Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ireland 2010 -- Panthers Maul Tigers 92-76, to Go 5-0

The Melbourne Tigers
The Panthers beat the Tigers of Melbourne, Australia, 92-76 at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, running their string on the Ireland Tour to 5-0. The Melbourne Tigers, a four time champion in the Australian Premier (professional) league played a front line that featured 7-0 Utah graduate Luke Nevil and several 6-8 players who gave Pittsburgh all they could handle through the first two quarters. The Tigers, as physical as they were tall, put bodies on the younger Panthers in a contest that on paper resembled a Big East game. In all 50 fouls, including two technical fouls, one apiece assessed to each team, were called over the course of four quarters. Pittsburgh squad was paced by rising seniors Gilbert Brown and Ashton Gibbs, who scored 15 points apiece. Pitt's official athletic website carries wire story game recap which highlights some of the play-by-play, and the official boxscore which lacks player minutes. The scoring by quarters...

Melbourne Tigers182892076

The Panthers upped their "won quarter" mark to 14, and took a seven point lead into the second quarter when the Tigers struck back, launching a 27 point outburst in the last 7:58 of the second quarter to outscore Pitt by 10, 27-17, and take a one point lead into the half. In another first for this tour, the Pittsburgh squad found itself on the underside of the score at the end of a quarter. Using their patented third quarter blitz, Pitt dropped a 28-9 scoring blitz of it's own on Melbourne, retook the lead, and established a working lead going into the game's remaining quarter. With a 19 point lead in hand, the Panthers "lost" the fourth quarter by a single point, 19-20, marking that as only the third quarter (out of 20) that Pitt failed to win. 19-20, to close out the game. This game was played for just under 80 possessions (79.8), became the second highest possession game on the tour so far. The efficiencies and Oliver's four factors:

Melbourne Tigers95.349.212.521.355.91.02

A review of the score hints the game was not close (a 16 point margin of victory for Pitt), but a quick comparison of each team's shot efficiency (eFG% and PPWS) (51.3 vs 49.2 and 1.05 vs 1.02) say the game was closer than the score suggests. Checking the free throw (FTA/FGA) and turnover (TO%) rates, and one might think the Panthers were on the short end of this score. The game changer, the most critical factor, it turns out, was the rebounding. The margin on offense in particular (40.0 vs 21.3) allowed Pittsburgh multiple scoring opportunities on each possession, while denying Melbourne the same. A check on the raw numbers from the box score confirms, Pittsburgh took 75 FGAs to Melbourne's 59. The Panthers used that 16 FGA differential to take eight more two point attempts and eight more three point attempts than the Tigers. Both teams may have had nearly the same conversion rate for 3FGAs (6-14 vs 9-22), but more rebounds translated into more attempts and more conversions. Pitt enjoyed a similar conversion bulge for two pointers, 25 vs 20, and that differential was enough to compensate for the additional free throws that the Australians were able to take.

1. For the fourth straight game Coach Dixon used his entire squad, going 14 deep, but used a starting line-up that may well start the first game of this season. Tonight the back court consisted of rising junior Ashton Gibbs and rising senior Bradley Wanamaker. Rising junior Gary McGhee anchored the center, while rising senior Gil Brown and red shirt freshman Talib Zanna played the #3 and #4 respectively.
2. The Gibbs-Wanamaker tandem was effective logging eight assists against four turnovers, but it was the rising senior Gilbert Brown, looking more like a point forward with each game, who dished a game-high six assists against zero turnovers. Both Wanamaker and Gibbs scored double-digit points, Gibbs (along with Gilbert Brown) logging a team-high 15 points. But both guards required volume shooting to get their numbers, going a combined 9-24 (3-12, 6-12) and 4-5 to post their combined 25 points. Off guard and point back up Travon Woodall shot a very efficient 75% eFG%, going 5-8 (2-3, 3-5) from the field while passing out four assists (versus two turnovers).
3. 11 of the 14 players who saw action scored points, six posting double-digit points. Two of the three who did not score (all freshmen) did not take an FGA.
4. Four Panthers, all front court players, were tagged with four fouls. There were no DQ's recorded.
5. Eric Devondorf, late of Syracuse University and recent signee to the Melbourne Tigers, did not play. Indeed, the former Orange wing was not in the city at all.

The English National Team will be Pitt's last opponent of the 2010 Ireland Tour. The two teams face-off Saturday at 5:00 (Ireland Time) in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast. The team will return to the USA Sunday, August 8.

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