Against Florida, Pitt will be hard-pressed for repeat
ORLANDO, Fla. — Pitt considers itself a low-turnover team but perhaps never more so than in its 77-48 NCAA Tournament second-round win against Colorado on Thursday, when an early lead helped the Panthers commit a season-low three turnovers.
They'll be hard-pressed to come close to that Saturday against a top-seeded, top-ranked Florida team known for creating pressure on defense.
“We're a hard team to press because we've got so many guys who can handle the ball and make great decisions,” said senior forward Lamar Patterson, who leads the team in assists and turnovers. “We're just going to use that to our advantage and try to attack and get easy layups.”
Florida has won 27 games in a row, and the Gators average 2.6 fewer turnovers than they force, with guards Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill and forward Will Yeguete taking pride in the intensity and relentlessness of their pressure.
“Our motto is to try to wear teams down with the press and try to eventually grind them down with our depth,” Wilbekin said Friday.
Gators coach Billy Donovan said Pitt is an “outstanding” passing team, making it harder to force the Panthers into mistakes that lead to points in transition. However, the press, he said, is more than just turnovers.
“It's disruptive, something you have to deal with every single possession,” Donovan said. “Ideally, yeah, you'd want to turn teams over a lot. ... It's our style of play. It's kind of what we do.”
If Pitt has shown a vulnerability against the press, it came against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament. The Panthers had a 20-point lead with 7:13 to play, then, as the Tar Heels went to a full-court press, Pitt had three turnovers in 25 seconds. That sparked a run that cut the lead to three points in the final minute before Pitt closed out an 80-75 win.
Otherwise, they closed the season taking good care of the ball, having fewer than 10 turnovers in five of their last seven games, lowering their season average to 10.3 turnovers.
“I think Pittsburgh does a terrific job of attacking the press,” Donovan said. “They're going to try to attack. ... They're very good at that.”
Coming off a 29-point win, the Panthers are confident, even facing a top-ranked opponent.
“We feel like coming off a three-turnover game, you feel like you're pretty good at taking care of the ball,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “But you can't expect to have three turnovers every game.
“We've got to take care of the ball. We also have to hurt them on the back end. If they're going to press, we want to get baskets at the back end of it.”
Greg Auman is a freelance writer.
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 star running back Conner adjusting to higher profile this year
- Nothing fancy for Iowa coach Ferentz
- Pitt notebook: O-line coach still uncertain who will start at center vs. Iowa