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January 8, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

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An update on Ryan Luther’s injury

A special thanks to Trib reporter (and new father) Jason Mackey (@Mackey_Trib) who covered the Hampton-North Allegheny game Wednesday night and shared the following report on injured Pitt recruit Ryan Luther:

Pitt fans, exhale.
Ryan Luther’s going to be OK in seven to 10 days.
The 6-foot-8 Hampton senior, who signed with the Panthers in November, sprained his ankle at practice Tuesday while running a routine, two-on-one drill.
While the injury kept him out of Wednesday’s 62-61 win over North Allegheny, Luther could return as soon as next Tuesday against New Castle.
“We’re hopeful,” Hampton coach Joe Lafko said. “It’s very doubtful for Friday. It’ll be a week next Tuesday. That’ll be probably the earliest.”
Which is around the time Lafko’s heart rate may settle down.
Luther’s injury “made me sick (Tuesday),” Lafko said. “Literally. My stomach did flip-flops.”
Don’t know quite what those are, but they sure don’t sound fun.
And in case you’re wondering what Lafko was doing having his team practice on a day when it was below zero, he’s got you covered.
“We have all kind of people taking blame for us,” Lafko said. “My principal blamed the athletic director for letting us practice. I blamed myself for even calling a practice. (Senior guard) Jack Obringer blamed Ryan because Ryan made the comment that Ryan was the only one who didn’t get injured last year. They thought it jinxed him. There was a lot of blame to go around, but it’s the way basketball goes.”
Luther committed to Pitt in late October, picking the Panthers over Dayton, Duquesne and George Washington. He averaged 21 points per game last winter while leading Hampton to the WPIAL finals for the second consecutive year.

December 17, 2013
by Kevin Gorman

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Why no UMass?

It appears the absence of the University of Massachusetts on my Associated Press men’s basketball ballot has caused some consternation in New England, as one paper exposed me, I guess, as the lone voter not to vote for the Minutemen in the top 25 and a blogger used his forum as a bully pulpit to attack me.

Fair enough. UMass is 9-0, ranks No. 2 nationally in RPI (.7111), behind Wisconsin. The Minutemen have beaten opponents from the ACC (Boston College and Clemson), Big Ten (Nebraska), Mountain West (New Mexico), Southeastern (LSU) and West Coast (BYU) conferences this season. By those standards — undefeated record, high RPI and opponents from quality conferences — the Minutemen certainly deserve to be ranked in the top 25.

So allow me to explain my rankings.

First, this is not the first time I’ve been a dissenting voice in an AP poll. Yes, even though I cover high school sports (primarily writing columns on Western Pennsylvania football) for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, I also have covered college football (Pitt and Penn State), as well as the Super Bowl and Stanley Cup Final (twice each) and countless other major sporting events.

Now, I have nothing against UMass. In fact, I was a fan of the Minutemen when a pair of Pittsburghers, Central Catholic’s Jim McCoy and Allderdice’s William Herndon, played for Moon native and former Pitt assistant John Calipari in the late 1980s/early ’90s. But I didn’t have UMass in my preseason top 25, and the reason I don’t know is that it hasn’t beaten any teams that I have ranked in my ballots this season. (UMass did beat New Mexico, which I didn’t rank).

I did, however, rank Pitt in the preseason top 25. This is my second season on the Pitt men’s basketball beat, but I’ve covered them for more than a decade, first as the backup to the beat writer, later as a columnist. So I’ve seen my share of college basketball, and believe this Pitt team has a chance to be pretty good despite the graduation of Tray Woodall and Dante Taylor, the early entry of Steven Adams to the NBA and the transfers of J.J. Moore and Trey Zeigler.

The Panthers are 10-0 heading into tonight’s game against Cincinnati in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. They have yet to beat a ranked opponent, although they have beaten teams from the Big Ten (Penn State), Big 12 (Texas Tech), Mountain West (Fresno State) and Pac-12 (Stanford) this season. They won nine games by double-digit margins.

Attack me as a homer, if you will, but Pitt finished fourth in the Big East last season and returned three starters
and two reserves who have moved into greater roles. I expected the Panthers to be a top 25 team, so I ranked them 21st to start the season. They have since moved up six spots in my ballot.

