Posted on: October 26, 2011 9:43 am
Edited on: October 26, 2011 9:55 am
By Jeff Goodman
Jamie Dixon said that Nasir Robinson should return sooner than expected and is scheduled to practice on Monday.
Robinson had surgery a couple weeks ago on his injured knee.
That'll give Pittsburgh a full team, one that's led by senior guard Ashton Gibbs.
Dixon said that Gibbs and veteran reserve guard Travon Woodall will likely start together in the backcourt - giving the Panthers two guys who can both handle the ball and run the team (Gibbs will play the two with Woodall and will move to the point when Woodall is out).
"There's no sense not having both guys handle the ball," Dixon said.
Dixon has no shortage of frontcourt guys with Dante Taylor, Robinson, Talib Zanna - and freshmen Khem Birch and Malcolm Gilbert.
Look for sophomores J.J. Moore and Lamar Patterson to split time at the wing spot.
So, if everything looks solidified, why does Dixon sound concerned?
Maybe it's because he has six freshmen and just one senior.
Or maybe it's because he's still waiting for a third guard to emerge from a group that consists of redshirt freshmen Cameron Wright and Isaiah Epps - as well as true freshman John Johnson.
"No one has stepped forward yet," Dixon said.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 3:45 pm
NEW YORK – In terms of winning percentage in the last decade, only Kansas and Duke can compare to Pittsburgh.
What separates the Panthers from the upper echelon of basketball powers, though, is the lack of Final Four appearances and national championships. They have reached the Sweet 16 five times in the last 11 seasons, but only advanced past there once. That happened in 2009, when Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds went coast-to-coast to knock off Pittsburgh in the Elite Eight.
“It hangs over our head,” senior guard Ashton Gibbs said. “The fact is, we built a tradition like this. Everyone is looking at us.”
“It’s a motivator,” senior Nick Rivers added. “We haven’t reached our goal yet, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying to reach it.”
Heading into this season, Jamie Dixon’s troops are on track for another 25-30-win season, ranking No. 10 in the CBSSports.com Preseason Top 25 (and one). They return seven of their top 10 players from last year, when Pittsburgh won 28 games and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament before suffering a heartbreaking loss to Butler in the second round.
Moreover, the Panthers bring in one of the best recruiting classes in the country, including five-star big man Khem Birch.
“We’re good enough to win a national title,” Gibbs said.
It all starts with Gibbs in the backcourt. The preseason Big East Player of the Year decided to return to Pitt for his senior season, and is ready to shoulder a bigger load with Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown and Gary McGhee all moving on from last season’s group.
Gibbs is one of the top 3-point shooters in the country, knocking down nearly 47 percent of his long-range shots en route to a 16.7 ppg clip.
“He’s gotten better each year,” Dixon said. “It’s more of the same.”
Replacing Wanamaker on the perimeter will be a combination of players. Travon Woodall, who was second on the team in assists last season, will help Gibbs at the point guard position, while junior Lamar Patterson and redshirt freshman Cameron Wright are also getting rave reviews for their work so far in practices.
Up front, senior Nasir Robinson returns as a starter – but he will miss three more weeks with a torn meniscus in his knee. Juniors Talib Zanna and Dante Taylor are expected to take a major step forward this season.
With so many players fighting for spots, practices have been filled with energy and hustle.
“There’s a lot of intensity, like I’ve never experienced before,” Rivers said. “It’s wide open. There are a lot of good players. It’s going to depend on who’s consistent, who listens and who works hard.
“We’re a matchup nightmare. You never know who you’re going to have to play against.”
The key for Pittsburgh could be the arrival of Birch. Originally a class of 2012 recruit, Birch decided to reclassify to 2011 last November and play at Pittsburgh this fall. The 6-foot-9 Canadian was one of the best big men in the high school ranks last season, and will look to make an immediate impact.
“He has a great motor, runs the court really well,” Gibbs said, also mentioning fellow freshman Malcolm Gilbert as an impact player. “We just have to see if he lives up to the hype.”
Pittsburgh will be versatile, deep, talented and hungry this season – a difficult combination for most opponents.
Of course, the Panthers will also be as physical and tough as ever.
“We’re going to play Pitt basketball,” Robinson said.
This season, they hope that includes a Final Four berth.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: September 16, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 5:14 pm
By Jeff Goodman
The deadline for submitting the list of 50 players for the John Wooden Preseason watch list was this afternoon.
My guess is that my colleague, Gary Parrish, missed it. I did not.
Anyway, here's my list of 50.
Remember, transfers and freshman are not eligible, so that means that guys like frosh Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers - as well as transfer Arnett Moultrie - couldn't be included.
My Wooden Preseason Top 50
Tim Abromaitis, 6-8, PF, Sr., Notre Dame
Harrison Barnes, 6-8, SF, Soph., North Carolina
Will Barton, 6-6, SG, Soph., Memphis
Dee Bost, 6-2, PG, Sr., Mississippi State
William Buford, 6-5, SG, Sr., Ohio State
Kyle Casey, 6-7, SF, Jr., Harvard
Jason Clark, 6-2, G, Sr., Georgetown
Aaron Craft, 6-2, PG, Soph., Ohio State
Matthew Dellavedova, 6-4, G, Jr., Saint Mary's
Festus Ezeli, 6-11, C, Sr., Vanderbilt
Ashton Gibbs, 6-2, G, Sr., Pittsburgh
Mike Glover, 6-7, F, Sr., Iona
Drew Gordon, 6-9, PF, Sr., New Mexico
Draymond Green, 6-6, PF, Sr., Michigan State
JaMychal Green, 6-8, PF, Sr., Alabama
Jorge Gutierrez, 6-3, G, Sr., California
Tim Hardaway 6-5, SG, Jr., Soph., Michigan
Elias Harris, 6-7, F, Jr., Gonzaga
John Henson, 6-11, PF, Jr., North Carolina
Tu Holloway, 6-0, PG, Sr., Xavier
Robbie Hummel, 6-8, F, Sr., Purdue
Joe Jackson, 6-0, PG, Soph., Memphis
Scoop Jardine, 6-2, PG, Sr., Syracuse
John Jenkins, 6-4, SG, Jr., Vanderbilt
Orlando Johnson, 6-5, SG, Sr., UC Santa Barbara
Kevin Jones, 6-8, F, Sr., West Virginia
Perry Jones, 6-11, F, Soph., Baylor
Terrence Jones, 6-9, PF, Soph., Kentucky
Ryan Kelly, 6-10, F, Jr., Duke
Jeremy Lamb, 6-5, SG, Soph., UConn
Kendall Marshall, 6-4, PG, Soph., North Carolina
Trevor Mbakwe, 6-8, PF, Sr., Minnesota
Ray McCallum, 6-3, PG, Soph., Detroit
Rodney McGruder, 6-4, SG, Jr., Kansas State
Doug McDermott, 6-7, F, Soph., Creighton
Shabazz Napier, 6-1, PG, Soph., UConn
Reeves Nelson, 6-7, PF, Jr., UCLA
Andrew Nicholson, 6-10, PF, Sr., St. Bonaventure
Alex Oriakhi, 6-9, C, Jr., UConn
Thomas Robinson, 6-9, PF, Jr., Kansas
Terrence Ross, 6-6, SG, Soph., Washington
John Shurna, 6-9, F, Sr., Northwestern
Peyton Siva, 5-11, PG, Jr., Louisville
Josh Smith, 6-9, C, Soph., UCLA
Jared Sullinger, 6-9, PF/C, Soph., Ohio State
Jeffery Taylor, 6-7, SF, Sr., Vanderbilt
Jordan Taylor, 6-1, PG, Sr., Wisconsin
Maalik Wayns, 6-2, PG, Soph., Villanova
Patric Young, 6-9, C, Soph., Florida
Tyler Zeller, 7-0, C, Sr., North Carolina
Posted on: August 13, 2011 1:39 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Posted on: March 29, 2011 11:58 am
Posted by Jeff Borzello
Could next year be the season that Jamie Dixon’s coaching acumen is once again put to the test?
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com reported earlier Tuesday that junior guard Ashton Gibbs would be entering his name into the NBA Draft, but would not hire an agent, leaving open the option of returning to Pittsburgh for his senior campaign.
If Gibbs leaves his name in the draft pool, Dixon would only return one starter from this season’s Big East champion Panthers. Brad Wanamaker, Gary McGhee and Gilbert Brown were all seniors.
Don’t cry for Dixon, though. He brings in a top-notch recruiting class, led by athletic big man Khem Birch and scoring wing Durand Johnson. More, the returnees aren’t too shabby, with Dante Taylor, Talib Zanna and Nasir Robinson on the inside, and Travon Woodall running the show.
With that said, we should fully expect Gibbs to return to Pittsburgh after testing the waters. He is not likely to be drafted in the first round, and a source told Parrish that Gibbs just wants to workout with some NBA teams.
Gibbs, a 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 16.8 points and 2.8 assists this season, shooting 49 percent from 3-point range.
If he does return, Dixon will have yet another team more than capable of making a run in the Big East.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: February 18, 2011 10:00 am
Edited on: February 18, 2011 10:07 am
Posted by Eric Angevine
Sports fans love to engage in debate, and we're no different here at CBS blog central. Player of the Year arguments, along with bracket discussions, are always the best barroom (or national podcast) fodder for college hoops fans. I touched on one yesterday when I considered Ben Hansbrough vs. Kemba Walker in the Big East. That post touched off a bit of a Twitter debate (which can be hard to follow as the posts whiz by) about a couple of other candidates, most notably Pitt's Ashton Gibbs (right).
