Digital Chalkboard: Long Beach State shreds Pitt’s poor defense
In their last two games, Pitt has had defensive efficiencies of 126.6 and 131.7 against Rider and Long Beach State, respectively. If you compare this to their worst defensive games of 2010, the Rider game was their 3rd worst game, while the Long Beach State was their worst defensive game (and was Dixon’s worst game defensively, ever). I do think that Pitt will become a better defensive team as the season continues but it has not been pretty so far. This set from Long Beach State shows several problems Pitt is having with their defense.
Edis Dervisevic sets a fade screen for Casper Ware to see if they can get him open for a jump shot on the weak side wing. Ashton Gibbs fights over the top of the screen and Ware does not initially get open. However, Gibbs then does not adjust to the pass made to Dervisevic and he is caught playing too high on Ware. Ware is able to beat him with a backdoor cut.
The problem just does not lie on the perimeter defense, as Gibbs is easily beat by the backdoor cut after he fails to adjust his position based on the ball movement. With LBSU setting up the rest of their offense to create space for Ware’s cut, Lamar Patterson does not have his eye on the ball. Patterson turns his back to the court to defend any action from his man but as it turns out, they are only creating space in the paint for Ware. Patterson is caught looking at what his man is doing and completely misses the cut. This leaves no help defense on the inside once Gibbs is beaten.
Patterson does not see the cut in time to contest the shot and Nasir Robinson is not able to get there in time and Ware is able to finish the layup. Both the first line of defense and the help defense were horrendous on this play and it is indicative of how the game went for the Panthers on the defensive end. The perimeter players keep getting beat too easily and their rotations are not strong enough to make up for these lapses yet.
Pitt’s defense is a major concern for them three games into the season. They don’t have a lock down defender on the perimeter right now, so they need to be solid in help defense and their rotations. They have struggled with their rotations so far and it has led to them giving up many easy baskets at the rim. If they can shore up their defense, they can contend for a Final Four. Right now, it is a major work in progress.