Over the years, Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon’s teams have famously adopted the mantra of “sharing the wealth” on the basketball court.
Monday night, the Panthers proved the mantra is still a point of emphasis in an 86-51 win over Fordham in a Preseason NIT game.
All ten of Dixon’s eligible players played significant time, and all put points on the scoreboard.
Dixon said he is challenging his team to distribute the ball around the court more frequently. That was on display against Fordham.
“Unselfishness was evident all the way through,” Dixon said.
Three Panthers (2-0) scored double-digit points as J.J. Moore netted 20, Steve Adams collected 13 and Tray Woodall turned in 12.
Bryan Short and Brian Smith paced Fordham (0-2) with 11 points each.
What may have hurt the worst for Fordham was Pittsburgh’s ability to keep the Rams’ Chris Gaston to only four points. Gaston had 19 points and 14 rebounds in Fordham’s opener against Texas State.
“Obviously Gaston was the guy we were aware of,” Dixon said. “We knew how good he was and we really wanted to try and make it difficult for him. He’s a very good player, very talented, and his numbers indicate that over his career.”
Rams’ coach Tom Pecora applauded Pittsburgh for its efforts and said that his team was unable to get anything going inside the paint, which was a problem. He also said his team was beaten physically by the Panthers, who were committed to defending and rebounding.
“It was like being an eighth- or ninth-grader in the schoolyard and having the older guys beat you up pretty good in the game,” Pecora said. “If you learn from it, it makes you a better team. If we don’t we will have issues.
“It was a great lesson.”
Despite the on-court versatility in Pittsburgh’s big win, the Panthers are still looking to find their identity.
“I think guys are definitely learning their roles in different games,” Woodall said. “I think with more games and the more playing time they get, they’ll be much more willing to accept these roles.”
Moore seemed to side step this identity crisis. He came off the bench and into his own in a breakout performance.
In addition to his 20 points, he was also a huge defensive threat to Fordham.
“I feel like I give the team a lot of energy coming off the bench,” Moore said.
“Just getting them on defense and making good plays on defense . I think it’s helping us a lot on the court.”
Woodall and James Robinson also did a good job finding Adams in the paint, especially during the second half of the game. Adams, who is still trying to adapt to his own role, looked as if he was coming into his own. He said he is about 80 percent there and continues to get more comfortable in his position. He collected five rebounds against the Rams.
With Adams’ help and a clear size advantage, the Panthers had 24 assists and created big turnovers against Fordham, taking advantage of those opportunities with 28 points off turnovers.
“We don’t necessarily have a point total or a goal that we’re looking for,” Woodall said. “But the guards want to get up and pressure a little more because you’ve got big guys inside that can alter shots. We just want to make sure that we pressure the ball and try to force more turnovers.”
“I’m excited about how all of our guys played,” Dixon said. “Obviously, there’s a long way to go and things will get tougher, but we believe that we have really good passers, good decision-makers, and unselfish players.”