Notebook: Blair named finalist for Player of the Year

By Mike Gladysz

DAYTON, Ohio ‘- Pitt center DeJuan Blair was announced on Sunday as one of three players up for… DAYTON, Ohio ‘- Pitt center DeJuan Blair was announced on Sunday as one of three players up for the 2009 Naismith Player of the Year award. Connecticut’s Hasheem Thabeet and Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin join Blair in contention for the award, which is in its 40th season. Blair, a sophomore and the only unanimous all-Big East first-team selection this year, is first in the nation in offensive rebounding and fourth in total rebounding. He split Big East player-of-the-year honors with Thabeet. Danger in Dayton After coming face-to-face with what might have been its biggest scare of the season on Friday against East Tennessee State, No. 1-seeded Pitt knew it needed to make some major changes on Sunday. The Bucs had 11 more offensive rebounds and 18 more second-chance points than Pitt did on Friday, nearly giving the Panthers an early Tournament exit. But Pitt turned it around on Sunday, outrebounding Oklahoma State by 14 on the offensive side and by 20 overall. Those offensive rebounds led to 21 second-chance points for Pitt, 14 more than the Cowboys had. Pitt, Dixon and Young reach for records Pitt, which improved to 30-4 on the season, has now won 30 or more games twice in history. The 2003-04 Pitt team, which advanced to the Sweet 16, was 31-5. Sam Young’s 32 points also brought him into the history books, making him Pitt’s all-time leading scorer in NCAA Tournament play with 130 points. He passed Carl Krauser, who scored 125 Tournament points from 2003-06. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, meanwhile, passed ex-North Carolina coach Everett Case for the most NCAA Division I wins by a coach in his first six seasons. Dixon now holds the record at 162. View from the bench Pitt walk-on guard Ryan Tiesi said he had as good a view as anyone while watching Levance Fields’ last shots against Oklahoma State. Even from the bench, he said he could feel Fields’ last shot slicing through the net. ‘It was just awesome,’ said Tiesi in the locker room after the game. ‘Levance is a gamer, we know that. I knew it was good before it even left his hands.’