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Pitt chokes again, and don't blame the refs
March 19, 2011 - Cory Giger
A foul is a foul. Refs have to make tough calls when they occur, regardless of if it's in the final seconds or not, like in Pitt's absolutely stunning 71-70 loss to Butler on Saturday.
To not call a foul when it occurs just because it's in the final second of a game would mean the ref isn't doing his job.
"You've got to make that call. You have to," longtime local referee Ted Beam said of the decisive foul call on Pitt's Nasir Robinson that sent Butler's Matt Howard to the line for a winning free throw with 0.8 seconds left.
Some people believe a ref's call shouldn't decide the game in that kind of situation. That's hogwash. The players decide the game if they commit a foul, and the ref has a responsibility to call it.
"He definitely fouled him, and you've got to make that call," Beam said. "If you don't, you cheat the kid with the ball."
Butler took a 70-69 lead with 2.2 seconds to go, then the Bulldogs' Shelvin Mack was called for a foul when he ran into Pitt's Gilbert Brown at midcourt with 1.4 seconds left. Brown made the first free throw and missed the second, then Robinson fouled Howard as the Butler player tried to heave the ball 90 feet down the court.
There was a lot of discussion about the huge calls after the game, and CBS even brought in an evaluator of officials, who said he agreed with the calls.
"I agree with both calls," Beam said. "You've got to make them."
As for the loss, I will say what I've said for two years: Pitt's Jamie Dixon is the best coach in all of college basketball during the regular season and the worst come NCAA Tournament time.
Once again, after being ranked in the top 10 all season and this time as a No. 1 seed, Pitt choked when it mattered most in the tournament.
That's right. The Panthers CHOKED. AGAIN!
Dixon's inability to get over the hump and finally lead Pitt to at least the Final Four is becoming legendary. He has done wonderful things during the regular season year after year -- often dominating play in the rugged Big East and doing so without a bunch of McDonald's All-Americans -- but Dixon has not figured out how to get the job done when it matters most in the tournament.
This was a great season for Pitt. But it ended in all too familiar fashion with yet another choke job in the tournament.