Originally written on Pitt Blather  |  Last updated 10/13/14
The 17-pooint point spread may have seen a bit high, but after a sluggish shooting (and at times defending) first 25 minutes Pitt put the Bulls in the ground. At the end of the week this will be viewed as another blowout win. Aside from Victor Rudd, there doesn’t seem to be much to this USF team. Not sure what happened to the Anthony Collins that killed Pitt in two games last year, but I’m rather sure that wasn’t the same Anthony Collins. It also doesn’t hurt that outside of the same Rudd, there are no USF players that like to go inside to get rebounds. It’s something sad when you can shoot 6-23, yet only manage 3 offensive rebounds. Not surprisingly USF had no second chance points in the game. The two big storylines post-game was Coach Dixon letting the players “freelance.” The Panthers shot just 27 percent in the first half, and Dixon decided to change things on offense after the Bulls took their lead. Dixon instructed his players to freelance instead of calling his set plays from the bench. The switch proved to be effective as the Panthers scored 38 points after halftime to pull away from the last-place Bulls. “It was just, ‘Play basketball,’ ” Dixon said of his message to his players. “It was more of a freelance-type thing. Just getting ball moved from one side to the other. I just wanted them to play basketball. I don’t know if they felt confident in that initially. “They saw the results and felt better about it. I thought we were too stationary and too easy to guard. It’s something we have done and can use going forward.” Woodall said it was the first time Dixon gave his players freedom all season. Woodall said the previous time Dixon gave his players carte blanche was four years ago when he was a freshman. Dixon disputed that, but it was clear the change helped the Panthers Wednesday night. “Guys settled down and settled in,” Woodall said. “Coach let us go play. We just went out and played how we do in practice. Apparently they needed that. It also says something about how confident Dixon was that Pitt could ultimately handle USF. Somewhat surprisingly Dante Taylor had a good game in both styles. In the first half, as the rest of the team struggled, Taylor had six points and six rebounds. In the second half he kept it up and finished with a double-double. “It feels real good,” Taylor said. “I’ve been working hard the last few weeks in practice, so I just tried to carry it over into these last few games. Especially to get that one, this being the second-to-last home game, I just tried to come out and play hard.” It was the third time this season Taylor has scored in double figures but the first in 19 games, since a 16-point effort against North Florida on Dec. 8, and his first double-double of the season. Taylor was averaging 4.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 15.6 minutes. “Yeah, I don’t know what that is,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “I was certainly hoping he’d get his four or five points a game and that was it. He had a good game. He’s a senior, and I’m sure he wants to finish his career on a high note, and that’s got to be pretty encouraging for Pitt to see that light bulb come on and have him turn on at the end of the year. “That gives them a nice little plus on that front line.” Considering all the crap Taylor has had to take over the years, it was great to see. You could see how happy his teammates were for him to get those numbers. Just some quick thoughts from the game. Pretty much know what kind of game/impact Steven Adams is going to have in the first two minutes of a game. If he picks up that early foul, he’s going to be limited. Lamar Patterson is still in a funk. And when he gets in a funk, it isn’t just his shooting. His passes were off and he hesitates even more to take open shots. Aside from Tray Woodall and Patterson, I involuntarily  cringe when Pitt shoots a three. I’ve taken to calling Trey Zeigler “Shark.” Like a shark, when he isn’t moving on offense he’s dead. Zeigler has to be moving with the ball or catch the ball while going. When he catches the ball on the perimeter standing still it is guaranteed he will just pass it and do nothing. Is J.J. Moore showing some signs of life, or just teasing against a bad team? I have no clue if Talib Zanna is snapping out of whatever funk he is in. There were signs of life. He seemed to have more energy. He didn’t take as many stupid shots, and he was as active on the glass as I’ve seen him in a while. Practice shooting. Almost nothing but shooting all summer, James Robinson. Please. He’s now 19-73 (26.1%) in conference play. Not much better from outside at 5-21.
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