Pitt basketball fans should be thankful they weren’t allowed in The Pete tonight because they might’ve left at halftime.
There’s no way to sugar coat what took place in Pitt’s 2020 season opener because it was embarrassingly bad and frankly disappointing.
I don’t care that Pitt is still in a rebuilding mode and a majority of the team is still very young, that’s no excuse for the disaster that took place.
The bottom line is no matter the current state of their program, Pitt should never lose to St. Francis. I don’t mean that as a shot at St. Francis, because they obviously have a great young coach that will be coaching a major program soon but that’s a fact.
This was the first time in the history of Pitt basketball that they lost to St. Francis (29-0 before tonight) and only their second loss ever to a NEC program (43-1 all-time, loss to Wagner).
The most disheartening aspect of what took place was the effort, lack of defensive intensity and lack of execution on offense. For much of the first half, it was hard to recognize if Pitt was even running anything offensively as they were just throwing up wild shots.
You would’ve thought that after what they’ve been through over the last 8+ months and with no guarantee that basketball would’ve even been played, the Pitt players would’ve come out fired up but we didn’t see that for the entire 40 minutes.
Aside from Au’Diese Toney’s 20 points on 8 of 11 shooting and seven rebounds and the debut of William Jeffress, it would be impossible to pick out anything positive to take from the evening.
The Panthers outside shooting struggles from last season continued as they connected on only 6 of 24 (24%) from 3-point range, committed 22 turnovers, while only forcing 11. Speaking of turnovers, St. Francis outscored Pitt 27-8 off turnovers.
If Pitt is going to have any success this year, they’ll need production from Justin Champagnie and Xavier Johnson, which didn’t happen this evening as Champagnie had 12 and Johnson had nine, along with seven turnovers. That’s just not good enough.
The worrisome aspect of tonight is with only a few non-conference games this year, teams won’t be able to pad their win total with easy non-conference games. St. Francis was being counted on as one of those gimme games and not many are left before conference play starts.
While tonight was no doubt an evening to forget and in some ways a setback for what Capel is trying to build, the Pitt coaching staff is going to have to tell their players it’s is just one game and not the end of the season.
Pitt will be better than they were tonight, they have to be because it would be near impossible to be worse. For Pitt’s sake, let’s hope tonight was just one of those night where everything went wrong and it was just one of those unfortunate nights.
If that’s not the case, Pitt fans are going to wish basketball didn’t return because it’ll be a long winter.
By the way, tonight might be a little insight as to why Pitt hasn’t had any desire to schedule a veteran, talented team like Duquesne.