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Record: 1921 (4/30/2012)


Ask Lou

  • This morning Panther247 kicked off a monthly series of Lou Schmitt "Looking Back", as many of you already know, Lou Schmitt has played against some very talented players over his career, so the Looking Back series should be very interesting.

    Starting next week, Lou Schmitt will answer your questions on Pitt hoops. It will be a format such as the Guru Grill, but it will be team oriented and NOT recruiting. You can ask Lou whatever you want about the players and etc.

    Anyone may ask questions, but the "Ask Lou' article will be in VIP.

    Ask away!

    This post was edited by Greg Croft 15 months ago


  • I have been of the opinion that PITT fans have been too harsh on Steven Adams so far this year. They insist that he has been a disappointment but I believe that is because their expectations were way to high. When I watch Adams play, I see a very talented player and athlete who is raw but has great potential. I also see a player who changes the game with his shot blocking/changing, who keeps defenses honest, and who is also a very good rebounder when he is aggressive. Unfortunately, he has not been aggressive all the time. Why do you think he lacks that consistent aggressiveness and what do you think of him as a player in general? Thanks! This should be one of my favorite threads on the site!

  • Lou,

    2 questions.

    1) What's with the lack of post game on this team? Nobody has much of a post game and they struggle to even get the ball down low when someone is posting up. Is it the players? Is it the offensive scheme?

    2) I know the game is different overseas, but how do you get a guy like Adams to attack the rim? When he has nobody between him and the hoop from 3 feet, no need for a missed hook shot like in yesterdays Uconn game? One step and dunk is a much better option.

  • You said we can ask questions about Pitt hoops. When will we able to discuss his article? I thought it was great.

  • You can ask question about his article here. Or you can post comments at the end of the article.


  • Lou, great article. I enjoyed reading about coach Swogger. Especially the reference to "old school." Things are very different today than they were back in the day. Believe it or not. Coaches were more old school in the 50s and 60s.

    I think the last time I saw coach Swagger coach a game ... was when Altoona played Valley in the playoffs.I think you and Tunstill were on that team. Valley had a player named Billy Varner (went to ND) They upset Altoona that night.

    What happened that night? Were they really the better team? That game had to really bother coach.

  • Do you feel we need a coaching change to give the staff a new wrinkle? (and no I am not talking Dixon, strictly talking assistants)

  • Trey Zieglers emergence seems to finally give them a wing who can and will take it to the rim. How much does that help in the grand scheme of things?

    James Robinson's play seems to be leveling off a little in terms of ball protection. He seems more shaky to me as the season goes on (still very good for a freshman). Do you think that is because of the uptick in competition or because he is hitting a freshman wall for the lack of a better term. Also, would you agree when the ball is swung to him on the perimeter he needs to step up and take the shot. In catch and shoot situations I think he is a good enough shooter to do so.

    I love the commitment the last few games to want to work the ball into the post more. I know Steve is not closed to polished in the low post but I feel getting him and Talib touches on the block really helps open things up for the offense. Do you believe they should continue to feed the post?

    This team struggles to keep quick guards in front of them (a lot of teams do) and without Steve at the rim there is a big problem. Is there anything you believe Pitt should and can do to fix this problem? Do they need better weak side rotations and help?

  • Down by 1 with :05 left who is getting the ball?

  • I have been a big Steven Adams fan since I first saw him in the preseason. I think he has a world of potential. But we have to remember that he's a freshman. He's just a kid. This is his first season competing against this level of talent. He is progressing. He'll continue to take two steps forward, one back. That's the nature of the process. I can see him get frustrated with officiating, and I don't blame him. I think he sometimes allows himself to become passive out of exasperation, and he sometimes loses focus as a result. He has to progress mentally as well as physically, and realize that becoming frustrated will lead to dumb plays and hurt his team. I agree that when he is allowed to play by the refs he changes the entire complexion of the game. When you are the size of Steven Adams, the expectations are just as big, and some will never be satisfied. They need to cut this guy some slack. He's a rookie. You know what they say: The best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.

