Pitt’s Luther readies for bigger role under Stallings
Pitt forward Ryan Luther was a highly efficient shooter last season.
The trick was convincing former coach Jamie Dixon to feed him the ball more often.
Luther led the Panthers in field-goal percentage, converting 63 of 108 shots (58.3 percent). He scored 12 points in 26 minutes against Miami, 10 points in 24 minutes against Duke, and 13 points in 23 minutes against Syracuse in the ACC Tournament.
Too many times, however, Luther didn’t receive enough playing time to make a difference on offense. He averaged 5.0 points and 2.9 rebounds in 13.2 minutes a game.
A 6-foot-9 junior, Luther, who starred at Hampton, presents a unique skill set as a versatile big man who can shoot. His 3-point shooting (44 percent) was tops on the team. Although he attempted fewer than 20 3-pointers, Luther was a threat from beyond the arc.
Playing under new coach Kevin Stallings, Luther is eager to prove himself again.
“Everyone kind of has that fresh page to start over,” Luther said. “It’s nice to have a new opportunity. I thought I did a pretty good job down the stretch last year (including three double-figure scoring games in the final month). I had a few pretty solid games. I’m just trying to carry that into this year and build on that.”
Luther’s underrated offensive game is on display at the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Summer Pro-Am. In two games, he’s averaging 21.5 points and shooting 59.4 percent from the field (19 for 32) and 40 percent from 3-point range (4 for 10). Play resumes Monday at Montour.
Asked to describe the difference between his old coach and new coach, Luther said about Stallings, “He likes people that know how to play. If you listen to what he and his staff are saying, it can go a long way.”
Take, for instance, Luther’s willingness to listen and clean up certain aspects of his game. To play more in his third college season, he knows what his coaches expect.
“Getting better at everything, but mostly working on my ball-handling and guarding different people. As far as position, I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter to me. I’ve got to defend (no matter what),” said Luther, who has played forward and center at Pitt.
Better defense could lead to more playing time, resulting in more shots and a more expansive offensive presence.
Luther, though, takes what the defense gives him. As a result, he shoots a high percentage because he takes quality shots.
“Communicating and not turning the ball over and taking good shots,” Luther said of his focus. “Of course, there’s going to be different variations of ideas that each coach has, but it comes down to playing basketball, moving and knowing how to play and helping your teammates.”