Pitt Doesn’t Like FREE Points

Posted on March 29, 2009. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA | Tags: , , , , , , |

Is this how Memphis fans felt last year after coming oh so close to the championship just to have Mario Chalmers make a miracle shot to send it into overtime and then take the title right out of John Calipari’s hands after he swore up and down that his players didn’t have to be good at the FREE throw line because they would always come through when the stakes were highest?  The Tigers shot 63% from the stripe while Kansas sunk 93% during that game . . .

Is it something about the Pittsburgh Panthers’ team philosophy where they have to make everything tough?  They don’t want it to come easy?  Does this team have a mental block against sinking FREE throws?  It’s not like they don’t count as much because they aren’t contested shots – they are FREE . . .

I get that this game was to reach the Final Four and not for the National title, however for Pitt’s players and fandom everywhere, it stings.  Granted, the Panthers improved on their pathetic 67.6% team average for the season by going 21 -for-29 and shooting 72.4% but that doesn’t matter when your opponent is over 95% from the FREE throw line.

Yet there Levance Fields stood with two shots to tie the game with 5.5 seconds left and he sinks them both.  Why couldn’t his  teammates have that calm, cool and collected presence at the line throughout the game? 

I said in my Elite Eight Expectations blog that these things had to happen for the Panthers to have a chance to win:

Connect on more shots – they shot 48.1% CHECK

Not turn the ball over as much – Levance Fields went turnover-less and the team had 11 total CHECK

Stay out of foul trouble – No starter had more than three personal fouls – CHECK

But I forgot to mention the damn FREE throws. 

The Panthers were better than Villanova in every one of those categories but one.  You guessed it . . . friggin FREE THROWS!

ARGGHHHH!

Samy Young Consoles Levance Fields After Pitts 78-76 Loss To Villanova

Sam Young Consoles Levance Fields After Pitt's 78-76 Loss To Villanova

I feel sad for the seniors who really had a chance this year to win the title, Tyrell Biggs, Sam Young and Levance Fields.  There’s no doubt Sam Young will go to the NBA.  Maybe Tyrell Biggs plays in Europe.  But I truly hope to see Levance Fields playing for the Association.  He is small in stature, but huge in heart and toughness.  He almost Levanced his team with more late game heroics, but this time it didn’t work out the way it usually does for Pitt. 

Turns out those FREE throws were pretty darn costly . . .

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