  • 1. I have seen Adams and others wide open in the post on a number of occasions, and not get so much as a look. It is very frustrating to watch missed opportunities to get the ball in low and do some damage. Until there is an emphasis in the offensive scheme on getting the ball into the post it is not going to happen. That starts with the big men practicing sealing defenders down low and the guards practicing their timing on entry bounce-passes and lobs from different angles. And JD has to make it clear that he wants the ball going into the post.

    2. From what I understand, Adams didn't have much competition in NZ, and played more of a finesse game. He needs to realize that when he has an open path to the hoop he needs to drop step, gather himself, and take the ball to the rim quick and strong, thinking nothing but dunk. The best way to get him to do that in games is to have him practicing his drop step and dunk over and over, preferably as part of No.1 above.

  • That was perhaps the most bitter defeat of my career. Valley High School was led by Billy Varner, a great player who went on to have a very nice career at Notre Dame, then played professionally for many years in Europe, where he was so popular that he was known as the "Elvis" of France. We were handling Valley pretty easily in that game and were clearly the better team. Near the end of the first half we were in a 1-3-1 zone, with me on the baseline and our center Ricky Tunstall in the middle on the 3 line. Billy Varner caught a pass out at the left elbow and drove straight down the lane toward the hoop. I slid over into the left low post and bellied up to take a charge. Ricky came across the lane from the right and went up to block the shot. He collided with Billy and the two got tangled up in mid-air right as they headed right into me. Billy actually began to spin out of control, and throwing out his arm to break his fall, his elbow hit me directly on top of my right eye, forcing my eyeball down and shattering the bottom of my eye socket. It was a hideous, freak injury. I was finished, and Valley upset us in a close game. The rest is history. Valley went on to win the state championship that should have been ours. Shitty luck.

    I actually played against Billy when he was at Notre Dame and I was at St. Francis. He remembered that injury, as did his father, who spoke to me prior to the game and commented as to how worried he was when he saw me go down.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by Lou Schmitt 15 months ago

  • I would like to see us bring in a coach who really knows how to work with and develop big men. I think we need better post play, and we certainly have some potential down low that could use some guidance.

  • Who was the coach mainly responsible for molding Blair, Mcghee, and Gray?

  • Lou, what is your opinion of the possession clock / inbound pass to start the second half, instead of the good ol' jump ball?

  • Thanks Lou. We're on the same page on the low post for sure.

  • I like how Trey Ziegler has been playing as of late. He is getting more aggressive offensively and really seems to be gaining in confidence. He is not afraid to pull up or take the ball to the hole. Having a slasher like Trey puts pressure on opposing defenses to rotate in order to stop him when he penetrates, opening up passing lanes. Additionally, his defender has to play off a little to defend the drive, which should give him more open shots. All this helps the Pitt offense.

    James Robinson has looked shaky at times when opposing teams apply full court pressure. Opposing teams appear to be pressuring him more, and that might account for at least some of the leveling off that you have noticed. I think he picks up his dribble a little too quickly and needs to anticipate traps better, but I also think his teammates need to come to the ball better in those situations in order to help him. I have been a little disappointed in Pitt's press break in general. Presses are best broken by passing, not dribbling. But getting back to James Robinson, I need to say right here and now that for a freshman I think he has done one hell of a job. He is being asked to do A LOT, and for the most part has performed really marvelously for a rookie. He is basically quarterbacking this team. As with Adams, he sometimes gets frustrated and makes dumb plays, but will mature. I want him to look for his outside shot more when the opportunity presents itself. He has looked really good at times when he steps into his shot after the ball is reversed to him. I think he can develop into a solid outside threat. Just the fact that we are having this discussion about a freshman is indicative of the kind of player he is and will be.

    I absolutely support Pitt putting more emphasis on low post play. That entails the coaches committing to and emphasizing post men getting position, and guards looking to make the entry pass or lob. If Pitt can develop any semblance of a consistent low post game, that will just blow that offense up. Believe me, post men will work their asses off to get position if they know guards will get the ball to them.

    Quick guards put a hell of a lot of pressure on opposing defenses, especially if they can also hit the jumper. Having said that, there has to be help on the ball. This is really a team defense issue. Everyone on the floor must know their rotations once the primary defender has been beaten off the dribble, and work hard to get into proper defensive position. Above all things, someone must rotate and STOP THE BALL. That is the first priority. I also think it is a good idea to switch up defenses. Go to a matchup zone. Double up on the ball once in awhile. Do some trapping. Don't give these quick guards the same look all the time. Don't let them get comfortable.