I don’t believe in punishing ranked teams for playing each other, especially when the games are close. That’s why I have a three-loss Kentucky team ranked No. 14 (ahead of undefeated Pitt). The Wildcats’ losses are to then-No. 2 Michigan State, then-No. 20 Baylor and then-No. 18 North Carolina. I have all three of those teams ranked ahead of Kentucky.

That rationale doesn’t leave much room for teams to jump ahead, which is why Wisconsin has gone from No. 20 to 11th on my ballot and Baylor (who has wins over Kentucky, Dayton and Colorado and whose only loss is to Syracuse) from No. 18 to seventh. I didn’t have Villanova ranked to start the season (I saw Pitt beat the Wildcats twice last year), but have moved them to 19th. And I dropped North Carolina before the Tar Heels beat Kentucky, Michigan State and Louisville, teams that started the season 1-2-3 in the AP rankings. I don’t have Gonzaga ranked because its lone loss is to Dayton, which only lost to Baylor by one but then dropped a game to Illinois State.

I hope that begins to explain my reason for not ranking UMass, which is off to its best start since 1995-96. If the Minutemen beat Ohio Wednesday and Florida State Saturday, that should help their cause. If the Twitter attacks of their passionate fans, which I don’t take personally, has done anything, it’s made me very well aware of UMass.

December 13, 2013
by Kevin Gorman

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About the rankings…

Pitt is getting national attention for not getting enough national attention.
The Panthers are 9-0, one of only 14 undefeated teams in the nation, yet aren’t nationally ranked.
“We’ve been ranked most of the time. Now, we’re not. It’s kind of a new dynamic for us,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “I do think we’re as good as a lot of teams that have been ranked, so that’s a good thing.”
The players have noticed, and are using the slight for motivation.
“I’d be lying to you to tell you that I don’t look at those rankings,” Pitt redshirt junior guard Cameron Wright said. “I think it provides a bigger chip for our team to have. I feel like we’ll definitely be ranked. Until then, we’ll just take it one game at a time.”
Don’t blame me.
Full disclosure: I’m a voter in the Associated Press poll (you can see my ballot here), and I had Pitt No. 15 last week.
But not everyone is sold on the Panthers, and Gary Parrish of CBS Sports explained why: “Specifically, some folks want to know what Pittsburgh must do to crack the Top 25 (and one).
My answer is simple: Beat a quality opponent.”
So, the knock is that Pitt is undefeated because it hasn’t played anyone of consequence.
The combined record of the Panthers’ opponents is 45-43. Not impressive. But three of those teams — Savannah State (2-9), Howard (2-10) and Duquesne (3-4) — have losing records and combine for 23 of those losses. Dixon said the Panthers had no control over their opponents in the Legends Classic, where they beat Texas Tech (6-3) and Stanford (6-2), or the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, where they beat Penn State (8-3).
“If that’s what they need, we’ll use it,” Dixon said, adding that Pitt has played non-conference games in the past against Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin. “We were in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. We were in the Legends Classic. You’re in with the best people. We’ve played a lot of the best ones in the past. Generally, the teams that are in there haven’t beaten too many ranked teams, either. Maybe they’ve beaten one. If one’s a lot more than none, so be it. I’m not too good at math, but…”
Dixon believes Pitt’s preseason status was based on the Panthers’ returning only five players from last season, although Talib Zanna, Lamar Patterson and James Robinson were starters. Most national voters, however, probably noted that Pitt lost its leading scorer in Tray Woodall and a lottery pick in center Steven Adams.
But Pitt wasn’t ranked last season until after it started 12-1.
Since the 2001-02 season, Pitt has been ranked in 80 percent of polls.
“We were always ranked when we lost a lot of guys,” Dixon said. “There was probably a stretch where we were getting ranked when with the guys we had returning you probably wouldn’t have thought. I’m not too concerned about it. Nobody’s setting the world on fire by who they’ve beaten. Maybe a game or two, but we’re going by the long haul.”
It was suggested to Dixon that blue bloods like Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina are often ranked based on their pedigree, whether they are truly deserving or not.
“We’re right there, but we’re not there,” Dixon said. “I’m the first to say that you just mentioned three teams that have won numerous national championships, and we haven’t. We’re right below that and I recognize that and acknowledge it. That’s something we’re trying to do, trying to get and that’s what we need to do. I can’t do anything about what programs did 30 years ago. That’s beyond our control.”
So are the rankings.
Pitt plays host to Youngstown State Saturday, then plays Cincinnati in the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. The Panthers won’t play a top 25 opponent until January.
If they are still undefeated by then, it will be hard for voters to leave them off their ballots.

