Pitt won its exhibition against Pitt-Johnstown on Wednesday handily behind 13-point efforts from Carlton Carrington and Blake Hinson.
Let’s check out my biggest takeaways from the game.
THE GUARDS HAVE ARRIVED
We’ve been waiting months to see Pitt’s back court play, and we finally had our chance on Wednesday. My takeaway? They looked just how we thought they’d look, and potentially even better. I know it’s against inferior competition, but the back court trio of Carrington, Leggett, and Lowe looked very comfortable, confident, and skilled.
CARRINGTON LOOKS GREAT AT THE ONE
Carrington’s +/- rating of 34 was the best on the team by a long shot, and it was clear that when he was on the court, he provided instant offense. His first bucket was a pull-up three when it seemed as though the set that the offense was running had stalled for a second. He dribbled into it from the left-side of the top of the key and drained it, making it look simple. His second bucket was a pull-up mid-range jumper from the right side that looked smooth once again.
His length and athleticism allowed him to elevate higher than the defender and hit an easy shot as though nobody was guarding him. He finished the night with 13 points, going 4 for 8 from the field and 3 for 4 from three-point range. I was impressed by his composure. Again, this was against a Division Two squad. But this was his first collegiate game in front of any fans, and he looked exactly like he did in high school when I watched him in January in Baltimore.
LOWE’S SPEED OFFERS A NEW LOOK
Lowe’s ball-handling ability impressed me as well. His speed stuck out, as he was always trying to push the ball up the floor. I thought the look Pitt threw out there with both Carrington and Lowe out there at the same time was intriguing, however, I think you’re going to want to have Leggett out there as often as possible if you’re Pitt. But back to Lowe… His quickness allows him to get into the paint and find floaters, finish with touch at the rim, and drive on slower defenders. He showed all of that off, as well as a confident-looking three-point stroke, on Wednesday.
LEGGETT SHOWED SIGNS
Leggett looked strong on both sides of the ball. Seeing him for the first time in live game action, I was pleasantly surprised with how athletic, fast, and strong he was. He clearly likes to get to the rack. He had a few early misses at the rim which I’m sure he’d like to have back, but I’m not concerned by that. He seems to have enough touch to score in the mid-range, at the rim, and from beyond the arch. Overall, I still think he has what it takes to be a consistent scorer in the ACC.
I liked Pitt’s effort on the glass, especially for an exhibition. Will Jeffress brought terrific energy and was going after the ball as hard as I can remember him ever doing over his first two seasons at Pitt. Guillermo Diaz-Graham had eight rebounds, while Carrington added seven. Those are both good signs for Pitt.
However, I wouldn’t look too much into these numbers. I thought that a large number of Pitt’s rebounds were the result of simply being taller. Pitt-Johnstown only had two players taller than 6-foot-4, and they were 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-8. No disrespect to them, but Pitt was able to just reach over them even when it didn’t have great position and grab boards on both sides of the ball. Again, I obviously don’t think it’s a concern because Pitt’s effort certainly wasn’t lacking.
Pitt brought great energy for an exhibition game. I thought the Panthers tried to get out and run a solid amount, but they also looked comfortable slowing things down and producing in the half court. Overall, Pitt’s offense seemed to have the most rhythm when Carrington was out there.
Highlights from our exhibition game last night
Starts for real on Monday 🙌 pic.twitter.com/XXBdoAbUje
— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_MBB) November 2, 2023
Nobody got hurt in Pitt’s exhibition, scrimmage, or overseas trip, and that’s a win in itself. Pitt is heading into the year with a solid 9–10-man rotation, which it is certainly grateful for after a few years in a row of rotation uncertainty and injury problems.