Pittsburgh Panthers Men’s Basketball put forth another shaky outing in their 73-69 victory over La Salle at the Petersen Events Center on Tuesday night.

Tray Woodall grabbed 12 points, dished out 10 assists, recorded three rebounds and three blocks to lead the Panthers to their third victory of the season.

Ashton Gibbs was held to 3-15 shooting by the Explorers.

The Panthers haven’t been great in 2011, with close games to La Salle, Rider and a loss to Long Beach State but some type of struggles early in the season are to be expected.

However, I think these struggles are much more than expected.

What we have learned:

I think it’s fair to suggest that we have seen a few potential problems with the Panthers this season.

Soft

They are soft, especially underneath. Dante Taylor is known for getting the ball ripped from him, getting pushed around and not being physical. Nothing has changed, unfortunately. He seems like the same guy with a little more bulk. He did play better on Tuesday night (11 points, 6 rebounds) but he hasn’t shown me enough to equal him being viable underneath. He needs to improve immensely.

Guys like Nasir Robinson, Lamar Patterson, and Talib Zanna don’t emanate toughness. There is clearly something missing, especially in the paint.  

Long Beach State punched them in the mouth, and the Panthers rarely punched back. Former Pitt teams would exchange blows but this year’s squad couldn’t engage.

Lack of Secondary Scorer

We all know that Gibbs will score the brunt of the points this season, but when teams double, play aggressive man-to-man defense, who will be scorer No. 2? I don’t have confidence in Patterson being that guy, even though he does show signs of creating his own shot. There are a couple other players that COULD in the future, but it isn’t apparent now.

Woodall is the difference maker to me. He has worked on his outside shot, along with other areas, but he does possess the ability to get others involved. He has been solid this season.

Lack-Luster Defense

It has been poor, at best. You can’t give up 55 percent shooting to teams. You can’t allow teams to score more 40 points in a half – that’s not Pitt basketball. Their offense isn't good enough to be in games like that.

Defense must improve, and it will. It won’t garner the respect it carried in other years but it can’t be this poor.

How about a positive?

It’s Not Even Thanksgiving

People shouldn’t be worried but they should be cautious. Pitt doesn’t seem like the same team this season, but Dixon has a special way of getting his kids to play solid basketball when the Big East slate opens.

We are only four games in. We will see where they are at when the Big East Conference schedule begins.

If we have learned anything in Dixon’s tenure it is that he will make his kids better as the season moves along.

Now the postseason, however, that’s a completely different story.

Pitt will travel to play the Quakers of Penn on Friday at 7 p.m.