For all the deserved mockery the CBI gets, is there anyone that doesn’t want Pitt to win? Is there anyone so full of bile that they don’t want Nasir Robinson, Ashton Gibbs and Nick Rivers to have their final game at the Pete end in victory? I hope not.
The big takeaway so far in the CBI has been seeing other players take advantage of this post-season exhibition time. Coach Dixon has given them minutes and encouraged them to be more aggressive. Whether you buy into this being a potential springboard or helping them for next year, the players have bought into it.
“They weren’t as confident during the season,” Patterson said, “but I feel they’re gaining confidence right now. That’s going to help us going into next year.”
This wasn’t the tournament Pitt had hoped to play in, but since the Panthers are here, they’re trying to use it as a boost for next season.
“I think we’re getting them in a situation that will help us down the road,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “It’s great to see them emerge.”
The Panthers want to finish this season with a win, too.
“I didn’t try to think about it (possibly) being my last game,” said senior Nasir Robinson, who scored 10 points. “I just wanted to keep fighting for my team.”
With this the third game in 5 days, there won’t be many surprises from either team. At this point, both teams know what the other will want to do.
“It’s an opportunity for our guys to compete and get some experience and to challenge themselves in a little different way,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “It will be interesting to see how everyone responds playing a team for the third time in a row.”
By now, each team has a firm grasp of how the other likes to play. They have identified the top scoring threats. They know their favorite sets and plays and what situations that are used.
It’s probably the reason Pitt held Washington State to 20 points in the first half Wednesday, the fewest number of points allowed by the Panthers in a half this season.
And it’s probably the same reason the Panthers managed to make just two field goals in the final 10 minutes. The finale tonight could be similarly low scoring.
“It’s different, but I think it’s fun,” Washington State coach Ken Bone said. “It’s unique. You have to change some things, but you don’t want to change too much. It’s kind of fun for a coach and I would imagine the players.”
I expect both sides to be very aggressive in trying to limit 3-point shots. Neither side is particularly strong inside on offense. Pitt has a slight edge, in the paint. That is, however, negated by Washington State’s Reggie Moore who has killed Pitt by driving to the basket and forcing the refs to make calls.
This is a game where Pitt will need J.J. Moore to attack the basket. He spent the first two games on the perimeter. While WSU’s scouting report on Moore undoubtedly mentions his athleticism and ability to drive, they simply haven’t seen him do it. I think he could take advantage of that — if he’s willing to take the contact.