Michigan vs Pittsburgh Wednesday 9:30 ESPN2

Submitted by ClearEyesFullHart on November 16th, 2012 at 12:16 AM

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.








November 16th, 2012 at 12:29 AM ^



Excellent breakdown, CEFH. This is going to be a real test for Michigan, but one they should pass.  Too much talent on Michigan's side coupled with great coaching from Johnny B.


November 16th, 2012 at 8:13 AM ^

Well once you get past the hills it's terrible. But yeah anything in the river valley is beautiful.

NOTE: If you're going, there are no bars downtown and few near the stadiums. Find the strip just south of the Monongahela River (the southern split) called Southside flats.

Naked Bootlegger

November 16th, 2012 at 8:07 AM ^

Spent a week in Pitt last year at a conference.   It instantly dispelled any lingering "rust belt" visions that were etched in my brain.   I was impressed.   Their economy has totally been revamped and they are no longer attached to steel as their main econominc engine.   Seems to me like a very nice urban renewal story that will hopefully be replicated by other struggling industrial cities. 

Other than that, I enjoyed the preview!




November 16th, 2012 at 1:50 AM ^

about the city itself, I think your first and last paragraphs are dead on. Pitt will be in this game late if M is giving up easy rebounds offensively; Dixon usually puts a very good defensive product on the court, and Pitt fans are pretty excited about this being a good year. Some are really, really excited.

The other thing I would mention is the depth Pitt is playing with so far. Blowout caveats and whatnot, but the bench is getting a ton of minutes, which is somethng Dixon likes.

If you're looking for anything Pitt fans are saying, there should be a good preview up on pittblather.com sometime before tipoff. I can't remember how early they usually publish but a lot of my friends there enjoy the site.

Cold War

November 16th, 2012 at 6:10 AM ^

OT a bit - I'm not sure tournaments like the CBI deserve such a stigma. In the case of a team like Pitt, they gained more experience and ended the season on a more positive note. If majors that didn't make the NIT were open to it, you could have a decent field. Don't see why a postseason tournament shouldn't have a lesser field, but it's okay for a preseason tournament.


November 16th, 2012 at 7:16 AM ^

Great scouting report. This will be a great test for us and one that I expect we will pass. I predict a close game through the half with the good guys gradually pulling away over the course of the second half.

Oh, and I have never been to Pittsburgh, so I will not join in the "don't diss Pittsburgh, it is nicer than Venice, with the pulse of NYC, the history of London and the girls of LA" sentiment.

Blue boy johnson

November 16th, 2012 at 8:41 AM ^

Steve Adams is interesting. He is quite a bit taller than Dwight Howard, I am a bit skeptical about the 7'5'' business but he is tall. The Pitt Panther roster lists him at an even 7'.

13 Steven Adams 7-0/250 Center FR


Here is a radio interview with Steve Adams with a Pittsburgh sports radio station. Interesting interview. He has a 17 brothers and sisters, his brother is taller and played for the New Zealand national team, and his sister is an Olympic Gold medalist in the Shot Put.



November 16th, 2012 at 9:32 AM ^

I should have spelled out seven foot, five star recruit. Sometimes I have a tendency to sacrifice readability in exchange for brevity. Character flaw.

And wow...I'm youngest of 11, and I thought MY family was huge. Speaking from experience, his hand-me-downs must have really sucked. I will probably root for him now...After Wednesday that is...


November 16th, 2012 at 9:50 AM ^

Ha, I like this guy... he shares my name and comes from a big family as well (I had 5 siblings and 4 half-siblings).  Pitt has been under the radar these past few seasons, what is going on with Dixon's Panthers?  I had a girlfriend from Wheeling, West Virginia and man, she was an obnoxious Pittsburgh sports fan.... except for Pitt itself.  She was a West Virginia fan and HATED the University of Pittsburgh but loved the rest of the city... strange.  It is an awesome town!  I lived in Wilkinsburg for a few months before moving out and really enjoyed the city.