Jamie Dixon has been tinkering with his lineup during the first few weeks of preseason to find out which combinations might work best when the regular season begins Nov. 9.
In the first exhibition game, Dixon started a lineup with two point guards when he had senior Tray Woodall and freshman James Robinson together in the backcourt. He also had Trey Zeigler, who was expected to play shooting guard, play small forward. The latter is not a big deal because Dixon said in the offensive system he runs the small forward and shooting guard positions are similar enough that players won’t be confused.
Dixon has been toying with another idea that he did not show in the IUP exhibition game – Dante Taylor at power forward.
There have been times during practice that Dixon has used Taylor at power forward alongside freshman center Steven Adams. Taylor believes that lineup will be used at some point during the season.
“You didn’t see it tonight, but it’s definitely something we’ve been working on,” Taylor said after the game Friday night. “I’m comfortable with it. I know both positions. I think you’ll see it but not right now.”
Taylor played strictly center during his first three seasons. With Taylor getting some reps at power forward that means Talib Zanna, the assumed starter, and J.J. Moore have all seen time there during the preseason.
These things tend to work themselves out in the first few weeks of the season. We might never see Taylor play power forward in a game, but the fact that Dixon has used precious practice time on it means he is looking seriosuly at it for some reason.
What that is I am not sure at the moment. Even though he is a limited offensive player, Zanna averaged more points and rebounds per game last season than Taylor. And Moore would be the option if Dixon wanted to play smaller.
We’ll find out if Dixon is really serious about Taylor playing power forward Friday night in Pitt’s second and final exhibition game against Hawaii-Hilo. I have a hard time seeing Dixon using Taylor at power forward in a real game if he does not experiment with it in a meaningless exhibition contest.
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