Pitt Panthers Basketball Trip To Hawaii A Failure


Nov 25, 2014; Lahaina, Maui, HI, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers guard Josh Newkirk (13) brings the ball up court against the San Diego State Aztecs during the 2014 EA Sports Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center. San Diego State defeats Pittsburgh 74-57. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

At the start of it’s trip the Pitt Panthers said Aloha but as far as I am concerned they should be saying the same word now.

For many seasons now, Panthers coach Jamie Dixon has been criticized for scheduling soft non-conference opponents. Whether it was because he wants mostly home games and a tournament in which better known programs do not want to play in front of the Oakland Zoo and the unknown nature of scheduling tournaments well in advance or something else, is always up for debate.

What definitely is not up for debate was the stinker Pitt put up in front of a national audience Tuesday during a loss to #15 San Diego State. It was outclassed and calling its performance flat would be a compliment.

The disaster started with a 74-70 loss to Hawaii that was not even part of the Maui Classic, which was the reason for the trip. An EA Sports Maui Invitational 81-68 over NCAA D-II opponent Chaminade always is nothing to brag about especially when you hold a 51-17 advantage in total rebound and have Derrick Randall break a tournament record with 21 meaning he out-rebounded the entire Chaminade team.

A loss to San Diego State was a similar story in terms of rebounding as Pitt had a 35-21 overall advantage and 17-5 advantage offensively. According to Jay Williams of ESPN the Panthers heading into its game against Kansas State grabbed 50 percent of the offensive rebounds off of its misses. The highlight of this contest for Pitt easily was the first minute because it went downhill from there.

Pitt would defeat Kansas State to win third place at the Maui Classic which may help later when it comes time for the NCAA Tournament.

Let’s face it, Pitt’s defense usually struggles at the beginning of the season and despite a great performance against Kansas State that has held true. Dixon prepared his team all off-season to try and improve the defense citing last season’s Virginia team as the reason. So far the defense has frustrated Dixon.

The schedule does not get easier as Tuesday’s opponent is Indiana as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and this game will be played at Assembly Hall, always a tough place to play.

Cameron Wright will return to the line up soon which means everyone can slide into more comfortable positions and that will only help moving forward but a 2-2 record in Hawaii is unacceptable.