So, UConn lost last night 76-68 to Pittsburgh. I'm still more optimistic than Justin is, but I think his recap came pretty close to hitting the nail on the head. Anyway, I came away with three thoughts from the game, you can see them after the jump.
- Jerome Dyson's presence will be missed, but it does not end the season. Kemba Walker played great, as did Stanley Robinson, who hit a few big baskets in the second half and was two points shy of a double-double. As I wrote yesterday, I think Dyson's absence will be missed most against tough physical teams like Pitt and in situations like the Big East Tournament where UConn will have to play three games in three days.
- DeJuan Blair is extremely good and probably the worst matchup in the country for Hasheem Thabeet. He killed the Huskies last night, and was certainly helped by the fact that Thabeet only played for 23 minutes. Plus, a lot of that was due to some cheap fouls. Quick pop quiz, look at this picture and tell me who is fouling who: If you said that it looks like Blair is fouling Thabeet, congratulations, you have eyes. If you think Thabeet is fouling Blair, congratulations, you are a Big East official. The point is, Pitt is a very good, very physical team. UConn's big man got in foul trouble, Pitt's did not. When that happens, Pitt will win nine times out of 10.
- If anything is going to kill this UConn team down the stretch, it will be the same Achilles heel that has haunted the Huskies for years. UConn shot 5-17 from 3-point range and was unable to hit a big long-range shot when it mattered down the stretch. A.J. Price shot pretty well (4-9 from beyond the arc), but Craig Austire was a dreadful 1-5.
At the end of the day, there are two important things to remember: UConn was not going to run the table, with or without Dyson; and Pitt is a very, very good basketball team. The Panthers are a bad matchup for UConn, especially with a limited Thabeet and were ranked No. 4 for a reason. No one likes losing, but dropping a close game to Pitt is nothing to be ashamed about.
Ultimately, UConn is probably going to lose two or three more games before the NCAA Tournament, but they are still more than capable of getting to Detroit.