Pitt expecting to see zone defense on the road against Virginia Tech |

Pitt expecting to see zone defense on the road against Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams yells in a huddle with his team during the second half of a game against North Carolina, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Chapel Hill, N.C.

When Pitt faces Virginia Tech on Tuesday night at Cassell Coliseum, the Panthers will attempt to snap a two-game losing streak in the most difficult manner.

On the road.

This season, visiting teams are winning their ACC games at a .471 clip (24-27). That number will alter slightly following North Carolina’s home victory over Syracuse on Monday.

The Panthers (13-7, 3-4) are 1-4 in road games this season, including 1-2 in ACC play.

“Every game’s different. Every place is different. We’re still seeing new places in the ACC,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “Virginia Tech, I was there years ago but haven’t been there since going back to (the ACC).”

Dixon last coached a game at Virginia Tech as an assistant under Ben Howland in February 2003. The Panthers won the Big East clash 75-62.

Coached by first-year and former Marquette coach Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech is 8-11 and 0-6 in the ACC.

The Hokies are 0-3 in ACC home games, but they nearly upset No. 2 and undefeated Virginia at Cassell on Sunday.

“Different defenses,” said Dixon in describing Virginia Tech’s playing style. “Changing up. Really rely on penetration. Guards driving, playing small at times. Also, the ability to play big and change up defenses.

“I know we’re going to see zone,” Dixon said. “We’ve got to do a better job of attacking it.”

Strategy aside, ACC coaches agree that playing on the road presents a different set of challenges.

“I have found that road games in this league as opposed to the Big East are much, much harder to get,” said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, whose team is undefeated (4-0) this season in ACC road games.

“In the Big East, you have all those off-campus sites,” Brey said. “That really can turn into a neutral court.”

Sophomore Michael Young alluded to the Panthers’ 7-2 road record last season (all ACC games) in attempting to explain the Panthers’ recent struggles.

“On the road, you should have even more confidence because you don’t have your fans backing you up, and you don’t have that comfort in knowing that everybody in the crowd is rooting for you. I think you should have even more confidence on the road.”

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected].

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