Thursday, November 17, 2011

Big East versus Big West -- A Long (Beach) Night for Pittsburgh

Maybe Long Beach State did not get the memo, visitors are supposed to lose at the Peterson Event Center. And out of conference visitors, especially those whose KenPom ratings are within ear shot of #100, are supposed to lose badly. If the beating, the first at home to a non-Big East opponent since 2005, was not bad enough however, taking it as a double-digit loss (86-76) has to be even worse. Dan Monson's 49ers led at the half by nine, 45-36, a half time deficit nearly matching the one they took to the locker room against Tennessee last season. The Panthers made the necessary adjustments in the second half to overcome the Vols, but not this time, as Long Beach added another point to their half time lead to make the winning margin an even 10. The AP story indicated Long Beach was able to consistently get behind their Pitt defenders, beating them consistently to the basket.

The possession-based stats indicate the same...

Long Beach State1.3165.715.237.542.6 Pitt's defense gave up an astonishing 1.31 points per possession, 86 points on just under 66 possessions. Pitt likes to play for a 60-64 possessions typically, but this was not outside of their comfort zone. Reports suggesting Long Beach State was "fast" or "speedy" are slightly misleading. Guards Casper Ware, who scored a career-high 28 points, along with James Ennis, consistently scored on run-outs that originated from Panther miscues and missed field goal attempts. The 49ers converted 25 of 36 two point attempts, unthinkable except if they could consistently beat the Pitt defenders back to the basket. Monson's squad outrebounded Pittsburgh by three, 29 to 26, while getting to their offensive boards surprisingly well, grabbing 37.5% of their own misses, both very unPitt-like stats. Junior Dante Taylor started, but Gary McGhee's presumed successor in the low post logged about 20 minutes, yielding to red shirt sophomore Talib Zanna and freshman Klem Birch. Though Taylor provided offense from his spot in the lane, Zanna was much the better at board work, grabbing 25.8% of the available offensive boards and over 16% of the defensive boards while he was in the game. to Taylor's 6.8% (OReb%) and 17.8% (DReb%). I expect a big shake-up in the Panther lineup going forward.

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