Looking back at January

With no game until WVU on Wednesday I thought I would look back at the past month and give five thoughts on the team’s play in in general.

  1. 8-1 on the month all in Big East play, with the only loss against Marquette. The two best wins of the month look to be Nova and Georgetown. Nova’s RPI is 22 and Georgetown’s is 36. Pitt are going to end the month at number 4 in the RPI. This is exactly where they need to be if the case for a number 1 seed in the tournament is going to have any credibility.
  2. Guard play has been the stregnth of the team. No two games was it more evident than Cinci and Nova. Fields, Benjamin, Ramon, Cook, and Graves are playing good basketball and challenging each other for minutes.
  3. As good as the guard play has been the frontcourt is a question mark coming down the stretch. Gray has only scored over 20 once this month. He has to play up to the level of competition. Rebounding and defense down low have to get better coming down the stretch.
  4. Coach Dixon has been doing a great job changing the gameplan and adapting to different situations. When the team was down against Marquette, Dixon tinkered with the line-up and found the hot hand of Ramon to lead the comeback. When down against Villanova, Dixon used Benjamin and Young off the bench to get some defensive breaks. No longer are we a team that just comes at you one way, this team can adapt to different ways teams play us. The depth and variety of talent in the backcourt has allowed Coach Dixon to use many different looks.
  5. My MVP for January was Antonio Graves his play has been much better over the past month than it was before. He is doing a much better job of taking shots when he gets them instead of forcing the ball. Also he has been taking his man off the dribble and giving the offense another player that can create shots for other players. Hopefully he is going to keep getting better over the next couple of weeks.

All in all this has been a very good month for the team. We still need to get that win over a top 25 team and the race for the Big East could very well go down to the last game of the season at Marquette. I’m really exicited about where this season is going to take us.


11 Responses to “Looking back at January”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    No love for Aaron Gray? How can you continue to forget about the only guy on this team who will be in the NBA???

  2. Keith McBride Says:

    I have no doubts about Gray being able to put up a double-double every game.If anything, he deserves credit for NOT doing it. He could be a selfish player and expect 20 points per game, but he doesn’t. He is a team player, along with every other player Pitt has right now.I don’t think he needs 20 ppg to be viewed as an NBA player. I think he is demonstrating that along with his inside game and his seven foot frame, he has the ability to contribute to plays, make assists, etc.The fact that you can laud any player on this team, rather than just Aaron, I think is a testament to his overwhelming presence on the floor.

  3. Jason Cramer Says:

    I have to disagree with your assessment of Gray. I’m not saying that he needs to score 20 ppg but where has his great game been this month. The 22 and 19 game against UConn, everybody will agree that had more to do with UConn having no interior presence. He isn’t so much unselfish as only able to score one way. If that intial entry pass and drop shot doesn’t work what is his other move.So over the last month Gray has had only been averaging 2.63 offensive rebounds, while Kendall is averaging 2.00. This has to go up we need him to be able to keep the posessions going if he is going to park in the lane.Gray can pass I’m not disputing that. In fact, Gray is one of the better big man passers I’ve seen in college ball. I like the way he reads the double team and moves the ball.My main beef with Gray is that he is missing easy shots. He shot 51 percent in January taking an average of 11 shots a game. He should be well over 55 percent closer to 60 percent. Its not like he is taking a bunch of 12-14 footers, these are 8 footers and in. Hibbert at Georgetown is shooting 71 percent and scoring 12.4 a game, Gray is only scoring 14.7 a game. The NBA is completely irrelevant to me now. I want him to play better and more dominant here, being a team player is great but he needs to play like the “NBA player” he is in big games. He was the Big East preseason player of the year over Dominic James! I don’t think he has been the best player on the team this month at all. Where was he against Marquette save 2 minutes of overtime? That was his moment to shine and he didn’t.Don’t take this the wrong way we can’t go deep in the tournament without Gray playing well. He is a major piece to our puzzle but he isn’t the be all and end all of Pitt basketball.

  4. Keith McBride Says:

    You are acting like Gray should be a one-man team. Sure, he could be making more shots, but he is listed as like 6th in school history in shooting percentage.Sure, he could be getting 4 offensive boards and 10 defensive ones each game, but he was the first ever player (last year) to average a double-double from the Big East, and he is on pace to do it again.Don’t you realize that the fact that he was the preseason player of the year basically means he gets double-teamed every night?”If that intial entry pass and drop shot doesn’t work what is his other move.”His other move is to pass it back out. Do you think LeVance and Ronald are getting 20 points in a game by chance? Aaron is like a magnet to defenders, and as soon as he pulls one away from an open man, bang, there is a great shot from a guard.His mere presence on the floor changes the other teams’ strategies. If he scored zero points, I think his just standing there on offense is more helpful than not.

  5. Keith McBride Says:

    In case some of you don’t believe me:School record shooting pct:.625 Chevon Troutman 2001-05.589 Ontario Lett 2001-03.569 Chris Taft 2003-05.557 Eric Mobley 1991-94.550 Aaron Gray 2003-present.538 Brian Shorter 1988-91.534 Charles Smith 1984-88.525 Jerome Lane 1985-88.522 Billy Knight 1971-74

  6. Jason Cramer Says:

    Good points, I probably phrased the statement about him only having one move badly. He is double-teamed the majority of the time when the ball is pushed down low. Even with the double teams I think he getting a good amount of quality shots that he is putting in. I don’t think that he is a one man show at all either or needs to be all the time. My problem is I never feel like he is taking enough control of games. When we are struggling to create shots, he has to be able to take the ball and put in the easy shot. We aren’t getting that type of play out of him yet. Sometimes a player of his stature has to take the ball and score.I think a majority of my fustration with his play is that he isn’t playing any quality big men. He is scoring 14.5 a game against a Big East with no great big men. I realize he has a high shooting percentage on the year but its gone down a lot since Big East play started. I wish there was a website for college basketball like 82games.com that gives breakdown on scoring by lineup combinations. I would love to see what his presence on the floor meant to our scoring.

  7. Keith McBride Says:

    The site that I linked to for the RPI rankings will soon be creating some such statistics.The comparison was to the hockey +/- statistic (I don’t follow hockey) which shows your team’s strength when you are currently on the court.

  8. Jason Cramer Says:

    Awesome plus/minus is a really good indicator in basketball. Very misleading in hockey though.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I think we can all agree to disagree about aaron gray. However, we all can agree that Gilbert Brown is gonna be the man next year.

  10. Jason Cramer Says:

    I hope so I’m excited about seeing Gilbert play.

  11. Brad Says:

    We can all agree to disagree about Gray, but he’s also the key on Wed. night. If he can stay on the floor, we’re in good shape, WVU really doesn’t have anyone that can come close to defending him 1-on-1, and his ability to pass makes him invaluable against their 1-3-1. He gets in foul trouble, though, and WVU can go small and match up their athletic swingmen (Butler, Alexander, Smith) against Biggs and Kendall, given that Sam Young has fallen off the face of the earth of late.

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