The point guard position for the 2014-15 Panthers is shaping up to be one of the more reliable positions. Junior James Robinson will most likely return to the starting lineup for the third year in a row. After Robinson, the Panthers are extremely talented at this position with sophomore Josh Newkirk contributing off of the bench.
Robinson boasted the third best Assist-to-turnover ratio in the nation at 4.1. He was as reliable as they came last season quarterbacking the Panthers’ offense, but he has garnered some criticism recently for his lack of scoring. He averaged 7.6 ppg and shot a poor 40.1 percent from the field last season. However, these were both increases over his freshman year production but still not good enough for a guy who played 31 mpg.
Expect Robinson to play even more minutes for the panthers next season and his production will more than likely increase. His downfall to his scoring is his unselfishness with the ball. He is constantly worrying about creating a shot for one of his teammates and is not focused on creating his own shots. As he matures and grows as a player his own confidence will increase and he begin scoring more.
Newkirk is a rising star for this Pitt Panthers basketball program and showed great potential as a freshman, he will prove to be valuable for the Panthers. The sophomore point guard is known for his superb speed and athleticism. He shot 46.5 percent from the field but averaged only 4.6 ppg throughout his freshman campaign.
The Panthers will use Newkirk to change the pace of the game. Robinson operates the offense in more of a half-court style, a style of play that is more accustomed to low-scoring games. Given Newkirk’s natural speed and ability he can offer a more run-and-gun style, one that should be useful in the ACC.
The Panthers could deploy a lineup that features Newkirk, Cameron Wright, Durand Johnson, Michael Young and Jamel Artis. All five of these players are extremely athletic and can run the floor with the best teams in the ACC.
One of the Panthers’ biggest issues last season was their clashing style of play between the Panthers and their ACC opponents. The Panthers came from the Big East where the traditional style of play is tough, bump and grind defensive struggles that featured half court offenses and was merely a chess match. The ACC is traditionally a fast-tempo, high-scoring finesse game.
Newkirk could offer some much needed help if the Panthers half-court game does not prove to be successful yet again in the ACC. He offered a good change in pace last season and you have to believe that he will be used more heavily next season.
Overall, the Panthers point guard position should prove to be the only sure position going into the 2014-15 season. There are only two natural point guards on the team and both have already proven their worth to the Pitt Panthers basketball team. Robinson will start and be a leader on the team; and Newkirk will provide valuable minutes off of the bench.