Big Lead Sports Bar

3/23/2007

Tough to Watch

The Pitt Panthers gave their critics plenty of fodder last night, dropping yet another Sweet 16 game, this time to the UCLA Bruins by a count of 64-55.

What's disappointing about this game is that Pitt played excellent defense and had every opportunity to beat this team. Holding the Bruins to 32 points in each half should be enough to win a game. But it's tough to win any game when your leading scorer has just 12 points (Ronald Ramon). So what was the problem? Jet lag? Unfriendly rims? Refs? Or just a classic choke job?
Personally, I thought this team got as far as it could. I picked UCLA to beat Pitt, one of the few games I actually got right in the bracket I filled out.
The problem that Pitt has to deal with is expectations. When you win and win and win and have nothing tangible to show for it other than one Big East banner, the fans and critics start to get chirpy. Am I crazy? Ask Tubby Smith...he won a championship and he was sent to Minnesota as a reward. Call up Larry Coker, he of the 60-15 lifetime record, who won a championship in his first season and lost the championship in his second. There are examples everywhere: Ron Zook, Tyrone Willingham, Paul Hackett, Mike Davis, Frank Solich, Mike Shula, etc.
It's not fair, but this is the climate of college (and pro) coaches that they must deal with. Pitt had a nice season, but based on the expectations going in, you could make an argument that on some level, they were a disappointment.
A few thoughts from the game:
--Levon Kendall: 22 minutes, 0 points, 2 turnovers. I know he plays solid defense, but a pretty sad way for this senior to end his Pitt career.
--Mike "T.O." Cook once again led the way in that category, with three. Pitt was very sloppy when handling the ball, looking like they were literally tripping over their feet at times.
--Aaron Gray finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds. Not the line you'd expect from the Big East Preseason Player of the Year. But after watching his up and down season, you actually could expect a game like that from Gray.
--UCLA, one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the nation (I believe I heard they were ranked around 300), goes 23-26 (89%) from the charity stripe. Pitt got to the line just 14 times, hitting 8 (57%).
--In addition to their free throw shooting, Pitt shot 36% from the floor. Ugh.
--UCLA should have won the game by 20. They had plenty of chances to absolutely bury the Panthers, yet they let them hang around for virtually the entire game.
--I had the barf bag ready all night with the Dixon-Howland crap, even through the "Howland will feel guilty if they knock Pitt out of the tournament" line in the last 2 minutes. And then the handshake came, and we got a half-second, barely noticeable acknowledgement by the respective heads of their teams. Touching.
--Based on one of the thousands of commercial breaks CBS gifted us with, I have some advice for any single guys reading this column:
A. Invest in Axe Body Spray and
B. Invest in bodyguards to keep all the women off of you

3 comments:

vinnie said...

Okay, so now we're down to the Pens. But once hockey season ends, the tough part is going to be getting through the summer until Steelers training camp. Too bad Pittsburgh doesn't have a major league baseball team.

Adam said...

That was uncalled for. If ur frustrated that the Pirate suck, fine. But dont just disown them like that. I'm sure by comments like that, tht u are the same kind of guy who will jump right on the bandwagon if theyre ever in the race. I don't like people like that. I'm 16, and dont even REMEBER a winning season but i wont just blantantly ignore them. get a life. yer a typical yinzr. If you want to know what OTHER options there will be before your infallible steelers take the St. Vincent Field, there will be spring drills for Penn St. (and Pitt tho they will not be as relevent but still noteworthy).

again. get a life.

worstavid said...

Mondesi you had your barf bag ready, I used mine! In fact, my bag ruptured, that's how bad Pitt played.

Gray had that bewildered look on his face all night. Thank God he's graduating.

Mike Cook played his usual sporadic style of good/lackadaisical play.

Sam Young did his normal "I don't want to get too physical" routine.

Levon Kendall did a complete disappearing act, a "Prestige", if you will.

Lavance Fields has a lot of heart, but I don't know if he has enough shooting skill for this level of play.

Ron Ramon is a fine shooter who's just too timid. He hardly ever goes to the hoop and just doesn't get himself open enough to shoot.

GETTING STUFF OFF OF YOUR CHEST DEPARTMENT:

For all of the success that Pitt has had, I just have never seen a team that would blow as many layups as this one. Here's a tip: Don't throw the ball against the backboard 90 miles an hour. Maybe it will fall short and actually trickle into the hoop. BRILLIANT!!

Of course Gray and Kendall both did this, but so did Sam Young and even Antonio Graves.

These Pitt guys wanted to win, sure. They played hard defense. But if you can't have more touch than they showed last night, you don't deserve to win...and you especially don't deserve to get to the Elite 8, that's for sure.

I was not impressed with UCLA at all. I'm also glad that Howland is gone, he strikes me as a phony. And by the way, I just loved that warm embrace that those two lifelong friends showed at the end of the game. The fans in San Jose should consider themselves lucky that they weren't instantly flash frozen a'la "The Day After Tomorrow".

It'll be interesting to see what Pitt's team will look like next year, there will be a lot of personnel changes, that's for sure.