring, first in rebounding, and first in blocks on his team.  He was also the MVP of the New Zealand U19 National Championships that ended last month.

Toss in some spectacular alley-oop dunks and blocked shots, and Adams is clearly a young man going places.
"I want to try and make the NBA," Adams said. "My hero is [Orlando Magic superstar] Dwight Howard."
Chris Dokish makes a good point in that Pitt will now be able to recruit other smaller players as power forwards now as Adams would be a center.  That makes a world of sense to me as I'm sure some potential recruits have been following the Dante Taylor situation and wondering if they may be put in a similar situation - a true power forward that is asked to play center.  Then again, that is dependent on Adams being a quality center and able to handle the position.

Since he's going to be in the 2012 recruiting class, I'm a little surprised that Pitt would come out and accept a verbal from a potential question mark.  2012 is a ways off, so this is far from a done deal.  Still, to essentially offer him at this point, they must be extremely high on him. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tony Dorsett Casts A Vote For Reggie

Pitt Heisman winner may have shocked some with his recent comments about Reggie Bush keeping the Heisman trophy at a recent golf outing:
"I don't see any reason to take it back from him. Anybody that watched college football during his time will tell you Reggie Bush was the most exciting football player on earth at the college level," said Tony Dorsett, the former Pittsburgh Panthers and Dallas Cowboys great.
"I think he was a very justified winner. His numbers were right. He meant as much as anybody has ever meant to their team."
Dorsett, the 1976 Heisman winner, believes Southern Cal officials should share the blame.

"It's not Reggie Bush. I don't know what his economic background was at that time, but that's what a lot of these universities do. They get these great talents and they get them to go to their higher institutions of learning because they shell out a little cheese for them," Dorsett said.

"And sometimes these kids need that. They all know it's wrong. But in most cases, they don't ask (schools) for it. They offer it. Those people that are doing that need to be sanctioned."
Though the Heisman ballot states "recipients must be in compliance with the (NCAA) bylaws," Rogers, South Carolina's lone Heisman winner, and others said the most important criteria are Bush's football accomplishments.
Frankly, I would expect most Heisman winners to fall in line with those same sentiments.  I think that most athletes feel college players get the short end of the stick when it comes to being unpaid, so his comments don't surprise me.
But I think he's wrong on this one.  The rules state that winners have to be compliant with NCAA rules and if Bush has not been, then I think he should lose the trophy.  Those are the rules and regardless of his actual performance on the field, if he's found guilty of cheating, then he deserves to lose the trophy.  True, an argument can be made that it didn't affect his on-field performance.  I would be inclined to agree with that.  But let's create a different scenario.  Instead of attending USC, what if he had attended a school with less talented athletes?  If he didn't have the opportunity to play on an outstanding team loaded with weapons, would he have still put up the same numbers?
I don't know - I always hate saying an athlete or team should lose an award after the fact...especially YEARS after the fact.  Still, I'm not exactly on board with the idea of saying that the rules shouldn't count. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Inside The Numbers

If you've been anywhere online over the past couple of weeks, you know that stat totals for some players have been out there and readily available through Scout and Rivals.  Both sites have done an amazing job providing quality, and more importantly, free, recaps for each game.  What I hadn't seen (at least without paying a subscription fee) is averages for players through all the games.  With that said, I spent a little bit of time compiling the numbers and figuring out averages for the Pitt players from the information out there (Nerd chants begin in 3...2...).

At any rate, what I quickly found out is that the numbers between the two sites differ.  Even in points.  For example, Rivals lists Gary McGhee with 25 points in his most recent game this past Wednesday, while Scout has him at 24.  So for the sake of argument, I've simply used Scout's numbers while filling in any missing holes with Rivals'.  Take these numbers with an unusually large grain of salt.

