MERNAGH: PITT SHOWS IMPROVEMENT IN ROUT OVER NO. 19 GEORGETOWN
Pitt needed to dominate somebody after their two straight losses to start Big East play– at home against Cincinnati and at Rutgers.
It was just icing on the cake that it was Georgetown on the road in basically a 30-point shellacking. Georgetown has problems, especially offensively. JT3 would probably be better served by isolating Otto Porter as much as possible and letting him try and go to work and create for himself and others from the mid-post area. But this blurb is about Pitt and what they need to do to build on this win and not fall back to where they were before this result (we’ll tackle the Hoyas and their issues at a later date).
It’s never been more evident that this Pittsburg team needs to play with pace as much as possible. James Robinson and Tray Woodall both make good decisions in transition and when they push the pace it tends to give athletic shooters like Durand Johnson (who needs to continue to see his minutes increase) and JJ Moore shots in rhythm off the secondary break or the chance to attack the rim on the hard, desperate closeouts those kind of situations create. Playing with pace also counters the areas where Pitt can struggle. Easy baskets are good for this team because in the half-court they often settle for late-clock contested three point attempts that lead to bad results.
And once they get into their half-court sets, those plays should be designed with the priority of getting Talib Zanna and Steven Adams involved. Zanna and Adams aren’t your typical post players so they need the ball in different spots. Zanna needs it in space from 14 feet and in as he can face up, hit the mid range jumper, or read the defense and make a play with the pass or drive. Adams also needs it in space but on the move and closer to the rim. There’s no reason Adams shouldn’t get four dunks a game with the way he rolls to the hoop off the ball-screen action Pitt runs. He should also get a few more buckets in transition and he and Zanna can play off of each other with some high-low action if Pitt draws it up. They can make the game so much easier because both are willing passers who should make opposing defenses worry.
That’s what will ultimately be the key for this Pitt team. When they realize — like they did tonight — that Adams can control games defensively and and also can get them easy baskets if they look for him in transition (lob alert and as a trailer). Zanna can be an automatic double-double if they keep him involved and interested. Everyone else needs to fit in and play a role –which is a situation where guys like Lamar Patterson will flourish, knowing he can just play and not worry about his numbers or the pressure to perform.
If Pitt focuses on pace, attacking the rim and not settling for too many jumpers, they can be a tournament team again. And that will be good enough after last year’s struggles.
When Adams develops his post up game — that’s the point when they can become scary.
Until then, Pitt should just concentrate on following a blueprint that should produce more wins than losses.
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