This Week at the Pete: Pitt Still Perfect...for Now

Paul SieversAnalyst IJanuary 12, 2009

"This Week at the Pete" is a weekly column that takes a look at all things Pitt basketball. Your comments are more than welcome, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

Here at TWATP there are certainties in life that we accept without question. We know that there will never be another Larry Fitzgerald, we know that Stewarts will never make a better soda than their Key Lime flavor, and we know that Pitt hoops won’t end the season undefeated.

After today’s win against St. John’s, Pitt is now 15-0 (3-0 in the Big East) on the season. Instead of getting into all of the usual garbage about undefeated teams (Can they keep it up? Who will beat them? Is it better if they lose?), we’re just going to accept that a loss is going to come up eventually and enjoy the zero while we have it.

Let's get to the recap with a slightly different format (I just have to tinker).


The Week That Was

Jan. 11: def. St. John’s 90-67

The Good

Jermaine Dixon showed us why he was a great scorer in junior college, as he had a career-high 17 points. Aside from Young, nobody on Pitt is as good off the bounce as Dixon, and he showed his skill today. If he ever starts hitting his jump shots, he’ll be a premier player in the conference.

DeJuan Blair was DeJuan Blair—23 points, 15 boards, six steals. What was very encouraging today was that he hit his free throws (nine for 11 from the line). I’m out of superlatives for the local hero (Newcastle reference)—he gets the game ball today.

As a team, Pitt did a great job in transition. They got a lot of easy buckets in the second half after they spent the first half wearing down the injury-depleted Red Storm. Also, 24 of Pitt’s 34 baskets came off of assists and Pitt forced 24 St. John’s turnovers. The perimeter shooting was better today as Pitt, went eight for 19 from distance.

The game also featured a trillion by walk-on Ryan Tiesi and a few football players committed on the Oakland Zoo’s famous dry erase board. Good times were had by all Pitt supporters.

The Bad

Aside from Blair, nobody was very fond of rebounding today. Pitt should have murdered St. John’s on the boards, yet they only came out +3 in rebounding. DeJuan was also the only Panther to hit his free throws, as the rest of the team went five for 12 from the charity stripe.

Levance Fields was below his usual assist to turnover ratio with nine dimes and four giveaways. On the whole, the Panthers made some really bad passes. It was surprising how much there is to nitpick about in a 23-point win.

The Ugly

I have no idea what the heck DeJuan Blair had shaved into the side of his head. Not a good look.

A Look Ahead

Jan. 14: vs. South Florida, 7 pm on ESPNU

The South Florida Bulls will come into The Pete with a 6-9 record (1-2 in conference). They are, however, coming off of an impressive win at DePaul and gave Syracuse a scare earlier this month. The Bulls are led by their starting backcourt of Dominique Jones and Jesus Verdejo. The two combine to average 36 of the Bulls' 62 points per game.

Pitt has an advantage over USF in more or less every facet of the game in addition to being the home team. Pitt should win this one easily.

Jan. 17: @ Louisville, 6 pm on ESPN

Pitt’s game at Freedom Hall will be their second matchup against a top 25 foe this season. Louisville is loaded with talent and currently sport the second most efficient defense according to Ken Pomeroy. The only thing holding the Cardinals back has been poor shooting.

Freshman big man Samardo Samuels is one of the front runners for conference rookie of the year; he averages 13.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. His matchup with DeJuan Blair will be an interesting one.

I think Louisville will come out energized and overwhelm the Panthers early. It will be too much as Pitt drops their first game of the year.

Recruiting News

The Panthers recently picked up a verbal commitment from high school junior Isiah Epps. Epps, a 6’2” guard from Plainfield, NJ, is rated a four-star prospect by and Isiah will most likely be the only recruit in Pitt’s 2010 class. We congratulate Mr. Epps on his decision and wish him the best of luck with the rest of his high school career.


Football News

Because we didn’t want to write a whole article about this, it appears as if LeSean McCoy is going to enter the NFL draft. This despite his insistence back in November that he would come back next season. While we wish he wouldn’t have built our hopes up a few months ago, nobody here at TWAPT headquarters holds any ill will towards Mr. McCoy, and we wish him the best of luck on the next level.


Quote of the Week

“I know I said a couple of times when people mentioned that we didn’t play any ranked teams on our non-conference schedule that it’s hard to schedule any when a third, and now more than a third, are in our conference.”

—Coach Dixon on the depth of the Big East


Shameless Plug of the Week

I encourage everyone to check out the “Creature vs. Conference” Big East previews. The one for Pitt can be found here. There are also previews for Louisville, Syracuse, Villanova, Marquette, Notre Dame, and Georgetown.


The Pitt Player of the Year Award

TWATP has been handing out game balls for every Pitt game so far this year. At the end of the year we will count up the number of game balls awarded to each player, and the Panther with the most will be named “This Week at the Pete’s Player of the Year.” We are not sure what that player will win yet; we are leaning towards Burger King coupons.

If you have an idea for a POY award that wouldn’t violate NCAA regulations or hinder our budget (money is very tight here at TWATP), please let us know.

Until next week, Hail to Pitt.


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