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Nov. 14, 2012

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Lehigh at Pitt, Petersen Events Center, November 13, 2012

Pitt 78, Lehigh 53

Quoting Pitt Coach Jamie Dixon

Opening Statement:

“Really can’t say enough about either guy, everyone played well, all 10 of us. Obviously, it’s a good win against a very good team. A team nobody wanted to play in the preseason NIT, but we got them. That’s a very good team at full strength with (Gabe) Knutson back. I don’t know if he’s 100 percent or what, but he’s a really good player, might be their most valuable guy. Obviously (C.J.) McCollum is an unbelievable player, but as far as (Knutson) being their only inside guy he’s a huge factor for them. Having him back with them makes them a really good team; a team that I’m sure will win their league. Good win against a very good team; I liked how we did it. Unselfish with 17 assists 7 turnovers and outrebounded them and guarded well. We wanted to hold them under 50 percent, we did that. They hit some shots at the end, but I thought we guarded McCollum well. He hit a couple baskets at the end, but obviously I thought we all played terrific and hard. It’s been a good week for us, we went eight straight days. Had a day off prior to that and without breaking NCAA rules, I think it’s 15 out of 16 days and we’ve gotten much better during that time period. It’s been a good stretch for us and they deserve a break tomorrow, then we’ll get ready to go against Oakland moving forward. Good day for us.”

On the development of junior forward Talib Zanna:

“He’s just gotten better. At the end of the year he finished strong. He was a sophomore, now he’s a junior, those things are obvious. He works extremely hard. I think he’s in some ways kept his game simpler. That’s what I’ve talked to him; simplifying his game. No need to expand it, do what you do well. That’s what I think he’s done best. He’s worked hard, his body is better, he’s in better shape. He runs endlessly and just wears people down running the floor. Lot of good things, but he works hard. We’ve always known he was going to be a very good player and he had a good finish last year and you’re seeing it out there today.”

On the play of junior guard Lamar Patterson:

“He’s a guy that’s really played well too. His numbers don’t show it, they don’t shine, they don’t stand out, but he’s been playing really well in these three games. Had assists, unselfish, played good defense. I thought he’s played really well even if it hasn’t looked the bit. He’s playing really good basketball. We’re using the term hockey assist and he’s a guy that’s getting a lot of those. Making that pass and making that next pass.”

On the defensive ability of freshman guard James Robinson against Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum:

“It’s going to be team defense with him. He uses a lot of ball screens, McCollum does, but James is very rare, but he’s deceptively athletic. He’s big, he’s got good size, he’s smart, and he’s tough. He takes great pride and he’s got guys doing their role to a T as well. It’s a combination of a lot of things, but it’s very rare to have a freshman that can defend like he can and it didn’t take us long to figure out that he could be a very good defender for us. He’s far better, his body has changed, and he’s a better athlete than he was in his senior year of high school. His body has changed, he’s worked hard and you can see that so that helps as well.”

On the play of freshman guard Durand Johnson:

“Durand played really well. We put him in there in the second half, Lamar got a third foul, so we threw him in quick in the second half. Obviously he played well. The biggest thing is he just let things come to him offensively. Two assists and no turnovers, he didn’t force things. That’s a thing we’ve tried to instill in him. We’ve got too many other guys that can make plays and get other guys shots that are good decision makers that he just needs to play off of that. That’s what he did and he came up with the seven rebounds which was huge. He’s a good shooter when he takes good shots and it was great to see him play. He plays really hard, he’s very active and it’s just playing with the other four guys that he’s learning. He’s a freshman, obviously a redshirt last year, but he’s learning a lot and I think he’s going to become a very good player.”

Quoting Pitt guard Tray Woodall

On the Panthers’ taking control of the game in the second half:

“I think we came out with a lot of fire. We didn’t want to settle for jump-shots. We wanted to run our sets, and on a lot of our sets we got guys open layups. We wanted to feed our big guys inside also. Once they started to back up off us a little bit and then they started to change the angles on our screens, we knew who the guards could attack a little more. We just came out and played tough, and we got a lot of stops.”

On freshman guard James Robinson defending Lehigh senior guard C.J. McCollum:

“As a freshman, he went out there and did a heck of a job on a senior, one of the elite players in the country. (James) definitely showed up tonight and showed that he could play (against) elite players and play the type of defense that we needed. We had this conversation before about where he was defensively, and I thought he was getting to where he needed to be, but he showed me a lot and he showed the coaches a lot. He’s definitely well ahead of where he needs to be defensively.”

On what Pitt’s game plan was in defending McCollum tonight:

“When we went through walk-through, it was the first time we ever heard of ‘redding’ a guard. Normally we ‘red’ a big guy. We felt confident in our wings that were on lockdown defense, and obviously everybody was a little more aware with the type of player that he is. We were all ready to help. But those guys, James (Robinson), Cameron (Wright) and Trey (Zeigler) did a great job of defending him and making him take tough shots. He wasn’t really too much of a factor in the game.”

