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Pitt Basketball

Takeaways: No. 20 Michigan Shows Pitt What it Looks like to Play Together

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Pitt's John Hugley and Hunter Dickinson

NEW YORK — Heading into this basketball season, Pitt fans could envision success in the near future.

Pitt’s star, John Hugley, was returning to the court. Jamarius Burton — one of the other leading scorers from last year’s team — was too. As was Nike Sibande. Then, the Panthers went out this offseason and bolstered their roster through the transfer portal, adding Nelly Cummings, Blake Hinson, and Greg Elliott — three veteran players with high-major experience.

Although two of the three games came without Hugley, the Panthers have not quite looked like a team so far in the early portion of the season.

Since the season opener, in Pitt’s two challenges against West Virginia and Michigan, there were no signs of a team playing together.

“I thought we got off to a good start, we were right there early,” head coach Jeff Capel said after the game. “But when adversity hits, the past two games, we’ve dropped the rope. That’s where we have to be better, that’s where we have to grow up. There has to be more of a toughness — both mentally and physically — in those moments.”

In the 91-60 loss to Michigan on Wednesday night at the Barclays Center, the Panthers turned the ball over 13 times, with nine of those TOs coming from their starting five. Pitt only had eight points from its bench players. After only giving up 38 points in the first half — and holding the Wolverines’ lead to just six at the break — the Panthers gave up a whopping 53 in the second half. The Panthers also made just 12 of their 20 free-throw attempts (60%) in the loss.

Pitt still has lots of work to do on both sides of the ball. If it wants to compete with the big dogs, the ranked teams, the NCAA Tournament-bound teams on its schedule this season, it has to learn how to play together.

MICHIGAN — NOT A ONE MAN BAND WHATSOEVER

On Wednesday night, Michigan dominated Pitt, handing the Panthers another 25+ point loss early in year five of the Capel era.

Heading into the game, all eyes were on Hunter Dickinson, Michigan’s 7-foot-1, All-American big man who came in averaging more than 26 points per game.

Pitt did a solid job on Dickinson, holding him to just 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting. However, Dickinson impacted the game in other ways, too. When Pitt would send double teams over his way, he would find the open man seemingly instantly.

Michigan opened up the floor tremendously, giving its guards room to distribute (Dug McDaniel – 8 assists, Kobe Bufkin – 4 assists), its wings room to create and hit shots from outside (Jett Howard – 17 points, Joey Baker – 14 points), and its big man to play without any pressure on his shoulders. The Wolverines dominated in this win, earning a well-rounded victory in round one of this year’s Legends Classic.

“Those guys stepped up and made shots tonight,” Capel said about Michigan’s pieces surrounding Dickinson. “Those other guys.”

HUGLEY MAKES SEASON DEBUT, SHOWS FLASHES

Pitt center John Hugley returned to the court on Wednesday, playing in his first game of the season after injuring his knee before the season.

“It’s pretty impressive for a young man to come off of injury, come out, and be ready to go to help his teammates,” Michigan head coach Juwan Howard said about Pitt’s Hugley. “I wish him well throughout the year, and more importantly to have a healthy season for Pitt. He’s tough in there. He’s a load. He’s also skilled too. Not just tough and a load, but he’s skillful. He’s a competitor.”

The 6-foot-9 junior played 22 minutes, scoring nine points and grabbing one rebound. For his first game back, Hugley displayed lots of positive signs, including his usual physicality and aggression. Hugley also hit his first three-point attempt of the season right out of the gates to start the game off. He was going up against one of the most potent bigs in the nation in Dickinson, and even though he had only practiced for five days leading up to his debut, he certainly showed some flashes of the same, dominant Hugley that Pitt fans witnessed last season.

THURSDAY’S TEST

The Panthers will play in the consolation game on Thursday at 7 p.m. to wrap up the Legends Classic against VCU.

Pitt sits at 1-2 on the year with two 25+ point losses. With its full team back now — although Hugley will likely still play with a limit on his minutes — the Panthers have a big game in front of them to finish off the run in Brooklyn strong.

VCU will be without its star guard, Ace Baldwin, who missed Wednesday night’s first-round loss to ASU due to a wrist injury. The Rams looked to 6-foot-4 guard Jayden Nunn (13 points), 6-foot-7 forward Jamir Watkins (10 points), and 6-foot-8 forward Brandon Johns (10 points) in their game against ASU. As a team, the Rams hit 6 of their 23 three-point attempts and turned the ball over 16 times in the loss.

After the Legends Classic, Pitt heads home to face Alabama State, Fairleigh Dickinson, and William and Mary throughout Thanksgiving week.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Pittband
Pittband
18 days ago

Didn’t think the stink of Scott Barnes would last this long. Still believe in Capel. He just needs time. The recruiting class is a good sign. See you at the Pete.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
18 days ago
Reply to  Pittband

“He just needs time”. What a nonsensical statement. And the “recruiting class” is basically middle of the pack fir a Power 5 program. The level of clownish devotion to a below mediocre coach is absurd. Go back to whining about the Backyard Brawl band boy

Benedum 12th Floor
Benedum 12th Floor
18 days ago
Reply to  Pittband

I’m not giving up hope on this season just yet cuz things can turn around (as bleak as it may seem), but if he can’t make something happen with this squad it ain’t happening. 5 years is plenty of time to see what someone can bring to the table.

TJ
TJ
18 days ago

clearly, the team goes as its shooting goes. ok early, then fell off. also, other than Dickinson, the Mich team looked slight compared to Hughley, Burton, Hinson and Cummings. maybe the announcer was correct in saying that Pitt needed to foul more and be physical on those guys.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
18 days ago

Takeaway #6. Capel stinks

Eric payne
Eric payne
18 days ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

Trolling again Rob. If losing to Michigan means that you stink, then a lot of teams will. What’s your excuse.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
18 days ago
Reply to  Eric payne

You’re the one engaging me. Fanboy clown

Last edited 18 days ago by Rob Radich
Rob Radich
Rob Radich
17 days ago
Reply to  Eric payne

Oh and ASU beat Michigan by 25 big mouth.

Dukes

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