Post-Gazette sports reporter Paul Zeise blogs about the world of sports, and Pittsburgh sports in particular, with an assist from Seth Rorabaugh and his Morning Links. Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulZeise and Seth @emptynetters.
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The horse is dead so I don't know why I should keep beating it but I will try....
Pitt just got clobbered by Wichita State -- 73-55 -- in the first, errrrrr second, round of the NCAA Tournament and this game smelled and looked a lot like many other of Pitt's season-ending losses....
1.) Pitt has nobody who can create offense so when the "let's burn clock and dribble at half court for 27 seconds" offense breaks down they end up getting bad shots at the end of the shot clock.
2.) Pitt's guards are generally undersized and generally not overly athletic and they get exposed by more athletic or bigger guards in the tournament.
3.) Jamie Dixon's philosophy is sound - you need to defend to win TO A POINT -- but you also need guys who can score and you also need to run good offense in order to score. The handcuffs on this team are apparent, guys are not allowed to play basketball here - this team could have gone up and down and won games and been better and scored more and that's how the game is played in the offseason.
4.) I was being half-sarcastic - only half - though on Twitter when I said Dixon would tell Seth Curry and Kemba Walker to go elsewhere -- but the bottom line is it is true that he does not value offensive players and scorers and shooters nearly enough. When was the last time Pitt had a dominant offensive player? I can't think of one during this run - Brandon Knight was close, Sam Young worked his way into a much better player than he was when he was recruited -- other than that? You need guys who can score.
5.) The "we have a ten-man rotation" is always doomed to fail in the NCAA Tournament. You know why? Because teams keep their best five players on the court in one-and-done basketball situations and don't sub unless they absolutely need a blow. And if your 8,9 and 10 guys are not different than your 3,4,5 guys, that is a real problem. Don't believe me? Find me teams who have a true 10-man (or even 9-man) rotation that have won national titles or even got to Final Four. Most teams have 7 or 8 play the bulk of the minutes.
6.) Jamie Dixon is a good coach but this will continue to happen to Pitt unless he rethinks some things -- A) Needs to value shooting and shooters more B) Needs to recruit skilled guys and let them be skilled guys and C) he needs to take some of the handcuffs off of his offensive players and stop trying to micromanage every possession. Guys need to play, they need to be allowed to create and score and bouncing the ball for 27 seconds doesn't make you a good or efficient offensive team - it just limits possessions and keeps scores down so you can brag about defensive numbers.
7.) I laughed when people told me Pitt was going to beat Gonzaga. Do you really think a team as bad offensively as Pitt had a prayer against the Zags, who are one of the best offensive teams in the field? Think about this - WVU under Bob Huggins has been a "defensive team" and last year had a very good defensive team - and I watched the Zags carve them like a Thanksgiving turkey at Consol. You have to be able to score or you can't win, period. That's is just how the game is played.
8) It isn't just Pitt - the game has been hijacked by a lot of bad offensive teams who have gone the route of "it is easier to muck up games, make them slow and ugly and grind out wins than recruit and develop skill" and the NCAA needs to address this or the game is in trouble. Look at some of the scores of these games today - it is awful basketball. I don't mind great defense, I do mind awful offense and I also mind this "let's burn 25 seconds every possession" mentality.
9) This game was not a fluke. The two best players on the court were in Wichita State uniforms and frankly, I think the third best player may have been as well. These teams could play 10 times and Wichita State would win 7 or 8 -- they are grinders just like Pitt, they rebound hard like Pitt -- and they also have better offensive players than Pitt and that was the difference.
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