We learned last night that Gibbs will be back from a short injury time out in time for Saturday's trip to Madison Square Garden, where the Panthers will face a St. John's team that is on the rise. It seems as good a time as any to see how he stacks up against his fellow Big East stars.
Here are a couple of tweets, from @bracks7, that encapsulate the frustration some fans feel when Gibbs is overlooked in the media.
@stfhoops Is it the fact #Pitt has more options that #Gibbs is really left of BE POY? #Hansbrough really better than him?Then, New Jersey-based hoops writer Mike Vorkunov, without having seen my post, threw out his own list of BE POY candidates. He listed Hansbrough, Walker, Georgetown's Austin Freeman and Marshon Brooks of Providence as his top four. It got me wondering if bracks7 was right: is Gibbs criminally underrated by us Typing Heads because his team as a whole is so good?
Let's go to the numbers. I'll use Vorkunov's list, plus Gibbs, to get a feel for where each player stands.
Based on traditional metrics alone, I have to disqualify Brooks. He's an amazing scorer, but he's doing it with volume because he has to. He's his team's runaway MVP, and an exciting player to watch, but he's no league POY. Freeman's fantastic shooting percentages across the board prove his worth to the Hoyas beyond a shadow of a doubt, and make him a solid candidate.
So, Gibbs. I'm trying to avoid confirmation bias here, but I think bracks7 has basically answered his own question. Yes, Gibbs is an extremely valuable part of an elite team. He has scored 18.93 percent of the Panthers' points when he's on the floor, but his teammates Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown and Nasir Robinson are all above ten percent in the team impact metric as well. This is a good thing.
Unfortunately for Gibbs' case, Pitt chugged right along without him while he was out. Sophomore Travon Woodall certainly didn't replace Gibbs' production, but he kept the machine humming just fine. Again, this is a good thing.
Leaving Gibbs off the All-Big East first team seems like a mistake, but I don't know who the unnamed SNY pundit chose in his place, so I can't really judge that. As a potential Big East POY, however, I don't think Gibbs has enough of a case. He's a great player on a great team, and yes, he may be underrated by the media and even fans. But when it comes to what really counts, bracks7 sounds the right note of conciliation in his final tweet on the matter:
I guess the last laugh will be Gibbs will be the only 1 playing in the Final 4If he's right about that, I'm pretty sure Gibbs will enjoy a trip to Houston a great deal more than any old league trophy.
Posted on: February 7, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: February 7, 2011 7:00 pm
Posted by Jeff Borzello
Heading into Sunday afternoon, the popular opinion on the Big East pecking order was that Pittsburgh seemed like the favorite and everyone else was at least a couple of steps behind the fourth-ranked Panthers.
Now, with the news that junior guard Ashton Gibbs, the team’s leading scorer and one of the nation’s best 3-point shooters, will miss at least 10 days with an MCL injury, that might not be the case.
In the next two weeks, Pittsburgh (21-2, 9-1 in the Big East) has to go on the road to face West Virginia and Villanova, then come back home for South Florida before finishing at St. John’s on Feb. 19. Not the easiest trek for a team without its best scorer.
Pittsburgh’s biggest problem this season has been its lack of playmakers on the offensive end, leading to stagnant half-court offense and struggles down the stretch of games. The majority of the Panthers’ points are coming off offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities.
Without Gibbs in the starting lineup, head coach Jamie Dixon will turn to sophomore Travon Woodall, a quick point guard who can get into the lane and create opportunities with his passing ability. On the flip side, he’s nowhere near the shooter Gibbs is and doesn’t require the same defensive attention in end-game situations.
The only other player that can create his own shot on a regular basis is Brad Wanamaker, but he’s been inconsistent scoring the ball lately, averaging just more than 10 points and shooting barely 42 percent from the field in his last six games. When he and Gibbs play off each other, the Panthers’ backcourt duo is successful. Whether Wanamaker will be able to become a go-to-guy in Gibbs’ absence remains to be seen.
Now, on to the schedule.
The Panthers head to West Virginia tonight to face an angry Mountaineers team coming off a 16-point loss to Villanova. After that, it’s off to Villanova, which has only lost one home game all season. Lose those two games, and Pittsburgh drops to 9-3 in the Big East, falling back into a quagmire of eight teams that will have three or four conference losses. Throw in a road game at St. John’s on Feb. 19, and the Panthers could have four Big East losses by the time Gibbs returns from health.
While the NCAA Selection Committee will take into account Gibbs’ injury when assessing Pittsburgh’s resume, it might not matter.
A Pittsburgh team that is clearly a cut above the rest of the Big East equals a No. 1 seed.
A Pittsburgh team that is bunched up with multiple teams in the Big East standings simply isn’t as attractive, even if the committee disregards its losses without Gibbs. The next two weeks will likely determine whether Pittsburgh is a No. 1 seed come Selection Sunday.
Unfortunately, the Panthers will have to do it without their best player.Photo: US PRESSWIRE