So yeah, yesterday's game against Syracuse was a bit of a disappointment. Afterwards I felt like Pitt let a game they could have easily won slip from their fingers. In reading the post-game quotes, I'm glad I wasn't the only one who felt that way.
Coaches generally will be a little conservative when it comes to speaking to the media afterwards. Dixon didn't go insane, but he said what a lot of us thought - that Pitt should have won the game:
"We got a couple of good shots," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "We just didn't make them. We need to finish better around the basket. They're good, but we felt we should have won the game."
Pitt star Lamar Patterson said it came right down to the wire:
"That's what it comes down to -- finishing and stopping them," said Patterson, who missed what would have been a game-tying 3 with 5 seconds left. "We win the game if we do."
“I thought we had opportunities, we had chances, we had a 3-point lead with the ball down the stretch and obviously didn’t get it done,” Dixon said. “I thought we had some pretty good looks that we didn’t knock down. I don’t know what we could have done differently as far as get better shots. Simply put, they made a higher rate from the free-throw line and the floor.
I agree mostly with what Dixon said here. Pitt, as they always do against Syracuse, did a great job of breaking down the zone with very good passing and, when they were patient on offense, they got a lot of excellent looks at the basket. There was a stretch when Pitt started settling for three-pointers and jump shots a little farther away, but for the most part, the Panthers' offense got some great looks.
Dixon also brought up something I mentioned in my post-game recap - the team just get it done when they had a three-point lead. Even getting another bucket around the four minute mark to push it to five could have gone a long way in the way of a confidence boost - and conversely, putting some panic in the minds of the Orange.
Point guard James Robinson also seemed to think one got away:
James Robinson, who scored six points and grabbed four assists, said the loss was frustrating because it was a game they probably should have won.
“We missed some chip shots and obviously the free-throw line costs us,” Robinson said.
The game was encouraging in some ways because there were still questions about just how good this Pitt team was. But overall, it's a lot more frustrating. Those of us that have watched the team consistently this year knew that they were pretty good. A loss wouldn't have been so bad, but to be up by three with several chances to extend that lead inside of five minutes and fall apart down the stretch made it difficult to handle. Looks like Dixon and the team feel the same way about it.
Like I said before, I fully give Syracuse credit for making plays down the stretch when Pitt did not. To say they didn't do enough to win would be foolish. However, the Panthers had several chances to win the game and that just makes it ... frustrating.