Pitt needs bench to step up

Maddie Meyer

After a hot start, Pitt's basketball team has had to fight through some struggles. First, the team suffered their first loss to Cincinnati three games ago. After rebounding against Cal Poly to win by 17, the Panthers had another subpar effort against Albany this week, winning by a modest 12 points.

Part of the problems go back to the team's reserves. The Panthers' bench over that stretch hasn't played all that well.

Against Cincinnati, the bench players scored only five points while shooting a combined 1-8 from the field. The group rebounded a bit in the win against Cal Poly with 20 points, but shot only 7-17 (41%). Earlier this week against Albany, they had another bad performance with eight points on 4-14 (29%).

Scoring isn't the only thing missing. The reserves haven't contributed much in the way of rebounding or assists, either. They did a reasonable job with ten rebounds against Cal Poly, but their seven assists were canceled out with their seven turnovers. In the other two games, they contributed only 11 boards and four assists.

The biggest problem is that practically everybody's brand new. Jamel Artis and Josh Newkirk are true freshmen, and Chris Jones is a redshirt freshman. None played at all last year. Derrick Randall is a junior, but came over from Rutgers after not playing much there. Durand Johnson is the only guy that played with last year's team at all and he's only a sophomore. Just not a ton of experience with the group.

They should get better as the season goes along and there's some good potential here for next year, but I expect they'll continue to be a bit up and down just because of their youth and inexperience.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and manager/editor of Cardiac Hill @AnsonWhaley

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