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Who To Blame? Take Your Pick.

Ashton Gibbs took the blame for this year's season, but others are at fault as well (Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)
Ashton Gibbs took the blame for this year's season, but others are at fault as well (Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)

Ashton Gibbs didn't take Pitt's poor season all that well after the team exited the Big East Tournament:

"I did a bad job of leading this year," he said, "and it clearly showed."


"I wouldn't have bet in a million years that we wouldn't make the NCAA Tournament at the beginning of the season," he said. "I've never been in a situation like this. ... The only thing you can do is learn from it, and I'm definitely going to take this with me the rest of my life."

He added:

"I had high expectations of the team and high expectations of myself as well," he said, "and it's something I didn't live up to as a senior leader."

The interesting thing I find in all of this is that he started off with saying he did a bad job in leading the team, not with his actual play. The two are intertwined a bit to be sure, but using the words 'bad job of leading' makes me think that he gets it.

Even when not playing well, Gibbs could have done a better job in setting a good example. He skipped out on post-game interviews on more than one occasion and more importantly than that, he and Robinson never found a way to get the team to play more consistent.

Now, while I've killed Gibbs several times this season, let's get one thing straight - he had help in failing to get the Panthers to the NCAAs ... lots of it.

Other than a late outburst at the end of the regular season, J.J. Moore was fairly invisible during the season. I definitely expected more from him, even as a sophomore. Moore's one of those players who can dazzle with his skills and he has far too much talent to be contributing as little as he did.

Dante Taylor also goes on the underachievers list. Taylor's proven he's not a star, but I'd settle for consistent contributor. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to take that leap as he pulled a Houdini in several games this season including a zero-point/four-rebound performance in 28 minutes in the regular season finale against UConn and zero points in back-to-back games against Rutgers and Marquette. Taylor's six points and five rebounds per game weren't horrible, but they certainly weren't enough for a junior who Pitt really needed after the departure of Khem Birch.

Jamie Dixon's also on that list for failing to find a way to get more from this team. How's that done? Beats me - I'm not the coach. But Dixon is paid for that and he's not coaching a team devoid of talent. At the start of the season, the program had two high school All-Americans, the Big East preseason Player of the Year, and several recruits who ranked very well over the past two years.

Dixon also deserves some criticism for the whole Birch situation. Birch, to me, was immature in leaving after a mere ten games into the season, but if he felt alienated to that degree, as the coach, Dixon should have at least taken note of it. And if we're talking about actual game situations, that decision to insert a cold Isaiah Epps into the DePaul game where he missed two key free throws was ridiculous. I would have preferred a big man who was in the flow of the game than a guard who had played a total of 37 minutes in the 15 preceding games.

As a disclaimer, I'll write what I've mentioned before - this is in no way a plea to get rid of Dixon, who I still think is one of the best young coaches in basketball. To even suggest such a thing after one down season is ridiculous. But he hasn't been perfect this year and some of his faults should be noted.

One player who doesn't deserve much blame in my mind is Robinson. He had career highs in nearly every important stat category including points, field goal percentage, rebounding, assists, steals, and blocks. His 6.7 boards also led the team and as a 6'5" power forward, that's pretty incredible.

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