I had the distinct fortune of being present at Pitt's victory yesterday over UNC-Asheville, and while I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to attend, it doesn't change the fact that it was one of the most poorly played games I've ever seen in person. Add on top of that the determination by the officials to get both teams in the double-bonus as soon as possible, and this game was a true test of fan endurance.
Despite being up by only 5 points at half time, it never felt like Pitt was truly in danger of losing, if only because UNC Asheville was so bad. Pitt won by 23 points, but this game was no blowout. Pitt got the early second half lead into the 8-11 point range, but never could get the score that would have started the blowout until much later in the half. And the man to credit for finally getting it done is Ashton Gibbs, because if not for his deadly 3-point shooting, this would have been down to the wire. Some other quick thoughts:
- As we wrote last time about Gibbs, he can't jump. He can shoot, and he can pass, but just watch him shoot - he barely gets off the ground.
|Great hop shooter.|
- Brad Wanamaker was a hugely disappointing no-show yesterday and my friend and I were debating from the peanut gallery during the second half whether Wanamaker was even sweating. For a senior playing in what could have been his last game, he was beyond passive to the point of appearing disinterested.
- On the positive side, GTOG likes Gibbs and we like Nasir Robinson. They are both slow and undersized for their position, but they seem to have some capacity to score. Robinson finishes at the basket and Gibbs, when open, is as good of a shooter as their is.
- Another guy we like, who apparently is somewhat polarizing in Panther-Nation, is Travon Woodall. He is no Gibbs when it comes to shooting, but he can break a press with his dribble and, more importantly, he can set Gibbs up for open 3's. Against a team like Asheville where Pitt would definitely have a size advantage, we advocate playing Woodall and Gibbs together. If it means less Gilbert Brown ball-handling, then that's another reason to do it.
- As I reflected on the ugliness of the game with my father - a Pitt season ticket holder - he did not try to calm me or talk me down. With resignation, he simply texted, "I saw 18 just like it!"
- Finally, while no one is feeling great about the way Pitt is playing right now, they nonetheless are one win over Butler from yet another Sweet 16. Can't complain too much about that. So before anyone jumps on us for being too negative about a team that won the Big East regular season title and earned a #1 seed, we remain cautiously optimistic. Go Pitt.
|He may be gone, but his spirit lives on.|