Ben Howland speaks to media at the Oakland Zoo Blue-Gold Scrimmage. Photo courtesy of Zachary Weiss

Pitt Panthers Notebook: Ben Howland returns to Pittsburgh

March 15, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UCLA Bruins head coach Ben Howland instructs against the Arizona Wildcats during the second half in the semifinal round of the Pac 12 tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. UCLA defeated Arizona 66-64. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

At the second of two Pittsburgh Panthers men’s basketball Blue-Gold Scrimmages, Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon was joined by a familiar face at the scorer’s table.

Ben Howland was fired from his job at UCLA and was a former head coach for the Panthers. Howland has a career record of 398-205 and this allows Howland to take a breather.

“Thirty-two straight years without a break,” Howland said. “I’ve never had off this time of year. I’m trying to take advantage of it and learn and get better.”

Howland was a presence at Pitt practices as well and has known Dixon since the current leader of the blue and gold was in high school.

The game did make Howland realize something though.

“This is the first time I realized how much I missed not coaching,” Howland said. “I’m hoping to be in a (new) job in the springtime.

Howland hopes to get that job in the spring, however if he doesn’t he would consider working for a media outlet such as ESPN, Fox Sports 1 or CBS. For now though, Howland is content traveling to watch practices and games.

Cameron Wright leaps ahead at shooting guard competition

To many Cameron Wright has underwhelmed in his time as a Panther. Now however, his stock could not be higher.

Wright scored 27 points in the first Blue-Gold Scrimmage including a clumsy buzzer beating three point shot from just shy of half court to give his team a one point win.

At Friday’s Blue-Gold Scrimmage, Wright might have bettered that. Pitt’s perimeter shooting has certainly improved and Wright’s ability to catch and shoot is something that he has never shown before.

Wright tied Lamar Patterson for top point honors with 25. Wright who struggled at the free throw line last season also was a much improved 10-12.

“Every year we’ve had a guy that, all of a sudden, everybody says is a lot better player,” Head Coach Jamie Dixon said. “He’s in better shape. He’s shot the ball with more arc. He’s just playing really well. It’s pretty evident he’s going to have a really good year for us.”

Dixon first revealed Wright had a slight advantage earlier in the week at ACC Media Day and now this only strengthens his case. Wright has a confidence and perhaps the most important thing is that he is having fun.

Blue-Gold recap

The Gold team won 74-67 in front of 2,312 fans. In addition to Wright and Patterson’s efforts Mike Young tried to strengthen his case to start at power forward with 16 points. The key may have been Gold’s 29-35 free throw shooting clip [82.5%]. In the loss, Talib Zanna had 19 points and 17 rebounds. Jamel Artis made all of his shots from the field in the first half and finished with 13 points.

Of note: Kiski School player Satchel Pierce was at the scrimmage. Pierce a seven foot 250-pound center is making his first visit with Pitt.

Joseph Uchebo continues to be sidelined by his knee injury. He was joined on the sideline by Derrick Randall who suffered a knee injury Thursday. A source said Randall will recover in 10 days although Dixon did not have a timetable.

Pitt plays its first official opponent Friday in an exhibition against UC-San Diego at 7 p.m.

Tags: Pitt Panthers Basketball

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