Originally written December 12, 2011 on Pitt Blather:
A couple things I forgot to include in the basketball post from earlier. Once again, the free throw shooting in the final minute played a role in making the game tighter than it should have been. With a minute left, Pitt had a 9 point lead, 70-61. Pitt shot 4-8 on free throws down the stretch. Dante Taylor was fouled and missed both FTs. Then Nasir Robinson went only 1-2 when he was fouled. The good news, was that Pitt worked harder to make sure Ashton Gibbs got the ball in his hands in the next possession. Gibbs, in fact, took the last four free throws. As we saw in the Tennessee game, the struggle with FTs made the final score tighter than it needed to be. Just going to have to keep sweating that for a while longer. Despite the struggle to fully close that game out, CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander came away impressed with Pitt.
My mea culpa comes now, because even if the Panthers haven’t played a terrific schedule, with all the youth they have, they still haven’t deviated from how they play. I didn’t think the Panthers were set to have another big year in the paint, thought they had backcourt problems and would take a significant step back. But it’s not looking like the case. Even if Pitt winds up not being as good this year as it was last, a “significant step back” seems highly unlikely now. Jamie Dixon’s team looks really good. It was gruff and won despite only forcing four turnovers against Oklahoma State Saturday at Madison Square Garden. You don’t need a lot of turnovers if you’re grabbing so many rebounds. Rebounds are really disguised as turnovers that require more work and less luck. The Panthers covet them like Christmas cookies. Heading into the game, Pitt had a nation-leading 45.5 offensive-rebounding percentage. It took down 61 percent (14 offensive boards) of second-chance snares against Oklahoma State, 43 rebounds in all.
And to think the rebounding was a concern after the first few games.
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