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Pitt Goes Home

March 29, 2009 - John Mehno

I don't consider myself a strategist in any sport. I cannot translate those x's and o's on a chalkboard into actual people who move.

If I could do that, I would coach and make some real money. Fortunately, plotting game strategy isn't a prerequisite for writing about sports. When those issues arise, my job is to ask questions about them and get the information for the readers.

When it comes to basketball strategy, I leave it to the two acknowledged experts: Bob Knight and Neil Rudel. But I'm watching the end of the Pitt-Villanova game in the NCAA Tournament, and I'm baffled by how easily Villanova could get the ball up the court. Obviously Pitt can't foul anyone in that situation, so it's tough to play tight defense. It just looked like Villanova was able to (a.) get the ball in the hands of the right player and, (b) get up the court in no time, at a juncture in the game where every fraction of a second counted. I'm sure Villanova executed well, but it also seemed like there was minimal resistance. I don't know if that's on player performance or bench strategy, but it's a sequence that a lot of people will play back in slow motion for a long time. It's not often you can see an entire season melt right before your eyes.

It was a hugely disappointing end for an otherwise distinguished season, and it stings more because Pitt will lose its seniors and may also lose DeJuan Blair.

I am looking for: