Pitt drops important game to USF

Pitt is beginning to look like they team they were projected to be. The Panthers(16-5)(6-3) let Dominique Jones score 37 and lost their 3rd conference game. Pitt once again couldn’t hold a lead in the game and lost 70-61. This loss now drops them to 5th place in the Big East and makes their NCAA Tournament chances even dimmer. With this loss I can honestly say that none of the Panthers upcoming games(Robert Morris, Marquette) are gimmes anymore. Pitt now has to fight for their season and save it.

Gilbert Brown dropped 25 in the losing effort, a career high. Pitt was without Jermaine Dixon due to a foot injury. This really hurt them on the defensive end as Jones was able to draw multiple fouls when driving into the lane. This was a bad 3-point day for Gibbs again, going 1-3 with 11 total points.

It is now gut-check time for Pitt. Another loss to an average team will make it tough for the NCAA selection committee to let them in as one of the 65 teams in March Madness. They have WVU on Wednesday and then Robert Morris later. These two games will make or break the season. Things are tough for the team right now and they need to spring back. Will it happen? Time will tell.

Pitt, USF game pick

A win here would be great, a loss not so much. If Pitt can pull off this win they will have 7 conference wins and keep moving up in the pecking order in the Big East. After this game they begin a tough string of games starting with their rivals West Virginia. An overall record of 17-4 would not be too shabby either.

Now the things to watch. Can Ashton Gibbs find his stroke from behind the arc? I think the answer is no for this game. I believe he’ll  be cold, but come back when it matters most in the Backyard Brawl. Pitt’s big men will have to find areas where they can score. Whether it’s rolling off a screen or dropping to the slot, they need to be open for the high-percentage shots. Another thing Pitt must do is rebound. They have been rather sloppy in recent games and need to rebound figuratively and literally in this game.

Now for the pick. USF is coming off a big win vs. Seton Hall. Pitt is 1-2 in their last three contests. This is the recipe for victory. Pitt needs to bounce back and get on a roll again. It starts tomorrow. It needs to start tomorrow. A loss on a Sunday would drop them in the rankings, and be a bad spring into the Backyard Brawl. I have not picked against Pitt all year and I’m 3-2 on the season. I won’t stop today, Pitt wins it: 71-62

Panthers face Bulls in a matinee matchup

Pittsburgh will take a long trip down to Florida to face the USF Bulls in a Big East game on Sunday. This is another one of those must win games for the Panthers. Pitt sits at 16-4 and needs to get to 17. With a victory, Pitt would make a ranking surge into the top 15 at least. USF is 13-7 and 3-5 in the conference. One thing they accomplished that Pitt has not this year was a OT win against Seton Hall, their most recent oppenent.

Dominique Jones leeds the Bulls in scoring

Led by Junior guard Dominique Jones, the Bulls are having a decent season. They are an up and coming program for sure, with great recruits on the horizon. This is going to be a fun matchup and Pitt needs to watch out for the play of the Bulls forwards.

If Pitt hold USF to less than 60, I think a win will be claimed. If they give up 76 like Seton Hall did, a loss could happen. Pitt needs to win it and I like their chances.

Panthers outlast Red Storm in key game

Gary McGhee scored 10 in Pitt's victory

Well, it wasn’t pretty but a win is a win. Pittsburgh, now 16-4 and 6-2 in the conference, beat the Saint John’s Red Storm in a Big East game. Brad Wannamaker had 16 and Ashton Gibbs added 14 more as the Panthers pulled away to win it, 63-53. Pitt trailed by four at the half but outscored their foes by 14 in the second half. Gibbs had somewhat of a 3-point drought, going 0-4 from beyond the arc. Pitt’s defense showed shades of the early season, by only giving up 53 points. That is what I am proud of; the defense won the game. Gary McGhee also scored in double figures for the first time this season. 

