Here’s the thing to keep in mind about Summer Leagues. They are great for building team chemistry because everyone stays in the Burgh for the summer and does stuff together. They provide fan excitement and anticipation for upcoming season because the fans get to see the players in an organized setting. They help the team, but not because they are playing in a summer league. It is because they get to practice with coaches and the team over the summer. Especially starting this year, as the NCAA allows some team practices in addition to the individualized workouts with the coaches.
They are not, however, predictors of team or even individual success in the actual season. A great game in the summer league does not mean the kid is ready to break out. Just as a bad night does not mean he’s regressed. These are not pick-up games but there is a lot more one-on-one and two-on-two play in the course of the game.
Having issued that caveat on the unbridled optimism that can rival spring football practices at times, Rivals.com has the rundown on the games from last night. James Robinson made his debut.
His team came out on the winning end, but it was a lot closer than you would think with a squad that also had Trey Zeigler, Steven Adams and Lamar Patterson. Adams continues to fuel big man wet dreams.
SPK looked to be in control, up nine points with just over 13 minutes to go in the game, but PGT’s 8-0 made it a game again. After a nice reverse layup from Pitt freshman Steven Adams, Zeigler scored three straight, easy transition buckets.
Adams set up the first with a block on Talib Zanna, and Zeigler was on the receiving end of an alley oop from Ashton Smith. On the next possession, Pitt freshman James Robinson launched a pass the entire length of the court to Zeigler for a dunk. Zeigler finished the last one himself after making the steal and converting a layup on the other end to pull PGT within one.
“I just wanted to bring some energy,” Zeigler said. “I think, in the first half, we came out flat, so I just tried to play a little harder.”
Adams once again did it all for PGT. He put more of his total game on display Monday night, scoring 15 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and making eight blocks. Adams went 5 for 5 from the field in the second half, and a number of his blocks spawned transition buckets for PGT.
Adams did the damage against Talib Zanna. John Johnson was running the point a lot for SPK, and was apparently doing a good job. PGT won by only 1 point at the very end.
This may be odd to consider, but Cam Wright has been having a good summer league as he seems to be making an effort to be something of a combo guard. Running a little point occasionally. Here’s a review of last week’s second session. And last night Wright was shooting a lot — and effectively. 25 points on 11-20 shooting with 6 boards and 7 assists. Malcolm Gilbert, also on his team had another double-double. Again, summer league and tempering expectations and hope.
One of the things you can look for in the summer league is what the players are working on in particular with their game — as in the case of Cam Wright working on ball handling.
Ray Fittipaldo has a post talking about what the Johnson boys are trying to do over the summer.
John Johnson played strictly shooting guard last season and performed well for a freshman, but he said the goal has always been to be a point guard. He is trying to be more vocal with his teammates this summer, continues to work on his ball-handling and penetrating the lane.
By John Johnson learning to play the point, Dixon might not have to worry about recruiting a backup for James Robinson, the incoming freshman who is expected to be the point guard of the future once Tray Woodall graduates after the upcoming season.
“It didn’t happen last season for whatever reason, but it was always in the plan for me to be a point guard,” Johnson said.
I’m guessing if Coach Dixon can land a quality point guard he still will. As for why, with John Johnson. It would probably be because he didn’t handle the ball particularly well. It’s not surprising — in fact it was indeed expected that Johnson would try to play more at point given his size — but that is definitely a project.
As for Durand Johnson, he’s working primarily on becoming more of a shooting guard.
So the 6-foot-8 native of Baltimore is working his on outside shot and ball-handling skills in an attempt to get on the court sooner.
Johnson currently plays small forward, the same position as Lamar Patterson and J.J. Moore, two players who figure to play the majority of minutes at that position next season. Transfer Trey Zeigler is the likely starter at shooting guard, but Jamie Dixon has several players vying for playing time as his backup. They include Durand Johnson, Cameron Wright and John Johnson, although John Johnson would like to leave his shooting guard days behind him and become a point guard on more of a full-time basis.
Durand Johnson said he can play shooting guard, small forward and power forward, “but the coaches tell me they see me as a 2,” Durand said Wednesday night after his summer league game at the Greentree Sportsplex.
Again not a surprise and honestly what I always thought was the plan. Not just because of the numbers. Johnson, unless he had a late growth spurt is not 6-8. Even the Pitt Roster lists him at 6-6 — (and as an aside to read into it what you will, lists Dante Taylor as a “forward”). When he was recruited, there was plenty of talk of him being best suited for playing the 2-spot. He’s got versatility — a feature that Coach Dixon definitely prizes in players — but he was always expected to play the 2.