I just got back from a trip to Morgantown, WV where I watched the 4th-ranked Pitt hoops team knock off West Virginia 71-66 in the 181st hard-court edition of the Backyard Brawl.
The same place a year ago where I witnessed WVU spark their season with a 70-51 shutdown of the Panthers.
A year later in Morgantown, while the potty-mouthed crowd still chants "Eat ____ Pitt" and other wholesome family taunts, Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks are gone from the Mountaineers lineup. Meanwhile, Pitt is a year stronger and deeper. And even without guard Ashton Gibbs in the lineup for the Panthers, their multi-player attack exposed West Virginia big time on Monday night at the Coliseum.
WVU coach Bob Huggins gushed about Pitt after the game:
"Wannamaker, Brown drive it. Robinson drives it. They just attack the rim. We're outmanned. They went 1 for 6 from three, they just pound it at you and pound it at you and pound it at you. They've got good players and a good coach, that's what it is. And they share the ball. It's admirable in today's times, you've got all these guys who think they're going to go play in the league. [Pitt] just plays, man, they just play to win. They don't force shots, they don't force things they can't do. It's kind of refreshing, actually. Not tonight it wasn't. Tonight it was, well I can't say what it was but you know what I mean."
Huggs is a joy to listen to. Dead honest with a sharp wit, he deserves a ton of respect for what he's done with the Mountaineers here on the heels of their 2010 Big East Championship and Final Four run. But Huggins knows this is not his year to sustain it. I haven't seen a WVU team with so little offense in a long time.
More great stuff from the WVU coach, this time a scathing review of his own lineup:
"What do you want me to do? I can't trade 'em. I could waive 'em I guess but I can't get anything for 'em. We can't shoot. What do you want me to do? I get tired of watching them miss, I don't know about you. See I have to watch them every day in practice. I mean after a while you're like 'damn, somebody bank one in or something.'"
Here in the days after a lost Steelers championship, Pitt hoops fans can perhaps ease that pain by taking pleasure in the rebuilding that their biggest rival is going through. Somehow, for the last decade, Pitt hasn't had to deal with this. While WVU is on the down cycle, Jamie Dixon's squad is cycling back for another shot at the promised land