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Opinion | I graduate in two weeks — a thank you to my best friend
Opinion | I graduate in two weeks — a thank you to my best friend
By Nada Abdulaziz, Staff Writer • 12:57 am

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Opinion | I graduate in two weeks — a thank you to my best friend
Opinion | I graduate in two weeks — a thank you to my best friend
By Nada Abdulaziz, Staff Writer • 12:57 am

Takeaways | Pitt women’s basketball showed signs of improvement in exhibition domination

Junior+guard+Bella+Perkins+%2810%29+gets+ready+to+make+a+pass+during+Monday+night%E2%80%99s+exhibition+game+against+Point+Park+in+the+Petersen+Events+Center.
Bronco York | Staff Photographer
Junior guard Bella Perkins (10) gets ready to make a pass during Monday night’s exhibition game against Point Park in the Petersen Events Center.

This past Monday, first-year head coach Tory Verdi’s Pitt women’s basketball team made its debut to the public in a 117-49 exhibition win over Point Park. During their display of dominance, the Panthers previewed some already noticeable improvements to their on-the-court performance.

A team effort 

The Panthers found scoring throughout their entire lineup, with three Panthers scoring 20-plus points.

Senior forward Liatu King picked up where she left off last season. King scored on 11 of her 14 attempted field goals, in addition to making both her free throws. King also provided two steals and two blocked shots on the defensive end.

Junior guard Bella Perkins impressed in her Pitt debut. Perkins led the team in minutes played. In those 25 minutes, Perkins scored 21 points while making three three-pointers.

Graduate student Jala Jordan had a team-high 25 points in her first exhibition game as a Panther. Jordan also blocked three shots, leading the team defensively.

King spoke on the group’s offensive performance after the game.

“We were feeding the hot hand,” King said. “Whether it’s me or not. Bella had as many points, and also Jala, so I think we’re just figuring out whose hand to feed and, you know, planning around the defense weaknesses. And with that we executed, and it shows on the stat sheet.”

An offensive identity is forming

On Monday night, the Panthers offense put on a clinic. They shot 67.1 percent from the floor — an impressive feat against any opponent. 

The Panthers clearly emphasized an improvement in shot selection, consistently making smart plays. As a team, they shot 62.5 percent from beyond the arc. However, the Panthers only had eight threes all night.

Even when up big, Pitt refused to coast and just take the contested threes. Instead, the Panthers continued an onslaught, finishing with 62 points in the paint. Verdi placed emphasis on attacking the paint, and he was happy the team executed the game plan.

“We want to go get one-legged layups, and so I thought we did a good job with that,” Verdi said. “We don’t want to settle for threes. Yeah, we’re gonna take them no question about that.”

Overall, the team appeared comfortable in Verdi’s offense, especially when driving to the basket. Even when the Panthers settled for jump shots, they did so with a confidence reflective of their overall performance.

“My job as coach is to put our players in a position to maximize their strengths, right, take advantage of their strengths,” Verdi said. “The last thing I want them to do is [to] play robotic, always looking over their shoulder to me, you know is this my shot, should I shoot it? No, I want them to play. I teach them how to play within our system. And I thought that we were really fluid here tonight.”

Chemistry is already apparent

Despite featuring only four returning players, as opposed to five transfers and three first-years, the Panthers appeared more cohesive than ever. The Panthers recorded 26 assists on the day. The 26 assists top any total from a regular season game since the 2018-19 season. Despite the roster turnover, Verdi wants the team to know they’re all Panthers now. 

“We all came in on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now,” Verdi said. “My biggest thing is, regardless of where they came from, my job is to get them to play together. And I thought that we’re so unselfish, and you saw a team working together, and we were systematic on both sides of the ball and that’s where we need to be. “

The Panthers’ bonding during the offseason already translated to improved play on the court.

“I would say the help of all my teammates just making me feel comfortable, as I’m a transfer here, has helped me tremendously,” Perkins said. “And then all the newbies like me who came in here, becoming very tight-knit off the court and making connections individually just helps me be more vocal and more of a leader on the court.”

Pitt’s selfless play led to success on the court. Never did a player seem out of sync or lost. Instead, the Panthers found a rhythm that each player stayed united within. 

As a result, the Panthers found success in the transition game. They scored 17 fast break points and 37 points off turnovers, displaying their abilities to communicate well and regroup quickly.

Soon fans can watch the Panthers live, as they begin their season on Tuesday, Nov. 7, against Yale at the Petersen Events Center.

About the Contributor
Alex Porter, Staff Writer