Friday, January 28, 2011


Born and raised in New Jersey, Pittsburgh junior guard Ashton Gibbs returned home to the Garden State on Saturday and disappointed a raucous RAC on the Rutgers’ campus with a career-high 24 points as the Panthers escaped with a 65-62 win over the Scarlet Knights. Over 8,000 fans jammed the venerable venue creating a tremendous environment for a college basketball game.

“It was a great atmosphere, a great place to play,” said Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon. “The student section did a great job and I give them a hand for the energy and atmosphere they brought to the place.”

Much of that crowd was silenced by Gibbs who nearly single-handily kept the Panthers in the game throughout. Rutgers led 28-27 at the half as Gibbs scored 15 points in the opening half as his teammates struggled, shooting 2-15 from the floor.

Pitt seemed to begin to exert their power and strength in the second half, getting the ball inside to Gary McGhee, but the Scarlet Knights kept coming back. The Panthers would ease out to a six-point lead and several times would lead by 5, but Rutgers kept answering and closed within 58-57 with a Mike Coburn free throw.

However it was Gibbs who would hit the night’s biggest shot. With the shot clock winding down he connected on a three-pointer to push Pitt up by four with 55 seconds left.

“They find ways to win games,” said RU senior forward Jonathan Mitchell. “They got it to their best player and he made a big shot.”

Gibbs added a pair of foul shots to push the lead to 5, 63-58, but Coburn would add a pair of foul shots of his own and after forcing a travelling violation on an inbounds, Robert Lumpkins scored on a lay-up with 21 seconds left and once again RU cut the Pitt lead to one, 63-62. Pitt got the ball inbounds to senior Brad Wanamaker who calmly made a pair from the stripe to push the Pitt lead back to three.

The Panthers were 28-35 (80%) from the line in the game and made all eight of their attempts in the last 4:00.

Rutgers had one last chance to tie, but Pitt’s defense limited the Scarlet Knights to an off balance three from Dane Miller and Travon Woodall grabbed the rebound with 6 seconds left and Pitt was able to run out the clock.

“I wanted JB (James Beatty) to come around and shoot a three….They were face-guarding our main three point shooter, that’s very good scouting by them,” RU coach Mike Rice said. “That’s the small winning plays that sometimes people don’t recognize.”

Gibbs’ late three-pointer was Pitt’s only field goal in the game’s last seven minutes, although the Panthers were 12 of 14 from the line in that stretch.

“In a game like this pretty much every shot we make is going to be big for us. It was big and we showed some patience,” Dixon said of Gibbs’ three.

Besides Gibbs’ career-high matching 24, Gary McGhee also matched his career-high of 13 points and added 8 rebounds. Pitt outrebounded RU 39-30 in the game.

The Panthers finish their first half of the BIG EAST schedule at 8-1 and are the only conference team with one league loss. They are off until next Saturday when they host Cincinnati at the Peterson Events Center.


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Monday, January 24, 2011



Rebound and control tempo.

That was the plan of the Notre Dame staff to come into the Pete and do the unthinkable — win against a team looking more and more like a national championship contender. It’s the same plan that carries the Fighting Irish to two wins over the Panthers last season, although neither of those wins was accomplished at the Peterson Events Center, where Pittsburgh had won 51 of their last 52 games.

Rebounding and controlling tempo would be the key, while easier said than done was the thought rolling around my brain.

And then a Notre Dame went out and did it, dusting off their ‘Burn’ offense from a year ago and handing Jamie Dixon and his club their first conference loss of the season.

Scott Martin handled the first shift, hitting three three-pointers late in the shot clock in the first half, two of which came on the first two offensive possessions of the game for the Irish.

Carleton Scott took the second and third shifts, making big shots all night long. Scott, an Irish captain who’s absence over the recent road trip by the Irish coincided with their difficulties getting any wins, is back and better than ever. Scott’s three at the 7:12 mark was punctuated by the fact that he was fouled on the make by Pitt’s Brad Wanamaker.

When Scott’s free throw went down to complete the four-point play, Notre Dame had stretched a one point lead to five, 46-41.

Then Ben Hansbrough did what he sometime has been known to do — he went off and there was nothing Pitt could do to stop him in the last five minutes of the game.

Hansbrough raised up on Gary McGhee for a deep two with 4:29 left to make it 49-45 ND.

Hansbrough took turns taking a trio of Pitt defenders to the basket for layups. First he took McGhee when the big man switched out on him — 51-47 ND. Then he took Gibbs off the bounce, spun and laid it in – 53-49 ND.

