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Sunday column: Pitt’s way is it

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

RALEIGH, N.C. — Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Sunday column loves that Pitt was able to just be itself entering the ACC. Something to be said for that.

Here’s a video I put together of Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson, offering senior perspective on exactly that …

Random randomness from the scene: The quote that ends the column above, from Cam Wright, is the best I’ve gotten from any athlete in some time. Totally off-the-cuff, too. … It’s easy to point to Pitt’s 63 percent shooting from the floor in the second half, but the fact is that all that offense began at the back end. The Panthers outrebounded N.C. State by eight — and the Wolfpack actually closed that gap with some cheapiest in garbage time — then took the ball and bolted up the floor hard to the basket. “All we wanted to do was push,” Jamie Dixon said. … Michael Young has outrageous athleticism, as he displayed again with that right-handed tomahawk jam. It was a key point in the game, as I reminded the freshman, and he could just as easily have put up a layup. “Yeah, I know,” he replied with a sheepish smile. “My coaches get on me about dunks. But, you know …” Yeah, we know. We’d do it, too, if we could, right? … T.J. Warren, who looked in the early going like every slashing forward who had every knocked Pitt out of NCAAs, was torn down physically by Wright in the second half. But I also heard from Raleigh folks that he has a tendency to slow down deeper into games. Too bad. Has NBA-level talent. … Still on the subject of the opponent, I’d strongly suspect Mark Gottfried will be working on transition defense. Of which the Wolfpack played exactly none. … More Josh Newkirk and less James Robinson? Only asking. … I’m guessing there are better ACC atmospheres than this one. PNC Arena is shared by the Hurricanes, and the place really feels more like NHL than NCAA. I mean, it’s OK. They had 14,000-plus, which is more than the Pete can hold. But the Pete is all hoops, part of its beauty.

The game story by beat man Kevin Gorman focuses on Zanna and Patterson.

The notebook focuses on those freshmen.

>> I’ll be flying home this morning, cutting it perilously close to faceoff for Penguins and Jets. I’ll make it, though. And I will have a Monday column off the game.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Jets news from the Winnipeg Free Press.

>> After that, I’ll join the panel of WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word, along with Rob Rossi, Mark Madden and host Alby Oxenreiter. That will air around midnight.

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. JRay3 says:

    Really enjoyed the column DK. Wright’s quote was great, and what I find interesting is during the Raycom (ACC Network) broadcast as the announcers almost introduced Pitt to the tobacco road contingent they showed that Pitt enters the ACC with 6 Big East Titles, 11 NCAA appearances in 12 years, 5 Sweet Sixteens, 1 Elite Eight all since 2002 and they stated what a great addition for the ACC.

    This game underscores how great of a coach Jamie Dixon is and why he has a winning percentage near 80%…he does not allow his teams to quit and always gets maximum effort and performance from his kids. The game also underscored Pitt can be Pitt, even Dick Bitale tweeted toughness translates no matter what conference you are in.

    13-1, 1-0 in the ACC with only a last second loss to Cincy who just downed #18 Memphis on the road and hopefully the OOC talk can die down. With Duke already losing in conference on the road, Syracuse struggling at home with Miami this has the look of a wide open race.

    The next 17 league games should be a joy to watch and see how it all unfolds.

  2. Drew71 says:

    Was watching the AFC Playoff Game when suddenly a college game broke out.

    Evidently Andy Reid never went to college because he had no earthly idea what to do.

  3. More great defense.

  4. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    All offense and no defense……Just the way Roger Goodell drew it up.

  5. PgherinLev says:

    It definitely had the feel of an NHL all-star game. Maybe they should change the name of the league from NFL to NDL.

  6. Drew71 says:

    Now in Philly on the other hand…

  7. Chris says:

    Great coverage! Love your articles. My son and I were at the game (former Pitt bball season ticket holder live in Raleigh now). Nice start to the ACC.

  8. Nobody could stop anyone at the end of that one, either.

  9. hockeymonster says:

    Just jumping on to say that the pens may have something with this Oscar Sunqvuist swede. Kinda looks like a raw Sutter right now. He’s big, mobile, positional, good reach and composure with puck. Looked like he made a few sloppy plays at the end of couple shifts so he probably needs to work on conditioning but he was getting tons of big minutes, especially in 3rd against russia he was out there basically every other shift.

  10. hockeymonster says:

    Oh and i didnt even mention breakaway goal he scored…

  11. theplanisworking says:

    Yesterday’s game was a tale of 2 halves. In the first half, Pitt shot outside bricks….. err jumpers, played a matador defense, and thought rebounds were the flu. Nerves also contributed to a 17-2 hole. Yikes!

    In the second half, Pitt drove the lane on offense, and rebounded like beasts. The defense also went up a couple notches, and yopu saw the results. It sounds almost too simple, but if Pitt drives to the hoop, and plays good D, along with rebounding, they will be fine this year.

    Good points in the column about Lamar Patterson, and Talib Zanna. As they go this year, so will Pitt go. Patterson is a real treat to watch…….. and the development of Zanna over the past few years is amazing.

