In the Big East and NCAA tournaments, it’s known that experience is a major factor in winning games- and when Pitt was winning, it was indeed our more experienced players (Ronny Ramon, Keith Benjamin, Sam Young) stepping up their game to defeat the powers of the conference. Next year, with the now-announced return of Sam Young, this team will be one of the deepest and most experienced teams in the country, and will almost certainly be ranked in the top 10 at the beginning of next season, with a top 5 a possibility. All across the country, top programs are losing their talent to the NBA draft- Kevin Love and Mbah a Moute in UCLA, AJ Abrams and DJ Augustin in Texas, Joey Dorsey and Derrick Rose in Memphis…I could go on for a while. Quite a number of these players are students who declared early, which is something that Pitt hasn’t had in a few years.
Obviously, another year of experience and practice and competition will help the young Panthers immensely at the start of the 2008 season. Brad Wanamaker and DeJuan Blair are no longer wide-eyed freshman thrown into the fire of the Big East, they’re now players with some experience under their belts who can really step in and contribute (not that they didn’t their first time around). One of the reasons Pitt will be so good this year is that we’re retaining the chemistry from the end of last year. I know we’re losing two good players in Ramon and Benjamin, but I think that the freshmen from last year will more than step up in their stead. When we get closer to the season, I’ll write more of a comprehensive preview of the Big East and the Panthers in general, but so far this is shaping up to be a great season to be a Pitt fan.