  • I don't know. We have had some serious low post play in the past, but there just does not seem to be an emphasis on that part of the offense now. Maybe someone else here knows which coach works with the big men.

  • Oooh. No time to work the ball inside. No time to even rotate the ball. I am assuming we are in-bounding the ball in our court. We need to get the ball to someone who can hit the outside shot, and more importantly, can get their shot off quickly. It's basically a catch-and-shoot situation. The easy, cop-out answer is to get it to whoever has the hot hand. Whoever in that game is shooting with confidence is the one to take the last shot. But let's assume no one is lighting it up. I am going to play the percentages, and run Lamar Patterson off a little rub screen to get him open for the final shot off the inbound pass.

    This post was edited by Lou Schmitt 15 months ago

  • I'm old school. I miss the jump balls. I don't like the alternating possession clock. A player works hard to dive on the floor and tie up the ball, only to see it awarded to the opponent, and that's not fair.

  • I was a young kid who grew up idolizing that team. I didn't go to Valley, but their main rivals. If I can remember, they had Billy Varner, the point guard was Mac McNabb, they had Benji Pryor's brother Goose, who was a heckuva player. But man, Varner was a stud. There was a great thread on TOS (Rivals) on the state of Western PA hoops then and now and all the good players that this area used to produce where now, there is hardly any.

    Well worth the read and trip down memory lane.

    About that year, Valley and Burrell where bitter rivals. Valley actually got knocked off in the WPIAL playoffs early, and Burrell went to the WPIAL finals where they lost to Beaver Falls who had Dwight Collins and Forrest Grant if memory serves me correct. Burrell had Joey Meyers then, a 6'7" white kid (who bent my rim in my driveway thanks Joey) who can shoot the lights out and went on to be a decent player at Duquesne.

  • I knew all of those guys. I remember playing in the Johnstown War Memorial Tournament at Christmas time of 1978, a few months before we lost to Valley. The field consisted of Altoona, Overbrook, Beaver Falls, and DeMatha. DeMatha had won the national championship the year before and was undefeated coming into the tournament, and a heavy favorite to win it all. Beaver Falls was matched up against DeMatha in the first round. Dwight Collins was a monster in that game as Beaver Falls pulled off a stunning upset. Overbrook beat us and then won the tournament by beating Beaver Falls in the championship game. DeMatha beat us in the consolation. I knew Joey Meyers, too. Real good guy. Heck of a shooter. Joey and I played against each other every year in college.

    Western Pennsylvania boys basketball in those days was absolutely incredible. Every game was a war. The Pittsburgh City League and WPIAL were stacked with talent, the likes of which probably will never be seen again. It was a Golden Era.

  • Joey and those guys (which means you) were older than I was. I was friends with Joey's younger brother. Overbrook...hell yeah, remember that name too. Wasn't that Wilt's High School?

  • I was at the tournament you mentioned. At that time it was probably the best tournament in the country. However,a lot of local high schools started their own tournament.(including Altoona) And this hurt attendance for the War Memorial tourney. Which eventually ended because of lack of support.

    Altoona played in the Johnstown tournament some time in the late 50s. ( 1958?) They had a player named Jim Curry. He also played football. He went to the university of Cincy.

    Do you know which sport he played in college? (football or basketball) He was good enough to play either one.

  • It was Wilt's school. My senior year Overbrook came to Altoona for my final home game at the Altoona Field House. They were undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country. It went back and forth. Our point guard Johnny Swogger had an open 18 footer at the buzzer that was in and out. We lost 60-59. It was the first Altoona basketball game televised live.

  • I think that was the premier holiday tournament in the country back in those days. Overbrook and DeMatha in the same four-team field? Are you kidding? It's a damn shame it isn't played anymore. I can't even believe I was on the same floor with those teams, and we played both of them in that tourney.

    Jim Curry was a legend. He was one of the first athletes ever inducted into the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame. He played football at Cincinnati, but you're right, Jim could have played any sport. He passed away a number of years ago.