Pitt Basketball: 2018 City Game Open Game Thread (Pitt v. Duquesne)

Pitt Basketball:  2018 City Game Open Game Thread (Pitt v. Duquesne)
Well it isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still the City Game. Here is the history of this storied rivalry, because those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it.

The basketball series was first played in 1932. The cross-town rivalry between the two schools intensified quickly, and the development of bad blood between the two schools on the basketball court and in the boxing ring led to the cessation of series following the 1939 game until it was renewed in 1953.  The rivalry reached its peak when both schools again found themselves members of the same athletic conference, the Eastern 8 from 1976–1982.  (It was renamed the Atlantic 10 Conference following the 1981–82 season).  During this period, the head coaches of Pitt and Duquesne, Tim Grgurich and Mike Rice respectively, were alumni of their schools and had played against each other in the 1960s. There was genuine dislike between coaches and players, and during these contests fights frequently broke out between players, and sometimes among fansWikipedia

Lets Go Pitt!  Beat Duquesne!


Flipped Another Recruit: Win One for the Gipper

Flipped Another Recruit:  Win One for the Gipper

Say what you want about Pat Narduzzi’s recruiting, but the man has a knack for flipping recruits.  I haven’t kept count but it seems like he flips at least two a year, which feels like more than any coach since I’ve been following Pitt Football (dating myself here, but that would be 1997).

Well folks, he’s flipped another one, at least in my book.  Rivals Three-Star Recruit Will Gipson had committed to Ball State until earlier this month, when he re-opened his recruitment.

Notably, Gipson did have one other P5 offer, which was from Rutgers.    Howard, Ball State, Toledo and Miami (OH) round out his offer sheet.

Sounds like Pat helped Gipson, who is from nearby Aliquippa, get a firm handle on the benefits of staying home.

“Honestly, I felt like this was the best choice for me,” Gipson said. “I didn’t want to go too far from home.

“Coach Narduzzi was the one there that really recruited me,” said Gipson. “I know a lot of the players there.”

The word on the street is the Gipson has good speed, running a 4.5 forty and is a playmaker for the Quips.  He did catch 51 balls for nearly 1500 yards and 20 TD’s his senior year, so he can clearly break the game at the Triple A level in Pennsylvania.

I haven’t had a chance to watch Gipson’s film yet, and I can’t stream it as I am on a plane right now, but I’ll add some analysis on that later.

We’ve had two other successful WR’s that were former WPIAL players:  Downfield blocker extraordinaire Aaron Mathews and of course Tyler Boyd.  If Gipson lands somewhere between those two, that would be a solid addition to our team.  Welcome to the Panthers Will!




ACC Championship Game Prediction Thread

ACC Championship Game Prediction Thread

Well, here we are.  It’s the eve the ACC championship game, against the mighty Clemson Tigers, right in their own backyard (or close enough too it).

You would have to be delusional to think we have a snowball’s chance to win this one, and Las Vegas agrees.

Pitt is  26.5 point underdogs according to at least one source, and Clemson outclasses us in every position (except fullback!)

But this is college football folks.  And while ESPN gives Clemson a 95.7% chance of victory, that leaves a 4.3% chance for us.

350Of course it means that 30 young Pitt men will have to play an absolutely perfect game.

And Clemson would have to play their worst game of the season.

But stranger things have happened.

Like the time Appalachian State beat Michigan in 2007 (App State was 33 point dogs)

Or the time Temple beat Virginia Tech in 1998.  (The Owls were 35 point dogs)

Or who could forget the time when lowly Stanford, coming off a 1-11 season took down #2 USC.  (This was also in 2007.  Stanford was 40 point dogs, and that game is commonly listed as the second biggest upset in the last 25 years.)

But these were not championship games.  They were September and October games, when anything can happen and teams are frequently overrated.

It is unlikely that Clemson is overrated.

Still, there may be some magic in the air on Saturday night.  Or maybe in the rain, if the weather forecast holds true.

At -26.5 a Pitt win would be the second biggest upset of the year from a point-spread standpoint, and certainly the biggest upset in ACC championship history (or any Conference championship history for that matter).

So go ahead, predict a win you Pitt optimists.   Just know that by doing so you are probably locking in a jinx.

Personally I’d rather be proven right and pleasantly surprised, and most predictions are going to have Clemson scoring a lot of points in a revenge scenario.

