Reply To: Pitt begins ACC play at NC State

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Alright, deep breaths everybody. It sucks to lose this game just like it sucked to lose the Missouri game. It’s always hard to lose at home, especially when you start off the game so well. Still, deep breaths.

1) Pittsburgh is really, really good. KenPom has them rated the 11th best team in the country. I think that probably overstates it a bit, but they’re still really good. They haven’t played a punishing schedule, but they’ve blown out almost every team they’ve played, which is exactly what good teams are supposed to do. This is not a loss that is going to look bad at the end of the year.

2) Lets stop drawing huge sweeping conclusions from this game, because it did not go at all the way you would have expected it to coming into the game. How, you ask?
i) State’s biggest strength on offense is not turning the ball over. Pittsburgh’s weakest area on defense is that they don’t force tons of turnovers. And yet, we tied our season high for turnovers (and in a fairly slow-paced game at that). This is not a trend, it’s an abnormality. So lets remember that when we’re whining about the team being “sloppy”. It’s actually rather remarkable that a team this young is in the top 30 in the country for lowest TO%.
ii) Pitt is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country (10th). We are a well below-average defensive rebounding team (235th). Pitt only got 9 offensive rebounds out of 30 opportunities. That’s 30%, which is below the national average, and excellent given these teams’ respective strengths and weaknesses.
iii) We all know that State struggles badly at the FT line. We were 14-15 this game.

I’m not saying we can’t learn things from this game, or that we shouldn’t talk about it. I’m just saying that it’s one game, and was a weird one at that, and we should be careful about drawing sweeping generalizations from it.

3) The turnovers were the biggest problem today, particularly because so many of them were live ball TOs that led to easy points the other way. Looking at the play-by-play, I count 11 points that we gave up directly after live ball turnovers (just talking TOs that let directly to points within 5 seconds of the TO). Our defensive numbers overall look a lot worse because our offense essentially gave away so many easy points. If this becomes a trend, it’s a big problem, but I’d lean towards it being kind of a fluke.

4) The defense had some problems, but there were a lot of encouraging signs in the half court defense. Turner is still a disaster, and the bigs still struggle with their back line rotations at times, but there was a lot of good here too. The bigs mostly stayed out of foul trouble, the defensive rebounding was much better, and the bigs are generally doing an excellent job showing and recovering on the P&R. We did have a short 3-4 possession stretch where we played zone that was absolutely (and predictably) disastrous.

5) Our biggest problem overall, and one that reared its head again in this game, is lack of shooting. More precisely, it’s both lack of shooting and poor shot selection. Turner, Warren and Lee are not bad shooters with their feet set. The problem is that they often take wild 3s off the dribble (Turner is, by far, the worst at this), and they’ll do it early in the shot clock. None of these guys is an elite shooter though, so defenses can really collapse into the paint, which leads to a lot of tough drives and hard floaters in the lane. It’s a real problem, and I’m not sure exactly how to fix it. I’d like to see a lineup with Lewis and Barber in it some, to give us better ball movement and decision-making. I’d also like to see Washington get a little more burn, since he’s the one big on the roster who is an offensive weapon.