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Dec. 19, 2012

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Delaware State at Pitt, Petersen Events Center, December 19, 2012
Pitt 71, Delaware State 43

Quoting Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon

Opening Statement:

"First off, with Dante [Taylor], he was injured, as I said on Monday.  Did think at the time he was going to be able to go on Wednesday, but just didn't get better.  So we'll see how he feels tomorrow.  It's a bruise.  It's the heel.  [He] hurt it in the game on Saturday.  So, obviously that changed around our rotation, but we'll see how he feels tomorrow and then where he's at on Saturday.  We don't anticipate it being a long time, but already it's been longer than I was told.  Then, Durand [Johnson] had a hamstring.  He didn't feel comfortable.  He almost didn't play.  [He] hurt it yesterday at the end of practice, I guess, and so, that's why we kind of limited him today.  So, we went into the game thinking we might just have eight guys, but I thought we did a good job; getting better in the second half, first and foremost.  I thought we were impatient offensively; the eight turnovers really more the effect of impatience.  Not selfishness, just impatience, trying to make that play on the first pass.  So, I think we got it swung, got into the other side and I think maybe their patience offensively made us a little bit more impatient offensively.  So, [we] got better the second half.  Obviously, played really well.  Defended better, guarded the penetration better in the second half.  I thought we did a good job of getting the ball inside really the whole way through and that's what we wanted to do.  So, some things to work on, that we'll be working on tomorrow.  We know we've got a long way to go.  We've got a lot of improvements to make and we got a lot of new guys that are getting better and are figuring things out, but I think they are looking forward to doing that."

On what surprises he has seen in Talib Zanna's game this year:

"Just simple, finding his game. I think I just talked about it out there; just letting things come to him and finishing without bringing the ball down.  I used the comparison to Aaron Gray.  It's keeping the ball up, not bringing it down, not relying on the dribble and getting to the right spot.  He's making free throws and that's helping to.  I think he's really more simplified his game, rather than focusing on what he does well and that's always a challenge for guys.  [He's] playing to his strengths.  He's doing a really good job.  He works really hard, but he's always done that.  Now, I think he's understanding and just feeling more comfortable.  He's just gotten better.  Again, he's got really good guards passing him the ball too. So, when you look at their assist numbers, I think that has a lot to do with it as well.  With all of those guys healthy and ready to go, there's been a lot of layups there.  Again, 24 assists, nine turnovers, the unselfishness by our guys.  I mean James [Robinson] and Tray [Woodall], you can say the same things again, and Lamar, they just did a great job.  And they recognize where it's going to be, the way they were playing, that we could get layups, rather than jump shots."

On if they changed how they were defending Tahj Tate as the game went on:

"The one three he hit was a tough shot, you know, and we can live with that.  I think our players understand that if a guy makes a tough shot, we can live with that if we guard it the right way.  But, we just got beat off the drive really in the first half more than we should have, I thought.  It wasn't anything they did that we hadn't seen or didn't expect.  We saw them beat Delaware at Delaware, they should have beaten Penn State; they lost in overtime on that one.  So, we saw the things that they were going to do in those last two games.  I think they've gotten all of their guys now.  So, they seem to be playing better and they'll be at the top of their league, if not win that league, as we expect.  I think there's a good chance they're an NCAA Tournament team.  Because, their guards are very good.  [Tahj] Tate's very good.  And [Casey] Walker can shoot the ball.  So, we're still not where we need to be defensively.  I don't think any team feels they are, but we need to keep working."

On Talib Zanna being able to play center:

"We've practiced it a lot too.  So, I mean we've played it a little bit on the year.  Could be a situation where we do that some, maybe at the end of games.  Obviously, it's something he can do and something that he's done well before and something that we practice.  It's interesting, we only have ten guys that we're playing with, yet I feel like we have the ability to play more different rotations, more different groups, because of the versatility of some of our guys.  Where, Talib [Zanna] can play the four or five.  J.J. [Moore] can play the three.  [Trey] Zeigler's been playing three positions, Cameron [Wright], two positions.  I think, granted we were down to eight guys, but I still felt like we had a decent rotation.  Today, we had guys not playing out of position, not playing positions they hadn't practiced, which is hard to do when you have ten guys and you're down to eight.  We've practiced with that in mind and we have the versatility to do that, as well."

