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Pitt Knocks Off UConn

February 17, 2009

Pitt upset number 1 ranked UConn last night 76-68 and showed the nation why they’re one of the top teams.

DeJuan Blair proved that he is the top forward in the country by absolutely dominating much-hyped Thabeet. Blair put up 22 points and grabbed 23 rebounds. Thabeet, considered the best back-court player in the Big East, if not the country, was held to just 5 points and 4 rebounds. His low numbers were do partly to his foul trouble and partly because Blair outplayed him in every aspect.

In recent weeks Thabeet has been complimented and considered to be the top draft pick if he decides to leave UConn this season. But Blair, who is 8 inches shorter but much stronger, showed that Thabeet is far from NBA ready as Blair destroyed him by playing a physical NBA style against Thabeet. Blair consistently attacked Thabeet by driving into his chest and physically moving Thabeet on the box-out for rebounds. Thabeet looked like a freshman and showed that he needs to add muscle and find a physicality that is missing in his game.

Even UConn coach, Jim Calhoun, noted Blair’s dominance over Thabeet. In a sarcastic manner, Calhoun said Blair is the best player in the country and is absolutely ready for the NBA because his physical style of play is perfect for the NBA. Calhoun was implying that Blair’s play should be called for more fouls and that the NCAA’s rules generally do not suit him. Basically, he was bitching because Blair made his star center look like an ass.

What Calhoun’s comments highlight is that Thabeet is NOT NBA ready and that Blair is. So, maybe Blair should write Calhoun a check when he leaves after this season (he hasn’t said he will enter the NBA draft but what reason does he have to stay?).

Pitt also showed that if Blair stays out of foul trouble, there isn’t a team in the country that can beat them. It’s a bold statement but for weeks pundits were proclaiming UConn to be the best team in the country. Pitt, on UConn’s court, beat them down while leading nearly the entire game. There is just not a front-court player in the nation (maybe Blake Griffin) who can oust Blair. He’s too strong and too physical.

Add in Sam Young and Levance Fields and you have a team that will be a force to reckon with come March. Fields had a slow game but his 10 points late in the game show why he’s one of the best point guards in the nation. UConn had no answer to Sam Young as he consistently hit shots scoring 25.

The only negatives for this game would be Brad Wannamaker and Jermaine Dixon’s inability to hit a shot and the Brown’s foul trouble. If this team can stay healthy and can continue to get production out of Wannamaker, Dixon and Brown or Biggs there is no reason not to expect a Final Four birth.

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