For each game I am covering this season, I’ll be talking about each individual player’s performance and giving them a grade. It’s something I used to do regularly before so we’ll see how this new version goes. Note: The grades are based in part on team roles. A bench player who plays well during five minutes on the floor can still earn an A grade and a star who scores 20+ with terrible shooting numbers could earn a middling grade.
Trey McGowens - Pitt’s best player last night did almost all of his damage in the last five minutes of the first half. Beginning with a layup at the 5:42 mark, he scored 12 of his 13 points before halftime. In the second half, I only remember him taking one shot, and that was in the final minute with the outcome already decided.
Ryan Murphy - Murphy scored Pitt’s first points of the game by getting fouled while hitting a a shot at the wing. He also had a nice defensive play along the baseline in the first half where he knocked a ball off a West Virginia player to force a turnover. West Virginia put 6’7” Emmitt Matthews Jr. on the 6’2” Murphy which made it difficult for him to get open looks. After four games, I’m not sure what the best version of Ryan Murphy looks like for this team. He can shoot, obviously, but that’s just going to make it harder and harder for him to get open looks at the basket. Pitt has to do a better job of finding him. On Murphy’s side, I noticed that when he hits a couple shots in the row, sometimes he’ll force up a bad one right after. Also, during one of the team’s shooting droughts, Murphy tried to create offense by himself and put up another bad shot. That’s not limited to him, though, most of the post-game quotes from Champagnie, Murphy, and Capel stressed that it is not a “one-man game” and that they need to do a better job of playing together.
Justin Champagnie - I have to give a lot of credit to Champagnie, who finished with 12 points, for being the only Panther to keep shooting in the second half when nothing was falling. Unfortunately, the Mountaineers forced just about every single one of those shots to the corner where I estimate Pitt shot 0-30 as a team. He chipped in five rebounds as well. The one negative play I recall was he got caught staring at a defensive rebound with Toney, which allowed a WVU player to go between them and grab it.
Terrell Brown - Brown committed two fouls in the first three minutes (allowing one and one opportunity), opened the second half with a missed dunk, and took a random three in the second half with Pitt down 10.
Xavier Johnson - Johnson made both of his shots and three of his five assists in a 2 minute stretch of the first half. I honestly didn’t notice him after the under 12 media timeout of the first half.
Au’Diese Toney - This just isn’t a good fit anymore. He seems overwhelmed. I will give him credit for the hustle when he chased down his own missed three pointer and got fouled. That led to his only point of the game.
Abdoul Karim Coulibaly - He had a nice baseline drive and a good recovery and finish on a low pass from Johnson.
Samson George, Eric Hamilton, Onyebuchi Ezeakudo - They played as well as you could expect guys at the end of the bench to play. George had four rebounds in eight minutes.
Gerald Drumgoole Jr. - He had more offensive rebounds (4) in seven minutes of game time in this game than he did in 38 minutes across the first three games. If he can attack the offensive glass like that every game, he should get a lot more minutes on this team.
Other notable post game quotes:
“If you were out there and they chased you for 40 minutes…I’ll bet your ass be tired too.”
“Sometimes you can’t run offense, you have to play offense, and we need to be better at that.”
Huggins was asked if he did anything differently defensively to wear down Pitt in the second half. His response was basically, “players get tired.” Capel, of course, denied his team being tired by just repeating “we need to play better.” The quote about offense is interesting because it seems that Pitt’s default offensive strategy is to “play offense” and they’re not good at it like he said. However, if Pitt can be so easily disrupted away from their set plays, that’s a pretty bad mark on Capel. One of the commenters on the recap post mentioned Capel needing to just land three top 50 recruits who are just better than everyone to win. I hope that’s not the case, but we’ll see. I want to see X and Trey as seniors before giving Capel a grade.
Hail to Pitt.