Pitt head coach Jeff Capel was mum about the availability of junior wing Malik Ellison for Tuesday’s game at Boston College, saying that he didn’t know whether Ellison will be able to suit up against the Eagles or if he will miss his second straight game with an injury.
“We’re still not sure, still uncertain if he’s going to be able to play,” Capel said during Monday’s ACC coaches teleconference. “He wasn’t able to do much in practice [Sunday]. We’ll probably have a better idea [Monday] evening or after shoot around [Tuesday].”
Capel and Pitt have also been uncharacteristically mum about the nature of Ellison’s injury, twice calling it “undisclosed.” He showed no outward signs of injury while watching Pitt’s loss to NC State on Saturday, the Panthers’ seventh straight setback.
Ellison has averaged 6.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in 22.3 minutes per game this season, his first with the Panthers after sitting out 2017-18 due to NCAA transfer rules. He has started 16 games.
Without Ellison, senior guard Sidy N’Dir slid into a starting role against the Wolfpack, giving Pitt its smallest starting five of the season with N’Dir, Xavier Johnson and Trey McGowens all listed at 6-foot-3.
The small lineup didn’t last long, though, as both Johnson and McGowens landed in early foul trouble. Johnson played 24 minutes and McGowens 17 minutes, both far below their average.
Pitt has had a fairly significant run of poor health lately. In addition to Ellison’s absence, Capel said freshman wing Au’Diese Toney and junior forward Kene Chukwuka had been sick in advance of the NC State game
Despite his illness, Toney played a full workload for the first time in four games after missing one contest and being hobbled in two more with a right hand injury. In the game Toney missed — Pitt’s loss at Clemson on Jan. 29 — sophomore forward Terrell Brown played just four minutes, as he was battling a strep infection.
Pitt’s opponent on Tuesday night is banged up, as well. The Eagles lost forward Nik Popovic during their loss to Syracuse on Saturday with a concussion. His status has not been updated by the school. Forward Steffon Mitchell also left that game, with a quad injury. He eventually returned to the game.
The Panthers and Eagles will tip off at 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.