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Easier Than Expected

I have to say I was a little surprised at how well Pitt played. I was expecting maybe a 6-8 point win and wouldn't have been shocked to see a loss. This game had all the makings for an upset - the first 'road' game of the year for a young team against a quality mid-major who was pumped up for the game. Instead, Pitt came out and played well in the first half, and even better in the second, winning by 13. Yes, Pitt let them hang around a bit much for my liking, but when they stepped it up, really put WSU away.

With a younger, smaller team, I expected this team would run more. What I didn't expect was to see them play so under control. The team last year was obviously better, but I have to admit this team is remarkably fun to watch. They get up and down the court quickly, yet are still disciplined and play good defense. The rebounding still needs work as evidenced by the -2 differential, but playing three guards a lot of the time will cause that. And the good news is that most of these guys will probably be staying all four years.

This game was really the Travon Woodall and Ashton Gibbs show and could be a sign for things to come. They shot over 50% from the field and combined for 37 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals. Gibbs is an absolute sharpshooter and Woodall (who may have been the beneficiary of extra attention being paid to Gibbs) was aggressive all night, driving to the basket and making plays happen. He should have had even more assists had guys not missed wide open shots. It's going to be interesting to see what kind of role he has next year with Isaiah Epps coming in. Now I don't want to look too far ahead, but Epps had apparently been told he could start. If Woodall keeps playing the way he did tonight, it would be hard to sit him. A lineup of Epps, Woodall, and Gibbs in two years could give teams fits.

And speaking of Gibbs, he's starting to look more and more like a leader. Unlike Wanamaker who can be streaky at times, he looks like the real deal. Wanamaker had played well this year, but reverted back to his freshman days at times tonight. Playing out of control, missing shots, and turning the ball over.

Dante Taylor, meanwhile, wasn't able to do much of anything. The official 'minutes' report isn't out yet, but Gary McGhee seemed to play quite a bit and I don't remember seeing too much of Taylor. He finished with a quiet 0-2 and two rebounds.
McGhee on the other hand went 4-4 from the field for 10 points, 6 rebounds, and was a force offensively getting good position all night long.

Next up, Pitt likely will play Texas assuming they beat Iowa (who lost to Duquesne). Jamie Dixon couldn't have drawn it up any better as this is a perfect game for Pitt. They're playing a more veteran, top five team at a neutral site early in the year. It's an excellent litmus test and while I'm not sure Pitt can win, I'd be surprised if they were embarrassed. Even if they can't pull off a win, it certainly isn't a bad loss. We should know a lot more about Pitt afer tomorrow night's game.

Oh, and enough of the Wichita State crowd crying seemingly after every play. Really. Enough.