As Jamie Dixon and the Pitt Panthers basketball team prepares to take on Wichita State Thursday in “second round” action of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, many are still trying to figure out exactly who this Pitt team is.
This Panthers team can beat any team in the nation, but at the same time can lose to any team in the field as well.
Talent wise the Panthers can win a couple games in this tournament or even surprise a few people and go on a run. But to do so, one man in particular must step up and lead them. That man is junior forward Lamar Patterson.
With Tray Woodall and Dante Taylor moving on after the next Pitt loss, Patterson will become one of the senior leaders of next year’s team.
For Pitt’s sake, he needs to start the leading process early and begin leading the Panthers now.
Something that often plagues the Panthers are slow starts offensively and the lack of a guy who they know can put the ball in the basket and take over a game when need be. To their credit the Panthers are as unselfish of a team you will see in this tournament, but sometimes allowing your best scorer to go to work makes sense.
The Pitt swingman is second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.0 points per game, but has the ability to bring so much more to the table offensively.
Patterson showed the talent he has during last season’s run to a CBI championship, when he emerged as Pitt’s best player during that tournament. Now’s a chance for him to something similar, albeit on a much bigger stage.
Patterson has the ability to have success both from behind the arc, where he is a 34.9 percent long-range shooter on the year, and by taking the ball to the rim aggressively. But it’s that aggressiveness that is sometimes missing as Patterson is one guy who doesn’t look for his shot nearly enough. That’s evident by the junior being held to seven or less attempts from the floor in 16 of Pitt’s 32 games on the season.
His athleticism presents a mismatch for the opposition on most nights and if the Panthers are going to have any success this first weekend of the Big Dance, then Patterson must play a major role.
The NCAA Tournament is when stars are made.
Patterson has the opportunity to do exactly that.