Trey Zeigler’s first season as a member of the Pitt basketball program has been a roller coaster ride to say the least.
The Central Michigan transfer, who averaged 15.8 points per game a season ago, was thought to provide an immediate scoring option off the bench for the Panthers this season. But things haven’t exactly gone the way Zeigler probably thought they would as the junior is only averaging 5.1 points per game in barely over 15 minutes per game.
He came out of the gates slow; especially when it came to the defensive end of the floor, and that will not land you on Dixon’s good side. Couple that with Zeigler’s DUI arrest in late November that earned him a suspension and it’s safe to say that his Pitt career has gotten off to a rocky start.
But it looks like Zeigler is starting to earn his coaches trust and as a result has earned some more minutes, which in turn has meant increased production.
“He’s defending better,” said Dixon. “He’s playing with aggressiveness offensively and defensively and that’s what we are trying to get from him. Trey is a great decision maker and outstanding in transition and he’s starting to let things come to him. I have a lot of confidence in him right now. We have four guys (Zeigler, Steven Adams, James Robinson, and Durand Johnson) that are new to this team and sometimes it takes a new body a bit of time to feel real comfortable with his role. I am very happy with where Trey is at right now.”
That confidence has shown in terms of playing time.
In the first 14 games that Zeigler played this season, he has averaged only 14 minutes per game and 4.6 points per contest.
Beginning with Pitt’s Big East Conference opener with Cincinnati, Zeigler saw his minutes cut to single digits in three consecutive games, playing only nine minutes against the Bearcats, six against Rutgers and eight against Georgetown.
He must have done something to open Dixon’s eye, because beginning with Pitt’s loss to Marquette last Saturday, Zeigler has seen his minutes increased to 23 (Marquette), 25 (Villanova) and 23 (Connecticut). In that span, he has made 11-of-20 shots from the floor and has averaged 8.7 points during the three games, which is closer to the production that many expected from Zeigler at the beginning of the year.
Pitt senior point guard Tray Woodall attributed Zeigler’s recent success to having a recent stretch of good practices.
“He’s worked hard in practice and it is showing up on the court,” said Woodall.
Zeigler has the ability to get to the basket and can be a real scoring spark of the Panthers bench if he can keep things up.
If he can continue to show the ability to defend Big East guards, there should be no reason that Zeigler shouldn’t continue to get big minutes off the Pitt bench.
“I’m just taking advantage of the minutes I get,” said Zeigler. “I think I am starting to fit well. When I get the opportunity I am just trying to show what I can do. The biggest thing right now is to just have fun playing and do what I can to help us win games.”
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