Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Inexperienced Panthers Deal with Defensive Shortcomings

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Inexperienced Panthers Deal with Defensive Shortcomings

Article excerpt

MAUI, Hawaii -- Defensive woes nearly sunk Pitt in an exhibition against Division II Philadelphia a few weeks ago and again in a regular season game last week against Samford.

The Panthers got just enough points and just enough stops down the stretch to win those games, but Jamie Dixon had hoped his team learned from those experiences.

That clearly wasn't the case.

A 74-70 loss late Friday night to Hawaii showed the Panthers have a long way to go and a lot more to learn to become a good defensive team.

"Our defense just kept Hawaii feeling good," Dixon said. "Our defense kept them feeling confident. We've got to get better.

"I thought this game would be a good chance for us to show how good we have become defensively but it didn't happen, not even close."

The Rainbow Warriors guards easily drove to the basket, creating good scoring chances at the rim or leaving an open shooter elsewhere.

The Panthers (2-1) also struggled to stop the Warriors when they got the ball down low, despite Dixon using every option in the second half -- including freshman Ryan Luther, who missed the first two games because of an injury -- to try and defend in the post.

"Ryan was out for about a week with an injury but he has played well and he did some good things in there," Dixon said. "But we're just trying to find a post defender. ... We have known we have some issues there but we have to do something about it. It has become something that we are well aware of.

"We have some young or new [players] at the big-guy spots, but we have enough guys who have been through it and have seen some stuff that we should be doing a better job."

Hawaii (4-1) seemed to hit key 3-pointers, especially down the stretch, but shot 35 percent (7 of 20) on 3s.

Instead it was their ability to get to the rim and take easy shots that allowed them to make 20 of 31 2-point field goals -- 65 percent -- and torch the Panthers defense. …

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