Up Next: Clemson (+Prediction Thread)

By Richard Hefner

Editor’s Note: We are on a compressed holiday schedule this week, so had to delay this until today. Feel free to tee off on a prediction after digesting Richard’s always-thorough analysis. -Michaelangelo

Pitt is coming off their second straight 40+ scoring effort. Who would have thunk it? The 47 – 14 victory over Virginia Tech puts Pitt’s record at 5–4 (4-4 in conference). Pitt fans where happy to see another relaxing win. My worry stopped after the early 3’rd quarter goal line stand and the  following 99+ yard TD drive. The rest of the game was gravy.

Pitt’s next opponent is 7-1 (6-1 in conference) Clemson. They are coming off a Covid inspired bye week and game postponement after Clemson was already in Tallahassee. As I am typing this, I am watching a TV interview with Clemson’s head coach Dabo Swinney. Dabo is accusing FSU of not wanting to play and that the FSU is using Covid as an excuse. Dabo is demanding that FSU cough up $300k to reimburse Clemson for the cost of the trip (and upgraded hotel accommodations on a recommendation from Pat Narduzzi) if they want to reschedule. (Dabo did say that they had a team meeting in a “Circus” tent prior to game postponement. Cancellation, FSU forfeit.)

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney says Florida State administration ‘forfeited’ Saturday’s game (msn.com)

The scheduled kickoff time is Saturday at 3:30pm on ABC (was previously ESPN).

We all know the rise of Clemson under HCDS. Hired midway thru the 2008 to replace the departing Tommy Bowden, he won the 2008 rivalry game with the Gamecocks. He then promptly lost 5 straight to Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina squads. By 2013, the ACC started to change. Pitt and Syracuse joined the ACC. In 2014 Clemson finally won a rivalry game against U of SC and has not tasted the bitterness of a rivalry game loss since.

But the huge step up for Clemson began in 2015. For the time period 2015-19, Clemson has won both the Atlantic division and the ACC championship 5 straight years with an overall ACC record (including C/C) of 43-2. Those two losses were dealt by the ACC newest members (excluding the 2020 interloper Notre Dame) Pitt in 2016 and Syracuse 2017.

Clemson has also been a CFP team since 2015 winning the NCG twice. The ACC, wanting a 3’rd NC team, made sure Pitt was on Clemson’s schedule. It is Pitt that guarantees Clemson another NC victory. Pitt is the only team that Clemson played in regular or C/C games in the years they won the NC that they did not play in non-winning years. Iron sharpens iron (but so does a sharpening stone).

Continue reading “Up Next: Clemson (+Prediction Thread)”

The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

Michaelangelo’s Note: I asked Dan to write an overview of the upcoming Pitt basketball season because I think he’s got an extremely educated perspective on the game. (And I know that I do not.)

Also, not that some of you care, but I know some of you do, so I’d like to point out that Dan titled this piece in reference to a 1970’s comedy movie about a bunch of Italian Mobsters. No modern day “gang” or “thug” overtones should be inferred. While Pitt’s on the court performance may leave something to be desired, Jeff Capel’s off-the-field player selection, mentorship, guidance and standards are second-to-none. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to all POVers and long-suffering Pitt Fans out there!

The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight

By Dan Davis, aka “Dan 72”

November 26, 2020

I wrote this article for the POV previous to the St Francis blow out embarrassment. See if you think I was on to something.

It’s hard to talk about this coming year’s version of Pitt Basketball without reflecting back on last year’s team.

Last year, when I tried to educate you folks on the intricacies of The Flex Offense (the one Capel loves) I mentioned that to be effective, you had to hit your jump shots. But…last year’s team was one of the worst shooting teams in Pitt history. I don’t know who taught Xman to shoot a jumper from below his chin, but it is a disastrous way for any outside player to shoot a jumper. It’s easily blocked, so X has to be wide open to even take the shot. This did not bode well for an offense that is predicated on high percentage shooting, and I think the result was pretty apparent on the court.

Editor’s Note – For those not familiar with the Flex Offense, here is a basic overview from Hooptactics.net

The Flex offense is a powerful screening game utilizing strong baseline and down screens. The continuous “Pick the Picker” screening action puts a tremendous burden on the defense by having to defend two different types of screens simultaneously. Teams that exhibit good patience will surely create open shots. The Flex continuity also provides strong offensive rebounding and second efforts by constantly having two rebounders on the weakside.

Offensive Fundamentals Required

Passing – Click Here

Executing Base Screens – Click Here

Setting & Using Down Screens – Click Here

Executing Back Cuts – Click Here

Okay back to Dan’s write up:

Because X-man couldn’t shoot last year, Capel was forced to go into the standard 1-4 offense to get any screens set and shots closer to the basket after just eight games.

Editor’s Note – Here is what my research on the 1-4 offense turned up. From Hoopstudent.com:

The 1-4 High offense is a basketball offense that can be useful to teams that have several guards with the ability to shoot from the perimeter. It features a ball handler at the top of the key, two high post players, and two players located on the wings near the foul line extended areas. This offense can also create scoring opportunities by way of basketball cuts such as the Iverson cut or via basketball screens such as the cross screen. Additionally, teams with high basketball IQ will be able to take advantage of potential backdoor possibilities because of the open space below the free throw line extended. Also, teams can use the 1-4 high offense to execute actions such as high low and screen the screener.

