It is October and while we've been football heavy here, the college basketball season is right around the corner. Pitt will host its annual Oakland Zoo scrimmage which is free and open to the public on Friday, October 3rd at the Petersen Events Center. Here are some things to watch for:
One thing is Durand Johnson's speed and his ability/inability to handle a full work-load. A source informed me that Johnson is expected to play in some capacity on Friday night. This would be an immediate replacement to an injured Cameron Wright. If Johnson can contribute what we saw flashes of last year, the loss of Wright should be alleviated immediately.
With Wright injured, head coach Jamie Dixon has to find a way to fill the void until he is back in December. The likely replacement is Josh Newkirk, so it will be interesting to see if Newkirk plays alongside James Robinson, or if Newkirk plays opposite Robinson.
The tempo of the team should be interesting. Robinson is adept at running a methodical, half-court offense, whereas, Newkirk is more efficiently used in a run-and-gun style of offense. The Panthers have the ability to run a fast-paced offense with a great deal of athletic wingmen. They can really stretch out the floor with a team stacked with athletic forwards.
This team has the potential to be lethal from three-point range with talented shooters in Newkirk, Sheldon Jeter, Durand Johnson, Michael Young and Jamel Artis. This works directly into their potential to run a faster paced offense that can let it fly from the perimeter.
Make sure to pay attention to how does Joe Uchebo look in a full five-on-five scenario. The former top-100 recruit has yet to play meaningful minutes for the Panthers, but, with a lack of big-men, the Panthers need him to step up and play a larger role on this team.
The Panthers still have over a month before their first game, so a lot will change between now and then. However this is a good opportunity to catch a glimpse of what Jamie Dixon plans on doing. There will be another scrimmage at the annual Maggie Dixon Heart Health Fair on October 19.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the game is scheduled to tip off at 7:00 p.m.