Pitt's Patterson a summer blockbuster
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With his team trailing by three and less than a minute remaining in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am championship Wednesday night, Lamar Patterson stepped back and nailed a 3-pointer to tie the score.
Patterson's opponents in the summer league had seen it all before. Pitt's talented junior forward scored 95 points in three playoff games, including 27 in the title game to help PGT Trucking beat GNC, 81-76, in overtime.
Patterson took home league MVP honors.
"Lamar has put in a lot of work, and it's starting to pay off," said Pitt and summer league teammate Trey Zeigler.
Patterson was not a prolific scorer last season at Pitt. He averaged 9.6 points per game. His worth to the team was in other ways such as his passing, rebounding and unselfishness.
This summer, Patterson worked on becoming more selfish.
"I wanted to take more game shots that I've been working on in the summer time and translate it into the season," he said. "Coach Dixon is always preaching to take the open shots, and I'm just trying to do that more and more."
Tray Woodall, Pitt's point guard who sat out the summer league while recuperating from an abdominal injury, watched Patterson develop this summer. He is confident his hard work will carry over into next season.
"I knew he would do this," Woodall said. "In years past, Lamar would just play his role. This is going to be the year for him to break out. It could have happened last year, but we had Ashton [Gibbs] playing that role. Now Lamar is going to be that guy. It's going to be up to us to set him up for that."
Zeigler, who transferred in from Central Michigan, believes Patterson has the ability to be a top scorer in the Big East.
"We're going to need him to be," he said. "We'll have a lot of scoring options, but he's definitely going to be capable of scoring a lot of points for us."
Patterson had to carry the team in the playoffs without Zeigler, who has been resting a sore Achilles. Also missing Wednesday night was Pitt freshman center Steve Adams, who had to attend to an engagement out of town.
Patterson got PGT to overtime and his teammates took it from there.
Darryl Webb, an IUP graduate, scored the go-ahead points in overtime, and Pitt freshman point guard James Robinson made some clutch free throws to put the game away.
"Our team stepped up big time," Patterson said. "I definitely felt the pressure that I needed to do something. I didn't come through as much as I could have, but we had guys come through."
NOTE -- With less than five minutes remaining in regulation, Youngstown State's Kendrick Perry went down with a left knee injury. Perry, Youngstown State's leading scorer last season, had his knee wrapped in ice.
Ray Fittipaldo: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @rayfitt1.
First Published July 19, 2012 10:22 am