Share This Page

Pitt men's basketball team's depth could be a blessing

| Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, 7:47 p.m.
Pitt's Cameron Wright fights North Florida's Parker Smith in the first half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, at Petersen Events Center. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Lewis Preston spent what he called six “not-so-great years” watching Pitt as an assistant coach at Notre Dame.

Now in his second year as coach at Kennesaw State, Preston was impressed with how the Panthers used a 10-man rotation in a 59-43 victory Sunday over his Owls.

“I think their depth can definitely cause problems,” Preston said. “When you've got 10 bodies that are physical, strong, active, live, that can wear down opponents.”

While Jamie Dixon worries about how Pitt's four new faces will fare when the Panthers (12-1) open Big East Conference play against No. 11 Cincinnati on Dec. 31, he can take comfort in knowing that his second five is not only deep, but also are experienced and talented.

And they believe in their bench.

“Since we play 10 players, the coaches are confident in all of us,” said redshirt sophomore swingman Cameron Wright, who averaged 14.6 minutes in 12 games. “Going into Big East play, a lot of teams don't play that many guys. It kind of gives us an edge, I feel.”

Junior swingman Trey Zeigler started 59 games the past two seasons at Central Michigan before transferring to Pitt. Senior center Dante Taylor started 20 games and redshirt sophomore swingman Cameron Wright 10 games last season. Junior forward J.J. Moore started only two games last year but averaged 7.5 points in 38 games.

The experience of those four players, combined with 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman forward Durand Johnson, showed in the contributions in the nonconference schedule. Pitt's bench averaged 28.7 points and 14.1 rebounds through the first 13 games.

“I think Dante Taylor, when he comes off, he gives them an added dimension inside even though he's been a starter for a couple years,” Preston said. “It will be interesting to see how Trey Zeigler, from this point forward, how he's going to step up ... and Johnson, as well.”

Zeigler averaged 16 points and six rebounds the past two seasons at Central Michigan but is averaging five points and 1.4 rebounds in 16.1 minutes for Pitt.

Where in years past Dixon has shortened his bench to an eight-man rotation for Big East play, the Pitt coach seems open to the idea of going 10-deep this season.

“Most games, you're probably going to see 10 guys out there,” Dixon said, later calling it “a good thing.”

“It gives us some options and keeps guys in the right positions. And I think the versatility of these guys will allow us to do some things, too.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kgorman@tribweb.com or 412-320-7812.

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.