Pitt ready for start of ACC play against North Carolina State
Three years in the making, Pitt's historic debut in the ACC is being met with anticipation.
The Panthers (12-1) visit N.C. State (10-3) at noon Saturday at PNC Arena in the first of 18 ACC games. It's a new challenge for veteran Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, whose first 10 years in charge were spent in the Big East.
Pitt agreed to join the ACC in 2011.
“It's been going on and on, and we're looking forward to it. Now, we need to get ready for the real thing,” said Dixon, who guided the Panthers to three Big East championships, including two outright regular-season titles and one tournament championship. “Finally, the talk is over. The time is here to play.”
For senior center Talib Zanna, Pitt's transition to the ACC, although filled with anticipation and uncertainty, will be determined by the Panthers playing solid, fundamental basketball.
“They have a lot of good schools, a lot of history behind the names — Duke, North Carolina,” Zanna said.
“We can't keep thinking about that. We have to play our game and try to take the Big East game into the ACC.”
According to Dixon, N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried favors a style similar to the Panthers.
“They're similar in a lot of things that they do and what we do,” Dixon said.
“Mainly (a) man-to-man defensive team that takes great pride in their execution of their half-court sets. We played against Coach Gottfried when he was at Alabama, and he's still running those UCLA sets. We're familiar with it, not at all surprised by what he's using.”
Despite losing four 1,000-point career scorers, N.C. State has won eight of its past nine games since a surprising home loss against North Carolina Central on Nov. 20.
Sophomores T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis are the only N.C. State players who appeared in last year's NCAA Tournament game against Temple. Warren leads the ACC in scoring and field-goal percentage. Lewis ranks second on the team in assists.
Wolfpack freshman guard Anthony Barber is second in scoring (12.2) and leads the team with 59 assists. Junior-college transfer Desmond Lee ranks third in scoring at 10.8 points per game.
“We're inexperienced and young,” Gottfried said. “But we're much better now than we were the first week of the season. I think they're ready to take the next step. They understand we've got 18 game opportunities in this league, and you've got to get as many wins as you can.”
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.
- Pitt lands 4-star receiver from Ohio
- Pitt’s Voytik to learn from the pros at Manning Passing Academy
- Pitt AD launches Panther Fans Experience Committee
- Injuries, rule change cancel summer Pro-Am basketball
- Pitt’s new athletic director Barnes looks to boost interest in teams
- Pitt gets verbal commitment from Virginia LB