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The Mosh Pitt: A Blueprint for Success

by Patrick Sehn

Welcome back to the Mosh Pitt, where we don’t have mid-season slumps.

Is the men’s basketball season is over?

I hope this group finds a way to gel and become a complete team in the waning days of the regular season, because right now they are certainly missing something. They found a way to come together in the wake of losing Levance Fields and Mike Cook in back to back games, so who’s to say Pitt can’t find a way to overcome adversity once again? I applaud Jamie Dixon and this coaching staff for finding a way to make this team competitive in a very difficult Big East, but let’s face it: the way they’re playing, Pitt won’t be a contender this March.

Turn this around, Pitt. I’ll even give you a simple blueprint on how to do it:

Step 1. Protect the defensive boards. Dejuan Blair and his 7 ft. wing span has been relatively consistent as far as rebounding goes, but it pretty much stops with him. During the last four games, including Wednesday night's win over Cincy, Pitt's been a train wreck under the basket. Players are finding themselves out of position when shots go up, often leaving opponents unchecked and open for rebounds. Pitt has not out-rebounded another team in over two weeks.

Step 2. Either limit the number of threes you take, or, well, make them. I have no idea why Sam Young leads the team in three point percentage, but he does. Something is wrong when your #3 guy is leading in that statistical department. Ronald Ramon is shooting just over 35% from behind the arc, and it’s not for a lack of open looks. Fields, Benjamin and Brown have been just shy of awful in this category as well, going 27%, 38% and 24% respectively. Shooting their way out of this slump isn’t going to work; driving and pulling up from shorter range might. Pitt needs to find a way to draw big men off the blocks and free up the front-court from the constant double teams they’re running into. Missing threes isn’t getting that done.

Step 3. Light a fire under Sam Young when the game is on the line. Granted, the Notre Dame game was probably already over when he missed that dunk and then took a blatant dive on an ensuing defensive possession, but has anyone else noticed he disappears or plays worse when the outcome is yet to be decided? As Lee’s Tunnel Vision pointed out a few weeks ago, and I have recently started to notice, Young is a very unemotional player.

Step 4. Keep the turnovers down. This is one area where Pitt hasn’t struggled, especially lately. Sam Young leads the team with 63 TOs, but he touches the ball on almost every Pitt possession. Ramon has turned the ball over less, which was inevitable with the return of Levance Fields. It’s encouraging to see these numbers stay low; they trail only WVU and DePaul in the Big East in that category.

Step 5. Did I mention the need to start making shots? The low amount of turnovers means you’re obviously getting some shots. Blair is as good as it gets under the boards, but he leads the league in offensive rebounds because he gets so many chances. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

Step 6. What happened to the defense? Marquette made Pitt’s defense look silly, Notre Dame put up over 50 points in one half and Cincy hit shots at a 48% clip. Only one time since Janurary has Pitt held an opponent to under 60 points, a number Pitt opponents reached with much less consistency over the last 7 years. Easier said than done, but step up on D.

None of this is groundbreaking, and most of it is fundamental. Find a way to make these things happen, and you’ll find you’ve got a pretty solid foundation to contend in March.

Football schedule released

The Panthers' 2008 football schedule was released this week. Some highlights:

--Pitt plays Notre Dame again this year in November. Here’s hoping that, unlike Tyler Palko, Pat Bostick can mind his manners during post game interviews when Pitt pulls off the win.

--I’ve been a proponent of NOT playing the Backyard Brawl over Thanksgiving weekend, and was happy to see them get away from doing that recently. Apparently, actually having students at the game didn’t appeal to Pitt or the Big East. What a joke.

--Finishing out the season with UConn is just as ridiculous. Why is the WVU game not that weekend?

--Everyone needs a cupcake or two at the beginning of the year, (except for Michigan. Zing.) and a good non-conference game or two, but Iowa? Really? If we’re gong to play a Big 10 team, let’s stop playing Michigan State and give the Iowa rivalry a rest and get a governor to force Penn State to play us, a la WVU/Marshall. Is that a viable way to renew the rivalry? Is JoePa old and senile enough that someone could trick him into scheduling Pitt? Why haven’t we tried this?

Head over to to get some more insight into this. They’re a great resource for all things Panther.

Who else can’t wait to see McCoy back in action next year?

OK, folks. I’m out of here. Send me some emails. Let me know how I’m doing. Until next time, Hail to Pitt.


Anonymous said...


You are right on with point #2.


The other night against Cincy, Field takes an ill-advised three with a minute to play and luckliy, he makes it. If he misses that shot, I guarantee Pitt loses.

This team has no identity and until they figure out what type of game they want to play (which unfortunately won't be until next year), they are going nowhere fast.

That said, I can still see the Panthers seizing control of the mSG hardwood next week. Well, at least for WED, THU, and FRI only to have it all come crashing down at some point on SAT night.

Like a buddy of mine said last year, Pitt has become the Atlanta Braves of the Big East Tournament.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Blueprint for success:

1. Learn to come back from 11 point deficits late in games!

It's about time we were the comebackers and not the comebackees after that Notre Dame loss.

Anonymous said...

The Pitt press was awesome and caused this victory. Why is it used only once per year?