Pitt’s Journey to the NCAA Men’s Elite Eight

Issue Date: 
April 6, 2009

From the season opener’s tipoff to its glorious destination of the NCAA Elite Eight, the 2008-09 Pitt men’s basketball season marked a year of remarkable achievement.

Along the way, Pitt enjoyed several firsts. It advanced to the NCAA Regional Final and Elite Eight for the first time since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams. The last time Pitt advanced as far in the tournament was in 1974. Pitt earned its first-ever No. 1 seed upon entering the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers also ascended to the nation’s consensus No. 1 national ranking for the first time in school history and held the top spot for three weeks during the season (Jan. 5, Jan. 12, and Feb. 23). Pitt also defeated the nation’s No. 1- ranked team for the first time in school history (76-68 win at Connecticut on Feb. 16).

In addition, Pitt set school records for most victories in a season (31-5 record), most Big East regular season wins (15-3), most home wins (19), total home attendance (212,682 in 19 games), and best average home attendance (11,194 per game).

Individually, several Panthers achieved on a national scale. Sophomore center DeJuan Blair became the first player at Pitt to earn First Team All-America honors from the Associated Press since Don Hennon achieved that honor in 1957-58. The Big East’s co-Player of the Year, Blair earned consensus First Team All-America honors from virtually every granting organization. Senior forward Sam Young, who became just the fourth player in school history to earn All-Big East First Team honors in two seasons, earned several All-America honors, set his own single-season scoring record, and finished fourth on Pitt’s all-time career scoring list with 1,884 career points. An All-America, All-Big East, and three-time Bob Cousy Award nominee, senior point guard Levance Fields set Pitt’s single season assists record and led the nation for the majority of the season in both assists per game and assist:turnover ratio.