Panthers plan to use transition game as they transition to ACC
By Kevin Gorman
Published: Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 10:36 p.m.
When Jamie Dixon talks about transition, the Pitt coach isn't referring strictly to moving to the ACC.
Perhaps no team personified the Big East's bruising reputation more than the Panthers, but Dixon promises that this team will play more up-tempo with a younger, leaner lineup.
“We were very good offensively last year, but there were some things that we can do better,” Dixon said. “We're going to have good size. I think we'll run a little better. We'll be a little bit more skilled at the ‘four.' I think we've got a good group, a versatile group.”
Pitt opens practice Friday, and will host a Morning Madness at 10:30 Saturday at Stage AE on the North Shore.
Pitt also announced that its Maggie Dixon Heart Health Fair/Fan Fest/Blue-Gold scrimmage will be Oct. 6 at Petersen Events Center, with the Oakland Zoo Blue-Gold scrimmage Oct. 18 at the Pete.
The Panthers return three starters — sophomore point guard James Robinson and fifth-year seniors Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna — along with redshirt junior Cameron Wright and redshirt sophomore Durand Johnson.
They must replace 51.3 percent of their scoring after leading scorer Tray Woodall and Dante Taylor graduated, J.J. Moore and Trey Zeigler transferred and Steven Adams left for the NBA.
The most pressing concern is at shooting guard, which appears to be one of two starting positions up for grabs.
“I think that was our deficiency last year, I thought, at the two,” Dixon said. “We didn't get what we needed. We could've won the league instead of finishing in the top four. We had young perimeter guys last year. Now, we're looking at having an experienced group. That's funny. You go from young to old very quick.”
Dixon mentioned Patterson, Wright, Johnson and redshirt freshman Chris Jones as candidates to play shooting guard, although it's also possible that Robinson could play there if speedy freshman Josh Newkirk is at point guard.
“He needs to be a guy that knocks down shots,” Dixon said of Robinson. “He does a lot of good things, but he needs to be a guy that's a knockdown 3-point shooter, no question.”
Dixon said he doesn't expect to redshirt any players this season, and indicated that at least one newcomer will start in the frontcourt.
Zanna is expected to move from power forward to the post, allowing the Panthers to be more of a running team.
“I think we're going to get more transition stuff,” Dixon said. “Everybody talks about the guard that runs, that pushes it. Often times, it comes down to your bigs, how fast they can run. And Talib is going to be as fast as anyone we play against.”
Rutgers transfer Derrick Randall and junior-college transfer Joseph Uchebo also will provide depth in the post. That likely would leave freshmen Jamel Artis and Mike Young to battle for the starting spot at power forward
“I think a freshman is going to start, as I look at it now,” Dixon said. “Somebody new is going to start on the front line, I'll give you that.
One noticeable thing about the Panthers is that they are visibly leaner. Patterson, for example, lost 18 pounds in the offseason. Robinson trimmed body fat while training with USA Basketball. And the 6-foot-7 Artis, who arrived at 243 pounds, is now 225.
“We have a lot of opportunity ahead of us, especially moving to a new league,” Robinson said. “One thing as a team that we've really been trying to work on is our bodies. As you can see, a lot of us having been aiming to change our bodies and get quicker, faster and more athletic. That's all going to help us playing to the style we hope to play this year.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
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.
- Donald turns down New York invite for NFL Draft
- Panthers pulling weight for new strength coach
- Former Pitt captain Cavanaugh blazes trail as entrepreneur
- Pitt QBs show they can adapt to change
- Pitt wraps up spring football practice with closeness, competition