On what they have gotten out of this stretch of games:

"I think we've gotten better defensively.  We've got four new players out of the ten.  That's 40% of your roster and that's a lot.  That's something that we've had to do.  And, everybody plays these games in our conference.  You look at them and as I call them, the one for none games, where they come to your place.  Everybody's playing them.  We've got Kennesaw State; they're playing Notre Dame tonight.  You've got to improve during this period and we have.  I thought today we didn't.  We had a good practice yesterday.  We've got to get some things done tomorrow.  Our practices have been good, not great.  But, yesterday was pretty good.  We've got to improve.  We're adding plays, we're adding sets.  We ran some plays we hadn't run before tonight and we got baskets out of them.  You know, you gain a lot of stuff.  I think you see a lot about a team in how they play.  We're the favorite to win, but I think we're performing well.  But we've got a lot of work to do and our guys understand that."

On Steven Adams' rebounding improvement:

"I think he's getting better.  I think he's recognizing a couple of things that we're trying to work with him on and improve on it.  I think our defense has gotten better so there are more shots to rebound and that's part of it.  I don't think we got as many turnovers tonight as we wanted to do, but they've got experienced guards.  [Albert] Thomas takes care of the ball. [Tahj] Tate's good with the ball.  So, I think that's part of it.  I think we're defending better.  When you defend better it means the big guys aren't rotating around and guarding on the perimeter and that has a lot to do with it too.  They had a low post guy and he was mainly around the basket that [Adams] was guarding.  How they play and what they do is always a factor as well.  They were patient and there's less possessions due to them holding the ball for periods of time.  It's good to play against."

Quoting junior forward J.J. Moore:

On his increased playing time:

"Talib (Zanna) played the five for us last year so that was a big help.  Since I am playing the four this year it spreads it out for our guard play to be more efficient."

On their second half play:

"We emphasized our defense more the second half.  We tried to come out and pressure the ball a lot."

On his shooting:

"I feel a lot more confident that I have in the past.  It's coming from my teammates boosting me up and telling me to shoot the ball.  It's my teammates giving me my confidence to shoot the ball and today it was just luck.  Luck just happened to be there for me."

Quoting forwardLamar Patterson:

On the difference in play from first to second half:

"We were being more patient with the ball.  The first half we weren't patient so we had a few turnovers.  Our adjustment at half time was to be patient and then everything fell through."

On how they were able to get the ball inside:

"The guards wanted to penetrate, wait for someone to step up and then drop it off to them for an easy layup when they are wide open.  That's what we like to do here.  We drive and kick and get the easiest basket as possible."

On the play of Steven Adams:

"He played great.  He was in the right spots, was aggressive with the ball and looked to finish.  It was just a matter of time until he became comfortable out there.  He's doing that and I feel great that he's doing that.  It's great that he's coming around right before Big East play.

On whether Pitt is ready for Big East play:

"I feel like you are never where you need to be.  I feel like we are good and good enough to go at the start of the Big East.  We will get better as it goes on.  We will just continue to grow as a team. We still have things we need to work.  We are giving up too many easy baskets but when we come around to play better teams our focus will be there even more."

Quoting Delaware State Head Coach Greg Jackson

On Pitt's execution in the second half:

"The talent level took over the second half. They were able to get out and transition. They beat us up on the boards. Anytime you get outrebounded 35-14, you're not going to win very many basketball games."

On the difference for Pitt in the game:

"I think the difference in the game was their defense's intensity. They came out in the second half and played to the level that they are capable of playing."

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