Once again, Pittsburgh’s rolling through the college hoops season. The Panthers are 15-1, feature the nation’s most efficient offense, and a deep, balanced roster that plays unselfish, entertaining ball.
Like I said, nothing new. Pitt’s won nearly 260 games the last 10 years, two Big East tournaments and hasn’t missed the NCAA tournament since 2002. And it’s done all that while making the transition from Ben Howland’s defensive-minded teams to Jamie Dixon’s intricate offensive style.
But this isn’t a post pondering Pitt’s place among the college hoops powers (that’s a longer post best suited for the summer doldrums). It’s about Pitt and its fanbase no longer being satisfied with yearly excellence.
It’s about the NCAA tournament and Pitt’s perennial disappointments in March. It’s about wanting more. From a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column by Ron Cook:
No matter what Pitt does the rest of the way in the Big East, it will be judged by its performance in the NCAA tournament. That’s the curse of being such a strong program. Then again, as Dixon said, it beats the heck out of the alternative.
What are you? A glass-half-full person? You’re thinking it’s a remarkable achievement that Pitt is headed toward its 10th consecutive NCAA tournament.
Or are you a half-empty person? You’re saying Pitt has underachieved once it’s made it there. It’s never been to a Final Four, reached the Round of Eight just once, never defeated a higher-seeded team and was eliminated by a lower seed six times.
The Panthers’ continued excellence is worth admiring and applauding. Even the most accomplished programs and coaches (North Carolina, UConn, UCLA) have down years. But at some point, just winning won’t be enough.
Put it this way: The more Pitt keeps racking up regular-season wins, the more vocal the half-empty people will become if Pitt never makes the Final Four.
That’s life as a Big East program that racks up wins year after year.
Want more? I’m also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller.