I wanted to get to this a little sooner, but Pitt attended the ACC basketball media day this week. As JD mentioned, the Panthers finished sixth in the preseason poll, which, realistically, seems about right. Not only is the conference expected to be better than last season, but the team will be playing this year without their top two scorers in Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna, who graduated. The third leading scorer, Cam Wright, is also recovering from an injury and expected to miss a significant amount of time.
Head coach Jamie Dixon talked about quite a few things and gave some injury updates on the team. On Wright, nothing too new - only that a return for the Maui games seems like a possibility. If so, that would be a little bit ahead of schedule. The original prognosis had him set to return around the first week of December. If he makes the trip to Maui and plays, however, that would be about a week and a half sooner. Dixon was non-committal, but didn't rule out Cam playing on the trip.
I think Cameron, we don't know when he'll be back, around that time or something, so we are in a unique situation when your leading scorer is going to be out all that time and then going to be coming back around that four or five games we're playing as part of that event. We'll see how it plays out.
Dixon also spoke about Durand Johnson, another player making his way back from injury - albeit, a more serious one. It's early, but the news that Johnson is having some trouble getting up to speed isn't encouraging.
Durand is not where we thought he would be. The ankle has been added to the knee. It's been more of a challenge than we thought.
The bottom line is that Pitt needs Johnson as he's one of the few deep threats on the team on offense. The need is even greater in the wake of Wright's injury. We'll get some idea of where Johnson is after Pitt's two exhibition games (the first of which is tonight), but even that won't be a true indication just because of the quality of the competition.
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