December 10, 2013
by Kevin Gorman

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Randall sues Rutgers

Pitt junior forward Derrick Randall has filed a lawsuit against Rutgers, alleging that he was “chronically and heinously targeted and abused, both physically and psychologically” by former Scarlet Knights basketball coach Mike Rice, according to a report by the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger.

The Star-Ledger story also provided links to lawsuit documents.

Here is an ESPN report showing video of Rice physically and verbally abusing Rutgers players at practice.

Randall transferred to Pitt from Rutgers following the scandal that prompted Rice’s firing last April, and received an NCAA waiver for immediate eligibility. Randall endured a difficult year aside from the abuse, as his mother lost her battle with ovarian cancer last spring.

Rice spent the 2006-07 season as a Pitt assistant coach under Jamie Dixon, and three seasons as head coach at Robert Morris.

December 3, 2013
by Kevin Gorman

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Lamar leads the way

Lamar Patterson is coming off the best week of his college basketball career, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the fifth-year senior swingman was named ACC player of the week.
Aside from the statistics, what people around Pitt are noticing is Lamar’s leadership. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon noted that Patterson, who had recorded career highs in back-to-back games against Texas Tech and Stanford, passed up a scoring chance that would have given him at least 20 points for the third consecutive game to find an open Chris Jones for a basket.
“He’s unselfish,” Dixon said. “The play at the end, where he looks to get Chris Jones a shot … that spoke volumes.”
It’s not just in games, either.
Pitt freshman forward Mike Young said Patterson, who also spent his senior season at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, has taken him under his wing since his arrival and shown him how to play the Panthers’ way.
“He’s a great leader: always calm, always collected, always under control, never rattled,” Young said. “Him being here five years, he’s very experienced and being versatile himself, he knows every position.”
Patterson said Brad Wanamaker did the same for him when he first came to Pitt, treating him like “his little brother,” so he’s simply paying it forward.
“He showed me the ins and outs of how to play for coach Dixon, how to play college basketball,” Patterson said.
Patterson, by the way, needs 86 points, 53 rebounds and 89 assists to become the third player in Pitt history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists in a career. Wanamaker and Carl Krauser are the others to accomplish the feat.
“Just to be mentioned with those guys,” Patterson said, “is a great honor.”
The honor, his teammates say, is playing with Patterson.
And, ultimately, for him.
“What he brings to the team is a lot of leadership. He’s been around, so he’s been through the battles,” point guard James Robinson said. “This is his last year. As younger guys, when we see him putting in extra time on the court, we owe it to him and Talib to make sure we bring our best effort because we want to send them out the right way.”

December 1, 2013
by Kevin Gorman

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A whirlwind week

When you do what you love and love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
That’s my regular reminder that I have my dream job, combining my love for sports and writing. It’s a phrase I’ve uttered more than once in November, when my worlds as a columnist who covers high school football, Pitt basketball and boxing collided and made for an incredibly busy past few weeks.
It started with a column reminiscing the unforgettable run by former Woodland Hills star Steve Breaston against Central Catholic in the 2001 WPIAL Class AAAA championship game. A dozen years later, Woodland Hills and Central met for a WPIAL title rematch.
The storyline on Saturday was about North Catholic winning its first WPIAL title at Heinz Field, the alma mater of Steelers chairman Dan Rooney claiming a championship at the home of his family franchise.
I followed the Trojans to their locker room, where Rooney and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert were waiting outside to congratulate every player and coach for their accomplishment. North coach Bob Ravenstahl asked Rooney to speak to the team, and he joked that today’s players were “bigger, smarter and faster” but that “we were tougher.” The players asked Rooney join their team photo, and surrounded him as he held the WPIAL trophy.
That column touched on every championship game, from the story of Central’s O’Neill family to West Allegheny’s Bob Palko becoming the first coach in WPIAL history to win seven outright district titles to South Fayette’s Conner Beck making a dream come true at the expense of Aliquippa star Dravon Henry, whose hopes were crushed.
On Monday, I drove to Brooklyn to cover Pitt basketball in the Legends Classic. This was supposed to present the first tests of the season for the Panthers, who had cruised to easy victories at Petersen Events Center and were playing on the road for the first time against respectable programs like Texas Tech and either Houston or Stanford.
So much for that.
After scoring a career-high 23 points against Texas Tech, Lamar Patterson outdid himself by scoring 24 against Stanford.
Back to Pittsburgh and high school football, where my column concentrated on West Allegheny center Mike Ross, who overcame a serious injury to finish his career on a high note.
The next day, I watched Pitt play Duquesne in the annual City Game. Check out Duquesne beat writer Chris Harlan’s story here and Dejan Kovacevic’s column here.
Now, along the way, I had written a few stories on McKees Rocks boxer Paul Spadafora after visiting his training camp near California, Pa. For one, he added trainer Buddy McGirt to his corner a week before his WBA light welterweight title fight with Johan Perez, a fight that Spadafora knew could change his life. But Perez, a Golden Boy Promotions protégé described as an awkward fighter, stood in his way.
And the decision didn’t go Spadafora’s way, either.
Today, I will head over to the Pete to talk with the Panthers about Tuesday’s game against Penn State.
Two more weeks of juggling high school football with Pitt basketball for me, then I can concentrate on the Panthers’ inaugural basketball season in the ACC. I’m planning to give you additional coverage throughout the season on this blog, which was named in honor of Larry Merchant’s book, Ringside Seat at the Circus.
From here on out, maybe it should be called Sitting Courtside.

