GNC 67, OLIVERIO'S PEPPERS 58
Week Two action got underway with a matchup between Oliverio's Peppers and GNC. The game was played at an extremely fast pace from the opening tip with both teams trying to get out in transition.
Youngstown State guard Kendrick Perry provided the maximum capacity crowd with the first highlight of the evening with a dunk as he drove down the middle of the lane. GNC received an early boost from Wheeling Jesuit guard Mike Lecak as he converted on three, three pointers in the first half. For Oliverio's, it was a collective team effort. Incoming Duquesne freshman Ovie Soko fought hard on defense against 7'1 Duquesne teammate Martins Abele, while also creating scoring opportunities for his team on offense. Soko finished with a quality stat line of 15 points and 8 rebounds.
The second half got underway with GNC going on a 6-0 run highlighted by an electrifying breakaway dunk by Kendrick Perry. The second half also featured Pitt big man Aaron Nwanko scoring five straight points for his team as he played extremely hard in his debut this evening. Overall the game stayed extremely competitive with GNC winning 67-58.
PGT 67 SPK 66
The second game of the evening was the marquee match up; Steven Adams leading his PGT Trucking team against SPK Law.
This game featured multiple intriguing story lines, from a Pitt standpoint. You had Adams going up against Pitt front court teammate Talib Zanna, and John Johnson going up against highly-touted incoming freshman James Robinson. Not to mention, Monday was the Pittsburgh debut for Robinson, was is coming off winning a gold medal at the FIBA U18 championships in Brazil.
The standing room only crowd was not disappointed as they were able to witness an extremely hard fought game that featured many highlights. While the first half failed to produce any significant highlights, the second half was the complete opposite.
As PGT Trucking opened with a 36-28 lead, SPK Law fought hard to get back in the game behind an outstanding effort from John Johnson, 14 points, Talib Zanna 5 points and 7 rebounds, and returning league MVP Jakim Donaldson who delivered 3 points and 7 rebounds. In the second half Steve Adams was an absolute beast on the defensive end of the floor, blocking shot after shot (5 blocks unofficially) forcing SPK Law to readjust their offensive philosophy. Adams also was much more aggressive offensively as he was routinely hitting the offensive boards for tip ins and passing the ball back outside to his teammates so they were able to hit open shots. Trey Zeigler used the second half as a chance to display his athleticism by converting on an alley-oop from former IUP guard Ashton Smith for a thunderous throw down and moments later catching a full court pass from James Robinson for another incredible dunk.
The debut of James Robinson went very well for the incoming freshman as he played very under control and routinely was able to set up his teammates for easy baskets. Robinson finished with 2 assists. With PGT down 66-65 with 32 seconds left, Trey Ziegler missed two free throws for a chance to give his team the lead. In the next possession, John Johnson missed the front end of a one-and-one. On that miss, Steven Adams; 15 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks, got the rebound and passed it ahead to Lamar Patterson who turned in another outstanding performance who then passed it on to Trey Zeigler for a lay up to put their team up 67-66 which was the final for the game. At the buzzer, both teams received a loud ovation for their spirited effort from the standing room only crowd.
UPMC 89, STEEL CITY 60
In the night cap, Steel City Tickets battled UPMC. Steel City was without Pitt big man Dante Taylor which allowed UPMC, and fellow Pitt big man Malcolm Gilbert the chance to show what he is capable of providing the Panthers. Gilbert played extremely hard and was a force on both ends of the floor as he helped lead his team to a victory. He finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds and continues to show the improvements he is making in his game on both ends of the floor. Tonight specifically, Gilbert was showing more offensive skills around the basket and continued to wreak havoc on the defensive end with his length.
Gilbert's teammate Cameron Wright turned in another strong performance as he attempts to prove the he is worthy of more playing time this fall. Wright finished with 25 points--the best individual output on Monday night.
Overall, it was a great evening of basketball as all the teams played with a great deal of intensity. Individually, Steven Adams looked the part of what made him a 5-star recruit. He was truly unbelievable on the defensive end and failed to allow SPK Law any easy points inside. While we know his defensive skills are there, the brightest point of the game has to be his continued progression with his offensive skills. Tonight he displayed a nice, soft touch around the basket on offense on multiple occasions, and if tonight is any indicator Steven Adams looks to be the type of player that can single handedly change a game on either end of the floor.
Another bright note has to be the progression Trey Zeigler made from last week to this week. Tonight, Zeigler flashed more of his offensive repertoire with his drives to the basket and his ability to finish above the rim in transition. While he continues to improve and show more of his ability that made his so highly coveted coming out of high school, you would still like for him to show more on offensive and try to be more assertive. While Steven Adams and Trey Zeigler seem to get most of the attention on the PGT Trucking team, it needs to be pointed out how well Lamar Patterson has played so far this summer. Patterson who finished with 14 points this evening and continues to show the versatility in his game with his strong drives to the basket and his improved shooting from behind the arc. If Patterson maintains this level of play Pitt should feature a lethal inside-outside combination this season.
Lastly, as I watch these games play out I find myself thinking of the amount of quality players Pitt will have on its roster this upcoming season and with that in mind how Jamie Dixon plans to incorporate all these players. For example, where do Cameron Wright and Durand Johnson fit into the rotation? Could Dixon potentially start three big men with Talib Zanna essentially playing the small forward position, and having Dante Taylor at power forward and Steven Adams play center. If not, who is the odd man out of the roation and how does it affect his minutes? While the season is still a long way away this is my projected starting lineup; Tray Woodall, Lamar Patterson, Trey Zeigler, Dante Taylor, and Steven Adams. Remember a lot can change from now until the first game but this just gives you all something to think about.
GNC 3-0, 241, 204
PGT 2-0, 145, 129
UPMC 2-1, 225, 191
South Hills Audi 1-1, 155, 150
Oliverio's Peppers 1-2, 190, 204
SPK Law 0-2, 128, 138
SteelCityTickets.com, 0-3, 187, 257