Seventeen years ago today, Pitt-fans learned who Diane Wade is.
Not that Wade was shrouded in anonymity for his legendary 2003 NCAA tournament – as a junior at Marquette, he was already one of the most notable players in the country with an average of 21.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.2 steals.
But for an occasional basketball fan, Pitt, the 27th of March was the best moment, the day they met one of the greatest goalkeepers in history.
When I was four years old, I didn’t pretend to see the game firsthand. But according to my father, he clearly remembers something he thought of when he saw Wade’s dream of the elite 8 Panther on television.
Where did this guy come from?
The answer is Chicago, but you’ll be forgiven if you come up with conspiracy theories about how Wade was dropped as a baby by the basketball gods. He played a classic against the Panthers and scored 22 points for the 77:74 victory, which marked the end of the Ben Holand era.
Before we go into the details of the game, here are a few fun facts that will help you remember where each team that was part of your Sweet 16 meeting was.
– Markett (26-5) was then a member of the USA Conference and it was only the fourth game against Pitt (28-5). They became classic rivals at the Great Eastern Conference, but it only began when the Golden Eagles joined them in 2005.
– Pitt was an incredibly balanced team on offense with six players – Julius Page, Brandin Knight, Shevon Trautman, Yaron Brown, Donatas Zawatzkas and Ontario Lett, in that order – averaging 12.2 to 9.7 points per game.
– In general, the Panthers, led by coach Ben Houland, had one of the most wretched defenders in the country, scoring only 58.8 points per game, earning fourth place in the country.
– Trautman’s 71.9% off-court shot allowed all players in the country…
– Recognized as one of the highest forward in NBA history, the 6-foot fourth calf has averaged 1.3 blocks per game this season – more than any other player for Pitt.
– After losing for the title in the previous two seasons, Pitt finally won in the 15th minute. In March, his first tournament in the Far East, in which UConn, 74-56, exploded.
– The Panthers swam past their first two opponents of the tournament and defeated Wagner 87-61 Nr. 15 and Indiana 74-52 Nr. 7.
– Marquette, on the other hand, narrowly escaped in the first round and took 14th place. Lord’s Cross and won with 72:68.
– Besides Wade, the Golden Eagles had a future NBA sniper, Steve Novak.
Of course Wade didn’t look like a living legend in the first half and only scored two points in the penalty shootout (5-1). However, his teammates took the lead and both teams took the lead with 34-34 points.
I think Wade just had to breathe. He came out of the break like a madman and fired all four shots in the first five minutes of the second half. It was clear that Pitt’s incredible season and his 11 victories were in jeopardy.
All hell broke loose and there’s about 14 minutes left. In the next five minutes Wade played all the pieces that would make him a fan of the next level. First there was a block on the Latvian where he seemed to defy gravity, how long he stayed in the air. On the other side of the wharf, Wade Brown made a fool of himself with his patented faux pas. He put everything in the same layer as when he fell to the ground, his eyes were not near the tire.
Wade flew and threw himself into the water with the remaining 4:50, leaving the Market with 70-59 points and the game apparently ended.
But Pitt returned to the competition and started the race 11-1, ahead of Trautman, who scored 15 points in the 6-7 shooting. Le Chevalier, who was 55 seconds behind, reduced Pitt’s deficit to 73-72.
After the rifle clock came on the market, Wade put the finishing touches to his second half of a 20-point masterpiece. He grabbed the ball from defender Travis Deaner and immediately attacked the basket, passing Knight with a jumping stop before almost lifting the swimmer on the fingers of a jumping trout.
He kissed high behind the shield and through the net, ending the legendary career of Knight and Howland in Pitt.
Seven seconds before the end, the knight levelled with the last three points, but his shot came out.
Before the match, the knight showed a pleasant performance lately, sacrificing blue and gold and leading Pitt with 16 points and 11 assists. Brown crushed 14 points and page 11 to complete Pitt’s backyard. This devastating defeat also meant the last game of Knight’s classmates Lett and Zavakas.
During that off-season, Howland took the only job he wanted to leave Pitt for – a head coaching position at the University of California, just steps away from where a native of Southern California grew up. He passed the 89-40 Panther in four seasons and is now the head coach of Mississippi State.
Wade had an even better performance in the elite eight against Kentucky’s number one, scoring 29 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds for the only fourth triple record in NCAA history. His Golden Eagles finally met in the Final Four and lost second place. Kansas 94-61.
Of course, it wasn’t Wade’s academic career that made him famous. Later that year, he finished fifth at the Miami Heat, where his famous NBA career began, which included 13 star appearances, a title and three trophies in the NBA final.
Mention, however, that Wade is a hard incest man, and they won’t talk about his career as a Hall of Fame professional, but about the infamous game in which he single-handedly raised one of the most talented teams in Pitt’s history.