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Monday / December 18.
  • Pitt’s Woodall Anxious to Return

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    NEW YORK — Ashton Gibbs played 39 minutes at point guard for No. 15 Pitt in its 74-68 win over Oklahoma State Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

    And head coach Jamie Dixon knows he can’t have Gibbs sustain that pace for a long period of time.

    “Ashton looked comfortable, fatigue doesn’t seem to be a big thing,” Dixon said. “It’s not a good thing. Him doing 40 minutes against the press is not a good thing…

    “We need Travon back, there’s no question about it.”

    Tray Woodall, a redshirt junior and team co-captain, suffered a groin strain and abdominal tear Nov. 30 while sliding against Duquesne and initial reports said he would miss 4-5 weeks.

    The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Brooklyn-Paterson, N.J. native was having a stellar year, averaging 14.1 points, a team-leading 8.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds.

    The former St. Anthony star isn’t happy with the timetable and is anxious to return, but he also wants to be completely healthy when he does come back.

    “I’m just trying to get back as fast as I could, but at the same time they don’t want me to come back too early and then re-injure it and I could be out 12 weeks,” Woodall told SNY.tv Saturday.

    “I never knew how severe an injury like this was. This is probably the most severe injury I ever had in my career.”

    Woodall has been in close touch with former St. Anthony teammates Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas) and Mike Rosario (Florida). Taylor underwent knee surgery Sunday and was due to miss several games himself.

    “Tyshawn was telling me if I try to come back too fast, the rest of my season could be over if I re-injure it,” Woodall said. “So he told me to be patient and everything will work out.”

    Woodall said he’s undergoing treatment in which he receives injections in his groin.

    “They take my blood out and put it in some machine and then put the blood in my groin and my hip and in my ab,” he said.

    Woodall said it was especially frustrating missing the Big East/SEC game Dec. 3 against Tennessee, which Pitt won 61-56.

    “When we played Tennessee I wanted to play because we played them last year and they gave us a good whooping,” Woodall said.

    Without Woodall, Pitt started redshirt freshman Cameron Wright in the backcourt and has relied more on true freshman John Johnson and redshirt frosh Isaiah Epps.

    “Nobody’s playing with three freshman guards and a senior,” Dixon said. “I don’t recommend it, but we’ll get our other guys back, we’ll get Travon back. John was hurt this week.

    “But I like how we responded. I thought Cameron played better [Saturday].”

    Gibbs’ role has changed, too.

    “Now he gotta create a lot more shots for himself,” Woodall said. “Like coach said a couple games ago, that his percentages are not going to be exactly where he wanted them to be at because he has to sit here and create for himself.

    “He definitely has to do a lot more facilitating.”

    The good news for Pitt is that Woodall is on the mend.

    “They’re saying 4-6 weeks, but I feel better,” he said. “A lot better,”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

    • Actually, Epps has been a big disappointment so far and is hardly playing. Don’t see Gibbs getting much of a break until Tray comes back since they will use mostly a 3 guard rotation with Patterson filling in as well at the 2. Wright has been quiet but is showing steady improvement and mostly plays for his defense, but true freshman Johnson is playing like a confident upperclassman and has really excited a lot of people, and will probably continue to see more time.