PITTSBURGH — Blake Hinson has been a major contributor for the Panthers all season long, hitting deep three-pointers and bullying defenders inside to average more than 16 points per game.
In Saturday’s win over North Florida, Hinson only attempted two threes, tying his lowest total of the season. He missed both, making it the first time this season that he hasn’t hit a single three in a game. However, Hinson still had one of his sharpest performances of the year in the Panthers’ 82-56 win.
“We were just looking for the best shot, and sometimes that is not always the three ball,” Hinson said.
The Florida native hit eight of his nine two-point field goal attempts, dominating with mid-range jumpers, tip-ins, and overall smart shot selection. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound wing smoothly and calmly pulled up several times within the arc for these comfortable mid-range jumpers, making it look easy throughout the game.
“Just like I said. It was there,” he said about his success in the mid-range. “It was the best shot in some of these cases, so I took it. Thankfully, it went in.”
GREG ELLIOTT IS AN ‘ELITE TEAMMATE’
Greg Elliott’s shooting success continued on Saturday afternoon, as the Marquette transfer nailed three of his four three-point attempts en route to an 11-point performance. Elliott also grabbed a season-high ten rebounds, earning his first double-double in a Pitt uniform. The graduate transfer is now shooting 64% from downtown over his last five games, proving to be an elite talent on the perimeter. However, his head coach Jeff Capel thinks his best attribute has been something other than his shooting.
“Greg is a really, really good teammate,” Capel said after the win. “I think he is an elite teammate. When he joined our program, we knew that he was a good player, we knew that he could shoot the basketball. But again, you don’t really know anyone until you’re with them. You can recruit these guys and think you know them, but until you’re with them, you don’t really know them. He [Elliott] is an even better teammate than I thought. He’s a guy that’s willing to do whatever, and I mean that in a literal sense. Whether its rebound, he’s a really good team defender, he’s a really good leader, he talks, he doesn’t have an ego problem. He has an ego, he thinks he’s good, but he doesn’t have an ego problem. So he has been a joy to have in our program and he’s really helped us in every aspect of becoming a better team.”
Greg with his first double-double of the season 👌
11 pts | 10 reb | 4 ast pic.twitter.com/yzxBWzYHEh
— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_MBB) December 17, 2022
Elliott is now averaging 11 points per game (third on the team) and is shooting 44% from three-point range. He will look to continue his hot streak against Syracuse’s potent 2-3 zone on Dec. 20 in Pitt’s next game.
FEDERIKO CONTINUES NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS
Sophomore big man Federiko Federiko once again set a career high in points on Saturday, scoring 22 on 10-for-14 shooting in Pitt’s win as John Hugley sat out
The Finland native has certainly been a pleasant surprise to Pitt fans this season, as he has now posted three games of at least 13 points, and five games of at least six rebounds. Federiko also swatted away three shots in the win, advancing to seventh in the ACC in blocks per game with an average of 1.7 per game.
“I am just trying to improve my game,” Federiko said after the win. “My coaches, my teammates help me do that. I feel comfortable on the court. That’s probably just it.”
HUGLEY OUT DUE TO PERSONAL REASONS
Last season’s leading scorer John Hugley missed Saturday’s game for Pitt due to personal reasons. Capel explained the decision to rest Hugley after the game.
“He’s fine,” Capel said. “It’s nothing physical, it’s nothing academic, it’s nothing off-the-court, just dealing with some things. We support him, we have his back, and we want to help him.”
Capel also commented on Hugley’s status for Tuesday’s game against Syracuse, saying that he does not know if he will play in that game.
“I don’t know, we’ll see.”
Hugley has played in eight games this season for Pitt and is averaging eight points and 3.6 rebounds per game for the Panthers so far.
DRISCOLL RETURNS TO PITTSBURGH
North Florida head coach — and Pittsburgh native — Matthew Driscoll came home on Saturday to face the Panthers.
Driscoll, from Bellevue, attended Northgate HS and Slipper Rock University before coaching at Northgate and then LaRoche College in Pittsburgh. The Osprey’s leader returned to Pittsburgh in November to take on Duquesne, and now Pitt on Saturday. After the game, he casually dropped “yinz” throughout his press conference and addressed the basketball culture here in the Steel City.
“Growing up, it was always football,” Driscoll said about Pittsburgh. “It was all about football. As I got older, and as I started getting into coaching, basketball really started coming around. Whether it be Dr. [Roy] Chipman, or some of those guys hanging up in those rafters, and then you look at what Jamie did and the consistency that he had as well too. He had it going, and the NCAA Tournaments, and you look at the banners.”
Driscoll added that he took his team to Primanti Bros. to eat on Thursday and will take them to Mineo’s after the game on Saturday.
“To me, I think it’s grown and grown,” he continued on about the hoops culture. “It’s not just a football town anymore. I think, in my opinion, this is just my opinion, I think Jeff is back at that place where he’s got a team that can really compete in the ACC, and he has the ability.”