The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Pitt loss gives editor new perspective

My knees were on the ground, my hands were on my head and my eyes were closed.

Zack McDermott, sports editor

No, this wasn’t Gannon’s latest fire drill – it was how I watched the University of Pittsburgh basketball team break my heart – again.

As Butler forward Matt Howard was busy earning his Academy Award, I was busy throwing back shots of Goldschlager as fast as I could.

Maybe, in the morning, the loss wouldn’t feel as bad as the hangover. Wrong. 

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I couldn’t believe this group of chronic underachievers found a way to let another shot at a Final Four appearance slip away.

That is, until I realized that they haven’t once underachieved in all the years I’ve watched them.

The Panthers have reeled off 10 straight 20-win seasons while having only one – just one – former McDonald’s all-American play for them since the start of the millennium. 

The North Carolina Tar Heels only recorded seven straight 20-win seasons between 2003 and 2011 with 21 diaper dandies at their disposal.

Pittsburgh has been to five Sweet 16s since 2001 – that’s as many or more than Kentucky, Ohio State, Texas, Florida, Michigan State and UCLA. 

The blue and gold find themselves among the nation’s elite year after year despite being blessed with less natural talent than Conan O’Brien.

All this time that I thought Pitt was choking, they were actually just reaching the limit of their God-given ability.

And I’m ashamed to say that I was convinced the problem was Jamie Dixon and poor coaching.

The Sporting News national coach of the year tied the NCAA record for fastest to 200 wins with kids who never had the glamour of being a top prospect.  Dixon has won by brainwashing his players to rebound and play defense all the while never having a player who averaged more than 20 points per game. 

The 45-year-old coach can no more be blamed for the tournament failures than I can.

Dixon can’t stop Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds from driving the floor in the final seconds of the Elite Eight.

Critics use Pitt as the poster child for a Big East Conference that they say can never deliver in the tournament despite routinely solid performances.

I’m not sure what game they’ve been watching.

Big East teams have averaged only two high-school all-American players on their rosters since 2000 – second worst among the six power conferences and a far cry from the ACC’s average of five.

However the beasts from the east have overcome the challenge by winning two titles in the past decade – as many as the Pac-10, Big 12 and Big Ten combined.

Not bad for a conference that can’t win in the tournament or for a coach who can’t seal the deal.

Not bad for a team that uses pride instead of pedigree to get their W’s.

It’s just too bad I didn’t realize all this until after those shots of Goldschlager.


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