Pitt's season derailed early

March 8, 2012 12:00 am
  • Tray Woodall, right, goes to the floor after a loose ball with Georgetown's Henry Sims in the first half.
    Tray Woodall, right, goes to the floor after a loose ball with Georgetown's Henry Sims in the first half.
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No one should say that Pitt didn't represent itself well in this 30th Big East tournament, because during its exit interview Wednesday against Georgetown, the Panthers represented themselves perfectly -- a dead-on representation, in fact, of a team that never won a game it trailed with five minutes left (0-16), never even won a game it trailed at halftime (0-12), and way too often shot so poorly (37 percent) it couldn't possibly win under any circumstances.

They were definitively that team Wednesday, just as they were on too many days and nights, and thus what was thought to be a typical Jamie Dixon assemblage that appeared briefly in the nation's Top 10 early in the season slinks away thankful that it somehow managed a winning season (17-16) in spite of itself.

Unless some NIT opponent takes that away as well. That's called ignominy. Or, if you prefer, fitting.

A 16-2 Georgetown run that ended the first half, fueled in part by a technical foul against Dixon, threw Pitt into an eight-point ditch from which it never escaped. That brilliant 10-year run of NCAA tournament springtimes?


"It's something that I guess only a few schools have done, but, right now, it's all about this game and how we feel," said Dixon, whose team dropped 15 of its last 21 games. "For me personally, I should say that I just felt we were going to play better."

Apparently he meant Wednesday, but he could have been talking about since approximately Dec. 23. It has to be recorded that this bad dream of a campaign ended with a 64-52 Georgetown victory at Madison Square Garden, but a truncated season had really been pre-ordained all the way back on Nov. 30.

On that night at Consol Energy Center against Duquesne, the perfect allegory for the winter ahead was delivered unto the unfortunate Tray Woodall, who was injured three different times, including by a kicked ball to the face.

"I didn't think about it at the time," Woodall was saying in a hushed Pitt locker room Wednesday. "But then as the season went along, you think about what it meant because when a team loses its point guard, you know, the quarterback, that makes things hard on everybody.

"Normally, you have somebody to replace that guy, especially a leader, a veteran like myself, but I didn't know that it would hurt the whole season."

Woodall's absence because of a groin injury forced Ashton Gibbs to play the point, which ultimately wore him down to the point where Pitt could no longer count on its best shooter night after night.

First Published 2012-03-07 23:11:05

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