One of the toughest things to accept as a true freshman in any sport, is taking a redshirt. In the case of Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna, though it was tough it first, both players are more appreciative of taking the redshirt year.
"We got something done with them, they grew," Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. "I think the value in a redshirt year was going to be great for them because of Lamar being a younger kid; he was a young freshman. Talib, he only played a couple of years of high school ball over here. There is some adjustment time. I think that was important for him in that regard."
With Patterson, it was a matter of him getting a full year in the system, getting closer to finding which position he will play. During the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro Am league, Patterson averaged 14.2 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. When it came to the Ireland trip, Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon felt that while he showed some good shooting in a lot of the practices leading up to the Ireland trip, Patterson didn't perform as well on the trip.
"I saw Lamar played well in the practices--not as well in Ireland; he didn't shoot it as well," Dixon said. "I think he's getting better and better."
Now that he's been through it, Patterson appreciates the redshirt more and more.
"A year ago, I just felt like I was out of place, I really did," Patterson said. "I didn't know my spot, where I fit in at. This year, I have more of an idea of what Coach Dixon wants from me.
"They told me, it's not a year off, it's a learning thing. Make sure I'm doing everything correct, and in the classroom also; just keep working hard."
Patterson said through his conditioning, he got his body fat down even lower, and he worked on his shooting and a lot of his defense. Shooting is his strength, while it remains to be seen where he can guard most comfortably.
"I feel like I can defend anywhere from the two to the four, it's just working out with these guys," Patterson said. "I work out with Gil (Brown), Brad (Wanamaker), the big guys like Nas (Robinson) and Talib (Zanna) all the time."
Zanna's redshirt was with a bit of a different purpose. Zanna only played two years of organized basketball by the time he came to Pitt. Though he needed some time to take his natural abilities that made him a coveted prospect coming out of high school, Zanna had a shoulder injury that set him back a little more.
"The redshirt helped a lot," Zanna said. " I got to work on my offense. I worked on how to defend; the offense, shooting, ball handling, passing."
In the Pro Am League, Zanna averaged 13 points and 9.6 rebounds a game. It's possible he can play the three because of his shooting ability, but also in the way he can defend. As he showed in the summer league, based on his abilities--shooting the mid-range jumpers and grabbing the long rebounds--he could be a wing player.
"I'm a wing player, a player in the post, I'll pretty much play everywhere," Zanna said. "I'll probably play the three, four or five. It depends on how we guard the defense. I have confidence in myself, confidence in my team. We have a good coach. All I need, is just come in and do what I do best; rebound, play defense and shoot the ball."
For a team that already has a talented senior class, with a good other returning upperclassmen, the addition of these two redshirt freshmen--two players who have been in the system for a full year and have a lot of potential--is just one example of why this Pitt team is getting an early buzz.
"They had some injuries last year," Dixon said. "We're going to see (if they contribute). It was definitely quality years for them, as far as redshirting them."