We've seen this movie before.
When so much goes so wrong in such a short period of time, it's hard to digest what happened. We could sit here on our couches watching Cliffhanger and drinking Odwalla Superfood and bang out 1,000 words on any number of topics, including:
a) Nasir Robinson's historically stupid foul with 0.8 seconds left 90-feet from the basket;
b) Pitt's failure to get a shot off with 9-seconds to play and a 1-point lead;
c) Yet another super-easy basket against at the end of a game;
d) Gary McGhee's new nickname, "Net Negative";
e) Jamie Dixon's deer-in-the-headlights coaching in the final minutes of tight games; or
f) Whatever super-glue/clay hybrid formula that was holding Dixon's hair back ...
...but, we have a heart at GTOG. Pitt's players know they screwed up. Here's Robinson, after the game:
"I take the blame," Robinson said. "I take the blame for this loss. I made a dumb play. I apologize to my teammates and the fans."Apology accepted. Robinson is a good player. No need to pour salt on the wound.
The key takeaway from this game is a bigger picture problem plaguing the Pitt program and it was exemplified in the failure to get a shot off with 8 seconds left. You don't need NBA talent at guard to execute a last second play -- witness Butler's hot-knife-through-butter basket with 2 seconds left -- but it sure would help. Pitt plays in a big city with beautiful facilities in the most consistently competitive and high-profile conference in the country. But they can't recruit a quick, confident guard who can shake loose late to get a shot off?
The reason Pitt is successful is that they have all the right pieces - toughness, athleticism, shooting, quickness, passing, etc. -- but the problem is that those skills are scattered around 8 different guys. Woodall the quick one. Brown the athletic one. Gibbs the shooter.
But where is the one guy who can do all of that at once, or at least most of it? I'm not asking for Kemba Walker. I'm just asking for someone who can get the ball to the rim late in the game and maybe stop the opposing team's guard from getting into the lane. You can blame Dixon for whatever play it was that he drew up, but the larger question we need to ask is where is the guy who can make a play when everything else breaks down?
Ron Cook coherently summed up what happened last night, assigning the blame to the players, not Dixon. We agree, but with one important caveat. They're Dixon's players.