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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

On location: Cincinnati 44, Pitt 43

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

NEW YORK — Looking ahead to tipoff ..

Game: Pitt (10-0) vs. Cincinnati (7-2)

Time: 7:02 p.m.

Site: Madison Square Garden

TV, radio: ESPN, 93.7 The Fan

Here is the official live summary.

Here is our Pitt pageKevin Gorman and I are on the scene.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Finally we get to see Pitt play a real college basketball team. The “exhibition” season is over.

    Let’s see if Pitt’s new offensive prowess works against a team that knows how to play D.

    I’m rooting for them.

  2. JohninOshkosh says:

    Been waiting all day for Pitt basketball !

    On the ESPPN flagship and everything !

  3. JohninOshkosh says:

    2 P ‘s !

  4. theplanisworking says:

    Pitt has always done well in MSG.
    If Pitt hits their outside shots tonight, they win. However, the past 3 games, their outside shooting has been average, at best. I also think pitt’s depth will help decide the outcome of the game tonight.


  5. JRay3 says:

    Well tonight Pitt plays a true Top 50 team and gets a great neutral court test, maybe this will quiet the out of conference schedule talk a bit.

    Interesting story from Andy Katz of ESPN about Pitt’s schedule. Firstly they were supposed to get Ohio State in the Legends Classic, however when Kentucky bailed on an early season tournament the group who puts on the legends moved Ohio State over. Katz went on to point out that Pitt approached both Villanova, currently in the Top 10 and Georgetown about playing a home and home series and in both cases were rebuffed. Just further illustrates some of the challenges that exist in scheduling.

    However as we take a look at the early season numbers, Jamie Dixon has once again proved he is well versed on how to play to RPI and SOS.

    RPI: 19 or 25 depending on site
    SOS: 147 and will get a nice bump this evening
    Kenpom Rating: #7
    Sagarin Ranking: #13
    Human Polls: #26/#27
    Latest Bracketology: #7 seed in the East

    Big game for the Panthers who are 1-1 in the Jimmy V Classic having beaten Memphis and having lost to Indiana. Looking forward to it,

    GO PITT!

  6. theplanisworking says:

    You being out a very good point about Pitt’s attempts to schedule “top” schools.

    Many times Pitt tries to schedule a home-and-home, only to be told no. I think part of that is Pitt is very tough at home. I also think scholls only want games on their home court, when Pitt tries to get their home game, they are told no.

    You cant improve your OOC schedule if no one wants to play you on an equal basis.

  7. theplanisworking says:

    What is the second P for? Packers? ;)

  8. JohninOshkosh says:

    Good stuff, JRay.

    Personally, I think their non-con schedule has been blown out of proportion through the Dixon years. They usually end up playing some decent clubs in the preconference tourneys. They get plenty tested for the NCAA’s from conference play.

    That being said, I’m very glad they are playing Cincy tonight in magnificent MSG. I also might feel quite different if I had to pay for season tickets.

  9. JRay3 says:

    Plan – The other thing that hurts Pitt is teams that are willing to go on the road want to do so in fertile recruiting grounds- NYC, DC, Philly, Baltimore etc. Teams are willing to get the exposure in those areas.

    Unfortunately Pittsburgh is not seen as a hoops hot bed when it comes to high school and top level Division 1 talent and I think that hurts the home and home efforts as well.

  10. JohninOshkosh says:

    Itchy trigger finger, I guess.

    Really wish we could make post-post corrections !

  11. JRay3 says:

    You know you can look at it a couple of different ways….take Marquette for example they started the season in the Top 25 have played a very difficult schedule but have four early season losses to show for it and right now are considered a last four in team in current bracketology brackets.

    So what good has that done for Buzz Williams?

    Totally agree looking forward to the Panthers playing in their home away from home, a good old Big East tussle from days gone past.

  12. Jim S. says:

    Me, too. I’m predicting a 72-59 victory.

  13. theplanisworking says:

    I agree to an extent.

    Morgantown WV, and Spokane WASH arent recruiting hotbebs either, but that didnt stop WVU and Gonzaga from scheduling each other.

