With a dearth of talent at center last year, Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon did his best to get the team's top five players on the court to start games. That meant moving his two top talents, specifically Michael Young and Jamel Artis, up a position. Both played up a position largely, as power forward Young occupied center and Artis played at power forward.
That sounds as if it's going to change.
According to the Trib, both Young and Artis will move back to power forward and small forward, respectively. It's something we've often speculated this offseason as the Panthers brought in big men Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, Rafael Maia, and Rozelle Nix. Those moves seem to allow Pitt to slide Young and Artis back down to their original positions.
I don't want to completely rehash my arguments for Young and Artis moving back down to power/small forward. But in a nutshell, I expect it to help both of their games. They can't determine what other teams do defensively against them, but overall, they should facing defenders closer to their size. For Young in particular, it should mean that he doesn't go head to head against the tallest guy on the court as often. Teams can always still guard him with a center if they choose, but that shouldn't happen as much as it did last year.
On offense, too, you should see Young hanging around away from the basket more often. He even sort of hinted discussed that in the Trib article when he talked about his ability to shoot more three-pointers as a freshman as opposed to last year.
Defensively, it also means Young won't have to face opposing centers - at least not as much. Jamie Dixon could, of course, choose to match him up against an opposing big, so it could happen. But that sort of defeats the purpose of moving him to power forward and I'm guessing the hope is that he doesn't have to expend quite as much energy guarding bigger players on defense.
Another advantage? As Young stated in that Trib article, the moves allow Pitt to better adapt to the shot clock change from 35 seconds to 30:
"With me going back, Jamel playing (small forward), we've got size at (shooting guard) — and (point guard) through (power forward) being able to handle the (ball). I don't think the shot clock is really going to affect us," Young said. "Me being able to get a rebound and push the ball upcourt and those guys running. Guys like Rozelle and Alonzo, they can easily get a rebound, take one dribble and make a nice outlet pass."
Also keep in mind that it's something that could change as well - like it did last year. Pitt had hoped for more from Joseph Uchebo and Derrick Randall but never got it. That led to Young playing more at center than was probably anticipated. If the new acquisitions can't handle life at center, Young could again be thrust in that role. But with so many other options, you'd like to think that one of them would pan out and be able to play center.
The plan for now seems to be what most of us expected - to move Young and Artis back to their original positions.