March 22, 2007

Kansas gets barely past SIU with a 61-58 win and now awaits the winner of Pitt-UCLA. One thing is certain, SIU HC Lowery is about to make more money. Either because he will get a nice raise from his alma mater or he will be snatched by another school.

9:53: Here we go.

10:02: Pitt down 8-4, 15:52 in the half. As expected, banging and tight. Mbah a Moute already forced to sit with 2 fouls. The Bruins are now bringing at least 2 guys at Gray with MaM out.

10:08: Good timeout by Graves. That was a good trap, and he didn’t try to do anything stupid.

10:20: Man, Pitt is not hitting shots, still only down 3.

10:35: Not making shots is starting to catch up with Pitt as halftime nears. UCLA is now bringing at least two — even three men — on Gray and daring Pitt to make an open jumper. It’s not happening right now. There won’t be any way for Gray to get chances if the shots aren’t being knocked down.

10:47: Pitt down 32-26. Hate to say it, but that’s good. Pitt shot horribly and only encouraged UCLA to gamble more on defense and make it harder on Pitt.

I think Young will have to play more in the second half, even if Kendall is better on defense. Pitt needs Young’s scoring more at the moment. They need penetrators and anyone else to help take the defense off of Gray. Fields and Ramon are at least taking care of the ball even if they aren’t providing much on offense.

UCLA is shooting better then Pitt and even out-rebounding them. The startling thing is that UCLA is turning the ball over more and fouled more.

Naturally, UCLA is hitting all of their FT shots.

11:12: AUUGGHHH!! How is Pitt making it that much harder by missing some of these shots? I’m trying to remain calm but that’s at least 2 lay-ins to start the second half that Pitt has managed to mangle.

11:25: Grife! I don’t know what to say. Pitt has shots. They are getting looks. They are simply missing them. I had hoped that the shots would start falling, but they still aren’t. Now you can see some of the players getting tighter when they have to shoot. Some players hesitating and others thinking they have to shoot right away. They are frustrated because they know the shots are there.

11:30: 5 points in almost 9 minutes?

11:52: Small run and then that was it. 3:27 UCLA up 54-42.

Nothing. I can’t believe the poor shooting. Pitt’s shooting has somehow managed to be worse in the second half then in the first.

12:09: 64-55 UCLA wins.  Credit UCLA. They did it without getting the turnovers. They shot incredibly well on free throws. They out rebounded Pitt (it helps when Pitt misses that many shots on the defensive rebounds) and converted more open shots.

What can you say? Pitt got nothing inside. Gray only had 10 points and Kendall — while he had 3 assists — had 0 points. Young provided a brief spark with 9 points but on only 3-10 shooting. Cook hit 3-4 to start then was 0-5 the rest of the way.

Right now I’m very disappointed in the way they shot. The defense was sound. Good god, did they get open looks. They just shot like absolute crap.

It’s not just the guys inside. They had no chance to get free when most of the game the perimeter wasn’t doing much to help them loosen double teams.

but we have been to the tourney quite regularly..not to sound like pitt pr but we’re one of four teams to do so (sweet sixteen). we need to prove that if you play at pitt, you’ll go to the league AND be successfull.

Comment by scoocher 03.23.07 @ 12:25 am

I had fun watching this team this year. Let’s all face facts. we had no NBA starters on this team. Pitt got this far on heart & hussle not because they can get open and knock down shots all night. We were kidding ourselves thinking we were going to the final four this year. We may down the road as our talent level increases but we finished about where we should have and I have to be happy with that and move on.

Now it’s time for football and please don’t anyone start talking about a national title in football. Please don’t even think could happen for a second. I will be happy just getting to a bowl. Any bowl.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 03.23.07 @ 12:26 am

it took syracuse many years of going to the tourney and not winning before they landed carmelo and everything changed. and i cant remember the last time pitt has overachieved. maybe beating VTech in football a few years ago or making that run in the big east tournament in 2000 or 2001.

Comment by matt 03.23.07 @ 12:26 am

I’d like to see that kendall game where he lit up usa for there at least a you tube clip?!

Comment by scoocher 03.23.07 @ 12:26 am

I think that40 point game is just an urban legend!!

Comment by TMGPanther 03.23.07 @ 12:29 am

I’ll post 40 times here before I see that tape!

Comment by scoocher 03.23.07 @ 12:30 am

We had a good season. Losing Gray and Kendall won’t be that bad. We will lose more games next season but we will look better in transition and have more athleticism. I didn’t want to lose to UCLA but I’m not devastated. I do think we should have won this game, but what can you say or do? It was a good season and fun to watch. Time to hear about who steps up in football practice and the antics of The Mustache.

