Blogs | Sports | News
Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Pitt 85, Notre Dame 81, OT

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Looking ahead to tipoff ..

Game: Pitt (21-7, 9-6 ACC) vs. Notre Dame (15-14, 6-10)

Time: 2:05 p.m.

Site: Purcell Pavilion, South Bend, Ind.

TV, radio: ESPN2 (national), 93.7 The Fan

Here is the official live summary.

Here is our Pitt pageKevin Gorman is 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. Jim S. says:

    Suddenly, games like this are must wins for Pitt. I question whether they are an NCAA team now.

  2. JohninOshkosh says:

    When did it become the Purcell Pavilion. Did Notre Dame build a new arena in the last few years ?

  3. Jim S. says:

    I don’t believe so, Osh. As far as I know, it is still the old ACC. But, maybe they upgraded it and someone by the name of Purcell footed a chunk of that bill. But, you never know. They build so many things in that place

    I’ll check with my brother. He’s an ND Alum, and is currently at a Chicago water hole preparing to do battle with the elements at Soldier Field tonight.

  4. JohninOshkosh says:

    Good for him. Been to many Bears games when I did exactly that.

  5. theplanisworking says:

    In 2009, the south dome, which houses the basketball arena, underwent a $24.6 million renovation and was renamed Purcell Pavilion, after Phillip J. Purcell, a Notre Dame alumnus, trustee, and current chair of the athletic affairs committee.

    Gleaned from the interwebs…………

  6. Lad 9 says:

    You are correct, oh man with the plan. I hate playing in this place whatever they call it. Pitt never plays well there.

    BTW Plan, we are all huge New Castle fans here in Bethel Park today. Go Canes!

  7. theplanisworking says:

    LOL !!


    Beating a team so many times in a row is a difficult thing.
    Palumbo sold out……. I think that’s 4300?

    Whole town is in a frenzy, from my sources.
    New Castle is going for all kinds of WPIAL records tonight.

  8. JohninOshkosh says:

    Thanks guys. Had not noticed it, or made note of it. Five years, huh.

  9. Lad 9 says:

    I heard. I was thinking about going down to watch it, but there are only a couple hundred tickets being sold at the door and I figure the Cane faithful are already lined up for them.

    I hate that the WPIAL uses Palumbo btw. Not big enough for these events. Many hoop fans don’t even try to go. Plus I think it is a horrible venue.

  10. theplanisworking says:

    I read something last night.

    Petersen can’t guarantee the dates.
    Consol is too expensive to rent.

    Now this year, Petersen would be great. New Castle fans would come. But in years New Castle isnt there, you wouldn’t need more seats than Palumbo. It really is a tough call.

    If New Castle and Hampton go a 4th time (in the state playoffs) Petersen would be available, and could be used.

    And, don’t forget, Palumbo used to seal 6000, before they remodeled. It used to be plenty big.

  11. theplanisworking says:

    Not only did it seal 6000, it sat 6000 also…….

  12. Pitt playing like it doesn’t want to be an 8-seed in the West. Or in the tourney at all.

  13. J Walter Weatherman says:

    There’s no way losing Durand Johnson is the main reason this team has tanked. He wasn’t that much of a difference-maker. I think it’s more of Lamar Patterson playing mediocre basketball and others failing to play better, especially Robinson and Wright. I think it’s perfectly fair to put some blame on Dixon as well, as he hasn’t been able to make the necessary adjustments offensively or defensively throughout the season. This may end up being the worst coaching effort of his tenure, just because of how little the team has improved throughout the season.

    Of course, as I write this, the Panthers are making a run. Maybe they can pull out this game, but their ceiling is winning one game in the Tourney.

  14. 21sthebest says:

    Notre Dame guard Pat Connaughton goes in the first round and 27th overall to the Red Sox in the first mock draft I’ve seen.

  15. theplanisworking says:

    It sure would be nice if Pitt decided to defend the 3-point shot. You simply cannot give Notre Dame open looks all game.

    Congratulations to the Vincentian girls team for winning the A title.
    Condolences to the Burrell girls for coming up short last night.

    I remember seeing those 2 schools mentioned on here in the past, so I had to give proper credit……..

