MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. – If one thing’s for certain after three games on the 2019-20 season, mark Terrell Brown down as an early candidate for Pitt’s most improved player.
The 6’10 junior center posted eight points, nine rebounds and a career-high five blocks in the Panthers’ 71-57 win over Robert Morris Tuesday night – utilizing his clear side advantage to wreak havoc on the Colonials around the basket. He played a career-high 36 minutes, serving as a key component to the Panthers dominating the second half after another slow start.
“Terrell Brown was really the difference in the game,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said afterward. “His ability to protect the rim and make it hard for our guys to finish around the basket had a huge impact on us offensively.”
The Panthers were tied with Robert Morris at halftime, but began the second half on an 18-7 run to build a sizeable lead that remained intact for good. Robert Morris finished with just 22 of its 57 points in the paint, where Brown’s presence was felt time and time again. It forced Colonials to settle for contested looks on the perimeter, and once their shots stopped falling, they couldn’t match the Panthers’ offensive efficiency led by Trey McGowens.
“Terrell was just a monster tonight,” said Au-diese Toney. “He was cleaning up the glass. He was doing everything — the dirty week. Coach preaches to us that we’ve got to be the guys to do the dirty work. He was the one maintaining that tonight.”
Brown’s communication was what put him in the right positions to be effective.
“I thought one of the reasons he did so well defensively is that I thought he talked,” said Jeff Capel. “With him talking like that, he was in a stance. He was alert. He was able to clean up a lot of stuff at the rim for us. He blocked five, but he probably changed at least three or four more.”
In his first two seasons with the program, Brown wasn’t quite able to put it all together on a consistent basis. There were flashes here and spurts there that reflected a substantial amount untapped potential, but collectively it wasn’t all there. Brown averaged 4.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game as a freshman, and improved those numbers to 5.7 and 4.5, respectively, in 19 minutes-per-game as a sophomore. You can mark an asterisk next to his freshman year considering it was under Kevin Stallings, but even last season, Toney – four inches shorter than Brown’s 6’10 frame – led the team in rebounding over Brown. However, Brown has been a pleasant surprise to begin the 2019-20 campaign. He ended the Florida State win with a team-high 13 points in 22 minutes off the bench, with 11 in the second half and five in the final six minutes of the upset win.
The Panthers will need him to continue building upon his upward trajectory if they’re going to survive a rugged ACC schedule.
“Sometimes it takes guys a little bit longer, and a lot of times it takes big guys longer to figure some thing out,” said Capel. “He doesn’t have it figured out right now, but he’s taking steps to do it and he’s doing a really good job. …He’s put in the time. His play has been the reward for that, but we need him to continue to take steps forward.”