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2007-2008 Pittsburgh Panthers Preview

by Andrew Force | November 12th, 2007

2006-2007 Record: 28-9 (12-4), T-2nd
Postseason Games:

3/8/2007 Marquette Big East Tournament W 89-79
3/9/2007 Louisville Big East Tournament W 65-59
3/10/2007 Georgetown Big East Final L 42-65
3/15/2007 Wright State NCAA W 79-58
3/17/2007 VCU NCAA W 84-79 OT
3/22/2007 UCLA NCAA L 55-64

Returning Statistical Leaders:
10.5 ppg – Mike Cook
3.6 rpgLevance Fields
4.6 apgLevance Fields

Starting Lineup: Key Stat:
C DeJuan Blair 6’7” Fr. 12 rebounds in first exhibition game
F Tyrell Biggs 6’8” Jr. played just 415 minutes all season
SF Mike Cook 6’4” Jr. led the team in rebounding 3 times
SG Ron Ramon 6’1” Sr. 1-3 record when he leads Pitt in scoring
PG Levance Fields 5’10” Jr. 4.06 assists per game last season

Key Player Losses: Aaron Gray, Levon Kendall, and Antonio Graves. If Levance Fields’ four charges had been upheld, he would have been on this list as well.

Impact Newcomer: DeJuan Blair.

Blair is a local kid that wants to be the man in the middle for the Pitt Panthers. The void left by Aaron Gray is daunting, but this highly-touted Pennsylvania State Champion has the ego and aptitude to undertake such a task.

Tough Question: Does talent trump size? Eventually, the front line will feature three undersized forwards. Standing 6’4”, 6’6”, and 6’7”, Cook, Young, and Blair respectively will face some tall trees in conference play.

The battles will be intriguing as Pitt’s frontcourt has both power and skills. The clash will not be David-Goliath redux, rather short and great versus tall and good.

Too Much PT: None. The three players that averaged over 20 minutes per game all deserved it.

Get Him on the Floor: Sam Young.

With the graduation of longtime Panthers Gray and Kendall, Young will finally get the minutes he deserves. Bouncy as Tigger, Young rebounds outstandingly. Paired with DeJuan Blair, Young could wreak havoc for opposing bigs. Young never gives up on the offensive glass and lifts the squad with contagious enthusiasm.

Point Guards’ Impact: Levance Fields is a good player and an even better leader. No teammate would question his leadership prior to the September arrest.

After some finagling, Pitt managed to get charges of disarming a police officer, public drunkenness and aggravated assault dropped. Now Fields must regain the trust of both his teammates and his coach.

On the court, Fields is one of the best at controlling tempo and taking care of the ball. His assist to turnover ratio was third in the conference.

A hesitant Jamie Dixon gave Fields the keys again in October. Now the hope is he will keep the car on the road this time.

Expectations: Gilbert Brown.

What’s eating Gilbert Brown? The All-time leading scorer in South Kent Prep School history barely registered a blip on the Pitt radar as a freshman. For goodness sakes, the dude played 13 minutes.

In his defense Brown suffered several aggravating injuries and contracted mono along the way.

Final Word: Some legendary players graduated from Pitt this past spring. The void left is not small.

Regardless, the Panthers will stick with the same principles.

Dixon-led teams outrebound by strength and determination. In essence they believe, ‘We are stronger than you, and we are going to prove it.’

–Andrew Force

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2 Responses to “2007-2008 Pittsburgh Panthers Preview”  

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  1. bob kauffman Says:

    the panthers got to be able to hold leads better if they are to go all the way,they have to start playing better against weaker opponents

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  2. Andrew Force Says:

    Pitt has typically been a team that plays to their competition, which is a shame.

    Levance might be able to remedy that some if/when he returns.

    I have long admired their toughness though. Brandin Wright, Jarone Brown, Chevy Troutmen, and former-boxer Carl Krauser all had that physical toughness.

    Mental toughness is uber-important in tight games and tough games. I think Levance has that in spades. He was fabulous against Duke.

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