Pitt Basketball: Lamar Patterson Making His Case to Become a Starter

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent INovember 9, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Lamar Patterson #21 of the Pittsburgh Panthers holds the ball as Jeremy Lamb #3 of the Connecticut Huskies defends during the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters  at Madison Square Garden on March 10, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Last season at this time, Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon got a look at a couple of young players in Lamar Patterson and J.J. Moore.

Both had their moments early on, but as is customary with a veteran team, both saw their minutes drastically reduced once the Panthers entered Big East Conference play, en route to capturing the regular season championship.

This season, with the departure of three key starters in Brad Wanamaker, Gary McGhee and Gilbert Brown, Dixon will likely have to tinker with his starting rotation a little to find the proper fit.

That's something Dixon has the time to do. Entering Friday's season opener against Albany, it will be some time before Pitt enters Big East Conference play.

However, Patterson may force Dixon's hand long before conference play begins.

In the Panthers' lackluster exhibition win against Kentucky Wesleyan, Patterson was the one and only star, scoring a game-high 22 points, despite not starting either half.

Right now Moore is penciled in as the starting two-guard, but Patterson, a 6-foot-5 redshirt sophomore has shown the ability to play both shooting guard and small forward. Moore has been ineffective to this point and Patterson has taken away a majority of his minutes.

It will be interesting to see how much more Dixon will allow Moore to struggle before making a change.

Granted, it's early and Patterson's success did come against the likes of Kentucky Wesleyan, but one thing Patterson has is a good offensive repertoire.

He can slash and make plays going to the bucket. He crashes the glass and can follow shots. He has also shown the ability to be a playmaker, collecting five rebounds and dishing out three assists in Monday's win.

That's one big reason why Patterson could see his minutes increase. Like him or not, Pitt lost a heck of a player in Wanamaker. Wanamaker's playmaking ability needs to be replaced, and Patterson could be the right guy for the job.

Unlike Wanamaker though, Patterson is a better threat shooting the basketball, as he can step behind the arc and knock down a couple of jumpers.

Patterson averaged only 2.6 points per game a season ago, but has the talent to become a double-digit scorer this season.

Someone is going to have to take some of the scoring off of Ashton Gibbs' shoulders.

Patterson may be the right man for the job.