Pitt men's team hoping rest can cure ailing stars
When asked about Pitt's upcoming game against top-ranked Syracuse immediately after Pitt's double-overtime victory over Virginia Tech Saturday, Cameron Wright responded with a blank stare.
“When is that game?” Wright deadpanned. “See, I'm bad with the schedule.”
That answer drew laughs from his teammates, especially sophomore point guard James Robinson. Wright had played a starring role against Virginia Tech, with a game-high 18 points to go with six rebounds, three assists and two turnovers, so he'd earned a moment of levity.
“Cam is a jokester,” Robinson said, “but every day at practice, every day in the weight room he is going to bring 100 percent effort.”
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon found a similar question about Wednesday's game against Syracuse humorless, despite his No. 25 Panthers (20-4, 8-3) having just clinched a 13th consecutive 20-win season.
Dixon knows this: Pitt was outrebounded for the fourth consecutive game, shot 35 percent or worse in the second half for the third consecutive game and required two overtimes at home to beat a team that had lost nine straight and is in last place in the ACC.
“It doesn't matter who's coming up,” Dixon said. “We've just got to get better.”
Following back-to-back home losses to Duke and Virginia with back-to- back overtime victories over basement dwellers Miami and Virginia Tech proved taxing to Pitt and exposed some of its strengths as sudden weaknesses when its best players aren't playing at their optimum.
Entering the Virginia Tech game, Pitt led the ACC in assists (16.4), field-goal percentage (47.8), rebounding margin (plus-8.1) and rebounding defense (28.8). Where the Panthers assisted on 16 of 18 field goals, they shot 37.5 percent (18 of 48), lost the rebounding battle by 15 and had 22 defensive rebounds in giving up 19 second-chance points.
“We're not rebounding well enough. It's obvious,” Dixon said. “We've got to get that changed.”
After playing three games in a seven-day span, two requiring overtime, the Panthers need rest and took Sunday off. Lamar Patterson (43.5), Wright (42.5), Talib Zanna (40) and Robinson (37.5) all averaged heavy minutes the past two games, so it's no surprise that signs of wear and tear are showing, particularly in Patterson (thumb) and Zanna (ankle). The fifth-year seniors are the team's top two scorers, averaging about 30 points a game, but combined for 12 against Virginia Tech.
It hasn't helped that the Panthers aren't getting much help from their supporting cast. Freshman guard Josh Newkirk contributed 11 points in 27 minutes off the bench, but power forwards Mike Young and Jamel Artis combined for five points and two rebounds in 41 minutes and Chris Jones, Derrick Randall and Joseph Uchebo were all scoreless.
“Obviously, you're not going to have guys score their average every game, and you've got to play through it,” Dixon said. “We've got Cameron and James and Josh, but we need other guys. We're playing through injuries and fatigue, but we've got to get it figured out.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
- Pitt football team rallies around its youth
- Pitt notebook: No surprises as Panthers settle on starting O-line
- Will soft foes mean fast start to the season for Pitt football team?
- Pitt’s Chryst names Voytik starting quarterback
- Pitt sophomore Coles leaves football team
- Pitt takes part in government concussion study