For the first two seasons of his career at Pitt, J.J. Moore came off the bench to provide an offensive spark for the Panthers. Moore still packs an offensive punch – he is the team’s fourth-leading scorer despite playing only 19 minutes per game – but head coach Jamie Dixon has been more impressed lately with Moore’s attention to detail on the defensive end.
Specifically, Moore has found ways to create problems for opposing power forwards that are not as quick and athletic as he is.
“I think he’s doing some good things defensively,” Dixon said. “He’s using his quickness to bother guys at that spot. Seton Hall had stretch fours and we had to make sure they were guarded. You feel good about having a guy who can do that. He’s taking charges. He’s very active on rotations and I think he’s been a big part of our improvement defensively. I think he’s a much more valuable defender in that role.”
Like the rest of his teammates, Moore’s offense has been inconsistent this season. He has scored in double figures just once in the past eight games, but he’s not worried about his lack of scoring. He believes his versatility on offense and the threat of his outside shooting creates shots for his teammates.
Starting power forward Talib Zanna does not step out and shoot 3-pointers the way Moore does, so when Moore is in the game opposing coaches have to adjust their defenses.
“Talib is down low,” Moore said. “I’m more outside and giving them a lot more to worry about. If they sag off, I’ll shoot the 3. If not, it’s one of my teammates going to the hole and getting an and-one bucket.”
But Moore said his biggest contributions can come at the defensive end.
“The biggest part is going out there and defending,” he said. “Last year I wasn’t a good defender. I take pride in defense now.”
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