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Pitt going back to its PG roots with Tray Woodall


Mike Miller

Pitt is done pretending Ashton Gibbs is a point guard. It’s now Tray Woodall’s time.

Not that Gibbs – perhaps the Big East’s best player – is going anywhere. He’s simply no longer listed as the de-facto point guard. The Panthers are focused on having the 6-2 senior score doing what he does best: run off screens and shoot. (Besides, most know Brad Wanamaker ran the Pitt offense the last two years).

That leaves Woodall, a redshirt junior who used to go by Travon, to assume a more prominent role and finally start after years of serving as one of the Panthers’ top bench players. And unlike other star Pitt point guards from the past such as Carl Krauser, Levance Fields and the superb Brandin Knight, Woodall won’t be one of the Panthers’ main scoring options.

He’s here to run the show and play defense. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

For the past two seasons, Pitt ran its offense without the typical pass-first point guard. Gibbs, one of the country’s top shooters, was called the point guard, but he was the team’s leading scorer and top 3-point shooter. Wanamaker, who graduated after last season, was the main facilitator in the offense.

“Tray is back in the mold of Levance and Brandin, guys who are pass first and look for assists,” [Pitt assistant Pat] Sandle said. “It comes naturally to him. Because Ashton is such a dynamic shooter we didn’t want to take that away from him. We want him to concentrate on moving without the ball and getting his shots. Tray can get into the gaps and make plays. Traditionally, that’s what we’re looking for.”

Indeed, the Panthers are usually one of the better passing teams, as denoted by this consistently good ARate. But Pitt doesn’t expect Woodall to be an offensive liability.

The 5-11 guard boosted his scoring efficiency last season despite shooting 29 percent from beyond the arc. That could change thanks to an offseason spent what Woodall says shooting “thousands of shots daily” and the increased confidence that comes with it.

Besides, he’ll probably have open looks with teams keying on Gibbs and Panthers big men Dante Taylor, Talib Zanna and Khem Birch down low. (Not to mention Nasir Robinson.)

Howver, All he’s really focused on is winning.

“When Levance was here he would pass on open shots to get his teammates better shots, try to make plays. Levance had it in his mind that he would lead the Big East and the NCAA in assists. He had that goal. Brandin had the same game plan. Some guys would just rather be pass-first type of point guards,” Sandle told the paper.” With Tray, he goes back and forth on it. As long as he does the other things for us to win, that’s fine.”

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