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Despite loss to Wichita State, Pitt's season a success

Harry How

Pitt's loss to Wichita State last week was a bitter pill to swallow. I was looking forward to seeing how they could fare against top-seeded Gonzaga, but the Panthers didn't make it that far.

But here's a piece of news - the season was a success.

I wanted to see a Sweet 16 this year, but if we're looking at the year as a whole, Pitt had a successful season. As I said earlier, just getting into the NCAAs and approaching 25 wins did that.

For starters, the team won 24 games. Any 20-win season means a team has had some success and that was no exception this year. The non-conference schedule was weak, but winning that many games while playing in the difficult Big East isn't an easy thing to do.

Pitt also broke in two freshmen starters in Steven Adams and James Robinson, and a third (redshirt Durand Johnson) as a solid bench player. The trio combined for more than 60 minutes per game. Unless you're Kentucky, giving that many minutes to freshmen typically means you're rebuilding a bit. But the Panthers rolled along to a 20-win season.

The Panthers also made the NCAAs. As I said on Friday, it's actually more difficult for major programs to reach the Big Dance since there are so many mid-majors taking bids now without winning their conference. A first-round loss is disappointing, but the a trip to the tourney is still an achievement.

Lastly, we also saw a bit of player development. Cam Wright looked significantly better and was a solid player many times off the bench. Durand Johnson, who redshirted last year, not only contributed, but was a regular player off the bench as well. And if we're talking about development during the season, Steven Adams only got better as the year went along.

I won't try to convince you that Pitt had a great year. But taking everything into consideration, it was a success to a degree.

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