Not sure about you, but this really was a do or die scenario for Pitt in my mind. The ESPN GameDay contest against Louisville seemed like a last stop of sorts.
It was the chance to right the ship - maybe even turn it all around. It was GameDay, the national spotlight. Plus, Tray Woodall was back and that had to count for something, right? If Pitt could beat a struggling, but good Louisville team at home, maybe things would be okay.
For about seven minutes, Pitt looked like Pitt. They were up by six and playing well. But by the end of the first half, they were struggling just stay in it. Down by six, Lamar Patterson hit a huge three-pointer at the buzzer, but by the second half, things were back to normal ... well, at least 2011-12 normal.
We all know how it ended up. Pitt didn't have the horses to stay in the race and fell apart. Completely. It's clear to me that this team is, for all intents and purposes, finished.There are games that Pitt win, and I expect them to grab a few more victories. But barring a miracle, the 2011-12 season is officially done in my mind.
Man, I'd love it if I were wrong. If somehow, Tray Woodall got fully healthy and this team started to gel. And, look - with games still left against South Florida (two), Providence, and Villanova (three of which are at home), I can even see the team putting together a little run. But getting to 19 or 20 wins with only 11 games left and 11 current victories almost assuredly won't happen.
And the whole Tray Woodall thing flat out sucks. Before he got injured he was perhaps Pitt's best player. Even though he came back, he's clearly not the same. Like the Notre Dame game, he was largely unproductive, again getting shut out and shooting 0-5 from the field in 21 minutes of action. I get that Jamie Dixon wanted to get him back in the lineup, particularly because the Isaiah Epps/Cameron Wright combo has been about as effective as those two Mexican kids in the Bad News Bears when they got up to bat. But Woodall looks like he just isn't ready and by the time he gets there, the season may be completely over.
The one thing that ensures Pitt will have a chance right up until the end is, of course, the Big East Tournament in New York. But the Panthers haven't done anything to make me think they'll be able to make any noise there, let alone rattle off five straight wins assuming they don't get a bye.
I hate to say it, but the Louisville loss may have been the final nail in the coffin.