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Thread: Quick Pitt stops

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    Default Quick Pitt stops

    Quick Pitt stops
    Pitt has lost 1st game in N.Y. past 2 years

    Monday, March 07, 2011
    By Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    When Gilbert Brown conjures up memories of Big East Conference tournaments past, he thinks back to the victory against Georgetown in the 2008 tournament championship game. Brown scored 12 points off the bench, including eight consecutive points in the first half when he jolted the Panthers from some early game jitters.

    [IMGL][/IMGL]"I remember it like yesterday," Brown said. "I bring it up sometimes, messing with guys, 'Remember that 8-0 run I put on Georgetown in the championship game?' It's a great memory. It's one of my proudest memories as a basketball player. To have done that as a freshman and have that experience is something I'll cherish forever."

    Brown and Pitt's other two seniors -- Brad Wanamaker and Gary McGhee -- have Big East tournament memories to cherish, but everyone else on the team has memories they would rather forget. The three seniors are the only current members of the team who have experienced a victory at the Big East tournament. The other 12 players on the roster have only bad memories of the conference tournament.

    After getting to the tournament championship game six times in a seven-year period from 2001-08, Pitt has lost its first game at the tournament the past two seasons. The Panthers lost in the quarterfinal round after receiving double byes, first to West Virginia in 2009 and to Notre Dame a year ago.

    "The last couple of years were really tough, especially after what I experienced my freshman year," McGhee said. "We always tell the guys what it's like to win a game up there, to see the fans cheering for us at the hotel when we get back. This year, we're going to get after it, and hopefully, bring home the Big East championship."

    Pitt has another great opportunity for a Big East tournament championship after securing the No. 1 seed in the tournament by winning the league's regular-season championship. The Panthers did that by beating Villanova, 60-50, Saturday evening at Petersen Events Center.

    The Panthers will be attempting to recapture the magic they had at the tournament for so many years in the past decade. They won the conference tournament in 2003 and '08 and lost the title game in '01, '02, '04, '06 and '07.

    What made the losses the past two years all the more painful is that the Panthers believe they squandered golden opportunities to add to their trophy case.

    In '09, Pitt finished 15-3 and was the No. 2 seed in the tournament behind first-place Louisville, but lost in the quarterfinal round to West Virginia, 74-60.

    Last season, the Panthers were 13-5 in conference play and once again the No. 2 seed in the tournament. Notre Dame sent the Panthers home early again, 50-45.

    "It's been tough, especially with our families up there the whole week," said junior guard Ashton Gibbs, referring to the Panthers' New York and New Jersey-bred players. "It's motivating us this year. I think we have the team to do it. We're going to go out there and play, man. I think we're going to do it. We're going to win it."

    Winning the tournament this season could be as difficult as it has ever been. The Big East will send 10 or 11 teams to the NCAA tournament. Connecticut, a team that figures to be a No. 4 or 5 seed in the NCAA tournament, is seeded ninth in the Big East tournament and must play Tuesday in a first-round game.

    Villanova, another team that figures to earn a middle seed in the NCAA tournament, is seeded 10th and also must play a first-round game.

    Pitt's path to the championship is filled with possible road blocks. The Panthers will play either Georgetown, Connecticut or DePaul in the quarterfinal round. If the Panthers advance to the semifinal round two possible opponents are St. John's and Syracuse. St. John's is one of three Big East teams to beat Pitt this season.

    Notre Dame, the hottest team in the conference heading into the tournament and the only team to defeat Pitt at Petersen Events Center this season, can't face the Panthers until the championship.

    "We're going to treat these games like any other game," Gibbs said. "We played every team in the tournament during the regular season. It starts in practice. We need to have a good week of practice and play hard. If we carry our momentum over from [the Villanova] game, we'll be fine."
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    Default Re: Quick Pitt stops

    I have a good feeling about the post-season and think Pitt is going to the Final Four. They may not have any real studs, but they have the best depth in the country. My post-season player to watch is Lamar Patterson.
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