*deletes fourth attempt to start to prewrite article*
Uh, that one was interesting. There's a ton of ways you can take this game, and you'd probably have a fair amount of people on any position you picked.
Let's get a couple things out of the way.
1. It's probably more accurate to say Wake Forest game lost this game at several points than to say Pitt won it.
2. Wake Forest is just not a very good team. They've kept it close in a lot of games against good opponents, but even decent teams don't go 1-12 in conference through their first 13 games.
3. James Robinson and Chris Jones pretty much carried Pitt to the win.
4. Jamie Dixon is not on the hot seat.
I'll dive into that last one later but let's dig in a bit on some things. Wake Forest shot itself in the foot early and often. If you wanted one stat to point to define the game, it would be free throws. Pitt shot pretty near it's average at 76%, and Wake Forest shot a miserable 50% on 32 (!) free throws. To counter that, however, Wake Forest did shoot an impressive 41% from 3, and the average went down in the over times as Wake Forest tired out.
This was probably one of James Robinson's best games ever as a Panther. Some said to me this was his best ACC game, but I think the win over Notre Dame last year trumps that. Was it the quality of the opponent? Maybe, but his shooting was much improved, and Robinson was making a conscious effort to get to the basket. He finished with 22 points on 7-15 shooting, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 0 turnovers, and 7-9 from the free throw line. Any time you are a single assist away from a triple double, you had a good day at the office. While Chris Jones was hot early on in the game, it was Robinson who carried the team from regulation into the over times. The obvious big play was the 3 to tie it, and I'm starting to lose count of the big three's Robinson has hit in his career. Equally as big was Robinson corralling the Wake Forrest inbounds pass in the over time to give Pitt another chance to tie it back up. He's been absolutely eviscerated by the Pitt fan base the last couple weeks, and it's not hard to argue a lot of it was deserved. When you have a game like this, however, you deserve the praise too. Hopefully this gives him some confidence going forward. He is the fifth Pitt player to finish with 1000+ career points, 500+ career assists, 350+ rebounds, and 150+ steals.
As instrumental as James Robinson was down the stretch, Chris Jones was that in the earlier parts of the game. Jones started the game making 3 three's in a row, and contributed all over the floor at various times. I'm not sure if Jones and Robinson were feeding off each other, but Jones seemed to be putting a lot more effort into the game this time around. He finished with 23 points on 7-14 shooting, 7 rebounds (all offensive), 4 assists, and a block while fouling out in the final OT. Rebounds, especially offensive, are usually all about effort, and it says a lot Jones that he pulled down that many. This was his second start of the season, and at this point I like him there more than Sterling Smith. Smith is still a capable shooter, so he should be a decent change up if Jones isn't doing well in a game moving forward.
To speak quickly of Jamel Artis and Mike Young, I'm not quite sure what to think. There are times they make really great plays, and there are times they are either really really lazy, or just make dumb mistakes. It's feast or famine. Out of Pitt's 10 turnovers, Young and Artis has 8 of them. Mike Young did seem more into the game tonight than he has been in terms of being aggressive and not just settling for jump shots. His shooting percentage wasn't great, and that's OK! I'm happy with him backing guys down into the basket instead of settling for the jump shots out of desperation. They should be a part of his offense, not what he solely relies on. He was active on the boards, and even chipped in a couple assists as well. As for Artis, he had a bad night from behind the 3 point line going only 1-5, but did pretty well otherwise shooting the ball. He seemed to be making an effort to drive as well, but his 5 turnovers pretty much negated a lot of what he was doing offensively. Both he and Young have just seemed...off. I don't know what's going on there, but they don't seem to be the same lethal duo they had been coming into the Louisville game. These two getting going would cure a lot of Pitt's woes.
Jamie Dixon. I questioned whether I wanted to even address this topic, because it's honestly been as hot of an issue as any the last few weeks. Let's get one thing out of the way: Jamie could lose the rest of the games of the season by 30+ and not be fired at the end of the season. Pitt has Jamie signed through the end of the decade, and it is financially restrictive for both parties from what I understand. Translation: Pitt would have to pay Jamie a lot of money to get rid of him, and Jamie would have to pay Pitt a lot of money to leave (assuming Pitt doesn't forgive that buyout). I'm not even sure if I'm in the "Pitt should look elsewhere" department quiet yet even having said that. Jamie is 325-118 at Pitt which is tied for fourth most wins in thirteen seasons in the NCAA. Full disclosure, I am the most optimistic Pitt fan ever. It's very hard for me to feel anything but positive even after bad losses or bad situations happening to Pitt. Having said that, this is indeed probably the lowest I've been on Pitt basketball. The trend over the last 5 years has not been good at all. I think Jim had some great points in his "state of the program" type post on Sunday, but it's not hard to see the Pitt faithful growing weary. Pitt stopped the bleeding so to speak tonight, and have a shot at a very good win on Saturday against Syracuse who's a team Pitt has traditionally had success against both home and away. I think that would do a lot for Jamie to quiet his critics a bit. Pitt still very much has a shot to make the NCAA tournament, but the road is tough, and they're gonna have to win at least a game or two they're not supposed to.
At this point, speculating on Dixon's future doesn't mean much until the end of the season no matter what side you're on. Let's see how the team finishes, for good or for bad, before taking full stock of where Dixon stands.