Posted on: November 10, 2011 4:25 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 4:26 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Pittsburgh sophomore wing J.J. Moore has been suspended for one game by the NCAA due to his participation in an unauthorized summer league game.
According to a source, Moore - who is expected to battle Lamar Patterson for a starting spot with the departure of Gilbert Brown - will sit out the season-opener against Albany on Friday night.
The 6-foot-6 Moore averaged 3.7 points per game last season.
Pittsburgh enters the season ranked No. 10 in the country.
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: October 20, 2011 9:27 am
By Gary Parrish
The United States Basketball Writers Association announced on Thursday its 12 preseason candidates for the Wayman Tisdale Award that annually honors the nation's top freshman. Three of the 12 -- Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague -- play at Kentucky.
The full list is as follows:
Sullinger is the CBSSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year this season.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 9:40 am
By Jeff Borzello
NEW YORK – This year’s Big East Media Day featured the likes of Jim Boeheim, Jamie Dixon and others.
Once the conference shakeup is over, what will it look like? Will we have Donnie Jones, James Dickey and Matt Doherty instead?
The overarching theme of the 2011 Big East media day was, unsurprisingly, realignment. Boeheim, Dixon, Mike Brey, Jim Calhoun, Rick Pitino, Jay Wright, Bob Huggins and the other nine coaches in the conference were each peppered with countless questions about who is going where, when it’s happening and what they think of it.
Many of the coaches clearly were getting tired of the same questions, over and over.
“I think it sucks like everyone else does,” Huggins told a group of reporters. “Yeah, [it’s a shame]. I think it was a shame the first time. It’s got to stop somewhere.”
The only thing set in stone right now is that Pittsburgh and Syracuse will be leaving the conference at some point, but the timeline is still indefinite. Technically, they’re not allowed to leave for more than two years, but that could be an awkward 27 months.
Dixon said the goal of Pittsburgh is not to leave the Big East without a plan for its future as a conference.
“When it’s in the best interest of the Big East for us to move, that’s when we’ll leave,” he said. “Whether it’s 27 months, 12 months or five months.”
The fate of several teams is also still undecided, with West Virginia and Louisville being linked to the Big 12, Connecticut to the ACC, Notre Dame to the ACC (and Big Ten, as always), with Rutgers also thrown around as a potential Big Ten or ACC target.
While the realignment mess could hinder some of the schools, Pitino and Brey are confident their institutions will handle it well.
“Unlike some others, we’re going to land on our feet,” Brey said. “I like the Big East, but we’ll land on our feet.”
“We’ll be fine in the Big East or in the other place,” Pitino said.
Connecticut was expected to follow suit to the ACC after Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and while that’s still a possibility, the Big 12 has also opened up as a potential landing spot for the Huskies.
Calhoun made it clear he is not sitting still and hoping everything just stays the same. He is being proactive as a result of all the changes around him.
“The Big East is special, I am proud to be a member of it. But sometimes what you want is not where you end up being. We are seeing the start of change,” he said. “My obligation to UConn is to be in an advisory capacity and reach out to my friends, particularly in the ACC and Big 12 and see what’s [happening].”
When the realignment carousel eventually stops spinning – whenever that may be – it’s not a stretch to say that the Big East will look very different. There could be a 20-team football conference and a 12-team basketball conference, with some variation of Navy, Air Force, UCF, Houston, SMU and a host of other schools in the mix.
Huggins said the new faces wouldn’t change the way he views his opponents in the conference.
“They were these guys at one time,” he said of younger coaches potentially replacing the Boeheims, Dixons and Calhouns of the league. “Somebody is going to finish last and someone is going to finish first. Whether it’s someone in the league now, or someone new.
“We had 11 teams reach the NCAA tournament last year, and nine of them will still be around. That would still have been a record.”
Not everyone feels that way – Pitino thinks certain intra-conference matchups won’t carry the same juice and luster as they previously did.
“Syracuse is playing Clemson on TV tonight!” he said. “It’s not Syracuse-Georgetown.”
Conference commissioner John Marinatto opened up the media day by saying he was glad that he finally could talk about basketball – but soon was bombarded with questions about realignment. This wasn’t what Marinatto signed up for, he said. It’s not what he wanted.
His comments beg the question – if Marinatto didn’t see it coming, how did we get here?
Dixon pointed to the lack of cohesion between the basketball and football sides of the conference. A 16-team basketball conference and an eight-team football conference clearly don’t align perfectly.
“If that is the best situation, more conferences would do it,” he said. “And we’re the only one that does it.”
When it boils down to it, though, money is the biggest factor in the entire proceedings. Pitino put some of the blame on the greed of the school presidents.
“The big is eating up the small,” he said. “The presidents have always said to put the athletes first. The last thing they’ve talked about is the athletes. So there’s a bit of hypocrisy in the presidents and their answer today.”
With so many questions still waiting to be answered, no one is sure about what is next – not the coaches, athletic directors, presidents, commissioners. The future of several conferences is completely up in the air.
