Melo Trimble 6’3” Junior 21.1 PPG // 3.0 RPG // 2.0 APG
Jamel Artis 6’7” Senior 19.3 PPG // 5.3 RPG // 3.8 APG
Melo Trimble is one of the absolute best guards in the country, and has been for some time. His draft stock fell from his freshman year, but he’s still a highly effective college player. Trimble has had to change his game from last year to this year. His scoring is up considerably, while his assist numbers are down. He went from being a piece of a highly talented team to being “the” guy on a young team. He takes a lot of shots and plays a lot of minutes. He is the key to this team. Maryland is off to an impressive 7-0 start in itself, but they haven’t been tested just yet. We’ll see perhaps tonight what Trimble and this team can do.
Jamel Artis is not a point guard. If you are a Pitt fan reading this, you know that by now. Artis has been Pitt’s starting small forward for the past two seasons, but with James Robinson graduating and no real options behind him emerging, Kevin Stallings has handed the keys to Artis. It has come with mixed results. Artis is a good scorer and passer. He’s physical and can rebound, pretty much everything you would want in a good wing player. The offensive end of this experiment isn’t all that bad, it’s trying to defend Trimble and aligning on defense as a whole that seems to be the issue with this lineup.
Anthony Cowan 6’0” Freshman 10.1 PPG // 5.1 RPG // 3.9 APG
Chris Jones 6’6” Senior 6.7 PPG // 2.8 RPG // 3.3 APG
Anthony Cowan is a true freshman from Washington DC. He was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. Cowan is on the smaller side, and with Trimble picking up his scoring, can slide into a point guard role just the same. His assist numbers are pretty good and can run the show when need be. His scoring can come and go however. He was 0-3 from the field in the overtime win over Kansas State, but had 18 in the prior game against Richmond.
Chris Jones is a veteran presence in the starting lineup. Jones has the ability to go for 15 points in one night, but could very easily be held scoreless. The biggest thing with him in his career is consistency. It’s been a lot of the same type of performances over the past two and a half seasons. Jones has added sharing the ball to his repertoire however. Without a true point guard out there, it’s sharing the ball by committee and Jones is averaging a career-best 3.3 assists in the early going this season. Pitt best win this year is over Marquette, and Jones had a season-high 13 points in that game. Perhaps it was coincidental, but Pitt could sure use a strong showing from Jones.
Kevin Huerter 6’7” Freshman 7.3 PPG // 5.3 RPG // 1.4 APG
Cameron Johnson 6’7” Sophomore 11.2 PPG // 3.8 RPG // 2.3 APG
Kevin Huerter is another four-star freshman starting for Mark Turgeon. He has reached double figures twice in the short season, and is not an assertive scoring option. He hits the glass well for a guard and can provide big numbers there. He had a 12 point 10 rebound performance just last week against Richmond. He may not be the top option offensively, but can give them production.
Cameron Johnson is Pitt’s third leading scorer in his first season as a full-time starter. Johnson is shooting a staggering 55% from behind the three-point line through six games. He’s the type of player that can carry Pitt through stretches with his hot shooting. He has made at least four three-pointers in three different games this season. His height and length helps him get shots off from deep, and is an asset to him defensively.
Justin Jackson 6’7” Freshman 11.7 PPG // 7.1 RPG
Sheldon Jeter 6’8” Senior 6.5 PPG // 7.7 RPG // 1.2 APG
Justin Jackson is yet again, a four-star freshman in the starting lineup. He has asserted himself right away as the Terrapins’ leading rebounder. Although he is the team leader in rebounds, Jackson has shown the ability to knock down outside shots. He is shooting 52% from behind the arc. Jackson is athletic and can block shots as well. This seems like a matchup nightmare for the Panthers.
Sheldon Jeter has been having a bit of disappointing season to date. He is shooting a very low 29% from the field to this point. I think shot selection has something to do with it. Jeter has been settling for deep jumpers, and his bread and butter is mid-range shots and working inside. If Pitt can get him going, they’ll be a much more dangerous team. He’s shown flashes throughout his career, he just seems to be in a bit of a slump. His rebounding numbers are up for sure, and that has not gone unnoticed. Pitt still needs him to hit the glass hard.
Ivan Bender 6’9” Sophomore 4.7 PPG // 3.3 RPG // 1.4 APG
Michael Young 6’9” Senior 23.3 PPG // 8.2 RPG // 3.0 APG
Ivan Bender has been getting the starts the past few times out, and I’m expecting that to continue. Either way, he does not always get the bulk of the minutes as he averages just 13.3 minutes per game. Bender finished with 8 points and 0 rebounds in 9 minutes against Kansas State last week. He just seems like a placeholder more than anything.
Maryland just doesn’t have an answer for Michael Young, and frankly not many teams will this season. Young is off to a frantic start to his senior season, and is showing out on a nightly basis. He is shooting a career-high 58% from the floor, he is rebounding at a higher rate, and is setting up teammates better as well. Heck he is blocking shots now, something he’s never really done. He is improved in all facets and it’s noticeable. If there is one particular matchup Pitt can exploit in this game, it’s Young against anyone they choose to put on him. The Terps have some big bodies off the bench, but Young won’t be too bothered by it. He can take size off the dribble. While they don’t play the same position, having an early season game featuring Melo Trimble and Michael Young is a special treat for the average fan.
Michal Cekovsky 7’1” Junior
Damonte Dodd 6’11” Senior
L.G. Gill 6’8” Senior
Dion Wiley 6’4” Sophomore
Jalen Brantley 5’11” Junior
Jared Nickens 6’7” Junior
Ryan Luther 6’8” Junior
Justice Kithcart 6’1” Freshman
Jonathan Milligan 6’2” Junior
Damon Wilson 6’5” Sophomore
Maryland seems comfortable going 11 deep if need be. After missing the first four games, junior seven-footer Michal Cekovsky is averaging 10 points and 5 rebounds in three games of action. Damonte Dodd is a veteran 6’11” player off the bench. Pitt fans may recall L.G. Gill, as he is a transfer from Duquesne and has played against the Panthers the past three seasons. He will provide depth behind Justin Jackson. Maryland has bodies and depth, but the bulk of their scoring comes from the starters.
Pitt has received solid production from Ryan Luther off the bench. In reality, he is an extension of the starting lineup and on certain nights can take up significant minutes. He has provided a spark and gives Pitt a solid depth option behind either Jeter or Young. Justice Kithcart has come in to provide minutes as the true point guard of the roster, but has played a lot like a freshman. Jonathan Milligan knocked down three three-pointers last game, and could be a shooting spark off the bench.