| || |
Pitt season should overshadow ending
March 30, 2009 - Neil Rudel
Idle NCAA Tournament thoughts ...
*It didn't make the Final Four, but Pitt got practically everything possible out of this team and had one incredible year. Hopefully someday that will overshadow the disappointment of falling one possession short of Detroit.
*The Pitt-Villanova game was one of the better games in NCAA Tournament history with one of the most incredible finishes. What's made everybody say this was a true classic -- though neither team shot 50 percent -- is the fact that so much was at stake.
*When Villanova decked Georgetown for the national title in 1985, the Wildcats shot better than 65 percent from the floor and missed one field goal in the second half.
*Pitt's lack of depth was exposed against the 'Cats. The Panthers may have had the best two players on the floor in DeJuan Blair and Sam Young, along with Levance Fields' clutch contributions, but 'Nova had more good players.
*It's nice to see Jamie Dixon get one monkey off his back in getting Pitt to the Elite Eight and within a breath of the Final Four. One thing Dixon will have to improve upon as he goes forward is the fact that the Panthers did not start any of their four NCAA games this year very well.
*With the score tied at 76, the Panthers also had too many players extended on defense and should have been more committed to keeping the Wildcats in front of them, rather than pressuring the inbounder. As a result, when 'Nova got it to Dante Cunningham, who was able to flip it to Scottie Reynolds for the fateful drive, Pitt was already in retreat mode.
*Leading 76-74 after Blair scored, it was surprising Villanova called a timeout when a quick inbound almost certainly would have brought a Pitt foul. Instead, the move allowed the Panthers to set up their defense, and that's when the 'Cats tried that ill-advised home run to a streaking Cunningham. Fields chased it down, raced upcourt, was fouled and tied the game with two free throws with 5.5 seconds, setting the stage for the frantic finish. 'Nova was very fortunate that it got away with that sequence.
*Pitt, I think, wins the game in overtime.
*If he leaves, Blair gave Pitt two incredible years. I hope he stays one more though I'm not sure his stock will be much higher than it is now. It's not like he's going to grow.
*I'd take Michigan State's Tom Izzo before just about any coach in the Tournament. And to think the Spartans gave him his first Division I coaching job.
*Most impressive statistic of the tournament: Villanova has now won 15 times as a lower seed, the most victories by a lower seed since the Dance was expanded in 1979. You know what that is? That's coaching -- and a real credit to Rollie Massimimo and now Jay Wright.
*It's nice to see Altoona's Doug West, in his second season as an assistant at his alma mater, going to the Final Four. West led the 'Cats to the Final Eight in 1988 but didn't get to the Final Four as a player.