Pitt allowed a Notre Dame team that hadn't beaten any team of consequence to shoot 72 percent in the second half Tuesday night en route to a 72-59 victory in the Big East opener at the Joyce Center.
Coach Jamie Dixon was obviously concerned about his team's inability to defend after halftime, but he spent a good portion of his postgame news conference talking about the difficulties he had working Tray Woodall back into the rotation.
Woodall played for the first time in a month, and he struggled. Woodall, who suffered an abdominal tear in the Nov. 20 game versus Duquesne , did not score in 20 minutes.
Dixon likened the situation to the ones he endured when Jermaine Dixon and Levance Fields had injuries that kept them out of the lineup for long stretches a few years back. Pitt did not perform well in their return games, but they managed to get back into the flow in short order.
Dixon is hoping the same will happen this season, too.
"He's obviously not where he needs to be," Dixon said. "We've been in this situation before. I think back to Jermaine and Levance when they were out for long periods of time. I don't know a good way to go about it. We've never had a good performance after bringing a guy back from a long stretch. Doctors told us 20 minutes and we kept it in that vicitny. We just have to go through it. When you're out that long with that type of injury there are not a lot of good tihngs you can do.There is no ideal situation you can come into. I don't think he feels worse, but obviously he was not himself playing out there."
Woodall would not divulge what percentage he played at Tuesday night, but he said he was far from feeling like his normal self.
"I can't even give you a percentage," he said. "I just didn't feel how I wanted to feel."
Woodall sounded as if he might have rushed himself back into the lineup. He said he told Dixon he could play and said it had been hard for him to watch the team struggle against Wagner.
"Me, Nas, Ash, my whole team we went through this summer together, we worked so hard this summer," he said. "For me not to be out there with the guys it was hurting me. I felt like I was able to go. I told coach Dixon I was able to go. Unfortunatley, it just didn't work out for us tonight."
Woodall said he would rest his abdomen in the next couple of days and hopes to be feeling better for the Cincinnati game Sunday night.
Dixon is hoping all it takes is a few games to get him back in the groove.
"I'll have to talk to the doctors," Dixon said. "We didn't know he was going to play until today. It's gone a little longer than we anticipated. There's no good way. We're fitting in a point guard in the middle of the year. I don't know the right way to do it. The best way is not have injuries. I thought he did some good things early. It's just goig to take a few more bangings and getting hit I practice to get through that. That's usually what it takes."
*Ashton Gibbs was 0 for 2 from 3-point range and is 4 for 24 in the past four games.
*Dante Taylor had another underwhelming game. He had four points and four rebounds in only 13 minutes and was clearly outplayed by Notre Dame center Jack Cooley.
*Talib Zanna had his third double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, but Pitt might have won the game – or at the very least – held a bigger lead at halftime if Zanna had made some point-blank layups.
*That's it for now. I'm driving back to Pittsburgh tomorrow so likely no posts until tomorrow night or Thursday.
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