By Ray Fittipaldo
NEW YORK – Was Pitt ready to play Thursday night against West Virginia?
That seems like a silly question before a Big East tournament game. The Panthers treat tournament games at Madison Garden with great respect. They were 23-8 in the Garden since 2001 before last night.
But West Virginia coach Bob Huggins and some WVU players didn’t feel like the Panthers were treating the game or the Mountaineers with much respect before the game. Check out the story in today’s edition of the Charleston Daily Mail.
WVU beat writer Mike Casazza reports that the West Virginia players thought the Pitt players were joking around too much during pregame warm-ups. Apparently, it was so over the top that Huggins made it part of his pregame speech.
I watched the Panthers go through part of their warm-up and nothing seemed out of the ordinary to me. This is a very loose team that likes to joke around. But it did strike me that other teams might not like the way the Panthers prepare for games.
When Pitt lost at Providence last month I thought the Panthers were too loose during the pregame. The Friars student section was whooping it up every time the Panthers missed shots during the pregame shoot-around. So DeJuan Blair started missing shots badly on purpose just to get a reaction out of the students.
That was the only time all year that I didn’t think the Panthers were ready to play. Now other people – more importantly opposing players – are picking up on it.
It’s good to be a loose bunch, but can they be too loose?
The Mountaineers thought so. And in the NCAA tournament there is no need to give opposing teams any extra motivation.