Pitt took care of business, winning comfortably against Delaware State 70-48. The game was never in doubt as Pitt dominated on the boards 40-16.
The Panther bench also again flexed its collective muscles, scoring 39 points. Leading the way was sophomore Dante Taylor.
Funny how things can change. When Taylor came on board last season, the hype was all over the place. Everyone, including myself, expected too much. He scored 13 points and had five rebounds in his debut and we all thought that was a decent start. But no one figured that that would be one of his best games to date. But a year later, and that was exactly the case. Those 13 points were a career high for Taylor and had Pitt fans known that would be the case, nearly everyone would have called Taylor a bust. Heck, some did anyway, and some still do.
So since Taylor broke that career high with 14 points and added ten rebounds to boot (his first career double-double, by the way) in a mere 15 minutes of play, will this be a game we look back on and say that was the point when his career took off? Who knows. But one thing I do know is that Taylor is far more active than he was last year.
Now, as I pointed out in the SB Nation Pittsburgh recap, most of his points weren't the result of moves with his back to the basket. They were the result of putbacks or close-range layup type shots. Taylor didn't display (and probably still doesn't have) a great offensive arsenal. But it all starts with being more aggressive and Taylor is getting there. I don't know if he'll ever turn into the player we all thought/hoped he would, but he should be pretty good by the time he leaves Pitt if he keeps improving.
We're still a long way off and it's important to remember that many of these games Pitt is playing are against undersized teams. So let's see how Taylor fares in the conference games.
One thing I noticed from the box score was that Pitt didn't have a single player tally even 25 minutes. Lots of guys played 15-25 minute range and I'm starting to think Dixon is trying to get serious about his rotation. The team legitimately goes 11 deep, but I think this may have been the beginning of determining who is going to get more minutes than others.
A guy whose stock is dropping is Talib Zanna. In the six games since going for 27 points and 21 rebounds in back-to-back games against North Florida and Maryland, he's only combined for 21 points and 21 rebounds. That's pretty remarkable. With Taylor's emergence and Nasir Robinson getting healthier, I'm starting to wonder what kind of role Zanna will have down the line. Taylor is, of course, the backup center, but there could be times when Dixon chooses to play he and McGhee on the court at the same time against larger lineups.
It will be nice to see how the team responds on Saturday against a good team - looking forward to playing a non-cupcake team.