Beating UCONN three straight times feels mighty good. The early reports are in and folks are just now starting to catch on, it seems.
I always find myself rushing to the box score and flow chart immediately after the game looking for something specific. Tonight, I was looking for UCONN's number of layups or points in the paint. Had Pitt lost, that would have been the main reason why.
The verdict? According to ESPN.com, 19 of the 25 field goals were layups or dunks.
No that's not a typo. I knew it was bad, but no idea it was THAT bad. What's even worse was that 12 of their 13 FGs in the second half were layups or dunks.
I've been watching basketball for over 20 years. I honestly can't remember ever seeing a college game where a team got so many easy baskets. They had a lot of transition points and seemed like they were in the paint all night. Pitt's defense wasn't the greatest - ESPECIALLY in transition.
But perhaps that makes the win that much more impressive. To win by ten in a rivalry game on the road when (and this is key) you didn't play your best game gives me a good feeling.
For once, Cryin' Calhoun didn't make any excuses, lauding Pitt in his post-game comments. And even though I talk about all the easy baskets, Jamie Dixon pointed out another key stat:
"We came in at halftime; I told them we got beaten on the boards by four. We had to turn that around."The silly talk about Pitt perhaps not making the tournament should be over. As I mentioned before, this IS a tournament team. And not only a tournament team, but a team that can challenge for the conference title. Starting 4-0 in the conference and winning your last seven games will make you think like that. Funny thing is, I keep waiting for the team to falter. I'm convinced it will happen, but when? I figured this would be a much harder game, but the fact is that had UCONN not gotten so many easy buckets, it would have been much more lopsided.
"We out rebounded them by 13 in second half, and clearly that was the difference."
Brad Wanamaker had his first good game for Pitt in Big East play, scoring 19 to co-lead the Panthers along with Ashton Gibbs. It was a good thing as Jermaine Dixon didn't have a particularly strong game.
On the flip side, Travon Woodall looks like a mess out there at times. I don't know if it's because he's not getting as many minutes or whatever, but he was completely wreckless with the ball lately taking bad shots or throwing it away. The fact that we never see Chase Adams out there makes me think he must be somehow even worse.
And in the middle, Gary McGhee is painfully mediocre. I almost think he cancels himself out because for every good putback or rebound he gets, he gives up another. And it's clear that Dante Taylor has much less leeway than McGhee does. Taylor was called for a moving screen (which was no worse than some of McGhee's) and he came right out immediately. McGhee allows offensive rebounds or makes a piss-poor effort blocking someone out and he stays on the court. Granted, he played better tonight, but Dixon's intolerance of Taylor's mistakes seems like a pattern.
UCONN, like Pitt, on the other hand doesn't have the same look as in previous years. But even with strong performances by players at times (i.e. Stanley Robinson tonight) are really without a key leader according to folks in the area. I don't know. Pitt really doesn't have a leader if you think about it. Ashton Gibbs? Can a sophomore really lead a team even if he's their best player? Gilbert Brown? Fresh off a suspension and he doesn't even start yet. Jermaine Dixon may be the closest to the team leader and he's certainly not a definitive one and has only been in the program as long as Gibbs has. I don't know how much that plays into it. The Fab Five went to the National Championship game with a starting lineup composed of freshmen.
For once it's nice to get the edge on free throw shooting - Pitt shot 85% to UCONN's 46%.
As absurd as it sounds, if Pitt can beat Louisville at home (which could be a daunting task because of their press), Pitt will have a look at getting to...*gasp*...25 games.
Yeah, I said it.