There were few positives to be gleaned from the pre-Christmas Eve drubbing our Flyers received at the hands of a Pittsburgh Panthers team looking to make a statement after two road losses to quality opponents. But alas, silver linings must be sought, and I'm happy to do so.
Good: Brian Roberts. What else can be said about this kid? He was one of the few players that did not look like he was already on the flight back home from the opening tip. He proved he can still play at an elevated level against some of the best competition in the nation. Kudos, B-Rob.
Bad: Norman Plummer. After hooking up to the Juvenation Machine for a few games, Norman looked like his old placid self. The fadeaway lay-in made a comeback on Saturday, to the chagrin of everyone involved. In 16 minutes, Norm managed a line of 2 points and 3 rebounds. That's it. No blocks, no assists, and not even a single foul. Truly Logan White-esque.
Ugly: The body language. My buddies and I were able to move down to about ten rows off the court. In a way, I wish we hadn't. From the 200s, we might have been able to at least fool ourselves into believing that this team was giving 100% for the full 40 minutes. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The character that this squad showed throughout the season thus far was flushed into the Allegheny as Pitt scored one uncontested lay-up after another. Once the point spread reached 15, nearly every player on the team packed it in and began thinking of Christmas yams.
Good: The defense of Kurt Huelsman. The young freshman stood toe to toe with an All-American and yielded only 5 points on 2-7 shooting. Kurt effectively pushed Aaron Gray away from the block consistently, knowing that anything outside of approximately 24 inches is beyond Gray's comfort zone. We're going to need to see this type of tenacity again on Sunday, as Kurt will have his hands full once again with an All-American in Tyler Hansbrough. Kurt: meet Baptism by Fire. Baptism by fire…Kurt Huelsman. You two talk amongst yourselves.
Bad: Help defense. I realize your man is your responsibility in a man-to-man defense, but there still must be communication and cohesion to fill lanes when defenders are beaten, which was too often the case on Saturday. Many of the uncontested lay-ups were directly a result of an overly aggressive defender being beat on a flare through the lane, and the help man realizing their slide responsibility far too late. It began to look like a warm-up drill at a WNBA game.
Ugly: Transition defense. Nearly every Flyer had a difficult time finding his man on the break. This is a problem when you're shooting a dismal 33.3%, which tends to be the case when you are a below-average shooting team settling on jumpers. I can't count how many long rebounds were quickly outlet by Pitt, creating 3-on-2 and 2-on-1 situations. This simply can't happen, and I'm guessing this will be a point of emphasis for Brian Gregory's staff this week, as UNC is every bit as fast as any team in the country.
Good: 17 games before the A10 Tournament to right the ship. You are right to be of concern, but it's no time to panic. It might feel demoralizing now, but we can only improve from this point.
And alas, we press forward. It's time for Dayton to move on and look ahead to our foes waiting in their quaint colonial townhouses in Chapel Hill.
Pitt Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
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