Thanks in large part to Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna the Pittsburgh Panthers returned to the NCAA tournament in 2014 after missing out the season prior, winning 26 games and reaching the Round of 32 where they were eliminated by Florida. With those two having moved on head coach Jamie Dixon will need other options to step forward in 2014-15. James Robinson returns as the starting point guard, and shooting guard Cameron Wright will be one of the Panthers’ primary offensive weapons when he returns from his broken foot.
Another player expected to figure prominently in Pitt’s plans this season is junior Durand Johnson, who was a key reserve in 2013-14 before he was lost for the season to a torn ACL suffered in a home loss to Virginia on January 11. The annual Blue-Gold Scrimmage was held Sunday afternoon, and the exhibition was also Johnson’s first live action since suffering that injury.
Johnson played 28 minutes for the Blue team, which fell to the Gold by the final score of 56-48, accounting for seven points on 3-for-7 shooting from the field. Last season Johnson averaged 8.8 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, shooting 40.5% from the field and nearly 34 percent from beyond the arc. He’ll have more opportunities to score this season, and Johnson will need to take advantage if the Panthers are to have a successful campaign.
Johnson is just one player in a position to step forward as a result of the departures of Patterson and Zanna and the temporary loss of Wright, and Sunday afternoon two other options put together solid afternoons.
Sophomore forward Michael Young, who played well during the team’s summer trip to the Bahamas, paced the Blue team with a game-high 20 points to go along with six rebounds. And junior center Joseph Uchebo was one of three Gold team members to score in double figures as he tallied 12 points and seven rebounds.
James Robinson led the way for the winners with 15 points and seven assists, and he didn’t commit a single turnover in 31 minutes of action.