Comment by Panthoor 03.23.07 @ 12:30 am

I don’t think Kendall was used well either. He’s 6’10” with great skills but was a nonfactor on offense. I think he can get better with another coach, if he plays somewhere after college.

Getting past the sweet 16 would be great for recruiting, but there aren’t that many teams that even get to the sweet 16. We beat the lower seeds this year and lost to a higher seed. You can hope for an upset, but you can’t expect one. I wish we would have shot better tonight, including from the foul line, but I think we hung in there.

Aaron can’t blame anyone more than himself for not getting farther this season. Like I said, he needs better coaching for his position, but he also didn’t play with a tough mentality or (from what I can tell) train very hard since his junior year. This year seemed like he expected to just come out and dominate, and when he didn’t he just got flustered.

Comment by bill 03.23.07 @ 12:36 am

I think that they looked bad tonight, but you’ve got to take that into perspective. Howland and U-suck-LA did a good job forcing Pitt to take some bad shots. But I just want to go and practice my layups and learning how to beat the press.

Al least they didn’t lose to Kent State or Bradley. (Marquette I can live with).

Congrats to the Women’s team for a great season.

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by dayst5 03.23.07 @ 12:44 am

Just got back from watching the game at a bar because CBS in NY played the Ohio State game.

I talked to some UCLA fans at the bar and they sounded a lot like Pitt fans in that they always feel like UCLA loses the big games. Their mentality is win a title or all is lost, whereas Pitt fans would have been delighted just to make to the Elite Eight.

As for Dixon, he’s won a lot with average talent. Four 20-win seasons and three BE Finals appearances is pretty damn good. Realistically this team would have had to play out of their minds to get to the Final Four and they just didn’t do it. I don’t see how Dixon can be blamed for his players missing so many close and open shots? If both teams shoot their averages from the free throw line, it’s a neck and neck game, which saying a lot since Pitt played like ass.

As for Gray, I too will be glad to see him go. I just have this nightmare that my NBA team, the Sixers, will draft him!!!

Comment by Matt in NYC 03.23.07 @ 12:58 am

Matt in NYC…. I’m a Knicks fan and knowing Isiah Thomas, he’s probably thinking, “Man this guy would be a steal!”. I know that nightmare friend..we drafted Renaldo Balkman in the first round. I guess back to back NIT championship rings is the shizznism. Gray would be a good backup to Eddy Curry but not what we need. Gray will be a late first rounder now(if lucky) and at worse a mid second rounder. He’s a project anyways so people will get him with no intention to play him unless they have injuries. I wish Aaron Gray the best though, but if anyone grabs him in the lottery then I guess I don’t know who I am anymore.

Comment by Panthoor 03.23.07 @ 1:14 am

Never fear, Pitt fans. It will be better next year. Aaron “Herman Munster” Gray will be gone and we won’t have to watch him lug his sorry ass up and down the court ever again. And, hopefully the NCAA will discontinue those goddamn Pitt backboards that were obviously made of an extremely high-quality and very transparent form of rubber cement manufactured in California…Bastards!

Comment by Adam's wife in Philly 03.23.07 @ 1:45 am

I could sit here and rip my boys.

But instead, I’ll say this:

We fought the good fight, and it just wasn’t our game.

We’ll be back.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my dad 03.23.07 @ 3:26 am

We did not fight the good fight. We, once again, choked up and looked like a flustered girls team.

We may not be back. It’s not often you get one of the 10 best players in the country and we blew our chance. Hope I’m wrong, but it’s not going to be better for the next couple years. I’m pissed. We had our chance the last couple years and totally blew it. Of course, when your PF is, at 6’10, the biggest pussy in college basketball and your coach is clueless, these things happen. ARGGHHH

Comment by J-Maile 03.23.07 @ 8:56 am

You play like you practice. Dixon isn’t responsible for missed shots durring game time, but he is ultimately responsible for lack of intensity, poor overall team shooting down the stretch, lack of meaningful adjustments, poor free throw shooting, and mishandling the full court press. The guy’s not perfect – no one is, but to me, his faults are becomming more clear.

Lets be honest – I think everyone agrees that we’re not getting top shelf talent. There are a lot of reasons for it, and we could micro-analyze all of them to the brink of insanity, but it is what it is in the end. This year the had to fight the talent gap along with a lack of physicality that past Pitt teams used to make up for their talent shortcommings.

