I won't be covering Pitt's loss to WVU in-depth as frankly, I don't have the energy. WVU fans were classy as always, forcing their coach to tell them to stop throwing things onto the court. Way to go there, morons - how did 2007 taste?
Anyway, back to civilization where people eat with utensils and don't drag the roadkill straight to the dinner table.
I'll say it again - it's certainly not time to jump off of that bandwagon just yet. Pitt wasn't really expected to win this game so it's not too big of a deal. What IS kind of a big deal is the way they lost.
Pitt rarely loses by 19 points to anyone, and when they do coupled with the way they've been playing of late, there should be at least some cause for concern. They've been getting outplayed offensively and defensively, and worse, outhustled. Plus, when Brad Wanamaker and Gilbert Brown combine for as many points as I had, then you're not going to beat anybody. Pitt has shot under 38% over the past four games and that's something for which the players, not the coach, are generally more responsible.
So I preface these next few 'suggestions' with the disclaimer that Jamie Dixon is an unbelievable coach and don't think he could have done much more over these past few games. These are not 'sky is falling, somebody do something - fast' suggestions - just things to chew on.
With that said -
The stuff that Dixon does sometimes makes no sense at all. It's easy to look past the nonsensical stuff like starting John DeGroat (even though DeGroat was barely suitable for the bench) when Pitt is winning. Heck, it's even kind of amusing. But now that the team is struggling miserably, as has been the case for a while, it's time for a few legitimate questions to be asked. The questions that have been whispered all season and discounted as fans merely looking to stir the pot, should now be at least considered. It was easy, even fashionable, to lay low off the criticism because this team had been overachieving so much. But it's time to throw out the things everyone, except Dixon, seems to know:
- Ashton Gibbs has been downright bad as of late and Dixon keeps trotting him out there for his 35+ minutes per game. This one's tough because shooters need to be given the benefit of the doubt and most of the time, need to keep on shooting. But the defense has keyed on him more as of late and if Pitt can't spring him open, there's no sense in keeping him out there so much. Travon Woodall and Chase Adams have struggled, but it might be time to give them a little more playing time. I'm not saying to split the minutes or anything foolish like that - maybe just throw another five their way to give Gibbs more of a breather. Woodall has actually been better of late with only four turnovers in the past five games. And who knows - with even a few more minutes, Woodall might be able to provide a very small spark at times when Gibbs can't find his shot.
- Bob Smizik pointed out recently that Gilbert Brown should be starting. Now, I don't necessarily have a problem with him coming off the bench and I have a hard time saying he NEEDS to start. Nasir Robinson is a better rebounder and I like the offense Gil brings off the bench. But in effect, he may be your best 'go to' scoring option and he probably should be starting - especially with the Panthers needing more offense of late. I can live without this one, but Dixon should at least be thinking about it.
- Pleeeease get Dante Taylor at his natural spot at PF. He wants to play there and he's struggled miserably at center. Taylor has not been great and many times, he's not even been good, but it's time to see what he can do at the position he's used to. The defense has been fading a bit and Pitt really needed more size and rebounding tonight. Taylor may be able to provide that playing alongside McGhee. JJ Richardson can play backup center and you can still play Taylor there at times when needed. I know of Dixon's desire to keep him at one position this year, but having played a half season at center already, he should be able to serve as a third center if necessary. Taylor will need to develop some low post moves if he ever is going to play in the NBA (should he make it that far), but he can do that as a PF as well - not just at center.
I really hate throwing stuff like this out there because it makes it seem like I'm causing concern for panic when that's not the case at all. A large part of the team struggling is due to poor shooting, and that's something Dixon can't do much about. I think Pitt still makes it to the tournament and don't think there should be real concern unless they lose to Seton Hall at home. That will make getting to 10 conference wins a bit tougher. But it's clear that changes should at the very least, be considered.