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Thread: Panthers No. 2 seed for Big East tournament

      
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    Default Panthers No. 2 seed for Big East tournament

    Panthers No. 2 seed for Big East tournament
    Senior guard Jermaine Dixon sustains injury to right ankle to mar a rare blowout victory

    Sunday, March 07, 2010
    By Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


    Pitt's Gilbert Brown drives to the net against Rutgers' Patrick Jackson Saturday.

    Eight Big East teams were picked to finish ahead of Pitt in a preseason poll of the league's coaches in October. When the dust settled on the final day of the regular season Saturday afternoon, the surprising Panthers were in second place in the conference standings.

    Not bad for a team that was expected to rebuild after losing four starters, including two who were drafted into the National Basketball Association.

    Pitt's 83-54 victory against Rutgers vaulted the No. 17 Panthers (24-7, 13-5) into a three-way tie for second place with West Virginia and Villanova. Pitt will be the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament this week because the Panthers owned the tiebreaker over the Mountaineers and Wildcats.

    Pitt will not have to play until the quarterfinals of the tournament at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. The opponent will not be determined until Wednesday night.

    "I think it shows how much we've come together from the beginning of the year," junior forward Gilbert Brown said. "It's a real testament to how hard we work. Nobody predicted us to finish No. 2. That really makes us feel proud as a unit."

    Pitt closed this memorable regular season with eight victories in its last nine games after losing four of five games during a midseason slump.

    The Panthers defeated three teams ranked in the Top 5 this season, including current No. 1 Syracuse in its home building.

    "It says a lot about this group and the character they have to finish in second place," coach Jamie Dixon said.

    "They weren't picked second by anybody. But they're a good group of kids, and I'm proud of them. This team has improved all year, and I don't think we want to stop improving now. This team has improved more than any team in the country, more than any team, probably, ever has from November to March.

    "Why stop now?"

    Pitt's unexpected second-place finish is the reason Dixon is a strong candidate for Big East coach of the year honors. Dixon, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and Marquette coach Buzz Williams are the three top candidates.

    Count Rutgers coach Fred Hill among the coaches who cast his vote for Dixon.

    "He's done a phenomenal job," Hill said.

    "I voted for him as coach of the year. I think he has done an unbelievable job. To lose the talented young men that he lost ... that's the sign of a great program. To finish in second place is a phenomenal job."

    [HIGH-LIGHT]It wasn't all good news for Pitt.

    Senior guard Jermaine Dixon left the game early in the second half with a sprained right ankle.

    Jermaine Dixon said after the game that the injury would not prevent him from playing Thursday night, but Jamie Dixon said he will know more about the injury today or Monday.

    Dixon first rolled the ankle late in the first half. He tried to start the second half, but had to come out of the game shortly after the second half started.[/HIGH-LIGHT]


    "On ankles, you usually don't know right after a game," Jamie Dixon said.

    "That would be the only negative tonight. Hopefully, there's not a problem. But, oftentimes with ankles, it takes 24 hours [to find out the severity of the injury]."

    Jermaine Dixon was one of five Pitt players to score in double figures. Pitt's bench, which has been inconsistent throughout the season, gave the Panthers a big boost. The reserves scored 41 points, including a game-high 19 from Brown and 11 from backup center Dante Taylor.

    It was Taylor's first double-figure scoring game since scoring 10 against Syracuse Jan. 2. Taylor, who was 5 for 8 from the field against Rutgers, has slowly emerged as a strong force in the middle for the Panthers.

    "It felt real good," Taylor said. "I just tried to come out and play. I got a little confidence back. I was just trying to be aggressive."

    After scoring only four points in a seven-game stretch in late January and early February, Taylor has scored 31 in the past six games. He is 15 for 22 from the field in the past six games.

    "I just think he's getting better," Jamie Dixon said. "I don't know if it's confidence. He's playing better. We're seeing it in practice. He's getting better and better, more comfortable."

    Ashton Gibbs (13), Brad Wanamaker (12) and Jermaine Dixon (10) also scored in double figures for the Panthers.

    After Rutgers (15-16, 5-13) took a 5-3 lead early in the contest, Pitt scored the next 15 points to take a commanding, 18-5 lead.

    By halftime, it was 40-16, and the lead grew to 32 late before the walk-ons and reserves got into the game.

    Rutgers was the seventh Big East opponent that failed to score 60 points against Pitt, which finished the regular season as the league's top defensive team in terms of points allowed.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10066/1040930-175.stm
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    Default Re: Panthers No. 2 seed for Big East tournament

    Here's to them proving me wrong!

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    Default Re: Panthers No. 2 seed for Big East tournament

    Quote Originally Posted by ihateusernames View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Here's to them proving me wrong!
    X2.... And hoping Dixon isn't hurt....
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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