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Dec. 1, 2012

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Detroit at Pitt, Petersen Events Center, December 1, 2012

Pitt 74, Detroit 61

Quoting Pitt Coach Jamie Dixon

Opening Statement:

“I just saw on the ticker about Coach (Rick) Majerus (passing away) and that’s the first I heard about it. I don’t know what else to say, but I think everyone knows how much he’s meant to Ben (Howland) and I in coaching. Pretty much everything we do is based on his coaching. That’s a tough one. I knew he wasn’t doing well, but it was tough to hear. Back to our game, we obviously didn’t play well enough in the first half. They came out and made some threes. That’s exactly what we talked about not letting them do. They hit six to start the game. We did a better job in the second half. We attacked the zone better in the second half. I’ve said in the past weeks that we’re not good enough against the zone, but most teams aren’t. We’re going to get better at it and we did in the second half. Shot 64 percent in the second half and only four turnovers, so it certainly signifies a better job. Better ball reversals and getting in the lane. Our big guys are struggling right now against the zone. I’ve got to do a better job coaching it and getting them in the right place and understanding what we’re trying to do. That’s something that I know and am well aware of. We’re going to work on that hard. 18 assists and 11 turnovers. Did a great job against a very good team. Their point guard is one of the best in the country. He got going early and we did a much better job against him in the second half. Some good things we can point to are second half we outscored them by 21. We got outscored by eight in the first, but I guess it’s better to have a good second half than a good first half. We learned and we got better and we did a better job attacking the zone. We’ll see if we can continue to do that and do it for 40 minutes.”

On what they did better in the second half:

“Against the zone it was just a better job of guys, like I said earlier, penetration and reversal of the ball. We were too slow moving with our perimeter guys and then getting more penetration, usually off of screens, and getting the ball inside. It’s a sagging zone and they’re really in the lane. We’ve done a good job not settling for threes on the first pass. Especially in the second half all of our open threes came off of penetration or after reversals. That was probably the biggest thing. We’ve just got to work on it more. Our guys are just not comfortable on where they need to be. All zones are different, but we face more sagging 2-3 zones and that’s where I think we need the best thing. Defensively, I think we were just a step slow on understanding teams coming out and shooting deep threes. We’ve seen these before and when you have five perimeter guys on the floor to start we’ve got big guys guarding on the perimeter. That’s part of it, but it wasn’t the main thing. We were late on (Ray) McCallum a couple times and late on Calliste a couple times and we shouldn’t have been. Those are what really stood out to me.”

On the decision to start Cam Wright in the second half:

“Well Tray (Woodall) had the three fouls. We put him in at the end of the first half when James was out and Zig is obviously out and those are our two point guards. We started the second half and last second I decided to start Cameron in that spot. With James and Lamar in there I felt comfortable. With those guys, he’s more effective because he can run the lanes and other guys can get him shots or layups. The main thing he’s in there (to do) is to defend. I thought he did a good job and he has done a good job. He’s a good piece in what we’re trying to do. He’s getting better and he practiced really well yesterday. I told him afterwards that I’m gaining more and more confidence in him. He’s been through a lot obviously and he’s really playing with more confidence out there.”

On the versatility that the line-up has:

“Those guys were a little more effective against the zone first and foremost. Their smaller lineup was giving us some trouble in transition and on the perimeter. They had no post-ups as you saw. We knew that going in that they would never throw the ball inside. They were strictly ball screens out on the perimeter and transition ball screens too. Steve is still trying to get used to that. It’s pretty normal for a freshman to struggle in those situations. He’s getting used to it and working hard. These are teams that are going to expose that more. This team especially because they’re five out and no post-up guys. Then they’re sitting in their 2-3 zones and we can’t really affect it. We shot 8-17 from three and in the second half shot 64 percent, so lot of good things. We can play small and we can play big and I think that was important for us today. Steve was getting some fouls and Dante as well, but they’ll come back strong in our next one I’m sure.

Quoting Pitt guard Tray Woodall

On the Panthers’ defensive adjustments in the second half:

“We tried to come out with a little more intensity on defense, and we just wanted to be more aware of the shooters and what everybody was doing.”

