No. 10 Pitt opens with 89-56 romp over Albany
Pittsburgh guard Travon Woodall would prefer to go by ”Tray”
If he keeps shooting the way he did in the 10th-ranked Panthers’
89-56 win over Albany on Friday, ”Trey” might be more
Woodall scored 25 points on 5-of-7 3-point shooting, taking some
of the heat off star teammate Ashton Gibbs as Pitt remained
unbeaten in nine season openers under coach Jamie Dixon.
”I felt good, I’m working on something, working on my shot,”
Woodall said. ”I know a lot of guys will be keying on
The Great Danes included.
Albany spent all week trying to find ways to slow down Gibbs,
the preseason Big East Player of the Year. He still scored 21
points, though it was the superb play of his backcourt mate that
”Halfway through that game I thought Gibbs was wearing
(Woodall’s number) the way Woodall shot the ball,” Albany coach
Will Brown said.
Woodall’s previous career-high was 19 points against Wichita
State two years ago as a freshman. He’s spent much of the last two
seasons trying to get the ball to his more heralded teammates.
Yet the Panthers are rebuilding a bit in the frontcourt, meaning
they will have to rely on Woodall and Gibbs if they want to repeat
as Big East regular-season champions.
The duo appears up to the task, looking for each other regularly
on a night when Pitt’s 15th straight season opening win was never
The Panthers needed all of 5 minutes to open a 10-point lead,
the advantage quickly ballooning to 24 before Albany could catch
”We thought if we could do a decent job on Gibbs we’d be OK
because I thought Pitt would need time to find a second scorer,”
Brown said. ”I thought it might be (Lamar) Patterson. It might be
Even if Woodall arrived at the Petersen Events Center a little
later than usual. He put the blame on teammate and roommate Dante
Maybe Woodall should make showing up a little late a habit. He
wasted no time getting going against Albany. His first 3-pointer of
the game put Pitt up 20-8 and he just kept going.
When Woodall and Gibbs weren’t shooting, they were setting each
other up. Woodall finished with 10 assists while Gibbs had a
career-high seven, consistently finding open teammates whenever the
Great Danes threw two or sometimes three defenders in his path.
”I was trying to create for myself, create for others as
well,” Gibbs said. ”At the end of the day I was penetrating and I
passed the ball. It was nothing out of the ordinary and my
teammates knocked down shots.”
Gerardo Suero led Albany with 17 points and Logan Aronhalt added
13 points and five rebounds but the Great Danes were never in it
even though Pitt played without sophomore forward J.J. Moore, who
suspended for one game for playing in an unsupervised summer league
For one game, the Panthers didn’t need him.
”We came out on offense I thought very good for a first game,”
Forward Nasir Robinson showed no ill effects from a knee injury
that limited him during the preseason, finishing with eight points
and three rebounds in 23 effective minutes.
Freshman forward Khem Birch, just the sixth McDonald’s
All-America to play at Pitt, had a so-so debut, missing his one
shot from the field but making two free throws to go with three
rebounds in 17 minutes.
The Great Danes were coming off a breakthrough season under
Brown. Albany went 16-16, a nine-win improvement off the season
before. The Great Danes return four starters and are picked to
finish fourth in the American East.
Yet they have been hit with injuries during preseason and it
showed. Forward Luke Devlin didn’t play for four months after
undergoing back surgery and had just two points and two rebounds in
26 minutes. Center John Puk had an infection in his shin earlier in
the week and went scoreless in 13 minutes.
”Those two guys are key to what we need to do,” Brown said.
”We got rattled early because I thought our perimeter guys would
be fine. But it’s the opener and they don’t lose in this
Pitt has won 15 straight season openers dating to 1997 and
remained unbeaten at the Petersen Events Center against
nonconference opponents in November and December.
”We ran into a good team, a physical team,” Brown said. ”If
they shoot that well we don’t have a right being in the game with