September 17, 2013
by Kevin Gorman

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McKenzie left a mark, and with one

Washington’s record-setting running back, Shai McKenzie, learned Monday that his senior season is over after tests revealed that he has a torn ACL in his right knee.
The injury ends the high school football career of one of the most productive backs in WPIAL history.
Like every running back who has played at Wash High since the mid-1980s, McKenzie couldn’t avoid comparisons to Little Prexies legend Brian Davis. Difference was, McKenzie thrived on it. He wasn’t shy about wanting to break Davis’ school records.
First, McKenzie broke Davis’ single-season mark. McKenzie led the Little Prexies to the WPIAL Class AA final, finishing with 2,689 yards — only 52 shy of Rushel Shell’s single-season WPIAL rushing record.
Soon, McKenzie was one of the most coveted recruits in Western Pennsylvania. He drew an invitation to The Opening, the Nike-sponsored camp in Oregon for elite prospects.
So, it’s no wonder McKenzie set lofty goals for his senior season. He wanted to become the first player in Western Pennsylvania history to rush for 3,000 yards in a season. And, through the first two games, he was on pace to do just that. Then he planted and heard a pop and crumbled to the turf at Charleroi, his senior season and his high school career were suddenly over. He finished with 4,509 rushing yards and 69 touchdowns, surpassing a standard for greatness despite playing less than 10 quarters this season.
Now, surgery awaits.
McKenzie should take some solace, knowing that he left an indelible mark on WPIAL football.
Unfortunately, WPIAL football will leave an indelible mark on him, as well.
– By Kevin Gorman

March 20, 2013
by Kevin Gorman

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Last dance for Jack R. Anderson

