Big East Summer Capsules: Pittsburgh PanthersPosted by mlemaire on July 20th, 2012
While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is Pittsburgh.
1. Not to be outdone, this season will be Pittsburgh’s last hurrah in the Big East too.
After Syracuse announced it had come to terms with the Big East on a departure date, you knew it wouldn’t take long for Pittsburgh to follow suit and the Panthers surprised no one when they announced they would be leaving at the same time as Syracuse. The school will have to pay the Big East $7.5 million, but that is chump change compared to what the school stands to make after the switch to the ACC. The real losers here are once again Big East basketball fans. Physical, gritty, and well-coached, the Panthers epitomized Big East basketball and also just so happened to be one of its best programs under Ben Howland and now Jamie Dixon. They don’t have the same storied history and star power that Syracuse has, but fantastic players such as Brandin Knight, Levance Fields, Carl Krauser, and DeJuan Blair all left indelible marks of the basketball memories of fans, and the league will be hard-pressed to find a team to replace Pitt.
2. Get ready for the emergence of Lamar Patterson.
Ashton Gibbs has graduated after what feels like eight years in a Panthers’ uniform and he has taken an awful lot of points with him. The Panthers are in the market for some scoring. Transfer Trey Zeigler – more on him in a minute – should help, but based on summer league reviews, the player who will be the most help in the scoring department is junior Lamar Patterson. Everyone seems to agree that Patterson’s solid but unspectacular statistics have been because he wasn’t selfish enough. Well apparently he got the message, and so he has used his improved shooting touch and aggression to basically dominate summer league competition and put himself atop the list of potential breakout candidates for next season. He has always had physicality and athleticism to become a standout performer, but now it appears he has added the necessary polish to be one of the conference’s most improved and well-rounded players.
3. Trey Zeigler is working to get acclimated.
The Panthers scored two majors coups this summer. The first was landing former Central Michigan stud Trey Zeigler when he decided to transfer out of the Chippewas’ program. The second was learning that Zeigler would be eligible to play right away, making him potentially the team’s best player from the first tip. Zeigler – who averaged 15.8 PPG and 6.7 RPG as a sophomore – has always been a high-major talent who only ended up at Central Michigan because his father coached there. He has been playing on the same summer league team with a number of his future teammates so hopefully that will help the transition process, but he will need to fit in right away because the Panthers will be relying on him to take them back to the NCAA Tournament. The good news is that he will have one of the country’s better distributors – Travon Woodall – feeding him the ball. The rest is up to him.