Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon has never been one known to lean on young players, especially at the beginning of a season.
But Dixon confirmed that a pair of freshman- guard James Robinson and center Steven Adams- have earned starting nods for Friday’s season opener against Mount St. Mary’s at the Petersen Events Center.
It will mark the first time that Dixon has started a pair of freshmen in a season opener as only one other freshman earned a starting nod to begin a season under Dixon- DeJuan Blair in 2007.
Back during the 2003-04 season, Dixon started a pair of freshmen in a game when Chris Taft and Antonio Graves were in the same starting lineup against Virginia Tech, who was still in the Big East back then, but never under Dixon has a pair of newcomers opened the season in the starting lineup.
The highly recruited Adams was a no-brainer to get the nod at center, replacing Dante Taylor, who as a result will see some more time at the 4 this year.
Robinson though was more of a surprise before camp started.
The Texas native was also a highly thought of recruit, but many felt that the other job in the backcourt next to Travon Woodall would go to Central Michigan transfer Trey Zeigler, especially since Robinson is a natural point guard.
But that hasn’t been the case.
Zeigler barely earned a spot in Dixon’s rotation during the exhibition season as eight different players averaged more minutes than he did.
Instead it was Robinson who got the starts at the 2 against IUP and Hawaii-Hilo as Dixon elected to go with his best defensive team. He has gone as far as to call Robinson the best defensive guard on the team, so the strategy makes sense.
Robinson is a gifted player at both ends of the floor, but considering the fact that Pitt was last in the Big East a season ago in scoring defense, putting his best defenders out there is probably the way to go.
Plus a guy a Zeigler can provide offense off the bench, which is something the Panthers could be lacking.
Dixon did a great job by getting both Adams and Robinson to Pitt. Beginning Friday night, Panthers fans will get a long look at them.
Photo Credit: Associated Press