In that light, I originally posed the prediction that realistic side of me believed to be right.  Then I read my post and was immediately depressed.  I am spending too much money and traveling too far to not be able to cling to a shred of hope, no matter how small.  Nobody is giving us a chance and there is nowhere to go but up, and if there  is one thing Pat can do on gameday it’s get the guys fired up for the big one.  Lets see if we can’t make some history on Saturday because our fan base certainly deserves it.

Hail to Pitt and I’ll see you in Charlotte.




ACC Championship Week: Bits and Pieces

ACC Championship Week:  Bits and Pieces

Just a quick one tonight because I have a job that takes way too much of my time, but want to give you football fans something new to comment on.

First, even though we had a disappointing loss last week, we are still going to the ACC Championship, and this is pretty damn cool.  Regardless of what the betting line is.

Second, For those going to Charlotte, there is a Pitt POV tailgate hosted by our brother Fran (LastRowofSection4).  Find us at 118 South Church Street.  It will run from about 3:00 until 4:30.

4:30 is when the official Pitt Alumi event @BB&T Stadium starts.  You need to pre-register by tomorrow.  Get your ticket now by clicking this link.  They are $25 and include two drink tickets.   Should be a great way to tune up for the game.

Speaking of the game (prediction thread to hit on Friday so hold off on those please), here are some game notes:

Pitt Basketball: Pitt – Iowa Open Game Thread

Pitt Basketball:  Pitt – Iowa Open Game Thread
Well it’s our first power-five basketball opponent. Here are some interesting facts about the University of Iowa:
  • Iowa has produced more Division I college football coaches than any other college or university across the country, according to “The Wall Street Journal.”
  • The University of Iowa built the first law school west of the Mississippi
  • A man with a moustache is not allowed to kiss a woman in public in Iowa City (which is where the University of Iowa is located).

I don’t make up the facts people, I just report them.

Hail to Pitt!  Lets beat Iowa!


ACC Accolades

ACC Accolades

Say what you want about our team’s performance against superior talent, but Pitt has performed admirably against like-and-inferior foes. We’ve exceeded many fans’ expectations this year, and these individual honors are well-earned.

Six Panthers Named to All-ACC Football Team

An additional six Pitt players received Honorable Mention recognition


PITTSBURGH—Six Pitt players were named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference Football Team announced today by the league office, while an additional six received Honorable Mention All-ACC.

Senior tailback Qadree Ollison and senior offensive tackle Stefano Millin were second-team All-ACC honorees. The Panthers had four third-team selections: senior tailbackDarrin Hall, senior guard Mike Herndon, sophomore center Jimmy Morrissey and sophomore placekicker Alex Kessman.

Receiving Honorable Mention recognition were junior Maurice Ffrench (as both an all-purpose player and return specialist), senior fullback George Aston, senior offensive tackle Alex Bookser, senior guard Connor Dintino, junior cornerback Dane Jackson and junior safety Damar Hamlin.

The official All-ACC Team is voted on by conference head coaches, a representative from each of the 14 schools’ radio broadcast teams and select media members who cover the league on a daily basis.

Ollison and Hall were arguably the top tailback tandem in the ACC this past season. The Panthers have never had a 1,000-yard rushing duo but are on the cusp of that historic first.

Ollison (Niagara Falls, N.Y./Canisius) has rushed for 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns on 176 carries (6.44 avg.). He is only the sixth player in Pitt history to achieve multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Ollison had 1,121 in 2015 when he also was a second-team All-ACC pick.

Hall (Youngstown, Ohio/Austintown Fitch) has rushed for 935 yards and nine touchdowns on 123 carries (7.60 avg.). His yards-per-carry average ranks sixth nationally and second in the ACC.

The Panthers’ offensive front has paved the way for a ground game that ranks 18th nationally (232.7 avg.). Millin (Massillon, Ohio/Perry) was a key addition for the unit this past offseason, joining the Panthers as a graduate transfer from Kent State. He has started all 12 games at left tackle.

On the interior, Herndon (Greenville, Va./Riverheads) has started every game at right guard. Morrissey (Huntingdon Valley, Pa./La Salle College H.S.), who maned Pitt’s center position for 23 consecutive starts, had his all-star season cut short due to an injury sustained late in the Nov. 17 Wake Forest victory.

Kessman (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston) leads the Panthers in scoring with 68 points on 10-of-13 field goals and 38-of-40 PATs. He has displayed one of the strongest legs in college football, kicking six field goals of more than 50 yards over the past two years. This season, he has a 55-yard kick, two 54-yarders and a 53-yarder.

