Pitt 83 – Virginia Tech 72 Game Wrap-Up

Here is another good post-game piece by Dan72 I’ve added links for background info.

There’s an old saying in all of sports which I never personally cared for:

“You’re never as bad as you look when you lose and you’re never as good as you look when you win!”

Pitt Basketball has rarely looked better than the victory tonight over a previous 13-3 Virginia Tech Hokie Team and… they never looked worse than the North Carolina and Notre Dame losses of last week. 

Xavier Johnson (XMan with 32 pts; 5 rebounds & 7 assists) sat on the bench to open and I may never start him again! Femi started at point guard and the team looked amazingly balanced to start. Then… like a Matador at a Bullfight in comes XMan…hitting three 3’s and running point guard the way John Wooden (UCLA Legend) drew it up.

He slowed the team down when they started to run amok and sped them up when VA Tech (VT) made their own runs. In between he distributed the ball brilliantly to open players, many times instead of taking a contested shot. He drove the basket and made acrobatic shots that drove Tech nuts!

He was the best athlete on the floor for either team (here is a video to prove it) and played great defense on top of it all. I cannot remember a better Pitt Point Guard performance ever. He is the first player to come off the bench and score 30+ points in twenty five years for Pitt. 

Others played very well for Pitt also. Horton missed his first three three point attempts and then, instead of sulking, hit four of his next five three pointers finishing with a total 15 points. Toney had a terrific game in support with six hard fought rebounds and 14 points. 

I have a sixth sense about when a player is hurt or not 100% no matter how they appear in general. Champangnie seemed to favor his left side a few times and I think he hasn’t been himself for a few games now. Still he scored 13 points and 10 rebounds. Someone on POV said it was his knee and they could well be right. He was doubled any time he had the ball as Tech was not going to let him beat them. 

VA Tech has a nice team but they are nothing special. No point guard and no tall big man inside. They had their star 6’9” Aluma inside with 30 points and a bunch of role players to assist him. 

Pitt is off to UVA this weekend as Covid has caused new  scheduled games and Florida State is a mess with the virus. Game time Saturday for the University of Virginia Cavalier team is 4:00 PM. 

Congratulations to Coach Capel and staff on some terrific coaching. It’s no small thing to turn a team around after the kind of poor games we played over the last eight days with losses to Wake Forest 76-75, UNC 75-65 and then Notre Dame 84-58. 

Hail to Pitt!!!

65 thoughts on “Pitt 83 – Virginia Tech 72 Game Wrap-Up

  1. Ike – here is your Dan Recap piece… You know each POVer is thinking about you when we read & post the comments.

    BTW – how’s the relief job I’ve done so far? Pretty up beat I’d say… when it comes to BB that is.

    Liked by 9 people

  2. great adage to start out the piece ….. and quite true. If Aluma had any help at all, he could have been player of the game (30 and 10) …. in fact, the center had 4 of VT’s 9 three-pointers.


      1. I remember “Mooney” shooting those high arced shoots from the corner…what a beautiful ball player to watch…the counter to watching Tony Dorsett on the FB field-


      2. a couple of thoughts about Knight and Harris

        — I’ve always considered Knight to be the best Pitt player ever, a thought shared by many. And you will note the he only got to play 3 years at Pitt while everyone else on the list but Hennon played 4.

        — I’ve always considered Harris to be one of the most underappreciated players. He was the best scorer, if for no other reason, he was the most consistent. It seems to me that he had less off-nights than most others


        1. Larry has the misfortune of playing on some pretty horrendous teams. Especially the 76-77 season team
          that went 6-21.

          Larry was mostly a jump shooter, he rarely tried to take anyone off the dribble. Something Knight could do and helped get him drafted by the Lakers and the Pacers.

          Billy K was also a much better rebounder…..avg’d over 12 rpg in his Pitt career. While Harris only
          avg’d 5 rpg.


  3. This represents a dramatic change in maturity and grit to come back from progressive depression of the last three games. They definitely have weaknesses in depth in the front court, particularly if Champagnie is not 100% but the guards seem to get stronger and shoot better. This bodes well.

