It’s probably not a good sign for Trey Zeigler that he had more fouls than field goals in Pitt’s two exhibition games.
It’s probably not a good sign for Zeigler that Jamie Dixon mentioned Tray Woodall, James Robinson and then John Johnson as his three best perimeter defenders after the second exhibition game Friday night. John Johnson? He was perhaps Pitt's worst defender last season.
And it’s probably not a good sign for Zeigler that he played just 15.5 minutes per game in the two exhibition contests. Seven other players averaged more minutes in the first two exhibition games.
It was presumed Zeigler would step in and win the starting job at shooting guard, but Dixon appears to be leaning toward a two point guard lineup of Woodall and Robinson instead.
Zeigler, a former top 100 recruit who was Central Michigan’s leading scorer the past two seasons, has had a hard time finding his niche off the bench. He has 12 points, two assists, four turnovers and no rebounds. Three of those turnovers have come on offensive fouls.
Zeigler was asked after the Hawaii-Hilo game if he was having a hard time adjusting to his role off the bench.
“It hasn’t been a problem,” Zeigler said. “Just trying to find my spots and take good shots. That’s the biggest thing.”
Zeigler is among Pitt’s top offensive players, but he is lagging behind his competition when it comes to defending.
This is shaping up as a potential issue for coach Jamie Dixon. It is apparent he is stressing defense above all else this season, but he is going to need Zeigler’s offense if this team is going to be better than last season.
Judging from the performances in the two exhibition games, this team is not going to score a lot of points. Getting Zeigler to buy into a bench role is going to be big for Dixon. Zeigler is too talented to play only 15 minutes a game.
It’s early, but finding a niche for Zeigler might be Dixon’s biggest challenge as the regular season approaches Friday.
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