Pitt’s Losing Streak Reaches Five Games

At what point in a losing streak with a premier program do fans and players feel it has to stop?  Is it three games? Maybe four games?  Well for Pitt fans, their four-game skid heading into their game against Rutgers was enough.  The Panthers fell out of the top 25 for the first time since December 28, 2009.  With a grueling schedule that includes No. 24 Marquette, No. 1 Syracuse, No 15 Louisville, No. 11 Georgetown and a surprising Providence team that has an argument to crack the top 25, Pitt’s game against Rutgers was an early season must-win.

Unfortunately for the fans and players alike, the Panthers ran into the Scarlet Knights at the wrong time, fresh off their upset victory over UConn.  The Panthers lost once again 62-39 to Rutgers, extending their losing streak to five games and four in a row in Big East play, both firsts in the Jamie Dixon era.

During the losing streak, Pitt has lost three games at home, four on the season, in what is considered every year as one of the toughest places to play in the nation.  As a comparison, Pitt only lost one home game ALL of last season.  What is causing the losing streak?  Is it a lack of a big man?  Could it be the transition defense isn’t playing up to par?  Did the departure of Khem Birch put too much pressure on Talib Zanna?  I think it is a combination of all of these, including Big East Preseason Player of the Year Ashton Gibbs inability to find his role on the team.

Gibbs led the Panthers in scoring last year, but with the departure of Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown and Gary McGhee, more pressure has been put on Gibbs this season.  Gibbs, who originally declared for the NBA draft before returning to Pitt, was trying to shed his label of being a player who can’t create opportunities for himself.  So far this season, Gibbs (16.7 ppg) has remained a player that has scored coming off ball screens.

With the tough schedule ahead, when will Pitt turn it around?  Better yet, CAN Coach Dixon fix this team and return it to the Pitt that we know?  Pitt, who has been the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament two times, needs to right the ship and quickly to ensure they don’t miss the tournament for the first time since 2000-2001.  Pitt in the NIT Tournament just doesn’t sound right.

 

Photo Credits: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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About mwaterloo
I also am the WVU reporter for Ohio Valley Athletics (OVAthletics.com) covered the Orange Bowl and every home game as well as their basketball team. Sports editor at my college paper The Clarion Call (clarioncallnews.com) and covered Pittsburgh sports for the past two years for various sites. You can follow me on Twitter @MichaelWaterloo

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