  16. Lad 9 says:

    I think the thing about the Pete is so much WPIAL BS. They know well in advance when they are using it. Same as Duquesne. If it is a cost issue, I respect that and say and just say so. But don’t lie.

  17. Arriba Wilver says:


    Guy’s a beast.

  18. JRay3 says:

    Good finish to the half by the Panthers who once trailed by double digits, but stepped up the defensive effort and ran a very efficient offense the final five minutes to close within 4 of the Irish.

    Cam Wright has been very effective with the ten foot jumper, and better ball movement and driving shots to the bucket are allowing Pitt to break down the Irish zone and no way the Irish can continue this torrid shooting in the second half.

    Pitt is 5-2 on the road this season, a place they have looked very comfortable all year, important 20 minutes ahead to keep Pitt off the bubble talk and continue their progression of a 12th NCAA berth in 13 years.

  19. Arriba Wilver says:

    Yeah, I don’t see Wright as being part of the problem.

  20. 21sthebest says:

    3 in a row for the Vincentian girls and for the coach the parents tried to get fired 5 years ago.

  21. JRay3 says:

    Me neither, but he sure is a lot of people’s favorite whipping boy. He does so many things and has many intangibles to his game, a guy you want in a roster make up.

    Irish shot 74% to Pitt 39%, also a lot of talk of offense, but today is proof of the need to play better defense like Jamie Dixon harps on so much. Shocking team just down 4, but final 8 minutes they played with much better effort.

  22. Arriba Wilver says:

    Gonna be a good game at 4 with Virginia and Syracuse. Well, at least a meaningful game. ;-)

  23. Arriba Wilver says:

    I heard the beginning on the radio and thought I would just skip it when ND was ahead by 13, but got home and turned it on and Pitt was only done by 2 or 3.

  24. 21sthebest says:

    ,Seating there went from 5,300 to 4400.

  25. Arriba Wilver says:

    Just heard his fastball is 95 mph.

  26. Arriba Wilver says:


  27. JRay3 says:

    Virginia has not won an outright ACC title in 33 years, huge game in Charlottesville.

  28. 21sthebest says:


  29. JRay3 says:

    Cam Wright with runner to get Pitt to within 1…Cam Wright with aggressive drive to give Pitt their first lead since 4-2. This is the Pitt team that can be very dangerous to whomever it plays.

  30. Arriba Wilver says:

    What a bum. Now has them in lead. ;-)

  31. Arriba Wilver says:


  32. JRay3 says:

    Have to like how Pitt is using penetration to break down the zone and get to the basket, as Patterson goes straight to the hoop for the and one.

    Offense coming alive a bit this afternoon and getting contributions from Randall, Newkirk to go with the main guys.

  33. JRay3 says:

    You got it.

  34. theplanisworking says:

    Consistency, JRay, consistency.
    Truly a Jeckyll and Hyde team.

    Just need to find a way to hold on today, and eliminate this “bubble” talk.

  35. Lad 9 says:

    Do not understand Wright being a whipping boy. Nice player who has improved immensely while at Pitt, and if he can improve his outside shot, will be the man next year.

    ND has only missed 7 shots all day. Unreal!

  36. theplanisworking says:


  37. Arriba Wilver says:

    Newkirk showing up.

  38. JRay3 says:

    Oh I agree Plan, but this is a very young team getting significant minutes from Young, Artis, Newkirk and Jones all Freshman and a Redshirt Freshman, a transfer in Randall as only true big man backup and Robinson is just a Sophomore.

    Part of the growing up and learning process, and I think this youngsters have demonstrated quite a bit this season that they can play with anybody and will only get better.

    Maddening lapses at times, frustrating finishes at times, you bet. But overall a team that I think has outplayed what could have been expected.

  39. J Walter Weatherman says:

    I generally like Wright and he brings some good things to the table, including his mid-range game and transition game. My main problems with him are: He’s a poor outside shooting SG, which is one reason why teams can pack the middle against Pitt. This results in Pitt passing the ball around the perimeter for 25 seconds before usually taking a poor shot late in the shot clock. The other issue is that he spends long stretches playing too passively and can disappear from the offense. He’s much better when he’s playing aggressively and I wish he’d play like that consistently.

