SEASON PREVIEW SEASON PREVIEW Pitt returns four starters, seven of its top eight scorers, 86 percent of its scoring and 88 percent of its rebounding from 25-9, NCAA Tournament team 66 Fan excitement is at an all-time high as Pitt Basketball enters its 201011 season ranked among the top-10 in nearly every national poll while also earning consideration as one of the favorites to win the Big East title. Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon returns a seasoned and experienced core of players that surprised the college basketball nation last year with its inspired and clutch play. The 201011 campaign draws a stark contrast from last year, when the Panthers were forced to replace four departed starters, two NBA players and two AllAmericans which produced over 4,000 points, 2,200 rebounds and 900 assists combining their careers. The returning 2010-11 squad contains the same group of determined players that overcame those personnel losses, ignored preseason predictions and stepped forward to guide the Pitt program to a 25-9 overall record, second consecutive second place finish in the Big East regular season, a ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and a No. 3 seed upon entering the NCAA Tournament. Pitt returns four of five starters, seven of its top eight scorers, eight of its top-10 in minutes played, 86 percent of its scoring and 88 percent of its rebounding from last year’s team. In addition, the Panthers add four freshmen and two other players who earned medical redshirts last year. Here is a position-by-position look at the 2010-11 Pitt Panthers: FORWARDS Pitt returns its entire frontcourt in 2010-11. Senior small forward Gilbert Brown is back for his final season. An experienced fifth-year player, Brown has reached double figure scoring 28 times and averaged 7.0 points over 95 career games. Last year, he ranked third on the squad in scoring (10.7 ppg.) and shot 49.7 percent from the floor. The athletic and talented Brown has shown steady improvement over the years as he has grown into one of Pitt’s leaders. Junior Nasir Robinson returns as Pitt’s starting power forward after making all 34 starts last year. The versatile and undersized Robinson is an athletic, high energy, aggressive and hard-nosed competitor who excels at rebounding, passing and defense. His offensive skills were on display last year when he poured in a team season-high 26 points against Louisville. Sophomore J.J. Richardson is back after earning spot duty at the power forward and center positions. The quick, versatile, aggressive and PITT’S PRESEASON STORYLINES Pitt begins its quest for a 10th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 10th straight season with 20 or more wins. Pitt returns four of five starters, seven of its eight top scorers, eight of its top-10 in minutes played, 86 percent of its scoring and 88 percent of its rebounding from a team that finished 25-9 overall, placed second in the Big East regular season for a second consecutive season, advanced to its ninth straight NCAA Tournament and earned a No. 3 seed upon entering the tourney. Head Coach Jamie Dixon enters his eighth season at Pitt with a 188-54 overall record. The 188 victories tied an NCAA Division I all-time record for most wins after the first seven seasons as a head coach. Dixon also became the first coach in school history to guide Pitt to seven straight NCAA Tournaments, seven consecutive 20-win seasons and seven straight 10-plus league win years. Last year Dixon became the only head coach in NCAA Division I to guide a program to five consecutive NCAA Tournaments and win at least one game in each of the five tournaments. Pitt and Texas A&M are the only two programs to achieve that distinction over the last five seasons. Once again, Pitt will play a difficult schedule in 2010-11. Combining the last eight seasons, Pitt has ranked No. 3 nationally in average RPI. The Panthers will play an 18-game Big East schedule for the fourth consecutive season. Pitt will also play 21 games against opponents that advanced to postseason play in 2009-10, including 13 contests versus teams advancing to the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Opponents highlighting Pitt’s non-conference slate include Maryland, Illinois and Texas in the Coaches vs. Cancer event at Madison Square Garden and two games at Pittsburgh’s brand new Consol Energy Center vs. Tennessee in the SEC/ Big East Invitational and Duquesne. Pitt took a summer foreign tour to Ireland in late July/early August, 2010. The Panthers won all six of their scheduled games. 2010-11 PITT BASKETBALL Senior Gilbert Brown is back for his final season at Pitt. Brown has a chance to become a 1,000-point career scorer as he needs 337 more points to achieve that distinction. physical Richardson saw action in 22 games off the bench last year. His most memorable contest was at West Virginia when he scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds. Redshirt freshman Talib Zanna has continued to develop throughout the offseason. A long, lean, talented and athletic player, Zanna will see action at power forward. Zanna is an aggressive rebounder on both ends of the floor and has proven his inside-outside versatility on offense. His performance this summer on Pitt’s tour to Ireland was especially impressive. Redshirt freshman Lamar Patterson returns for his second season at Pitt after earning a medical redshirt following a right ankle injury last season. Patterson, who played in 10 games before the injury, owns a consistent jumper and stellar perimeter skills. He will contribute at small forward. Newcomer J.J. Moore brings with him athleticism and talent. The 6-footsix freshman owns a smooth jumper and attacks the basket with size, quickness and aggression. Moore, who averaged 29 points per game last year at South Kent Academy (Conn.), will challenge for playing time at small forward. Freshman walk-on Aron Nwankwo will also contribute at both forward positions.