After listening to Pittsburgh fans cry for days after the Louisville Cardinals knocked them out of the top spot, I planned on sitting down and watching them get bounced again by the Syracuse Orange.
What I witnessed, though, was a mugging—not literal, but probably as close as you can get. Tim Higgins and his crew of no-nothings managed to call one of the worst games I've had the displeasure of witnessing in my life.
The only solace for this fan was seeing Jim Boeheim and the Orange's sullen faces in defeat. There is no joy in the world like seeing the scowl on Boeheim's face during a good ol' fashioned beating.
Here is my rundown for the game.
- Apparently, when Pitt plays at the "Zoo" or whatever they call it, you get a technical if your name is Paul Harris and you talk some smack after blocking a shot.
- If your name is DeJuan Blair, though, and you have a smile as wide as the Potomac, you can talk all the smack you want without a getting called for a technical.
- If you're the away team and you go over the back, it's called every time.
- If you're the Pitt Panthers and you go over the back, it's a hustle play and no foul is called.
- If you're Rick Jackson and you try a dunk and get hit in the face by DeJuan Blair, no foul is called.
- However, if you commit the foul and then get pushed away fouling the dunk, you get a technical called in your favor.
It seems Pitt is trying to establish an atmosphere similar to Cameron Indoor, and so far the one resounding success they have had is that they seem to be getting the same preferential treatment from the officials.
- If you're Pitt, you can have your big man walk up court committing a moving screen on the opposing team's point guard without a warning. Sure, it's fine to a point, but when it continues on past the three-point line, it seems to cross the line and becomes a moving screen.
- If you're Pitt, you can swat down at the ball as often as you like without getting a foul called.
- If you're Pitt, you can push off underneath the basket to avoid the opposing team getting an offensive rebound.
If you're Pitt, you can pretty much do whatever you want apparently as long as the game is being played in Pittsburgh.
The thing that has left me questioning the legitimacy of the game is this. I'm not saying Higgins and his crew were trying to influence an outcome, but they sure did a good job of evening out the fouls in the end.
At the end of the game, when the result was no longer in doubt, the officials collectively pulled their whistles out of their, ummm, asses, and started calling the game straight up. It was an odd display considering the first 33 minutes were about the worst officiating I had ever seen.
Pitt fans spent a lot of time complaining about the officiating against Louisville over the past few days, and I think the gods (or Tim Higgins' crew) have smiled on them because they got the advantage tonight, and then some.
It's the Big East though, and these things happen; you gotta adjust and roll with the punches.