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Takeaways: Pitt will get ‘hard-fought’ and essential win at UNC



CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Enjoying effectively in essential moments contained in the Dean E. Smith Middle is nothing new for Jamarius Burton. The Charlotte native led his highschool squad to state championship on this constructing in 2018.

So, when Pitt took possession with 27.7 seconds left – trailing the North Carolina Tar Heels by a single level Wednesday night time – Burton was comfy having the ball in his fingers with hundreds of Carolina followers cheering towards him. Whereas driving to the basket, Burton was fouled with 3.4 seconds left. After which, like ice water ran by means of his veins, the cool senior guard swished a pair of free throws to offer the Panthers the lead.

“Coach drew it up within the huddle. He needed whoever RJ Davis was guarding to come back set me a display screen and it simply labored out in our favor,” Burton mentioned. “The most important factor is simply staying even keeled. I’ve coaches and gamers who consider in me. They only proceed to place the battery in my again.”

UNC had an opportunity to win it with 0.6 seconds left, however Nike Sibande was all up in Caleb Love’s grill and received a hand on the Tar Heels’ last-ditch shot try. Pitt gained 65-64, leaving a complete lot of individuals sporting Carolina blue with a bitter style of their mouths.

“You may’t go at Nike,” Pitt ahead Blake Hinson mentioned after the sport.

For Pitt, the win marks its first ever three-game successful streak towards the Tar Heels. The Panthers are 5-2 towards UNC underneath Jeff Capel, and have gained 5 of their previous six conferences with the Tar Heels.

That is additionally the third time this season Pitt has gained at the least three video games in a row. And the Panthers’ triumph snapped a four-game successful streak for the Tar Heels.

“What an amazing, hard-fought school basketball recreation. Each groups actually, actually battled, fought, competed. I’m actually, actually happy with my group,” Capel mentioned. “This was a gritty win for us. We simply discovered a solution to make performs.”

Maybe most significantly for Pitt, this win towards UNC is one other in Quad 1 for the Panthers, which ought to increase its resume for the NCAA Event. Pitt is now 4-2 in video games towards Quad 1 groups and has two such contests remaining on its schedule – at Virginia Tech on Feb. 18 and at Miami on March 4. Earlier than this win over Carolina, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi was projecting the Panthers among the many “Final 4 In” to the event discipline.

“These guys don’t blink,” Capel mentioned.

Nelly Cummings powered Pitt with 21 factors and three assists within the win, whereas Burton added 19 factors and 5 boards. Sibande chipped in 10 factors and a team-high seven rebounds.

UNC’s largest lead was within the first half at seven factors, as they opened the sport outscoring Pitt 14-7. Nance had 5 factors throughout that stretch for the Heels.

Pitt began storming again close to the tip of the primary half, however had to take action with out the play of main scorer Blake Hinson, who was on the bench with two fouls. However Burton stepped up, scoring seven factors over the ultimate seven minutes of the primary half, serving to Pitt take a one-point benefit into intermission.

Contained in the locker room at halftime, Capel informed his gamers, “Belief one another. That is our half.”

The Panthers initially squandered their lead – permitting UNC to take a six-point benefit – however then they caught hearth, breaking off a 15-2 run that was kickstarted by Cummings making three straight 3-pointers.

Cummings fouled out late within the recreation, however completed it with 5 3-pointers made. It’s the third time this season he’s made that many for Pitt and the Panthers are 3-0 in these video games.

“From the skin in, it could look like we’re shorthanded, however each time we’ve met adversity, it’s simply subsequent man up,” Cummings mentioned.

Additionally key for Pitt was its capacity to stifle the reigning ACC Participant of the Yr, Armando Bacot. The hulking UNC heart completed the sport with 15 factors and 11 boards, however shot simply 3-of-10 from the ground and had two turnovers. It’s simply the second time this season that Bacot has performed a full recreation and completed with three or much less made baskets.

Capel was particularly complimentary of Federiko Federiko, who completed with eight factors, 4 rebounds and three blocks in 28 minutes of motion.

“I assumed (Federiko) was terrific. I imply, Bacot is without doubt one of the finest gamers within the nation, actually among the finest large guys,” Capel mentioned. “I assumed he did an impressive job of pushing him off the block and contesting his shot.”