The final nail in Pitt’s coffin happened with 17 seconds left and Pitt down three, desperately needing a stop. Hansbrough again went to the basket and scored.


A win on the road in the Big East is huge and there were all kinds of numbers being thrown around by the Irish SID post-game as Mike Brey, Hansbrough and Scott approached the podium. But Brey knew the most important one.

“It’s our sixth Big East win,” said Brey.

Responding to a question of how much easier it is with Scott back in the lineup Brey quipped “I geel better seeing Carleton in the layup line, let alone in the game, but really we need our four captains to be at our best and they all helped us tonight.”

Hansbrough was the man but he was quick to give credit to Scott who scored 16 points (5-6 from deep) and 9 rebounds. “That four point play was huge,” said Hansbrough, “we won by five, if that play doesn’t happen who knows what goes down late.” Pitt will bounce back.

They are 19-2 and 7-1 in the Big East and a serious threat to win a national title.

But tonight was all about the Irish.

Ben Hansbrough and his guys came into the Pete and did the unthinkable.

Mission — and gameplan — accomplished.

Notre Dame 56, Pitt 51


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Sometimes the actual event doesn’t match the buildup

#4 Syracuse vs #5 Pittsburgh seemed to be heading that way as I drove through Pitt’s campus towards the Petersen Events Center.

Scalpers were on the corners by 4:00 PM, a full three and a half hours before the 7:30 tip.

The students were lined up in front of the building by 4:45 and when they opened the door for them they came sprinting in screaming. The ESPN cameras were there to film them of course but it wasn’t that fake “oh my we’re on ESPN lets act like banshees” type enthusiasm. No, these kids were ready for ball.

By the time DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” started pounding, with the students rocking like they were at an actual show and following the chorus’ instructions to a tee, I half expected the Oakland Zoo to part down the middle and Ludacris to appear and drop his verse.

It was electric.

Spine tingling.

I purposely looked down my row to my right to see if I could tell whether the rest of the media there were similarly moved.

Some were uneffected, had probably seen it before and were no doubt worrying about their deadlines (feel sorry for them).

Some hid it well.

Some had little smiles on their faces.

Some were in slack-jawed awe.

Yeah, there was no way in hell the game could top this.

Then the game started, and like Rasheed Wallace so eloquently said — ball don’t lie.

And the truth this game provided was that Villanova better bring their A game when they face either of these teams because, quite frankly, I can’t imagine there’s anybody better in the Big East right now.

Both coaches kind of pooh-poohed it afterwards (I wish I’d been able to ask the question as I would’ve phrased it differently to produce a better answer) but the start of this game was unlike any I’ve ever seen.

Pitt hit the Orange with a 19-0 start and what threatened to be the most fascinating first round knockout since Michael Spinks’ people made him step in the ring with an at-his-peak Tyson. I asked the esteemed gentleman to my left if they had a mercy rule in D-1 hoops. Then the damndest thing happened.

Syracuse countered with a 17-0 run of their own.

Game on!

“Things like this happen from time to time but Syracuse is a very good team so we knew it wouldn’t continue and that they’d make a run,” said Jamie Dixon of the 19-0 start.

And from that point on it was a back and forth frenzy for the rest of the first half.

“If you’re going to get behind by 19 it’s better to do it early,” said Jim Boehiem.

Pitt went in up 31-27, knowing it had a battle on its hands.

Syracuse went in knowing freshmen CJ Fair is a baller supreme.

Fittingly, the second half turned on two defensive plays that oozed athleticism. With 13:04 remaining James Sutherland hit a jumper to cut the Pitt lead to 44-43. Talib Zanna was then stripped of the ball at the top of the key and Syracuse jet Dion Waiters headed the other way for the go ahead layup.

Only the Nigerian out of Bishop McNamara high school had other plans. Instead of putting his head down Zanna did what his 6’9″ frame does better than most, he sprinted back and pinned the shot against the backboard. BLOCK!

Travon Woodall retreived the rebound and headed the other way and found Gil Brown for an emphatic dunk.

46-43 Pitt.

The next play also involved Waiters, another fabulous young player for the ‘Cuse, and Brown. The score had been 67-57 for more than a few minutes. There had been some turnovers as Pitt seemed determined to let the Orange — if they could only hit some shots — back in the game. Another turnover resulted in Waiters streaking down the floor with the ball. “I saw his eyes,” Gil Brown told me afterwards, “I knew he was going to try it and I knew I was going to take care of business.”

The 6’3″ Waiters rose up to bang it and he was met by Brown at the square…and denied.

