Posted: 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, April 16, 2013
ESPN released an incredibly early top 25 for the 2013-14 college basketball season and Pitt wasn't in it. They also weren't listed in the other 'teams to watch' section, of which another 15 teams were added. Essentially, the site doesn't have the Panthers in their top 40.
The top 25 thing shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone after the loss of Steven Adams. Had he stayed, I'd have leaned towards putting this team in the top 20. But without him, the questions about the team are warranted. Would I have put Pitt in the top 40? Maybe.
Jamie Dixon has found ways to surprise people more often than not. Pitt should be solid at point guard with James Robinson returning. And with Lamar Patterson and J.J. Moore as forwards, there's some scoring punch there. And you'd like to think that Talib Zanna can again improve. But after that, it gets hairy.
True freshman Mike Young and likely Josh Newkirk will need to play some minutes. Durand Johnson and Cam Wright will take on bigger roles. Redshirt freshman will be playing his first minutes. Even non-scholarship player Aron Nwankwo may need to contribute a little depending on what frontcourt help walks through the door. And Pitt still has three open scholarships to boot, so we're not entirely sure of the makeup of the team yet.
In other words, there are plenty of question marks about next year's team. It's early, but it's looking like another year of just getting into the NCAAs could be the goal.