On the Panthers having a heavier emphasis on playing good defense:

“We preach defense now. We’re all men of pride of defense now and that’s evident. The guys came in locked-in in the second half knowing what kind of defensive effort we needed, and those guys picked it up. We held (Lehigh) under 40 percent, we had a number in our head where he honestly wanted them, but we definitely came out with that defensive effort.”

On whether or not taking McCollum out of the game defensively would ensure a Pitt win:

“I think overall they still have a solid team, a really solid team. We knew (McCollum) was the head of the team. We just wanted to eliminate the head and that’s what we did tonight. I knew once we contained him, we would force other guys to take shots. They definitely can knock down shots, they’re definitely capable. We all just wanted to play solid.”

On what it took mentally to not let Lehigh back in the game after the first half:

“Patience—we wanted to grind it out. We wanted to make sure we got shots out there at the end of the clock because usually teams in college, they don’t want to play 35 seconds of defense. Once we rotated the ball around a little bit, we’d lull them to sleep, and then we’d get our opportunities to get guys shots. We have a lot of creators that are capable of doing that, and we’ve got big men that can definitely finish.”

Quoting Pitt guard James Robinson

On Pitt’s depth at the guard position:

“I think for all of us, it’s a learning experience every time we step on the court. At practice we all compete against each other so hard. We’ve been going at each other so hard, we’re pretty much preparing each other for whoever that is that we’re going to have to defend on the other team.”

On McCollum’s reaction to getting fouled in the first half:

“I just wanted (the foul) to be solid. I know the coaches put a lot of trust in me to check him right from the jump-ball, and I know my team trusted me and they have my back. I can kind of gamble, but I was just trying to be more aggressive than I would normally. I knew I had four guys behind me that were ready to help.”

Quoting Pitt forward Talib Zanna

On his role in the Panthers’ high-paced offense:

“I just want to come out, play hard and do what the coaches tell me to do.”

On developing confidence in his mid-range jump shot:

“I just worked on that during the summer, staying in the gym and just practicing on my mid-range and post move.”

Quoting Pitt forward Durand Johnson

On what it meant to him to start the second half of the game:

“It felt good. Coach (Dixon) got on me a lot, talking about being solid, coming out and being patient. I just focused on the defensive end and doing what my team needed me to do to help get the win.”

Quoting Lehigh Coach Dr. Brett Reed

Opening Statement:

“Well tonight we faced a very strong Pitt team.  They capitalized on the size advantage that they had.  They had a strong guard play as well and ultimately that combination and balance was too much for us to overcome.  We were right in the game through the first half.  That 14-4 run ultimately at the beginning of the second half, fueled by a couple of our turnovers and some excellent plays on their part ended up providing them enough  of a cushion.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to recover and tighten up some of the slight errors we were having.”

On Pitt’s defense against C.J. McCollum:

“I thought they did an excellent job.  As a defensive unit, Pitt has a reputation of being very strong, very diligent and it certainly carried through tonight.  They did a nice job covering an effective scorer.  We would have liked to find more opportunities to get him involved and we will continue to grow with that.  Not only did they do a nice job neutralizing C.J. McCollum, their rotations were strong, they were helping, they were limiting us to one shot.  They even forced more turnovers than we are more characteristic about.  I give them a great deal of credit. “

On the difference of play in the second half:

“I think we wore down a little bit to be honest with you.  This is our third game in five days which is the same as Pitt, but just the physicality of their team wore us down.  The degree of travel that we had with going to Texas and coming here plays a small part. Ultimately I give them the most credit of being able to make the plays.  Trey Woodall did a nice job in critical situations of delivering the basketball and making big shots. Their size differential ended up ultimately being a difference on the glass and they got enough interior touches to shoot a high percentage.”

Quoting Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum

On Pitt’s defensive effort against C.J. McCollum:

“I thought they did a pretty good job limiting my touches.  I got up 11 shots, but they had great help defense and I had five turnovers on my part.  I thought they did a good job overall.”

On what Lehigh takes in playing a Big East team in a tournament like this:

“We have to do a better job of finishing games.  The first half we were down five and the second half we gave up too many runs and too many rebounds.  The Interior is hurting us so we have to make sure we help out down low.  Their depth killed us on the inside and Tray Woodall had too many points.  Hopefully we can learn from that and carry it over into league play.  That’s the biggest thing right now, these non-conference games get us ready for league play.”

Quoting Lehigh forward Gabe Knutson

On the difference of the Lehigh forwards in the first half and second half:

“I think they just did a nice job of using their size.  I think we held with them in the first half, but obviously when you’re bigger and you play more minutes out there it’s going to wear on you.  I think they did a nice job of rebounding and using their size in there.”

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