Pitt confident heading into final Big East tourney
Jamie Dixon likes to call Madison Square Garden Pitt's second home, though he acknowledges that playing there in the Big East Tournament is different.
“We've had a great history there,” Dixon said.
Pitt has played in the Big East championship game seven times since 2001, winning it in '03 and '08.
The Panthers, the No. 4 seed in the Big East tourney, are hoping to make another historic run in what will be their last before joining the ACC.
“Whenever you hear you're about to play at the Garden, the name speaks for itself,” Pitt redshirt junior swingman Lamar Patterson said. “Every great has played there. They made it the home of the greats. You've got to perform when you get there.
“It's a big stage, a huge stage, and being in the last Big East Tournament is definitely one we want to win.”
No. 17 Pitt (24-7) plays at 2 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals against the winner of Wednesday's game between Syracuse (23-8) and Seton Hall (15-17), which defeated USF, 46-42.
The Panthers beat both at Petersen Events Center this season, scoring a 65-55 victory over then-No. 6 Syracuse Feb. 2, and defeating Seton Hall, 56-46, Feb. 4.
“We're making sure we go up there for one thing and one thing only,” Patterson said. “It's the last year in the Big East for us, probably the last year for this tournament like this. It's exciting, especially because we have a special team. I think we can do good things in the tournament this year.
“It comes down to who wants it more. We're only guaranteed two games for the rest of the season now, so whoever wants it more will play the most games. We've got the guys where we can do good things.”
Where Pitt appears to be a shoo-in for the NCAA Tournament regardless of how it fares in the Big East tourney, the Panthers could earn an automatic berth by winning the championship.
That was the only chance Pitt had when it reached the Big East final for the first time in 2001, when the Panthers were 16-13 before beating Miami, Notre Dame and Syracuse and losing to Boston College in the title game.
Prior to that run, Pitt had won only six games in 18 years at the Big East tourney.
Dixon called it a run that catapulted Pitt's program.
“From then on, we started winning games in the regular season,” Dixon said. “Since then, we've had the best record in the conference. I remember that because it got people excited about our program. It woke them up about our program, and we started selling tickets a couple years thereafter.”
This time, the Panthers have the luxury of scouting their opponents, of visiting the 9/11 Memorial and even spending time with their families in New York and New Jersey.
They hope to change their luck after failing three times to win a game with the double bye, but believe this is a team built for making a prolonged postseason run.
“We're confident. We feel like we can win this whole thing,” Pitt fifth-year senior guard Tray Woodall said. “That's why we're going to go there with the mind-state that we can win it all. Hopefully, the outcome comes to that.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
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 football growing under Chryst
- ACC notebook: Pitt predicted to finish 6th in Coastal Division
- Pitt swingman Jones ready for breakout season
- Pitt safety Vinopal hopes extra conditioning pays off
- Clemson’s Stoudt is one of the unheralded ACC QBs trying to break out