That didn’t go the way we drew it up. I guess the good news is at least we don’t need to worry about Keith Dambrot getting fired this offseason.
It’s amazing to me how, for years, this game was very loosely officiated. Finally, the Dukes have some size to match Pitt and we get referees that won’t put the whistles away. I’m am in no way blaming the loss on the refs though free throws early in the second half did allow Pitt to slowly strangle the life out of a highly competitive to that point Duquesne team.
The Dukes finally established an inside presence in this series. Michael Hughes was certainly the best big man in the game, and I’m not sure how much better anyone on Pitt was inside than freshman Austin Rotroff. Duquesne’s success in this series for the foreseeable future will revolve around their ability to get the ball inside.
I hate to say it but almost everything else. The Dukes had 11 turnovers in both halves, shot miserably from 3 after a hot start, played another 30 minutes game, and while they didn’t get many easy shots, they didn’t finish a number of the ones they did get. The only two players to have a decent game for Duquesne were the aforementioned Rotroff and M Hughes, and Rotroff rode the pine for much of the game thanks to foul trouble. Outside of those two, only Eric Williams, Jr hit more than one field goal, and he shot 30% for the evening.
Player of the Game
There were no individual standouts for Pitt, but I loved what Malik Ellison brought at both ends of the floor. He was their workhorse and the only Panther to play more than 30 minutes.
The Turning Point
I alluded to it earlier, but neither team could score from the field in the early part of the second half. Pitt pulled ahead by seven at the free throw line. It was a grueling six minutes to watch as a fan and even a stuff by Michael Hughes for the Dukes’ first points of the second half four minutes in wasn’t enough to spark them.
When I Knew It Was Over
The three point make by Sidy N’dir with about five minutes remaining. I didn’t even realized at that point how wide the gulf had become at that point, but down 16 would’ve required a miracle comeback.
Credit Where It’s Due
Pitt hasn’t played pressure half court defense like that since the middle of Jamie Dixon’s tenure. It was like Jeff Capel III looked at Dixon’s play book on how to beat Duquesne and the Panthers extended the Dukes’ guards halfway back to campus on most possessions. They took advantage of the Dukes inexperience as they really haven’t seen that level of intensity to this point. Some of the turnovers and mistakes were on the Dukes, but it was like a number of the freshman felt the residual footsteps from earlier offensive sets even when they had time to work with the ball in the middle portion of the second half. Pitt was no question in their head.
What We Learned
This team is still very much a work in progress and while we haven’t noticed their collective inexperience both in college basketball and as a unit all that often, we saw issues last night as they faced serious adversity on the offensive end. Hopefully, they will learn from this, because they looked very green last night.
The outcome did little to change my feelings on the future of the City Game that I outlined yesterday. I still believe it will be a tightly played series moving forward but the Dukes missed an opportunity to lay the groundwork this year. In the grand scheme of things, this game means very little to this season or the program moving forward other than Pitt stole a little of the local momentum and earned good will back from Duquesne.