So that poll from a week or so ago about the Panthers being in trouble may have been correct.
I admit to being a bit shocked that about 3/4 of voters said they were at the very least very concerned about Pitt's basketball program this season, but after tonight's lackluster effort, how could you feel any different?
Look, here are the facts - Pitt isn't very good at basketball right now. That sucks to say ... especially after having witnessed the program over the past decade or so when they've been one of the nation's best programs. But if you think this is Pitt basketball and they're simply going to flip a switch when they go up against the rest of the Big East, you're kidding yourself. That's not to say Pitt can't play well in prime time games such as the one they have coming up against Louisville soon, but this team is light years away from the Pitt basketball we've come to know and love.
Pitt's defense and rebounding, the two staples we like to preach so much about, were actually pretty good tonight. But this team is worse because of the shooting and simply taking care of the ball. There were another 17 turnovers against the Bearcats and the Panthers shot only 41% from the field. Pitt's done so well over the years, in part, anyway, to taking care of the ball and being efficient on offense. Sorry, but shooting 41% ain't gonna cut it.
The bench put together a 3-11 night and scored only eight points. In games without the starting point guard, Pitt needs a single reserve to score that many, not the entire unit. The bench has been up and down this year, but eight points? Man, that's awful. It didn't stop there, though...Two points from Dante Taylor in 29 minutes? Three from Cam Wright in 18 minutes? Those two guys combined for 1-8 from the field and there aren't many teams in the country that can survive a game with two starters producing that little.
Now, I'm not for rushing Woodall back from injury. The team needs to hold him out for as long as it takes for him to get healthy. But without him, this is clearly a different team. Not only is Pitt struggling to hang onto the ball and run the offense, but the team is missing another scorer. The way the current team is constructed, there's simply not enough offense. Part of that is due to Khem Birch bolting north, but part of it is also because the team is just so very young. Guys like Wright and John Johnson may be better scorers down the road, but they can't be counted on to come in and get key buckets on a regular basis right now.
And guys like Talib Zanna and even J.J. Moore (who we thought might be that big scorer this year) are role players at best. They simply aren't guys that are going to come in and make those types of baskets, either.
Pitt's problem is that they've got one go to guy right now - Ashton Gibbs. Nas, as I've written about before, can score with some proficiency. But to count on him to do that every night just isn't realistic.
The Panthers are going nowhere fast and it's hard to say that an end is in sight ... at least not a good one.