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Post Game Quotesheet




Dec. 8, 2012

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POST-GAME QUOTESHEET

North Florida at Pitt, Petersen Events Center, December 8, 2012
Pitt 89, North Florida 47

Quoting Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon

Opening statement:

“Obviously, they really came out making shots and that was what we said they could do. I think (Parker) Smith is as good a shooter as anyone in the country, and we knew (Beau) Beech could make shots too. We’re trying to address some things on defensive transitions, it’s not where it needs to be, so we understand that and we’re working on it and trying to improve. They took advantage of it, they shoot the ball well, they’re well coached and run good stuff, and they’re scrappy. We just kept battling, kept fighting, and our offense is good all the way through. You can’t be much more efficient than what we were offensively, and this is coming from a team that’s ranked the most efficient offensive team in the country the last five or six years. In the second half, we just stayed with it. We have a unique situation with our walk-ons both redshirting, so we don’t have walk-ons to put out there, so we have 10 guys, and they’re all good players. We were able to really just stay with what we do. The other thing I want to talk about is our seniors. I told our seniors the last two days in practice that they’ve just been doing an unbelievable job in their practicing habits and what they’ve done, their energy, their intensity and their focus, and their unselfishness has been tremendous in practice. I’m proud of those guys and I’m happy with what they did, and it shows in their numbers, but we’ve got to see them practices the last couple of weeks and the last couple of days, so it says a lot about where this team could go and what we could become. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I think with those guys doing the things they’re doing right now on and off the floor, and their commitment in practice, I think is really helping us.”

On what made the difference for the Panthers in the second half:“They made shots. The first play we defended them pretty well for 33 seconds, they’re going backwards, and then they end up getting a 25-footer three with a little breakdown, a kind of broken play, so that wears on you a bit. I think our half-court defense was good again, (Parker) Smith gets a spot-up and then (David) Jeune hit a couple outside jumpers, and he hadn’t done that this year, so give him some credit for making shots. Give them credit. They made six 3-pointers against a good defensive team and it wasn’t for a lack of effort, they made shots. But at that point our offense was very good with the unselfishness and we were 10-to-1 in assists-to-turnovers. I think we wore them down. (North Florida) has been on the road playing a number of tough games on the road, and it does wear on you. They’re going to be very good in their league, they’ve got good players, and at the end of the year you’ll say, ‘hey, that team got a lot better.’ They’re a good team now, but you play these road games and you’ve got us with a lot of depth and we can wear them down, and then obviously we could stick with those 10 guys.”

On the offensive performance of the Panthers’ bench tonight:

“We’ve had pretty good minutes from those guys all the way through, but I think Cameron (Wright), Durand (Johnson) and (Trey) Zeigler’s development and growth is critical and, as I’ve said before, Zeigler’s new, Durand’s a freshman and Cameron’s now practicing with us every day. Those are really the three, and if you knew everything that was going on, you would recognize that’s pretty much three new guys that are finding ways to improve and we’re excited about them. It’s good that they got to play a lot of minutes as well. We got about 20 minutes out of those three guys each, so that’s a good sign.”

On Pitt’s defensive play coming out of halftime:

“I think our defense was good, start-to-finish, in the second half and (North Florida) shot 30-percent, which is a good offensive team I think, and we forced a number of turnovers. I thought we were much better, but I thought there were still some breakdowns. There’s more work to be done and we did some of it, as far as improvement, in the second half, and throughout the course of the game. Hopefully that carries over, and this is finals week here as we go forward, and we need to keep building off of that. J.J. (Moore)’s been good, I thought he played very good defense today, and we got him back to where he was shooting. He was obviously shooting really well, but he’s been helping us with rebounding and defense, which is a real sign of growth for him in his junior year because he helps us now if he’s not scoring, and that’s a great thing for him.”

On center Dante Taylor leading the team in scoring:

“He scored more late but he made the plays early too. I think it was good. We went inside to him on a couple plays, and he got in the right spot, too, on others. I thought Durand (Johnson) made a couple of good post feeds to him. I know everybody will talk about him now because he scored some points and led us with 16, but he’s been doing great things for us, for his career, and I can’t say enough about him as a teammate, as a defender, and as a screener and just as a guy who really tries to do right things. And it’s in every way—on the floor, off the floor, in the classroom. He does all the right things. I know some people want him to score more, and at times, we do too, but you know what, he’s a great kid and a great teammate, and a very important part of what we’ve done here.”

On what the Panthers need to improve on before Big East play begins later this month:

“It’s the transition defense. I think our defense is improving and I’m feeling good about the improvement. We really were trying to emphasize our zone offense the last week or two and you can see the transformation, and you can see the improvement. Our ball movement is much better, we made some adjustments, I think we’re adjusting more to our personnel, and that was on me. I think that’s helped us become better and I think we’re just understanding it. We’re heading in the right direction against the zone, and we’re going to see a lot of zone because a lot of teams in our league play zone. First and foremost, as I’ve said, it’s the transition defense. It’s unique. It’s not like I’m telling them to get back, we’re back, but we’re just not getting to the right guy early enough. That’s communication and awareness of personnel on the other team with what they do and what their strengths are.”

