Through eight games, Pitt stands at 6-2 with three road wins. In what most would consider an encouraging start to the season, the Panthers have looked to their big three of Au’Diese Toney, Justin Champagnie, and Xavier Johnson to provide leadership.
However, in Wednesday’s comeback victory against Syracuse, there was another veteran, another leader that stepped up.
“I think the game started to change when we put our senior leader in, Terrell Brown,” said Ithiel Horton on ACC Network’s Packer and Durham. “He came in and really gave us a good boost on the offensive end.”
Packer & Durham ft. Ithiel Horton 🎥 pic.twitter.com/jEbldlrRof
— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_MBB) January 7, 2021
With center John Hugley out for the game due to COVID-19 protocols, Brown had an opportunity to contribute, and he did just that. Brown played undoubtedly his best game of the season in the Carrier Dome, scoring eight points in 21 minutes.
“I thought the other guy that was really, really good for us was Terrell Brown,” head coach Jeff Capel said. “He’s been such an interesting case, an interesting guy this year because he has been a part of some huge wins for us and played well when he hadn’t played as much. But, he’s kept a great attitude. He’s shown up everyday and he has worked his butt off. I think because of that, he played so well this evening.”
Two of his eight points came from a thunderous dunk off a beautiful alley-oop assist from Johnson down the stretch. This cut the deficit to just three points with less than three minutes remaining, and, as Johnson said postgame, was not out of the ordinary for Brown.
“That was big, that was big,” Johnson said. “I’ve always known T to be doing that for the last two years that we played Syracuse. He always plays well when we play Syracuse.”
In last year’s contest against the Orange on Jan. 25, Brown scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 28 minutes. After that game, Brown spoke on how he had worked on improving his game inside and how catching alley-oops had become a big part of his repertoire.
“It’s never easy,” he said about playing Jim Boeheim’s squad. “I can’t piggyback off of what I did last year, because that was a different team. One thing you know is they are long and athletic.”
Although that was, like Brown said, a different team, in Wednesday’s game the lob was once again one of the key plays that beat the zone.
“I worked on my body a lot in the offseason, the athleticism and changing my body so the lobs can be a big part of my game,” he said almost a year ago. “I’ll be able to tell the guards just throw it over them and I’ll catch it.”
Brown, a Providence, Rhode Island native, has had a very interesting career with the Panthers. Through his first three seasons in Pittsburgh, he was a role player, averaging five points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. Clearly, not a stat-sheet stuffer.
Known for his shot-blocking ability, Brown owns the single game blocks record for Pitt. Back in the 2018-19 season, he rejected nine shots against Colgate in a 68-54 win for the Panthers to write his name in the record books.
In the 2019-20 season, Brown started 12 games for the Panthers, while appearing in all 33 games. This season, his role has decreased, in large part due to the emergence of Abdoul Karim Coulibaly on the defensive end and the arrival of highly touted freshman Hugley on the inside.
Brown has appeared in seven games this season, coming off the bench in each one. He is averaging 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in eight minutes per game, and nine of his 16 rebounds on the season have been offensive, something the Panthers have excelled at as a team.
Brown will look to make another big impact inside when the Panthers take on Georgia Tech on Jan. 13 on ACC Network.