Pittsburgh Panthers Basketball Screw It Up Again, Business as Usual

Mike ShannonFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2011

WASHINGTON - MARCH 19:  Butler Bulldogs head coach Brad Stevens instructs his players from the bench during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Verizon Center on March 19, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Seriously, guys?  I mean, really?  You're given the easiest path to the championship game this year and you screwed it up....again? 

As a Pittsburgh fan, how many more times do I have to sit through this?  How did you let that Opie look-alike up above beat you? 

There are far too many questions and not nearly enough answers.

With Pitt behind 70-69 after earlier taking an inexplicable shot clock violation and allowing a Butler basket, Gilbert Brown took an inbound pass and raced up the sideline.  Butler's Shelvin Mack, for God knows what reason, decided this was a good time to belly-bounce Brown nearly into the scorer's table. 

Foul...2 shots for Pitt, game over, right?  Foolish mortal.

Brown, who was having the game of his career up to that point, hit the first shot to make it 69-69 and bricked the second.  OK, no problem.  We'll just win it in OT, right? 


Matt "Lurch" Howard grabbed the rebound and chucked up a desperate shot as the buzzer sounded with one tiny, little problem.  Pitt's Nasir Robinson decided he would commit the WORST FOUL IN THE HISTORY OF BASKETBALL by hanging on to Howard's arm.

Game over, bye bye Pittsburgh.

Now, how anyone can blame Jamie Dixon for this is beyond me.  Facing a double-digit deficit at halftime, Dixon rallied the troops during the break and Pitt came out to take the lead in the second half. 

Dare I say, without Shelvin Mack (annoyingly called "Mack the Knife" for what seemed like hours), this would have been a massacre.

Except it wasn't.  Pitt disappoints yet again in a year when the road to the championship was seemingly paved in gold. 

Pitt fans have been clinging to the hope that next year will be "our year" but, after waiting for almost a decade for that to happen, it's never happened and it doesn't seem any closer.

Jamie Dixon will be the coach at Pitt next year, that's guaranteed.  Dixon was not the one who told Robinson to put a sleeper hold on Howard if he got a rebound, that's Robinson's fault. 

There's no chance Butler wins the national title, but watching them get eliminated isn't going to make it any easier on Pitt fans.

Maybe it's time to accept Pitt basketball for what it is:  A team that overachieves because they play good fundamental basketball and have a good coach. 

They don't attract the NBA talent that other programs do but will always play hard and rarely get blown out.

For now, there's always next year.