All is well in the Steel City

January 20, 2009
Sam Young looks old

Sam Young looks old

We don’t have any desire to live in Pittsburgh, but it’s certainly not a bad time for residents there to “rep yo’ city.”

With Big Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes in attendance, the Panthers recovered from Saturday’s loss to Louisville, getting a good looking win over Syracuse.  Sam Young scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half, as Pitt employed brute strength and ran away with this one, writes Bud Poliquin of the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Bill Raftery, Jay Bilas and Sean McDonough exchanged friendly jabs throughout, and were briefly joined by Steve Andress, a ‘Cuse broadcasting student (probably part of the quasi-elitist “Newhouse School”) as part of their Campus Connection week.

The match-up we were following during the game:  Levance Fields vs. Jonny Flynn.  Two top guards with different styles of play.  Fields wins the battle and the war here– as he was much more effective from the field (7-11 for 15 points) than his counterpart (Flynn was a dismal 3-14, getting  6 of his 12 points at the free throw line).

Elsewhere in the Big East, Providence holds firm over Cincinnati.  For what it’s worth, the Friars are solidifying themselves as the ninth best team in the conference and appear on track to receive an at-large bid.

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Quickie Recap 1.3: Take nothing for granted in the Big East, Wake still perfect

January 4, 2009
A lot of love in Pittsburgh, maybe too much

A lot of love in Pittsburgh, maybe too much

Georgetown received a giant reality check on Saturday afternoon, or maybe it was just the reality of how vicious the Big East will be this year.  After going to Storrs and knocking off the #2 Huskies earlier in the week, they were rewarded with a match-up against the undefeated and energized Pittsburgh Panthers.  The Hoyas kept it close in the first half, with DeJuan Summers putting the team on his back.  However, the depth and toughness of the Panthers was too much for the Hoyas.  Tied at 40 with just under 15 minutes to go in the game, Pittsburgh outscored the Hoyas (turned puppies) 30 – 14 down the stretch in order to prevail 70 – 54.  DeJuan Blair may only be 6’7″ but he may be the second coming of “The Round Mound of Rebound.”  Blair finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds and the Panthers out rebounded the Hoyas 46-21.  Levance Fields dished out 8 assists with zero turnovers, improving his assist to turnover ratio to 4.8 : 1.  The 16 point loss was the Hoya’s worst home loss since 2004.

Moving up I-95 a few hundred miles, there is a little something to jam about today in Jamaica, New York.  The St. John’s Red Storm created a lot of havoc for a sharp shooting Notre Dame team, in order to get a major upset 71 – 65.  Notre Dame came into Saturday’s game averaging slightly under 10 three balls a game.  The Fightin’ Irish were not able to weather the Red Storm’s tenacious defense that only allowed the Irish to hit on 4 of their 17 three point attempts.  DJ Kennedy aided on the offensive end with 20 points, he also collected 10 boards.  Luke Harangody still “got his” in the form of 28 points and 14 rebounds.  This is a bad loss for the Irish, who can’t afford to drop ones to the bottom feeders of the brutal Big East.

Wake Forest took their unblemished record to the Land of Latter Day Saints and were able to keep it perfect in downing the BYU Cougars 94 – 87.  The loss ended a 53 game home win streak for the Cougars.  In an ESPN recap it was stated, “Wake Forest had to rally from an eight-point deficit in the second half and an entire game of deafening taunts and chants from the home fans, who were loud and rowdy throughout the night.” Wrap your head around that.  Mormons = sober, we’re awfully confused.  Jeff Teague led the Demon Deacons with 30 points and James Johnson helped with 22 points and 15 rebounds.  BYU was led by Jimmer Fredette’s 23 points and 9 rebounds, a majority coming from his first half performance.  We’re guessing BYU will not be inviting anymore Demon Deacons into their church gym anytime soon.  Wake now has a full week off before inviting the #1 UNC Tar Heels down Tobacco Road.