The question everyone has to ask themselves is: what level of success am I satisfied with? Its the big question the AD has to ask as well. The Sweet 16 isn’t mediocrity, Mediocrity is one or two games in the NIT each year, scratching out just-over-.500 seasons. Thats not what we have here. Are we satified with a Sweet 16 run every year? Maybe we are. Kentucky isn’t – they pushed Tubby out the door after he made a couple of deep runs and actually won a title (granted, that was 8 or so years ago…). but Kentucky has a much deeper tradition in basketball. Our basketball past is spotty at best and clearly pales in comparison. Do we set the bar that high anyway because we value achievment, or do we settle for a consistently good – but not great- team? There is no wrong answer here. Different people have different expectations. I don’t know where Long sits on the issue, and public comments like “commitement to winning” are just lip service BS that every AD conjurs up from time to time to keep the press at bay. How much are you willing to pay, who are you willing to potentially screw, and are you willing to make difficult decisions? Its a fine line – I’d rather have a good honest program and a crooked great one – but thats just me. Ultimately it will be Long and the rest of the admistration that decide how much winning is enough and what defines success/progress.

When Howland left, I didn’t want Dixon. I wanted a big name coaching talent if we could land one. I didn’t care if the guy only stayed 4-5 years – I wanted someone who could carry a surging program to the next level quickly with big talent. Its hard to reach the pinnacle in any sport, so my philosophy has been to ride the wave and get as far as you can as quickly as you can while you have the opportunity. Pitt as a program was a reasonably hot commodity at the time. Who knows – maybe we would have topped out at the Elite 8 level. That would have made a tangilbe difference in the recruiting level. Of course this is nothing more than philosophy and speculation – they could have ended up in the NIT or on probation – but that was the direction I wanted.

I still don’t think Dixon is a Final Four coach, and we may never know the answer because we may never attract Final Four talent. One thing is certain – its all on Dixon now. I don’t think there are ANY vestiges of Howland left at this point. The Howland-Dixon era is officially over – its now the Dixon era. The next 2-3 years should show us a lot about his ultimate potential. He has the ability to improve, just like anyone else. My only real fear is that the program gets stuck in a virtual rut, perhaps even tailing off a bit. At that point, when someone decides that they need to reset the bar, the program has lost some of its luster and top coaching interest has waned. No one wants to go back to the Paul Evans days – that much is certain.

Comment by thestumper 03.23.07 @ 9:58 am

“rather have a good, honest program THAN a great crooked one…”


Comment by thestumper 03.23.07 @ 10:12 am


Comment by D 03.23.07 @ 2:54 pm

thestumper: That’s the most well thought out and presented approach I’ve heard and I agree with virtually all of what you’ve said. I also believe that you have very few opportunities to push a program into the upper echelon and that’s why this 6 year run was ultimitly so dissapointing. Here was our chance to burst thorugh and I fear we blew it. All of our chips have been bet on Dixon, because if he fails, we’re not getting an elite coach to take over a mediocre Pitt program. I sincerely hope he pulls it off.

Comment by J-Maile 03.23.07 @ 5:01 pm

AARON GRAY- Who were the people advising poor Aaron about going to the NBA? If he would have been a first round pick last year, no matter were in the 1st round he should have taken the money and run.This allegiance to his team was complete BS.Aaron got the worst advise in his life,it will haunt him for the REST OF HIS LIFE.I feel bad about it.Aaron will be playing with Carl and Pittsnogle next year.Does anyone think Aaron is a 1st round pick? And should he have left PITT for the NBA last year? Also I do remember that his mom was one of his advisors.She should have never given Aaron advise on returning to PITT,she now has to live with this debacle for the rest of her life as well. She could have ruined his life.I hope for Aarons sake and hers he is picked in the first round by some crazy GM in the NBA. What do you guys think?

Comment by Buzz 03.23.07 @ 5:37 pm

While I think it’s always good for a player who is assured of being a first round pick to leave school, this is not as dire as you’re making it sound Buzz. Aaron Gray is going to have a long profesional career and make a ton of money, be it in the NBA or overseas. Will he be good? Maybe not, but their aren’t a lot of players with that kind of size and if he’s a reasonably good citizen he’ll sit at the end of someone’s bench and make more money than most people can even dream of.

Comment by J-Maile 03.23.07 @ 6:56 pm

I believe that Aaron Gray will be a first round pick. Not because he has demonstrated that he should be, but because the NBA can’t contain themselves when they see a big man of his size. They always think they can develop someone like him into the player they need. Some team will take the chance. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t happen.

Comment by TMGPanther 03.24.07 @ 2:31 pm

[…] Original post by Chas […]

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