Analysis: Pitt primed for long run in postseason tournaments
Jamie Dixon is adamant that Pitt's 24-7 record is not an accurate indication of how good the Panthers are.
Dixon believes they are even better given their 1-3 start and 11-3 finish in Big East Conference play.
“We're playing good,” Dixon said. “We started out 1-3 and now we're 12-6. I don't know anybody is playing any better than that as the season's gone on. We've got a group with four new guys, and we expected to get better and we have.
“There's nothing to complain about at 24-7, but I think we're playing better and that something that's indicative about the 1-3 start in conference play.”
Pitt soon will find out whether it is championship material as the No. 20 Panthers earned a four seed in the Big East Tournament and will play in the quarterfinals at 2 p.m. Thursday.
Which brings us to the dreaded double bye. Pitt is 0-3 in the conference tournament when playing its first game on a Thursday.
The Panthers aren't alone. Since the Big East began the double-bye format in 2009, only one top-four seed has won the championship (No. 3 West Virgina in 2010).
Even so, Pitt players don't think they shouldn't change anything.
“We've got to keep the same approach,” fifth-year senior guard Tray Woodall said. “We're a team that wants to stay consistent in what we do practice-wise and our preparation. We're going to do the same thing. Hopefully the outcome is different.”
Pitt hasn't won the Big East tournament since 2008 when it was a No. 7 seed. These Panthers have a shot for the following reasons:
Woodall and senior center Dante Taylor are New York natives playing at Madison Square Garden for the final time. Both have had great games there against St. John's; Taylor went 8 for 8 in 2012 and Woodall scored a season-high 25 Feb. 24.
Pitt goes 10-deep and has had eight different leading scorers this season. It has a veteran point guard who can score in Woodall, a 7-foot center in freshman Steven Adams and a strong supporting cast.
“They're not a team that you can focus on one guy,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. “On different nights, different guys have stepped up for them and been the offensive man. They're balanced, and they're physical.”
Most of all, this is Pitt's last hurrah at the Big East tournament before leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Panthers want to leave a lasting impression.
“Every team wants to go out with a bang, but we want to go out there and have fun most importantly,” guard Cameron Wright said. “I'm definitely confident in my teammates, the coaching staff. We lost two games not too long ago, but I feel like we're rolling right now.”
Pitt isn't alone in that belief. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has called the Panthers the best team in the Big East, while Purnell predicted that they are poised to make a postseason run.
“Not a lot of people talk about them being a threat to go deep in the NCAA Tournament or a threat to win the Big East championship,” Purnell said, “but I think they very definitely are.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt notebook: Backup Anderson spells Voytik for series
- Pitt rallies to defeat Florida International, stay undefeated
- Pitt showing respect for Florida International