03 December 2010
In a sloppy game, Pitt's overall talent won the openning night of basketball in the beautiful Consol Energy Center 80-66. After a particularly rough start to the night, Pitt took over with a 16-5 run and Duquesne could never catch up.
To me, it was a game about overcoming adversity when it just wasn't their night. Stars Brad Wanamaker and Gilbert Brown contributed almost nothing except turnovers. All of the guards for that matter were poor moving the ball, but Pitt made enough plays to win.
A big part of that was Gary McGhee, who had a career night with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 7 blocks. In a game I expected it to be Taylor who was utilized under the basket due to his better athleticism, it was McGhee who dominated the hapless Dukes inside. Nothing really changed in terms of scheming, McGhee just took advantage of his opportunities:
McGhee is not a naturally gifted offensive player. His hands often betray him and his post repertoire is limited to one unpolished jump hook move. He will never be mistaken for DeJuan Blair, whose silky soft hands and offensive rebounding skills made him one of the most effective post players in the history of the Big East Conference in his abbreviated two-year college career.
But McGhee does not have to be Blair for this version of the Panthers. He can play fifth fiddle to Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown and Nasir Robinson. And if he can contribute some points when opportunities present themselves he will be doing enough to help the Panthers win on most nights.
McGhee has been doing just that lately. He has 26 points in the past three games after being held to five points or fewer in four of the first five games.
"I just wasn't finishing strong early on," McGhee said. "I've been in the gym working on it, just keeping after it. [Wednesday night] I came out and finished strong around the basket."
All the talk is of McGhee - and justifiably so - but let's not forget about Nasir Robinson, who quietly had a double-double coming off the bench. Hard to not be impressed with Nas, who looks to have taken his offense to a higher level since coming back from his knee injury.
Ashton Gibbs was Ashton Gibbs shooting the ball to the tune of 22 points.
Things need cleaned up this month, but there's lots of reasons to be optimistic as the non-conference schedule winds down and Big East play begins.
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