Men’s Basketball: New Hampshire next opponent for the young Panthers

By Kyle Craig

With five new starters and seven games completed in the season, the learning process is… With five new starters and seven games completed in the season, the learning process is continuing for the youthful Pitt men’s basketball team.

Pitt (6-1) will have another early season test tonight against New Hampshire (2-2).

Moving into the month of December, the Panthers are beginning to develop their identity as a team. Part of that process includes determining which players can be trusted to shoulder the offensive load.

So far, sophomore guard Ashton Gibbs and junior guard Brad Wanamaker have risen to the occasion and lead the team in scoring.

Gibbs has done most of his damage from beyond the arc, draining 15 3-pointers in 46 attempts while averaging 15 points per game.

Meanwhile, Wanamaker has been more prone to slash to the basket and attack the rim. His aggressive play generated a 41 percent success rate from the field and an average of 11.6 points per game.

It would be easy for the Panthers to rest on excuses regarding inexperience and youth. However, that’s one thing that head coach Jamie Dixon won’t allow.

“The [television broadcasters] come in to me before the game, and they tell me what we don’t have. I tell them what we do have,” Dixon said after Pitt’s double-overtime victory against Duquesne on Wednesday. “We have no excuses. We have to play better, and we will play better.”

One player who has responded to his increased responsibility is center Gary McGhee. After playing sparingly during his first two seasons at Pitt, McGhee is now averaging 9.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

Tonight, McGhee will matchup with New Hampshire’s top scoring threat, 6-foot-9 Dane DiLiegro, who is averaging 14 points per game for the Wildcats.

The Panthers will also have to pay close attention to junior guard Alvin Abreu and senior forward Radar Onguetou, both averaging double-digit point totals this season.

To add a little sibling rivalry spice to the contest, New Hampshire is coached by Bill Herrion, the older brother of Pitt assistant head coach Tom Herrion.

Unfortunately for the older Herrion, his team is 0-2 on the road this year and is traveling to the Petersen Event Center, where the Panthers are 119-10 all-time.

This will be Pitt’s last game before traveling to Madison Square Garden on Dec. 8 to play Indiana as part of the Jimmy V Classic.