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Pitt Basketball: Frontcourt Depth An Issue With Khem Birch Transfer

Khem Birch's departure from the basketball team doesn't only affect the team for the future, but it also severely limits the depth for this season. With Birch, Pitt had good, quality depth in the frontcourt. But without him, the team is a player short there.

So what does it all mean?

Mostly that Talib Zanna is going to need to have a monster year if Pitt is going to be successful. Zanna is now the primary frontcourt backup behind Nasir Robinson and Dante Taylor. Joining Zanna will be backup center Malcolm Gilbert. Gilbert is a true center, but still only a true freshman. He was expected to be redshirting this season, but that's gone down the drain now and it will likely take him some time to get up to speed.

Pitt has capable backups, but if the team suffers even a single injury there or gets into foul trouble, that's where things will get interesting.

If one of the starters goes down, look out. That will force Zanna or Gilbert into a starting role and, more importantly, give the team only one true frontcourt backup. If that happens, Pitt will probably be forced to go to a smaller lineup at least part of the time. Jamie Dixon could play both Lamar Patterson and J.J. Moore at the same time and while that makes them more athletic, it also hurts a little in the rebounding department.

One thing that really hurts is the losses of J.J. Richardson and Dwight Miller. In order to sign their class, some players needed to be moved around and Richardson and Miller both found new homes. Neither was a standout player, but either one would be helpful to have now just to provide more depth.

Wherever you come out on Birch for leaving the team in the middle of the season, one thing that can't be argued is that his move was a bit selfish to a degree and has put the team in a bad spot. The bottom line is that as long as the team is healthy, they can weather the storm. But if not, then it could mean trouble.