Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Morning shootaround

Only two games to note last night. I had a chance to see Pitt knock off Florida State 56-48. It ended up being a tough one to watch as both teams played some fantastic defense. Pitt shot 33% from the field and FSU shot just under 30%. Pitt is trying to play much quicker offensively this year as they had an obvious emphasis on trying to score in transition. It is a good decision by Jamie Dixon, because his team is going to struggle to score if they have to rely solely on their half court offense. Sam Young can create his own shot, as can Levance Fields. DeJuan Blair has a decent back to the basket game, but with Pitt struggling to shoot the ball from the outside, Florida State was packing in their defense (both in zone and in man) which made it tough for Blair to get any touches. Outside of that, they don't have many guys that are going to be effective in the half court.

I was really impressed with Leonard Hamilton's Seminole squad. They are going to make some noise in the ACC. They have a ton of long, athletic guys on their front line. That length really bothered Pitt inside. The Panthers have a strong front line, but they are not all that tall (Tyrell Biggs is their tallest starter at 6'8"). DeJuan Blair was 5-11 from the floor, but missed a bunch of bunnies at the rim and had a couple shots blocked.

Chris Singleton is probably the most talented of the bunch, but he struggled a bit last night. Jordan DeMercy really impressed me with his hustle. He only scored four points, but he was everyone on the glass, came up with three steals, and it was his hustle plays that brought FSU back. The Seminoles also have two excellent guards. Toney Douglas in a very good scorer that can carry a team when he is playing well (he scored 20 of FSU's 48). Derwin Kitchen also played well. Kitchen is a guy who has bounced around the basketball world for a while, dealing with eligibility issues for two and a half years, but he finally made his debut last night. He is a crafty scorer that can get in the lane and create scoring opportunities for others.

This game was really weird as both teams went on extended runs holding the other scoreless. Pitt was up 26-23 with 1:30 left in the first half, but didn't score again until a Levance Fields three cut the FSU lead to 34-29 with 15:00 left. Pitt responded by outscoring FSU 17-0 over a 7:30 stretch to take a 43-34 lead. The 'Noles eventually tied it at 48, but a Sam Young tip in with two minutes left gave the Panthers the lead for good.

Clemson 91, Miami FL 72: The Hurricanes jumped out to a 21-9 lead, but Clemson used a 16-0 run over the next two plus minutes to take the lead for good. The Tigers would push that lead to double digits before Miami was able to cut it to 52-47, but Clemson hit three's on three straight possessions to put the game away. KC Rivers finished with 28 points, Terrence Oglesby added 17, and Trevor Booker had 16 boards for the Tigers, who forced 22 Miami turnovers with their pressure. Lance Hurdle had an off night for the U, going 0-6 from the floor with three turnovers in just 19 minutes of play. His back-up, Eddie Rios, wasn't much better as he had eight points but a team-high five turnovers. Combined, they accounted for just two assists in 36 minutes. Jack McClinton finished with 20 and 4 assists.

The first game in ACC play shows a couple teams heading in opposite directions. Miami came into this season with very high expectations, but has really struggled thus far. They are now 7-3, 0-1 in the ACC. Clemson, on the other hand, was expected to be down this year. But the Tigers have continued to be the best first semester team in the country as they started better than 10-0 for the fourth straight season.

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