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Tuesday, June 26
Updated: July 23, 4:56 PM ET
Team preview: Pittsburgh Panthers

Returning Leaders
Points: Knight 9.2 ppg
Rebounds: Zavackas 3.3 rpg
Assists: Knight 5.5 apg
FG %: Brown 43.7%
3pt %: Page 34.1%
FT %: Zavackas 82.1%

00-01 Stats: Pittsburgh | Big East

The lowdown
2000-01 record: 19-14; 7-9 in Big East (5th in West)
Final Ranking: NR
Postseason: Lost to Mississippi State 66-61 in second round of NIT.

Three Questions for 2001-02
1. How do the Panthers replace Ricardo Greer's leadership and production? Ben Howland relied on Greer to get the Panthers deep in the Big East, all the way to the tournament title game.

2. Julius Page was one of the most exciting freshmen in the league but can he increase his production from 9.1 points a night into constant double figures?

3. Who will score inside? The Panthers had to lean on Isaac Hawkins last season but don't have a proven inside threat for this season. They can't survive on the perimeter alone.

Three Key Facts
1. The Panthers' 19-14 mark was the program's best in 10 years, and included an unprecedented run to the Big East title game at MSG. Pittsburgh won seven of its final 10 games -- including wins over Miami, Notre Dame and Syracuse.

2. While the Panthers return three starters -- including backcourt mates Brandin Knight and Julius Page -- the key to reaching the NCAAs may be in redshirts who sat out last season. Yuri Demetris is a 6-4 shooter who averaged over 30 points a game during his senior season at Shaler High in Western Pennsylvania. Chevon Troutman is a 6-7 leaper who should help solidify the frontcourt, while 6-10 Mark McCarroll was part of Christ the King's 25-2 squad of 1999 which finished the season ranked No. 3 in the country.

3. Pittsburgh has improved each season under third-year coach Ben Howland, who won 13 games in his first season and then 19 last year. Howland came to Pittsburgh after three straight 21-win seasons in charge of Northern Arizona.

Andy Katz's Scenarios
Best case: The Panthers are once again a sleeper team and hard to put down in the Big East and hover around the postseason radar.

Worst case: They can't get on the NIT board because they drop below .500 with a lack of inside scoring.

Key Players Returning
Player Yr. Pos. Ht./Wt. Comment
Brandin Knight Jr. G 6-0/175 PTS: 9.2 | REB: 3.3 | AST: 5.5
Julius Page So. G 6-3/180 PTS: 9.1 | REB: 1.8 | AST: 1.1
Donatas Zavackas Jr. F 6-8/225 PTS: 7.9 | REB: 3.3 | AST: 1.3
Jaron Brown So. G 6-4/230 PTS: 4.8 | REB: 2.4 | AST: 1.5

Key Losses
Player Pos. Ht./Wt. Comment
Ricardo Greer F 6-5/220 PTS: 16.6 | REB: 7.4 | AST: 2.8
Isaac Hawkins F 6-8/210 PTS: 9.3 | REB: 7.9 | AST: 1.2

Pittsburgh Signings
Player Pos. Ht. High School/College
Carl Krauser G 6-2 Bronx/St. Thomas More (Conn.)
Tony Tate G 6-0 Jersey City, N.J./Marist H.S.

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