Quickie 11.17 Recap: Lot of Games, Little Action

November 17, 2008

Pitt's dominating win over Miami was like a girl _____________ Tower

So there was a bevy of games on the slate last night. For those of you looking for some drama and hoping for something like Miami of Ohio following up their effort against UCLA–well nothing of the like really happened. Pittsburgh turned it on in the 2nd half and steamrolled those Red Hawks, UCONN scored two more points in the 2nd half than their opponent put up in the entire game, and Stephen Curry is doing his best to extinguish any doubt that moving to point guard will prevent him from scoring points, dismantling a trifling JMU squad. Villanova also put up an impressive 107 points to annihilate Fordham. Er scratch that…Fordham would struggle against Division III teams, they’re atrocious

The closest game on the Top 25 scoreboard was Georgetown (probably on auto-pilot) with a nine point win over Jacksonville. Boring.

Yes, I (Nick) am aware that it appears I am purposely overlooking Sunday’s Duke-URI outcome, where Jimmy Baron nearly single-handedly snapped the Blue Devils 62 game home non-conference winning streak. My response…this time of the season is like Spring Training: If you win, great. If you lose…well it’s just Spring Training. Right? RIGHT? Anyone?

Anyways we’re looking forward to the first big matchup of the season…UNC and Kentucky. The Wildcats still suck but at least it’s a “brand-name.” Tyler Hansborough is still out with that injury, so we won’t need a big bottle of Aleve handy just to watch the entire 40 minutes of play.


Obligatory Preseason Top 10. #s 10-6

November 12, 2008

OK it’s just about that time. Baseball is finito, ESPN is in full on “NFL ALL DAY EVERYDAY UNTIL IT HURTS!!!” mode, and it’s getting effing cold in the Northeast. That can only mean one thing…National Novel Writing Month college basketball is about to finally tip-off. We’re not that into the whole preseason prediction crap–we’ll leave that to the talking heads. But even so we must post something. So we will stick to a quick top ten, as we finally get this blog rolling.

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#10 OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Blake Griffin does a pretty mean David Tyree

Blake Griffin does a pretty mean David Tyree

When Sophomore Blake Griffin announced in April that he was giving up his Lottery Pick status, millions of dollars and stripper groupies to return to trifling Norman, Oklahoma, you better believe coach Jeff Capel was pleased. Chances are however, the rest of Sooner Country said, “cool” and resumed their insatiable anticipation for the upcoming spring football game.

It’s pretty simple with this team: As (Blake) Griffin goes, so go the Sooners. He’s a preseason All-American, which is well deserved. We should note that his older brother Taylor is on this team, but serves as a bench reserve and doesn’t garner any attention from the NBA.

In addition to BLAKE GRIFFIN, there’s a few other guys to keep an eye on. Tony Crocker will have to continue his 3-point prowess-as he shot over 40 percent from 3 last season. He will look to spot up with passes from freshman Willie Warren, a Top 25 recruit making the transition to point guard.

OU will participate in the NIT Season Tip Off, with potential noteworthy match-ups against Davidson and Purdue. Other than that it’s a pretty easy non-conference schedule, although we’re full of glee for that December 10th match-up against the Maine Black Bears. WHOOOO!!!

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#9 NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH

I mean, they sure don't not look alike

I mean, they sure don't not look alike.

GODY!!! OK we just wanted to say that once. The Irish look good this year, and return Big East Player of the year Luke Harangody. That red head can play.

The Irish are set up for a very entertaining season, with one of their best teams on paper and toughest schedules in recent memory. They will get lei’d out in Hawaii and participate in the Maui Invitational, with potential match-ups against Texas and UNC.

We’re expecting a 30 win season from this team, but keep this stretch of games in mind…from January 12th to February 12th their schedule is as follows: @ Louisville, @ Syracuse, UCONN, Marquette, @ Pitt, @ Cincinnati, @ UCLA, and home to Louisville… Good Luck Leprechaun.

