Friday, March 20, 2009

Woah Panthers Woah

Isn't life supposed to be easier as a 1 seed? Apparently no one told the Pitt Panthers and Jamie Dixon that little anecdote. East Tennessee State gave that Pitt squad as much as they could possibly handle and we damn near watched history today, folks. I don't really remember the other close 1-16 games too well, but I doubt even the ones that finished closer in the final score than this one were any more gut-wrenching for the favored team than this one was. Pitt was basically a one-man show today, as DeJuan Blair showed up with a monster day and was too much for ETSU to handle.

And thank god for that effort from Blair. I really don't know what I would have done if Pitt would've lost. For sure I wouldn't have been able to turn on any sort of sporting event for a minimum of a month, and there's a good chance this entire blog would've just been abandoned.

Despite the big day from DeJuan, the rest of the team left something to be desired. In fact, Blair was pretty much the only one in the starting lineup who did show up for Pitt at all. Levance Fields looked like he was about 50%, maybe, and that left him even slower than he already is. Sam I Am turned it on in stretches at the offensive zone, but he also had moments where he looked a bit lackadaisical, especially in the defensive zone.

As for the role players, I'm not even sure where to start with my beefs. Actually, scratch that, yes I know exactly where to start. Are there two more frustrating reserves around than Gil Brown and Brad Wanamaker? They both ooze potential and have spurts where they make me legitimately excited about the very uncertain future of Pitt basketball. But then they have days like today, especially in the case of Wanamaker. The guy has great size for a 2 guard, has shown a consistently improved shot and has the athleticism to D up with anyone from 6'0-6'6. But he just makes so many dumb plays it's hard to believe he's even able to tie his shoes before the games. As for Gil, its not that he makes a ton of boneheaded plays or anything like that (though he has been known to do that, too). It's that he just isn't aggressive enough. He is probably the best athlete on the entire team, even better than Sam. He doesn't seem to realize that there are very few teams in college hoops that have someone even remotely capable of covering him. Until he does realize that, I don't know if he ever becomes anything more than a 6th man.

There was one other bench player worth writing about, but in this case it's in a positive light. Ashton Gibbs was probably the second-best player on the court today for Pitt during his 18 minutes of PT. He drilled two big-time treys, and I was aching for him to start shooting way earlier than he actually did. Having even a half-decent outside threat going early in the second half would have made this a totally different ball game. Granted Sam was solid when he shot long-range, but he spent a fair amount of time playing the 4 whereas Gibbs was constantly around the perimeter and could've given ETSU another threat to think about and potentially stopped them from quintuple teaming DeJuan every time he touched the ball. I got the impression though, that Gibbs was on a leash or something and wasn't being allowed to shoot the way he kept faking his shot and passing it off so that someone like Fields could clank another trey instead. I don't know if that's the case, but if it is someone needs to smack Jamie Dixon upside the head, as Gibbs is far and away the best long-range threat this team has, and he was the perfect weapon to use today, and for some reason it took Jamie and company most of the game to realize that. Truly baffling.

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