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Dante Taylor, Albany and Linnelli/Aiken Thoughts from Friday Night

 

It's the most wonderful time of the year. No, it really is. Football and basketball weekends are glorious. Some silly thoughts from Friday night.

You know that Dante Taylor smile, where he runs down the court with a certain giddiness, that should only be reserved for kids on their first day at Kennywood. Well, in Friday night's game, the smirk and child-like mannerisms were in full force. He looked super excited to play this year and for good reason.

To start the game, he had a strong, one-handed put back that showed his improved athleticism and, hopefully, non-lingering knee problems. Later in the first half, off a nifty pass in the post from Ashton, he converted on a nice, turn-around baby hook shot; something we've all been looking for the last two years and has been praised by Coach Dixon coming into this season. 

He's always been vocal, skipping around and Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky to START games, but the key for me is how he performs in the second half, especially down the stretch. He has never been called upon to be a major contributor late in games, with McGhee filling that void these last few years, but he will have to step up his game when Ashton and, based off Friday night's game, T-Wood aren't hitting their shots.

Quick Thoughts on Albany

Albany's coach, Will Brown, had an exceptional hair part; the kind reserved for your local bowling alley guy that only fixes the gutters. Brown, in his eleventh year at Albany, just looks rugged, Rust Belt-ish and like the Operations guy that has worked at your company for the last twenty two years.

In more hair-related news, Gerardo Suero had a nasty 'Fro, which may have propelled him to the charity stripe a stupid 16 times. There is no reason any America East player should be getting to the line that many times. Could this be harbginger-ish to last year, where really good guards found a way to exploit our soft backcourt defense - Hansborough, Hardy, Hopson, Mack and Kemba?

This is is my biggest concern for the year. Who will guard the really athletic Big East guards? Seriously, who is going to man up J-Lamb or DJO? Dixon has always been a M2M guy, but he might have to swallow his pride and employ some zone defenses to offset this team's defensive weaknesses.

Broadcast Team on ESPN3/SNY

I watched the game on SNY with the stellar crew of Greg Linelli and Curtis Aiken, almost as good as Nantz and Kellogg. Here are the best lines from the evening:

Greg Linnelli:

"Cam takes the ball at the top." This is the first game of his career and you're already informalizing his name. That's like calling your blind date, Caitlin, "Cait" by the end of the night. Give it some time Greggo.

"BANK. GLASS. GOOD," after T-Wood hits a runner in the lane. He was so emphatic with the call that you knew it was in his announcer toolbox before the game started. I mean, if I was an announcer it would definitely be in my go-to-lines toolbox.

"You're on the Comcast Network," as I'm watching it on SNY and it's also being streamed on ESPN3. The folks carrying distribution rights couldn't have been too pleased with the constant promotion of another network.

Curtis Aiken:

"This kid is hungry," (when describing Gibb's work ethic) but then says a few seconds later, "You know what, he eats right." Curtis, when talking about hunger, it's best to stick with either a literal or metaphorical sense, else you'll be confusing us with Final Four hunger - it is in the great Cajun infused land of New Orleans.

"We've got our Batman and Robin," in describing Gibbs and Woodall. Okay, Tray had a good game, but he is a long way away from emerging as the legitimate number two threat. 

"One of Dante Taylor's better games of the year." This is the first game bro. Sorry, the closed scrimmage you saw back in September against CCAC doesn't count for us normal fans.

See yinz Sunday night to cap off a solid Pitt sports weekend.

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