So yeah, I have a headache now.
My goodness, what a disaster. Pitt's season (thankfully) came to an end tonight and it's a darn good thing it did because I couldn't take much more at this point.
The Panthers Pitted their way to an ugly loss against George Washington in their opening NIT game, falling 60-54. How bad fundamentally was the team? Pitt outshot the Colonials 49% to 34% and still managed to lose the game.
Pitt had the game at home, but it was hardly a home type of crowd. The reported attendance was around 3,000 and there probably weren't even that many people there.
If you saw the game, you know how bad it was. But even if you didn't, the box score paints a pretty clear picture. Pitt turned the ball over 16 times and shot 8-18 from the free throw line. The Panthers could have survived one of those, but not two.
A particular area of annoyance was that many of the turnovers were of the lazy variety. Guys were just being sloppy with the ball and Jamel Artis, Cam Wright, and Mike Young combined for ten on their own.
The end to the game was fitting, considering how the season ended. With Pitt down by six with about 15 seconds left, Josh Newkirk drove to the basket throwing up a wild layup. With Pitt still down by six and this time about five seconds left he did the same thing. it's clear that those were three-point situations and getting layups that late into the game wasn't going to help.
I don't bring up those plays in an effort to knock Josh in particular or say that the Panthers could have won if he had been thinking a bit more. But those plays were just kind of a microcosm of the final few games of the year. Pitt's head wasn't in it and the team just utterly fell apart.
For Jamie Dixon, it marks the first time in his season he's failed to reach the 20-win plateau. The anti-Dixon crowd will certainly be out trying to prove their point again tonight, but there's no way you can responsibly blame a coach for a team shooting below 50% from the free throw line or turning the ball over that many times. Maybe if it's a habit, but the Panthers had shot about 70% from the line coming into the game and were averaging only ten turnovers per game compared to the 16 they had tonight.
We can go back and forth all night about Dixon motivating the players enough, but those two areas aren't something he has a great deal of control over - at some point the players need to simply do their jobs.
Bad effort. Bad end. Bad season. Time to wipe the slate clean.
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