Tuesday, November 14, 2017

UCSB Men's Basketball Foe Pittsburgh Panthers Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Pittsburgh Preview
UCSB @ Pitt
Wednesday, Nov 15 @ 4:00 PM

The advantage of playing a major conference opponent is there is much more information out there on them.  In a nutshell, Pitt just won’t be very good this year.  Second year coach Kevin Stallings who took over when Jamie Dixon surprisingly left for TCU, lost most of his team to transfers and graduation last year and wasn’t able to replace them with comparable talent typical to a high level ACC/Big East team that characterized Pitt during the Dixon/Howland era.  Dan posted earlier that they only return about 8%  of their offense from last season.  That being said, the roster still has a few 3 star athletes that UCSB would have been thrilled to land.
As mentioned a lot of good preview info out there on the net but I found this one particularly good:
https://howtheyplay.com/team-sports/201 ... ll-Preview
Pittsburgh Panthers
2016-2017: 16-17, 4-14 in the ACC (tie for 13th)
Preseason Projection: 15th in the ACC
Departures: Michael Young (19.6 ppg., 6.8 rpg.), Jamel Artis (18.2 ppg., 4.9 rpg., 39.2% 3pt.), Sheldon Jeter (8.1 ppg., 7.3 rpg., 36.8% 3pt.), and Chris Jones (7.2 ppg.) graduated; Cameron Johnson (11.9 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 41.5% 3pt.) transferred to North Carolina
Kevin Stallings' first year at Pittsburgh did not go well, as he took over a group of players that didn't really fit into his offensive system and wasn't able to make it work despite strong senior leadership (the Panthers finished 186th in fg%, down from 88th in his last season at Vanderbilt, and 123rd in 3pt%, down from 34th). Stallings also didn't acclimate well to ACC offenses, with the Panthers finishing 266th in fg% defense and 187th in rebounding margin (his final Vanderbilt team finished 157th and 24th respectively) despite playing one of the tallest lineups in the country. There was a mass exodus of remaining players through transfer after the season, and Stallings' efforts to rebuild the roster through graduate transfers fell short, leaving what stands to be an overwhelmed group of mostly young players.
Marcus Carr, a four star combo guard who under ideal circumstances would be a rotation player as a freshman, will get all the minutes he can handle as the starting point guard. Carr's a talented offensive player, but he probably needs to get stronger before he can be effective in the ACC. Carr could be joined in the starting backcourt by three star combo guard Parker Stewart; at 6-5, he has long term potential as a passer and shooter, although like Carr he will be very thin as a freshman. Stallings did land one graduate transfer in Monty Boykins from Lafayette, a medical redshirt last season that averaged 10.7 ppg. on 35.8% shooting behind the arc. Boykins isn't particularly athletic and doesn't provide much beyond spot up shooting. Senior Jonathan Milligan hasn't produced much in his time at Pitt, but he stuck around so he might be about to get his chance. Shamiel Stevenson, a sturdy 6-6 3 star prospect, doesn't offer much offensively at this point but could see time at one of the forward spots.
The only established returning player that Stallings will have is Ryan Luther (5.7 ppg., 3.9 rpg., 40.9% 3pt.), a 6-9 senior that has not been able to stay healthy. If he can as a senior, he'll get all the shots he wants as a capable stretch 4. Jared Wilson-Frame, a 6-5, 230 pound junior college transfer, will be the most interesting new face for the Panthers; he played point guard last season, but will need to split time between the forward spots for Pittsburgh. Wilson-Frame could lead Pitt in rebounding and help facilitate what little offense the team is able to generate. 6-11 Terrell Brown, a three star prospect, will have to play right away; again, he's thin, but beyond Luther he'll be the only size Pitt has to offer. He does have potential as a shot blocker, and his ability to shoot from the perimeter makes him a solid long term candidate for Stallings's system in the mold of Luke Kornet. Pittsburgh struggled to defend even while loaded with size and senior leadership in Stallings' first year in the ACC (228thin fg% defense, 216th in 3pt.% defense, and 192nd in rebounding margin); without them, the outlook is grim.
It would be miraculous if this team won any ACC games. They'll be physically overwhelmed everywhere and particularly in the paint, and it's anyone's guess where scoring might come from. There are at least a few pieces in place that could be helpful in a year or two, but for the most part things are bad, and they could get worse (the Cameron Johnson situation didn't help). Jamie Dixon was good, and Pittsburgh fans, like the fans and administration at Boston College since the firing of Al Skinner, are going to learn the hard way that they should have been nicer.
The Panther’s record stands at 0-2 with an opening season loss on the road at Navy, which was the Midshipmen’s first win over an ACC school since 1971!!  It was also Pitt’s first opening season loss since 1996.  Navy is projected to be a mid-pack in their Patriot League.  A fan’s write-up on that game with a good overview of their player’s individual performance:  http://pittsburghsportsnow.com/2017/11/ ... r-vs-navy/
Pitt lost their home opener Monday in OT to Montana which is expected to contend for the Big Sky title so it is not necessarily a terrible loss.  Still, it is a low point for this once proud program, low-lighted by only 3K fans showing up for the opener.  Write-up here:  http://pittsburghsportsnow.com/2017/11/ ... s-montana/
The top scorers and rebounders for the Panthers through the first two games are Junior forward Luther, Senior PG converted to Forward Wilson-Frame and freshman guard Stevenson. Freshman Marcus Carr is their PG and has struggled with his shot.
Although the Pitt talent level is substandard by ACC standards it is still filled with multiple 3* recruits so superior to what UCSB will normally see in the BW.  HC Kevin Stallings has struggled at Pitt after successful stints at Vanderbilt and Illinois State.  Pitt is down, way down this year, but it would be foolish to expect an easy win.  I would guess the pundits will favor Pitt but if the Gauchos play like they did against NDSU which gave #10 USC all they could handle until two starters fouled out, then SB should win this.   Prediction:  UCSB 79  Pitt 75

Official Site: http://pittsburghpanthers.com/
Stinkyfinger’s Domain:  https://pittsburgh.forums.rivals.com/fo ... -board.26/
How to watch:  ACC Sports Network which is available on the Watch ESPN App.

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