On his offensive game getting into a rhythm in the second half:

“Well in the first half we were down early, and I wanted to try and pick the team up. Usually it’s not with my scoring, but I wanted to make sure I knocked down some shots and be aggressive. Whatever the case may be, I just want to be aggressive.”

On getting used to opponents running zone defenses:

“We still could get better. That’s one thing coach said at the end of the game—we’re going to work on our zone looks. I think we definitely could attack the zone a lot better, but that’s definitely getting us prepared for the teams ahead. There’s going to be a lot of other teams that show the 2-3.”

On the team closing the gap while he was on the bench with three fouls:

“(Cameron Wright) starting in the second half just goes to show how much depth we have in the back court. He came out and did a great job. He gave us that energy spark that we need from him and the type of guy that he is. I think we all just came together and we were locked in when we needed stops for us to get baskets and get our transition baskets like we normally want. It was just consistently getting stops.”

On the need for the team to improve in rebounding:

“Honestly, for myself, I need to get more rebounds. I let (Evan Bruinsma) horse me a couple times and that’s just uncharacteristic of myself. Even though I had three fouls, I needed to get in there and get more rebounds. I normally get more rebounds. But as a team, guys are definitely out there, and you saw it in the second half, how much they wanted to get offensive rebounds and play that much harder. It’s about playing our new style of offense and getting in better positions to get offensive rebounds.”

Quoting Pitt guard James Robinson

On offensive adjustments made in the second half:

“We pretty much stayed with the same game plan, but on the court we were able to swing the ball a little bit faster and get their defense moving. We were able to attack the gaps and we hit some open shots in the second half.”

On where his confidence stands at this point in the season:

“It’s kind of easy for me when I have a lot of other great players on the court. I rely on them a lot. If I get in trouble, I look for them, so they keep me calm out there.”

On what the Panthers’ did differently against Detroit guard Ray McCallum in the second half:

“I think Cameron Wright stepped up big time in the second half and contained him, but at the end of the day, it was a team effort trying to stop him. Cam definitely stepped up throughout the entire second half and really did a great job on him. Cam was playing better defense than I was tonight on McCallum especially. That was working, so that’s what we went with.”

On having already faced several top-tier guards this season:

“It’s kind of easy for me just knowing that I have four other guys that have my back. We tried to put up a wall as much as we could tonight and stop the penetration, but obviously (McCallum) hit some tough shots.”

Quoting Detroit Coach Ray McCallum

Opening Statement:

“It was very important that we get off to a great start.  I was really proud of the effort my guys gave against Pitt the first half. We went to our bench and we knew to win the game we would have to get bench production.  We weren’t getting much out of our bench previously so that was a real positive for us.  The second half as the game went on, there were a lot of key points and they started to hurt us inside with their size.  There was a stretch where the three-point shooting came alive for them.  Our plan was to come in and play our man which is our base defense, but also play zone.  The zone really gave us opportunity to make them move the ball and we were able to find shooters for the most part with exception to (Tray) Woodall in the first half and rebound the basketball.  That was a key but as their size and strength wore on, their ability to get the and-1’s, (James) Robinson’s back to back threes and Woodall’s deep corner three, that was the end for us.”

On Pitt’s second half play against Ray McCallum:

“They changed their plan.  They wanted to give him special attention.  (James) Robinson had the assignment to chase him and he did a great job.  Pitt is such a great help defensive team.  On all the ball screens their bigs got out and moved. They did a good job slowing down the dribble, slowing him down and making him work all night. It adjusted.  It wore him down a little bit. (Evan) Bruinsma stepped up in the second half and had a great game for us.  He gave us some big baskets but it was tough for us to find other guys to score.  I credit their team defense.”

On why Pitt might struggle against the zone:

“It’s just with their size and offensive execution for this time of the year; they do a great job of moving the ball and moving bodies.  When you go on the road, it’s tough defensively to defend for long possessions with all their movement.  It was time for somebody to prove they could make shots.  I wanted them to not beat us in the paint.  We knew their strength and ability to offensive rebound but we wanted them to make contested threes.  They did a great job of that tonight.  The second half was huge. We knew they would make a run and they wore us down. I think they are an NCAA tournament team. The way the shot the ball today, with their depth and their development, they are headed for a great year."

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