So what does this all mean? Well for starters Pitt is 3rd overall in the Big East, and they have an impressive 6-2 conference record. They have a road trip to USF on Sunday which is also a must win game. They are creeping closer to that magic win number 20 which should get them in the NCAA Tournament. The win overall is huge. The effects of a loss here would’ve been horrible. Pitt now has USF, WVU, and a rematch with Seton Hall in Pittsburgh coming up. Pitt needs to win at least 2 out of their next 3, but winning them all would be even better.

This was a great win for Pitt. They were down early, but took care of business late and pulled away for that big W. I’m very happy and optimistic towards the near future of the season. Go Pitt and keep on winning.

Pitt, SJ’s game pick

Here it is, the must win game pick. Pitt needs to limit the penetration of the speedy Saint John’s guards. If they can do this they have a very good chance 0f winning. They also need to get a lot of transition baskets. Ashton Gibbs needs to hit some 3’s in key situations to give the Panthers a slight edge. Saint John’s is a sleeper however, and could upset Pitt at home. I’m very nervous, a loss here would be a big blow.

Pitt HAS TO WIN! This game and USF are must wins. A win tonight and in Florida later in the week would be huge for the Panthers.

My pick is:    Pitt 67, Saint John’s 61

Pitt in must win game vs. Saint John’s

If there ever was a must win game, this is it. Pitt(15-4)(5-2) will take on Saint John’s(12-7)(2-5) in a Big East conference game on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Pitt must win this game. More rides on this than they know. A loss here would really put a dent in their season. Saint John’s is also coming off a 2 game losing skid themselves. They are 12-7 and not having the best year, but they are not a bad team. They led Villanova by one at hald before giving up 44 second half points and lost by 10. The Red Storm have lost to many good teams and have beaten all the teams they should. I don’t know why but this game scares me a bit. They have some great guard play led by D.J Kennedy, and they have decent team speed. Pitt needs to play solid D and cannot led them go in transition all night. The failure to do those two things will increase their chances of losing by a great deal. This game and USF in a few days are crucial to the Panthers making the NCAA Tournament. This game has it’s matchups though, like the forward play. If Gilbert Brown and Gary McGhee can play hard down low and control the boards, Pitt should come out on top. This is a must win game for Pitt, a win that could save the season.

Speedy guard D.J Kennedy leads the Red Storm in scoring

Top ten Pitt sports moments: 2000s #5-#1

Now it’s time for the top five moments of the past decade. Let’s review 10-6 briefly.

10. Pitt to the BCS

9. Pitt basketball gets it going

8. Larry, Larry, LARRY!

7. Pitt beats Duke in the Garden

6. Final win over Penn State

And now the top 5……

5. Back to Back

If one good thing came out of the 5-7 season in 2007, it was the discovery of Lesean McCoy. He was fantastic as a freshman racking up big numbers with big runs and beautiful cuts. In the 2008 season he lead Pitt to a 9-3 record and a Sun Bowl bid. He was one of the best in Pitt history and Tony Dorsett even agreed. Tony was sure he would stay for his junior season, but maybe the 3-0 loss in the Sun Bowl was enough to declare for the 2009 NFL Draft. Like Larry Fitzgerald before him, McCoy was 2 and through. After his departure a new back came into the picture. Young Dion Lewis, who was turned down to play by Rutgers, was a good looking player in the spring. Nobody knew what to expect for 2009, but Dion showed us what he was all about. He was a bolt of lightning and had a surplus of moves. He ran for 1,799 yards in his freshman season, the most of any Pitt freshman ever. The best part, he’s not done yet. These two backs were great moments in this past decade because they shaped the way for future Pitt stars. Speaking through their actions they said: “If you wanna run the ball and be a star, come to Pitt”. 

