By JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG ORLANDO – The University of Pittsburgh was officially welcomed to the ACC on Monday along with Syracuse and Notre Dame. With that, the countdown towards a highly-anticipated college basketball season can begin as the Panthers and Orange will tangle with the likes of Duke and North Carolina in conference-play for the first time.Panthers head coach Jamie Dixon acknowledges that it’s all well and good to be excited about the move to the ACC and the stability that comes with it, but as for the prospects of playing the Blue Devils and Tar Heels, it’s not like Pitt is new to big-time college basketball. “We’ve played in some pretty good places, our place (the Petersen Events Center) is pretty tough,” Dixon, tongue-in-cheek, told SNY.tv on Monday afternoon at the Orlando Summer League. “I don’t want to take away from what those programs have done and where they’ve been, but we’ve played against good people and our league has been the best. For us, we’ve summed it up as we’re going from the best conference to the best conference. There may be some differences, but the main thing is we’ll be playing in the top conference in the country. That’s what we want for our school, that’s what we want to tell recruits and that’s what we want for our fans.” Pitt left the old Big East for the long-term stability that the ACC can provide. That stability was cemented in April when its presidents signed a Grant of Rights agreement through 2026-27. That means the ACC owns its 15 members’ television rights for the duration of that period, effectively blocking those schools from leaving to join another conference. A cornerstone of the old Big East, Pitt left as its winningest program, both in conference-play (.694) and overall (.772) since the beginning of the 2001-02 season. “I think there’s a sense of it finally being here and just the excitement and the recognition that it’s time to move,” Dixon said. “We know where we’re gonna be and the stability more recently with the Grant of Rights, because there was still uncertainty once we moved with what else could happen. Now, there is no uncertainty. We’re in a good spot and we’re looking forward to it.” Dixon was in Orlando on Monday in support of Oklahoma City Thunder rookie big man Steven Adams, who made his summer league debut. The 12th overall pick in last month’s NBA Draft after one season under Dixon at Pitt, Adams scored two points to go along with six rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench in a 76-68 win over the Indiana Pacers. Adams, along with the graduated Travon Woodall and Rutgers transfer J.J. Moore, are key losses for next season’s Panthers, but the cupboard is not completely bare. They return three starters, (Lamar Patterson, Talib Zanna, James Robinson), two of their top four scorers and five of their top nine letter winners. Additionally, a six-man recruiting class includes St. Benedict’s Prep product Mike Young, a 6-foot-8 forward, and was topped off just last week with a pledge from athletic 6-foot-3 shooting guard Detrick Mostella. “I like our perimeter guys and people are talking about how we have a lot of youth and people are talking about how young we are like they do every year because we always seem to lose two or three guys,” Dixon said. “Then, once we start winning some games, they’ll say how old we are. Our big guys are young, there’s no question about it, there isn’t a lot of experience there. But I think we’re older with some physically-developed kids and hopefully, that helps us early on.” Photo: Getty Images Follow Josh Newman on Twitter
Special to ZAGSBLOG ORLANDO – The University of Pittsburgh was officially welcomed to the ACC on Monday along with Syracuse and Notre Dame. With that, the countdown towards a highly-anticipated college basketball season can begin as the Panthers and Orange will tangle with the likes of Duke and North Carolina in conference-play for the first time.