As champions of the Coastal Division, the Panthers (7-5, 6-2) will face Atlantic Division winner Clemson (12-0, 8-0) in the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game this Saturday, Dec. 1. The game, played in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, will kick off at 8 p.m., and be nationally televised by ABC (WTAE-TV, Channel 4, in Pittsburgh).



MMQB: Same Old Pitt Returns from the Grave

MMQB:  Same Old Pitt Returns from the Grave

I buried Same Old Pitt last week, but apparently someone forgot to put a stake in its heart, bash its head or shoot it with a silver bullet.

As you know, attention to detail is important.

And as a result, SOP was alive and well on Saturday, and busy playing havoc with our Football Team.   With the exception of three quarters of solid defensive effort, the rest of the team looked sluggish, undisciplined and lacking in the fundamentals.

Here is where I will need to clarify.  Same Old Pitt, by my definition has nothing to do with talent level, and has everything to do with playing the best game possible.  Every Pitt fan on the board, even the most ardent optimist, knows that Miami has recruited much better than Pitt in recent years.  If Pitt had played a clean game and had simply lost to a more talented team that played an equally clean game, no Pitt fan in the world would have the right to hang the SOP collar on this loss.

But Pitt did not play a clean game.

And neither did Miami, and that is what makes this loss so much more frustrating.

As good as the Miami Defense was (and they were very good), their offense was equally as bad.  Miami’s quarterback, N’Kosi Perry, finished 6-24 for 56 yards.  Fifty-Six Yards!   That was for the entire game.  All we had to do was play good special teams and stop the run, and we could have shut these guys out.

Yes that’s right. If we had played a clean game, we could have gone into halftime with a six point lead, nursed it, played good defense and special teams, and probably won 9 – 0 .  Instead we did things like this:

  1.  Phil Campbell committed a 15 yard penalty for running into the punt returner, who had called for a fair catch,
  2. which effectively put Miami in field goal range.  If Campbell kept his head screwed on straight you could have take three points off the board for the ‘Canes.
  3. The Punt Return Unit allowed a Punt return TD where we missed four tackles.  Yes there was a slightly questionable targeting / crackback penalty that was called and then revoked, but the missed tackles happened before that block anyway.
  4. Darren Hall fumbled on the Miami 47.  I’m not saying this would have been an automatic field goal, but 8 more yards would have put is on the edge of Kessman’s range.
  5. Down 10 – 0, knocking on the door of field goal range, Shawn Watson called an end-around that was blown up in the backfield, lost us eight yards and forced us to punt.

And this was all in the first half.

The biggest issue for me was the penalties.  If last week I’d thrown out “10 for 100 yards against Miami” as a clue, you would have responded “What is Darren Hall’s rushing stat line Alex?”  Nope.  That would have been our penalty total.  100 yards of penalties is not

pat narduzzi
We got this many penalties

ACC championship football.  Heck, it’s not even Pop Warner championship football.   10 for 100 yards was was half of our offensive output folks.  If you back out the defensive penalties (I think there were two maybe three) we netted about 130 offensive yards on the day.  Don’t blame the officials either.  The majority of our penalties were false starts, delay of game, personal fouls.  All of those things are completely controllable.

The second biggest issue was the offensive game plan.  It would be unprofessional of me to question Shawn Watson’s preparation.  We all know he and the rest of the staff work extremely hard.

shawn watson
Sure wish they’d stay out of our backfield

But doggone it three plays into the game it was plain to see that any play, running or passing, that took more than a second or two to develop was going to get blown up.  I know they were coming at us fast and furious, and I know that we had a new center and all, but there were some basic (dare I say…elementary?) things Mr. Watson could have done to scheme around Miami’s speed and aggression, and it just didn’t look he did that…at all, and what’s worse, he kept calling long-developing plays as the game went on.  Hopefully the light goes on against Clemson.

Yes there were a few bright spots.  They were mostly on defense.   Damar Hamlin played a very good game.  He’s go some nice athleticism and it looks like he’s starting to get it.  If he stays healthy he will be a difference maker next year.  Rashad Weaver batted down two passes (too bad he couldn’t have caught one of them…), and got a QB hurry (don’t get me started on lack of QB pressure).  Elias Reynolds looked solid at linebacker.  If he sharpens up his speed he will be very good next year.  On offense, Rafael Araujo-Lopes (South Florida native) clearly came to play.  Also Kenny Pickett did not throw an interception although we was sacked six times.

So there are some thought starts for your folks.  Go ahead and tee off with your good, bad and ugly.