    If they play at a high level and defend the 3 with the intensity thay did against VT they have a shot at an upset of Virginia.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Interesting to see that Justin’s twin Julian has been the major factor in placing St. Johns on the bubble as has Julius with Pitt.

    What an amazing talented set of twins!


  5. I actually forgot that Pitt played last night. I just got on the POV to see the current topic of discussion. Imagine my surprise to see they played, and won!! Holy fefters. A good yoi and double yoi for Pitt BB. Now I get to check out the highlights on You Tube. Thanks for the pleasant surprise, Dan 72.


  6. Thanks again Dan. Appreciate the insights!

    Thought DiPaola’s article in the Trib was interesting. Toney exercising some leadership muscle.

    As I was not able to see the game, would appreciate it if someone could contrast what X was doing in the game (aside from actually making shots) vs the games where he didn’t play as well.

    My daughter and son-in-law are Wahoos and my younges (a Pitt grad) is in Charlottesville atrtending Darden. Like me, all were pleased with last night’s result. That will change on Saturday when we become “a house divided” as they say in Virginia.

    Ike – be strong buddy!!!!


  7. Let us not forget that penn state beat the hokies in the ACC/big 10 Clash.

    So be careful on how big of a win you make this.


    1. But this was big for confidence and to get out of the rut. The way Pitt responded was excellent. I credit Capel and the players for having pride.


    1. When you can’t count on getting many points out of your center position mostl games are not very good matchups. And Va should be out for blood now after losing to VT recently.


      1. Actually, Virginia beat NC State in their most recent game, so they’re not in an especially critical game in any regard (more so than other games). But I did look at the box score against NC State, and 2 of their big men had an impact in terms of scoring and rebound, Huff at 6’8″ (12 pts, 6 rebounds) & Hauser at 7’1″ (18 pts, 5 rebounds).

        So this tells me that Hauser & Huff are 2 of Virginia’s best players and both are veterans, and this is not a good matchup considering our biggest weakness, so we will have to try to game plan especially defensive so we do not get taken advantage of as per the NC game.

        It’s too bad Collier wasn’t further along, I’d like to see him get another shot, but as it stand I guess we need to hope that Brown plays inspired (ie, pretends we are playing Syracuse) or maybe we go small for spurts to see if we can get away with it a little.


        1. You’re right…UVa’s top 3 scorers are their Frontline of 7’1″, 6’9″ & 6’8″.

          Pitt has trouble with talented frontcourts that are of that height. (see UNC)

          Liked by 1 person

    2. It’s probably a bad matchup, UVA is 7th in the nation in allowing points at 59.7 ppg.

      Plus they’re really tall across the frontline. And those 3 are the top 3 scorers as well.

      7’1″ Center
      6’9″ Forward
      6’8″ Forward

      2 of those 3 were Top 100 players coming out of HS.

      Only thing going for Pitt, is we just beat the team (VT) who just beat UVA.
      And VT beat them by 14 points.


  8. Thanks again for the write-up Dan, always appreciated.

    So critical to win handily against a very good team and also stop the skid while we’re at it. I thought we’d turn it around soon, we had one poor effort against Wake which was predictable after the Duke win, followed by a loss to NC due to a mismatch at the Center position, followed by a fluke loss to Notre Dame (no different then the loss to St. Francis), so I always felt this was reversible.

    As many have said here and elsewhere, Pitt really needs at least 2 of their 3 best to have good games, and when we do, I like our odds. Last night Tech went out of their way to screen out and double team Champ, and X & Toney (+ Horton) responded big time.

    I was initially shocked to see Toney out on the perimeter guarding one of their guards and therefore not in rebounding position, until I realized he was assigned to shut down their best 3 point shooter.

    Capel deserves credit for pulling the right strings here, especially since we outplayed Tech in the second half. I like the fact that Horton found his niche on this team and looks so comfortable (Sibande, not so much).

    I do have one question for the board: Did anyone notice Hugley in the background? Any whispers about his status…?


  9. OT: I didn’t realize it that Minor the MD transfer has two years of eligibility left. That’s not saying he would use the two years if he had a good year playing on the OL for Pitt this year. But with the way Gonclaves should up late last season the adding of Minor this year just might result in the Pitt OL playing at a much improved level.


