28-6 overall, 15-3 Big East (1st)
Jamie Dixon (8th season, 260-60)
Projected starting five:
G: Ashton Gibbs, Sr.
G: Travon Woodwall, Sr.
F: Nasir Robinson, Sr.
F: Lamar Patterson, So.
C: Dante Taylor, Jr.
Brad Wannamaker 11.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 5.1 apg
Gilbert Brown 11.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.7 apg
Gary McGhee 6.9 ppg 7.7 rpg
Inside the numbers:
59 percent scoring returning
55 percent rebounding returning
F: Khem Birch, 6’10”, 210 – Rivals #9
F: Durand Johnson, 6’6”, 191 – Rivals #120
C: Malcolm Gilbert, 6’11”, 230 – Rivals #133
Toughest nonconference game: 12/3 at Tennessee
Toughest in-conference stretch: 1/14 – 1/21 at (21) Marquette, at (5) Syracuse, vs. (8) Louisville
2nd in BE; 25+ wins; Second weekend of NCAA Tournament
What to expect:
The Panthers begin and end with Ashton Gibbs. Our pick for BE Player of the Year is also in the running for a host of other honors that are sure to include the Wooden and Naismith awards. Perhaps the best shooter in the country, Gibbs has no problem spotting up or creating his own shot coming off of screens.
Despite returning Gibbs, their leading scorer from a year ago, the Panthers lost three starters to graduation, meaning that younger guys are going to have to step into expanded roles. Travon Woodall should be an easy replacement for Brad Wannamaker. Although Woodall is not the scorer or rebounder Wannamaker was, his quickness and ability to get into the lane and finish or drop the ball off for easy buckets should prove to be sufficient.
Other concerns for the Panthers come from replacing Gilbert Brown and Gary McGhee, a couple of cogs in Pitt’s success over the last few years. Dante Taylor has been the man-in-waiting to fill McGhee’s shoes, and Lamar Patterson will have the tall task of taking Brown’s place. With a top 15 recruiting class, however, Jamie Dixon has a couple of guys that he can rotate in the frontcourt to keep the Panthers in the hunt for another Big East title.