I happened to catch the Texas Longhorns vs. the Iowa State Cyclones three nights ago amidst the eight-day hiatus from competition that the Pittsburgh Panthers (20-6, 8-5) are currently on. Super-senior point guard DeAndre Kane helped Iowa State to an 85–76 victory over 19th ranked Texas in Ames, Iowa. If you’re a Pitt fan then you probably know where I am going with this, and you’re probably groaning.
A native of Pittsburgh, Kane attended Schenley High School; he even played with former Panther DeJuan Blair and St. John’s Red Storm guard/forward D.J. Kennedy. The former member of the Marshall Thundering Herd was poised to commit to Pitt in early May. However, despite visiting the campus, Kane never officially committed. Instead, Kane ultimately chose the Cyclones after visiting the campus at the end of May.
In an article in the Ames Tribune last month, ISU head coach Fred Hoiberg said that the Panthers backed off Kane after his visit, which opened up the door for them. If you ask someone in Pitt's organization, they might tell a slightly different story.
The Panthers are struggling (sorta) to stay above .500 in their first season in the ACC, and have yet to beat a ranked opponent. Conversely, Iowa State is currently ranked 17th in the country, and are 7-2 against ranked opponents this season.
Kane has been an integral part of why the Cyclones have been so successful this season. He is averaging 16.2 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game, and 6.0 assists per game. His stats are very close to that of senior forward Lamar Patterson. Even though they produce similar numbers, both players have different strengths and weaknesses - they play different positions.
I would best describe Patterson's game as smooth, while Kane's game is more about power and strength. Lamar is dangerous when he gets into the lane, as he can make plays for himself and others. DeAndre is a force in transition, and he finishes really well around the basket (70.2% at the rim), especially for his position.
Kane is already 24-years-old, and is physically imposing at a listed 6'4", 200 lbs. He leverages his physical advantage to get anywhere he wants on the floor, and often bullies opposing point guards. Pitt doesn't have anyone on their roster that fits that description.
How good would the Panthers be with Kane on the team? My initial assumption is at least top-15. Neither Patterson nor Kane would have breakout years if they were on the same team; which is perhaps why Kane chose ISU in the end. Both players need the ball in their hands to be as effective as possible.
Still, their playmaking abilities would be extremely hard to defend on a game-to-game basis, and it would be impossible to double team either of them consistently. Pitt has really struggled to score when Patterson isn't feeling it, Kane could easily shoulder that load.
Sadly, the Panthers don't have that luxury. Sophomore point guard James Robinson is a fabulous floor general who finds players in scoring position. However, he seldom creates that opportunity by breaking down the defense off dribble penetration. Only Patterson is able to create opportunities for others, something the team feeds off of. They'll spend the next two days trying to figure out how to create more efficient offense when Patterson is bottled-up.
I know most Pitt fans are pretty bitter about Kane's decision; they're not the most forgiving fan base. With that said, there is no denying how good Kane has been this season. He would definitely help the Panthers, perhaps even position them for a run at the Final Four. That's all conjecture at this point. No one knows how far Pitt will go this season, but thus far one thing is for sure, there's been a lot of "if only" going around, and you can put Kane in that category as well.
- Stats courtesy of Hoop-Math.