Pitt hits the court today in an attempt to get their season back on track after a bad 80-70 home loss against Saint Francis (Pa.) on Nov. 25.
Pitt fans exploded in frustration after the game, and it is noteworthy that the Panthers have seemingly had one of these “out-of-left-field” losses against an inferior opponent each year under Jeff Capel. In 2018, Pitt lost a home game to Niagara; last season, the Panthers lost to Nicholls State at home; this year, the Panthers got rolled by the Red Flash in their home opener.
Still, it is important to remember the context:
It's notable that Pitt hoops ranks 155th in the country in roster experience (per @kenpomeroy).
That's not an excuse for what happened on Wednesday, but it's a reminder that this is a very young team. They'll struggle at times this year but there's plenty of room for growth.
— DreamBackfield.com Hoops (@PittHoops) November 27, 2020
There is no excuse for what happened at the Pete on Wednesday. Pitt was unprepared for competition; its best and most experienced players struggled; and it let an inferior team which lost its best two scorers from a year ago dominate them on the defensive end all night.
Still, this is a very young team. Of the 11 players who got minutes on Wednesday, only three were upperclassmen–Xavier Johnson, Au’Diese Toney, and Terrell Brown. Five were playing their first ever game for Pitt.
Capel and his staff are still learning about this roster and who they can trust, especially in this COVID-shortened offseason which prohibited them from scrimmaging against other teams as they ordinarily would before the new season. In that regard, I think that there will still be growing pains throughout the rest of the out-of-conference season, and the best hope right now is that Pitt finds a solid group of rotational players to take the brunt of the minutes heading into the conference schedule in a few weeks.
The Panthers have a chance to start to turn things around today, as they face off against the Drexel Dragons this afternoon, Nov. 28, at 1 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.
- According to Sports-Reference’s historical matchup finder, today’s game marks the first Pitt vs. Drexel basketball game going back to at least 1949-50.
- The Dragons have not finished better than 0.500 since 2013-14, when they finished 16-14. However, their last real success came in 2010-11, when they finished 29-7, including a 16-2 record in the Colonial conference. However, they narrowly missed out on the NCAA Tournament.
- Drexel’s last NCAA Tournament appearance came in 1996 as a 12-seed, when they lost in the second round against Syracuse.
Players to watch:
Drexel – Camren Wynter
Winter, a junior guard, was Drexel’s leading scorer in 2019-20, posting 15.7 points per game while shooting 35.5 percent from three-point range, to go along with 5.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds per contest. This was good enough to land him on the All-CAA second team last season as a sophomore, and the returning junior will be sure to give Pitt fits.
I would expect the Drexel offense to run through Wynter, and I look for him to be the primary offensive facilitator for the Dragons, who also return their second leading scorer from a year ago in senior forward James Butler.
As we saw on Wednesday, when Pitt focused its efforts on shutting down Saint Francis’ Myles Thompson, players like Ramiir Dixon-Conover and Bryce Laskey shined, and were able to create open shots around the perimeter leading to easy buckets.
For that reason, I’d also keep an eye on Coletrane Washington (from Sewickley, Pa.), who shot 43.9 percent from deep last year and who could give Pitt problems from deep. With plenty of attention sure to be paid to Wynter and Butler, a role player and sharpshooter like Washington...
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