Pittsburgh needed a big second half and overtime to beat Oakland at home yesterday. This is the same Oakland team that already had losses to Boise State and Louisiana-Lafayette.
It seems like Pittsburgh relies on three key players for most of their offense: Talib Zanna (6'9" Forward) 14 ppg, Tray Woodall (6'0" Guard) 13.8 ppg, and J.J. Moore (6'6" Forward) 13.3 ppg. For defense, they have a 7'0" freshman averaging 2.3 blocks and 5.5 rebounds. I'm sure most of you will recognize one of the names on Pitts roster, Trey Zeigler. He is averaging around 6 points/game.
It will definitely be nice to see Michigan play an opponent from a major conference, but this Pittsburgh team seems to be more similar to their team last year (22-17) than the one they had two years ago (28-6).
Yes, it is early to start obsessing about a game nearly a week away. No, I cannot help myself.
The city of Pittsburgh is an industrial blight on the beautiful rolling hills of Pennsylvania. Last year, the team wasn't much prettier.
Pittsburgh Coach Jamie Dixon is a defense and rebounding kind of guy. A Tom Izzo kind of coach, if you will. Last year Pittsburgh wasn't all that great at defense and rebounding. They went 5-13 in the Big East, and missed the tournament.
Thing is, they didn't give up. They Janestowned it.
Those poor mudders accepted an invite to the lowly CBI, and the extra practice time that went with it. And a funny thing happened while they were preparing and playing meaningless games. They got better. They went on to beat a couple of pretty decent teams in Butler and Washington State on the way to a CBI championship. Which...yeah. It wasn't a glorious road, but they took it.
This year their leading scorer Ashton Gibbs is gone, but if you can believe it the Panthers are playing better basketball. Much of that improvement is centered around Tray Woodall, who missed most of last season with abdominal injuries.
Tray Woodall has picked up much of the scoring load, and in the last two games the Panthers outrebounded their opponents 71-40, and held their opponents to an average of 52 points. Their games are a little slower, averaging 10-15 fewer possessions than Michigan. Mudder basketball is back.
Aside from tough man defense and rebounding, there is one fantastic player to worry about. As 5'th year senior PG Tray Woodall goes, so go the Panthers. His matchup with Burke will be a fantastic one. They're both the total package-shooter, slasher, passer defender. Its going to be fun.
The Panthers start another point guard, this one 4* freshman James Robinson, primarily so that Woodall can focus more on scoring and less on getting the ball up the court. To this point Robinson really hasn't shot the ball much or accumulated a lot of assists. On rare occasions when he has looked for his shot he has been pretty effective...but this is Woodall's show.
6'9" F/C Dante Taylor is the Panther's best rebounder, pulling down 10 boards or so a game. Last year Taylor was the primary center, but this year he is losing minutes to
7' 5* freshman center Steve Adams of New Zealand. Adams is a shot blocker and a fair rebounder, but at this point in his development he scores most of his points by way of put-backs. They're not running a lot of plays for him(again, Woodall's show).
6'5" Jr. wing Lamar Patterson, 6'9" Jr Forward Talib Zanna, and 6'6" Jr Forward J.J. Moore provide supplimental scoring punch, all depending on who has the hot hand.
Michigan's coaches will be treated to a familiar face on Wednesday...
That's right, former Michigan recruit Trey Zeigler. Way back in 2010 Zeigler shunned Beilein's dream of starting an entire squad made up of guys named "Trey" in order to spend another year with his old man at CMU. (Just for old time's sake, take a walk down memory lane with me...http://mgoblog.com/content/hello-tim-hardaway-jr Yes...that was you lamenting taking Hardaway when Zeigler was still out there...you know what they say about hindsight). Not surprisingly, the guy still shoots 50% from the charity stripe. (Ernie had 18 years to fix his set shot, you think a couple more at CMU were going to make a difference?)
And for the 15 or so minutes he sees against Michigan, I fully support a hack-a-Trey philosophy. Well...only if they're already in the bonus...
All in all this should be an excellent test for Michigan. Pitt basically plays B1G basketball in the Big East(well, for one more year--next year the Panthers join the ACC). They play tough defense, they rebound your misses...they're mudders. Michigan had better value the basketball. They had better knock down their shots. Because as Bill Self found out recently...If you let a mudder hang around long enough, they may just jump up and bite you in the end.
SI has a nice story in this week's issue about Tim Hardaway Jr and Glenn Robinson centered on growing up with NBA dads and their respective relationships. I checked the SI site and there isn't a link, but it's worth checking out.
Kim Barnes Arico's first Michigan recruiting class is a pretty impressive one, especially considering she was hired only about half a year ago. At least according to one rankings list, two of the four signees for the class of 2013 are top 100 players nationally. The only downside is that all four are guards. Michigan was a finalist for two top-50 prospects—one a center, the other a wing—but both chose other schools.
Here's the first part of the mgoblue.com press release. See the full release for details on the signees. (Note also that the last paragraph below [see the bolded part] makes the first mention that I'm aware of that the team is planning a foreign trip next summer.)
Nov. 14, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan women's basketball head coach Kim Barnes Arico announced Wednesday (Nov. 14) the signing of the following players to National Letters of Intent. They will join the Wolverines for the 2013-14 campaign.
Hometown (High School)
Carlyle, Ill. (Carlyle)
Gastonia, N.C./Forestview [Trinity Valley CC]
Phoenix, Ariz. (St. Mary's)
"I am excited about the young ladies who will be joining our program," Barnes Arico said. "I think it was really important for us to make inroads and get this first recruiting under our new coaching staff on board. They are all tremendous young ladies who come from very successful high school programs. They have played in AAU programs that compete at the highest level. It was important for us in the process of building our culture to get players that come from winning programs. These young ladies are all from great families and are excellent students. They will represent Michigan in the best way. They are leaders and best in everything that they do.
"Considering this was our first year and I didn't get hired until late in the recruiting process, I think this is an exceptional class," Barnes Arico said of the quartet. "We are really excited to get them on campus and coach them. We have a foreign trip next summer, which will give us the opportunity to get in the gym with them prior to practices starting in the fall. The staff did a great job of getting involved with players at this high level, considering how late we got started in the process. We are thrilled and think they will do a great job here at Michigan, representing the University the way they should."
I follow Michigan basketball intently, however life's demands rarely allow me the time to seach for some obscure media outled-feed-stream type thingy to watch the early season exhibitionish slate, so last night was my first look at the madness taking place inside Crisler. I have followed Michigan basketball intently, suffering along with Courtney Sims and Lester Abram in an empathatic fashion as opposed to at their expense in those years, and was anxious to take a look at this team.
For those that follow this blog primarily for football with a little basketball and hockey thrown in their during slow times, it is time to pay attention to Michigan basketball. I understand "Cleveland State, consider the opponent, don't get ahead of yourselves etc." and agree with all of that, but what Beilien trotted out there last night has the making of an elite basketball team, not next year, or once "these guys mature," also known in college basketball as the team that struggles for 4 seed and goes out in the second round, but in the Kentucky, Final Four, did you see that dunk kind of way. And the chemistry that is already evidenced with so many new faces is the kind of thing that creates special teams. I am excited about taking this show to Madison Square Garden, and I think Michigan maybe the show as opposed to part of it. These guys are good and this team may have been worth the long, long wait that hoops fans have endured to see Crisler really rocking again.