Another Road Test in the Capital

Rebounding may be the key..

Hello from snow-covered Panther Hall, overlooking the Pete.

Sorry for the lack of the updates, but the start of the New Year makes things busy for everybody.

Anyway, our #5 Pitt Panthers are taking on the #19 Georgetown Hoyas tonight (ESPN/ESPN3 @ 7 pm EST)at the Verizon Center in D.C.

The first thing I’m curious about is how Pitt will play this game overall. In my opinion, they played one of their best games of the year on Saturday against Marquette after playing very sloppily against Providence. The shooting, passing, rebounding, and half-court offense were all spectacular. Pitt showed an incredible amount of patience in finding the open man. Marquette is definitely a better team than their record shows, as they thumped Notre Dame the other day. Another team I”m glad Pitt faced early and dealt with. Can Pitt keep it up though? That is my main concern. It’s easy to have a really good game and then have some lapses next game.

Georgetown, however, is in a little bit of a rut. They’ve lost three of their past four games in BE play, and the lone win was against Depaul. The Hoyas are going to be desperate for a win or their season will start to spiral badly. Nothing cures a rut like knocking out a top 5 team at home.

The #1 thing that jumps out at me from the stats is rebounding. Pitt is #3 in the country at 42.8 per game. Georgetown is sitting at 224th at 34.8. If Pitt can keep up its rebounding dominance, it gets a lot of second chances for its players to score points against a very good shooting team. Georgetown is 2nd in the country at field goal percentage, so every rebound Pitt gets is almost guaranteed points taken away.

While Pitt’s frontcourt may turn the tide of the game in rebounding and second chance points, the back court is what will be challenged defensively. The starting guards for Pitt and Georgetown are eerily similar. Georgetown’s Freeman(17.9 pts/game, 2.4 assists/game) and Pitt’s Gibbs (16.4 pts/game 3.8 assists/game) match up as the scoring leaders for each team. Pitt’s Wannamaker (12.9 pts/game, 5.3 assists/game) and Georgetown’s Wright (12.5 pts/game, 5.9 assists/game) match up as the opportunity makers for their teammates leading in assists. It will be very interesting to watch these matchups along with seeing how things swing when other players (Pitt’s Woodall, Georgetown’s Clark, for instance) step in to the line up.

Pitt’s last advantage is in it’s depth. I think the main difference between this team and the last great Pitt team (the 08/09 team) is that depth. When Dejuan Blair or others had foul trouble, the team struggled a bit to keep up the production on both sides of the ball. This team, however, does not have much of a drop off from its starters to its bench. Guys like Travon Woodall and Dante Taylor have started to really provide quality minutes for the team when the starters are off.  This team doesn’t have a true star though, and that might be a good thing. This season especially has shown that on any night a Pitt player can go off with a career night, and carry the team. While I’m slightly worried about this being Pitt’s second road game, I have confidence that Pitt can grind this one out with its rebounding and depth. This would be a solid road win before Pitt comes home to the Zoo for Seton Hall and top 5 Syracuse on Monday.

@Oaklandzoo on twitter will tweet some comments from the game from the Verizon Center, while I (@sta7ic) will be tweeting comments as the game goes on TV.

Hail to Pitt.

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