The final was 74-66 Pitt.

The Panthers, with help from their Zoo, definitely took care of business.

Syracuse, without their best player Kris Joseph, probably wouldn’t mind another shot at them on a neutral court.

Maybe there’s a date available in March, say, in New York City?

I can feel the goosebumps already.

- Pittsburgh got a season-high 21 points from junior forward Nasir Robinson. Brad Wanamaker added 15 points and a team-high 6 assists. The Panthers won the battle of the boards with a 44-30 edge and Gary McGhee grabbed a game-high 13 boards.

- The win pushed Jamie Dixon’s career record to 9-2 against the Orange.

- The win was Pitt’s ninth in a row against a top-5 opponent at the Peterson Events Center.

- The 6-0 start in BIG EAST play is the best ever for the Panthers.

- Next up for Pitt is a 4 PM game at DePaul on Saturday

- Syracuse saw their season-starting 18-game win streak stopped. The 1999-2000 Orange team began the season with 19-straight wins, the school record.

- Freshman CJ Fair came off the bench to score 16 points and grab 9 rebounds. Rick Jackson finished with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.

- The Orange played without leading scorer Kris Joseph who suffered a head injury in their win over Cincinnati on Saturday. “We’ll see when we get back,” said Boehim of Joseph’s status for Saturday’s contest with Villanova at the Carrier Dome.

- It was the eighth-straight regular season loss to the Panthers for SU.

*********Follow NBE Sports on Twitter: http://twitter.com/NBESports*****


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Thursday, January 13, 2011


Pittsburgh issued a statement to the country and remained undefeated in BIG EAST Play by going to Georgetown and defeating the reeling Hoyas 72-57 on their home floor.

Pitt came out of the gates hot and an early 17-2 run put the Panthers up 24-9 with 8:44 left. Jamie Dixon's club shot 58% in the first half and were led by Ashton Gibb's 16 points in the game's first 20 minutes to take a 41-24 lead at the half.

"They are a very good defensive team, there's no secret about that," Hoya head coach John Thompson III said. "I think they played very well on both ends of the floor. We dug a hole for ourselves in the first half and we missed ten free throws. If you make those it's a whole different ballgame. They're too good of a team to make that kind of mistake."

Georgetown shot 39% in the opening half, but their miserable 4-14 performance from the foul line only deepened their problems.

"I think we got them on a night where they didn't make some shots early, especially some free throw so we were fortunate in the regard," said Jamie Dixon. "I was really happy with how we played, how we stayed with our stuff, how we ran our sets really well especially in the first half and even in the second half."

Things did not get better early in the second as the Pitt lead ballooned to as many as 22 points, 55-33, at the 14:03 mark when Nasir Robinson scored on a transition lay-up from Brad Wanamaker, capping an 8-0 and forcing JTIII to call a timeout.

The Panthers did go more than 7 minutes without a field goal and the Hoyas took advantage to get within 11, 60-49 at the 5:22 mark, but Gibbs hit the dagger three-pointer on the next possession to re-establish control for Pitt and push the lead back to 14.

"It was a big shot," Hoya point guard Chris Wright said. "We stressed that we wanted to keep a high hand in his face and force him to drive him to the basket, but we didn't do that. He can shoot and if you leave him open he's going to knock down his shots."

Gibbs finished with a game-high 22 points, knocking down five of 10 from three-point range. Brad Wanamaker added 14 and Gilbert Brown 12 in the win. Again, Pitt was able to win the battle of the baords and had 15 team assists against just five turnovers. Travon Woodall came off the bench to add 5 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists against no turnovers in his 20 minutes of playing time.

"I am really happy with how unselfish we really played," said Dixon. "Once again our assist to turnover 15 to five [is key to performance]."

Pittsburgh will not return home to face Seton Hall on Saturday evening for a 7 PM tip-off. There will be a big football game being played at roughly the same time (Steelers/Ravens at 4:30 at Heinz Field) which could lessen the crowd for the game. With their BIG MONDAY match-up with Syracuse right around the corner, the Panthers can not afford to look too far ahead. The game will be a homecoming for Herb Pope and the Pirates got a lift on Wednesday as well with the return of Jeremy Hazell to the line-up. Hazell came off the bench to score a game-high 23 points in SHU's 78-67 win at DePaul. Kevin Willard, who played at Pitt under his father Ralph Willard, will bring a much more confidant Pirate team into the Peterson Events Center on Saturday night.


