Notes from around the nation
January, 18, 2008
Some blog items for Friday: Positively Pittsburgh: I have been amazed at the strength of character shown by Pittsburgh since Mike Cook and Levance Fields went down with season-ending injuries. After Fields was lost against Dayton, coach Jamie Dixon was admittedly feeling sorry for his team's plight for about five minutes. After a very short pity party, Dixon said to his staff, "we'll be fine." He also told his team that they could be as good as they wanted to be, and that they had individuals that were more than capable of doing more. They may have been a player in a role, but they were not just role players. Since the Fields injury, Keith Benjamin (17 ppg over the last five games) and Ronald Ramon (32 assists and 11 turnovers over the last five games, 32 points in the last two) have been nothing short of brilliant. Dixon has simplified things and shortened his playbook, going from over 50 set play calls to about 20, and the Panthers have been more efficient as a result. Dixon has been upbeat and encouraging, while at the same time demanding accountability. We talk about toughness a lot, and sometimes that is taken to mean physical toughness. Pittsburgh is tough. They will also be in the NCAA Tournament. White Wash: I am one of the media horde that has been negligent in not fawning over the performances of Indiana senior D.J. White. After a stellar freshman year in which White was a bouncy athlete that could run the floor like a poor man's James Worthy, he suffered some injuries that slowed him considerably. This year, White is healthy and playing more like an athlete, and he has been fabulous all season long. White is averaging 16 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and is shooting 63 percent from the floor. Remember, White is playing with the potent scorer and freshman phenom Eric Gordon, and he gets less than 10 shots per game. To date, White has twice as many double figure rebounding games as he has double-figure shot attempt games. Very few big men can claim to have been as good as White, especially on a good team.
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