  40. theplanisworking says:

    Can’t wait for Mr. Jeter to arrive next year.
    The future looks bright.

  41. JRay3 says:

    Patterson the dish to Zanna for the dunk, Patterson the spot up 3 and he is doing a little bit of everything and Panthers back up 6.

  42. JRay3 says:

    Behind him Damon Wilson, recruiting seems to p be picking up and Slice back will only help, and keep reading Pitt are in on two Top 20 names in Diello and Brisoce, if Dixon starts landing that type of talent, watch out!

  43. J Walter Weatherman says:

    They were playing above expectations early in the season for sure. They’ve been playing at or below expectations recently, which is obviously not the way you want to trend as the season progresses. An optimist would say they’ve performed better than expected over the course of the entire season, and that’s a successful season. A pessimist would say that the team has not improved, and has even gotten worse, as the season has progressed. This suggests that the young players aren’t improving as expected.

  44. theplanisworking says:

    And already have a commit form Maverick Rowan.
    Rohrssen is already getting the recruits. Amazing.

  45. JRay3 says:

    I would argue they are three buzzer beaters away from owning wins over the #2, #11 and #12 teams in the nation.

    Would of, could of, I know game of inches at times.

  46. Lad 9 says:

    I think that Detrick Mostella is still listing Pitt as his commitment, plus Ruan Luther will be here. Restocking with some nice talent

  47. JRay3 says:

    The 4 minute media timeout comes at a good time, as two sloppy offensive possessions in a row by the Panthers turning the ball over which they have not done much of this afternoon.

    This is where the team needs to grow, closing out the game, time to finish this one on the road and earn ACC win #10.

  48. Lad 9 says:

    Ryan, not Ruan. Jandy disease

  49. theplanisworking says:

    Jandy is nowhere to be found today.
    Now we can start calling it Lad’s disease.

    Or, you are just way too excited by the Pitt game to type……………… ;)

  50. JRay3 says:

    Michael Young has shown up today, no tip in bigger than that one, ends the Panther drought. Time for one defensive stop.

  51. J Walter Weatherman says:

    I don’t know if that more lucky or good from Young on the tip, but it was desperately needed. Pitt generally looks awful in crunch time … bad passes, missed layups, etc. Hopefully Dixon’s usage of timeouts doesn’t come back to hurt them.

  52. J Walter Weatherman says:

    I forgot to add missed free throws to that list.

  53. theplanisworking says:

    Yet another uncontested 3.
    Defense today simply awful.
    This is where the young’ens are lacking.

    Need a basket here.
    Don’t want OT on the road………

  54. JRay3 says:

    Wow, how many times in one season can one team see that many type of late shots converted against them? Really need for Pitt to find a way to win this in the closing seconds for once.

  55. theplanisworking says:

    Why the timeout??
    Awful coaching there !!!!
    Simply awful !

  56. J Walter Weatherman says:

    What in the heck is Dixon doing? There is a lot of evidence, especially this year, that he is a bad coach in crunch time situations. This many close losses is more than bad luck.

  57. JRay3 says:

    Don’t understand that one at all.

  58. JRay3 says:

    Think he just over coached that situation. Hope team can bail him out in overtime or this one will linger.

  59. Arriba Wilver says:

    If they lose, this one’s on Jamie. No question.

  60. J Walter Weatherman says:

    Any conversation that Dixon is an elite coach should be ended with that exact sequence of events. A high school coach wouldn’t have done that. If Pitt loses this game, the media will go crazy with this.

  61. theplanisworking says:

    Milo has been beating the drum on Dixon.
    He is, yet again, correct.

  62. Lad 9 says:

    There was no excuse for that. Stunning.

  63. theplanisworking says:

    Media will give him yet another pass.
    Here on the blog, we will criticize, but the media? HA!

    Awful coaching.
    Awful defense.
    Enough said.

  64. J Walter Weatherman says:

    You’re probably right. And I really like Dixon – he’s an easy guy to like. However, as I said earlier, there is tangible evidence that this season is the worst coaching of his career at Pitt.

  65. Arriba Wilver says:

    Awful defense? After the first half of the first period?

  66. Arriba Wilver says:

    They had some awful turnovers in crucial situations late in the game,

  67. Arriba Wilver says:

    And Robinson has been terrible.

