Crushed? Yes, crushed. The game was not nearly as close as the score indicated. t's early, but this could be a longer season than we thought it would be. Pitt was beaten by Notre Dame 72-59 and the score wasn't all that indicative of how easily Pitt was defeated. Keep in mind that the Panthers were down by 17 until a bit of a late surge.
Where to start ... how about some good news? The Panthers won the rebounding battle 35-29 unofficially and also cut back on turnovers as they only had nine.
Okay, now for the bad. There was again no offense.
Pitt shot only 40% from the field and had to make some late baskets to even do that. They were also a dismal 1-14 from three-point range. Talib Zanna's a fine player, but anytime he's the leading scorer (which he was with 13 points), that's generally going to be a bad thing.
And man, where oh where is J.J. Moore? He was frequently mentioned as the player most likely to step up for Pitt this season (though I had some questions about that), but 14 games in, he's only gotten into double figures three times. Even worse, he's been held to five points or less seven times and tonight was the third time he's gone scoreless. Pitt simply needs something from him ... anything. Moore is starting to pick up a bit of Gilbert Brown syndrome. He's actually averaging seven points, but as you can tell from the stats I just mentioned, it's kind of been a feast or famine with him.
Pitt also got Tray Woodall back from injury tonight, but he wasn't able to help. At all.
Woodall went 0-5 from the field, was scoreless, and had two assists and two turnovers in 18 minutes of play. Obviously he'll get better, but that wasn't quite the debut I'm sure he was hoping for.
Things are going to get a lot tougher for Pitt and in a hurry. No knock to Notre Dame, but they're not expected to be very good this year. The Irish came in 8-5 and while they had played a much tougher schedule than Pitt, they didn't have a single quality win to their account. And without forward Tim Abromaitis, who's out for the season, expectations have been even lower.
So where are we now? Well, it's not nearly time to write Pitt off yet. They're a young team as I've pointed out before with a really young bench. But it is time for some genuine concern. Pitt has three losses to teams you would have expected them to beat and have yet to even scratch the surface in terms of their schedule difficulty. Games remain against ranked teams like Syracuse, Louisville, UConn, and Marquette ...
And those are just on the road. Yeah, things are about to get much tougher.
Simply put, this just isn't Pitt basketball. The team seemingly has no edge, is routinely outhustled for loose balls, and maybe it's just me, but I don't notice the physicality being there (on either end). Those are the things that propelled Pitt to success even when they've maybe been outmanned in the talent department. Take them away and the team looks flat out ordinary. Pitt needs to get back to getting easy shots and shooting better from the outside wouldn't hurt, either.
The team clearly has a way to go.