March 23, 2008

I Can’t Believe It Is Over

Filed under: Basketball,NCAA Tourney — Chas @ 11:26 pm

Evening. I just got home a short while ago from a weekend visit to the family out east. Spent most of the 375 miles of the drive still thinking about the missed shots, and Drew Neitzel sending in those 3s.

The rational part of my brain knows Neitzel was just hyped and relieved he didn’t get the foul called on his reach-in and he didn’t realize Fields was down; but seeing him screaming and posing towards Michigan State’s end of the court as Fields was writhing on the court and called for an offensive foul still irritates the hell out of me and has me wishing him ill.

Levance Fields, though, took the high road.

On the next possession, as if to prove these guys really do make their living playing the brutish defense Tom Izzo’s teams are known for, the guards combined on the final blow. Neitzel reached in to redirect Fields — who found himself slamming directly into [Kalin] Lucas. The ref called a charge and, cruelly and almost appropriately, the play ended with Fields on the ground writhing in pain.

Pitt lost the ball on offensive fouls four times down the stretch.

“Lucas did a great job getting position,” Fields said. “He got the call. It could have gone either way, but he did a good job on defense.”

This may seem (maybe it is — it’s hard to tell right now) sour grapes, but Drew Neitzel’s game would have driven me insane if he was on Pitt. So maddeningly inconsistent at times.

It didn’t hurt that Neitzel’s here-today-gone-tomorrow offense materialized when his team needed it most. After an erratic 2-of-11 from the field against Temple in the first round, Neitzel found a degree of consistency against the Panthers. Despite a cold stretch at the start of the second half, he finished with 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting. He hit 5-of-8 from three-point range, including a crucial pair at 6:27 and 5:03 of the second half. Those shots seemed to reestablish his swagger; Neitzel followed them by burying a jumper from just inside the arc with 4:18 remaining.

“I love the fact that he took those three shots,” Izzo beamed.

Asked about the 3-pointer he sank from in front of the Michigan State bench after he’d gone cold, Neitzel said simply, “I just stepped in and knocked it down. Throughout the year, I’ve gone through some ups and downs as far as my shooting. … No matter if I miss five, 10 shots in a row, what I’ve got to do is keep shooting.”

Far be it from Izzo to disagree: “He’s our guy. He’s the guy we have to have making shots.”

Obviously from the Pitt-perspective, it was all about how badly Pitt shot the ball. Whether it was Ramon and Benjamin not hitting open looks in their final game or Blair missing easy lay-ups even when the Spartan big men were out. Everyone not named Levance Fields couldn’t seem to connect.


“This is a loss that will hurt, because we could have played better,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.

Pitt, which had used its magical run through the Big East Tournament to become a darling of the tourney, missed 20 of 29 shots in the first half and mustered only one field goal in the final 9:41 to see its season end.

“I felt like a lot of shots that we normally make, we missed tonight,” said junior forward Sam Young. “I thought they played great defense, but the shots that we were able to get good looks at, we didn’t knock them down.”

Fourth-seeded Pitt, trying to reach the Sweet Sixteen for the fifth time in the past seven years, ends the season at 27-10.

There’s a lot to love about this team. To be hopeful for next year. To appreciate what they did accomplish this year — when there were so many things that went wrong. So many questions early. I know that I’ll get to that point. Just not quite yet.

Hard game to swallow. I hope Sam comes back, because he’s clearly not ready for the show. One board, he had.
Sad to see Ramon and Benji go out after having that kind of game. MSU played well, but if we knock down the open ones, we win handily.

Comment by Crackbaldo 03.24.08 @ 1:02 am

Yeah, I did want Neitzel to get hit by a truck when I saw him screaming and posing while Levance was hurt.

I really hope he just didn’t see what happened after the play.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my Dad 03.24.08 @ 4:38 am

We didn’t take it to the hoop and had few second chance shots. These were trademarks during the BET.

Should we have played taller? Biggs played only 11 minutes.

Comment by steve 03.24.08 @ 6:19 am

ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha……
can’t stop laughing because……..

