If you ever thought that you might be interested in being a division one basketball coach, the performance yesterday by the Pitt Panthers should have been enough to convince you that a different career path might be in order.
The Pitt Panthers added plenty of anxiety into the coaching career of Jamie Dixon, aging him about ten years in the process. It looked for a long time that Pitt might become the inevitable first number one seed to ever lose to a #16. Several times during this contest, CBS would flash onto the screen (for obvious dramatic purposes) that "#1 seeds are 98-0 all time against #16 seeds." It wasn't like the Panthers were watching the game and would press even more than they already were.
You found yourself wondering what the Pitt team was waiting for to get started? After all, isn't this what they had worked so hard all season to achieve?
In fact, with the notable exception of DeJuan Blair who had carried the team with 27 points and 16 rebounds, the rest of the Pitt team had almost a hypnotized appearance. They were out-rebounded badly on the defensive boards and had an incredible 18 turnovers, 13 in the first half. The team's overall effort was so bad that it almost made you wonder what was going through the team's collective mind. The Panthers had a completely out of focus appearance and looked just as bad as they did losing to West Virginia a week ago. It led this writer to wonder if Pitt may have already peaked two weeks ago when they defeated Marquette and UConn in back-to-back home games.
Above: Sam Young dribbles through East Tennessee State traffic.
But if you're Jamie Dixon, what do you do? Staring you in the face is the Oklahoma State Cowboys team that barely outlasted Tennessee 77-75. That team would have beaten Pitt by 20 had they played them today. But they didn't, which is why Pitt is still playing. Because they had such a great season, as a number one seed, they got to play one of the very weakest teams in the field. All that can be hoped for is that the Panthers can somehow shake themselves out of this fog that's enveloping them now and put this horrible game behind them. Jamie Dixon is going to have a hard time getting this team's confidence back, as they looked nothing like the team that entertained us so well all year.
This is not to say that Pitt can't or won't beat Oklahoma State, however, I can't imagine this team ever looking worse than it did today. That's the good news, they can't look any worse.They have their #1 seed to thank for them not being on a plane already heading home for Pittsburgh. That and the fact that DeJuan Blair wasn't out looking to set a record today for collecting the fastest five fouls ever.