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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Graham starts with very strong staff

By Chris Dokish

In what may have been the perfect press conference to excite Pitt fans, new Pitt head coach Todd Graham introduced his first five members of his staff, and they are impressive. They include:

Calvin Magee- Co-Offensive Coordinator- The 47-year old Louisiana native recently was the offensive coordinator at Michigan after following Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia. Will handle the running backs. In 2007 won the Frank Broyles Award given to the best assistant coach in the country. Big time addition.

Mike Norvell- Passing Game Coordinator- Only 29 years old, but is considered one of the fastest rising assistant coaches in the country. A major coup to get him to come along because he would get other major offers. A native of Irving, TX.

Keith Patterson- Defensive Coordinator, LB Coach- Make no mistake about it, the 46-year old Oklahoma native is considered a very good coordinator. Yes, the points and yards numbers were not good but there were reasons. One, Tulsa plays a huge number of high powered spread offenses in that part of the country and in that conference. Two, his offenses run a lot of plays and score often so the defense is on the field a lot. Three, it's very hard to get high quality defensive prospects to Tulsa. He did get interviewed to be the Texas A&M defensive coordinator so he's hardly a bum.

Paul Randolph- Associate Head Coach, Co-Defensive Coordinator, DL Coach- Graham's right hand man came with him from Rice. The 44-year old Georgia native was once named by Rivals.com as one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation.

Tony Gibson- DB Coach and Recruiting Coordinator- The 38-year old West Virginia native both played and coached for Rich Rodriguez and coached for him at West Virginia and Michigan. Will be the main face on the recruiting trail for Pitt.

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Saturday, January 08, 2011


The Pitt men's basketball team shot a season-best 60% from the field and beat Marquette, 89-81, in a battle of Big East unbeatens this afternoon at the Peterson Events Center.

The Panthers won their 18th consecutive home game on the strength of their offensive prowess. Jamie Dixon's club was 30 of 60 from the field and had 24 assists on those 30 field goals, turning the ball over just 10 times in the game.

"We went 60 percent from the field, only had 10 turnovers, which is below the 12 we want to stay under, and obviously we were right around the number we wanted to be at in a category where we’re one of the best in the country and that is assist-to-turnover ratio. Having an assist-to-turnover ratio at 24-to-10 speaks volumes," said Dixon after the game about his team's offensive efficiency.

Still, Marquette made things interesting. Twice, Pitt stretched it's lead to 16, but each time the Golden Eagles came back quickly.

"Marquette’s good, they kept battling even though we had a good lead," said Dixon. "They never really got too close but they played hard and they are a very good team."

A 22-6 Pitt run over 6:11 in the first half gave the Panthers a 48-32 advantage with 1:15 left in the half. The run was ignited by back-to-back three-pointers by Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker and an old-fashioned three-point play by Gary McGhee. Pitt was eight of 12 on threes in the first half.

“We never ran them off their routes," said Marquette head coach Buzz Willaims. "They play kind of like the Steelers: they run a play after every dead ball and made basket. Coming into today they were averaging six 3-pointers a game and today they made 10, we never ran them off their lines. It’s hard to beat a team who scores 30 percent of their points from long-range."

Marquette regrouped scoring the last five of the half to cut the lead to 11, 48-37 after the first 20 minutes.

In the second half Pitt came out scorching hot, hitting their first four shots to push the lead to 15 and later in the half consecutive baskets by McGhee, Woodall and Gibbs pushed the lead to 69-53 with 10:53 left. Just as it looked like the game was about to get out of hand, Pitt began to self-implode, turning the ball over on five consecutive possessions and Marquette took advantage by cutting the lead to 8 at the 8:11 mark. After a timeout, Pitt regained their footing and scored on their next four possessions.

“They start three seniors and two juniors and all of them have great poise, said Willaims. "Then they bring players off the bench who change their rotation, but don’t change their great production. So as a team they’re really good, they know what it’s all about and they’re extremely well coached.”

Still, the Golden Eagles hung around and basically matched Pitt point for point, but never cutting back into the lead which stayed between eight and 11 points the rest of the game as they could not come up with enough stops. Pitt was 13 of 20 from the floor in the second half and finished 10 of 18 from three-point range.

"In the second half I don’t think we executed as well but our numbers were good, we shot 65 percent," said Dixon. "They ran a little triangle-and-two and maybe I didn’t call as good of sets as I could have but we shot 65 percent.”

Gibbs led the Panthers with 19 points. Brad Wanamaker added 15 points, 5 rebounds and a team-high 6 assists, Gilbert Brown scored 14 and added a team-high 7 rebounds and Gary McGhee was the fourth Panther in double figures, scoring 12, his third-straight game scoring in double figures since BIG EAST play started.

