Pitt Hoops: Is this the year...

Reader slicendice112 asks the question some of us are thinking. Write your own Fanpost by clicking on the link over to the right.

....we finally miss the NCAA tournament?

This year Jamie Dixon is going to really have to work for his paycheck. Pitt is a young squad loaded with talent, and Dixon needs to learn what lineups work that allow us to play and compete at the level we should be competing at. Any avid Pitt fan knows that Dixon has a pretty set formula on how he goes about his business. Well...he needs to think outside the box starting now or we are in for a long season. If I were Jamie Dixon, I would start with the following changes....

Starting Lineup: Ashton Gibbs, Lamar Patterson, J.J. Moore, Dante Taylor, Nasir Robinson

I start this lineup because it's our most talented lineup. We go big at the 2 & 3 position to accommodate for Robinson being small. The keys to this lineup being successful are letting Lamar Patterson bring up the ball. Last year, Brad Wanamaker would bring up the ball. As soon as he crossed half court, he would pass it to Gibbs who would initiate the offense. This allowed Gibbs to not have to wear himself out with typical point guard duties and preserved his legs for shooting. Patterson has been playing well and has shown that he is fully capable of taking on some poing guard duties. We must feed Taylor and Robinson in the post. We did it a few times yesterday and Taylor had some nice moves. Finally, Moore MUST get aggressive on offense. He is the most athletic player on the team and should be able to get to the rim or get his shot off at will. Moore needs to stop playing like he is scared of doing something wrong. Defensively, this lineup is long and quick and has decent size to hit the boards.

Bench: Tray Woodall, John Johnson, Talib Zanna, Malcolm Gilbert, Cameron Wright

Woodall: Is not healthy. It was clearly evident yesterday in the game. He wasn't explosive on offense and he could barely slide laterally on defense. Rest him until he is 100%. Once he is, he should be the first guard off the bench and be the floor general for the second line.

Johnson: His play has dropped off a little since the first few games, but this guy is still an offensive juggernaut and should be taking between 5 and 10 shots a game. Defensively he is stellar, and he has shown that he can hold his own on the defensive end. I don't know if it's his personality, but his body language sometimes gives off the impression that he is sulking after a bad play. Johnson is a freshman and is one of the most talented offensive players to have come through Pitt in awhile. He needs to play with that confidence.

Zanna: Is and should be the first big man off of the bench. He has had monster games in points and on the boards. He botched a few layups last night, but he has been playing well and needs to continue to grow and improve. He plays good D on the block and can play either the 4 or 5 position. He just needs to be a rebounding/defensive animal and generate his own offense.

Gilbert: Why isn't he playing? He is big and he played well in the game he got in a few weeks back. If anything, he should be on the court for 5 - 7 minutes to give our big guys a blow but also to give him much deserved time on the court. This could pay dividends in the post season.

Wright: Defensive offensive game. Definitely shouldn't be starting. It's hard enough on Ashton Gibbs to get his own shot, how much harder are we making it by pairing him with a 2 guard that has no offense.

The year is far from over. All we need to do is look at UCONN from last year. We have a ton of talent and with a solid coaching effort from Dixon, there is no reason to think we can't end the year in the top 15.

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