When my father started taking me and my brother to high school football games, there were rules to be followed.
We got to games early enough to watch warm-ups and be settled into our seats in time to watch the band perform the national anthem. And we weren’t allowed to leave our seats until after the bands performed their halftime shows. He loved music as much as football.
So, one of the most enjoyable parts of covering Pitt football and basketball for me over the years has been listening to and watching the joy with which Jack R. Anderson has directed the Pitt band.
Anderson, who is retiring as Pitt band director after 27 years, is an institution within an institution. Not only is he a popular professor among students but a long-time fixture on the sporting scene. He also has received the Distinguished Service to Music award, the highest honor presented by Kappa Kappa Psi. Robert “Ace” Arthur, Pitt’s band director from 1939-70, also was given the award, and Anderson believes no other college has two recipients.
This NCAA Tournament is Anderson’s last hurrah with the Pitt band at a sporting event.
Not only does Anderson have deep family roots in the Pitt band, but he met his wife, Peggy, when they were students. Peggy played the piccolo and flute, as did their oldest daughter, Carrie. Their youngest daughter, Katie, played the baritone. And there’s probably more Andersons in Pitt band’s future. Anderson has a miniature Pitt band drum set in his basement that his grandchildren are learning to play.
Anderson was essentially raised on the Pitt sidelines, whether it was football or basketball games.
“The old field house was all dirt,” Anderson said. “Did you know that? After basketball season, they could take the court up and the football team would practice there.”
One of Anderson’s earliest Pitt sporting memories was going to the 1956 Sugar Bowl by train with his grandparents – and the Pitt freshman football team, which included future Panthers head coach Foge Fazio.
“I grew up with sports,” Anderson said, “so I know sports.”
Anderson also knows the Panthers not only by their names but their numbers. On family road trips, Jack B. Anderson would sing the beginning of a school march and make his children identify it. Or he would name a Pitt player and make them recite his number.
To this day, Jack R. remembers that Bill Kaliden wore No. 19, Bob Rosborough No. 84 and Joe Walton No. 87, that Charles “Corky” Cost wore No. 20 and Don Hennon wore No. 21.
The Andersons also collected memorabilia long before it became fashionable. It started with his father and continues with Jack, who has old game-worn jerseys, warm-ups and helmets from every era dating to at least the 1950s before they could be tossed out.
In fact, Anderson presented Hennon with his white, short-sleeved game jersey at the last game at Fitzgerald Field House. He also presented Corky Cost his jersey on the day Pitt opened the Cost Center, where the Pitt band still practices sometimes.
“We never lose a practice because of rain or snow,” Anderson said, noting that because the Cost Center field is 100 yards long but not 53 yards wide, “we put duct tape down to make hash marks for guiding lines.”
And, even though I’m a Penn State grad, I can’t leave this out:
Anderson “took a beating” when he was ordered to remove the break strain in the Pitt Victory Song that allowed fans to chant “Penn State Sucks!” Angry alums accused him of going soft on the Nittany Lions.
If they only knew that Anderson celebrated Pitt’s 31-11 victory over Penn State in 1984 – a 3-7-1 season for the Panthers – by purchasing a Joe Paterno cardboard cutout that shared a seat at his dinner table at a prominent downtown State College restaurant.

January 10, 2013
by sitting-ringside

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What Mike Farrell told TribLIVE Radio national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell was a guest on my TribLIVE Radio show Wednesday.

We discussed how Clairton star Tyler Boyd, the Trib’s player of the year, performed at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl last Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio; Bethel Park junior tackle Mike Grimm fared at the U.S. Army All-American Combine; Central Valley wide receiver Robert Foster, Belle Vernon offensive tackle Dorian Johnson and North Allegheny offensive lineman Patrick Kugler played in the Under Armour All-American Game last Friday;  and Western Pennsylvania’s top Class of 2014 skill players, Washington running back Shai McKenzie and Aliquippa defensive back Dravon Henry.

Here’s a few of Farrell’s takes:

  • On Boyd: “He’s a guy who’s a can’t-miss kid. Even though he’s very skinny and needs to fill out, he’s a guy who can play multiple positions. He can play safety, cornerback, wide receiver – they can run jet sweeps with him – so even if it doesn’t work out on offense, he’s the type of guy that can impact your football team. I thought he looked pretty good down there. He had to shake the rust off a little because he’s not really, truly a wide receiver yet.”
  • On Grimm: “He mentions Pitt a whole lot. That was a consistent theme when I did talk to him. … He’s a huge kid. He’s going to end up with double-digit numbers when we talk about scholarship offers. … He’s going to be a guy that will be one of the top offensive linemen in Pennsylvania.”
  • On Foster’s picking Alabama over Pitt: “He was a big surprise. When you look at it from the outside, if you don’t follow recruiting, you’d say, ‘Well, of course he’s going to go to Alabama. Why wouldn’t he go to Alabama?’ But the circumstances surrounding him are a lot different. His mom really wanted him to stay close to home, a lot of people in the area wanted him to stay close to home. I think home is safety, comfort and, really, he can control his destiny at Pitt. He can be an immediate impact guy, and can do it in front of friends and family; whereas, at Alabama, you don’t know. They’re a little light at wide receiver right now – we saw how good Amari Cooper is – but they need impact wide receivers. Next year, they could take three five-star wide receivers and, all of a sudden, he’s out of the shuffle. It’s a little bit of a risk to go down there. Obviously, it makes sense for a lot of different reasons. He’s one of the guys I’m saying to keep an eye on for the next month. Alabama worked very, very hard to get that commitment but they’re working even harder to keep it because they know that this thing could turn at any time.”
  • On Johnson and Kugler: ““Dorian’s a guy that we’ve undervalued a little bit. Everybody else jumped the gun a little bit and made him top 10 in the country, a five star. He’s really raw but he’s starting to come together. He’s become much more physical, much more aggressive. He’s willing to mix it up. He’s starting to learn balance, starting to get his footwork down and I think that really showed in the Under Armour, going against the best in the country. Kugler is just an animal. He’s just a mauler and a brawler and he plays to the whistle and he’ll knock you out. He could translate to the guard position. Dorian Johnson is for sure a tackle. He’s got that athleticism, got those feet. He just needs more refining. But I’ve seen a lot of improvement from him, junior to senior year and even from senior film to what I’ve seen at the Under Armour Game.”
  • On McKenzie: “McKenzie is a guy with the eye-popping numbers. He’s a big, physical running back. He’s starting to get some of those national offers. I think Tennessee is one of those. Even though hasn’t been as up as usual lately, when you get a Tennessee offer it opens up things down South. He had Pitt, UConn, Maryland and Rutgers, all the locals you’d expect, but I think he’s going to get a lot more of those big offers. I don’t know if Ohio State and Michigan are going to come in. I think he’s talented enough. I think he’s going to blow up once his junior film gets circulated a little bit and once college coaches start focusing on the junior class.”
  • On Henry: “He’s a little bit different level because he can play corner or safety, comes from a program that is producing some very impressive football players. He’s going to be one that is probably tempted a ltitle bit more to leave. … The advantage that Pitt has obviously with the sanctions at Penn State is it’s going to be a real tough sell for Penn State to get some of these kids. …The disadvantage is, I think everybody is going to come in on Dravon Henry.”