1. The Big East – pitt out, marquette out, uconn out, gtown out, nd out, wvu IN BABY!!

2. You guys lost to a team that DID NOT BEAT the country boys in state college, psu even beat msu this year, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (along with iowa, indiana, osu, etc – teams that beart msu)

3. Bobby Knight picking you guys to win it all…

4. Big game – on tv, the same old song and dance from pitt….CHOKE! CHOKE!! CHOKE!!!

5. Finally, enjoy watching the WVU game boys, it is the only basketball you’ll know for the next several months…….

Oh ya, how long before old Stu is hearing complaining about the refs or giving stats on “missed shots per minute” or some dumb ass stat. Enjoy that BE Title – hey maybe that is what Bobby Knight meant………

Comment by WHAT_THE_???? 03.24.08 @ 7:35 am


Comment by TMGPanther 03.24.08 @ 7:57 am

WHAT_THE_????? is right. I mean, WVU is known the world over as a title winner at basketball. Just think of their many Big East titles, and before that A-10 championships. I mean really, it’s hard to mention West Virginia without the word “Hoops” coming to mind. Really, Pitt is the only school that just needed to beat a thoroughly pedestrian opponent to advance to play for the national title and blew it. 13-9. Wait, that wasn’t Pitt….

Comment by bigslacker 03.24.08 @ 8:49 am

i know the date and time of my next basketball game, do you girls know the time of your next game???

really, can’t beat michigan state? they lost to penn state, are you serious??

listen, if it wasn’t for wvu, the big east would be a joke. WE played in a BCS bowl and WE are in the Sweet 16 – YOU guys will see both from HOME……. Cheer up though, wait til next year, you will get your hopes up again, get PICKED to win the basketball national title and CHOKE again.

it is what you girls do the best….choke……choke……..choke….

I love it, “Hey these guys won the big east title, wish we could have gone farther in the ncaa’s but i’m so proud of them” ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Comment by WHAT_THE_???? 03.24.08 @ 9:07 am

What the?

As an fyi, you further reinforce how shallow the gene pool is in the great state of west virginia!

I bet your big screen TV costs more than your double wide!

Comment by Billy Packer 03.24.08 @ 9:11 am

It is comical that What the ? would say that we CHOKE CHOKE… This after WVU may have pulled the biggest choke job of the past decade. All they had to do is beat Pitt at home and go to the big game. What a joke. I will enjoy looking up at the rafters and seeing the Big East Champs banner that we won in memorable fashion.
Hail to PITT

Comment by Max to Pitt in '24 03.24.08 @ 9:34 am

Hmm I remember another big game on national TV last week that we won. A few in fact. I think they were in New York City…

Comment by Jamie H 03.24.08 @ 9:38 am

I don’t think the missed shots had as much to do with this loss as the lack of rebounding had. MSU was way taller that Pitt. Please save the G. Town center BS. He is badly coached and many days disappears. If Jamie had him Pitt would be headed to the final four.

No wonder I hate WV, that moron on this board and his garbage is typical of them inbreds. Most likly is banned from other Pitt boards.

Comment by joel 03.24.08 @ 9:57 am

4-7:13::1 win away from nat’l champ. game:9
that sting will last forever, hoopie

Comment by monkey fracas jr. 03.24.08 @ 11:16 am

Come on…PITT will never choke as bad as WVU did in football…. Wait until Xavier beats ur asses on THursday, and oh yea…They are led by a former Pitt player…Sean Miller will put those punks in their place…

Comment by What the can kiss my booty 03.24.08 @ 11:19 am

I must be depressed becuase this bit of trolling can’t even do much more than cause some minor irritation. Then again, I also have a real job to worry about, so that may have something to do with it.

Comment by Shawn 03.24.08 @ 11:20 am

Come on, Bobby F-in-Knight picked PITT to win it all, the greatest coached ever, picked you guys and you don’t even make the sweet sixteen. wow. i guess you guys know that the “sting will last forever” (according to the monkey boy above).

Come on, i will say it again, even the old farm boys in state college beat Michigan State. One of the worst teams in D-1 basketball beat’em.

All together now…………i say “Let’s Go”……….you girls say “MOUNTAINEERS”!! Ready to try it???? “Let’s Go”… “MOUNTAINEERS”!

Good job!!! Keep practicing, you’ll get the hang of it………….

Comment by WHAT_THE_???? 03.24.08 @ 1:33 pm

This is just how stupid WVU fans are…

I always push for BE teams to win in the tourney when they aren’t playing Pitt.

Don’t get me wrong I want Pitt to last longer than any BE team (especially WVU) but I always think the BE is one of the most disrespected/underappreciate major conferences in the NCAA (ACC is most overrated Duke a #2 PLEASE!)

Anyway, I may be wrong on this one but I always think a strong showing in the tourney can only help a conference recruit.

