I just couldn’t, tonight.
Sure, technically, I could have, I suppose. But with an overly busy weekend, a long day, and trying to get a house ready for relatives this week, when I turned the game on and saw Pitt down double digits only a few minutes in, that pretty much sealed my fate for watching much of this game. I checked in a little but more out of curiosity about just how out of hand things could get and far less about watching for any real entertainment or to analyze what was happening.
Pitt was soundly defeated by what should be a pretty decent Penn State team this year. Almost everyone (except a few diehards who simply can’t get used to the reality of the Nittany Lions defeating the Panthers in a basketball game) expected the Panthers to lose. They were about ten-point underdogs and that was, as we found out, being far too generous. In the end, Pitt was defeated 85-54 in another early-season debacle for the team. Sure, this was the first blowout but the others involved losses to bad teams. I’m still trying to figure out which is worse.
A loss was expected and even an ugly loss was possible considering this was by far the best team they have played this year. Pitt lost to Navy and also lost to Montana before barely having enough to defeat UC Santa Barbara. I don’t think most people expected this but Pitt shot horribly (39%) and Penn State shot lights out (69%), including making 10 of 19 shots from three-point range. That turned what probably should have been a reasonable loss and dumped it completely on its head.
Jared Wilson-Frame was kind of on an island of his own tonight and carried the load for Pitt, leading all scorers with 17 points. He’ll get more help on other nights but I have little doubt that we will see more of these types of games where the box score gives the appearance of him playing one on five. No one else on the team had more than eight (Jonathan Milligan). If Pitt can’t get other contributions from players against Penn State, imagine what the likes of North Carolina, Duke, and others in the ACC might do to them.
There will be questions after the game about head coach Kevin Stallings. That won’t end and they’ll be there after every loss this year. Many fans already don’t want to see him back next year and I can’t help but believe that even the ones that do will be tested with some of these losses.
Losing games to P5 programs can be and is routinely forgiven when teams rebuild. Not by the crazies that want to replace coaches on an annual basis, but by ones that understand a little better about how this all works. But if the Panthers are blown out of the water routinely by 30, 40, or 50 points, even if Stallings technically deserves more time he simply may not get it. That wears on a fanbase and particularly one that is still seething over a disappointing season last year.