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Blake Hinson Not Focused on Former Team in Preparation For Round of 64

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Blake Hinson meets his former team in the Iowa Cyclones Friday in the First Round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, but he isn’t placing any of his attention on the past. 

“I’m just ready to play my next game in March Madness, and I’m focused on winning,” Hinson said. 

Hinson began his college career at Ole Miss for two seasons before transferring to Iowa State. He did not participate during the 2020-21 season due to a non-Covid-19 related medical condition and left the team prior to the 2021-22 campaign, missing two seasons before landing at Pitt.

The junior guard said he had no reaction when he saw Iowa State would be the opponent if Pitt advanced past the First Four and “would rather not say” the reasoning behind leaving the program. 

“I love it here,” Hinson said. “This is my favorite location I’ve ever been. H2P.”

Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger believes both ISU and Hinson have moved past the matter and see both sides finding success.

“Blake is a terrific young man, and he signed up to play for the coach prior to us,” Otzelberger said. “I think it’s something where he felt like it wasn’t the best fit for him, and I think both sides have done right with it.”

It’s neat to see Blake continue to play well and elevate his game, and at the same time, you know, we’re proud of where we’re at with our program.

“It’s one of those situations where I think everybody wants to make something out of it, and at the end there’s a young man who is playing really well on an NCAA tournament team, and then it’s our group that’s playing well also. So, everybody came out okay in that situation.”

Pittsburgh Panthers forward Blake Hinson (2) January 3, 2023 David Hague/PSN

Otzelberger harped on a similar topic various coaches addressed before facing Pitt this season, the challenge of facing a veteran presence throughout the roster. 

“Yeah, they’re a really good basketball team, and they’re playing well. They’ve continued to elevate their play later in the season,” Otzelberger said. “They’re a team that with those veteran players, you can see that experience come out, especially later in games. They’ve been fortunate to win some close ones because of it. So just a really experienced group that’s playing for one another and a lot of respect for them and their program.”

Jeff Capel said he has not addressed Hinson regarding the Cyclones and is focused on the task at hand. 

“When you are in the midst of it and you are still going, you focus on the next thing that’s in front of you. You know, one of the things I’ve talked about is right now we have to remove all the rearview mirrors,” Capel said. “We’re just looking straight out the front and what’s ahead of us. When we’re finished, and hopefully it’s a while before we’re finished, then we’ll have time to look behind us and really, you know, talk about what we’ve accomplished.”

He is not trying to individualize the matchup and garner attention away from what matters most.

“For us, it’s Pitt against Iowa State. It’s not Blake against Iowa State or Iowa State against Blake,” Capel said. “They have an outstanding team.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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