Pitt men's team eager to move past last season
Fireworks will be part of homecoming festivities during Pitt's outside “Midnight Madness” on Friday, but the Panthers want the season to end with a bang.
Coming off a disappointing 22-17 record, the Panthers don't have look far for motivation as they begin men's basketball practice Friday in preparation for their Big East farewell tour.
“We want to finish it out the right way,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “That's what we're trying to do.”
Pitt, which joins the ACC next year, spent the past decade compiling the best winning percentage in the Big East, despite last season's 13th-place finish and no NCAA Tournament invite for the first time in Dixon's nine seasons.
Now they welcome 7-foot prized freshman Steven Adams as part of a consensus top-15 recruiting class, along with returning five of their top seven scorers. Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson are gone, but last season's most improved player — junior small forward Lamar Patterson — is ready to take on a greater role, and fifth-year senior point guard Tray Woodall (hernia) and junior small forward J.J. Moore (foot) are healthy after offseason surgery.
“I've had no setbacks,” Woodall said Thursday at Petersen Events Center as part of Pitt's annual preseason Media Day. “I'm doing everything that everyone else is doing. I'm fine.”
Pitt likely will be picked in the top six in the Big East when the coaches' preseason poll is released Wednesday at Big East Media Day in New York.
The Panthers had only a CBI Tournament title to show for last season. A photo of the nearly empty Petersen Events Center at the first-round game against Wofford was hung in the locker room last March with a message to the players, reading, in effect: “This is what happens when you miss the NCAA Tournament.”
“They just want to win,” Adams said.
The Panthers took off only “three or four days” after the CBI-clinching win over Washington State and started to train for the 2012-13 season. The distaste of last season was cleansed in the weight room and during pickup games at the Pete.
“After last season, it's definitely going to push us,” senior center Dante Taylor said.
“You can see a fire in everybody's eyes — not just one or two (players) but everybody,” said Moore, who also will see time at power forward in place of departed three-year starter Robinson.
Many eyes will be on Adams, the five-star New Zealander whom Dixon said is “physically more ready than any big kid we've brought in,” including DeJuan Blair and Chris Taft, who started as freshmen.
Adams, a projected lottery pick in many 2013 NBA mock drafts, is just one of the players who have impressed the Pitt coaching staff with their offseason desire.
“He's been out there every single opportunity to improve,” Dixon said. “We're seeing that in a lot of guys.”
John Grupp is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.