Starkey: Patterson carving niche in Pitt lore
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Let's start with a bold statement that really isn't that bold: Lamar Patterson is the best all-around player of the Jamie Dixon/Ben Howland era.
I didn't say best player. That distinction belongs to DeJuan Blair, with Sam Young close behind.
I didn't say most important player, though Patterson, a fifth-year senior, undoubtedly is one of those as he expertly leads Pitt into the ACC.
I said “best all-around” — versatile, if you prefer — and the evidence was on display again Saturday in Pitt's 80-65 drubbing of Wake Forest. Patterson had 27 points, six assists, five rebounds, a block and a steal.
He scored inside. He scored outside. He scored on a short fade-away, a floater, a missed-free-throw put-back and bombs from everywhere (4 of 7 from 3-point range). He pulled down a rebound and led his own fast break. He drove and dished with the shot clock dwindling. He found cutters for layups out of the set offense.
Afterward, I presented Dixon with the question: Is Patterson the best all-around player he's had?
“The most versatile, definitely,” Dixon said.
OK. Versatile. Another especially versatile player from Pitt's basketball renaissance was Brad Wanamaker. Patterson is a better shooter and scorer. He isn't an elite defender, by any means, but he has become a good team defender.
Patterson also has become a leader, and Pitt personifies his team-first, share-the-ball mentality. The Panthers staged a passing clinic Saturday with 19 assists on 31 field goals.
“A lot of it comes from Lamar,” said point guard James Robinson, when asked about the team's unselfish approach.
At his current pace, Patterson will finish his Pitt career as the all-time leader in games played and will have a good shot at landing in the top 15 in points, assists, steals, 3-pointers and 3-point shooting percentage.
His updated season numbers are 17.9 points per game, 4.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists, making him a strong early candidate for ACC Player of the Year — though Dixon cautioned, “We're only three games in. We gotta win the league to get that.”
The country has begun to take notice. Around halftime, ESPN's Jay Bilas tweeted the following: “Another really good senior is Pitt's Lamar Patterson. Versatile, improved handler and shooter and an excellent passer. Terrific player.”
That continued an avalanche of national praise over the past week. CBS Sports analyst Gary Parrish listed Patterson among the 25 early contenders for national player of the year. His colleague, Jon Rothstein, included Patterson among three players who “aren't getting enough attention.”
Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik, after the game, labeled Patterson one of the “elite” players in the ACC.
ESPN's Dick Vitale, in a conference call this week, fielded a general Pitt question from the Trib's Kevin Gorman and focused his answer on Patterson.
“Lamar Patterson has been absolutely sensational,” Vitale said. “He's versatile (there's that word again), multidimensional, able to score. He can do a lot of things. He's a major, major force.”
The key to it all was Patterson losing 20 pounds — Dixon pegged it at 15 — between late August and the season opener. Pitt's coaching staff wasn't overly pleased with Patterson's conditioning for stretches of his career. When he returned from a summer injury, he knew this was his time.
“I started eating better,” Patterson said, smiling. “A lot more cookin' at home, not too much fried food. I know we need me to be at the top of my game.”
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 FM. Reach him at email@example.com.
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.
- Lopsided loss to Eagles shows Steelers have issues aplenty
- Harrison’s 5 RBIs help Pirates pound Brewers
- Steelers notebook: Keisel always hoped to return
- Mother Nature takes a swat at Western Pa. stink bugs
- Sandusky cover-up case unusually shrouded
- Hero Franklin Regional security guard out of work
- Records: Steelers RB Bell admitted smoking pot before traffic stop but denied being high
- Pirates notebook: Prospect Sanchez makes 1st start at first base with Indy
- Time on the bench gets Snider back into Pirates lineup
- Pitt football team rallies around its youth
- Woman shot dead, mother wounded in Hill District shooting