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Pitt finding out that shooting guard Wright has all-around game

| Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 10:54 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt's Cameron Wright plays against Albany Saturday, Dec. 31, 2013, at Petersen Events Center.

When Sam Rowley glanced at the scoresheet, the Albany forward couldn't help but notice Cameron Wright's statistics line didn't match up with the scouting report.

Where the Great Danes concentrated on shutting down Pitt fifth-year senior swingman Lamar Patterson's scoring and assists, they had no answer for Wright in either category.

Wright, who turned 22 on Wednesday, had one of his most well-rounded performances of the season in the Panthers' 58-46 victory over Albany on New Year's Eve.

The 6-foot-4 redshirt junior shooting guard from Cleveland finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, eight assists (with no turnovers) and three steals. He made 7 of 12 shots from the field and scored eight points during a 12-0 run that turned the momentum in Pitt's favor late in the first half.

“He was just really consistent,” Rowley said. “We struggle against that, when guys are that athletic in so many ways.”

Wright long has been defined by his athleticism, whether it is being regarded as a strong perimeter defender or a slashing scorer.

But it also has come with the criticism that he doesn't fit the mold of a prototypical shooting guard. Most of his shots come from inside the 3-point arc — Wright is only 2 of 16 from beyond the line this season — and their flat trajectory gives the impression that he's not a pure shooter.

“He's not a 3-point shooter, per se, but he can make jump shots,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “You can't say he's not a shooter because he's going to knock down open jump shots, especially mid-range shots. He's playing to his strength, and that's what he did.”

Wright killed Albany with his mid-range jumpers, especially from the baseline. That's where he is most dangerous, not only as a scoring threat but also one who can set up Pitt's post players.

“I like roaming the baseline a lot, and they know that. My big guys are aware of that, and they do a great job of getting me open,” Wright said. “I was able to knock down some open shots.”

Dixon stressed that Wright needs to concentrate on taking balanced shots when he is squared to the basket and continue moving well without the ball, using screens to get open looks.

“He's good in his own way,” Dixon said. “He doesn't have to be any different. He doesn't have to fit a stereotype. He just needs to do the things that he does well.”

Wright has been one of Pitt's most improved players, as his 147 points have surpassed his total from last season. His scoring average has jumped from 4.3 points to 11.3, and his rebounds (3.2) and assists (2.9) have more than doubled.

“I definitely feel myself getting better,” Wright said.“I'm confident out there. My teammates provide a lot of confidence for me. I know I'm surrounded by a great group of guys, so whether it's passing or rebounding, scoring, defending, I'm willing to do anything for my teammates.”

Patterson said he believes Wright's work ethic will pay off as the Panthers enter ACC play.

“I knew Cam had it in him the whole time,” Patterson said. “Just by his success this year, he's just showing what hard work can do for you. We haven't seen the best of Cam yet, so be ready for that.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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