It was an almost impossible pace to maintain. Pitt’s bench was contributing points galore earlier in the Big East schedule. The reserves scored more than half of the team’s points (52) in a 93-55 victory against DePaul last month. They also contributed 31 in the 65-55 win over Syracuse one week later.
The reserves are still pitching in, but not at such a prolific rate. In three of the past four games they have combined for 13 points or fewer. They scored 11 in a road win at Cincinnati and 13 in the home loss to Notre Dame and the road win St. John’s. In between those two games, they scored 26 in a loss at Marquette.
Even though the production has not been as consistent, coach Jamie Dixon remains sold that his 10-man rotation will be a staple once the postseason arrives in a couple of weeks. And he said he’s not so much concerned about the offense the reserves provide as much their defensive contributions.
“At times, you’re concerned that they think the way to stay on the floor is ‘I have to make a play’ whether it’s getting someone else a basket, or get myself a basket,’” Dixon said. “We’re trying to emphasize that defending and rebounding will keep you on the floor.”
Dixon shortened his bench against St. John’s, using eight players for the most part. Durand Johnson played nine minutes and Cameron Wright only played five minutes.
But Dixon did not seem to believe that would be an ongoing trend. He said he played freshman guard James Robinson for 33 minutes against the Red Storm because he was doing such a good job defending their top scorer, D’Angelo Harrison, who finished 1 for 12 from the field. Johnson, it should be noted, is used to seeing single digit minutes because Lamar Patterson commands major minutes every game unless he is in foul trouble.
Because two players transferred earlier in the season Dixon is using every player on his roster. He was asked if that’s been good for team chemistry.
“They like each other,” he said. “They get along. That is clearly evident. It’s a good group in that regard.”
Wright agrees there is a good vibe in the locker room.
“Everyone contributes,” Wright said. “Every game, we’re 10-strong. We have faith in all of our teammates.”
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