The Takeaway: What Did Teams Learn from the Legends Classic
Jaime Dixon’s team had little trouble in dispatching Texas Tech and Stanford, and MVP Lamar Patterson staked his claim to one of the toughest players in the ACC. I had the chance to see the championship game between and Pitt and Stanford, and I was pleasantly surprised by one of those teams.
Here are some observations on the Legends Classic title game teams:
You always know what you are going to get with a Jaime Dixon-coached team, but what is often overlooked is the development of his players who stay for four years. This year’s example: Lamar Patterson. In the two games against Stanford and Texas Tech, Patterson scored 47 points, 10 assists and 7 steals. The Panthers fed off of Patterson’s drive and his confidence rose through the two days. Junior guard Cameron Wright is also starting to emerge as a very well-rounded player, contributing on offense and defense. Sophomore point guard James Robinson had two very strong defensive outings, though he did have some trouble finishing around the basket. Talib Zanna was plagued by foul trouble against Texas Tech, but battled well in the Championship against a much longer Stanford squad. With the Panthers already undersized, they will need to get more consistent play out of junior Derrick Randall and freshmen Jamel Artist and Michael Young. The Panthers have looked as good as any ACC team early on this season and the defense is still the catalyst, but the ongoing development of the players will become more noticeable once conference play starts.
Johnny Dawkins’ team has talent, but the Championship against Pitt showed a complete lack of offensive flow, especially from a veteran squad. Senior forward Dwight Powell was the one of the only consistent players for the Cardinal, using his length and athleticism well to get to the basket and finish. The other was guard Anthony Brown, the team’s best long-range threat, who hit 4 three-pointers in each game, going 8 of 9 from the tournament. After a strong outing against Houston, forward Josh Heustis had a tough time getting going against Pitt, mainly because an inexplicable big lineup used by Dawkins moved Heustis to the three where his strengths are not being used. The extra big man inserted in this line up, Stefan Nastic, showed some good passing, especially in high-low situations with Powell, but other than that, he just took up space better used by Heustis. Junior point guard Chasson Randle had a disappointing two days, especially being harassed by Pitt’s tough perimeter defense in the title game. Dawkins is going to need to find a rotation that works well over the next month because Pitt exploited a lot of holes in the one he used in that game.