The Pitt Panthers picked up their third loss of the season on Saturday, and it sure came in disappointing fashion. The St. John’s Red Storm upended the Panthers at Madison Square Garden on the game’s final play. Despite the 60-59 loss, Jamie Dixon’s squad is still 12-2 in Big East play, good enough still for a comfortable two-game lead over second place Notre Dame. On Monday, Dixon joined 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh to talk about the Panthers’ solid season to date, the disappointing loss to St. John’s on Saturday, if he thought the final play should have even counted, and what his team needs to do to put the defeat behind them as they get ready for the final home stretch prior to March Madness. (transcript via: SportsRadioInterviews)
What do you think of your body of work overall this season in the Big East?
"Umm good obviously. I mean we are in first place in a pretty good league. I think we can all agree to that. We’re playing very good basketball and we’re getting ready for our next one, so you know I think we’ve done some good things and we need to improve as always, but guys are working hard, so yeah we’re getting ready for Thursday. West Virginia will be a big game for us."
Where was it that St.John’s got you on Saturday? Was there something you could take back if you could?
"Well obviously the last play. I mean we lost there. We were up there pretty much the whole second half and obviously they made a tough shot at the end, but we did a lot of good things. I wish we could have out-rebounded them. That’s something that we’ve done all year long. We lead the country in rebounding and came out even on the boards and I think that was something we needed to get done. We didn’t do that and obviously getting to the free throw line. They got there far more times than we did in the second half. That was something we do real well too. We get to the free throw line more than our opponents. So those are the two things, but you know we lost to a good team on a last second play. That’s a matter of inches as we all know and I guess was seen afterwards, but you know that’s how it goes in a good league. You gotta play well every night and I think that’s what makes our league so interesting because there are so many good teams and you can play one really good team and you could go play another really good team and play another really good team and you can’t even have a breakdown for even a stretch. That’s what exciting about the Big East and why it is the best conference."
What does this team need to improve on here at the end of the season?
"I think we’re defending better and that’s been a good thing. We’ve really been trying to improve in that area. Just perimeter defense, we’ve got to continue to guard ball screens really well, which I think we have. We’ve done a real good job. We had a stretch where we weren’t good enough. We’re doing that. Taking care of the ball I think that’s another thing we’re really good at. All these things I’m telling you we’re at the top of the country in doing, but we just need to have them there every single good, but over the long run we’ve been as good as our record indicates, but in one game if you have a slight drop in any of those things it could really come out. Like I said the rebounding thing was we lead the country in yet we didn’t get it done against St.John’s on Saturday."