November 8, 2007

Pitt prepares for Hispanic College Fund Challenge

After two exhibition games, the Pitt basketball team officially opens its regular season this weekend with three games in three days. The Panthers take on Houston Baptist, in its first year of Division I basketball, followed by North Carolina A&T and St. Louis, who is in its first year under head coach Rick Majerus.

The Panthers still have many things to find out this season. Through two exhibition games, we've gotten a preview of the way we hope things can do, but it's hard to decipher against a pair of Division II teams. The biggest question entering the season with this team was who would fill the shoes of Aaron Gray and Levon Kendall. If the first two exhibition games are any indication, it looks like Sam Young, DeJuan Blair and Tyrell Biggs have answered some of it. Young led the Panthers, in the two exhibition games, with an average of 16.5 points. Blair grabbed 19 rebounds, including 12 against IUP. Biggs led the team with 10 defensive rebounds through the two games. They were exhibition games. They don't count for anything, yet Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon acknowledged the returning veterans for the tone they have set.

"Sam has been tremendous as a leader in a lot of ways, not the vocal, but telling guys where to be and what to do, in a quiet way," Dixon said. "It has been evident in practice. You might not see it in a game. Tyrell has done a good job too. We've been pushing him a little bit more to (lead). I'm really excited about the leadership. It's senior-junior leadership this year. That's what we're stressing, and they're responding."

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