Get in the left lane and put the hammer ... never mind.
Tonight, Pitt squares off against 6-1 Duquesne. While the series as a whole hasn't been competitive for a very long time, there's some thought to the Dukes being able to keep up with the Panthers tonight. One reason Duquesne thinks they can hang with Pitt? Their speed.
Not everyone, though, seems to be buying what the Dukes are selling. To the footage:
"We've got a lot of speed and quickness," senior guard Derrick Colter said. "They're slower than us. We can get it in transition, get open 3s and open shots for us."
Maybe, but playing Pitt is no longer the two-hour cage match it was five years ago. The Panthers have evolved under coach
Jamie Dixonafter making the transition from the rugged Big East to the considerably more frenetic ACC.
"I don't know why they say they're faster than us," forward Jamel Artis said.
Artis had more to say, too.
Countered Pitt junior forward Jamel Artis: "They're talking a lot of stuff. They said we're slow. I don't think we're slow at all. They said they're going to try to outrun us in transition. We've got a game plan for that."
"It's a rivalry game," Artis said. "I'm coming out and playing my hardest because I really want to get this win. It'll be a big win for them. All of our guys are going to play hard from the jump."
Personally, I love to see these types of quotes and a little back and forth. This is supposed to be a rivalry game and I'm glad to see it start to sound like it a little. Granted, this isn't two guys talking a ton of trash but it's at least something other than the nondescript rhetoric we mostly see on the quote sheet.
If anything, I think the chippiness benefits Pitt, actually. This sounds a little bit like waking a sleeping giant and if you take what Artis says seriously, you should expect the Panthers to be focused for this one. I would be much more concerned if the Panthers went into the game with a lackadaisical approach and could be caught off guard. While that's still a possibility, it's probably less of one with the Duquesne comments about wanting to outrun them. Pitt, at the very least, should be ready for Duquesne to try to get into transition.
The comments about playing hard from the jump seems to be a nod, too, to Pitt's poor start in the Purdue contest where they fell behind early. Obviously, it takes more than talk here to get things done. But again, if you believe what Artis says, you can expect Pitt to be ready so they don't have to fight back from a large opening deficit. The way Duquesne shoots the ball, that's still a possibility, too (as the transition game is). But hopefully Pitt will be ready to defend and contest shots while getting off to a better offensive start.