Quoting Pitt forward Dante Taylor

On what rebounding adjustments they made at halftime:

“We were just a little bit disappointed in ourselves because we were down by two (rebounds) going in to the half. We knew going in to this game that we had to outrebound them. Carry it over from last game. Coach just came in there and told us it all started with defense. We were letting them get three’s, so we weren’t able to get defensive rebounds. We weren’t able to get on the offensive glass. He just came in and talked to us and we knew we had to pick it up. We just went out there and executed it.”

On playing in a game where the opposing team didn’t attempt a free throw:

“I didn’t think that was possible. It just shows how we picked it up on D. We try to play physical, but smart at the same time. We knew that with this team all we had to do was play with our hands up and make them take tough shots. We were able to do that tonight.”

On shooting a high percentage as a team from the floor:

“It just carries over on how we want to run our offense. Going through the plays, running hard and sprinting to go screen. It opens up a lot of doors for a lot of easy shots. To have Tray and James out there to put the ball for the person to score on an efficient shot, I think that helps a lot too. We just try to do the right things on offense to get great shots every time. Not just a good one, but a great one. We were able to do that.”

Quoting Pitt guard Cameron Wright

On what the score line would be like if they got off to better starts so far this season:

“We’re not fooling around. Definitely we could start the game better. We come out in the second half and play so well. We play well in the first half also; we just have lapses as we can see. I wouldn’t say we’re fooling around, but we can definitely do better and will.”

On what changed after North Florida tied the game in the first half:

“Coach Dixon, he stressed defense and looking at the stat sheet, they shot 48 percent in the first half and 30 in the second. That was the whole talk in the locker room. We had to rebound better, we were down by two at the half I believe, and we picked it up.”

On shooting a high percentage as a team from the floor:

“Yesterday we got a lot of shots up in practice and it was kind of a light day. That definitely showed today as we were able to knock down shots.”

Quoting Pitt forward Talib Zanna

On the bench being exuberant during Dante Taylor’s late scoring run:

“That’s just basketball. We had a couple trips where we tried to get the ball in the low post, but it wasn’t going in. I think Tray did a very good job passing to Dante and then he made some nice plays under the basket.”

Quoting North Florida Head Coach Matthew Driscoll

Opening Statement

“It’s always a pleasure to come back to Pittsburgh and to be back to where my roots started.  Personally as a Pittsburgh native, I’m embarrassed.  When it’s 27-27, you are down 11 and you fight back to tie the score.  I know we are capable.  We have done this a lot of times this year.  Florida State was a five point game with one minute to go.  We beat Minnesota the first eight minutes.  We beat Memphis 30 out of the 40 minutes.  It’s been the same thing.  I’ll tell you what about this team. I’ve played Kansas State, Memphis, Florida State and Minnesota this year.  I thought that Minnesota was the best team we have played until tonight.  Now I would say since we are done playing all these money games that it would be Pitt as number one, Minnesota would be two, Kansas State as three, Florida State, then Memphis.  I’m a voter for the top 25 and I voted for you Pitt the last two weeks.  I did it not because of my heart, but because of my head.  Anytime you lead the country in assists, it tells you that you have a great group of guys.  You have a great group of guys that have a great décor about themselves.   They share the sugar so well and the thing they do well that you guys should appreciate but probably don’t is they could take a lot more shots especially when they get in close but they are always looking to pass the ball.  That was part of our game plan and why it worked was because we knew they weren’t going to take shots unless it was under 15 seconds or 10 seconds.  They were always trying to get the next guy a shot.  Sometimes that hurts them.  They are a great turnover team. They go down and get easy points and easy baskets.  If they get those big guys making those kinds of shots, they are making them over 6-6 and 6-7 guys so obviously you have bigger guys in your league.   It’s impressive the way they share the sugar.”

On North Florida’s 3-point game:

“Our best 3-point shooter didn’t make threes.  He was one for six tonight.   He’s one of the best in the country.  He made 11 last year in one game and scored 46 points.  They didn’t do anything differently.  They didn’t guard us differently.  They didn’t change their ball screen coverage.  They didn’t do anything differently.  We just couldn’t get those looks.  We were pressed a little bit.  They were able to get us down.  I think they scored the first however many points of the second half.  I think Beau Beech made a couple threes.  Parker (Smith) had some good looks.  He had some pretty good open looks and just missed.  They didn’t do anything differently.  We are a really good 3-point shooting team.  To play these high major guys like Oakland and Detroit you have to make threes.  You have to get some on the inside which Travis (Wallace) was able to get a little bit.  They didn’t do anything different though.”