I tried, I really did. I didn't want to do an actual game recap, but I did have a few thoughts that I wanted to get together.
Regardless of how you feel about the refs (heck, how we feel about the refs), the fact is that no one game comes down to a single play. But the Dwight Hardy thing has been hard to overlook by Pitt fans, and for good reason. Without that play, St. John's probably loses. Period. The one thing that has me extremely puzzled is the ref had his eyes on Hardy's feet that whole time. If he did step out, I don't understand how he missed that call.
That said, if Pitt wanted to win, it shouldn't have come down to Hardy's play. The team's offense has been struggling a little lately and Saturday was another example of that. Out of all the things you should take from this game, the fact that Pitt's offense just hasn't been the same is probably the most important. Sure, Pitt's going against some tougher defenses in the Big East, but the team can't afford to have several players completely disappear on offense.
And no, I'm not buying the conspiracy 'refs hate Pitt' crap. But even worse than Hardy's possible out of bounds play was the disparity in free throws. 32-18? That's pretty telling and even harder to digest in a one-point loss.
I've also seen a lot of grumblings around the net about Gilbert Brown giving up the basket. Gil did everything he possibly could without committing a foul. Pitt had been whistled repeatedly down the stretch, and that was what, essentially, allowed the Johnnies back into the game. Brown forced him to the baseline and played really good defense in that spot. Hardy simply made an unbelievable shot, so your hat has to go off to him.
In watching that play, however, one thing I would have liked to have seen was Travon Woodall help Gil out a bit. Woodall's man was back behind the three-point line and I would rather he drop down a bit and force St. John's to shoot a three-pointer (assuming Hardy could have even found the open man) than allow the other team's best player to drive to the basket one-on-one. But that probably has to come from Jamie Dixon, so it's not even like I would fault Woodall in that situation.
Lastly, I also found Steve Lavin a bit comical. Jamie Dixon does his fair share of appealing to the refs, but Lavin was a bit overboard. If you even look at the last play, he's screaming for a foul on Dwight Hardy when it appeared that Gil had him shut down. Brown didn't even come close to fouling Hardy on that last shot and Lavin was clearly reaching at that point. Pitt fans may have a new coach to root against if that buffoonery keeps up.
All is, of course, not lost. Even if this loss ended up costing Pitt a No. 1 seed (which I don't think it has), a No. 2 seed ain't bad. And when it comes down to it, Pitt is going to advance in the postseason. That's it. Nothing else matters...not the Big East tournament. Not a one-point loss to St. John's.