    1. Devonshire actually has 4 years left if he chooses. I know from watching him in HS, there is a lot of talent there; hopefully we see it


          1. That is my understanding. He will need to sit unless one-time transfer rule is passed or he applies & is granted a waiver.


  10. jrnpitt, good comments, and my past history shows I’ve not exactly been complimentary or optimistic when it comes to our OL play, but literally the end of last season gave me hope, not only because they finally played better, but because it was the infusion of some younger guys that made the difference. Goncalves for sure, but Kradel too, and I think even Zubovic looked pretty good.

    So if you add veteran Carter Warren and now Minor, we have the makings of a respectable line. By the way, I wouldn’t think Minor would strike me as a guy who stays for only one year, he seems to be looking forward to education at Katz.


  11. For local BB HS starts here is this article from the Trib…


    Also – when I have time I’m editing some comments for readability, mostly paragraph breaks, and minor stuff so don’t be surprised if your comment might look different than when you first posted it.

    I do this because when readers see a big block of solid text they tend to skip over it – but when cut up into blocks they find it more palatable. Content will remain same. All your comments are excellent and I want each to be read fully.


    1. Maurice Lucas played for Al McGuire at Marquette. Yours truly was actually recruited by Al, who imo was one of the best coaches ever. And he was a great color man on NBC college broadcasts for years.

      Maurice was on Marquette’s first Final 4 team before they won it a couple years later.
      They lost in the Finals to NC State, who had beaten Pitt in the Elite 8 that year.

      So you had the Pgh connection there, as Big Mo went to Schenley HS.
      Makes you wonder, if Pitt had been able to keep Lucas at Home and team
      with Billy Knight and that team, how good they would have been !!

      Mo also won a NBA Championship as the Enforcer for the Portland Trailblazers, I was
      just talking with a young gent from Portland about Mo and his role on the Trailblazers.
      Since that was the only NBA Championship of 1977, that Portland has ever won.


    2. I saw Lucas, Simmie Hill and Norm Van Lier play in HS. In fact, Hill and Van Lier were teammates at Midland. I saw Lucas lose to my HS, New Castle, in a holiday tournament; nonetheless, Schenley would go on to win the state title

      Lucas ended up as the most accomplished pro player from WPa, no doubt, but I thought Denny Wuycik, Ambridge, was the best High schooler I ever saw

      Lucas played in the national title game at Marquette, losing to NC State. Marquette would win the tile for Al McQuire 2 years later, McQuire’s final game as coach

      Lucas would win NBA title in his first year with Portland behind Bill Walton. Walton liked him so much, he named his son Lucas in his honor


  12. Thank you for your article, Dan.

    What a rollercoaster this team is on. Disappointing stats from our post players – we need to somehow hit on one of those decent big guy recruits… But that’s been true since Adams…

    Go Pitt.


  13. Coach Dan…why didn’t the Hokies get someone in X man’s face when he started raining down 3’s with his off-the-chest shot..surely, someone could have at least slowed him down…seems like piss poor coaching adjustments on Tech’s part or am I missing something/ (X’s long ball kinda reminds me of Bob Cousy’s set shot only the X man can do it in the air)


    1. Hey BigB..this is Coach Wolverine.

      You can’t get up on X-man cause he’ll buzz right around you, and take you off the dribble to the hole.
      He’s got a nasty crossover.

      His shot is really old school….and he does do it in the air sometimes while doing a scissors kick. lol


    2. I think the Hokies were in total disbelief watching one shot after another swish! They probably figured he’d go cold (as he had so many times) but he stunned everyone by scoring 32.
      When he drives 1 on 1 or 1 on 2 he’s mostly unstoppable and a magician with the ball, but when he drives 1 on 3 or more, X gets stripped and gets no calls. If X plays like this every night Pitt will be very tough to beat. One other reason they didn’t cover X and Toney was because they were doubling Champ at every opportunity. That left everyone else wide open.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Watched the last couple minutes of TCU vs. OSU last night. Jamie’s team won when OSU’s star player made a dumb play with 11 seconds left. He forced a tough shot even though his team led. TCU came down and scored to win.

