Man did Pitt look ugly tonight. Sure the 74-64loss looked respectable in the end, but this was a team Pitt was capable of beating and if you watched the game, you know it really wasn't that close. Once again, it was the Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker show while everyone else basically stood around, took bad shots, and did their best impersonations of Division II players. Add up the percentages, boys and girls, and Gibbs/Wanamaker have combined for 77% (YES 77%) of the team's offense the past two games. Unfortunately I'm not making that one up. They've really been the only two consistent players Pitt has had so far this season and Pitt will not win many games unless a couple more scorers deide to step it up.
I can live with the growing pains and lack of talent, but this team looks unbelievably careless with the ball. Much of the time, I get the feeling I'm watching a pickup game up at Trees Hall between two fraternity teams filled with guys whose claim to fame was scoring 8 points in a high school game or something. There doesn't seem to be any real rhythm or flow to the offense, which practically consists of Wanamaker occasionally driving to the hoop or the other team mistakenly leaving Gibbs open for a shot. And how many times can you let someone cut to the basket uncovered? I had no idea Pete Carill was coaching Indiana now. Getting outhustled down the court, missed layups...the problems were all over the place. And the bad news is that they don't look easily fixable. Yes, Pitt will get better. Yes, the mistakes will slowly recede. But this team won't get fixed overnight and by the time they get some things figured out, they'll be in the thick of the Big East schedule.
Back to Gibbs, though. One bright spot I noticed tonight was that he was also hitting some shots when guys were on him. He's taking it upon himself to not only just take the open shot and if he can continue to score with a defender in his face, he could be a real weapon. I still think he's much more talented than Ronald Ramon, who he draws comparisons to because of his ability to shoot outside.
And while I'm on bright spots, Dante Taylor is putting up better numbers - slowly. He still looks incredibly stiff at times for someone who is a McDonald's All-American, but he's turning into a pretty good rebounder (11 tonight). Now if only the offense would come...patience.
Okay, enough glowing reviews. Back to reality.
Indiana didn't look all that great, either, shooting 45% from the field, but only 14% from three-point land. But it was still enough to trump Pitt's miserable 31% FG percentage.
This team looks to be much worse than I thought. I dismissed the Duquesne game as a semi-rivalry game against an opponent who had more to gain than Pitt did. I then dismissed the New Hampshire first half as, well, just a half of basketball. I dismissed the Wofford game as nerves and when Wofford beat Georgia shortly thereafter, even tried to convince myself that maybe Wofford wasn't all that bad.
But there should be no doubt after this one. If one game is a good barometer (which it's really not), then this should show that Pitt making the tournament is going to be a much rougher journey than originally thought. As the examples above show, this is not the first time Pitt has struggled mightily. So this game was no anomaly to be sure.
The sloppy play continued - only it looks much worse now. I'm really at a loss for words. I know all the talk about Pitt lacking talent has been out there the past few days, and I agree with it. I'm just not used to seeing Pitt struggle like this - playing sloppy, making unbelievably foolish plays, turning the ball over, taking bad shots, etc. Spoiled, aren't I? I wish I had one of those shot charts that showed made/missed baskets all around the court because it seemed like Pitt had somewhere in the neighborhood of 167 layups and made, say, 9 of them. Many of them were of the variety where a player would streak to the basket, wildly out of control, and throw something up to see if they could get fouled.
The turnover issue doesn't look to be going away with Pitt piling on another 15 tonight. I expected them from Woodall, but not the entire team. And Chase Adams. Man, does he look lost out there. It can't just be the competition level, which is sure to increase from his days at Centenary, because Pitt has only played one really good team so far. He's hesitant, weak offensively, and hasn't even been all that great defensively, which it seemed was his calling card.
Upon his return, Jermaine Dixon was also extremely rusty, but that was to be expected. And I've learned a valuable lesson tonight. Gary McGhee, while I never expected he could turn into an Aaron Gray type player, is going to be maddeningly frustrating during his final two seasons. The bright glimmers of hope he dispenses are squashed before you can enjoy them with games like tonight's. It's nights like these that I would be more than happy to settle for an average performance.
Yep, gonna be an uphill battle.