Pitt additionally held UNC to 18.5% taking pictures from past the arc, which is the Heels’ third-worst 3-point mark of the season. UNC is 0-3 in video games wherein it shoots worse than 20% from deep.

After an emotional highway recreation, the Panthers now have six video games off earlier than internet hosting ACC bottom-feeder Louisville.


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Pitt Contacts Syracuse Switch Guard Joe Girard



Pitt is concerned with including a prime 3-shooter to their roster subsequent season. Basketball insider Adam Zagoria reported Friday that Syracuse guard Joe Girard has been contacted within the switch portal by Pitt. 

The senior guard each declared for the NBA Draft and put his identify into the portal Friday after 4 years at Syracuse. In keeping with Zagoria, Girard has been been contacted by Indiana, Tennessee, Auburn, Butler, LSU, Florida, Ohio State, Loyola Chicago, Stanford, Clemson, Nebraska and BYU.

Girard will take a look at the NBA waters earlier than in the end deciding on going professional or returning to school basketball for his fifth yr of eligibility. He began all however two of his 125 video games in a Syracuse uniform, averaging 13.2 factors and three.6 assists in 4 seasons whereas taking pictures over 37% from the ground, 36% behind the three-point arc, and 86% on the free-throw line for head coach Jim Boeheim. He totaled a career-high 16.4 factors per recreation this season. 

He marks the ninth participant Pitt has reached out to this week.

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Narduzzi’s Notes: Recapping Busy Week of Spring Follow, Offensive and Defensive Updates



Pitt has solely had three padded practices to date this spring, which incorporates two this week, however the degree of depth and competitors has been excessive for the reason that first session.

It’s precisely why Pat Narduzzi loves being round his staff, reuniting with the veterans and attending to know the newcomers, this spring.

“Our youngsters play laborious, play robust and compete with one another,” Narduzzi mentioned on the South Aspect. “It’s forwards and backwards, and simply love teaching these guys. It’s two hours of enjoyable.”

However it’s nonetheless an essential section for Pitt soccer as a brand new staff is ushered in. The place battles are plentiful, the will to remain wholesome prevails and he simply desires to see if he has any “soccer gamers,” as he likes to say.

So, let’s simply dive proper into what went on through the second week of Pitt’s spring practices.

Use Your Head — Figuratively 

Javon McIntyre likes to hit folks. He typically finds it laborious to put off in apply. So, in fact, he’s very looking forward to Saturday’s stay scrimmage at Acrisure Stadium.

However Pat Narduzzi will you should definitely emphasize to him — and everybody on the squad — that maybe his No. 1 aim of spring to flee with none main accidents.

Staying wholesome is one aim, however he’s additionally hoping to seek out who his “soccer gamers” are this season. He desires to see the offense transfer the soccer, however on the identical time, he desires to see the protection make some stops, not permit any factors. Contradictory, I do know.

You may’t play soccer slowly. It’s simply not potential, even when the spider pads are on, and Narduzzi acknowledges that. How does the saying go? S— occurs?

“I feel it’s simply the perspective we attempt to play with,” Narduzzi mentioned. “We play laborious, attempt to get them going full pace. You gotta play with effort. Generally it’s laborious to decelerate. Like yesterday, M.J. Devonshire acquired a choose and (Ryan) Jacoby mainly… killed M.J.”

When Pitt hits the sphere at Acrisure, Narduzzi would love it if there have been some touchdowns and a few interceptions (possibly not too many of every), however he positively doesn’t need anybody to get destroyed within the course of.

There are some new arrivals who can be stepping onto the sphere for the primary time as Pitt Panthers (and some new arrivals who haven’t technically stepped foot onto the sphere at Acrisure contemplating the title’s modified since their highschool days), and some of these new guys are quarterbacks and broad receivers. Narduzzi is trying ahead to watching these connections Saturday.

“I need to see our deep photographs that we missed a 12 months in the past, I’d prefer to see us join on a number of of these,” Narduzzi mentioned. “We’ve carried out that within the first six practices, so it could be good to see it in Acrisure line up that manner.

Phil Jurkovec and Christian Veilleux have been competing over the primary six spring periods, and so they’ll get their first possibilities open air.

