Pitt coach defends Steven Adams' progress

MARC HINTON
Last updated 11:15 04/12/2012
Steven Adams
Getty Images
STANDING TALL: Kiwi Steven Adams defends against Delaware's Jamelle Hagins during the consolation game at the Preseason NIT tournament.

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Steven Adams' American college coach Jamie Dixon has leapt to the defence of his under-fire freshman sensation after the big Kiwi has made a quiet start to his career.

Adams, the younger half-brother of Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams, has failed thus far to make the predicted big-time impact with Dixon's University of Pittsburgh through the early part of the US college hoops season.

The 2.13m Wellingtonian was highly touted coming into this season as one of the top 10 recruits in the country. Scouts predicted he could be a potential one-and-doner, bound for the NBA lottery.

So far, the Scots College graduate has failed to live up to his billing, averaging just 6.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game as Dixon's starting centre.

Adams has had a couple of high-scoring games, notching 13 points against both Fordham and Delaware but has by and large not looked for his shot as the Panthers have gone 7-1 through a mainly soft early-season schedule.

Adams is averaging just 19.5 minutes and when he does shoot is doing so at a 59.5 percent clip. His free-throw is not so impressive, sitting at an abysmal 36.4 percent.

Last week Adams had only two points each game as the Panthers despatched a couple of mid-major opponents, Howard (by 24 points) and Detroit (by 13), prompting criticism from some media outlets that he was not living up to his billing.

But Dixon, who played professionally in New Zealand, urged patience with his big Kiwi project.

"I think he's doing fine," the highly respected coach told reporters after Pitt's 74-61 comeback victory over Detroit. "There are going to be adjustments. He didn't play in high school [in the US].

"We had the advantage of seeing him play a number of times. We may know where he is going to be and where he's going to go to.

"I'm happy with him. I knew there would be adjustments. We factored those in. I've said this before. It's never going to be enough. For certain people, it's never going to be enough."

Dixon said he was seeing the right things from Adams away from the bright lights of the games to feel comfort with his progress.

"He's working hard, getting better and doing a lot of good things," added Dixon. "He's doing a good job of learning and getting better. He's trying to adjust to defence and transition defence.

"[Plus] he's unselfish. That's the biggest thing that stands out about him. He's not a hungry scorer. That's probably a thing we can work with."

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Pitt's next game is at home against Duquesne on Thursday (NZ time) as they continue to build towards their Big East conference opener against Cincinnati on December 31.

Meanwhile, Tall Blacks Rob Loe and Isaac Fotu also had relatively quiet weeks for their college teams.

Loe picked up 13 points and five boards for 4-3 St Louis in a 66-61 loss to Washington, and then had just two points and a rebound in a 62-49 victory over Valpariso.

Fotu played 20 minutes in Hawaii's 77-63 defeat to No 24 University of Nevada Las Vegas but had just two points and a rebound as the Warriors crashed to their second defeat of the season.

- Stuff

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