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Pitt Basketball

Georgia Tech Head Coach Josh Pastner Sees Value in Pitt’s Age, Experience



Pitt defeated Georgia Tech on Jan. 14 in Atlanta to begin a string of success following back-to-back losses. The Panthers (19-8, 12-4 ACC) won eight of nine before falling to Virginia Tech (79-72) on Saturday, snapping a six-game winning streak, and return home to face the Yellow Jackets (11-16, 3-13), again in hopes of starting another successful run.

Georgia Tech defeated Virginia Tech (77-70) and a rare February non-conference matchup against Florida Tech (79-56), both at home. From their first encounter to now, head coach Josh Pastner has noticed the quality competition Pitt brings to the court.

“Pitt’s been really good,” Pastner said. “You don’t have the type of year they have, competing for first place in the league, without being really good. They’re an older team, they got a lot of older guys.”

The last time the two teams met, sophomore Dallan “Deebo” Coleman scored 13 points in 33 minutes while junior Deivon Smith recorded a team-high 15 off the bench. On the opposite side, redshirt senior Nike Sibande paced the Panthers with 21 points off the bench, while graduate students Jamarius Burton (19) and Nelly Cummings (11) scored in double figures.

“I’ve always said it, when you get old and stay old when you’re older you have an advantage,” Pastner said. “They’re one of the oldest teams in the country. They have really good players. Coach Capel’s done a great job. They’re a good basketball team.”

Pastner noted the veteran core the Panthers deploy and the impact of a fifth year of eligibility benefitting teams like Pitt. 

“Just by natural, human physiology of 22/23/24-year-olds is going to be better than an 18/19-year-old,” Pastner said. “That doesn’t mean they’re going to be a better pro or getting drafted with the NBA, but in college basketball, an older, veteran, mature team in those age ranges… they’re going to be better. When you’re including the additional year of the Covid year, that makes a huge difference as well.” 

Playing in his fifth season of college ball and third different stop in the journey after previously playing for Wichita State and Texas Tech, Burton molded into a team leader and consistent threat on both ends. He is a major contributor to Pitt’s turnaround while producing the best year of his career, averaging 15.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists while shooting 50% from the floor in 25 games. Hinson (15.5) and Cummings (10.5) have started every game along with grad student Greg Elliott (11). Cummings, a Lincoln Park standout, is tied for fifth in the ACC in assists (4.6).

“Burton’s been outstanding from start to finish of the year. He’s a guy that can go get you a bucket,” Pastner said. “They have multiple guys that can make shots, that make threes. They’re connected right now. They got a really good guard in Cummings, an older player. They got an older player in Hinson. They got an old team.”

Pitt is a half-game behind Miami (22-5, 13-4) for second in the ACC and one game behind Virginia (21-4, 13-3) for the top spot. Georgia Tech sits in 13th place. The action begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at the Petersen Events Center.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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1 month ago

He’s hung up on the old part. To me, and I said this to someone yesterday, this is the first Pitt team in a long time that doesn’t look like we are boys against men. H2P!

1 month ago
Reply to  TJ

Don’t know, ever watch the twins in warm up. Look like saplings next to trees. F2 isn’t much thicker.

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