Top 68 Team Previews: #33 Pittsburgh Panthers
Jamie Dixon looks to return Pitt to the NCAA tournament (ESPN.com)
By Sabreena Merchant
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Last Season 23-13 (10-6)
Key Losses: Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons, Dez Wells, Kenny Frease, Andre Walker
Head Coach: Chris Mack
Projecting Starting Lineup
PG: Semaj Christon 6-2 Fr.
SG: Brad Redford 6-1 Jr.
SF: Justin Martin 6-6 So.
PF: Isaiah Philmore 6-8 Jr.
C: Jeff Robinson 6-10 Sr.
Key Reserves: C James Farr, F Travis Taylor, G Dee Davis
The Musketeers had high hopes this year of making another deep tourney run, but things have continually turned south recently. After a Sweet 16 close loss to Baylor last year, many returning players and a good recruiting class (14th by ESPN) everything was setup for another NCAA appearance. First, Dez Wells (Preseason A10 1st team) was involved in an alleged scandal and dropped ties with Xavier and went on to Maryland, Mark Lyons transferred to Arizona and just recently two incoming freshmen Myles Davis and Jalen Reynolds were ruled ineligible until next year. This leaves just eight scholarship players listed on the current roster. These rulings leave a lot of question marks with an A-10 that now includes VCU and Butler.
Chris Mack will have his hands full this year trying to jumble all the pieces together. Dee Davis is a guy who will do everything in his power to fight for the starting position. He’s a great defender and plays hard each play he is on the court. Isaiah Philmore who started at Towson two years ago will be eligible to play this year and make an immediate impact. Lack of depth on the bench is going to be the hardest task for Mack to figure out. Even team practices with only eight scholarship players will be difficult to push all the starters to the next level.
The Musketeers are going to have a tough time this year making the NCAA. Non-Conference away games include Purdue, Wake Forest, Tennessee and the Anaheim Classic. Home games consist of Vanderbilt, Memphis and the much anticipated Cincinnati game. Also an odd and very valuable game will be Butler in a Bracketbuster return game at home on November 13th. As we know Butler is now in the A-10, but this game won’t be considered a conference game. The A-10 is becoming one of if not the best mid-major conferences especially with the recent additions. If Chris Mack is able to turn this team into another NCAA team, I would look for him to be making a jump to another team in the offseason as he will be one of the more wanted mid-major coaches which will continue Xavier’s long list of successful coaches.