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Nov. 12, 2012

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Fordham at Pitt, November 12, 2012, Petersen Events Center

Pitt 86, Fordham 51

Quoting head coach Jamie Dixon

Opening statement:

“I’m excited about how we played. 24 assists and six turnovers, that’s what really stands out. I thought we defended well. They shot 26 percent in the first half and we did a good job getting a few layups in the second half. But I thought all in all we continued to play hard. Obviously Gaston was the guy we were aware of. We knew how good he was and we really wanted to try and make it difficult for him. He’s a very good player, very talented, and his numbers indicate that over his career. We wanted to make it difficult for him. I thought unselfishness was evident all the way through. I think it’s something we’ve been known for, but I am really challenging this group to be the one that becomes the most evident, and our numbers seem to be indicating that right now. Obviously, there’s a long way to go and things will get tougher, but we believe that we really have good passers, good decision-makers, and unselfish players. Bigs do smalls, and I think that may be just a little bit different than in the past. Defensively we need to get better. We understand that and we’re working hard on it. I’m excited about how all of our guys played, all of them played well and deserved to play. They’ve been working hard and I’m excited about them. John Johnson, we wish him the best. I talked to him a few times over the last couple of days, and actually, more than that. We’re going to help him out. We discussed some things today and we’re really just trying to help him find the best place for him down the road. I’m looking forward to helping him with that and going forward here. (Trey) Ziegler played the point; he’s been playing it in practice and picked it up really well and is really good at it. It gives us a third guy to play the point which, with good size, a really good decision-maker, a great leader the guys respect and trust. Those are the things that give us some real versatility with Durand (Johnson) playing a couple of different spots and Cameron (Wright). I think that’s something we can really use to our benefit this year. A lot of good things, I could talk about each player. All 10 of them played well. Aron (Nwankwo) is probably going to redshirt, that’s what we’re looking at, so we really only have 10 guys to play. Mike (Lecak) is a redshirt transfer, so those are the 10 guys. I could go through pretty much every one of them.”

On the versatility of junior forward J.J. Moore:

“I told him in the offseason this is where Sam (Young) had his breakout year his junior year. It was this exact same change where he played the four and the three. It creates match-up problems obviously. We’ve always had a guy, but we didn’t really have that last year, but we always had that ability to do it. I think we really have something there that we can really cause some problems with. I think his confidence is just soaring because of it, and I think it’s the same thing we saw with Sam in a lot of ways. He’s played really good defense too. I think that’s the thing that’s really standing out for us too, he’s really getting better and taking pride in what he’s doing.”

On junior guard/forward Lamar Patterson being a key player tonight:

“Lamar (Patterson) played really well. Lamar, I think, was key to the game starting out early and when he went down we lost a little rhythm there when he had to come out. I think he was key for us with six assists, he led us in assists, he played good defense, so we’re getting good play.

On the play of sophomore guard Cameron Wright:

“I can’t say enough about Cameron (Wright). He came back today from Cleveland when he was up there and we anticipate that he will be able to play tomorrow. He wasn’t with us the last couple days and I think he looked a little out of rhythm in the first couple minutes but played really well in the second half for us. You can understand how much he’s going through right now.”

On comparing this year’s group with past Pitt teams:

“It’s a young group. What’s exciting I think is that we can do some things and we can improve with them. I think it can really develop into a nice group. It’s so early and we’ve got a tough game tomorrow, we know that. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we’ve got a lot of work to do in 24 hours.”

On the defense’s ability to force turnovers tonight:

“I think we have more length and quickness and athleticism. I think it’s pretty obvious to the eye and I think we’re understanding assignments. We’re pretty good for a relatively early time in the season, so hopefully we can build off of that. Last game we didn’t finish a lot of our transition buckets, not as well as I wanted to anyway, so percentage-wise, I thought today was a little bit better. We’ve got good size at pretty much every position and that’s something that I think is always a factor. I think with your best teams, your best defensive teams, length has a lot to do with that.”

On the importance of competing in early season tournaments:

“We’ve always been in these early season tournaments and so you’ve always got a bunch of games early, they’re throwing them at you. It’s different teams, different styles of play and maybe you haven’t seen them. The thing we always seem to find, and I think we saw it again these first two games, is guys shooting these deep threes. Smaller, quicker guys that maybe we’re not used to practicing against. It always seems to be the case of some guys hitting some threes against us.”

On freshman guard James Robinson and senior guard Tray Woodall having interchangeable roles:

“I told them it’s whatever they want to do. There’s going to be a lot of discussion about it. The one thing is Tray will probably guard the one and James would guard the two in most cases that we could think of, they’re bigger guys generally. They both know both spots and they’re interchangeable and we run different plays. I want them switching around and (Trey Ziegler), the same thing. It’s going to be fun to have those guys doing that.”

