Jamie Dixon should be impressed with Pitt's performance in their season opener - Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
The Mountaineers started hot from deep, but Pitt's talent and depth shut them down in the second half to cruise to an easy opening night victory
Hoping to put last season's disappointment behind them, the new edition of the basketball team was out to show just how much they had changed over the offseason. With big pickups in Steven Adams, Trey Zeigler, and James Robinson, the Panthers rolled over the visiting Mountaineers from Mount St. Mary's in the second half, holding the opposition to just two made three-pointers after Mount St. Mary's started extremely hot from deep, making seven of their first nine three-pointers
There are a couple things Pitt must do each night to win. They must win the rebounding battle (26-15). They must hold their opponent to under 45% shooting (36.7%) while shooting better than 45% themselves (70.8%). And they must have more assists than turnovers (13 assists to 8 turnovers). They did all three and while it's not the sole reason why Pitt won, when Pitt does, they're pretty tough to beat.
For the first time since 2004, head coach Jamie Dixon started 2 true freshman in Robinson and Adams and they both put in impressive performances in their Pitt debuts. Adams had 8 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, and made life difficult inside for the visitors inside. Robinson, meanwhile, looked like the ball handler that Pitt desperately needed a year ago and while he had a quiet night on the stats sheet (6 points, 4 rebounds, 0 assists), I came away very impressed with his play in his first game. Zeigler checked in mostly in the second half, but showed why he was a highly touted prospect coming out of high school as he finished with 11 points, 2 assists, and 2 steals.
As for the guys Pitt fans have seen before, Talib Zanna was a force offensively, finishing with 20 points on 10-12 shooting. If Pitt can get close to double figures in scoring from both Zanna and Adams a night, then the Panthers problems inside should be solved from a year ago. Tray Woodall had Pitt's lone made three-pointer of the night and finished with a solid 14 points and made good decisions on offense, finishing with six assists. Lamar Patterson didn't score, but made contributions elsewhere, setting screens and setting up plays on offense. Coming off the bench, J.J Moore and Cameron Wright added solid contributions with nine and eight points respectively. Moore still takes some unnecessary jump shots and Wright still has his moments where he looks like a freshman, but it's progress. Dante Taylor also saw playing time, but picked up two quick fouls and finished with a relatively quiet night.
It's was a solid showing in a fairly weak non-conference slate for the Panthers, who look to build off the win tonight against Fordham on Monday at the Pete. Tip is at 6:00 P.M.