I'm not a big position breakdown guy in the preseason. Guys change positions, kids leave the program, etc. But with so much drama
in the LBC around Pitt basketball already this year, I'm guessing things have slowed down.
The Panthers can still add another scholarship player, but for now, I figured it was a good time to assess the roster for next season. So with that said, each day I'll take a look at a different position. Yeah, I get that some of these guys can arguably play a few different places, but FWIW, I'll slot them where I think they belong.
Up today: Point Guards
You could almost call this point guard. As in singular.
James Robinson is the go to guy here and frankly, it's a good thing Pitt has him. Not only did he get a lot of experience last year as a true freshman, but overall, he did a pretty admirable job. Robinson now gets thrown into the fire as the primary point guard on the roster.
The things he did right? Running the offense and keeping the turnovers down. Robinson's near 3.5/1 assist-to-turnover ratio led the team and overall, he did a great job for a true freshman.
The bad? The shooting.
As I outlined a couple of times (here and here) last year, Robinson's shooting really went downhill as the season went on. He scored 6.1 points a game but shot under 37% from the field. And while we can debate how much stock to put in it, as I wrote shortly after the games, Robinson didn't shoot very well on the USA U19 team this summer. As I've said repeatedly, Pitt doesn't need him to come in and score a ton of points. But they do need him to knock down open jump shots to keep defenders honest.
Joining Robinson at the point is going to be Josh Newkirk by default. Thanks to missing on Isaiah Epps (though, to be fair, to label a kid a bust after one year of playing is pretty unfair) and losing John Johnson to transfer, Pitt has no other real options. Johnson wasn't a point guard so much as he was a shooting guard, but he played the position two years ago as a true freshman. Now, Pitt is forced to rely on another true freshman to help share the load.
Newkirk could be a shooting guard but when Robinson's out, he's going to have to handle the point guard duties. He has a great reputation, but he's still a true freshman. Newkirk can contribute, but I'm tempering my expectations.
Another guy Pitt can look to as a third option? Cam Wright.
No seriously, don't laugh. I don't want him running the offense, either, but he did fill in that role a bit as a true freshman with Johnson. He didn't do a great job there, but he's two years older now and will be more comfortable if he needs to take over. But that said, I only see that as a last-ditch alternative and hopefully it won't come to that.
I'm not so much concerned with spelling Robinson for the 6-8 minutes when he'll need to be rested. Pitt should be able to get by more times than not. I'm more concerned with two things: injuries and foul trouble.
Injuries can creep up at any time so that's going to be a crap shoot. Defensively, where I'm worried is if Robinson has to sacrifice a bit to stay out of foul trouble, playing less aggressively. Pitt really has no margin for error and to me, there's little question that he's the most valuable player to the team.
This position could be one of strength for Pitt if he's healthy, but I'm hoping the load isn't too much for Robinson to handle.