Big Lead Sports Bar

3/12/2009

PITT'S OUT

By no means does it erase the memories of 13-9, but fans of the West Virginia Mountaineers will surely gloat over their 74-60 upset victory over #2-ranked Pitt in the first round of the 2009 Big East Tournament for quite some time.

The time-tested formula for beating the 2008-09 Panthers was on display once again, and that would be getting Dejuan Blair into foul trouble early and often. The big guy was mostly a spectator after picking up two fouls in the first four minutes, ultimately fouling out with 1:17 left in the second half and finishing with 14 points on only five shots.

Unfortunately, no one else seemed to be interested in picking up the slack for the Panthers. Sam Young was an underwhelming 6-for-17 from the floor and finished with 15 points. The banged-up Levance Fields shot an equally bad 30% from the floor on 10 attempts and managed just six points while uncharacteristically turning the ball over five times. Other than Blair and Young, no other Panther even broke into double figures, as Brad Wanamaker was their third-leading scorer with just seven points. It was ugly. Or as Moe Szyslak would say, it was "pug fugly".

The glass-half-full crowd will tell you that it's a good thing Pitt had an early exit, which gives them time to prepare, rest, and recuperate (especially Fields). I could see that. Of course, the glass-half-empty contingent will have you believe that no loss is a good loss, especially given the Panthers' annual dominance in this event. I could buy into that as well.

All I can say with any certainty is that Pitt's been very successful and played many games in this tournament this decade while never advancing beyond the Sweet 16. That's not my opinion, that's just a black-and-white fact. While I'm not willing to believe Thursday's loss was a good thing in any way, shape, or form, I'm equally unwilling to write off the Panthers' prospects at winning the bigger prize. We've seen what happens when you win the Big East title, and it hasn't meant much once you got to the Big Dance, at least in Pitt's case. I didn't bother to do the historical correlation between conference champions and national champions, but I'd be willing to try a different route than the roads previously traveled this time around.

Before I wrap this up, I've got to give some credit to Bob Huggins and his team. It's easy to simply write off any Pitt loss as "Oh, Blair got into foul trouble", but West Virginia simply deserved it more. Did I mention they held the #2 team in the country without a measly three-pointer?

And one more thing worth mentioning: Robert Morris won their conference championship. Duquesne is on to the A-10 semis after taking out 2-seeded Rhode Island. Obviously, WVU is still alive. Heck, even Penn State won their first-round game. It's pretty bizarre to see the Panthers watching all this while they're going home. Thankfully, it's not a permanent exit, and hopefully, it's a wake-up call that anything can happen this month.

11 comments:

SantoGold said...

I kind of agree that no loss is a good loss....

But...

I think this helps Pitt. They had a great regular season, but from now until next Thursday, the satisfaction of the regular season is now gone and there is only disappointment in getting smoked by WVU in their only BET game. That has to make them hungry to accomplish something bigger.

Adam said...

Hey Mondesi, just wanted to give you credit for mentioning Penn State, which is not something even the "objective" media over at KDKA couldn't do.

GO STATE, BEAT THE BOILERS!

Adam said...

Haha, apologies for the double negative.

Joe said...

Hey Adam,

Nobody cares. Just go post at www.cow_tipping.com and call it a night.

Adam said...

Dear Joe,
Thanks for pointing out that my life is a cliche. Don't know what I would have done without you.

pens fan in philly said...

just so you are aware, there aren't many wvu fans who even care about 13-9. it has much more meaning to pitt fans as their signature win in the wannestache era. that whole year is out of sight out of mind and you can thank rich rod for that. had he stayed at wvu then we would probably care about that game. that team had no business playing for a national title anyway. the fiesta bowl was just fine. as for the game tonight, i am just glad wvu beat pitt once this year in something.

pens fan in philly said...

we also leave the gloating to pitt fans- my cellphone seems to blow up with text messages when pitt wins. strange though not one message tonight

Joe said...

Adam,
Being a cliche is part of being a Penn State fan. Don't act like you didn't party in a corn field. We all know that you would eat Creamery Ice Cream for all 3 meals.

-Joe

BurressWithButterflyWings said...

@ Pens Fan,

It is the other way around for me; my cousins are WVU fans and they can do and say whatever they want and will talk some smack when WVU wins and blast Country Roads. When Pitt wins, we arent allowed to even mention it let alone gloat or even seem happy about it.

Also, every time Pitt beats WVU, they blame the refs.

the nigerian nightmare said...

CHOKE.....this should soften the blow of the annual Sweet 16 exit.

Someone Somewhere said...

Eh, you get Blair into early foul trouble and you have a much better chance at getting to Pitt. I think the big guy is better against more imposing post players, as teams that are able to move the ball/dribble and penetrate provide him with many more opportunities to get into foul trouble. With that said, great teams find a way to overcome obstacles. Sam Young is an NBA caliber forward (with the most wicked ball-fake I've seen in a long time) and he needs to put the team on his back in situations where Blair gets in trouble. I (unfortunately) haven't had the chance to watch much Pitt basketball, but from what I have seen, Young is capable of being better than anyone else out there when he wants to.

As for last night's loss, who knows? I think they were looking ahead to Connecticut. I'm sorry, but a team of Pitt's caliber just does not get blown out by a rival in a conference tournament game if they are focused. If this is true, coach Dixon has been provided with some excellent proof that no matter how good they think they are, all it takes is one bad game and they are going home. A focused Pitt team is almost unstoppable...hell, I don't think I've -ever- seen shooting as bad as Pitt's during the 2nd Connecticut game, and they still won by 10 (and Blair's statistical performance was underwhelming at best). They can be the best team in the country, now they have to play like it.