Pitt notebook: Panthers picked to finish sixth in ACC basketball debut

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Pitt was picked to finish sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in a preseason poll of 54 media members covering the league, announced Wednesday at ACC media day.

The Panthers, in their first season as ACC members, didn't have anyone selected on the preseason All-ACC team but were represented by wingman Lamar Patterson and center Talib Zanna.

Duke was the overwhelming favorite, capturing 50 of 54 first-place votes and finishing with 805 points while Syracuse grabbed three first-place votes and 753 points for second.

North Carolina finished third and received the other first-place vote and was followed by Virginia, Notre Dame, Pitt, Maryland, Boston College, Florida State, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Wake Forest, Clemson and Virginia Tech.

The preseason All-ACC team named was C.J. Fair (Syracuse), Rodney Hood (Duke), Jerian Grant (Notre Dame), Jabari Parker (Duke) and Joe Harris (Virginia). Fair also was named preseason player of the year while Parker was named the preseason rookie of the year.

A good record

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon is 11-0 against the current ACC teams (not counting Syracuse and Notre Dame), and he said that has caused some to joke that maybe the Panthers shouldn't be allowed to join the league.

"We've had a lot of success over the years against pretty much everyone, so it doesn't surprise me," Dixon said. "But it is a small sample and, obviously, now that we are going to playing 18 games or whatever a year it will change, but that does show we have been a successful program."

Not a lame duck

Maryland will leave the ACC after this season to join the Big Ten, and the university filed a lawsuit against the ACC to try and get out of or at least reduce the $50 million exit fee.

But Maryland coach Mark Turgeon is not worried that league officials will be unfair to Maryland.

"I'm not worried at all about it," Turgeon said. "I have a great relationship with the officials, I have a great relationship with the people in the basketball office of the ACC. I have a good team, I am not worried about it. I know our fans are but I am not and we'll see, I may be the naïve guy.

"I'm not concerned because the ACC needs us to be good this year, they want to get seven, eight, nine teams in the NCAA [tournament], and we are one of those teams. The league knows we're good."

One thing that was noted, however, is that Maryland won't play host to either North Carolina or Duke this season.

Not backing down

Notre Dame is a member of the ACC in every sport but football, and this caused a bit of a rift with some of the old-guard ACC people who believed the conference should have all members be "all in" or out.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was one of the most vocal critics of Notre Dame's arrangement, and, while he said Wednesday that he welcomes the Irish with open arms, he didn't back down from his original contention that they should have been made to join all sports.

"I'm old fashioned" Krzyzewski said. "I just believe that all of us should be the same, all of us should be equal and be required to do the same things. I am happy they are here, I welcome them, and they do add value to our league, but I just believe what is right is right.

"Now you can disagree with me and that's OK, too, I just know that's what I believe."

A shooter's paradise

The Joyce Center, where Notre Dame plays its home games, is notoriously a tough place for opponents to play, and some have suggested it is because it is a tough place to shoot the ball.

Pitt has had some extremely tough shooting games there, but Notre Dame coach Mike Brey disagrees and said it is a great place for shooters.

"Syracuse always shoots very well, and Jim Boeheim will always say it is one of the best places to shoot, and we shoot it great there," Brey said.

"I think it is a great shooting building, it is a tight building, I don't know why Pitt doesn't have any luck I hope that continues because they come to us this year."


Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1720 or Twitter @paulzeise. First Published October 16, 2013 8:00 PM


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