2012-2013 Overall Rank: #44
Conference Rank: #7 Big East
Pittsburgh Team Page
Pittsburgh can forget about the 2011-2012 campaign. They need to after a dismal 5-13 showing in the Big East. Coach Jamie Dixon will get the best out of this group and the best should be a trip to the NCAA Tournament. However, that was the case last year too and Pitt was lucky to get the CBI. They ended up winning the CBI, but that is a banner they will not display too proudly.
2011-12 Record: 22-17, 5-13
2011-12 Postseason: CBI
Coach: Jamie Dixon
Coach Record: 238-77 at Pittsburgh, 238-77 overall
Ashton Gibbs is gone after leading the Panthers with 14.6 points per game. He was a good outside shooter and a fine all-around scorer. His outside shooting was a little inconsistent, but Gibbs’ scoring ability will certainly be missed. Fortunately Coach Dixon has plenty of other options. Forward Nasir Robinson was another quality slasher who could score in bunches. Robinson, at 6-5, was also a very strong rebounder and led the team with 6.5 boards per contest. He may have been a little undersized, but Robinson rarely lacked in hustle. Khem Birch and Isaiah Epps have transferred. Birch only spent ten games at Pitt during the 2011-2012 campaign, but he did start six of those games and his departure did not help get the Panthers season turned around.
But the departures are nothing compared to the newcomers and that is why this Pittsburgh squad has some much hope. Trey Zeigler, a transfer from Central Michigan, will be eligible immediately. Zeigler, a 6-5 wing, averaged 15.6 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Chippewas last season. Do not be tricked by Zeigler coming to the Big East from the MAC. Zeigler went to play for his father at CMU and could have gone anywhere. Zeigler has the potential to be a great player in the Big East and average over 15 points again. He should at least add another all-around scorer to the starting lineup. A few more freshmen should make an immediate contribution to the backcourt. James Robinson is a smart point guard who will likely step into the backup role right away and compete for the starting job next season. Chris Jones is an athletic wing who can do a bit of everything. He can beat defenders off of the dribble and will use his 6-6, 210 pound frame to cause havoc on the defensive end. Redshirt freshman Durand Johnson will hope to crack the regular rotation. The big newcomer in the frontcourt is the much heralded Steven Adams. At 7-0 and 250 pounds, Adams has the size to bang in the paint against anybody. Offensively he is very mature for a freshman and he can score against the best the Big East has to offer. What makes him so dangerous is his ability to step out and knock down the mid-range jumper.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt has plenty of talent to go along with Adams. Lamar Patterson emerged as one of those dynamic, versatile and tough forwards that Pittsburgh has grown on trees as of late. The 6-5 small forward averaged an impressive 9.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 steals as a sophomore. At 223 pounds, he can get in the paint and mix it up and use his use superb athleticism to hit the glass effectively. Patterson is obviously a fine passer for a swingman and he can score from anywhere on the floor. If he makes another jump in production this year, Patterson could turn into the star of this team. However, that could be said for a number of players, including Dante Taylor. Taylor is a traditional big man who averaged 5.8 points and 4.9 rebounds as a junior. He may not have a huge upside heading into his senior season, but Taylor has proven to be a very productive player when given the opportunity. Talib Zanna is a little raw and most of his points will come from offensive rebounds, but he is a 6-9 big man who can mix it up in the paint. Malcolm Gilbert cannot be overlooked either. The 6-11 sophomore barely saw the floor last season, but he is a very talented big man who should be ready for more minutes with a year of experience under his belt. Between Zanna, Gilbert, Adams and Taylor, Pittsburgh has a ton of options at the four and five spots. J.J. Moore will spend most of his time at the small forward position. At 6-6 that is where he fits the best. If Moore can find his stroke, he will be a key piece for the Panthers off of the bench.
Cameron Wright and John Johnson will compete with Zeigler for minutes on the wing, but it is Tray Woodall who makes this team tick. When he was out for 11 games last season Pittsburgh all but fell apart. They could not make much happen without their floor leader. In 28 games Woodall averaged 11.7 points and 6.1 assists. He is a great passer and a very, very good shooter. Woodall’s ability to create shots for himself and others, not to mention his outside shooting, opens up the offense for everybody else. Without him this offense was stagnant. But more importantly than offense for Coach Dixon is defense. For a program that prides itself on hardworking defenders, Pittsburgh did a poor job on that end of the floor last season. A shot blocker like Taylor or Adams emerging would be extremely beneficial, but working harder on the perimeter is a must as well. Coach Dixon will have this group playing much tougher basketball this year and with the talent at his disposal, anything but a trip to the NCAA Tournament would be a disappointment.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Tray Woodall, Senior, Guard, 11.7 points per game
Trey Zeigler, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Lamar Patterson, Junior, Guard, 9.6 points per game
Dante Taylor, Senior, Forward, 5.8 points per game
Steven Adams, Freshman, Center, DNP last season
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#7 Steven Adams
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#5 Steven Adams
#62 James Robinson