Let me first start out by immediately retracting my prediction piece that game out prior to the season, which now looks wildly inaccurate. Then again, who saw the Panthers losing to Hawaii?
If there is one thing that this Pitt basketball team seems good for this year, it is lowering the expectations for the season. Early on, this is the worst start for a Pitt Panthers team under Jamie Dixon - even worse than the CBI year.
if this team plays defense like this throughout the season, there will be no CBI this year and no 20-win season, either. Who gets the blame for the team's play so far? Is it Cameron Wright for being selfish enough to get hurt (sarcasm)? Is it Durand Johnson for doing something that was so heinous that he was suspended for a whole season without a reason being given to the media? Surely fans cannot blame Steve Pederson for this debacle, too, can they?
The answer is no to these questions, although the lack of Johnson and Wright has not helped the Panthers. Jamie Dixon shoulders the blame here since his recruiting recently has been a concern.
How could anyone go into a season with Derrick Randall and Joseph Uchebo as there two big men and expect to be competitive in the paint, after all? Yes, he did recruit Shaquille Doorson, a 6'11" center from Amsterdam. But he decommited and plays for Rutgers, which left Dixon with no backup plan.
If you look at Pitt teams under Dixon, they have thrived with an offense that worked around a dominant big man, whether it be Chris Taft, Aaron Gray, or DeJuan Blair. Dante Taylor did not pan out as planned, Steven Adams only stayed for one year and Talib Zanna was forced to play the five when even he referred to himself as more of a four.
The fact of the matter is, Dixon has not recruited a dominant big man in some time and the Panthers have suffered for it.
For next season though, Dixon may have worked it out with the seven footer, Rozelle Nix. Nix looks more like an offensive lineman than a basketball player, weighing in at a whopping 320 pounds. For this season, however, expect much of the same for the Panthers as they struggle with no interior.
The good news is that the Panthers' next six games are relatively winnable before the daunting ACC schedule kicks off in 2015. There is no reason why the season cannot get back on track starting with a win over Duquesne in the "City Game" on Friday night.