Pittsburgh Panthers defensive again Javon McIntyre (20) September 24, 2022 David Hague/PSN

How Do You Substitute Erick Hallett and Brandon Hill? 

With the blokes ready for his or her turns, in fact.

McIntyre is the man who figures to step into the boundary security spot, and he was given a short cameo to finish the 2022 season — beginning the season finale in opposition to Miami and the bowl recreation in opposition to UCLA.

And whereas McIntyre produced, a few tackles for loss, a few interceptions and a few move breakups, his inexperience has additionally proven.

“He’s a gifted child that’s acquired the power to be a very good participant, but it surely’s extra confidence, realizing what you’re doing,” Narduzzi mentioned. “He had two main busts within the bowl recreation, big-time. Erick Hallett will get beat on a submit, man free, and we’ve acquired a man in the course of the sphere which is normally not the case. We shock them, they throw a submit and Erick’s sitting on the bottom on the aim line, like, ‘The place’s my assist at?’”

It’s tough to play defensive again at Pitt, particularly if you’re inserted into the lineup and anticipated to not miss a beat, however McIntyre confirmed why he’s such a match on the boundary. He’s large (6-foot-1, 195 kilos, bodily and may discover the soccer.

The query now’s what’s going to occur round him with regards to filling the sphere security slot. P.J. O’Brien has been within the system for a number of seasons, and Donovan McMillon arrived this winter. Steph Corridor, at this level, is probably going an choice in depth solely.

And with McIntyre, O’Brien, McMillon and possibly Corridor, these are guys who’re able to go. They’ve purchased into what the teaching employees has been preaching.

“These guys have been prepared, it’s not like they’re simply all of the sudden shopping for in now,” Narduzzi mentioned. “They purchased in a 12 months in the past, they only needed to wait their time. In the event that they get 5 performs a recreation, they get 5 performs to attempt to make one of the best performs they will. They purchased in a very long time in the past, I feel.”

McIntyre and O’Brien, seemingly, have been main the safeties to date, and McMillion has tailored shortly. The teaching employees hasn’t gotten see a lot stay motion but, however that’s altering.

“We’re proud of the place (McMillon) is,” Narduzzi mentioned. “He’s studying, he’s the brand new man again there, making an attempt to study it, however he’s choosing it up nicely.”

With McIntyre at boundary security and O’Brien at subject security, McMillon’s continued integration into the system provides much-needed depth — and competitors — within the room. A pair and a spare, as Randy Bates says, in some order.

Pittsburgh Panthers operating again Rodney Hammond Jr. (6) November 5, 2022 David Hague/PSN

What’s Going On With the Talent Place Teams? 

If Pat Narduzzi has seen one space of growth from Rodney Hammond Jr. to date this spring, it’s his maturity. He’s approached spring ball with a mentality that he’s the man.

Hammond is taking the torch from Israel Abanikanda, which follows an opportunity to sit down down and actually chop it up with Abanikanda earlier this offseason after he knew he was taking on, and he’s prepared to indicate that’s able to carrying the load.

However Narduzzi additionally made positive to level out Friday that whereas Hammond has appeared good, C’Bo Flemister is correct there with him, too. And Derrick Davis Jr. has slot in nicely since arriving over the winter.

“Derrick Davis seems good,” Narduzzi mentioned. “We’re completely happy he’s right here, I can let you know that. Coach Powell and coach Cignetti are terrible excited simply by what they’ve seen. We’ll see move safety right here as we go on and the way he picks it up, however general, after six practices, we’re fairly proud of the place he’s.”

Hammond, Flemister and Davis type a stable trio, with Daniel Carter possible filling the fullback duties and early enrollee T.J. Harvison there if wanted, however Hammond is that lead again.

However it’s the broad receivers room that’s grown essentially the most this spring.

It’s clear that whether or not it was a sluggish adaption to Frank Cignetti Jr.’s offensive scheme, a scarcity of chemistry with Kedon Slovis or each, the broad receivers room wasn’t in sync final season. It was disappointing for Konata Mumpfield and Bub Means of their first go-arounds, however they’ve approached their second seasons eagerly.

