Pitt starting PF Nasir Robinson was unfortunately injured during practice. Robinson, while not a tremendous offensive talent, is the type of player that Pitt is built on. Above average rebounder for his size and strong defensive player.
Robinson underwent surgery for a torn meniscus yesterday and is expected to miss 3-6 weeks, depending on how fast he heals.
On paper, this might not sound like a big loss, but it is fairly significant because it reduces Pitt's depth - another trademark of the program.
So, what happens now?
Well the good news is that he should return this season and he's expected to get back to 100%:
We expect Nasir to make a full recovery," Pitt Head Basketball Coach Jamie Dixonsaid, through a press release. "The surgery was a success and we know that Nasir will work hard during the rehabilitation process."
The worst case scenario has him missing about six weeks and ten games, but even under that scenario, Pitt should have him back just in time for the SEC/Big East Invitational on December 11th. Obviously if he were to take the full six weeks, he'd just be getting back into form by then, but the point is he should be back before the start of Big East play.
But in the meantime, his injury opens the door for redshirt freshman, Talib Zanna. As I pointed out before, Zanna had a very good summerand was already looking to steal minutes from Robinson. This just makes it that much easier for Zanna who, if he plays well enough, still might not start this season but could force Dixon into potentially splitting the minutes between he and Robinson.
Zanna could be a better scorer and with Robinson's absence, will take away some of the scoring punch from Pitt's bench. If Zanna is indeed inserted into the starting lineup, J.J. Richardson would probably back him up.
A second option would be for Pitt to go with a smaller lineup. The team could play Gil Brown at the 4 where he's undersized, but a mismatch for larger defenders, move Brad Wanamaker to SF, Ashton Gibbs to SG, and start Travon Woodall. Pitt would lose some rebounding obviously, but the team would probably be a better offensive unit.
Another less likely option for coach Jamie Dixon could be to start Dante Taylor at the 4. He's currently expected to remain as the backup center to Gary McGhee and I doubt Dixon would make this move. The biggest problem with this is that J.J. Richardson would then become the backup center to McGhee. Richardson is more suited for the 4 and if both McGhee and Taylor were to start and get into foul trouble, the team's frontcourt depth would be extremely thin. But since power forward is Dante Taylor's natural position, he could fit in well there if Dixon decided to go that route.
In the end, I expect Zanna to start and push for minutes at power forward all season long.