Quoting senior guard Tray Woodall

On the match-up problems junior forward J.J. Moore poses:

“It’s definitely a match-up problem because he’s a lot quicker than most four-men, beating them up and down the floor. You try to take advantage of everything and take advantage of his size and skills. I think his best asset is definitely beating the guys down the floor and definitely pick-and-pops. Big guys aren’t used to big guys who recover on pick-and-pops.”

On the depth of this season’s Panthers team:

“I think guys are definitely learning their roles in different games. I think with more games and the more playing time they get, they’ll be much more willing to accept their roles. I think we’re just as deep as the team we had my redshirt freshman year. I definitely think with more minutes, we’re bound to become more deep and better.”

On scoring 28 points off turnovers:

“We don’t necessarily have a point total or a goal that we’re looking for, but the guards want to get up and pressure a little more because you’ve got big guys inside that can alter shots. We just want to make sure that we pressure the ball and try to force more turnovers. We’re forcing a lot more turnovers this year.”

On the reaction of John Johnson transferring out of the program:

“Honestly, I’ve been here a while and I’ve seen a lot of things. I just always knew that Pitt is not really for everybody. Not necessarily in a negative sense, but the thing about it is that Pitt isn’t for everybody. Some guys like it here, some guys like it here but just don’t feel comfortable as the years go on. It’s just not for everybody.”

Quoting junior forward J.J. Moore

On liking his role coming off the bench:

“I definitely like my role coming off the bench. I feel like I give the team a lot of energy coming off the bench, getting them on defense and making good plays on defense. I think it’s helping us out a lot on the court.”

On abandoning the three-point shot to hit a baseline jumper:

“I probably would’ve shot it (in the past), but I have a lot of thinking to do on the court. Just thinking about it, you have to get a better shot than a contested shot. I just had to knock it down.”

Quoting freshman guard James Robinson

On what he thought was working best for Pitt tonight:

“I think it’s everybody being ready defensively. Chris Gaston, he averaged a double-double, and I think guys did a great job helping off him and we threw a bunch of defensive looks at him. We were ready on defense. We got out on the break, forcing them to take tougher shots.”

On why it works well having him and Tray Woodall in the lineup together:

“I think Tray and I work so well because we’re both unselfish basketball players. If he sees a big man with the ball, he’ll run and go get it and I’ll fill his man, or if I got it, he knows to run and I’ll find him. We’re just being as unselfish as we can by playing off each other. That’s really helped both of us have easier jobs.”

Quoting freshman center Steven Adams

On his level of comfort in the offense after two regular season games:

“I feel pretty comfortable. It’s just more of knowing when to score, when to do certain stuff. I know all of the plays, but I’d say I’m 80 percent comfortable.”

On how good of a job his teammates did finding him inside the paint:

“They did a good job. That’s how I got all my points.”

Quoting Fordham Head Coach Tom Pecora

Opening Statement:

“Well, one of our keys to the game was to not be out-physicaled.  Obviously it was something we weren’t able to do. I told my team it was like being an eighth or ninth grader in the school yard and having the older guys beat you up pretty good in the game.  If you learn from it, it makes you a better team.  If we don’t, we will have issues.  It was a great lesson. They are a very good basketball team.  I know how committed they are to defending and rebounding and their physical size now with (Steven) Adams added to (Dante) Taylor and (Talib) Zanna.  Their guards can really take a chance and pressure the basketball and the big guys are so physical and imposing that they do a really good job of getting in the passing lanes and taking away penetration even if you beat the first man.  Their overall team size is exceptional.  Their 16 offensive rebounds were huge.  They turned us over a bit. Their ability to rebound the basketball and control the paint area really made a difference.”

On J.J. Moore coming off the bench:

“I have known J.J. (Moore) since he was a kid.  He’s a Long-Island guy.  I was at Hofstra when he was at high school. Our zone forced them to have to play small.  They were able to pop him and play four on the perimeter against our matchup.  By him making shots, it was a difference maker for sure.  It really extended our zone and in turn they were able to penetrate the ball and get the ball into the bigs.”

On the battle in the paint:

“I don’t think it was a battle at all.  I think that was the problem. I talked to some of my guys about it.  We are young. We have one senior, one junior. I can’t use that as an excuse with these guys. I told the freshman and sophomores that they (Pitt) were big and they have to learn from this on how to play physical, what you can do, how to get yourself into position to make plays but that was not a battle.  That was a whooping in the paint.”

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