    I personally think its just another excuse………

    but your original point is quite true.

  14. Jim S. says:

    Stanford also appears to have one of it’s weakest teams in a long time, if that game vs. Pitt was any indicator. But, that game figured to help their SOS. I doubt that ended up being the case, though.

    I don’t think Jamie is very good, from year to year, of always getting quality pre-season games. The Admin at Pitt would prefer home games in pre-season, and quality opponents do not just give you a home game without a reciprocal game in their arena the next year.

  15. Jim S. says:

    Then, again, based on JRay’s point about the OSU game getting kicked off Pitt’s schedule, which I personally was not aware of, their schedule would be just fine if that had not happened. They would have had a normally very good Stanford game, plus national power OSU in addition to this UC game and TX Tech (hit or miss, but from a large conference).

  16. Jim S. says:

    Did I detect a slight Carrie Underwood accent in your “Been waiting all day for Pitt Basketball” post, Osh?

  17. Lad 9 says:

    Will miss the game live tonight due to my kid’s game, but will catch it on the DVR later and be with you in spirit Lets go Pitt!

  18. Jim S. says:

    Stanford. Down this year, but generally a tourney team. I don’t know that I would accuse them of not being a real college basketball team, Groat.

  19. Jim S. says:

    Good luck at your kid’s game, Lad! Go Panthers!

  20. JohninOshkosh says:

    Yeah, I am a fan of the kid.

    Very pretty and seems very nice as well. Takes chances with her career, too.

  21. Brandie says:

    These are the days you’all remember. Good luck tonight!

  22. Jim S. says:

    You (10,000) maniac, Brandie! :-)

  23. tpbco says:


    From another blog it was discussed that Jamie did try to schedule home and home with Georgetown and ‘nova and was turned down and that he is actively trying to schedule a series to offset the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, since they will be playing on the road next year.

    Two issues that were pointed out are:

    1) Pitt’s record at the Pete
    2) The dual purpose of scheduling H&H are to recruit in the area that your scheduling. Pitt does that by playing tourneys in MSG. Since the Pittsburgh area is not a hot bed for recruiting, some schools will look at it as a potential lose – lose.

  24. theplanisworking says:

    Pitt lookingsloppy in the 1st half so far.
    Too many turnovers, and getting outworked on the boards.
    Need to clean their game up for better results.

  25. JohninOshkosh says:

    Sluggish game in front of an embarrassingly small crowd.

    Looks like a Milwaukee Bucks crowd.

  26. JohninOshkosh says:

    Pitt not blocking out or closing ranks down low. Cincy living in the paint. And Dixon calls the TO TO regroup.

  27. JohninOshkosh says:

    And to the zone…

  28. theplanisworking says:

    Your Bucks, and my Sixers shooting for the #1 pick next year.
    Sad, because the Sixers were 5-3 at one point, but now falling faster than a rock.

  29. JohninOshkosh says:

    Media TO @ 3:24 mark. 30-25 Cincy.

  30. Brandie says:

    Just goes to show nothing can be taken for granted. If this Pitt team wants national recognition, they need to bear down, play Cincinnati tough, and know that there are no easy games!

  31. JohninOshkosh says:

    Geez. .Make that 20-15. Good gosh.

  32. JohninOshkosh says:

    That’s a futility race that will go down to the wire, Plan. I went to the San Antonio game a few days ago, just to see Duncan. He sat most of the fourth quarter cause it was such a blowout.

  33. Brandie says:

    It’s okay. We know you mean well. No matter what Plan says about you, I think you’re all right!

  34. Brandie says:

    You mean falling faster than Frank’s Q Rating. ;-)

  35. JohninOshkosh says:

    Halftime score: All tied at 20-20.

    Duke and UCLA will have that at first media TO on Thursday night.

    Yes, Virginia, these are two Division 1 schools.

  36. theplanisworking says:


    That was the worst half for Pitt this entire year.
    Getting killed on the offensive boards.
    Too many turnovers.
    Horrible outside shooting.

