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Pitt Basketball

Sights and Sounds from Pitt Basketball’s Opening Practice



On Thursday, when Pitt held its first practice of the year, Pittsburgh Sports Now got the chance to check out the new-look Panthers in person at the Petersen Events Center.

Here are some sights and sounds from Pitt’s first practice.

Chris Payton learning from everyone, looked very good

  • Capel and Milan Brown were audibly teaching Payton defensive, offensive positioning throughout practice
  • Dan Oladapo, loudly during a drill: “We got your help Chris”
  • Payton also asked questions, appeared eager to learn more on both sides of the ball during drills.
  • In one of the best plays of practice, Horton drove the ball and dumped it off to Hugley, who threw it to Payton in the corner. Payton caught it and took off to the left of the baseline, blowing by his defender and finishing a smooth reverse layup
  • one of the loudest players on the team. Encouraged his teammates to talk on defense, celebrated loudly after good plays
  • Payton was definitely the eye-catcher of practice. Impressed with his athleticism, confidence, and leadership. Made plays, made his free throws, and more.

Mo Gueye showing confidence

  • Gueye was not afraid to take the first shot on multiple possessions
  • Shot the three with confidence, also drove near the end of the shot clock. Finished well around the rim
  • Was not the focal point on offense for his team but looked up to speed with the rest of them. Super athletic

5 on 5 drills: White Vs. Blue Team

  • The Blue team consisted of Chris Payton, John Hugley, William Jeffress, Ithiel Horton, Dan Oladapo, Jamarius Burton, and Aidan Fisch.
  • The White team had Noah Collier, Nike Sibande, Max Amadasun, Onye Ezeakudo, Femi Odukale, Mo Gueye, and Nate Santos.
  • The first drill was centered around looking for open looks in the half-court. Capel and Milan Brown were focusing on the defense the entire time, calling out screens, switches, and more. Mo Gueye opened the drill nailing an open three. A few possessions later, he drove through the lane and smoothly finished a finger-roll lay in.
  • Then came the scrimmage between the two squads.
  • Collier and Oladapo were guarding each other, rotating in and out with Amadasun and Hugley. Jeffress was on Femi, Ithiel on Nike, Burton on Ezeakudo, and Payton on Mo Gueye.

John Hugley looks quicker than last year

  • Hugley was all over the other bigs in defensive drills, stepping in passing lanes and staying in front of his man, whether it was Amadasun or Collier
  • Worked the pick and roll with Burton setting him up
  • Also passed the ball well. Had a dime to a cutting Ithiel Horton during scrimmage

Collier still one of the best defenders on the team

  • Both Capel brothers applauded the sophomore for his defensive awareness and positioning throughout practice
  • Guarded Hugley for the majority, also Oladapo for a little
  • Even when guarding a bigger Hugley, Collier blocked a few of his shots and stayed straight up with him in the paint

Horton still looks like best three-point shooter on team

  • Horton looked confident shooting from anywhere on the floor and converted on a good amount of his attempts
  • Horton was one of the loudest players in practice

Santos has a lot to learn, but looks solid

  • The freshman has one of the smoothest strokes on the team. Shot the ball well in drills with no defense
  • Turned it over once or twice in scrimmage, but coaches kept encouraging to keep his head up

Oladapo with the loudest play of practice

  • The Oakland transfer received a pass on the baseline out by the arch, made a quick jab step move, then darted down the baseline past his defender for a loud dunk in traffic

Jamarius Burton comfortable with the ball

  • Burton looked like one of the most confident players on the team in his passing and ball-handling ability
  • Quick, high release on his jumper
  • Looked great in transition, setting up his teammates after running out off a rebound

Femi’s Free Throws

  • After missing his first free throw at the end of practice, Odukale returned to the baseline with his teammates, ready to either run or hear another guy’s name called to shoot. Capel called out “Femi” again. He made the second. Back to the baseline. Capel: “Femi” again. Another miss, and then sprints. Odukale struggled from the line last year and is clearly still working on his confidence from the stripe.

Sprints: This team is fast and athletic

  • Payton won almost every single sprint throughout practice. Sibande, Oladapo, Burton were also near the front on most. This team is filled with athleticism top to bottom and can definitely get out and run.

Other notes:

  • Associate Head Coach Tim O’Toole had back surgery a few weeks ago, but was still at practice coaching from a chair on the sideline
  • Walk-on Chayce Smith was out from practice, had a sling on his right arm

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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