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Uptick or Improvement: Part 3

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NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, hopefully you guys know the drill. If you’ve missed either Part 1 or Part 2, you can check those links out as well. As the writer of all three I can tell you with a great amount of bias that you don’t want to miss this one, even if you haven’t read the other ones.

I definitely think that sophomore guard Trey McGowens will be the difference between the Pittsburgh Panthers potentially winning 18-20 games as opposed to 12-14, but junior forward Terrell Brown needs to move forward for any of that to happen (all players must contribute of course). With senior forward Kene Chukwuka likely out til at least January, and he may not come back at all, Brown returns as the only seasoned, traditional front court player. So what does Brown need to do in order to move the needle for Pitt?

Terrell Brown - Uptick:

  • Finish strong at the rim - Brown has pogo stick athleticism, which was evident in the part of the ACC schedule (and that 9 block game against the Colgate Raiders) where he was blocking or deterring nearly every shot around him. While the timing wasn’t always there and at times he was overly aggressive (better than overly passive though), he made a ton of strides and achieved a fair amount of his potential in this area.

He needs to be able to do the same when it comes to finishing around the basket. Between his leaping ability and strong build at the collegiate level, there’s no reason why he can’t just finish through contact, or at least try. A big part of that is his mentality, he needs to play with more nastiness, but that’s hard to quantify. In terms of his approach, he needs to stop the two-handed dribble to gather, and instead just dunk on people.

What starts as really good off-ball movement and recognition of Duke forward Marques Bolden not being aware of what's going on behind him, doesn’t even yield a shot attempt. At the very least he probably gets fouled if he just goes up strong.

Again, a lot to love early on in this clip: Setting a screen after a dribble handoff, then re-screening on the other side at the top of the circle, diving to the rim and then fighting for great position. After the deep post entry catch, not so much. When this clip pauses, just look at the advantage Brown has. This is a dunk 10/10 times if he doesn't put the ball on the floor.

Terrell Brown - Improvement:

  • Must defend better in space and on the perimeter - Teams will be much more keen to Brown’s shot blocking ability and his struggles defending in space, particularly in screen-and-roll situations.

This is an area where the game seems a little too fast for him still. Of course this isn’t all on Brown if the communication is poor, and that’s probably the case sometimes. Brown generally seems to know what he should be doing, but his hesitancy often leads to the above.

In the first sequence, he was surprised that his man just slipped the screen and didn’t recover. In the second Brown got caught in no-mans land, unable to apply any pressure to the dribbler and not in a position to defend the pocket pass as the play unfolded. The last sequence is just not thinking through where he was at on the court and who he was defending. There was no reason to apply that level of pressure to his man, that far from the basket.

This clip sums up his need to have an uptick in finishing and more awareness defending in space, especially on the perimeter.

There are certainly flashes where Brown puts it all together, and looks the part of a consistent contributor. If he’s able to hone his potential and shake a few bad habits, the Panthers may really have something in the third year forward.

With Pitt opening at home against the Florida State Seminoles, and I’ll be in attendance, I’ll be closely monitoring to see which Panthers have made upticks and improvements to their game. I’d love to interact with all you more on social media this season, so please feel free to follow and interact with me during the games this year.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author @Stephen_Gertz