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November 26, 2013

Pitt can send in the Wolf

There's a scene in Pulp Fiction when Marsellus Wallace, played by Ving Rhames, tells Samuel Jackson's character Jules Winnfield over the phone that he's sending the Wolf - played by Harvey Keitel - to help Jules and Vincent Vega dispose of a body.

"You sending the Wolf?" asks Jules, his tone rising with appreciation.

"Feel better?" asks Marsellus, and I'm leaving out a compound word that finishes his question.

Of course he feels better. The Wolf is the fixer. The guy that makes everything okay.

Heading into last night's game against Texas Tech at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn in the semifinals of the Progressive Legends Classic, Pitt hadn't played a team from a major conference yet. The Panthers definitely hadn't been tested yet, feasting on outmatched opponents inside the confines of the Pete.

Well, they tested off the charts against Texas Tech. And while you'd probably have to search far and wide for someone ready to call the Red Raiders anything more than an average team - if that - the dominating 76-53 performance is definitely going to make folks take a longer look at Pitt.

This team is skilled.

In fact, they shoot the you-know-what out of the ball. And doing that against teams that are much smaller is one thing. Doing it against a team that has real length on the wings and in the middle is completely another.

These Panthers move the ball side to side until a gap opens up a driving lane or they find a shooter in rhythm. They push the ball every chance they get. They rebound it at a high rate.

And most importantly, in this season of touch fouls, their length allows them to guard effectively without fouling too much. It also lets them guard gaps and be an effective zone team in stretches. Heck, I'm waiting for Jamie Dixon to lose his mind and throw a full-court press on some poor team.

And they have Lamar Patterson, who does a bit of everything every night. Need 3's? Patterson goes 4-of-7. Need assists? Patterson will get you 4 or more. Steals? How's 5 sound? Patterson's line last night was indicative of what he brings to the table: 23 points, 4 assists, 5 steals and 3 rebounds in 25 minutes.

It's still way too early to know how good this team can be. But Patterson gives the Panthers a confident senior leader - a guy his teammates will ride for and with until the final buzzer. He makes them feel safe.

Patterson, for this Pitt team, is the Wolf.

Feel better, Pitt fans?

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