4. David Kills Goliath For Big East Championship

When Pitt stumbled into the 2008 Big East Tournament with a record of 22-9, they were not favored to win. With three straight wins they surged into they championship game to face the regular season champs and 9th ranked Georgetown. They were loaded with Roy Hibbert and Patrick Ewing Jr. down low. Pitt had freshman Dejuan Blair and a sneeky outside player, Ronald Ramon. They were up three at the half and never looked back cruising to a 74-65 victory and taking down the Big East Bully in the process. Ronald Ramon hit two key 3’s to put Pitt in a comfortable position to take home the title. This game was one of those games where all the stars seemed to align for the Panthers. They won the game and it was Jamie Dixon’s first Big East title. This would close the somewhat muddled season and end it on a thrilling note.

3. Comeback In The Golden Dome

Whenever you needed a kicker Conor Lee was there. He went 4-4 in OT and pulled off an unlikely comeback against Notre Dame in 2008. Conor won the kicking duel in the 4th overtime to move the Panthers past the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Pitt was down 17-3 at the half, and QB Pat Bostick, in for the injured Bill Stull was playing very poorly, throwing for 3 interceptions and only 1 touchdown. This touchdown was the one that sent the game into OT. On 4th and goal, Pitt ran the same fade route to freshman Jonathan Baldwin for the 4th time. It was a great catch and OT was in place. Lesean McCoy was amazing in the game, running for 169 yards and 1 touchdown. Pitt rallied around him and they came back from a 14 point deficite to win the game. In overtime it was a kicking duel between Pitt’s Conor Lee and Notre Dame’s Brandon Walker. In the third overtime Brandon hit a 48 yarder to send it into a fourth. This was his demise however and Conor Lee hit the walk-off kick to win the game after Walker’s miss. This game was huge as it bounced Pitt back from their loss to Rutgers. It was a great game altogether, and beating Notre Dame is always a big deal. Not to mention the absence of Bill Stull. This was a fantastic moment in this past decade.

2. Pitt Is Number 1

Number one. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? This was the case for the 2008-2009 Pittsburgh men’s basketball team. After beating #8 Georgetown in early January, Pitt was voted as the number 1 team in the country with a 14-0 record. It was short lived though and Pitt would only win 2 games as the number one team and fall to Lousiville two weeks later by six. Even with the loss Pitt’s number 1 ranking was the best moment in their teams’ history. It was a wonderful two weeks in the Burgh with Pitt being the best team in the country. The season was a success and Pitt finished with a 28-3 record and a number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They made it to the Elite 8 and then lost to Villanova by 2 in a thriller. The players that got them to number one were the real heroes of the year. Levance Fields, Sam Young, and Dejuan Blair, just to name a few, were superb all season and drove their team to a 16-0 start. Being number 1 is something seldom done and Pitt did it not so long ago.

1. Miracle In Morgantown

This game sums it all up. The number one moment of the 2000s hands down. Pitt at 4-7 had beaten the 10-1 and BCS Title bound West Virgina Mountaineers in Morgantown. The Mountaineers came into the game ranked #2 and were ready to walk all over their rival Pittsburgh. They were favored by 28 points! Pitt came into the game at 4-7 and had no hope of a bowl game, they were playing for pride. The game was a defensive struggle with the score at the half being 7-3 in favor of WVU. Pitt hung around though and went ahead with a TD run by QB Pat Bostick early in the third. After that Pitt’s D came with a fury and sacked Pat White to put him out of the game. Conor Lee added a FG in the 4th to make the score 13-7. WVU had a final drive which resulted in an incomplete pass out of the back of the endzone. As soon as the ball hit the ground I knew that history was just made. Pitt ran the clock out and didn’t even bother to punt as Dan Brytus ran the ball out of the endzone for a safety. Final 13-9, Pitt had done it, they shocked the world. WVU would not be going to the BCS Title and Pitt would start a recruiting surge that would boost them in 2009. Wannstedt still calls it their “turnaround” win. It was that and more and is the number one moment in this past decade of Pitt sports.

Pitt shocks the country in their 13-9 upset of WVU

These moments were awesome and I’m sure there were some that I missed, but these were the ones that stuck out to me. Hope you enjoyed them and most of all, Go Pitt!