    But it is tied at 20 at halftime.
    This actually bears well for Pitt.
    There is no way Pitt plays that awful in the 2nd half.

    Pitt needs to regroup and come out on fire the 2nd half.

  37. JohninOshkosh says:

    Good to see you, Brandie. Always a pleasure!

  38. 20-all at the half. Like a first-quarter college football score.

  39. JRay3 says:

    Well that was a painful 20 minutes of basketball but Pitt does close out on 5-0 run. For Pitt to be tied at the half is shocking and should be considered a win when looking at these numbers:

    Being out rebounded 19-14
    5 turnovers / 3 assists
    6 minute scoring drought
    8 minutes without a FG
    Pitt shooting 30% from field, 14% from behind the arch but 78% from the stripe.

    Knew Cinci was a very good defensive team but they have been suffocating, need more movement, some transition and get the ball to Zanna down low when he is open.

  40. JohninOshkosh says:

    This is quite a remarkable thing ESPN does with the Jimmy V foundation. Can’t think of any other broadcast network that publicly devotes this much time and publicity for a charitable cause.

  41. JohninOshkosh says:


  42. theplanisworking says:


  43. theplanisworking says:

    Frank never had a Q rating.

  44. JohninOshkosh says:

    Let’s put a moratorium on sports announcers using “grind” or any of its progeny: grinding, grinders, etc.

  45. theplanisworking says:

    Isnt a grinder a name for sub sandwich?
    I believe it is popular in New york city and parts of New England.


  46. JRay3 says:

    Nice opening 5 minutes to the second half for the Panthers as they are getting the ball in the paint, Young and Zanna finishing and are on 7-0 run to open up their biggest lead of game 30-25.

    So far seeing some nice adjustments from Coach Dixon figuring some ways to coax some offense from the team.

  47. JohninOshkosh says:

    Just a matter of time before Pitt pulls away. Clearly, a better team. Just need to get things together. Now, score is 30-25. :)

  48. Brandie says:

    You know you are my favorite Hipposter!

  49. Eric Bowser says:

    I can understand PITT is going to face a difficult conference schedule in the ACC but this non-conference schedule is pathetic.

    Pitt’s big games were: Texas Tech, Stanford, Penn State, and Cincinnati

    Now compare that of Duke… Kansas, Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, and UCLA

    Guess we know which coach is getting the All-American recruits and preparing his team for the NCAA tourney.

  50. theplanisworking says:

    I believe I am your only one……

  51. Brandie says:

    Good to see Pitt is getting over it’s mental and physical lapses from the first half of play. Just goes to show the need for a short memory in sports.

  52. Brandie says:

    It really is in how and where you recruit. But, how does a program like Pitt land the big time recruits when it is seen as a program forever on the outside looking in?

  53. Brandie says:

    Wisconsin’s Finest! Just got a Christmas card from my aunt! She lives in Milwaukee!

  54. Patrick(ri) says:

    These teams look well matched – awful! I am having fun trying to find DK in the sparse crowd, w/o which re-runs of BBTheory is better entertainment.

  55. Brandie says:

    And that’s why you have a lock on favorite!

  56. Brandie says:

    Mmm grinder sub sandwich.

  57. Eric Bowser says:

    That’s up to Dixon to coach a team further than he’s done with the talent he does get. If Gonzaga and Butler can make runs, he has no excuse.

  58. JRay3 says:

    Not disputing Duke has had a little tougher schedule to this point:

    Duke SOS – 109
    Pitt SOS -147

    Not all that much different.

    But Alabama is 4-4, Michigan is 6-4, Kansas has three losses even and is very young.

    Surprisingly Pitt has an RPI of 19-25 while Duke has a RPI of 60. BPI ranks have Pitt at 9, Duke at 31…kenpom has Pitt at 7 and Duke at 19.

  59. Brandie says:

    Then, is it all on the coach or is there something lacking on the part of the talent evaluators as well?

  60. JohninOshkosh says:

    Teams shooting 33% and 34 % respectively.

    Some teams could take all NBA length 3 point shots and shoot those percentages.