You can listen to a full podcast of the show here. It also includes my thoughts on the Pitt basketball victory at Georgetown and an interview with Bob Jacoby, who retired after 40 seasons as football coach at Bishop Canevin Catholic.

January 8, 2013
by sitting-ringside

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Will Robinson be a Hoya destroyer?

The Pitt-Georgetown game marks a homecoming for Panthers freshman point guard James Robinson, who joined with Hoyas sophomore Mikael Hopkins to lead DeMatha Catholic to three consecutive city championships at Verizon Center.

What I found interesting is that, despite its proximity, Georgetown wasn’t among Robinson’s finalists when he committed to Pitt in August 2011. He chose the Panthers over Miami, Notre Dame and Virginia.

“I was considering going to Georgetown,” Robinson said Saturday. “Coach (John) Thompson III and the rest of their staff, they do a great job with their players. But with (Pitt) coach (Jamie) Dixon and the rest of the staff, I just felt I fit better here and I’m happy with my decision.”

Georgetown pursued Kyle Anderson instead, and signed score-first point guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera out of Oak Hill Academy after Anderson chose UCLA.

But Pitt assistant coach Brandin Knight, who knows something about feeling slighted by his hometown school, indicated that Robinson could have hard feelings about Georgetown considering the Hoyas signed Hopkins, his former DeMatha teammate. A 6-foot-9 forward who is averaging 8 points and 2.9 rebounds a game for the Hoyas, Hopkins was only the second DeMatha player to pick the Hoyas in a 40-year span.

Apparently, there was some tension between Hall of Fame coaches John Thompson and Morgan Wootten dating to their days as rival high school coaches at St. Anthony’s and DeMatha, respectively. When Georgetown selected Thompson over Wootten, the bad blood boiled. It only got worse when Thompson lobbied for Bob Wade to get the Maryland job.

Thompson didn’t take a DeMatha player from 1972-2002.

The DeMatha ban continued when top assistant Craig Esherick succeeded Thompson and until Wooten retired in 2002 with 1,192 career victories. Austin Freeman ended a 30-year DeMatha drought at Georgetown when he picked the Hoyas in 2007.

Knight, who wasn’t heavily recruited by Seton Hall despite starring at Seton Hall Prep, indicated that Robinson could have some extra incentive when Pitt (12-3, 0-2) plays the No. 19 Hoyas (10-2, 0-1) at 9 p.m. at Verizon Center.

“We’ve all internalized that,” Knight said. “I don’t know if you call it disrespect. When a local school doesn’t recruit you, especially if it’s a school you’re interested in or have some type of affiliation with, you take it as a slap in the face and go out and prove to them that they made a mistake.”

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