Report card: Panthers flop following Florida State win


Carolyn Pallof | Staff Photographer

The Panthers lost their first game of the season to Nicholls State 75-70 Saturday.

By Michael Elesinmogun, Staff Writer

The Panthers lost their first game of the season to Nicholls State 75-70 Saturday. After opening their season with a statement win over conference foe Florida State earlier in the week, the Panthers earned a failing grade for their disappointing and inexplicable loss to the Colonels this past weekend.

Team Grade: D

The Panthers lost some momentum after a deflating performance against Nicholls State following such a positive step forward against Florida State. Offensively, it seems like only Ryan Murphy can find any rhythm. The Colonels’ double team stumped Pitt’s ball handlers and led to 21 turnovers. Defensively, head coach Jeff Capel started in a 2-3 zone and adjusted too late to the Nicholls State shooters — who expertly counteracted the zone defense.

Terrell Brown

Grade: A- 

Brown had a second-straight strong game with eight points, five rebounds and five blocks in 28 minutes. He was critical in Pitt’s last-ditch effort to steal a win and earned the right to enter the starting lineup beginning Tuesday due to his steady play on both ends of the floor. The only thing that needs work is his assertiveness on offense. He should feel free to call for the ball more often, given his efficient shooting around the rim.

Ryan Murphy

Grade: B+

Ryan Murphy led all scorers with 28 points on an efficient 59% shooting from the field and 57% from three. Murphy also impressed on defense, tallying two steals and five rebounds. He has been Pitt’s best player so far, and was asked to take on an even larger role on Saturday with sophomore guard Xavier Johnson in foul trouble. His scoring is commendable, but he was also responsible for a team-high five turnovers on Saturday, a figure he called “unacceptable.”

Au’Diese Toney

Grade: C

After a disastrous showing in the opener against Florida State, Toney showed improvement against Nicholls State. He had nine rebounds and was all over the court defensively. But with a critical turnover in the last 30 seconds and glaring offensive struggles, he can’t earn higher than a C.

Justin Champagnie

Grade: C

Champagnie couldn’t find his shot like he did against Florida State, but got to the free throw line four times and recorded two blocks. He has confirmed Capel’s insistence that he will play a key role off the bench for this year’s Panthers. 

Gerald Drumgoole Jr.

Grade: D

Drumgoole is a first-year who looked lost through his first two games. He has struggled, but he deserves some time to adjust to Division 1’s speed and physicality. On Saturday, Drumgoole only played 13 minutes — and was largely uninvolved. A starting role may be too much for him, so expect him to be relegated to a reserve role, with Murphy earning more starter’s minutes.

Trey McGowens

Grade: D

With sophomore guard Xavier Johnson in early foul trouble, McGowens was thrust into the role of point guard. That experiment did not work out well for the Panthers, as McGowens recorded four turnovers to only two assists. And, like many of his teammates, he was cold from 3-point distance on Saturday, going 0-4.

Xavier Johnson

Grade: D-

Just like McGowens, Johnson will also want to leave this game in the past. Defensively, Johnson was not able to keep his hands to himself and earned early foul trouble, leading to extended stints on the bench. But even on the court he struggled to handle the ball and score at the All-ACC level he did last year.

Eric Hamilton

Grade: F 

Hamilton has been a disappointment through his two games with the Panthers. Against Nicholls State, the 6-foot-9-inch big man had only three points and two rebounds in eight minutes and his F grade is largely due to his pair of turnovers. As a big man, Hamilton is not a primary ball handler, so to lose two possessions and not have another memorable impact on the game is troublesome. After starting against both Nicholls and Florida State, don’t be surprised to see Hamilton also take a backseat to Terrell Brown, who has made a strong case in favor of regaining his starting center role from last year.