I hate to waste time on this sort of thing, but Bob Smizik’s usual column about how unimportant the Big East Tournament is, has come out. Honestly, I have a hard time getting worked up about most of what Smizik writes. Recycling the same columns, themes and just changing names has been his M.O. for years at this point.
Let’s give Smizik props for sticking with the position he has advocated before. At least he isn’t always a weather vane. He may have not said a damn word if Pitt had gone further, but that’s just human nature. Apparently playing well in the Big East Tournament is only bad for Pitt. G-town went to the Final Four last year after winning the BET. UConn won national champs in two of the three times it won the BET.
For Pitt, though, it is overemphasized because they had nothing left for the NCAA Tournament. Really, if Smizik was going to recycle a column, I would have expected his 2006 complaint about Pitt not being a good shooting team. You know, because they were too focused on defense and rebounding. He couldn’t complain about it in 2005, because Pitt lost in the first round of the BET. Don’t worry, he doubled it up in 2004, with focus on the unimportance of the BET and the regular season title, but then complained about how flawed Pitt was after losing the BET.
His theme this time, was that Pitt should have not played the 7-man rotation so much in the BET, even if it meant losing.
Gary McGhee, for example, did not get on the floor in the Big East tournament. That’s ridiculous. McGhee, a 6 foot 10 freshman, should have been part of the rotation, giving a rest to either Sam Young or DeJuan Blair so those two valuable players would be at their best for NCAA play and not possibly fatigued. Not only does it help Young and Blair, it gives McGhee valuable playing experience.
Brad Wanamaker, a player who might be starting next season, played a total of 16 minutes in the Big East tournament and did not get on the floor in the final two games. Wanamaker should have been used to spell Ronald Ramon and Levance Fields to keep them fresh for the more important games ahead.
As it was, Ramon and Young averaged 38 minutes and Fields 36 in the four Big East tournament games. Allocating those kind of minutes to a secondary tournament is poor coaching.
No one can be certain fatigue was the reason Ramon and Fields shot a combined 1 for 9 from 3-point range against Michigan State or that Young was 4 for 12 from the field. But it might have been, and that possibility should have been enough for Dixon to keep his players fresh instead of overextending them.
So, let’s say McGhee and Wanamaker got 10 minutes in each of those two games. Here’s the problem with that idea — I mean beyond the minimal actual impact on minutes.
It assumes the substitution is an individual occurrence. That the team doesn’t make adjustments to the rotation on hand. Like, having to help more inside with McGhee who is a step slow and not as sure inside. Or the other players having to work harder on offense because there is more pressure on the other 4 while McGhee is out there. The same can be argued for Wanamaker. He’s a solid defender, but his offense has been a non-factor and turnover risk in his freshman year.
I have high hopes for both. I think both will show marked improvement next season. That doesn’t mean you put them out there in these situations, and put these games at risk. To say nothing of the possibility of damaging their confidence if they make big mistakes in these situations.