    BTW, used to drive me crazy that Jamie was out on the floor so much while the game was going on. And he still does it. Always thought there should have been a penalty on him…

    Go Pitt.


    1. I think brother Frank….ONLY person to be the HC for both UNC & USC (Gamecocks)

      Before Marquette, Al coached at Belmont Abbey outside of Charlotte….which is like a Monk place. haha

      Harley’s & Monks. Pretty cool !


  15. Dan, great write up and Ike, welcome back. Keep fighting the good fight.

    Can’t really comment on the actual game since I got the play by almost play from those that were watching, including Reed. Thanks for translating the action fellas. My sense was that VT didn’t really have a big man presence which fits Pitts game perfectly. X is extremely quick and often the reason he gets out of control ( i am thinking ron flockhart) if you all remember that guy. He played hockey for the pens and was so fast, that his brain couldn’t keep up with his feet and he would be out of control. Exciting to watch at times, but also extremely frustrating when he just didn’t slow down and work within the system.

    Glad Capel sat him for his prior game antics. The question now becomes, does he start Femi against UVA and bring in X off the bench, or, did X learn a valuable lesson in teamwork making the team work. I like Femi as a floor general presence. He sees the court well.

    With his quickness, speed and build I would love to see him tryout for Nard as a CB or WR.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Flockhart…..you get 5 points in Pens trivia for that one. Pens had a few guys like him. Ron Schock would get an end to end going at least a couple times/game, only to to cough it up in the slot when starting his deke.


  16. It seems like Pitt can win games if the effort is there. They have the ability to play great defense, and their shooting and foul shot concentration were much better against VT. But they need more rebounding out of the 5 spot. Coulibaly had I think one rebound against VT. This doesn’t cut it. So one wonders if Pitt can duplicate that effort against Virginia with their huge front court. It looks like Pitt is being given an 8% chance to win this game…


  17. Lastrow – AL McGuire brought his Marquette team to play SouthCaroliina when I was living in Columbia, SC. Winter snowy stuff in Milwaukee, so AL put his Harley on the plane, and rode around in SC! True story!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. PSA – PSA – PSA – PSA PSA – PSA – PSA – PSA

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    What Veterans Need to Know About the Walk-In COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic:

    Veterans must be 65 year of age and older and enrolled with the VA Maryland Health Care System to be eligible to receive the vaccine.
    Veterans must present their VA Health Information ID to park in the garage at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and to check-in to receive the vaccine.

    Veterans will be served on a first come, first served basis while supplies last.

    The Baltimore VA Medical Center is located at 10 N. Greene St., Baltimore, MD 21201. The entrance to the medical center’s parking garage is located off of W. Fayette Street.

    The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses, so Veterans will be scheduled for a second dose 21 days after their first dose.
    Masking and social distancing are required when visiting any VA facility.

    Veterans cannot be accompanied by a friend or family member unless they require caregiver assistance due to COVID-19.

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    This is the fastest and most reliable way to receive the latest information about the COVID-19 vaccine directly from us. You can also unsubscribe to any of these options at any time.

    Thank you,

    VA Maryland Health Care System


    1. They have been doing the same program at the Pittsburgh VA every Saturday since MLK weekend. Vets don’t need an appointment and they’ll get you register on the spot if you are not in the system. This Saturday FEB 6th the hours have been extended from 7am until 5pm. Huge turnouts every time so be prepared for a long wait.


  19. My thoughts on UVA vs Pitt. Teams that really give Pitt trouble are those that rain 3s and outscore Pitt. UVA is NOT one of those teams. They are very deliberate, well coached and low scoring. Yes the have a great post presence but they are no UNC! I give Pitt a good shot to win Saturday.

    Do you remember the helplessness that you felt vs ND and Wake when no mater what Pitt did, they just lit up the scoreboard? That’s how VA Tech felt last night. At half it was close 31-31 but Pitt had two 11 point runs and that was game, The shoe fits on the other foot too.!