“I’d say they’ve carried out a superb job of simply taking good care of that room,” Narduzzi mentioned. “These two have simply stepped up and have been the leaders since we acquired again to high school in January. Bub’s a bit of bit extra verbal, and Konata’s extra lead by instance as a result of he performs his butt off.”

There’s a brand new trio that options Mumpfield, Means and Daejon Reynolds — with Myles Alston serving because the No. 4 if apply pairings are any indication — but it surely’s clear that the depth is missing proper now. Lamar Seymore is working with the offense and can possible get an opportunity to make an affect himself, however Pitt will want extra.

Seymore, Che Nwabuko and the younger broad receivers may have an opportunity to step into an early function, however I wouldn’t be shocked if a switch portal addition is added to the room.

Pittsburgh Panthers linebacker Shayne Simon (32) September 24, 2022 David Hague/PSN

Changing SirVocea Dennis within the Linebacking Corps

I assumed that Shayne Simon was going to be the man to slip inside and fill in for SirVocea Dennis, and I feel Narduzzi sees it that manner.

“I feel he could also be a pure Mike,” Narduzzi mentioned. “SirVocea might play all three, Shayne can play the Mike and the boundary linebacker spot. So, Shayne’s doing an impressive job speaking and main the center of our protection proper now.”

Simon primarily performed at Cash linebacker final season, sometimes spelling Dennis earlier than getting his first begin at Mike in opposition to within the Solar Bowl (a efficiency that Narduzzi praised Tuesday). He’s rising into his function as a frontrunner within the protection, which he’s admitted is a staff effort, however his transfer inside opens up one other spot exterior.

Bangally Kamara emerged as Pitt’s star linebacker final season, and whereas Solomon DeShields primarily served as Simon’s backup at Cash, he made an affect virtually each time he stepped on the sphere. And he’s continued to indicate development this spring.

“He’s carried out nicely,” Narduzzi mentioned. “He simply retains rising on daily basis it looks like, you watched him develop all through the season and he’s taken steps right here.”

A Kamara-Simon-DeShields alignment, with Kamara at Star and DeShields at Cash, is what we’re taking a look at proper now. Brandon George is again as a high-caliber backup Mike, and there’s an thrilling crop of 2023 linebacking signees, too. Solely a kind of three, Braylan Lovelace, is on campus, however he’s already standing out.

“I’ll let you know one other man who has been spectacular,” Narduzzi mentioned. “Braylan Lovelace, for a real freshman, he’s gonna be going to Promenade right here in one other month, however he’s been spectacular as nicely flying round on the linebacker spot. He had a fantastic sort of chase down — I feel Rodney at one level, simply had a fantastic angle.”

I feel there’s an opportunity {that a} freshman linebacker or two, in the event that they’re in a position to put collectively a robust offseason, will see the sphere in 2023.

Pittsburgh Panthers defensive again Ryland Gandy (18) September 24, 2022 David Hague/PSN

The Trio of Cornerbacks Ready within the Wings

Marquis Williams, M.J. Devonshire and A.J. Woods are locked into Pitt’s prime three, with Rashad Battle (who Narduzzi mentioned Tuesday is near being 100%) working again into the rotation.

Ryland Gandy arrived final spring as an early enrollee, instantly impressing the teaching employees and discovering his manner onto the sphere a number of occasions final season, and he’s carried out a pleasant job this spring as soon as once more.

“However two guys which were ready and ready and ready are Tamarion Crumpley and Noah Biglow,” Narduzzi mentioned. “They’ve stepped up. They’re remarkably higher now than they have been on the finish of the season. I’d virtually say they have been disappointing, like, ‘What are you two doing? What are you guys ready for? Step it up.’ However they’ve actually grown up and gotten so much higher throughout these first 5 days.”

Biglow performed in 4 video games final season, primarily on particular groups but additionally picked up 17 defensive snaps as a reserve nook. Crumpley hasn’t performed throughout his two seasons in Pittsburgh, however Narduzzi is seeing an all new participant.

“(Crump) like a distinct man, he was kinda like a deer in headlights, however he’s a lot extra juice to him proper now,” Narduzzi mentioned. “It’s taken a 12 months and a half to get that carried out.”

It will not be an enormous season for any of the three younger corners, however their time is arriving ahead of later — particularly as Williams, Devonshire and Woods will all possible be gone coming into 2024.

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