Saturday, February 24, 2007

Pitt/Georgetown: Pitt is fucked

There, I said it. Pitt is not going to win today without Aaron Gray.

Granted, I still haven't heard an official consensus from Jamie Dixon & co. as to whether the big guy will try to play or not, but it seems prett bleak at this point.

Gray is essentially the hubcap of the WHEEL OF DOOM. Guys feed off him. Even when he's not scoring, he's in there drawing defenders and kicking it out to open guys on the perimeter. He's also always rebounding, and it's also hard to overlook the impact he has defensively. Just standing there being a redwood tree makes a huge difference, because his top backup is Levon Kendall, who is not only a few inches shorter but weighs like a hundred pounds less.

In context of today's game, it's a double whammy because Kendall is the type of solid defender we'd want on a player like Jeff Green, not a mountain like Roy Hibbert. But if Gray can't play, it means Kendall has to take on Hibbert and someone like Sam Young to guard Green, which is a scary, scary thought.

I really don't have much faith in this team without Gray, because it's basically built around him. Next season, Dixon will change their scheme to fit the players they have, so I'm not worried about that so much. But for today, I can't see Pitt winning without their leading scorer/rebounder unless like three or four other guys step it up in a huge way and have career games, or something close to it.

But honestly, I'd just as soon Gray sat out than tried to play. Granted, I assume if he tries to play it'd be with the assumption that he would just be hampered today, and unlikely to make it worse. But I'm wary, because as a Pitt fan, I've been here before. When Brandin Knight injured his ankle in the run-up to the Big East Championship in 2003, then injured it again in the loss to Syracuse, then tried to play on it in the NCAA tournament and simply was not the same player, as Pitt bowed out to Dewayne Wade-led Marquette by three in the Sweet 16. He also just about ruined any chance he had at a pro career.

I don't know if the Gray situation is quite as bad, but it's an uneasy feeling. And with a team like Pitt, the only thing that matters is getting to the tournament and getting past the effin' Sweet 16. If that means we're cautious with Gray right now and lose this game to Georgetown and thus presumably lose the Big East regular season title in the process, so be it.


I dashed back from the Northeastern/George Mason game at halftime just to watch this, and now the Oklahoma State/Texas Tech game is dragging.

NEU pulled out the old boot-to-throat-apply-pressure playbook, building a 21-point halftime lead. They were up by 18 within five minutes and never really let go. It wasn't even a game, so it makes it much easier to leave. Not that there's any inner debate or anything, I know where my priorities are.

I've decided I really like CAA basketball though. It really does remind me of a glorified high school league, which is a lot of fun. Although maybe that's just because of the size of the crowd. I went to a quad-A WPIAL game over winter break and I seriously think it had a higher attendance than either of the two NEU games I've been to.


Texas Tech wins.

Gray isn't starting, but he "should play at some point" according to the CBS dudes.

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