Skip to content

Pitt has a solid identity as they enter ACC play

Jan 6, 2014, 11:45 PM EDT

pitt AP

If you watched Cincinnati and Pittsburgh do battle in Madison Square Garden earlier this season like I did, you probably didn’t think very much of either team.

The Bearcats changed my thoughts on how good they are with their Saturday road win over Memphis in an AAC contest and, now, after watching Pittsburgh easily handle Maryland, I’m coming around more on the Panthers as well.

It’s not that defeating North Carolina State and Maryland by double digits to begin their tenure in the ACC was all that impressive, but Pitt has a lot of identity markers to like and they can win using a variety of different lineups. Many of those lineups and players were Pittsburgh’s key in a 79-59 win Monday night at home over Maryland.

When you start discussing the Panthers this season you have to start with fifth-year senior Lamar Patterson. Patterson is one of the most underrated players in the country and the 6-foot-5 wing played a major factor in Pitt’s second-half dominance of Maryland on Monday night.

After getting burned a bit by the shooting of Evan Smotcyrz and his 3-for-3 shooting from the three-point line early in the game, Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon made the adjustment to go to a smaller lineup and feature the versatile Patterson at the four in the second half.

The Panthers took full advantage of their four-guard look and outscored Maryland 43-29 in the second half and Smotcyrz was held to 1-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc the rest of the game.

Patterson on offense, meanwhile, carved up the Maryland defense, scoring on floaters, mid-range pull-ups, drives and a three on his way to 19 points behind an efficient 8-of-12 night from the field.

While Patterson is the catalyst that drives Pittsburgh, the steady point guard play of sophomore point guard James Robinson is another major reason the Panthers are off to a 14-1 start.

Robinson just always seems to understand time and possession and never tries to do too much when running the Pitt offense. Robinson has turned the ball over only 12 times in 412 minutes of play this season while dishing out 62 assists; remarkable numbers for any point guard, let alone a true sophomore. Since committing two turnovers in Pitt’s season-opening win over Savannah State, Robinson doesn’t have a multi-turnover game since.

Then you have senior Talib Zanna manning the middle. The 6-foot-9 center isn’t flashy, but he defends his area, rebounds and can score on quick hitters around the hoop off of dump-offs from Pittsburgh’s guards.

When you add in the improved play of junior guard Cameron Wright, the scoring potential of Durand Johnson off the bench, as well as the interior contributions of freshmen Michael Young and Jamel Artis and this Pitt team is dangerous because their players all know their roles and play within themselves and the Panther offense.

Pittsburgh doesn’t take many bad shots and they limit turnovers. Jamie Dixon’s team isn’t one you would call “fun to watch” and their schedule hasn’t been particularly difficult during their 14-1 start, but this Panthers team plays together as a team and they have a chance to do some real damage in the ACC this season because they understand what works for them.

Latest Posts
  1. Minnesota unveils new black uniforms [PHOTO]

    Nov 1, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Richard Pitino AP

    What do you think of these new uniforms?

  2. Hawaii has found its new head coach

    Nov 1, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    (Hawaii athletics) (Hawaii athletics)

    Hawaii has found someone to coach the team after Gib Arnold was fired on Oct. 28.

  3. Georgia Tech lands commitment from 6-foot-9 three-star center

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Sylvester Ogbonda

    The first commit in 2015 for Brian Gregory.

  4. Wisconsin forward joins lawsuit against NCAA

    Oct 31, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Wisconsin forward was named Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year as a freshman.

  5. Five-star power forward sets tentative dates for official visits to Kansas, Arizona

    Oct 31, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpti1yzy1ymy3ytizody1zwrhyzfhmme2odcxyjawntbi AP

    The Bay Area big man is considered the No. 7 overall player in the senior class.

  6. Louisiana Tech’s Michael White is happy where is at

    Oct 31, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Louisiana Tech coach has averaged 28 wins the past two seasons, and is poised for a NCAA tournament appearance in 2015.

  7. Drexel starting guard to miss the entire 2014-2015 season with ankle injury

    Oct 31, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Injuries are becoming a far too common problem for Drexel.

  8. Syracuse senior to have a bigger role in offense

    Oct 31, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    For the past two years, the Philly product has averaged five points per game.

  9. While uncommon, Kentucky’s expected 10-man platoon isn’t unprecedented

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Another SEC school used a similar system on its way to a national title game appearance in 2000.

  10. 2014-2015 Season Preview: Louisiana Tech the favorite in the ever-changing Conference USA

    Oct 31, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Despite 29 wins (13 in conference play) Louisiana Tech missed out on the NCAA tournament. Michael White looks to change that this season, although, his team will have to go through the likes of UTEP and newcomer Western Kentucky, first.

  11. Sophomore guard decides to leave Kansas program

    Oct 31, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT

    Iona v Kansas Getty Images

    With the number of guards in the Kansas program, playing time was likely to be scarce for Conner Frankamp.

  12. All-Big West forward declared ineligible at Hawaii

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Isaac Fotu Isaac Fotu

    Isaac Fotu’s part of the NCAA’s investigation into the program, and other schools have attempted to poach some of Hawaii’s remaining players.

  13. Top 25 Countdown: No. 6 Virginia Cavaliers

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Malcolm Brogdon (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Virginia is coming off of a dual-ACC title and returns the majority of the key players from that team.

  14. Kentucky sits atop Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT

    AP AP

    No surprise that Kentucky’s on top. Also of note: No. 3 Wisconsin received more first-place votes than No. 2 Arizona.

  15. Foot injury to sideline Ball State guard eight to ten weeks

    Oct 31, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    North Carolina State v Cincinnati North Carolina State v Cincinnati

    The Cincinnati transfer was expected to factor into a rotation that’s replacing five seniors from last season’s team.

  16. Illinois declares home floor fit for play following flooding issue

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:53 PM EDT

    Twitter/IlliniHoops Twitter/IlliniHoops

    Quick action by construction workers ensured that it was declared ready for play two days after being flooded.