As usual, the Pittsburgh Panthers have thus far had a great regular season. This is nothing new under head coach Jamie Dixon. It seems as if every year the Panthers find their way through the regular season with a general ease. The biggest problems for Pitt has never been the regular season but the NCAA Tournament, where they’ve been past the Sweet Sixteen only once under Dixon. However, there is hope for the Panthers before the ominous month of March begins, and it starts with their bench.
Dixon is one of the few coaches in the nation who is employing anything deeper than an 8-man rotation this year. In fact, Dixon is rather happy throwing 10 different players out on any given night. Not only has his philosophy returned 19 wins with only 5 losses, but his team is as fresh as any other team in the country. Is Dixon’s team that deep that he feels like he legitimately has 10 guys that can contribute? I doubt that. Or is it a Greg Popovich-y method that Dixon now uses? Possibly, it would be nice to think that Dixon is thinking ahead.
For whatever reason, Dixon has decided to go all Youth Center with his rotation(Where everyone has to play), it is not only working out but could pay dividends come March. Considering the endless depth Pitt seems to have, and the remaining schedule that just yells rest, the Panthers might stroll out one of the freshest teams in the country when it comes time to dance. These are all great assets to have as they try to make a Final Four run. It’s a lot better than the alternative, furthering the yearly tradition of a slew of bad tournament team jokes making its way through the internet.
Whether it is actually true or not, Pitt has a reputation as a poor tournament team. Very rarely will you see someone pick them to go to the Final Four no matter what kind of regular season they might have had. The growing perception of Pitt is that of a team who just can’t ever get it done in March.
Perception might be reality, yet Dixon and the Panthers have a great opportunity to change that this season.
Joe covers the Catholic Seven for Rant Sports and apologizes to Pitt fans for two straight days of Popovich references. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone