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Pitt Basketball: Grading the Panthers' first season in the ACC

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, our Poll of the Week revolved around how Pitt fared this basketball season based on your expectations. I wanted to pass out some grades as we wrap up the season. We'll have some individual looks at players later, but this will focus on specific units.

Guards: Things weren't perfect in the backcourt, but there were some encouraging things here. James Robinson wasn't a dominant scorer and his 7.6 points and 4.1 assists were pretty modest given that he played over 31 minutes a game. But he did show a improvement in his shooting, going from under 37% to just over 40%. Starting shooting guard Cam Wright had the breakout season I thought he would and really did a lot for the team, leading the way in steals, and finishing third in scoring and assists. Josh Newkirk's play was encouraging as a freshman and he got better all the way around. Decent work out of the guards this year. The lack of three-point shooting as a whole from this group hurts and as a whole, these guys could be a little better defensively.

Guards Grade: B-

Forwards: Lamar Patterson was the star of the team and despite some disappearing acts, overall had a very good season. He led the team in scoring and assists, and was second in rebounding. Mike Young had an up and down year at power forward, but largely underachieved. I'm convinced he'll become a star, but he really struggled at times this year - particularly on the glass with only 4.1 rebounds per night. Jamel Artis came in and gave the team a solid bench option as a true freshman. Durand Johnson goes ungraded here due to the injury and Chris Jones was a virtual non-factor here (or at shooting guard ... wherever you slot him).

Forwards Grade: B+

Centers: Talib Zanna proved he could play center in the ACC and while he wasn't entirely dominant, fans shouldn't forget the way he stepped up at the end of the season for Pitt. 13 points and nearly nine rebounds per game while shooting just under 60% on the year in a new position was pretty strong. It's a good thing Zanna was able to do so much because Derrick Randall and Joseph Uchebo didn't do much to help out.

Centers Grade: B

Coaching: Jamie Dixon took plenty of criticism this year (as usual), but overall, it's hard to say he underachieved with this bunch. Playing three true freshmen heavily while losing your Sixth Man is a tough thing to deal with. Then consider that Pitt was playing at a lot of unfamiliar venues this year in the ACC and winning 26 games, including one in the NCAA Tournament and two in the ACCs doesn't look so bad. The non-conference schedule was light, but Dixon won games there and didn't trip up even once. He suffered a lot of close losses to the best teams on Pitt's schedule, but overall, a pretty solid job here considering the circumstances.

Coaching Grade: B


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