Oct 6, 2013, 6:35 PM EDT
After a subpar 2011-12 campaign the Pittsburgh Panthers rebounded some in 2012-13, returning to the NCAA tournament and finishing the season with a 24-9 record. But with leading scorer Tray Woodall (11.5 ppg, 5.1 apg), forward J.J. Moore (8.0 ppg) and centers Steven Adams (7.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Dante Taylor (5.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg) all gone, head coach Jamie Dixon has some holes to fill as the Panthers begin life in the ACC.
One important question that needs answering is who will do the majority of the scoring, and Sunday’s Blue-Gold Scrimmage may have provided one of the answers. Cameron Wright’s half-court shot in the final seconds gave the Blue team a 68-67 victory, and the basket capped a 27-point afternoon for the 6-foot-4 guard. Wright shot 9-for-15 from the field (7-for-7 FT) while also accounting for six rebounds and five assists (two turnovers).
“Cameron really stood out today,” Dixon said. “He really played well today. He’s stronger, faster and in better shape and has a better understanding of what we’re trying to do.”
Talib Zanna was the other double-digit scorer on the Blue team as he finished with 19 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, and Lamar Patterson led three Gold team players in double figures with 17 points. Rutgers transfer Derrick Randall tallied 11 rebounds to go along with his seven points for the Gold.
Scrimmages should be taken with a grain of salt, but Wright’s outing should be seen as a step in the right direction for a player who averaged just 14.6 minutes per game last season (4.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg). Wright finished the 2012-13 season with a possession percentage of 16.8% per kenpom.com, but with three of the Panthers’ top five players in this category gone there will be opportunities for Wright (sophomore guard James Robinson, too) in 2013-14. The question is whether or not players like Wright take advantage of those opportunities.
With veterans such as Patterson and Zanna in the front court the Panthers will have the experience needed to battle some of the ACC’s top interior players, but how successful the Panthers are could boil down to how efficient they are offensively. Pitt was second in the Big East in offensive efficiency (conference games) last season, and if they can put together a similar performance despite some key losses the Panthers could factor into the ACC race in 2013-14.
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