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Big East Media Day: Pitt looking ahead

Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Yesterday, we went over the predictions from a Pitt standpoint. This morning, we've got a link dump of articles featuring the Panthers.

Where to start? How about last year where Pitt was less than stellar. Senior center Dante Taylor probably says it best:

"You just have to put it away,'' Pitt's Dante Taylor said. "It's over.''

So why will things be different? It all starts at the point:

Pitt hopes things are a little less complicated now that Woodall is back. The Panthers didn't really have a true backup point guard, forcing Ashton Gibbs to handle the role, which took him out of his scoring comfort zone.

"Look at what happened to the Chicago Bulls last year,'' Dixon said. "They lose Derrick Rose and all of a sudden they're losing a 1-8 seed series. Or North Carolina [after losing Kendall Marshall]. I thought they were the best team in the country and then everything changed. It all depends on if you have a guy in place and when you don't, it changes everything.''

Lamar Patterson talked about how key the loss was as well:

"We missed him dearly last year, and it showed," junior forward Lamar Patterson said. "As soon as he left our season went down.

Pitt was woefully inadequate at the point once Woodall went down last season. John Johnson struggled a bit and Cam Wright was even worse. But while I'm convinced that James Robinson should be more comfortable running things for Pitt when Woodall needs a breather, he's still a true freshman just as Johnson and Wright were last year. Even though he's a true point guard, calling the backup spot solved is probably a bit over the top.

Then there's the fact that this will be Pitt's final in the Big East. Head coach Jamie Dixon puts it in perspective:

We're leaving a great place and going to a great place. It's not a big change.

I'm convinced that the ACC is probably the one place Dixon would have wanted to end up if he were forced to leave the Big East. And with the transition of Pitt and Syracuse there, along with the departures of West Virginia and Notre Dame, there's little question the Panthers are moving to the new best conference in college hoops.

The other team leaving, of course, is Syracuse. After taking a shot at Pitt and West Virginia earlier this year, Pitino was at it again. Jim Boeheim countered during Media Day:

After Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Memphis and Temple could replace Syracuse and Pittsburgh, Boeheim fired back.

"Rick's full of (expletive) if that's what he really said," Boeheim said. "If he was in the Big 12 right now like he wanted to be, he'd be saying the Big 12 is the best. That's the bottom line."

Meanwhile, when it came to talking about leaving, Dixon took the high road by stating the obvious:

"It's been great for us, but at the same time, anybody else would have done the same thing," Dixon said. "Every other school would have done the same thing. They may not say that, but we all know it."

Pretty much this. When Pitino argued that the losses of Pitt and Syracuse were being offset by the new additions, I called him on it. I simply can't imagine another school turning down the ACC if they came calling. That's not a knock on the Big East, but with the instability of the conference and the allure of more money, any school would have been acting irresponsibly by so purposely ignoring a chance to better its position.

Basketball will be here before you know it, folks.

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