Pitt coach Jamie Dixon has said many times this season that this is not one of his better outside shooting teams. And after the Panthers opened Big East play 8 for 36 from 3-point range in their first two games, Dixon made sure his players got the message that he preferred inside shots rather than outside shots.
The Panthers have made 13 of their past 28 to improve to 35.3 percent. That’s good for third in the conference, but it’s hardly a lofty percentage when compared other Pitt teams in recent years. In 2010-11, the season Pitt earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, the Panthers shot 39.5 percent. In 2006-07, the Panthers shot 38.2 percent.
When Tray Woodall arrived at Pitt the 3-point line was at 19 feet 9 inches. The NCAA moved the line back to 20 feet 9 inches in 2009. That has produced a fundamental change in how teams are approaching offense and defense.
I did a blog post last week that quoted Dixon saying that more and more teams are going to zone defenses because of the longer 3-point distance. Woodall said Monday that teams have also recruited more slashers to create offense.
“I don’t think it’s a difference,” Woodall said of the longer 3-point shot. “When it was at 19, I don’t think guys were hugging the 3-point line. I don’t think it was a huge difference. I don’t know if we don’t work on it enough or what it is, but the game has changed. There are a lot of drivers now and a lot more athletic players and not just a lot of guys out there settling for threes.”
Dixon has sprinkled in some zone as a change-up for opposing teams, but don’t expect the Panthers to stray far from their man-to-man principles.
“We like to have the zone there to throw different options, for different teams,” Woodall said. “Around college basketball there are a lot fewer shooters than there used to be. A lot of teams are going zone. We want to mix it up, but we’re a man team. That’s what Pitt basketball has always been known for, so we just want to stick with it.”
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