PITTSBURGH — Pitt guard Au’Diese Toney and forward Terrell Brown are both questionable to play in Saturday’s game against Syracuse, head coach Jeff Capel announced on Thursday.
Toney, who has a right hand injury, did not play in Pitt’s loss at Clemson on Tuesday, while Brown, who has strep throat, played just four minutes.
“[Brown] didn’t practice [Thursday],” Capel said. “We’ll have a better idea [Friday]. We’ll see how he feels. [Toney] has not practiced. We’ll evaluate him [Friday]. Hopefully, he’s able to practice and we’ll see.”
Brown and Toney have been two of Pitt’s leading rebounders, with Toney pacing the Panthers at 6.0 rebounds per game and Brown right behind him with 4.9 rebounds per game.
Their absence against Clemson forced Capel into playing a much smaller lineup, with players like Malik Ellison and Jared Wilson-Frame filling in at the five spot at times. Kene Chukwuka and Samson George also played a good bit, but it was the smaller lineup that provided much of the second-half spark Pitt showed against the Tigers.
For a team that Capel has criticized for inconsistent effort over its four-game losing streak, that might not be the worst thing.
“It kinda gets me even more amped up, because you know you have to go that much harder, because you are shorthanded, vertically,” Wilson-Frame said. “When we have those short lineups in, we can be a little bit more aggressive on defense, because now, we’re switching everything. We can be up in passing lanes and we can be a bit more aggressive trying to apply pressure.”
Of course, even with Brown and Toney, the Panthers will be undersized compared to 7-foot-2 Syracuse center Pascal Chukwu. Pitt managed to out-rebound Syracuse, 39-30, in the first meeting between the teams.