There’s a tendency after a very visibly off-game. Where the team — as a whole — couldn’t hit water falling out of a boat. Well, you chalk it up to an off-game and burn the tape. That would be a mistake. If I’m Coach Dixon I use that tape and edit it to show every missed bunny. Every blown lay-up. Every ball thrown up, ostensibly with the belief that it was intended to be called a shot. I have the players watch it Clockwork Orange style.
This would hopefully accomplish two things. The first to give them a feel for what the fans were going through watching the game. The other to be a pointed reminder of why you can’t relax or let down for any game in conference play.
If you are hoping for trenchant analysis of this game. There really isn’t any. Pitt shot about as horribly as possible, yet still came away with the win. They wore down an undermanned team that had one player trying to will them to a win. But for Fuquan Edwin turning his ankle landing on his own teammate’s foot, Pitt doesn’t end up with a 10-point win. A win that come a March review looks like a relatively normal win over a lower-tier team.
In the area of positives, Pitt had a gameplan and stuck to it, even as Seton Hall tried to change it.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball well,” Woodall said. “It was one of worst shooting games of the season. They did a good job of switching up their defenses throwing junk defenses at us. I have to give them credit. We were trying to figure out exactly what defense they were in. They were playing pretty good defense.”
Willard’s game plan was to force Pitt into taking as many 3-pointers as possible. He did not think the Pirates matched up well with the Panthers inside.
But the Panthers spoiled his game plan by refusing to take the bait. They attempted just 12 3-pointers and made five. The Panthers made the game more interesting than it had to be by missing several layups and free throws. They shot a better percentage from 3-point range than inside the arc and were 19 for 29 from the free-throw line.
“We have to work on making layups,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “We had eight missed layups in the first half.”
And don’t think I wasn’t starting to wish Pitt would take more 3s. On shots that weren’t 3s, Pitt was an ungodly 11-34 (32.4%). On 3s, Pitt was 41.7%.
Well, there were two positives in the second half. Steven Adams neutralized some bad free throw shooting issues by going 4-5 from the line. Pitt finished at a tolerable 65.5% shooting (19-29) and hit nearly 70% of their free throws in the second half. The other was rebounding. Pitt completely dominated the boards in the second half. A 20-10 rebounding advantage and only allowed Seton Hall one offensive rebound in the second half. Yes, Pitt did nothing with the offensive rebounds — and padded them with the number of misses — but they mattered in terms of wearing down Seton Hall and getting them to foul.
Finally, Cam Wright continues his resurgence.
“Every day, day in and day out, I just try to bring a lot of energy to the table,” said Wright, who finished with eight points in 15 minutes. “When I get an opportunity to score, my teammates do a great job of getting me the ball when I’m open, and I just try to finish for those guys.”
Wright, who didn’t play Jan. 22 at Providence, came off the bench to provide several big plays for the second consecutive game. He sandwiched four free throws around a basket in the final 6:42 as Pitt turned a 42-41 lead into a five-point edge.
On a night where Trey Zeigler didn’t do as much driving to the rim, J.J. Moore continued to refuse to get near the hoop (How do you play 19 minutes mostly at PF and not record a rebound?), and no one else could finish. Wright was able to attack at key times. Even if he too couldn’t finish well, he went to the line and converted when they needed them.