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Pitt looks just as bad on TV as it does in person


FROM THE CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP MAN CAVE — Whether you’re watching on TV or in the flesh at the Pete, Pitt’s problems are the same:
No guiding force at point guard.
No big man in the paint.
No help off the bench.
No ability to rally late in the game.
Pitt added another liability Tuesday night in its 61-52 loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta: No scoring punch.
With Georgia Tech up by only 54-52 and 2:55 left, Pitt went scoreless. That’s similar to how the latter stage of this season has developed: With an NCAA Tournament bid at stake, Pitt lost four of its past five games.
Ryan Luther returned to the lineup for the first time in more than a month (broken bone in his foot), but he scored only one point off the bench. Of Pitt’s 52 points — the third-worst offensive output of the season — 41 came from Michael Young (16), Cam Johnson (13) and Jamel Artis (12).
Pitt had no answer for Georgia Tech’s 6-foot-10 center Ben Lammers, who scored 15 of his 20 points after halftime. He’s bigger than every Pitt player, but hardly an immovable force. Yet, he looked that way against Pitt.
On his radio show after the game on KDKA-FM, coach Kevin Stallings gave another honest assessment, noting Pitt missed several open shots and suffered some untimely defensive breakdowns. He said his players played hard, but not always well.
Later, speaking to reporters, Stallings said his team at times lacks “coachabililty.”
“We’ve got some guys trying really hard, but we need to do a better job of doing what we’re told,” he said.

Georgia Tech was playing for a chance to reach the NCAA Tournament in coach Josh Pastner’s first season. Pitt was trying to avoid its first losing season in 17 years, also under a first-year coach.
If the final score is a good indicator (and it usually is), Georgia Tech’s motivation was a bit stronger.
It’s difficult to accurately gauge a team’s effort from TV, but Pitt clearly played harder and better last week in its loss to Wake Forest.
The loss drops Pitt to 15-15 (4-13 in the ACC) and in a tie for 14th place in the conference with N.C. State, a team that already has fired its coach. Pitt concludes the regular season Saturday at Virginia, with the Wahoos coming off a big victory Monday night against North Carolina.
If Pitt finishes 14th, it will play a first-round ACC Tournament game Tuesday against No. 11 (either Wake Forest or Georgia Tech).
The strength of the ACC isn’t the only reason Pitt is losing. The Panthers are 2-7 against ranked ACC teams; 2-6 when the opponent is unranked.
If Pitt loses to Virginia, only back-to-back victories in the tournament will save the Panthers from a losing season.
The most recent Pitt losing season was 1999-2000 — Ben Howland’s first — but he inherited a team from Ralph Willard that was 25-32 in the previous two seasons.
Jamie Dixon left Stallings four experienced seniors from an NCAA Tournament team. The falloff was supposed to occur next year when Young, Artis, Sheldon Jeter and Chris Jones were gone.
Now the question is: How long until the replacements and new recruits develop?
Stallings deserves a chance to make this right, but it’s a task that could stretch to the doorstep of the next decade.



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