As expected, Pitt had little trouble with St. Francis on Tuesday night. Here are some observations from the game:
Pitt’s rebounding continues to get better. The team didn’t get on the glass nearly enough early in the season and that was part of the reason for their struggles. In their only loss to Long Beach State, they lost the rebounding battle. And in games against Tennessee and Robert Morris, Pitt barely won that statistical category. The Panthers have to improve in that area since the Big East is an entirely different animal and with tonight’s effort, it looks like they could be on their way.
Surprisingly, Ashton Gibbs continues to miss shots. He’s shooting under 40% on the year from the field, which is not only bad for him, but a bad number for any player. Teams can survive shooting slumps from their best player, but the problem is that Gibbs is really Pitt’s only go to scorer. WIthout him, the team is forced to rely on a by-committee approach. That’s fine in games like tonight where the score isn’t close, but Pitt is going to need Gibbs to be able to hit buckets down the stretch in close games. Otherwise, they’re going to find it difficult to continue to win once the Big East season comes along.
On the flipside, the reason Pitt has been able to continually win games lately is because of their defense. The lack of strong competition helps, obviously, but the Panthers have held opponents under 40% shooting in their past five games. Pitt hasn’t always put up a boatload of points, but as long as they force opponents to take tough shots, they should be in games throughout the season.