The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • 1:28 am
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • 1:28 am
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

Takeaways | Pitt basketball handles Pitt-Johnstown, comes away with lessons learned

Senior+guard+KJ+Marshall+%2812%29+runs+with+the+ball+in+an+exhibition+game+on+Wednesday+night+at+the+Petersen+Events+Center+against+Pitt+Johnstown.
Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor
Senior guard KJ Marshall (12) runs with the ball in an exhibition game on Wednesday night at the Petersen Events Center against Pitt Johnstown.

Pitt men’s basketball came into their exhibition game against Pitt-Johnstown expecting to perform well while learning new things. They left with a list of things to improve upon ahead of next Monday night’s game against NC A&T. Here are my takeaways from Wednesday’s game against Pitt Johnstown. 

The offense must run through Carlton Carrington

The 4-star first-year guard clearly is the best playmaker on the roster. He can create space with his length and dribbling abilities, while complementing the play of those around him. The team was in dire need of a do-it-all point guard and they have been blessed with Carrington’s incredible talent. 

First-year players in today’s NCAA use the year to get their footing, but the Baltimore native seems to already have his feet wet. Head coach Jeff Capel saw Carrington’s skill, which is why he elected to start the first-year against Pitt-Johnstown. 

“He’s a really good player,” Capel said. “He’s played well in just about every practice.” 

The whole team is better with Carrington on the floor. He led the team in plus-minus with 34. Pitt Johnstown went on a 7-0 run when he sat on the bench before the end of the first first half. The pace of the game moves with him, even as an 18-year old. 

Carrington finished the game with a team high six assists, 3-for-4 from behind the arc and grabbed seven rebounds. His skill set screams the potential for a triple double every game. The Panther offense will find success this season with impactful play from Carrington. 

The perimeter defense needs work 

At first glance of the Mountain Cats’ shooting statistics, it seems Pitt did a fine job defending the perimeter. But things can look much different against a top ACC opponent.

Pitt-Johnstown attempted 28 three point shots on Wednesday. While they only made seven, Pitt gave them countless open looks. Most of these were shots that ACC opponents would knock down, which is a cause for concern. 

The Panthers outsized the Mountain Cats and they solidified that in the paint. But to Pitt-Johnstown’s credit, they used that to their advantage at times. Capel complimented the Mountain Cats ability to get to the basket without the ball in their hands. 

“They cut fast,” Capel said.

Indeed they do, and it seemed Pitt was a step behind on defense. With their movement, Pitt-Johnstown was able to shoot threes with space as Pitt was too late or too slow to contest. 

Pitt-Johnstown’s highest scorer was Andrew Shull. Shull finished with 16 points and shot 4-12 from three. If a Division II player had this success against the Panthers defense, imagine what a more consistent Division I player can do. 

Blake Hinson must get out of his own way 

Hinson is the best player on Pitt’s roster hands down. He was the focal point of the team last season, averaging 15.3 points per game. Hinson’s efforts awarded him All-ACC second team honors.

It’s just a scrimmage, but Hinson has to clean up his game before ACC play begins in December. 

There’s no question that Hinson’s raw talent excused his wild play at times last season, but it catched up to him yesterday. In the same possession, the senior forward shot a three from the logo and then tried to dunk on an opponent — both were unsuccessful.

Hinson made constant questionable decisions, shooting countless contested threes early on in the shot clock while other playmakers were on the court. These choices showed on the stat sheet. 

Hinson finished the game 1-for-6 from three and had the lowest plus minus out of the Panthers’ starting five. 

It appears the forward has the need to make an impact on every offensive possession but with a strong trio of newcomers this year, he really doesn’t have to. Every time he steps on a court, Hinson likely has the most talent out of anybody — but he has to improve his decision-making. 

Keep Zack Austin in the Paint 

The Panthers got a good one in Austin, and his bruising play can make opponents’ lives a nightmare. Austin and Federeko pose a threat with their rebounding ability, and the duo combined for nine rebounds on Wednesday night. 

There were a few plays Austin made that nobody with a 6-foot-7 stature have the ability to do. He put his court vision and vertical leap on display for the Oakland Zoo to get excited about for the opener on Monday. 

“Austin brings explosive energy,” Capel said. “With Zack, you never know if he’s going to be on ESPN Top 10.” 

But Austin must stay in the paint for two reasons. Offensively, he’s not the best three point shooter. On the defensive end, he can block shots better than anyone on the roster. In the exhibition, he shot 0-3 from behind the arc, but recorded 2 blocks. The forward is too physical of a player to not fight for rebounds and loose balls. 

Austin brings a toughness and volatility to this Pitt team that will need rejuvenation during the season in the midst of ACC play.