    One point in the column…………..
    “Some — no, check that, everyone, myself included — fretted that the lame out-of-conference schedule wouldn’t properly prepare the Panthers for ACC play.”

    Um, no. Who is everyone?
    ** The media?
    **Other coaches?

    I have been very vocal in my belief that Pitt’s OOC schedule wasnt as bad a mnay said it was. Yes there were creampuffs, as all schools schedule, but there was a win over Stanford — who went to #10 Connecticut, and beat them on the road, and a loss to Cincinnati — which was Pitt’s worst game of the year in all areas.

    Also, I believe Lad9, JRay3, and possibly Jim S (and anyone I forgot) were not criticizing it either. So, for the record, not everyone was fretting.

    This was a good start to ACC play for the Panthers.
    Looking forward to the rest of the year.

  12. theplanisworking says:

    Happy Birthday to The Emperor, Chaz Noll.

    Its also National Whipped Cream Day.

  13. defil21 says:

    Boy Keenan Lewis sure did look good last night shutting down Desean Jackson. I still don’t know what the Steelers were thinking letting him walk to basically get 1-2 years of Ike at the end of his career over a player who isn’t even in his prime yet. Granted Keenan is from New Orleans and maybe just wanted to go home to play for the Saints but still it would have been nice to have him along with Cortez for the next decade or so.

  14. defil21 says:


  15. js1954 says:

    Have a feeling Keenan was leaving unless the Steelers franchised him (he’s not worth that much.) Too bad, though ; I thought he played an excellent game last night.

  16. Scott says:

    I had to stop watching this game at halftime. Over the past couple years it’s been so frustrating to see that Pitt isn’t the Pitt I got used to rooting for, the team built on hustle and grit and defense and rebounding and big men in the middle. Watching them get absolutely manhandled on the boards in the first half was miserable, just as it was last season during the few games I got to see, all of which were bad losses.

    And then they came back. So now I don’t know what to think. I should just stop watching altogether since I’m the bad luck charm.

  17. Zico says:


    I know it’s off-season and it is supposedly taboo to mention the sport, but how do you feel about the Phillies new TV contract compared to others? Seemed like a huge deal, and really seems to make other teams’ TV contracts seem inadequate.

  18. pattonbb says:

    Munchak is interviewing today for the PSU job. I think he’s the guy.

  19. JRay3 says:


    Very good points and nice take on the OOC schedule. Totally agree about nerves and with it being the first true road game all contributed to the start.

    But if Pitt hoops fans should be well aware, can never quit or give up on a Jamie Dixon squad early even in poor starts, his teams always fight back and almost always ensure it will be a 40 minute game.

  20. Arriba Wilver says:

    Just saw Whisenhunt may be the top choice of the Lions.

  21. 21sthebest says:

    I wonder if Rog is telling defenses to tackle horribly?

  22. Drew71 says:

    Whiz will make an EXCELLENT Offensive Coordinator. That’s why the Lions are such a strong organization.

  23. Drew71 says:

    Maybe. Assuming Golden turns it down.

  24. pattonbb says:

    Golden said he had no interest in the Penn State job. He better not turn out to be a LIAR.

  25. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    I DON’T wonder if he has aided all offenses with every rule in the new book.

  26. theplanisworking says:

    I dont know about Munchak.
    I still think Jim Caldwell would make a good candidate.
    Or James Franklin from Vanderbilt.

  27. pattonbb says:

    I’m not a Caldwell fan. Franklin is a great coach, but rumors have him wanting to jump to the NFL by next year. Plus he’s carrying some pretty ugly baggage with the rape investigation ongoing.

  28. theplanisworking says:

    That rape incident wont stick to Franklin at all. he dismissed the players involved, and Franklin didnt do it. But stranger things have happened.

    I just think Golden, and Munchak wouldnt be good hires. But they seem to want to hire someone fast, so………………..

  29. 21sthebest says:

    True. Scoring is up .3 points per game since 1965.

  30. 21sthebest says:

    Pitt is ranked 135th in strength of schedule based on opponents played so far.

  31. pattonbb says:

    I hope it wont, but I don’t think that’s a road PSU wants to go down right now.

    I’m not sure why they seem so determined to hire a Penn State guy.

  32. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Well …If that’s true, that’s a .3 that shouldn’t have happened.

  33. Milo Hamilton says:

    Jim Caldwell’s record in 8 years as head coach at Wake Forest was 26-63 (.292) with one winning season. And before you say nobody wins at Wake the next coach, Jim Grobe, had them in a bowl in 2 years & in the Orange Bowl with 11 wins in 5 years.

    If James Franklin says no to Penn State & they’re down to Caldwell and Mike Munchak or even worse Larry Johnson, they’re in deep do do.

  34. JohninOshkosh says:

    Maybe now the talking drones can shut it about dome and warm weather teams not being able to win in the northern cold.

    Football is football. At 60 or 0 degrees. Better team usually wins in the playoffs.

  35. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m about to read a column that says Penn State should hire Larry Johnson. This is getting better than even I could have imagined. Pass the cashews.

  36. Drew71 says:

    Sure. But those aren’t cashews.

  37. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m blind as a bat without my glasses.

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