"The last couple games have given me the confidence to keep working hard, and when I am able to get the ball down low then I can go up strong with it and finish," said McGhee. "Over the past few games this has been my main goal and it has really helped me out.”

Darius Johnson-Odom had a game-high 20 points for Marquette with Dwight Buycks scoring 19 and Jimmy Butler 17 for Buzz Williams' club. The Golden Eagles turned the ball over just two times all game, allowing them to stay relatively close, despite Pitt's hot shooting.

The Panthers held the edge in rebounding with a 38-29 mark, but that might not tell the full story. The Panthers grabbed 11 offensively rebounds and Marquette only had 13 on defense, so Pitt nearly got half their own misses. Marquette did manage to grab 16 offensive boards themselves, but Pitt had 27 on the defensive end.

Pitt, now 3-0 in BIG EAST play, will host Georgetown on Wednesday night. The Hoyas fell to 1-3 in the BIG EAST, losing at home to West Virginia in today's 11 AM contest. Georgetown was the last visitor to win in the Peterson Events Center, beating Pitt 74-62 January 20, 2010. The game is set for a 7 PM tip and will be televised by ESPN.


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Friday, January 07, 2011

Bradley vs. Wannstedt in Recruiting

By Chris Dokish

Dave Wannstedt's first full class was in 2006. The following is how the duo fared against each other when offering the same player in western PA, and only includes players that went to one or the other. And as a recruiting writer I can tell you who really was offered and not who Penn State fans tell you they offered.


Aaron Berry- Pitt
Nate Byham- Pitt
Dorin Dickerson- Pitt
Elijah Fields- Pitt
Jason Pinkston- Pitt
Aaron Smith- Pitt


LeSean McCoy- Pitt
Maurice Williams- Pitt

Jon Ditto- Penn State
Derek Moye- Penn State
Nick Sukay- Penn State
Stefen Wisniewski- Penn State


Shayne Hale- Pitt
Jarred Holley- Pitt

Mike Yancich- Penn State


Dan Mason- Pitt
Todd Thomas- Pitt


Anthony Gonzalez- Pitt

Miles Dieffenbach- Penn State
Luke Graham- Penn State
Mike Hull- Penn State
Paul Jones- Penn State
Tom Ricketts- Penn State


Wannstedt 13
Bradley 10

And that doesn't even include two nationally recruited players, Jonathan Baldwin and Lucas Nix. that Penn State didn't even bother to recruit because they knew they were going to Pitt.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Are you ready for advanced odds trading? Odds trading can be a tremendous boost to your online betting success, but only if you know how to take full advantage of it. A good odds trading strategy can turn a break even bettor into a winning one. Read some tips for advanced odds trading here and then go out and start making some winning bets.

Advanced Odds Trading Tip: Shop Around

You may already know exactly the bet you want, but that doesn’t mean you should jump to post it until you’ve seen what’s out there. Someone might already be offering just the bet you are looking for. Better yet, someone may be laying better odds for the same bet than you were going to ask for. You also might discover some other appealing options while you are looking around. Remember that when gambling or if you want to play online blackjack, you want to find every edge you can, and that means exploring all the options that are available to you.

Advanced Odds Trading Tip 2: Make Friends

Remember when you were a kid and there was always one other kid who would take any sucker bet? All those kids grew up and they’re online at the betting exchange site just like you or even playing an online blackjack game. All you have to do is find them. When you do, look to take almost any bet they are offering. If you’re completely unfamiliar with the sport or event, you should probably take some time to get to know it, but people who make bad bets in one area often make bad bets across the board.

Advanced Odds Trading Tip 3: Explore the Exchanges

You may be comfortable with the first betting exchange site you find, but it couldn’t hurt to look around a little. Different betting exchange sites may have more appealing layouts, attractive bonus offers and weaker competition. You have nothing to lose by signing up with a number of betting exchanges before settling on the one you like best. The more bettors that you have access to, the better your chances of finding players who will make bets that are highly in your favor.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011


McGhee and Woodall key 11-3 game-closing run in road win for Panthers

Everything went wrong in tonight's game for No. 5 Pittsburgh at Providence.

A high number of turnovers.

Foul trouble that tested their much talked about depth.

Fouling three-point shooters.

Seeing a double digit lead turn into a deficit in the final minutes.

All that happened...and Pitt still won the game.

read rest of Ray Mernagh's column HERE.


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