August 29, 2009

Oh, Gilbert. Why? Do you not understand the expectations upon you? You were to be the latest at Pitt to make a stunning leap from your sophomore to junior year. Like Sam Young before you and Aaron Gray before him. It was all lined up for you. Moving to the starting rotation. One of the players expected to be the team leaders. Healthy and knowing it was your chance.

And now? You have put yourself at risk of being Wally Pipped. What happened?

Pitt’s most experienced men’s basketball player will miss the first half of the season on academic suspension.

Redshirt junior Gilbert Brown, who was expected to be the starting small forward for the Panthers, will miss at least the first 11 games after he was suspended from the university last night.

Brown, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound native of Harrisburg who has played in 72 career games for the Panthers, will be eligible to rejoin the team Dec. 20.

Brown has had a team-first attitude that got him the team’s “Coaches Award” after the 2007-08 season. At the end of this season you won the “Academic Excellence Award.” Are you trying to make a mockery of the sanctity that envelops team awards?

Well, it definitely lowers expectations to start the season.

Brown is expected to enroll at the end of the fall term and could be eligible to rejoin the Panthers Dec. 20. In that case, he would miss Pitt’s first 11 games – including the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic in Kansas City and Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden – but could return in time for the beginning of Big East Conference play.

The 6-foot-6, 200-pound redshirt junior small forward from Harrisburg was expected to play a pivotal role for the Panthers, who lost four starters from their Elite Eight team that finished 31-5. Pitt’s lone returning starter, senior guard Jermaine Dixon, is out until mid-September with a foot injury.

The game against Wichita State was no gimme in the CBE, but it becomes even more difficult to haveĀ  a chance at Texas.

What the loss of Brown does, is it opens the door for two players in particular at the spot. Sophomore Nasir Robinson and freshman Lamar Patterson will have more opportunities to play early.

More likely, it means Pitt could go with a 3-guard lineup a lot more frequently. Brad Wanamaker playing as a wing guard, or Pitt could go very small at times up front with a mix of guards Chase Adams, Jermaine Dixon, Travon Woodall and Ashton Gibbs. In some cases extremely small and perimeter based if Adams, Woodall and Gibbs were out there together — spread the floor and get the open 3?

Well, the basketball team this offseason was being too positive I guess. This is a big slap of reality in the face.

Can’t say I’m happy about this, but what I saw at Greentree this summer makes me much less worried about it.

Gilbert wasn’t going to make some quantum leap this year (a la Young or Gray)……which is really disappointing, but it’s reality. Sure, when healthy he has some pretty unique athletic skills, but he’s about 24 yrs old, he’s hurt all the time and he doesn’t come close to dominating in SUMMER LEAGUE. (The shot’s never going to be consistent and he’s only valuable in transition……his halfcourt game has never developed. In a pick-up game, I’d take Robinson over him every time, because “the Mullah” would give me a better chance to win.)

I’m sure he’ll come back on schedule, and he’ll play an important role on the team this year, but this isn’t the tragedy everybody will try to make it out to be.

Comment by hugh green 08.29.09 @ 11:06 am

[…] …You may also know this man as the guy that Scottie elevated over for the game winning shot in Boston last year…for more on the suspension, check out Pitt Blather’s reaction… […]

Brown is a great on the ball defensive player and an okay rebounder, but I agree with Hugh, he wasn’t going to make a Young or Gray type leap. He just doesn’t have the craftiness or confidence of Sam Young (work ethic either) and isn’t 7 ft. tall like Gray. Nasir has shown some real basketball savvy, even in the limited minutes he got last year. I look for him to really step up with this opportunity. By the way, great nickname, “the Mullah”. Patterson will have to play a role now, and he has a much better looking perimeter jump shot.

Brown needs to get his academics in order and be an athletic role player on steroids in the second half of the season.

Comment by Omar 08.29.09 @ 8:25 pm

I can’t take credit for the nickname… of my buddies started calling Nasir that last year and I can’t get it out of my head. Glad you liked it, hope we can spread it.

Comment by hugh green 08.30.09 @ 4:27 pm

[…] fits. You have three starters in Fields, Young and Blair gone. The top reserve player, Biggs gone. Gilbert Brown suspended until late December. Lots of youth on the team. Now Jermaine Dixon has a setback that keeps him […]

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