The win on January 4th against the Cavaliers put them at 12-3 on the season (now 12-4 with their loss to Syracuse on the 7th). As far as Virginia is concerned, Pitt put on a clinic against them offensively. They are averaging points against this season and the Panthers we able to put 35 on them in just the first half. Everyone on the team played a pivotal role in that game. But It’s hard to tell at this point who the true leader of this team is. Jamel Artis and Michael Young are both extremely talented and Artis’ improvement from three was a huge factor in their win against Virginia. He scored 24 points and did not make a basket from inside the arc, going 6-7 from three point range and adding in a few free throws. But Michael Young also had himself a great game as well. He scored 19 points and added 6 rebounds and added a huge basket with 1:10 remaining in regulation.
When you add the talent these two posses with guys like Cameron Johnson, Sheldon Jeter and Chris Jones, there is a lot of potential for first year coach Kevin Stallings to make an immediate impact and keep Pitt where they were with Jamie Dixon. So far this season, they are averaging 81.3 ppg and giving up 75.9 a game. They seem to be more free flowing offensively and are using their athletes to move the ball around and get open shots wherever they come up. And they can score from anywhere on the floor. They are averaging about 25 ppg from three point range and 38 from inside the arc. Versatility on the offensive side of the ball will be a huge factor when they face the heart of the ACC later on in the season.
Looking ahead, Pitt will have some tough contests as they will face North Carolina, duke, and Syracuse in the coming weeks. A few wins against these teams will be vital in creating a resume to get them back in the NCAA tournament which has been tough for them the past few years.
Check back in a few days for my take on Jamel artis and the role that he plays being in the shadow of his highly recruited senior teammate Michael young.