Pitt senior center Dante Taylor never did live up to the billing of being a McDonald’s All-American, but you won’t hear any complaining from Pitt’s coaches or teammates about him. It’s the opposite. Whenever they get a chance to sing Taylor’s praises they do because of the way he approaches his role.
Taylor gave everyone reason to applaud his effort Saturday when he made two of the biggest plays of the game to help the Panthers beat Connecticut. With Pitt up by two, he grabbed an offensive board and was fouled with 2:47 left. He made both free throws for a four-point lead. Then with a little under a minute remaining and Pitt clinging to a four-point lead he made a foul-line jumper to put the game out of reach.
“He’s really an unselfish kid, a great teammate,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “The guys like him. He doesn’t care about his individual stats. He’s been around a lot of winning teams and he wants to continue to do that. He’s unselfish in every way. The guys were really excited to see him make the plays he did down the stretch.”
Taylor is backing up freshman 7-footer Steven Adams, but he has not let that interfere with his desire to help the team win.
“I try to bring that spark off the bench, try to be a motivator and be positive all the time,” Taylor said. “You definitely need that. No matter what, I try to be that leader and be mature about it.”
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