In Monday’s ACC action, Notre Dame got by Presbyterian 63-53 and Pitt took Monmouth 63-50.
Although Jeff Capel is clearly bringing in talent, the first half was very poor on both ends and frustrated Pitt fans booed.
The halftime score was just 21-19 and Pitt had far more trouble with Monmouth than you might have expected.
Fortunately Pitt doubled its output in the second half and pulled away. And even better, Xavier Johnson, who has hit a wicked sophomore slump, broke out of it and played quite well in the second half.
He also had nine assists.
Capel made a slight adjustment to his lineup moving 6-6 freshman Justin Champagnie into the starting lineup and bringing Au’Diese Toney off the bench.
Pitt did struggle but if you looked past that for the moment, if you taped the game, go back and rewind to some of the board battles. What you’ll see is an athletic group going after the ball.
You didn’t see great defense in this game but that should change. And by next year, when Capel brings in another solid class, Pitt will have athleticism up and down the roster - and size too.
Pitt has an interesting stretch coming up: Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Kansas State and Rutgers and home, then Louisville on the road, followed by Northern Illinois, Binghamton and Canisius at home. Then ACC play starts in earnest with UNC twice in 10 days.
Pitt doesn’t have the size for everyone yet but the athleticism is sharply improved.
As for Notre Dame, star forward John Mooney was sick which explains to an extent they the game with the Blue Hose was so close.
Fortunately for the Irish sophomore big Nate Laszewski was ready to step in with some big clutch plays and fellow big Juwan Durham had 15 boards, 11 points and four blocks.
Notre Dame had a challenge, and the Irish stepped up. Rex Pfleuger had 13 points and six assists.
All in all it was a nice performance under a bit of duress.
Only two games on Tuesday as Vermont visits Virginia and Alcorn State heads to Raleigh.
Obviously the ACC teams are going to be favored but we’d just mentioned that Vermont just knocked off St. John’s and nearly knocked off Duke a few years ago - in Cameron. That’s a solid program and if Virginia fools around, look out. But they don’t generally do that.
We can’t see Alcorn State beating NC State.
On a smaller note, we can’t believe that no one is talking about Roy Williams being just five games behind Dean Smith in all-time wins. It’ll happen before the New Year.
Tuesday’s ACC Action
- Vermont @ Virginia || 7:00 || John Paul Jones Arena || ACCN
- Alcorn State @ NC State || 7:00 || Reynolds Coliseum || ACCNX
- Xavier Johnson’s reemergence propels Pitt past Monmouth
- Xavier Johnson punches back, helps Pitt defeat Monmouth
- Nothing easy about Notre Dame home win over....Blue Hose
- ACC basketball rankings: Duke remains on top, Syracuse stays put, Boston College didn’t fool anyone
- Josh Hall, the No. 2 basketball player in North Carolina, commits to NC State
- Virginia-Vermont matchup has the makings of a defensive struggle
- Syracuse basketball: Are you ready for the Joe Girard show?
- In his first start at SU, Joe Girard lived up to his Glens Falls legend
Virginia Achievements Since 2014 (Tie In Standings Indicated By T)
|Year||NCAA||ACCT||ACC Reg. Season||Overall|
|2017||1-1||1-1||Fifth (T), 11-7||23-11|
|2016||3-1||2-1||Second (T), 13-5||29-8|
|Total||13-5||11-4||First (4), 89-19||178-36|