Pitt to face balanced Virginia in meeting of ACC contenders
Virginia doesn't have an individual scorer or rebounder ranked among the top 10 players in the ACC, and has one player rated No. 10 in the league in assists.
The Cavaliers (16-5, 7-1), however, are second in the ACC, one game ahead of third-place No. 18 Pitt (18-3, 6-2) and Nov. 17 Duke, entering Sunday's 12:30 p.m. contest against the Panthers at Petersen Events Center.
Balance is better at Virginia, where only two players average double digits, but six players average at least 6.6 points this season.
“Teams that are more balanced, that have some depth, when they're playing well, are hard to beat,” fifth-year Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “You can't focus on one guy. This year, we have more balance, and that has shown when we've played our better basketball.”
Bennett credits seniors Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell — members of the 2010-11 team which finished 16-15 — for establishing a standard their teammates can follow.
Harris, in particular, leads by example. A first-team All-ACC performer who averaged 16.3 points last season, the 6-foot-6 guard averages nearly 5.0 fewer points in his final college season.
“Here's a guy who's taking less shots, but he's drawing more attention for the other guys to step up,” Bennett said. “Joe Harris was runner-up for player of the year in the ACC. Not many guys of his caliber will do that, can do that, and are willing to do that.”
More than anything, Harris wants to win. He's sacrificing his individual offense for the team.
“Our goal is to make it to the postseason, to improve off what we built last year,” Harris said.
The Cavaliers have won more than 20 games in each of the last two seasons. They are 7-1 since an 87-52 loss Dec. 30 at Tennessee.
“Guys are buying into their roles,” said Mitchell, who leads the team in rebounding, but is only sixth in scoring. “It's a team mentality.”
Freshman London Perrantes leads Virginia in assists, but he isn't the only playmaker on the team. Harris is second in assists, and sophomore Malcolm Brogdon, the Cavaliers' leading scorer, also displays his passing skills in the balanced attack.
“We have a number of guys that can contribute and score in different ways,” Harris said. “Our goal is to make it to the postseason, to improve off what we built last year. So far, it's improved every year (Mitchell) and I have been in this program. We have a chance to be a special team.”
Not to mention an unselfish one.
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 women end regular season with win over Clemson
- At Pitt, a chance to make early impression under Narduzzi
- Pitt’s NCAA Tournament hopes take a hit with loss to Wake Forest
- Improved play against zone keys Pitt’s turnaround
- Against Wake Forest, Pitt looks to reverse fortunes on road
- Pitt’s weakness ‘pretty obvious’ to all
- Pitt basketball team ready for ACC stretch run
- Pitt’s Young leaves impression with inside game
- Notre Dame women shoot lights out in victory over Pitt