By Jason Schott - A Daly Dose of Hoops Contributor
The Pitt Panthers won the Legends Classic with another dominant performance, as they beat the Stanford Cardinal 88-67 on Tuesday night. Pitt considers that arena in Manhattan a "second home," so maybe with this tournament win, Barclays Center can be another second home for them.
Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon said of their time in Brooklyn, "Well, we were in good hands, Barry Rohrssen knew where to take us in Brooklyn. It's great, we want to play, we've asked to be in New York whenever we can, in any events that we have. We're in Jimmy V this year a bit later on, I asked to be in next year, and they said that I'm greedy and that we have to sit a year out.
|Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon. Photo by Jason Schott|
"This is a great event, and to play in this kind of an arena, I told our guys before the game yesterday, do you understand we're playing in an NBA arena, NBA locker rooms, and practicing in the Brooklyn Nets practice facility? It's great; hotel accommodations were terrific, can't say enough about it. We've got a lot of people from around here, a lot of fans, a lot of alumni. New York, along with Pennsylvania, has the second most alumni from a state. It fits in every way, and we're just thankful to be invited and be a part of it."
Pitt Assistant Coach Barry Rohrssen, who grew up in Park Slope and went to Xaverian High School and St. Francis College, said of playing at Barclays Center, "Two very big wins against good teams in the home borough, the borough where it all started for me." On what most impressed him about Pitt's performance, he said, "The way our team shared the basketball. We got some good leadership from Lamar Patterson, our senior, won MVP who played very well. We just have a group of guys who like each other and play for each other.
"There's three types of teams: teams that don't play together and they don't have much success. There's teams that play with each other and they have some success. There's teams that play for each other, and they generally have the most success, and it looks like we have a group of guys that play for each other."
At halftime of Tuesday night's win, Rohrssen caught up with Chris Mullin, a Hall of Famer who also went to Xaverian, and he said of Mullin, "One of my closest friends, we've known each other since he was in grammar school, and congratulated him on his new position with Sacramento."
On being the de facto tour guide for Pitt's visit here, Rohrssen said, "Just float some recommendations, just passed along some recommendations, show them the better things of Brooklyn...I think a few of our people went to spots downtown and in Brooklyn Heights."
|Pitt's Derrick Randall gaining position on the offensive end.|
Derrick Randall also is a Brooklyn native who was happy to play in his home borough. Randall went to Adelphi Academy in Bay Ridge before moving to Paterson Catholic and South Kent Prep in Connecticut. He played two years at Rutgers before transferring to Pitt for this season. On playing at Barclays Center, Randall said, "I felt overwhelmed, I was thinking too much in the game, but I loved it." On his feelings when he first saw the game on the schedule, he said, "I get to go home, get to see my family."
On playing at Pitt, Randall said, "I love my team, everything's going great. We all connect, like one person, we are just all in sync with one another. It (defense) was stressed from day one. The first day I got out there was 'defense, defense, defense.' So, we had to make sure we cut down all the post players down low, so have no inside scoring, make them shoot long jump shots." On the mood of the team, "We have something to prove, nobody has us as ranked, but we're actually a real good team, so we just want to prove everybody wrong."
Lamar Patterson, the tournament MVP, led the way with 24 points on 6-for-10 shooting, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds. Durand Johnson and Talib Zanna had 14 each, Cameron Wright had 13 on 6-for-9 shooting, and James Robinson had 10.
Patterson said, "We're on a mission as a team. We have things that we are going to accomplish throughout the whole year. When you see people writing us off, we've got a chip on our shoulder."
Pitt won this game in much the same way they did Monday night against Texas Tech, with a methodical run in the latter part of the first half. They led 12-11 at the 11:56 mark, and over the next nine minutes, went on a 25-11 run capped by a Durand Johnson three-pointer. The Panthers led 43-28 at halftime.
In the second half, Pitt did an excellent job maintaining their lead, but Stanford had some life after a Josh Huestis put-back off a miss brought them to within 11, at 66-55, with 9:06 remaining in the game. Pitt responded with a 10-3 run capped by a Johnson three-point play gave them a 76-58 lead that ultimately turned into as much as a 24-point lead near the end of the 88-67 victory.
|Pitt's lineup being announced.|
Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins was asked if it felt like they were down as many as 15 at halftime, considering Pitt's grinding style of play. "Basically, even though we were making runs, they were able to sustain it and keep it right around there. We cut it, got it as low as 11, they were able to sustain that. When you look at our numbers, we shot 50 percent from the field, and 33 percent from three, on most nights, we take that. To shoot that and lose the way we lost is difficult, you know, but like I said, give them credit, we ran into a buzzsaw, those guys were hitting shots from everywhere, and a lot of different guys. Look how they managed the basketball, 15 assists, 5 turnovers, that's hard to do if no one's out there guarding you....What's different from what I had expected from this Pitt team and I saw it on film, so it was not a surprise for me going into the game, is this Pitt team is one of the best-scoring Pitt teams I've seen in a long time. Not only do they play the D that they typically play, they're able to score a lot easier. You have a more potent offensive team that's still a very stingy defensive team."
In the consolation game, Texas Tech beat Houston 76-64. They had a balanced scoring attack, with Toddrick Gotcher and Jaye Crockett scoring 16 points each, Robert Turner with 15, and Jordan Tolbert with 14.
Texas Tech Head Coach Tubby Smith said of the win, "I thought our guys did some good things. We dominated the boards and that is something we have been struggling with. I thought we were doing a good job of taking care of the ball in the first half, and then in the second half, we started to cough it up. You have to give credit to Houston because they are a pretty talented and athletic team. We are looking to build on tonight's game and I was glad to see our guys defensively step up. That was the key, holding them to .350 shooting. We really did some good things defensively and that is how we have to play."