Ahead of Tuesday night’s contest against Duke, Pitt head coach Jeff Capel announced that junior wing Au’Diese Toney will be back on the court for the Panthers as they take on the Blue Devils at 8 p.m. on the ACC Network.
“D’iese is better, he will play,” Capel said on Monday. “He practiced yesterday evening and this morning, so he’ll be available.”
Without Justin Champagnie and Toney on the court for its game against Louisville, Pitt struggled mightily in the rebound department, getting out-rebounded 45-26. Champagnie, out with a knee injury for six to eight weeks, and Toney, who was day-to-day with an ankle injury, both suffered their injuries in practice just days before the game. With Toney back on the court, Pitt will at least get back some help on the glass. Through six games, the 6-foot-6 Huntsville, Alabama native has averaged five boards a game, good for second on the team.
When on the court, Toney undoubtedly makes the Panthers a better team. One of the most improved players the program has seen in recent years, his development has especially stood out this season, his junior year. Toney has averaged 33.8 minutes per game and is without-a-doubt the glue that holds this team together. He is averaging 16.2 points per game on 52.5% from the field as well as 40.9% from 3-point land, a place where he has made some of his biggest strides from last year.
In his sophomore season for the Panthers, Toney shot 32.8% from deep and averaged 9.5 points per game. Coming into this year, he was looked at as one of the best defenders for the Panthers and a third option on the team offensively. However, after the departure of Trey McGowens, Toney emerged as a leader of the team and now is second on the team in points per game, rebounds per game, and 3-point percentage.
After Pitt took down Drexel early on this season, guard Xavier Johnson spoke on how Toney’s junior-season improvement.
“Diese is probably one of the most improved players in the league,” Johnson said. “He puts forth the effort every day.”
Tomorrow night, Toney will look to continue his strong play against the Blue Devils, who he scored 27 points against in last year’s matchup. In that game, Toney shot 11-of-19 from the field including 3-for-4 from deep.