I’m going to preface this by saying I hate losses. I hate suffering them, I hate that inevitable feeling of watching them, and most of all I hate writing about them. Someone commented on an earlier post that we “procrastinate” writing our articles about losses, and there’s a reason for that. After you watch the team that you love implode in the last few minutes of a game, the last thing you want to do is then think about it more. However, tonight, I’m going to do just that, and get some real frustrations out. This is going to be a bit of an angry post tonight, so don’t get overly offended.

First of all, I’m absolutely disgusted with the play of Sam Young. He is a good ballplayer, but he seems to think he’s some sort of NBA superstar already. Pittsburgh Panthers basketball is all about players who are willing to be a part of a team, not someone who wants to showboat for their own good. When you have a clear path to the hoop with 5 minutes left, down three points, that ball HAS TO GO IN THE HOOP. To watch Sam try and showboat was nauseating, and he should honestly be benched for a game to teach him a lesson. All he had to do was go up with two hands and drop the ball through the basket. Instead, he decided to show everybody just how “awesome” he was with a giant one-handed slam and instead gave Notre Dame all the momentum. Bricking a three-pointer he shouldn’t be taking two minutes later doesn’t help, either. Against a team with a 34-game home winning streak, the last thing to do is give them any more momentum.

Secondly, I’ve never seen a team lose their confidence and energy so quickly down the stretch. Whatever happened to the team of Duke and Washington has left completely. We’re still talented but we miss Mike Cook more than anybody could ever realize. Keith and Ronny aren’t the kind of players to keep a team’s confidence up, Cookie was the kind of guy who could stop a collapse and keep the Panthers in it. Instead, as soon as Notre Dame gets momentum with a few minutes left, we fold like a cheap lawn chair. Yes, McAlarney hit some tough threes down the stretch, but he only had 3 on the game, a number that Pitt should easily have overcome. Instead, he drops one tough trey in our faces and we completely forget our game plan. It’s like Jamie Dixon has to call a timeout every five minutes and go “Hey! Remember our game plan? Let’s play some defense!” and we do it for about 5 minutes, and start lapsing again. It’s really sad to watch, and every Pitt fan sees it coming. There used to be a point where we’d say that we hit a rough patch and could hit some shots down the stretch, but it’s now hitting a point where we go down by a few points with 2 minutes left and the fans just KNOW that it’s over. Something about the Panthers just shows that they’ve given up. It’s really just awful.

The scary thing is, how do you fix that? How do you get a team’s energy up when the other team hits a few shots? I used to have a tennis coach, up at a summer camp I went to, who would give great lectures- not just about tennis, but about sports and life in general. My personal favorite was a lecture called “Hills and Valleys.” The basic point was that in every game you’re going to have hills, and you’re going to have- you guessed it- valleys. The best players, and teams, are the ones that understand their hills and valleys, and don’t let either one get into their head. The Panthers become overconfident in their hills, and completely lose it when they go into their valleys. The best teams in the country are the ones that understand when their shots aren’t falling and go back to basics- great defense, simple offense, and ride the valley back up into a wave. The Panthers have a terrible mental game about their hills and valleys, and they desperately need someone to carry them through. I just can’t see anybody on this team stepping up and doing it. I really worry about this team for the rest of the season. See you all at the Louisville game, which really should determine our fate for the rest of the season. There’s rarely must-win games in college basketball, but the Sunday matchup is certainly one for our Pittsburgh Panthers.


20 Responses to “Unbelievable”

  1. Keith McBride Says:

    If you’d like to compare hills and valleys, you need to accept the analogy for yourself as well. Lots of people jumped on the bandwagon after beating Duke. That was a hill.Now, facing a possible third consecutive loss on Sunday, Panther-country is looking awfully barren. This is a valley.This is the time the true fans need to stand up and support the team, regardless of how things are going.Our guys aren’t going to refuse to come and suit up on Sunday, neither should we.

