Pitt basketball has gotten off to a fast start but freshman Justin Champagnie must bounce-back for the Panthers to continue winning.
The Pitt Panthers have been one of the most fun stories of the young college basketball season, going from a powerless also-ran in 2018-19 to a frisky team that sits at 7-3 with some nice moments already this year. Part of Pitt’s improvement has come from returning guys like Trey McGowens and Xavier Johnson continuing to improve and produce. On the other hand, a few newcomers, like transfer Ryan Murphy and freshman Justin Champagnie, have been huge in Pitt basketball’s return to respectability.
Champagnie, in particular, has been an interesting player to watch. After struggling to open the year, Champagnie started to find his rhythm, settling in as a scorer looking like Pitt’s best player for a stretch of games. Unfortunately, that magic has not been around for the last two games, contests in which Champagnie has a combined one point and one assist. His rebounding has been slightly better, but the lack of offensive production has been disappointing overall. After a blowout loss to No. 1, Louisville on Friday one thing is clear- Pitt basketball needs Champagnie to get back on track.
Luckily, there are reasons for optimism. As he’s already shown this season, Champagnie has the ability to put poor performances behind him. The transition from high school to Division One basketball is not an easy one, and it’s not surprising to see some inconsistency from the freshman. Not to mention, Louisville is a tough team that even the best players in college basketball can struggle to find a rhythm against. That doesn’t excuse Champagnie’s poor showing against Rutgers earlier in the week, but it may explain why he was unable to immediately bounce back.
For the first time in quite a while, Pitt basketball is in a position where they look like a potential NCAA Tournament team, but only if their star players can continue to produce. After a couple of no-shows from their impressive freshman, Pitt needs Champagnie to get back on track to continue their newfound winning ways.