*** Tray Woodall scored a career-high 25 points on 5 3-pointers and added 10 assists in Pitt’s 89-56 kickoff victory over Albany on Friday night.
The junior guard shot 9 of 13 from the field, and 5 of 7 from behind the arc, in his best game as a Panther. He broke his previous career-high of 19 points against Wichita State in Kansas City two years ago.
“It felt good,” Woodall said. “I’ve been working all summer. I know a lot of guys are going to be keying on Ash, so I’ve got to be ready to knock down shots. I did that tonight.”
Coach Jamie Dixon on Woodall — “He was really patient. Thirteen shots, all good shots, all wide-open looks. He was letting things come to him. When he was open, he recognized it and he was wide open.”
*** Woodall said afterward that he got to the Pete about 30 minutes later than he normally would for pre-game shoot-arounds. He was still on time, but his roommate (Dante Taylor) was a little tardy with their ride.
“I’m not going to blame anybody,” Woodall said, “but if you know my roommate, he’s the one that was driving.”
*** Albany coach Will Brown had some positive things to say about Pitt’s backcourt. He also said the Great Danes planned to limit Gibbs and force another player to step up for Pitt.
“I thought Gibbs was wearing No. 1 the way Woodall shot the ball,” Brown said. “We thought if we could do a decent job on Gibbs we would be OK, because we thought Pitt would need some time to find that second scorer.”
On Woodall — “You know the kid can play. The one thing he’s never been is a consistent perimeter shooter,” Brown said. “I think he deserves a lot of credit. We didn’t want Gibbs to really hurt us. We weren’t surprised by the 10 assists (from Woodall). The 25 points and 5 of 7 from 3 (point range), that did surprise me. All of the hard work paid off.”
On Gibbs, “Everyone thinks Gibbs can’t create his own shot. That’s ridiculous. He wouldn’t be the Big East Player of the Year if he just stood around and shot set shots. The kid can play and he’s unselfish. We wanted everybody but Gibbs to shoot a lot of perimeter jump shots.”
*** Freshman center Malcolm Gilbert didn’t play after sustaining a broken finger at practice yesterday. Coach Jamie Dixon said the 6-foot-11, 235-pound Gilbert “probably could have gone” if needed, but he wanted to give him another day off before Sunday’s game with Rider.
*** Dixon said they are still undetermined if freshman forward Durand Johnson will redshirt. The Baltimore wing didn’t play. Pitt’s other true freshman, John Johnson and Khem Birch, played 13 and 17 minutes, respectively.
“Durand Johnson is going to be a very good player for us,” Dixon said.
John Johnson, the Philly point guard, recorded a steal and a 3-pointer in his first 48 seconds of college basketball, and finished with eight points and a steal. Johnson’s minutes were presumably boosted a bit because Cam Wright was playing some small forward (in the absense of suspended J.J. Moore) instead of shooting guard.
“I was kind of nervous, but once you make your first shot, all of the nerves go away,” John Johnson said. “Coach Dixon plays the guys that work hard in practice and I’ve been working hard in practice.”
Said Dixon, “It was good that he got to play. He’s got to get better defensively, as all of our freshmen do. I anticipate him getting better and better.”
*** Dixon elaborated on the minor infraction by J.J. Moore that cost the sophomore forward a one-game suspension. As previously reported, Moore took part in an unauthorized summer league game. Dixon said it happened at a camp at which Moore was working in New York. It was, to say the least, an informal game. Moore didn’t realize it was against the rules. When he told the Pitt coaches about it, they contacted the NCAA and got the ruling.
“We appealed it pretty much to tip-off. We thought we had a good case,” Dixon said. “It was an 18- to 60-years olds playing. No uniforms, no scorebook. I think the team he was playing against was the Over the Hill Gang. That’s what it was. No criminal offense.”
*** Gibbs (21 points) tied a career-high with seven assists, with five in the first half. He sat the final 6:30 minutes of the game, as Pitt built a 30-point lead.
“At the end of the day I did a little bit of work,” Gibbs said, “but they made the baskets.”