Pittsburgh Panthers Team Report

The Jamie Dixon era is officially under way at Pittsburgh. So far, so good.<br><br> The Panthers opened the season with a 71-62 victory over Alabama in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, and haven't looked back. Along the way, Carl Krauser was named co-Big East Player of the Week, and the team showed that it deserved its preseason Top 25 ranking.

Of course, Pittsburgh's non-conference schedule in the early going won't bring many quality points come NCAA Tournament time. But the Panthers entered the season with a new coach (as Ben Howland left for UCLA), and needing to replace team leader Brandin Knight as well as fellow departing seniors Donatas Zavackas and Ontario Lett.

A soft early schedule has helped the team get settled, and get used to one another and to the new roles that so many of the team members have to play.

Besides, the Panthers shouldn't be hurting for RPI points in March anyway, thanks to the Big East's decision to end divisional play. The result? Two meetings against UConn, Notre Dame and Syracuse. The team will play each remaining school in the conference once.

Sprain, what sprain?
Julius Page suffered a third-degree ankle sprain in fall drills. Since he was being counted on to carry a lot of the load once borne by the departed seniors, Pitt fans were concerned about what effects this would have on his development.

Heck, it may have helped.

Page has been in double figures every game thus far, except for the season-opening victory over Alabama.

While Carl Krauser received the season-opening conference honors, Page's performances over the course of the season will be equally key. He'll need to keep on piling up the points if the Panthers want to return to the NCAAs.

Panthers Notes

  • The Panthers kept bragging rights over crosstown rival Duquesne with their 59-45 victory on Dec. 3. They have now won five of the last six games with the Dukes.
  • Freshman Chris Taft is making an immediate impact. He finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five blocked shots against St. Francis.
  • Julius Page made the preseason All-Big East second team.
  • The probable lineup is: Point guard Carl Krauser, shooting guard Julius Page, center Toree Morris, power forward Chevon Troutman, small forward Jaron Brown.
  • No major injuries reported.

Panther More Top Stories