I just realized that it has been two days since I witnessed the loss at Dayton, and I had yet to write anything about it. Perhaps it was shock, or depression, or simply trying to keep it out of my mind.
To summarize the first half for those of you whom ESPN considered insignificant, because WVU obviously has more fans, I have never seen so many fouls called in a single half of basketball. That doesn’t even begin to describe the fact that both teams ended the half with 10 fouls, Dayton was charged with at least two carries, and Pitt must have had half a dozen travels.
Without Mike Cook, the team was in trouble. With over half the team having 2+ fouls, they were in real trouble.
I am not one to usually make excuses, but the officiating was horrendous. If Blair had been able to play his normal minutes, things would have been better. Had Gil not gotten three fouls in the first half, maybe his play would have been better.
But as any good Panther fan would know, that doesn’t begin to describe the real issues at work. Levance Fields, the General, is out 8-12 weeks with an ankle injury. Ronald Ramon is rumored to have injured his shoulder, although not as seriously as Levance.
Some people have claimed that Pitt’s season is over. Some real, die hard Panther fans seem to have thrown in the towel. With hopes of a 1 or 2 seed in the tournament, disappointment has set in.
I don’t imagine that is Jamie Dixon’s response. I don’t imagine that is Sam or DeJuan’s response. I am not naive enough to pretend that the team will keep plowing through opponents like they have so far. People have to be serious though, the season is far from over.
Pitt still has Lafayette, their 12th non-conference victory in hand. That leaves them with a 12-1 non-conference record, and an RPI in the top 10.
This is not the Big East conference that we are used to. UConn, Syracuse, and Louisville are all very beatable teams. We still have Rutgers, South Florida, DePaul, and two games against Cincinnati. We have home games against WVU and Villanova.
If Pitt is able to finish in the top 5 or so of the conference standings, an NCAA tournament berth is still very possible. If Pitt managed to go 11-7 in conference, with a win in their first Big East Tournament game, their record in the tourney selection would be 24-9.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This struggle will not kill our Panthers. You better believe it will make them stronger.