Insider Only When looking back at last night’s game, empty possessions will haunt Panthers

Scottie Reynolds late second bucket pushed Villanova past Pittsburgh and into the Final Four. Pitt’s dreams of making the final four ended from what is being described as “a play for the ages.” While last night’s game will go down as an instant classic that will be talked about for years, Villanova executed down the stretch and Pitt didn’t.
With less than two minutes and thirty seconds remaining in the game, the Panthers held a four point lead and they had too many empty possessions in the final three minutes of the game. They got away from working the ball inside to DeJuan Blair late in the game. I felt Levance Fields was going for the big shot and Pitt needed to slow the game down, pound the ball inside with Blair or Young for the high percentage play. Blair finished the game with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Jay Wright and Villanova executed very well under pressure in the final few minutes but Pitt was given new life when Villanova made a cross court inbound pass which led to Levance Fields tying the game at 76-76 with 5.5 seconds remaining in the game.
Too much pressure on the inbound pass with 5.5 seconds

The Panthers had three players (Jermaine Dixon, Levance Fields, and Sam Young) covering two players in Villanova’s end on the inbound pass. The numbers were in the Panthers favor but it was a risky formation because of exactly what happened. Reynolds gets by Pitt’s pressure and he’s off for the races. Pittsburgh should have been a bit more conservative, playing man to man on the inbound pass and having three players back and implementing pressure at mid-court.
Tidbits
Villanova was 22-23 on free throws and that’s what it comes down too in a one or two point game.
Sam Young had a phenomenal NCAA Tournament to end his career at Pitt. Young had a game high 28 points and when Blair, Young combine for 48 points in game, Pittsburgh expects to win. Young has solidified his status as a 1st round pick. Young is currently projected as a mid-late first round pick. What‚Äôs going to hurt status the most — age. NBA teams love young players.
DeJuan Blair was 9-9 from the field against Villanova. Blair is another player who very well might have played in his last game at Pitt. Blair is currently seen as a mid first round pick. If Blair returns to school, he will have some help coming his way with the arrival of high school All-American Dante Taylor. Taylor is being regarded as a one and done player who could be a potential lottery pick in 2010.
Villanova showed the ability to be a serious problem for Oklahoma or North Carolina in the final four. The better matchup for Villanova will be North Carolina.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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