Here's what I came up with:

J.J. Richardson - 12.5 ppg / 7.3 rpg
Ashton Gibbs - 20.8 ppg
Dante Taylor - 15.5 ppg / 8.5 rpg
Travon Woodall - 15.3 ppg
Gilbert Brown - 23.8 ppg
Talib Zanna - 12.8 ppg / 9.8 rpg
Cameron Wright - 10.5 ppg
J.J. Moore - 14.0 ppg
Nasir Robinson - 14.8 ppg / 5.8 rpg
Gary McGhee - 19.8 ppg / 8.5 rpg
Lamar Patterson - 15.5
Brad Wanamaker - INCOMPLETE (Could not find stats from all games)

The first thing you notice is that everyone seemingly has been doing well.  Keep in mind that I don't have shooting percentages.  The other thing to remember is that the players were split up among four teams and in some cases, even some of our bench players were the best players on their respective teams.  Thus, they got more shots - far more than some might get in the regular season.

So with that said, let's look at some of the more intriguing stats:

1. Gary McGhee has been an absolute monster.  As I pointed out, though, in an earlier post about Dante Taylor, the frontcourt competition is considerably lesser than that the team will face in Big East play.  Like most, I don't see any way McGhee puts up these numbers in the regular season.  Still, his play has been encouraging.

2. Talib Zanna leads the team in rebounds with nearly ten per game.  To me, one of the underlying story lines will be to see who will step in and get quality minutes out of Zanna and Lamar Patterson.  Both were fairly good recruits and I think it's a lock that at least one of them will come in and contribute this year.

3. Along those same lines, will Nasir Robinson see fewer minutes in the regular season?  Someone's got to lose minutes in the frontcourt if Dante Taylor is to play more and if Zanna/Patterson are to contribute.  I wonder if it might be Nasir since his offense is not all that great.  If Zanna or Patterson can rebound as well, they may get the nod if they can score a little more.  Nasir may still start, but he might lose some minutes.

4. Gil leads the team in scoring.  True, this is due in large part due to a huge 37 point effort he had in the last game.  But even taking out that game and he still averaged about 19.0 points per game.  His shooting hasn't always been great (including a 6-24 effort), but it's encouraging to see his lowest point total so far has been 16.

5. Both rookies appear to be fitting right in.  J.J. Moore and Cameron Wright have stepped right in and been able to score some points.  Again, since we don't have numbers for turnovers, shooting percentage, rebounds, assists, etc. on all the games, you can't make a good determination on how well they've actually played.  But they've at least been able to score against D-1 players and both have had at least one great game in terms of scoring, reaching 20 points.

Lots of interesting stuff and still some more games to play. 

News and Notes

Haven't had a news and notes section in a little while - lots of small tidbits out there recently:'s Brian Bennett has a Top 30 Big East list and he's down to his final two.  Pitt will wind up with five players in the list as the top two will be Dion Lewis and Noel Devine.  Even better, Pitt has three of the top four in the list with Greg Romeus, Jonathan Baldwin, and Lewis.

Along those lines, Bennett lists his top triplets in the Big East and to no surprise, Pitt is #1 with Lewis, Baldwin, and Tino Sunseri.

Top triplets?  Yes, things are officially slow.

Here's an interview with former Pitt player and new Seton Hall coach, Kevin Willard.  Judging by the length of some of these answers, it looks like Willard was either not in the mood to talk or standing on a tee box with driver firmly in hand. 

And speaking of Seton Hall, Willard says in another article that Herb Pope is recovering nicely:
“Herb’s doing great, Herb’s doing great,” Willard said Thursday. “Taking classes, working, getting back because he did miss quite a few classes. He’s really working hard to get back academically what he needs to do and get back on track for graduation. Herb’s doing pretty good.”
Former Pitt great and current Pope mentor, Charles Smith, also comments briefly via text in the article.

And Bob Smizik of the PG notes that the negotiations to move Pitt games to the new radio station The Fan may hinge on coverage of women's basketball.  I can't make this stuff up.