Dan72’s Take on Miami and the BB Season

Recap – Miami 79 – Pitt 73

Pitt lost their final game yesterday to Miami. While Pitt kept is close and led a good bit first half, it still was another late season failure. I thought Pitt missed Xman for the first time, not just his driving ability but his defense against the Miami very athletic point and two guards. Also, I am stunned by the incredible poor offensive play of Champ. It has been going on for 11 games now so it is not that he’s hurt. No idea what has happened to him…. none!

Miami was much more athletic than Pitt and ran simple give and go plays for layups inside that my former 8th grade girls rec team knows how to stop. You must turn the correct way on defense. That Pitt does not know how to do that, is a huge indictment on the Capel and his coaching staff. More on that next along with the fact that Pitt has no clue how to play any effective Zone Defense. Pitt started in a 1-2-2 zone, the single most difficult zone to play as your post defenders have to sprint to the corners to cover three point shooters. Why play that now when you have not played it all year??

Someone on the POV asked “What does Pitt do in practice?” I would like to know that also, because this team make more unprovoked mistakes game to game over the last two years than most.

Recap – 2020 – 2021 Basketball Season – ANOTHER TRAINWRECK!

Before I give my opinion, and it is only my opinion, on Pitt’s 2020-2021 Basketball Season, I would like to briefly review a few points in my season opening prediction article “The gang that couldn’t shoot straight!” and give each player a grade for this year’s efforts. One thing I commented heavily on was “when Pitt went into any kind of a zone defense, (last year) they got hammered!! Little changed this season. I also said this was as difficult schedule as Pitt has ever faced in the ACC. My big line “I see one or two wins unless Sibande plays!

Terrell Brown – I said that last year he presented no inside threat to shoot, and he needed to learn post moves (for the 3rd year in a row). He learned one and used it once. However, his defense at times was terrific but he again, was his own worst enemy fouling out of many games. A classic defensive example you learn in Jr. high school was…that if a player is driving baseline on you and you are the defender, you are allowed to put one foot over the base line, out of bounds to stop him. If he goes past you he is out of bounds.

Yesterday Miami drove baseline on him all day because he gave them room with his inside foot being inside the OOB line. If he steps over the baseline or on the baseline, they have no room to drive. He also thought is smart to push them as they went by! Why?  Pitt got zero points from its post players yesterday. A BIG problem. So, is this on Brown or piss poor coaching…. a subject that will be a theme of this current season’s assessment.

Grade C

Xavier Johnson – I could write a book on my criticism of Xman over the last two years. I said that he needed to fix his shooting form on his jump shot, stop being a ball hog, and become a leader at point guard. He did that a bit and Duke was his best game. It was all downhill after and now he is gone. I could write two pages on his great athletic ability and his incredible deficiencies. Overall, I think he won a few more games for Pitt than he lost.

Grade (C+)

Au’Diese Toney _ he left with four games to go averaging 15 points a game. Horrible shooting form, but an athletic force to be reckoned with. I think he gave Pitt all had until he got hurt. 

Nike Sibande – He was and is a terrific basketball player and is coming back next year. Why he did not play earlier is a mystery. Again, what do they do in practice? Was he that awful? Great defensive man to man player and the best shooting form on the team.

Grade A

Justin Champagnie – My comment on my first post “he is a quick and accurate shooter who will not be a surprise to our opponents as he was last year’s MVP. But he will be heavily doubled on Defense. Champ astonished me early in the season with a Michael Jordan like effort all over the floor and he was unstoppable. Then he got hurt, got double and triple teamed, lost his shooting touch and balance on the court. He was still Pitt’s best defensive player averaging many double doubles. My guess is he will be back next year or transfer out. Maybe to join his brother at St John’s after seeing the coaching difference at St John’s

Grade A-

Ithiel Horton – A Delaware transfer whose specialty is (missing?) three-point shots, supposedly the best player at practice last year. I made the comment that his talent was in Delaware, this is the ACC! He had a very up and down season, when he was on, he was good but most of the time he was NOT on. His defense against athletic guards was suspect at best and he was the chief culprit on not getting out on the opposition’s three point shooters.

Grade (C-)

Femi Odukale – I said in my opening report that he may be our best backcourt addition but with Xman ruling the team, he got little playing time until the last four games. He was a 52% shooter from the floor and 39% from Three-point land in high school. When he finally got the chance to play, he showed just that. I LOVE BROOKLYN players. They are tough and little phases them. He is OK on defense but uses his 6’5” height to his advantage. His high dribble is worth at least three turnovers a game and he needs to work on that. Unlimited Potential!!

Grade A+

Abdul Karim Coulibay – I did not think much of his potential from last year, but he improved in every area. I never understood why Capel never once played him with Brown at the same time vs big inside teams. He needs lots of help inside, but I like his future if he gets it. He exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Grade B-

William Jeffries and Noah Collier – They are kind of the same player, young and untested in the ACC. In their limited appearances, they showed what all frosh players show. Indecision, lack of court awareness and stupid mistakes with occasional flashes of brilliance. Not sure either will be back next year.

Grade – C

John Hughley – My comment at seasons start was that ‘He may be the answer inside.’ And he was …. until he was charged with a felony as a car thief and had to leave the team. The entire main difference between Pitt first 10 games and last 12 games was Hugley being a presence inside. I was really impressed with his inside game. Best I have seen at Pitt in years.

Grade – Incomplete.

The other players rarely played and really did not deserve a grade. My overall team grade is a D + for the season.

Coach Jeff Capel – Ugh! There were a ton of mitigating circumstances to this season with Covid, Hugley, Xman, Toney, Refs, etc. Where do we draw the line at how much of it is his fault? Here’s my take:

IT’S ALL HIS FAULT! He is responsible for everything. He’s the damn head coach! He makes three million dollars a year. He picks his staff, recruits players, and puts in systems. It is all on him!

The fundamental mistakes his teams make over and over and over scare me to death. He gives Pitt little advantage in game day coaching as his use of tactics and timeouts are highly questionable. His teams all the way back to Oklahoma have never been able to play zone defense.

Every coach has things unplanned for go wrong in a season from strange situations, players not getting along, injuries etc. He is no exception! It is how you handle those situations that either adds or subtracts from your reputation and resume. Pitt is an exceedingly difficult place to coach under normal circumstances.

I’ll give you one of my “unusual situations” I benched my starting two guards at halftime of a game for not following my instructions and Xman-like selfish play in a game we were supposed to win easily. They both walked off the team at halftime, went across the street to a bar, in their school uniforms, tried to order drinks and went home! Never saw that coming.

My response was not kind. One father swore he’d kill me, and one mother pulled me into the AD’s office to plead for her kid’s basketball life. We played with two frosh second and third string guards the rest of the year and went on to have a terrific season. One of those guards went on full scholie to a D1 school when unexpected crap happens you either make or break your reputation on how you handle it. It is part of the deal when you signup to coach any sport.

Especially, like Capel, when you have been dismissed from Oklahoma after only two years for poor game day coaching and recruiting, you must deal with it and bigly!! Finally, at Oklahoma, the alum’s comment was made over and over. “What on earth to they do at practice?” Sound familiar?

Grade D-

Thanks to everyone on the POV (even Tex) who commented and put up with my rants and overly positive views most of the year. I really appreciated each and every one. See all of you next basketball season. I think there is a 50/50 chance Jeff Capel may not be our coach.