Let's hope they are all this good. Or at least all this exciting.
Rhode Island gave fourth-ranked Pittsburgh everything it wanted for most of the contest but wore down in Western Pittsburgh late and the Panthers came away with an 83-75 win but was clearly tested.
I had my doubts about the Panthers entering the game and some of those were confirmed tonight. But I think that the experience and depth they have will serve them well for the bulk of the season and wear people down - just as is did tonight. How it will play out against the elite teams is my biggest question? And I still don't see a go-to guy for Pitt so getting through the tournament could be tough.
But they have three nice guards. I like Ashton Gibbs a lot and Brad Wanamaker did a lot tonight and Woodall gives them something different off the bench. I'm not sure they have a real offensive threat inside, but they are going to bang and rebound and they got to the offensive glass tonight. They need more consistency from Gilbert Brown and the return from injury of Nasir Robinson will certainly help.
Rhode Island shot the ball extremely well, but just didn't defend. Particularly didn't defend in transition. All of that made for extremely entertaining action. The Rams look like a middle of the pack A-10 type team to me, but if they find a way to defend and rebound a little better they certainly could improve on that a little bit. But the Rams has been a 20-win team the last three seasons but getting back to that level is going to be tough. Although the schedule before an early December in-state matchup with rival Providence is promising.
The Panthers will play twice more before heading to New York for a matchup with Maryland in the semifinals of this tournament. They'll play Maryland and then either Texas or Illinois there. I doubt they'll get as many easy shots in the next few games as they had tonight.
Wanamaker was my player of the game. His ability to get down the floor and get to the rim - and get his teammates involved. He's not a true point guard but he passed the ball extremely well tonight.