    1. I can remember UVa holding Pitt to 7 points in the 1st half a few years ago. Haven’t seen them play this year but I assume they still play really good D, But I assume where they have the real advantage is underneath


    2. I’ve been getting “blind squirrel” comments down here from Cav and VT fans since the Hokie win.
      Seems like Pitt might be in the best position to beat the Hoos than we have been in some time. Guess it all comes down to whether X-man retained the learnings from the last two games.

      Would be a nice win for the program if it happens. Fingers crossed!


  20. Ike ….Blessings and Peace to you. Your are in my prayers daily. You and my friend Ernie age 66 are in the same boat, fighting the same battle. Ernies dad was the equipment manager for the Orioles 1959 – 1988. Some amazing stories. Has a autographed pic of Danny Murtaugh and Earl Weaver autographed in the 69 series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Danny Murtaugh was reported to have died like three times until it finally happened…

      Remind me when times are slow about my dad’s long friendship with Bob Prince from when they were in HS and then at Pitt. I had a chance to sit in the broadcast booth twice with Prince when I was 12 & 13.

      My dad died when I was 13 and Prince came to the funeral and after told me stories about Dad that kinda shocked me, but after I thought about it I could envision them happening.

      One thing they did at my grandma’s cabin in old Fox Chapel (late ’30s) was they would soak corn kernels in bourbon then put it out for the pheasants to eat. The birds would get so drunk all they had to do was pick them up and wring their necks.

      I’m sure dad and The Gunner were pretty tight themselves when they did it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You never told me these memories. I idolized Danny Murtaugh and Bob Prince. Got to pitch twice in All Star games Colt/Legion at Forbes Field. I’ve read every book on Prince. I stood in the room of the hotel in St Louis that Prince dove off the porch of into the pool below. About 8 stories.

        After moving to Baltimore in 1974 got to hear the many stories about Earl Weaver. His fave phrase when he would visit the mound of a pitcher struggling with control “Babe Ruth’s dead, throw strikes!” There were a lot of similarities between the Bucs and Orioles. Two brash hard drinking Irish managers…just one


      2. My father died when I was 13 as well (he was 38…smoked, scarlet fever as a kid, etc). You never truly get over it.

        Regarding Prince, I have a friend who was on the PIrates pitching staff in the 60’s and he roomed with Gene Alley. Both are from Richmond and I’ve had a chance to hear tales about Bob Prince. I understand he was quite the swimmer (ior maybe a diver) in his youth and sometimes would put those skills on display at hotel pools – diving off of balconies – after having a few pops.

        Look forward to that piece when you write it.


  21. Mo Lucas was the third best player on the 1971 Schenley Championship team. Arguably, the best HS team in the history of Western PA. Ricky Coleman was the best player on that great team, with Jeep Kelley being the second best. Some argue that Coleman was the best HS player to ever come out of Western PA.

    Ricky ended up at Jacksonville, which was a BB power at the time, but drugs and an injury limited his college and professional career. Jeep Kelly went to UNLV and Tom Thornton went on to play for Dick Vitale at Detroit.


  22. OT – Pitt women’s BB team played like crap tonight and lost big to VT. Terrible decision-making by the starting guards led to beaucoup turnovers and bad shots.

    Coach White says he wants them to play fast, but that’s not working out so well with a Soph. PG Harris (who looked a lot like “Bad X-Man” tonight…).

    Go Pitt.


  23. When I look at the top 25 in men’s basketball, I cannot help but notice several teams who hired their current HC around the same time as Pitt.

    Texas #5
    tOSU #6
    Bama #7 (Oates from Buffalo)
    Illinois #12
    Creighton #15
    VT #16
    Missouri #18
    Wisc #19
    Drake #25

    Another 9 teams receiving votes on the 26 to 45 list. Pitt has not been on either list for several long years now.

    I know we debate statistical use on this blog from time to time. Any flaws in the stats above that make you wonder if we have the right coach?

    I too enjoyed the win over #16 VT. I can also say I watched the previous 3 Pitt games as well. A lot of stats in those 4 games to mull through.


    1. yea, but did any of them take over a program that (1) was winless in its conference and (2) had just a couple of decent players returning? (and I’m being kind with ‘decent’ … T Brown, Wilson-Frame, Ilegomah, Chukwuka and Samson George)


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