Good Afternoon V5ers! USF heads north to the Steel City in a match-up against the 4th ranked Pitt Panthers. Tonight's game is at 7:00 PM, and surprisingly there's no TV for the game. It will be on ESPN3.com if you REALLY want to watch, and Jim Lightall and Todd Kalas will be doing the play by play on 1250 WHNZ tonight.
Getting to the game Pitt is everything USF isn't right now. Pitt Coach and Big East Savior Jamie Dixon has this team playing their best basketball of the season even without leading scorer Ashton Gibbs. They play tough, defensive basketball for 40 minutes, can shoot the three at will, and their team chemistry is off the charts right now. I'm just going out on a limb and saying Gibbs will be in street clothes for this one, so let's see who Coach Dixon will send out tonight:
G 6'4 Sr. Brad Wanamaker
G 5'11 Soph. Travon Woodall
F 6'6 Sr.
F 6'5 Jr. Nasir Robinson
C 6'11 Sr. Gary McGhee
With Gibbs out, Pitt is a little thin on the bench. 6'5 Fr. Lamar Patterson is the only guard right now getting any sort of playing time off the bench with Gibbs hurt, and 6'9 Spoh. Dante Taylor is the only forward Dixon goes to regularly with former starter 6'9 Fr. Talib Zanna squarely in the dog house. I do think we will see Zanna get some extended minutes tonight like Davante Gardner and Jack Cooley did the last two games, especially if our bigs start to assert their presence inside.
Let's be honest, this might get ugly early. Pitt Blather probably says it best that this game isn't more of a must win, but rather a can't lose. Pitt has a chance to grab the overall number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and a loss to USF would be a huge black mark on their resume.
IF we have any chance to win, we have to pound the ball inside. I think Shaun Noriega gets the start tonight after his 23 point effort against Notre Dame, and when Pitt collapses on Augustus Gilchrist, Ron Anderson Jr., and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, Shaun along with Jawanza Poland and Hugh Robertson have to be ready to make the shots when they come to them. USF has to control the glass, and not let Pitt get a 2nd or 3rd chance. Also, guard a player if they are on the 3-point line. Wanamaker and Brown are extremely efficient from deep, and they will take the shot if its available.
If the game does get out of hand and let's face it it probably will, bring in LaVonte Dority and the young guys again and give them a taste of Big East action away from the Dome. We've gotta figure it out whether or not these guys have it.
Three Predictions tonight:
- We won't see Ashton Gibbs
- We will see a lot of LaVonte Dority
- We lose big tonight