  61. JohninOshkosh says:

    Now 32 and 35.

  62. JAL says:

    All i have to say is the Big East may be dead but ugly Big East basketball lives.

  63. JD says:

    What’s up OshKosh? You going to game on Sunday?

  64. JD says:

    What’s up OshKosh? You going to game on Sunday?

  65. Patrick(ri) says:

    1+++++. I noticed DK is heading to Raleigh, to take in Pitt’s ACC debut– i really miss the old days, when you waited all week to hear Billy Packer and Jim Thacker cover an ACC match . THAT was entertainment! Brought to you by Jefferson Pilot, as I recall.

  66. JohninOshkosh says:

    I’ll be there!

  67. Patrick(ri) says:

    This Cincy coach ought to quit with the timeouts.

  68. JD says:

    That’s cool dude. Do the blog proud and go streaking across the frozen tundra at halftime.

  69. JRay3 says:

    Huge steal by Zanna, and heady play by Wright to go coast to coast for the bucket and give the Panthers a one point lead. Going to have to win this one with defense. Need a stop here.

  70. J Walter Weatherman says:

    I see Patterson hasn’t changed. That’s just sad.

  71. JRay3 says:

    Unreal, Patterson a 78% FT shooter misses both. Well I did say Pitt will need to win this defense, one more stop.

  72. J Walter Weatherman says:

    I’ve been encouraged by Pitt’s start to the season, but don’t see one way this team is any different than every other Pitt team that loses by the Sweet 16. Nobody will step up and take control.

  73. JohninOshkosh says:

    Ha! Will do !

    Got the ticket from my neighbour who won’t go to three o’clock or night games. Family has had season tickets for 50 + years.

  74. J Walter Weatherman says:

    The optimism built up by the start to the season just got flushed down the toilet in this game. Same old poor shooting Pitt teams.

  75. theplanisworking says:

    Poor effort from Pitt tonight.
    Out-rebounded on the offensive boards by 9!
    Too many turnovers.
    Too many defensive lapses.

    I dont know how much credit I can give Cincy tonight.
    They did do a good job defensively, but I just dont know if that was the case, or Pitt’s sloppy play.

    Awful loss.

  76. JRay3 says:

    When you get worked on the boards and play a half of basketball without a single FG, you deserve this fate. Extremely disappointing offensive effort tonight. Pitt just did not finish.

  77. Unfortunately, the Panthers had a poor second half in Madison Square Garden tonight and lost by one lousy point. The Bearcats weren’t really that much better but Pitt scored only one two pointer during the second half and the Panthers were usually cold as ice. And so, the 10 game winning streak was embarassingly broken.

  78. Sorry, guys!

    I am in no way rubbing this in because I wanted Pitt to win.

    Pitt offense frazzled when confronted with real college defenders, the first they played all season.

    I said it above in Comment #1.

  79. chethejet says:

    Pitt has two very good coaches as to character and making a case for good people coaching your young men. Unfortunately, neither has the skill set and coaching acumen to win big. Pitt decided rightly or wrongly to place importance on being mediocre without bad pub. College athletics is so corrupt that Pitt has no chance on bringing a big winner to the University with that position. How anyone can expect for Pitt to win is beyond me. Nothing wrong with recruiting the best chess club, but that limits winning championships.

  80. Pitt was well below average in all counts last night. One wonders what the devil happened, considering that the Panthers were 32 points below average and scored only one 2 pointer in 14 minutes of the second half.

  81. My Uncle attended Pitt and attended football homecoming games, and he would’ve been disgusted with how Pitt fell flat on its face on ESPN last night.

  82. Well anyhow, LaMarr Woodley is out for the Steelers again due to that calf injury and he may never play football again. And now, allow me to ask when, if ever, the Steelers will be able to field a healthy lineup.

  83. One loss doesn’t a season make, although this one shows how lousy the Panthers can be when they get beyond their relatively regular season schedule.

  84. Naturally, this loss won’t make or break Pitt’s season, although this one shows how lousy Pitt can be when the Panthers are playing outside their relatively soft regular season schedule.

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