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March 4, 2007

It’s Official

Filed under: Basketball,Big East,Conference — Dennis @ 4:49 pm

We basically knew all of this anyways, but the Big East bracket has been finalized after the final two regular season games finished up today.

Wed., Mar. 7 Thurs., Mar 8 Fri., Mar 9 Sat.,Mar 10
Noon
8) Depaul
9) Villanova
Noon
1) Georgetown
Semifinals, 7pm Finals, 8pm
2 pm
5) Syracuse
12) Connecticut
2 pm
4) Notre Dame
7 pm
7) West Virginia
10) Providence
7 pm
2) Louisville
Semifinals, 9pm
9 pm
6) Marquette
11) St. John’s
9 pm
3) Pittsburgh
Out: Seton Hall, South Florida, Rutgers, Cincinnati

Obviously the first thing we see is that we’re most likely going to see Marquette again. Ughh…

(Bracket courtesy of Card Chronicle, who we’ll hopefully get to know a bit more if/when we play them on Friday night.)

This might seem a little disjointed. I’ve had this up in my browser all day trying to find the right words, and I’m still not happy with the way it is coming out. Still, it doesn’t seem to be getting any more coherent, so I’ll just throw it out there and let everyone tell me where I’m off or unclear.

Don’t really know what to say. It was an incredibly frustrating game to watch and even more problematic in what to recap. There’s a part of me that just wants to give in and say, that this Marquette team simply has Pitt’s number. Whether it’s simply the match-up, something else. Whatever.

I don’t buy that.

I also don’t buy this lack of “toughness” on the team and/or how that’s a reflection of Dixon’s lack of “toughness.” Mainly because I don’t know what the hell that means. Is Dixon not a tough guy because he never says a negative word about the players? Because he doesn’t go off on rants in a post-game interview? Because his approach is to be positive and encouraging in the games? Because he keeps the criticisms behind closed doors? Because he generally doesn’t try to embarrass his players publicly or call them out? It sounds like some sort of cheap convention from a hack writer looking for an easy explanation and assign blame. Or perhaps just the way someone thinks a coach should do it.

Maybe it means, “these guys are no Brown, Page and Knight.” Well, yeah. Isn’t that what made those guys special? Those could be the only guys that would rank as the tough guys still pined for. They were the overachievers. They guys on the undermanned, not as talented or higher potential teams. They at least made the Sweet 16 before falling to teams that had at least 2 future NBAers on the squads.

Surely no one is pining for Chevy Troutman who came up small at the end of his career in the important games — the Big East Tournament game against Villanova and then against Pacific in the opening round — apparently the thing this present team is also failing to do. I definitely know no one is pining for the toughness of Chris Taft. Half the time Carl Krauser — a definite tough guy — is vilified for plenty of other things.

I see toughness as much about what a team does when it is down. Last night, Pitt went down. Deep. They didn’t hang their heads. They didn’t give up. They fought back despite nothing from the perimeter. They battled despite the guards not penetrating or finding the open men.

So, maybe it’s useless self-pity about what might have been if Howland hadn’t gone to UCLA. That’s just pathetic, if that’s the case. It’s been 4 years. Get over it. That’s the kind of speculation that goes no where.

Here’s the final thing, and it may be small comfort. Pitt doesn’t even come close to being a disappointing team this season. Pitt fans aren’t the only ones suffering. LSU was a preseason top-10 team that won’t make the NCAA. Alabama, a top-15 won’t make the NCAA. Washington was a top-20 and won’t make the NCAA. Arizona is unranked, after being expected to be a top-15 team. Florida State was top-25 and may not make the Tournament. UConn absolutely imploded with youth despite one of the best coaches in the Big East. Illinois has quickly fallen from elite to average. DePaul was supposed to be a NCAA Tournament team. Just about all of these teams had at least one All-American player or candidate. They all had big expectations. Almost all of them would happily trade positions to be where Pitt is right now.

Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you think the expectations of Pitt were higher and Pitt was obviously better than these teams from the start of the season. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve lost some perspective, because I’ve been covering so many different teams and had to hear from a lot more fans and their frustrations.

I’m disappointed with some of the losses this season. I wanted more from Pitt. I do know that I also like the future of this program even more. In the long term (the next 3 years or so) I expect a lot even more.

Pitt has gone 25-6 this season, 12-4 in the Big East. And for the entire season, no player’s singular performance was enough to even merit Big East Player of the Week. Obviously some of that has been a little luck where another player on another team had a bigger game or bigger impact that week. It’s also been reflective of the fact that this team has been so balanced and consistent most of the year.

We’re Not Done Quite Yet

Filed under: Basketball,NCAA Tourney — Dennis @ 2:59 pm

I don’t have a ton of time to post, so I’ll make my point short and simple. Obviously we played a very ugly game last night. It seems we’ve been doing plenty of that in the last 4-5 games. There are things to be worried about. The shooting of Graves and Fields, the fact that teams realize they can let Ramon dribble all he wants to create a shot since it’ll never happen, the defense from almost everyone, the amount that Gray touches the ball, and the fact that this team lacks any kind of swagger.

It’s a long enough laundry list. But starting on Thursday, the real season starts. We go up to NYC (and play in the ugly 9 pm time slot) and we’ll probably get a chance at revenge against Marquette. Then Louisville. The Georgetown. Then we’ll play in the NCAA tournament.

Teams go on hot streaks and cold streaks but the great thing about sports, especially college hoops, is the fact that things can turn around in an instant. I’m not making any sort of guarantee about that, but the possibility is there. If you need any sort of proof, look at how the Florida Gators finished the regular season last year.

The season is far from over. The season is not down the drain and the sky has not fallen…at least not yet.

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