In addition to luck and Harangody, the Irish will always be in games with Kyle McAlarney stroking it from deep—he shot 44 percent from 3 last season. They also have Tory Jackson, the “Tito” to McAlarney’s “Michael,” as he led the Big East in assists last year. That reference probably resonated with our fathers, but none of our other readers.

There will be depth issues as the bench lacks a real sparkplug who can score, but a good, top-heavy team here that will certainly be battled-tested come March.

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#8 UCLA BRUINS

It all falls on Darren Collison now, as UCLA is sans Kevin Love

It falls on Darren Collison's shoulders, as UCLA is sans Kevin Love

If college basketball powerhouse programs were like little girls, they would all be whispering into each other’s ears talking about how UCLA has been to three straight final fours, but won NO NATIONAL TITLES!!! HAHAHA!

So this year, as The Buffalo Bills look to reach their fourth straight Super Bowl UCLA looks to reach the Final Four for the fourth consecutive season, Ben Howland will have to find a way to maximize effort. The Bruins return All-American Darren Collison and have an explosive freshman in Jrue Holiday. But with the losses of Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and that really handsome boy Lorenzo Mata-Real, depth will certainly be an issue. If you don’t believe us, James Keefe is expected to start at power forward—over the past two years, he’s only managed 1.9 points per game.

Yes, the Pac-10 will be down this year so UCLA will still be the class of the conference. But getting to Detroit will be tough, as well as keeping those little girls from laughing.

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#7 PURDUE BOILERMAKERS

A Final Four appearance could make Matt Painter national coach of the year

A Final Four appearance could make Matt Painter national coach of the year

If you’re looking for a trendy pick to follow this season jump on the Boilermaker bandwagon, a team that’s got a ton of energy and depth.

All five starters return, and seven of their top eight scorers, to a team bounced by Xavier in the 2nd round of the 2008 tournament. We saw these guys in person last year, and were very impressed with their backcourt—something that’s imperative to success in college basketball.

Coach Matt Painter has supplanted ESPN weirdo Steve Lavin, and New Mexico Head Coach Steve Alford as the “Coolest Guy In College Basketball With Slicked Back Hair.” Although few other competitors really come to mind.

Anyways, getting back to that backcourt, they have guards a plenty and a point guard by committee comprised of E’Twaun Moore (all around stud), Keaton Grant (voted by teammates last year as team MVP), and Chris Kramer (reigning Big 10 defensive player of the year).

There’s also Robbie Hummel. A 6’ 8” guy who can shoot lights out, even though he looks like a 3rd grader shooting with both hands.

Yes there’s a lot of talent here and a lot of guys who can handle the ball, making them a team you don’t want to press. However, the Boilermakers will need to do better on the boards this season. They virtually broke even in rebounding margin, so that will have to be improved if they want to close out games. If they can gel and figure out each other’s roles, there could be great success! in West Lafayette.

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#6 PITTSBURGH PANTHERS

These kids are good at watching basketball, not playing

These kids are good at watching basketball, not playing

We’re not descendants of Nostradamus, but we’re nearly certain that despite Pitt’s high level of talent, they will win at least 20 games, reach the Big East Tournament final, then struggle in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve accomplished the first two feats seven times this decade but have never even played in a regional final. They’ve got the make-up to finally break down that wall this season but some players will have to take on, and perform well, in larger roles. The backcourt now falls on the shoulders of Levance Fields. He is a typical, tough Panthers point guard plucked from the NY/NJ area. Now he will have to run the show with Ronald Ramon no longer around.

Dejaun Blair will be an absolute horse down low. He’s a rebounding machine that loves attention and loves to compete.
Expect him and Tyrell Biggs to take lesser opponents lunch money throughout the season.

The bulk of the scoring will come from Sam Young, a versatile senior who is the 2nd highest returning scorer in the conference. Pittsburgh will be fun to watch, probably even more then their intra-city professional counterparts Steelers and Penguins. I purposely didn’t include the Pirates because they’re more like semi-pro, but even that is being generous.