  2. Merlin Says:

    I do accept the analogy. I still do support the team. I will be there, like I am every game, in the front row, screaming my head off like all the other fans. I just said I was worried, not that I’m giving up on them.

  3. Brian Ising Says:

    Sam Young is the best player on the team and one of the 4-5 best players in the Big East. He tends to have mental lapses from time to time. He had a couple today that really cost us. I don’t disagree that he has to make that dunk. But he messed up, and I’m sure he knows that as well as anyone. Sometimes, that happens. He also made big shot after big shot today, just like he has all season.If you think Pitt is going to give up, then you haven’t been paying much attention to Pitt basketball over the last several years. The Louisville game is not a must-win. If we lose, we’ll still have a top-30 RPI and won’t even be on the bubble yet. Pitt’s first must-win game of the season will come in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

  4. max greenwald Says:

    verlin i totally agree. Sam Young has some offensive talent, but he doesn’t hustle, he doesn’t help on defense, and he makes crappy passes. He’s lazy and that’s why this is his first year as a starter. Brian, Pitt is known for playing tough and sticking it out, but I think this team is different. The leadership is lacking this year due to the injuries and we lack that mental toughness. I love Pitt but I don’t have to like them right now. They all have to get their acts together, fast.

  5. Tony Says:

    Great post. You hit the nail on the head. Dixon should really show this to the team. They would get a lot out of it, especially if it is coming from the fans, the students, who go pack the Pete for every game and make Pitt basketball what it is. And this is a message to the fans. As Keith said, the fans have to show up ready to play, too! We need to not only fill the Zoo on Sunday, we need to fill it with students who are excited for the game. Sure, we lost two games, but we are still very much in the Dance, unless we lose on Sunday…and fans need to know this and show up ready to really be that sixth man that the team so disparately needs.In stead of being the sixth man. Actually, since Mike Cook seemed to be such an emotional leader for the team, how about the Zoo step it up and take Cook’s place as the emotional leader. (If only we could all reprint the Zoo shirts with #31 on the back instead of 6!)

  6. Brian Ising Says:

    Max and Merlin,Sam Young leads the team in minutes played and shots taken. If the coaching staff did not like the way he was playing, he wouldn’t be playing or shooting so much. This is a strong indication that Coach Dixon feels that Sam is the best player on team, yet you both feel that Sam is not playing very well. I’m sticking with Jamie’s opinion on this one.By the way, ask Jamie who the hardest worker on this team is. He’ll tell you its Sam Young. And he’d also tell you that Sam’s fantastic work ethic is a huge reason he’s the best player on this team.

  7. Brian Ising Says:

    Max,After Fields and Cook went down, the consensus among Pitt fans was that we needed to go around 0.500 in the Big East until Levance came back. Then, we would go on a little run with Levance and finish strong. Well, we hung around without Levance. We’re right where we should be. Now, we’re about to go on a run. We will improve more over the next few weeks than any other team in the Big East. How many teams in the country add an all-conference player in the middle of the season? Not many, but Pitt did.People have always complained that Pitt peaked too early. This year, we’re going to get hot at the right time. Other teams are not going to want to see Pitt in the Big East or NCAA tournaments.I respect your opinion, but I think you’re wrong. But this is why sports are so great. Either one of us could be right. Its impossible to know. That’s why they play the games.

  8. josh frantz Says:

    Brian,I think Sam may be the best offense player on the team and he plays so many minutes because he is one of the few players that can score regularly. Defensively, however, he is not anywhere near the top. I do not see him helping out at all when a teammate gets beat. I remember a play last night where someone was beat and Sam and Blair both just watched him take it to the basket. Our old teams would have picked him up defensively. I think that is the reason we are not winning right now. So Sam may take the most shots and play the most minutes, but that is due to the fact that he is one of the few people who can score at will.

