Pitt Looking For Growth Out Of NIT, Eventual Trip To NYC

Coach Jamie Dixon and his Pittsburgh Panthers are taking a unique approach to attaining success during their upcoming NIT appearance.

The Panthers are intent are zeroing in on all the things they feel have kept them from being where they truly want to be. Namely, that would be the NCAA Tournament, where, after a 19-14 season, the Panthers were left on the outside looking in.

That’s not to say Pitt doesn’t plan to be all the can be for the NIT when they take the floor against George Washington; it’s more like simply being there will serve as even more inspiration.

“It really starts with us, and that’s what I talked to them about,” said Dixon. “Let’s work on getting better in this tournament. And really, with such a short turnaround after when you find out who the opponent is, that is the approach you have to take.”

Pittsburgh (19-14) host George Washington (21-12) Tuesday night at the Petersen Events Center. The Panthers enter the tournament as the No. 4 seed and the Colonials as the No. 5 seed.

“George Washington has a very strong program.” Dixon added. “They are always a very good team, and we knew we would get a good opponent because this is a good tournament. We have to play better than we have.”

Pittsburgh comes to battle led by the tandem of Jamel Artis (14 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Michael Young (14 points, seven rebounds). Cameron Wright chipped in with averages of nine points, three rebounds and three assists and James Robinson contributed nine points, five assists and four rebounds.

Teams in the NIT are looking to play in the final at Madison Square Garden. Hipmunk.com can get you to the World’s Most Famous Arena, offering New York City flights from any school’s location. According to Hipmunk, hotels in New York City start from $85 that will have you walking distance from MSG and many other attractions that the city offers.

The Panthers and the Colonials, who finished tied for sixth in the Atlantic 10, shared three common opponents this season: Duquesne, St. Bonaventure and Virginia. The Colonials went 2-1 in three meetings against the Dukes, beat the Bonnies by 23 points and lost to Virginia by 17. Pitt beat Duquesne by 14, beat the Bonnies, 58-54, and lost to Virginia by 12.

“We are familiar with the Atlantic 10,” said Dixon. “Obviously, we play Duquesne every year and we play other teams from the conference over the year,” Dixon said. “That is a strong league, and so we know we are going to be in for a challenge.”