And while I don’t have any love for NOVA or WVU I will root for them.

scratch that last statement–Well now that the ungracious Hoopie trolls have shown up…I will only root for NOVA moving forward


Comment by DaveD 03.24.08 @ 1:37 pm

Dave, don’t let one moron sour you on an obviously well-thought out and intelligent strategy. Rooting for all Big East teams to succeed is sensible — keep doing it. I hate WVU. Hate hate hate. But you bet your ass I was rooting for them against Duke. Same as I rooted for Syracuse and UConn in Final Fours recently. Hell, I rooted for Louisville their last year in CUSA just because they were coming to the BE. Think about it: the ACC is considered the greatest basketball conference in the history of mankind. Clemson, considered “always a threat” has been to on NCAA tournament in the past ten years. Miami and VT, who BLEW in the BE, both were immediately successful in the ACC, each increasing their win total in conference play and VT being a tournament contender suddenly when they were barely a BE tournament contender previously. People like the ACC because they say that even after Duke and Carolina you’ve got “Maryland, Georgia Tech, Clemson, NC State, Wake…” those teams have almost all made tournament runs in the past six or seven years. Maryland and Ga Tech have three final fours in the past eight years between them. Both of those teams absolutely SUCK now, but when Maryland went into Carolina and beat them it was “Well, you’re always gonna get a game from Maryland.” Even though you’re not, in reality. I want WVU to be considered good. Just like I love that they’re relevant in football. My goal is for Pitt to WIN and be relevant. The second part comes from who you play. Pitt football barely won at all last year, but 13-9 made us relevant. Pitt basketball wins a ton, but only beating Duke, G’town and L’ville really made us relevant this year. No one cares that Hawaii won 12 football games because when they played someone good, they got killed. Winning 10 games in the BE means something. Winning 12 in the SEC barely does, see Kentucky this year. So for that reason, go BE teams!

Also, I love that we’re apparently going to feel the sting of a lifetime because we lost in the second round and one prominent national personality picked us to not lose. What the ??? indeed! Michigan State under Izzo: 3 final fours, 1 national title, 27 wins this year. Yeah, what an embarassment to lose to them. Pitt under the ‘Stache: 0 winning seasons, 0 bowl games, 5 wins this year, including losses to Navy, UConn, and Michigan State. And you were AT HOME. And you were #2. Win that ONE GAME and play for the BCS title against a horrid Ohio State team. For us it was beat a really good MSU team and play FOUR MORE GAMES against teams ranked higher than us, including 33-1 Memphis, and possible dates with Texas, UCLA and Kansas or Carolina. What a sting.

Also, Dave, don’t forget to root for Louisville.

Comment by Maz 03.24.08 @ 2:01 pm

Sad part is is, this troll strikes me as being a “lone nut.” I think most ‘Eers fans are starting to realize that tourney basketball isn’t a zero sum game.

And besides, I can’t too angry at anyone else as Pitt lost that damned game. Make your shots, guys! 🙁

On to football season.

Comment by Shawn 03.24.08 @ 2:02 pm

MS also beat PSU by 37…………

Comment by bmac21 03.24.08 @ 2:06 pm

Sorry guys…I just am having trouble getting over this one…I really wanted to see this team move beyond that Sweet Sixteen barrier.

And as bad offensively they were on Saturday…it wasn’t as far out of Pitt’s hands as it looked.

And this is where I think the frustration lies…below is the PbP at the 2:00 minute mark of the second half…

2:12 57-52 DeJuan Blair Defensive Rebound.
2:02 57-52 Ronald Ramon missed Three Point Jumper.
2:02 Drew Neitzel Defensive Rebound. 57-52
1:55 Kalin Lucas made Two Point Layup. Assisted by Drew Neitzel. 59-52

When Ramon launched that open 3 I yelled to my wife he has to make this now! the miss was so bad it lead to a fast break by Lucas.

that is a 5 point swing and to me was the obvious end of Pitt’s chances.

I know you can go back to every single shot…but that would have been the clutch play of the night IMHO.

And I think no one expected Ramon’s three point numbers to stay in the rarified air of 50%. Nor did it seem outrageous to assume his defending Nietzel was going to make him have an off night.

But he shoots just 1 (1-9, a super dismal 11%) from 3-pt range at the right time Pitt had a shot.

It’s sad because for how badly they played on offense…they did play a great game on Defense…and it just made me wonder how thing might have been at 1:55 if the score had been 57-55


Comment by DaveD 03.24.08 @ 8:32 pm

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