  9. Brian Ising Says:

    Our defense is still pretty good. We’re not winning right now because we’re playing really good teams (Marquette, Notre Dame) on the road. And we’re still re-learning how to play with Levance Fields.Sam’s defense is not great, but its still pretty good. It just doesn’t make sense to me to pick on Sam when he’s so clearly the best player on the team. On the list of reasons why we lost last night, Sam is nowhere near the top. You guys should enjoy Sam while he’s still here. There’s a decent chance that he’ll be playing for money somewhere next year.

  10. josh frantz Says:

    I don’t think anyone is picking on Sam. I think we are just pointing out something he doesn’t excel in. Take for example, Dwight Howard. His coached ripped him the other day because he wasn’t rebounding well or something(I forget what it was). He is still a great player but it cant hurt to point out a flaw. You cant get better if no one tells you what you are doing wrong.

  11. Brian Ising Says:

    “I’m absolutely disgusted with the play of Sam Young.””To watch Sam try and showboat was nauseating, and he should honestly be benched for a game to teach him a lesson.””Sam Young has some offensive talent, but he doesn’t hustle, he doesn’t help on defense, and he makes crappy passes. He’s lazy and that’s why this is his first year as a starter.”If that’s not picking on Sam, what is? This is what our own fans are saying about our best player. I don’t disagree with pointing out a player’s flaws, but this is going a little overboard in my opinion.

  12. josh frantz Says:

    “Sam Young has some offensive talent, but he doesn’t hustle, he doesn’t help on defense, and he makes crappy passes. He’s lazy and that’s why this is his first year as a starter.”I agree with you on that. That comment isn’t very productive. The reason he wasn’t starting before was because of Levon. Sam was very upset about not starting and I’ve heard he was beating him in practice. So I can understand why he busted his ass this summer to prove he deserved to start.

  13. The Prowler Says:

    Sam Young has been getting a bum wrap for a while. He is the best player on the team. I know his defense hasn’t always been stellar, and his rebounding could be better. But he is a 20 point per game scorer on a team that is really struggling to score points. He is scoring roughly 1/3 of the total team points (given an average of around 60 points per game without cook/fields). Other players need to do something to contribute. We can’t place the blame on the one player who has consistently put points on the board when most of our losses come down to the fact that we just aren’t scoring.On another note, Pittsburgh is famous for turning on its coaches, players, and teams when they aren’t looking great. People wanted Cowher fired for several years and if they got their way we wouldn’t have a fifth super bowl ring. When he finally retired (got tired of being bitched at by a thankless media and fans) everyone was like, wtf? The point is, we aren’t going to win every game. We aren’t going to be the best team every season. It isn’t easy for us as fans, so imagine how it is for the players. We need to support them as best we can and let them know we have their backs, even if they aren’t going to be a final four team.

  14. Dave Milliron Says:

    Great points prowler.It’s called being a true fan. Not many people in Pittsburgh seem to understand the point. They are there when the going is good and jumping off when it is bad. Its just the way it is.There’s no need to bash any of our players. Believe me they want to win much more than we want them to. The point is to like everyone on your team. You like them because they are PITTSBURGH PANTHERS.Too call players lazy amongst other things is a low blow when you’re only cheering in the stands.

  15. Maximis Says:

    Yo, from what I’ve heard…zoo attendance for Sunday is low again. We need to fix this somehow, because we really need this game, and I hate Rick Pitino.And David Pagett.And Dominic James. Who Better hands down win this poll.But seriously, we gotta have more fans here than the Providence game.-Grant.

  16. Brian Ising Says:

    “I want at it right now. Trust me, I want this so bad. It’s going to happen. We’re playing a very hot team, a very tough team in Louisville. We’re in the Pete. We want everyone in Pittsburgh not to give up and to show up on Sunday ready to rock the building. That’s what we need right now.”- Keith BenjaminK-Rucker is right. They need the Zoo now more than ever. Let’s make the Zoo electric tomorrow.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    you are a crazy person

  18. Maximis Says:

    Hey, at least the rest of the stadium is sold out.And if Keith said that, I believe it….Why? Cause he knows, ‘what’s good’.

  19. Keith McBride Says:

    Grant, you win the funniest comment award.

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