  68. 21sthebest says:

    Plenty of criticism of Dixon on The Fan this year.

  69. theplanisworking says:

    I am talking specifically about the wide-open 3’s all game long.
    Awful defense. No adjustments.

  70. J Walter Weatherman says:

    Thinking about the last play in regulation. It can be argued that sequence is Dixon’s problem in a nutshell. He doesn’t trust his players, even his best players, to make take initiative and make a big play. He tries to micromanage every situation and you can just tell that his players are tight because they’re thinking too much in the critical situations. You have to give your elite players free reign to make plays.

  71. Arriba Wilver says:

    Again, haven’t seen that since the first half. They have some decent 3 shooters. 3 to be exact.

  72. theplanisworking says:

    I have seen 4 wide open 3’s in the second half.
    Pitt playing “chase” defense on the 3’s.
    That is awful.

  73. J Walter Weatherman says:

    More bad coaching. Why are you playing the 2, when the only thing that can hurt you is the 3?

  74. 21sthebest says:

    That’s why there’s barely any need to contest 3 point shooters.

  75. JRay3 says:

    Clutch FT shooting by Zanna and JRob down the stretch and Pitt is one stop from bailing out its coach and earning this road victory and turning the page.

    No open 3’s here!

  76. JRay3 says:

    Add Michael Young to that list.

  77. JRay3 says:

    Can’t find fault with how Dixon has managed the game here late in the overtime, taking ND shooters out of the equation.

  78. Never easy to win at ND.

  79. J Walter Weatherman says:

    Take the win and learn some lessons … we hope.

  80. Arriba Wilver says:

    They bailed Jamie out.


  81. JRay3 says:

    In a very entertaining game, Pitt earns a come from behind overtime win on the road against the Irish 85-81.

    At the end of the day Pitt is 22-7, 10-6 in ACC play and now an impressive 6-2 on the road. And more importantly improves its NCAA footing.

    Nice to see the players finish this one off and bail out their coach for the questionable in of regulation timeout call. NC State up next Monday at the Pete.

  82. Lad 9 says:

    Whew! The overtime lasted 26 minutes. I really like Jamie, but I hope he takes along look at himself after that timeout fiasco. I need an adult beverage for sure now.

  83. theplanisworking says:

    Well, its’ a win.
    I give props to the players for sticking with it, and overcoming the obstacles.
    Important win, no matter how ugly to improve their standing in the NCAA’s.

    But let me make something clear……… this was an awful effort today with the coaching, and defense. Dixon was simply awful in the last 10 seconds of regulation. Inexcusable for a D-1 coach to have a performance like this. The media will now give Mr. Teflon another pass…….. because the team won.

    And, for anyone saying there is “barely any need” to defend the 3 point shot, “chase” defense isn’t any way to defend the 3. Good, solid man-to-man is what it takes, and I don’t think Pitt has the players willing to make the effort to do that. Notre Dame has good 3-point shooters, and yet they had open looks all day long. Inexcusable.

    But, hey, Pitt probably got off the bubble today, so I will take it.
    There is no doubt this team isn’t going strong down the stretch.

  84. theplanisworking says:

    Make it a double.
    I am not allowed to drink, so have one for me.

  85. 21sthebest says:

    I didn’t say defend. I said contest. That shot will most likely missed and you never ever foul a jump shooter even if it’s not a 3 point shot.

  86. Jim S. says:

    I watched the game, too. I criticize Jamie for recruiting, style of play, etc. But, the criticism of him in that Syracuse game for calling the TO when he did at the end was absolutely ridiculous. I am so sick of hearing about it. The fact that announcers still bring it up is amazing. Calling a TO and forcing a guy to take a 35 foot prayer after weaving his way up court is great coaching, not bad coaching.

