The Pitt Panthers basketball season ended about 3 weeks ago in a 2nd round loss to Xavier in the NCAA tournament. That makes 9 straight NCAA tournaments for Pitt, and 0 Final Four appearances.
Pitt had a very good season, and you do have to give Jaime Dixon a lot of credit for getting the most out of the team this year. Pitt lost 4 starters from the 2009 Elite Eight team, including Levance Fields, Sam Young, and DeJuan Blair. We lost something like 60% of our scoring, 70% of our rebounding, and 50% of our assists. The expectations were not very high, but Pitt had another terrific season overall, coming in 2nd in the Big East regular season, and spending the entire season in the top 25, including cracking the top 10.
However, like is true with most of these Pitt teams, we tend to struggle in the tournament, and Jaime Dixon deserves some of the blame for that. I don't necessarily dislike Jaime Dixon, I just don't think he is really as good as the national media makes him out to be.
Next season, we should be solid again, as we always are. The only player we lose is shooting guard Jermaine Dixon. This will be a big loss, but we have the bodies to replace Dixon. Pitt has a solid group of 3 freshman coming in next year, all of whom are in the top 20 nationally at their respective positions. The only issue with the starting lineup next season is whether or not Travon Woodall is in it. Woodall right now is really the only true point guard on the team, and got better and better as the season went on. Ashton Gibbs can play PG, but is naturally a shooting guard. However, if you want Gilbert Brown to start, which he absolutely should, he needs to be at the small forward position. This means that Brad Wanamaker, who still continues to make the dumbest mistakes on the court, will be the starting 2.
Also, I would personally like to see Dante Taylor take over the starting power forward position for Nasir Robinson. Gary McGhee will be the starting center next year. I like Nasir Robinson, but he is more of a role player, who can be solid coming off the bench. If it were up to me, the starting lineup next year would be Ashton Gibbs at the point, Wanamker at the 2, Gilbert Brown at the 3, Taylor at power forward, and McGhee at center. I wouldn't mind Wanamker coming off the bench, and sliding Gibbs to the 2, and starting Travon Woodall at the point, however, Wanamaker is the best all-around player on the team, and really fills up the stat sheet. I also think that Jaime Dixon will continue to bring Dante Taylor off the bench, and start Robinson, which is a mistake. Look for redshirt freshman Talib Zanna to get some time this year and center, and freshman J.J. Moore should also see some time.
A lot of the success next year depends on how Dante Taylor does. Taylor was a 2009 McDonalds All-American who everyone expected big things from, and essentially did nothing last season. Taylor looked lost and lazy and like he didn't really want to play, but he did show flashes. So if he commits and puts in the work this offseason conditioning and in the weight room, he could be a big factor next year, which we definitely need.