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Five Takeaways: Mo Gueye Looking Like the Most Versatile Player on Pitt’s Team



PITTSBURGH — While it was just an exhibition contest, Monday night’s victory for Pitt basketball further advanced a point that most people have been posing for months: watch out for Mo Gueye on this year’s Pitt team.

The 6-foot-10 forward came into Pitt with relatively high expectations from the public, but nothing too crazy. People spoke of how he was the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the America East, but that does not mean he can compete in the ACC.

While Gueye has still not yet played in an ACC game, and while he has just played in one scrimmage, he is looking like the most versatile player on this Pitt squad.

“Well I thought he was a really talented man, can’t say young kid with him,” Jeff Capel said about Gueye, laughing. “I thought he was a really talented guy, Obviously the thing that stood out was defense. He can block shots, his ability to impact shots. You had this long athlete, who, at times made these “wow” plays, and we thought with his length, his versatility, especially defensively we thought we would really be able to help our team.”

Gueye was all over the place during the exhibition win over Gannon, scoring 17 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and blocking 4 shots, all without a turnover to his name. He ran the floor like a guard, getting to where he wanted to go on the block, beyond the arch, and on defense. The question for Gueye is whether or not he will be able to keep up the production when the competition increases. However, he certainly looks like he can handle it.

“We got him, and we felt like once we started working with him, he was a little bit better offensively. And he has really put in a lot of work on that side of it. Being stronger, playing stronger, all of those things. So, yeah, he is a good player and we need him to continue to get better for us.”

Femi Odukale: Team Captain?

In the game against Gannon, sophomore Femi Odukale led the team 20 points while also grabbing seven rebounds. The Brooklyn native made six of his ten shots from the field, went 1 for 2 from three-point range, and drained 7 of his 9 free-throw attempts.

Now, everyone around the Pitt program has seen Odukale’s skill set on the court before. However, his leadership is something that has turned heads so far this season.

“It is impressive because he’s only a sophomore, and technically this would be his first year, since last year was COVID,” said teammate Mo Gueye. “But I can see him being a team captain, if I am being honest. He is really vocal. He is a funny guy. The jokester of the team that just makes everybody laugh. But he really looks out for everybody. Makes sure everyone’s morale is high, you know, he’s always looking out for everybody. In terms of being a leader, he is one of our biggest leaders.”

If Odukale keeps up his strong start on the floor and continues to bring the team together off it, Pitt basketball will be in good hands for years to come.

Pitt Needs Sibande, Burton Back ASAP

A few weeks back, Pitt guard Jamarius Burton underwent a successful knee procedure, one that would sideline him for the next 4-6 weeks. Fast forward to almost four weeks later, and Burton is progressing well, said Capel, but is not back quite yet. At the moment, it is looking like he will be out for at least the Panthers’ first game of the season.

In Monday’s contest, guard Nike Sibande was added to the list alongside Burton after he injured his knee during the first half.

“Not sure of the status of Nike’s injury yet,” Jeff Capel said after the exhibition. “Hopefully we will know a little bit more tomorrow. Certainly that’s a blow for us. Depending on what happens, it could be an opportunities for others to step up.”

Nike Sibande Leaves Exhibition Game With Knee Injury; Status Unknown

“He said that he, earlier, he banged knees,” Capel continued. “He went knee-to-knee with someone and then tried to play through it. And then when he went on the under out of bounds to receive the pass, he came to a jump stop and his knee gave out.”

If this Pitt team wants to show improvement from last year and have a solid season this year, it is going to need all the help it can get, especially from such savvy veteran players like Burton and Sibande.

Payton, Collier, and Oladapo Quiet on Offense

Ithiel Horton led the team with 31:06 of playing time, something that is not very surprising considering he was a starter last year and that he shot the ball pretty well this game.

However, three players who many thought would contribute a lot to this Pitt team – Chris Payton, Dan Oladapo, and Noah Collier – all did not play more than ten minutes.

For these three to crack the rotation, they are going to have to score the ball when they get the chance to get in. Payton scored two points and grabbed three rebounds. Collier was 0 for 2 on offense and scored two from free throws. Oladapo the same: 0 for 2 with two free throws for two points.

These guys who are fighting for a role have all been solid on defense, and are going to have to step up their offensive efficiency if they want to win the roles.

William Jeffress is Almost There

Jeffress started out slow in this one. By halftime, tweets were already being thrown out, criticizing his lack of development offensively. However, he found something, he found aggression, in the second half.

The young sophomore started it off with a put-back dunk, followed shortly after by a three-pointer. He also had an assist on a key three-pointer by Mo Gueye, and after the bucket Jeffress celebrated like it was an NCAA Tournament game. You could see the intensity in his eyes, and you could see the aggression, the competitiveness.

He finished with eight points and five rebounds, going 3 for 9 from the floor. If Jeffress, a strong defender with untapped potential on offense, wants to keep a large role on this team, he is going to have to continue to find that aggression as the season goes on.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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2 years ago

Let’s not forget that Jeffress should be a freshman this year. He still has a ton of upside.

2 years ago

Once these guys start to click, they will make some noise in the ACC. Hope injuries are at a minimum. Get well Nike ….

Paul mcgrath
Paul mcgrath
2 years ago

Jeffress is going to be a star, let’s just hope it clicks this year. If he can gain confidence early then it will be a really good year for him and Pitt.

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