Okay again, back to Dan:

The thing about the flex is that it requires a team to have good shooters AND an offensive threat at center. Regardless of whether we were in the flex or the 1-4, last year Terrell Brown presented such a little threat to score, that defenders constantly sloughed off of him an double teamed our shooters. As a former coach, I simply cannot understand why Brown can’t learn one offensive move back to the basket and one facing the basket. Most inside post players learn those moves in 8th grade.

So to summarize last year’s offensive woes. 1) Our guards couldn’t shoot, and 2) our center literally had no offensive moves.

Continue reading “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight”

Reading Between the Lines: Clemson Edition

Fresh off a convincing win against the Hated Hokies, Pat Narduzzi was feeling good. As usual, we trotted out our crack team of Football Analysts to decipher what he really meant to say.

PAT NARDUZZI: All right. How we doing today? Good. Obviously our focus all turns to Clemson after a nice team win Saturday against Virginia Tech. And when I say nice, I mean like embarrass Justin Fuente and probably make him lose his job nice. Again, as I said Saturday we probably talked enough about Virginia Tech already, I felt like that was a marathon presser after that game. So we talked probably enough about that. But I’d like to talk about it some more. You know if you want to. Forty seven points guys. Forty seven points.

But great team win by our guys again and the resilience that our kids showed going through that week will only help us going into this second week going into Clemson. You’re going to face the No. 4 team in the country in Clemson. They’ve got weapons everywhere, on offense and defense, they have got depth, they’re long, they’re fast and obviously they’re well coached. Dabo does a great job, got a lot of respect for him and always have and how he operates his business down there. We’re looking forward to a great week. So questions?

In fact it’s a complete 180 from that garbage fire of a Hokies team that Fuente has got going. Say doesn’t Fuente mean “Fire” in Italian? Hah. Oh wait, actually means fountain. But a fountain has water, can use it to put out fire. Hah. You see what I did there? I sure am going to be sad when that guy is shown the door. I just have too much fun when I beat this guy. Okay I’m done. I really am. Seriously.

Continue reading “Reading Between the Lines: Clemson Edition”

Virginia Tech at Pitt Postgame Thread

Virginia Tech at Pitt Postgame Thread

Well. That happened. I don’t know what it is about playing Virginia Tech with a one-dimensional offense at Heinz Field on senior night that brings out the best in Pitt Football, but damn. If I were Pat, I’d lobby the ACC to keep Virginia Tech as the final home game of the season in perpetuity.

And think about Virginia Tech. Oh those fans just have to be livid. I mean they didn’t just get blown out, but they got blown out by Pitt. Pitt! A team that couldn’t score inside the redzone if we replaced the opposing defense with a wet paper bag. Pitt! The team that mustered exactly zero points against them in Blacksburg last season. Pitt! The team left for dead by many (including me) after dropping four games in a row just after they broke into the top 25. And yet, here we are. Jaylen Barden Emerged. DJ Turner had an All-ACC Day. A young offensive line blocked better than the veterans they replaced, and Kenny Pickett went out and had his best game as a Panther. 47 points later, Justin Fuente’s seat is feeling pretty damn hot. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Continue reading “Virginia Tech at Pitt Postgame Thread”

Virginia Teach at Pitt Open GameDay Thread

In my gut I feel like Pitt is going to come up short in this one. Maybe it’s shell shock from last year. Maybe it’s just late November pessimism. Maybe it’s just been too long since I’ve seen us run the ball down someone’s throat. But… Bud Foster is gone, it’s (probably) not going to rain, and the home team has won the last 7 out of 8 in this series.

As Richard pointed out on Wednesday VT is coming off a grueling stretch of games and Pitt has played one game in three weeks, so they should be rested and healthy. Kenny Pickett’s ankle should certainly be in better shape.

At the end of the Day the defense is going to have to create some turnovers just like against FSU. And it sure would help if Whipple can manage to find a running game.

So yea my gut says Pitt loses, but rationality (and fanhood) wins out. Pitt 24 – Hokies 21.

Update: 2:15 PM

University of Pittsburgh Department of Athletics Statement:

Pitt has 16 players who will not be available for today’s football game against Virginia Tech due to COVID-related protocols.

Up Next: Virginia Tech

By Richard Hefner

Pitt is coming off an unscheduled bye week. The Pitt vs Georgia Tech game was postponed due to Covid concerns at both schools. The game has been rescheduled for December 12th. Pitt still stands at 4-4 (3-4 in conference). Pitt will be playing Virginia Tech 4-4 (4-3 in conference). They are on a 2-game losing streak losing first to #25 Liberty (35-38) & last Saturday to Miami (24-25).

It is a home game and Senior day. It is a 4:00PM kickoff and broadcast to non-Comcast customers on the ACC Network.

Justin Fuente is in his 5’th year of being the HC at VT. He took over for long-time and much beloved HC Frank Beamer. Fuente is not beloved by the Hokie faithful.

Here are some links that question Fuentes’ coaching acumen, his openness and basically everything that Pitt fans find so charming and endearing about Head Coach Pat Narduzzi.

Within the linked article below is another link (highlighted in “bold” in second paragraph) expressing some of the grievances against Fuente. It is from The Key Play, a Virginia Tech Blog.

Continue reading “Up Next: Virginia Tech”