Senior Talib Zanna is taking over at center for Pitt this year, and regardless of who wins the power forward spot, the Panthers should have one of the most athletic and fastest frontcourts in the ACC.
And with the quickness of the Panthers guards, Jamie Dixon believes this could be one of the best teams in the transition game that he has had.
His players agree, especially the guards who have had a chance to play with the incoming frontcourt players during the summer and are excited about the running game this year.
"I definitely think we can do more in transition this year," point guard James Robinson said.
"We have a lot of great athletes on the team, a lot of guys who are interchangeable at times. But you look at Talib Zanna, he is one of, if not the, fastest player on the team.
"I don't know how many teams can say their big man is that fast, so with Talib's ability to get out and run with our guys on the wing we should definitely be running the floor and out running the lanes."
Zanna added: "I think we are more athletic. People say we are small, but I don't think that is going to be an issue because everybody is running up and down the court. Even when we play bigger, we can run and we have good point guards who push the ball and have good court vision."
Those sentiments were echoed by just about every player Thursday at Petersen Event Center, strange talk from a team that historically has been defensive minded.
Dixon said that along with Zanna and his frontcourt mates, freshman guard Josh Newkirk will help drive the Panthers transition game.
"Josh brings a real extra higher gear to us offensively that we have never had," said Dixon, who made it clear the core principles of defense and rebounding will still be the team's foundation.
"I think he is probably the quickest guy that we have ever had. It doesn't mean he is the best guy we have ever had, but [speed] is a good thing to start with.
"Talib is really going to be a factor and I anticipate him putting up good numbers for us at that position. We will have big wings, big guards; we will have good size and we will run a little better, and I think we will be a little more skilled on the floor.
"The thing about being able to run is it isn't about your guards usually, it is can your big men get down the floor ahead of things, and with Talib and some of the other guys we can do that."
The Panthers are set for the most part at three positions -- Robinson at point guard, Lamar Patterson at small forward and Zanna at the center. They have a lot of options at power forward and shooting guard, and there is ongoing competition to start at both.
Dixon said all of his players are healthy and ready to play, and they all likely will play because of graduation and departure of center Steven Adams for the NBA.
Dixon is extremely excited about his incoming group of freshmen because they are athletic and, in his words, more skilled and ready to play than most of his incoming classes.
"I think we have [incoming] guys who are a bit more seasoned and talented and able to pick up things quickly and good players at the same time," Dixon said. "The three true freshman -- Mike Young, Jamel Artis and Josh Newkirk -- those guys have really played well and picked things up. What we have seen from them, we have been very impressed with them.
"We obviously have some youth in our frontcourt, but if you are going to recruit guys who are ready to play you need to play them. And with Jamel and Mike our obvious needs are at that four spot and the five spot. Yes, they are freshmen, but I think they have great instincts and they bring some skills to that position that we haven't had in a few years.
"They have the ability to pass and the ability to shoot, so I think it will be a nice addition to our team. Defensively they have some work to do but that's to be expected."
One player who is not in the mix, at least this semester, is Detrick Mostella who is still dealing with clearinghouse issues and is not enrolled.He could enroll in January and be eligible to play, but it is not clear what his status is at this point.
Paul Zeise: email@example.com, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.