The Pitt Panthers came into Sunday’s afternoon game riding a 12 game losing streak. The rumors, chatter, and emotions would only escalate with fans after this game was over. Outside of the “The Pete” was a wash out. On the inside, things wouldn’t be much different. In fact, things only got worse for the fifth youngest team in the nation. Having lost it’s previous meeting to Louisville, you would wonder if Pitt would have a better outing this time around. Again, this just wasn’t the case.
The game would start off with Pitt jumping out to a 11-7 lead early on, also going 3-4 from deep. Then, with around nine minutes left to go in the first half, the entire team would be frigid from anywhere on the court. Pitt went 0-13 on three point field goals after the initial hot start, among not hitting a shot into the second half- Which translates to twelve minutes plus without a basket. Louisville would go on a 31-6 run during this stretch, and never looked back. You suspected at the half that all air had been taken out of this team. Pitt would go on to play a little better in the second half, but the final score wasn’t the whole story. In the end, Pitt would be blown out once again 94-60 by a longer, leaner, more athletic Louisville team.
After the game the moans from the fans were defining. The Pitt Panthers had panicked on the court settling for numerous threes as Louisville’s lead grew. Pitt would take three more three pointers in the first half than two pointers. After the game, speaking with Kevin Stallings (who is the head coach at Pitt after Jaime Dixon’s untimely departure) led me to believe that he has dialed in this season. Saying that he believes it’s just the team hitting a “Freshmen Wall.” For me that’s hard to believe. Some people seem to think that these players that he has recruited are not fit for ACC play, that only a handful of them can play at this level, even after they mature and the game slows down for them. Coach Stallings body language during the game didn’t help matters either. From what I seen instead of staying positive and coaching these young freshmen Stalling would have his head in his hands. Has the team dialed it in this year? Has Kevin Stallings lost touch and it’s time to move on? Last years team was like oil and water for the most part. These are all things that were said after the game by disgruntled fans! Most not my words, but a fan base, city, who just isn’t used to this type of season. Pitt will take the court Tuesday against Boston College looking for their first ACC win (0-13).
On the Louisville side of things, one may wonder how the season would play out after the Rick Pitino debacle. When asked after the game about expectations for the season after the aftermath, David Padgett would say that “I didn’t think that it would be fair to put expectations on this season. I wanted to take a one day at a time approach to this year.” It all boils down to Louisville was just better on this day in all aspects. Several of the Cardinals are on a long list of NBA Scouting reports. This team could absolutely make some noise deep into the ACC Tournament and beyond.
Closing Thoughts: On this day, Pitt seemed as if it lacked the motivation and engagement to compete for the next couple of years at least. They have no inside presence, when having the ball down in the paint there is no banging for shots and rebounds. They would repeatedly kick the ball back out and settle for contested threes. Personally I think after 2 years a coaching change isn’t what is needed, unless the players themselves are not getting the attention these young guys need to persevere in the ACC conference.
Written By: Joshua Petry