Blog Entry

Reflections on Pitt's Season

Posted on: March 23, 2008 10:55 am
Last night, one of the more improbable seasons in Panthers basketball history came to an end. You all know the storyline; lose Gray, Kendall, Graves to graduation and Cook and Fields to injuries, and by the time conference play rolls around this team has no starters from last year and is looking NIT-bound. Fellow Big East coaches were calling Jamie Dixon and  telling him to pack it in and get some young guys playing time for next year. Then they get Fields back and the incredible run through the Big East Tournament inspires national media attention and more bandwagon-jumping than a lot of die-hard fans can stand. It certainly looked like it would be a magical season.

Then, like the Persians at Thermopylae, the Panthers ran into a wall of Spartans blocking their path to the Sweet 16, and we all also know how this storyline ends . . . you'll have to forgive me, the wounds are too fresh for me to bear repeating the details. So what are we to make of this season, now that it is over?

Ironically, its about exactly what a lot of us expected. If you had told me at the beginning of the year that Pitt would lose in the second round, I would have gone "Damn, thats a shame, but after the talent we loss, its to be expected." But when we look at the end result, we lose sight of some very important details, detail that I hope will provide some comfort after the loss.

Now if you had told me the following--The Panthers won the Big East Championship. Sam Young developed into one of the Big East's best players. Gilbert Brown matured a tremendous amount and began showing us the skills NBA scouts will be drooling over in a year or two. DeJuan Blair, despite hitting the wall late in the season proved to be one of the best freshmen in the country. Jamie Dixon continued to show everyone that he gets more out of his players than all but a handful of the game's elite coaches. Heck, even Tyrell Biggs began to look decent for the first time in his career-- I would have gone "Holy S*** thats a heck of a season, I can't wait!"

And that list doesn't even begin to describe the guts, heart, and determination it took for this team not to give up when Fields and Cook went down. I think it would be fair to say that this season did not end the way any of us wanted it to, but at the same time, this year was an incredible journey to be a part of, and we bagged another Big East Championship and established ourselves as one of the best programs in the toughest conference in America. So good work Panthers. We all are too often motivated to describe a season by the way it ends, and to do so in this case would be tragic. This was an amazing season, and an amazing story, and I, and I'm sure many of my fellow Panther fans, are really glad we got to be a part of it.

Since: Jan 16, 2008
Posted on: March 28, 2008 10:57 am

Reflections on Pitt's Season

I agree. Seeing that banner in the Pete will be oh so sweet. Also, good point about the underclassmen. I forget who exactly said it (it might have been you connect04) but someone said that the amount of playing time to freshmen this year (albeit a bit forced by injuries) was a sign of Jamie's evolution as a coach. I'm inclined to agree there. It will be real interesting to see how the returning guys respond to getting bounced early from the tournament by a team they could have beaten, and it will be interesting to see how the culture of winning transfers to the young guys. I have all the faith in the world that Jamie will get the job done in terms of instilling the mentality of winning in the young guys, and I have no doubt LeVance Fields will be personally motivated and virtually unstoppable come tournament time for his senior year. I just hope he doesnt go all Carl Krauser on us and forget to pass!

Since: Nov 29, 2007
Posted on: March 27, 2008 10:47 am

Reflections on Pitt's Season

Thanks DD.  Great literal job that seems to reflect the identical feeling that I have for this year.  Their ability to overcome the odds and accomplish the BE Tournament Title is great.  Let us not forget that Pitt has only won this title (I believe) once in 2002 and this is more significant that you think.  It will be nice to have a Banner for this year on the Petersons Event Center Rafters for the Champions. 

Not saying that I wasn't dissapointed with the loss to MSU, but I was proud of their no quit attitude.  What character.   I strongly felt that the officials went awol in the last few minutes of the game and only saw Pitt Jerseys.  If Pitt shot better from the perimeter or attacked convincingly to the rim, I feel the game would have been dramtically different.  But like I said, the best team doesn't always win, especially when they were (in my belief) overworked and the bench wasn't utilized enough. 

Next year I think alot of underclassmen will need to play (and I think they will) and I also believe that Jamie has taken notice of this fact.  We will see and I cannot wait.  I wish it would start all over tomorrow.  At least we can watch the women tonight and yes (believe it or not) root for our BE teams still in the tournament (WVU, Louisville and Villanova) to have a good showing.



Since: Nov 29, 2007
Posted on: March 27, 2008 10:37 am

Reflections on Pitt's Season

Thanks Pittbaster. 

You said everyting that I was saying and feeling.  Great literal product that displays the true accomplishments and experiences that reflected the 2007-08 season.   I too am very excited about next year.  No one can ever admit that they would not have wished for more, but under the circumstances, this was a special season with a Banner to ad to their accomplishments. 

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: March 23, 2008 11:43 am

Reflections on Pitt's Season

Great blog, sorry about the heartbreak of the end of the season, but it does look like they had a very good season.  Good luck next year.

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