What’s next? Brey summed it best.
“Leagues are listed as day-to-day now.”
Posted on: October 6, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 12:05 pm
By Gary Parrish
The next move in the ongoing game of conference realignment has been made.
And the Big 12 made it.
Which is why the Big 12 seems poised to survive in this eat-or-be-eaten world of college athletics while the Big East continues to get picked apart by anybody and everybody. Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced last month that they're leaving for the ACC; that took the Big East down to seven football-playing schools. Now TCU, according to my colleague Brett McMurphy, is headed to the Big 12 and leaving the Big East with just six football-playing schools ... at least one of which (Connecticut) has made it clear it would like to find a new home, too. Meantime, the Big East has done nothing of note. The league is just sitting there taking punches to the face, one after another, and, consequently, sooner or later, it'll be down for the count and in no position to adequately recover.
The possible additions of Army and Navy won't fix the Big East's problems.
At this point, I can't imagine anything really will.
What the Big East should've done is tried to take advantage of the Big 12's turmoil last month and offered invitations to any Midwest school willing to leave the Texas-Oklahoma fight behind. It might not have worked, obviously. But if we've learned anything over the past few years it's that one way to strengthen yourself is to damage the competition, and that's something the ACC highlighted when it targeted Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The Big 12, under new leadership, also understands this approach. But the Big East never has and apparently never will. So it can add Army and Navy if it wants, and perhaps East Carolina, Temple, UCF and SMU, too. But the decision to be reactive rather than proactive has put the Big East in a nearly impossible situation, and, truth be told, the storied league has only itself to blame.
Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 2:31 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Some guys just aren't cut out to be head coaches. They make better assistants.
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto may be one of those guys.
"I firmly believe we would manage this a lot better with a different leader," said one Big East head coach, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "He's a good man, a good right-hand man. But I think he's in over his head."
To be fair, Marinatto was thrust into an unenviable situation, following the late Dave Gavitt and Mike Tranghese as the leaders of the Big East.
Marinatto's resume reads as follows: A Providence kid who graduated from Providence College in 1979, then later went onto become the athletic director at the school for 14 years. He was the associate commissioner of the Big East from 2002-2009, when he took over for Tranghese.
"There's just no way it would have gotten to this point if Dave or Mike were still in charge," another Big East head man said.
One thing is for certain: Gavitt and/or Tranghese wouldn't have had the news of Syracuse and Pittsburgh's departure delivered to him in a football press box on Saturday - as has been reported to be the case with Marinatto.
"I'm not sure how it would have worked out, but it would have," a coach in the league said about the overall situation the league now finds itself.
``I doubt it," answered yet another when posed the question whether this would have occurred under previous leadership.
However, with Syracuse and Pittsburgh departing for the ACC at some point (likely prior to 2014) and UConn begging and pleading to join the exodus, Marinatto has come under fire.
While there are certainly those who are skeptical, Marinatto does still have his share of support.
"I think eventually this would have happened anyway," one coach said. "Everyone wants to put it on Marinatto, but this is a league that's been built on instability."
Now the future of the Big East - and the way it'll be comprised - is in jeopardy. Will it add a couple members to replace what is has lost - and may lose - and move forward? Or will it re-shape itself for improved long-term stability and go the route of the "basketball-only" schools, thus going hard after Xavier and Butler?
We'll see what Marinatto does - and whether his fate mirrors that of outgoing Big 12 commish Dan Beebe, who's at left of Marinatto in the photo above.
Posted on: September 22, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 1:21 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Jamie Dixon isn't worried.
Those who say that Pittsburgh will have difficulty moving from the Big East to the ACC need a dose of reality.
As long as Dixon doesn't bolt back to the west coast - which doesn't appear likely - the Panthers will still compete for league titles.
Yes, even in the ACC.
Pittsburgh was able to do it against the likes of Syracuse, UConn and Louisville, finishing first or second in the league in four of the past five seasons.
The Panthers will be able to do the same against North Carolina and Duke.
In case people haven't noticed, Dixon can coach a little bit - and he'll continue to get players.
"A lot of people are making too much of how it's going to effect our recruiting," Dixon said. "We haven't gotten guys from New York in two years."
J.J. Moore is the lone player out of New York that Pittsburgh has gotten in the Class of 2010, 2011 and thus far in 2012.
Let's face it: Khem Birch would have come to Pittsburgh whether the Panthers were in the Big East or ACC. Same can be said for Dixon's two 2012 commitments - New Zealand big man Steven Adams and DeMatha point guard James Robinson.
And as long as the Big East tournament remains in New York, Dixon and his staff will be able to sell the opportunity to play in Cameron and Chapel Hill - as well as the chance to play in New York.
That's what I like to call a win-win.
Dixon's already proven he can coach - and he wins largely with under-the-radar, chip-on-their-shoulder players.
He'll play the same somewhat soft out-of-league schedule he always does - and then the Panthers will in the mix for the ACC crown - as has been the case in the Big East for four of the past five seasons.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE