by Ray Floriani
NEW YORK CITY -- The championship of the Coaches vs. Cancer final at Madison Square Garden, came down to the final possession. Down two, Texas tossed, or should it be said forced, an on the run prayer that missed by a wide margin and Pitt emerged victorious 68-66. The Scores:
The Four Factors in the consolation:
The game was played for 72 possessions. The offensive efficiency for each team computed to:
In one night Maryland improved dramatically in the rebounding department. Terrapins had a significant 20-11 edge on the offensive glass. Illinois' ability to care for the ball, even facing some full court and three quarter court pressure was significant. They shot very well, going 10 of 19 from beyond the arc. Leading the way from downtown were Demetri McCamey (3-3 from three) 20 points and D.J. Richardson (3-6 from three) 9 points. Maryland's Jordan Williams did not score and had 2 boards in nine first half minutes but came alive after intermission finishing with 15 points 13 rebounds.
The tale of Jordan Williams' two halves by efficiency...
Recorded Maryland's first half possessions by time with the following chart showing the results:
|=> 15 seconds||13||3||15||1.15|
Normally as possessions progress the chances of turnovers are greater. In Maryland's case they committed most of the TOs early on. Chalk that up to a few transition opportunities that ended without a shot. Interestingly, Gary Williams' club was more efficient after the 15 second mark. Partially due to the fact as the clock winds down they have a special set(s) to ensure a good attempt from the field. And they are actually more cautious as the shot clock winds down.
The Four Factors for the final:
The championship game was played for 66 possessions; the offensive efficiencies were...
The telling rate was in the turnover category. The Longhorns did everything else, out rebound Pitt (which few teams do), got to the line and shot a percentage that matched their opposition. But 17 turnovers in a 65 possession contest is a killer. Especially in a one possession game. In the dreaded TO category it seems Rick Barnes' club 'shared the wealth'. Cory Joseph and Jordan Hamilton led with three each but everyone of the nine players Texas used, had at least one. In Hamilton's defense the 6-7 sophomore swingman led all scorers with 28 points and proved to be an inside/outside matchup problem all night long.
Talib Zanna had an impressive semifinal but the Pitt frosh had only 2 points and 6 boards in a 15 minute foul plagued final. These things will happen but the impressive thing is Pitt has a number of players who can step up on the given night. Ashton Gibbs led the Panthers with 24 points (19 in the second half) while running mate Travon Woodall added 7 points 5 assists. The Panthers will capitalize on opposition errors and can beat you in many different ways.
Recorded the Pitt possessions by time once again. In the breakdown I just limited it to turnovers, points and points per possession. For calculating purposes an offensive rebound was an extension of the possession. Pitt had only seven offensive boards, so a great deal of their 'extended' possessions of 15 seconds or more were due to the Texas defense.
|The First Half...|
|=> 15 seconds||13||3||9||0.69|
|The Second Half & Totals|
|=> 15 seconds||14||3||12||0.86|
The number of possessions sometimes deviates from the formula. Many times the formula for possessions is right on the money or one or two off. Still, it is a great way to calculate the possessions if you do not chart every one the 'long hand' method. Also in charting, the person charting can make a clerical error, or two.
As the chart shows, the Panthers' points per possessions was more effective when the possession ended prior to 15 seconds. Those sequences include transition opportunities that were converted and good looks in the early offense. Pitt had a number of those the first ten minutes before Texas dug in and forced the opposition to make the extra passes and extend each Pitt trip down the floor.
In the post game presser Rick Barnes said the first 10 minutes were the key. "We came out a little stagnant especially on defense." With a young club, getting to the final with a strong showing against the nation's number four team was significant."
Jamie Dixon noted how the Travon Woodall-Ashon Gibbs (both NJ products with Woodall from St. Anthony's and Gibbs Seton Hall Prep) backcourt was very effective in the second half. Dixon also was impressed with the Panthers' balance. "We have 11 guys who contribute," he said. "One night someone will break out another night it could be someone else."
Dixon was asked by Lenn Robbins of the NY Post to comment on critics contention that Pitt 'wins ugly'. "They are probably looking at me," Dixon quipped. The Panthers mentor went on to note how Pitt has been one of the most offensively efficient teams around the last few years. In '09 the average possessions for Pitt in Big East play was 67. Last season, with a lot of new faces, the pace slowed a bit to 64. Entering the Texas game Pitt averaged 71 possessions for their first four contests. If the break or early offense shot is there they will take it. You can chalk the slower paced games, especially in the Big East, as a product of their suffocating defense. The only 'ugly' in Pitt is what opponents see in having to face that trademark defense. Dixon summed it best saying, "better to win ugly than lose pretty."
Both nights at the Garden the Panthers won. And it was pretty impressive.
|Ashton Gibbs (MVP)||Pittsburgh|