Marquette vs. Pitt - Rivalry to Renew Sunday

Marquette is slated to take on Pittsburgh Sunday in Pittsburgh. The game will be televised on CBS at 2:00 pm CST. Andrew Phillips, Pat Barry and Andrew Sharos team up for our first preview. They spoke with Marquette's three sophomore guards, Head Coach Tom Crean and also provide Pitt's 'Tale of the Tape'.

 

Marquette Point Guard Dominic James

 

On Pitt:

"We had that great rivalry last year splitting those two games in the conference. We know it is going to be a tough one on the road but we know we can go on the road and get wins."

 

On improving his three point shot:

"I am taking the same shots but my confidence has improved a lot. The guys are doing a great job of screening for me, getting me open, driving and kicking, so I am getting a lot better looks."

 

 

On beating a ranked opponent on the road:

"Wherever you go in this conference is going to be a tough place to win but Pitt is one of those places with a real hostile environment, a great team, and great fans. When you have fans like that and the challenge is in front of you, we will be ready to play. They are a great team, ranked #6, so it is something you look forward to as a competitor."

 

On the cheap shot he received in last year's game at Pitt:

"That's just the way the league is. There are going to be a lot of battles, very physical play and things like that. That is something that you almost expect in a league as tough as this one. You have to be ready for that kind of stuff physically and mentally."

 

Marquette Guard Wesley Matthews

 

On Pitt:

"We really want to get this one at their place. We played them tough last year but when Dominic went down it was tough for us to bounce back. We look forward to every game and Pitt is definitely one of them."

 

On whether Pitt is a rivalry or not:

"We do consider them a rival. But I think we look at a lot of teams like that because every game is played tough in this conference. There are no easy games. Every team is tough; every team feels they have the potential to win. They are right up there with DePaul, Notre Dame, and even Louisville.

 

On the Big East win streak:

"We are playing within our system and what we do. We took too many tough shots in our first two games, too many shots that were uncharacteristic for us. The last three games, we have played how we are supposed to and played with what works for us. What works for us is getting wins."

 

Marquette Guard Jerel McNeal

 

 On strategy to beat Pitt:

"Hopefully, we can go to Pitt and get things started defensively and really work on shutting them down to get our running game going."

On being a candidate for Big East Defensive Player of the Year:

"No, I haven't really thought about that. I am concentrating on the assignments that coach gives me night in and night out and shutting my man down. We just have to stop the other team from scoring points, that is the main focus on this team. We all give each other so much help and we shut other players down together. As long as we are winning, I am fine."

 

On the importance of a win against Pitt:

"For us, it is almost a must-win game because one of our goals this year is to win the Big East championship. To win that, we need to chase the leader and they are at the head of the pack. We need to bring them a little closer to us and get a win."

 

Marquette Head Coach Tom Crean

 

 On Pitt:

"They are experienced, as old as anyone in the league and have amazing chemistry.

You can't go in there and make a ton of mistakes and think you are going to win; we have to be not flawless but as close to that as we can in order to win. You also can't go in there and win unless you have real participation in the rebound battles."

 

On Pitt Center Aaron Gray:

"Aaron Gray probably does two things as good as or better than anyone else in college basketball which are passing the ball out of the post and following his own shot. He does so many things well, that it is hard to prepare for him. The best way to defend Aaron Gray is to keep him as far as possible away from the basket and not let him get too comfortable out there. We have to mix up our coverage and not let him get too comfortable. We have to take away those cutters."

 

 

**Game Notes and a look at the line-up:

 

 

University of Pittsburgh

 

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Mascot: Panthers

Arena: Petersen Events Center ("The Pete"), Capacity: 12,508

Conference: Big East

2005-2006 Record: 25-8 (10-6), appeared in the NCAA Tournament, making it to the 2nd round, where they lost to Bradley.

2006-2007 Record: 17-2 (5-0)

All-time series with Marquette: This is the seventh meeting between Marquette and Pitt, with both teams having split the prior 6 meetings.  Each team held serve on their home court with Pitt winning 77-71 at the Pete and MU winning 84-82 at the Bradley Center. 

Interesting notes: Marquette will see a former CUSA player in East Carolina transfer Mike Cook, who sat out last season due to transfer rules. 

Coach: Jamie Dixon, in 4 years as head coach has compiled a 93-24 record. 

 

Probable Starters:

#2 Levance Fields: a 5'10" sophomore guard from Brooklyn, NY.  Averaging 9.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, and 5.0 apg on 45.2% shooting from the field (61-135) and 35.3% shooting from beyond the arc (24-68).  Leads Pitt in steals with 20. 

 

#22 Antonio Graves: a 6'3" senior guard from Mansfield, OH.  Averaging 10.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg, and 2.26 apg on 48.3% shooting from the field (71-147) and 50.0% from beyond the arc (28-56).  Is only a 65.9% shooter from the line.

 

#31 Mike Cook: a 6'4" junior forward from Philadelphia, PA.  Averaging 11.5ppg, 3.2 rpg and 3.2 apg on 53.1% shooting from the field (78-147) and 43.5% from beyond the arc (10-23).  Has a 2:1 assist/to ratio (61-30). 

 

#14 Levon Kendall: a 6'10" senior forward from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Averaging 5.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, and 1.89 apg on 42.9% shooting from the field (36-84) and 18.2% from beyond the arc (2-11).  Leads the team in personal fouls committed with 52 and is 2nd in steals and blocked shots. 

 

#33 Aaron Gray: a 7'0" senior center from Emmaus, PA.  Averaging 15.1 ppg and 10.3 rpg on 58.7% shooting from the field (118-201).  Only shoots 64.1% from the line.  Leads the Panthers in blocked shots with 33 and total rebounds with 196. 

 

Key Reserve:

#4 Ronald Ramon: a 6'1" junior guard from the Bronx, NY.  Averaging 8.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, and 2.7 apg on 47.3% shooting from the field (53-112), and 46.6% from beyond the arc (41-88).  Is the key reserve guard off the Panthers' bench and leads the team in three-point attempts. 

 

**Andrew Phillips is a senior majoring in Political Science. He is also President of the Marquette Band.

 

**Pat Barry is a senior majoring in Accounting.

 

**Andrew Sharos is a senior majoring in History and Secondary Education. He is also the Head Student Writer for Marquettehoops.com


Marquette Hoops Top Stories