    I’m not going to say the same thing today. But, I am going to offer a bit of an alternative view from Doris and the guy who announces with her who is afraid to ever say anything that contradicts her. Obviously, as it turned out, Jamie should not have called the TO. Had he allowed the play to continue, Patterson has a drive to the hoop for a high % shot. But, it is not an instanteous thing. There is a time lapse from when you decide to call a TO, to when you tell the ref and it actually gets called. That possession did not start out looking good IMO. I was wondering if they were even going to get a shot off, then suddenly Patterson got the ball and his man, for some unknown reason, gave him an open lane to the right. Jamie decided to call the TO before the Patterson catch and turn and matador defense by the Irish defender. I know it looked bad, but as a coach you have to act quickly and decisively there. You can say he is guilty of not having faith to allow that play to run to completion if you want. That is totally fair. But, the criticism the 2 announcers were putting on him was not accurate, in my opinion. And, I am no apologist for Dixon. If he thinks the play is breaking down, he has to call a TO ASAP. I thought that is what he did, and I thought he made that decision before it ever looked like Patterson was going to have that look.

    Now, Jamie, you cannot expect to win when almost every player on your team is an average to poor outside shooter. Recruiting guys with high character and toughness but very little athletic ability doesn’t get it done. We’ve been over it a million times. This is not 1972 any more. Recruiting mostly projects also doesn’t get it done. I think there are some players on the way, but next year is going to be tough. Patterson is the only guy that is an above average offensive player and he is gone. Well, maybe Johnson is as well when he returns next year. Guys like Cam Wright and Robinson, plus all of the freshman from this year are not guys who are going to produce much offense.

  87. Jim S. says:

    He confirmed that an alumnus ponied up a bundle, Osh.

  88. 21sthebest says:

    Good post Jim. I actually like the idea of not calling the timeout after ND makes the 3. I like the idea of the defense maybe not being ready and Pitt’s offense having to improvise without a set play. But I won’t criticize Dixon for it just because he has a different philosophy there and I won’t criticize anyone for reacting with the company line.

  89. Jim S. says:

    Well, since I think I’m one of the few who doesn’t want Jamie drawn and quartered right now, the company needs to get more support.

    There is plenty to criticize Jamie about, especially this year. So, I won’t bang on anyone for getting on him. We all wanted them to win that game very badly. I’m just offering a contrarian opinion of maybe why he felt the need to call the TO. But, I will say that someone above made a comment that Jamie feels the need to micro-manage every single situation. Maybe that is what he was doing there. And, if so, I have a hard time arguing with that assessment. Had he just trusted his guys, they might have won in regulation.

    I just wanted to make the point that I don’t think he called a TO to take the ball out of Lamar’s hands, which is what the announcers seemed to think. I think he was afraid they weren’t going to get a shot. As it turned out, I’m quite sure he wishes he had not done anything. He is also glad his guys showed a lot of character in OT.

    I do not see this team going anywhere this year. I hope the incoming recruits the next 2 years, which certainly look promising, can produce.

  90. theplanisworking says:


    I will add the following……………

    if Jamie continues to micro-manage, and not trust his players, possibly more incoming guys will do a Khem Birch and Steve Aadams, and leave the program. And I understand why Adams left, but I think the decision was made much easier for him by the way Dixon is.

    Oh, and I don’t want Dixon drawn and quartered for 2 reasons….
    1) He wouldn’t be worth the 25 cents currently, and
    2) Shooting him and sending him to the Russian front sounds better.

  91. Jim S. says:

    Trust me, plan. I definitely agree with you that Jamie’s style runs off some kids. I hope when he actually gets a few slashers and shooters in here, he doesn’t run them off.

    He has had a very nice run at Pitt, but there is no doubt that the ends of most seasons are incredibly frustrating. I do believe he sometimes loses track of the need to put the ball in the basket on a more regular basis.

    This year has not been pretty. I’m as frustrated as everybody.

    I haven’t given up on him yet, though, because I don’t know for sure that they could get Sean Miller to replace him.

  92. 21sthebest says:

    Adams was the 12th overall pick. I don’t care if Jesus had been his college coach, coming back for his sophomore season would’ve been a huge risk, IMO.

  93. Jim S. says:

    And, Scot Boras thinks 25 year old baseball players are idiots for signing $50 million guaranteed deals because if they would just wait, they might get more later.

  94. 21sthebest says:

    Not sure what you’re getting at Jim or the analogy to coming out for the NBA draft.

Other blogs
Sports: Rob Rossi | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | iPreps | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports
News: This Just In | Trib List | ICycle | Flow Back | Stories Behind Trib Stories  

» Top Sports
» Top News
» Top Breaking News