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Pitt

Pitt freshman guard Marcus Carr is bright spot amid tough season

Jerry DiPaola
| Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, 6:54 p.m.
Pitt's Marcus Carr scores past Towson's Eddie Keith II in the second half Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt's Marcus Carr scores past Towson's Eddie Keith II in the second half Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 at Petersen Events Center.
Pitt's Marcus Carr hit a three point shot to tie Towson in the second half Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 at Petersen Events Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt's Marcus Carr hit a three point shot to tie Towson in the second half Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 at Petersen Events Center.

Point guard Marcus Carr hates losing as much as anyone, but he has learned a valuable lesson in his freshman season at Pitt.

Instead of hanging your head and feeling sorry for yourself, it's best to go straight to the video and see what went wrong.

“He's a student of the game,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “He wants to see his film after the game. He wants to see his mistakes, and he wants to learn and grow. It's important to him. He doesn't want to let his teammates or his coaches down.”

Combined with the anticipated growth of his current teammates and the emergence of Malik Ellison, who is sitting out this season after transferring from St. John's, Carr gives Stallings hope for next season and beyond.

“He has a lot of upside and a lot of room to grow, which makes it even more exciting,” Stallings said.

But why wait? Pitt (8-16, 0-11 ACC) has at least eight games left this season, and Carr might be the Panthers' best hope for winning one or two. The next opportunity is Thursday at No. 16 Clemson (19-4, 8-3).

Carr, who was unavailable to comment for this story, has scored 52 points with 24 assists over the past three games — Syracuse and visits to Miami and North Carolina. He has improved his game while getting accustomed to the pace and grind of the ACC.

It hasn't been easy for Pitt's youngest player, who is four months shy of his 19th birthday.

“It's been a process,” Stallings said. “Early in league play, he couldn't do some of the same things he could do in non-league play and then he lost a little bit of confidence.

“Now, he's working his way back and making the easy plays and making the right plays most of the time, taking the right shots and the ball is starting to go in for him again.”

Carr, who leads Pitt's active players in minutes per game (29.5), has used that time to gain an overall perspective of not just his position, but what others need to do.

“He's one of those guys who understands not only his position, but he understands other positions,” Stallings said. “He sees when something breaks down, why it breaks down and, much like a coach, he has a feel for what's supposed to happen, why it's supposed to happen and when it doesn't happen what the cause and effect is.”

Meanwhile, Carr has kept his own game at a high level, averaging 11 points and 4.3 assists (ninth in the ACC) while shooting 84.5 percent from the free-throw line (seventh).

“Most college players and most of our players, they're just playing, but Marcus has that instinct and that knowledge of what's supposed to be going on in a very advanced way for a guy his age,” Stallings said.

Perhaps there will be enough talent in the future where Carr won't need to be the only facilitator.

“Marcus is a guy who can play off the ball,” Stallings said. “As we continue to add players to our program, some of those ball-handling responsibilities could be a little more evenly distributed. It would be nice to take the load off him sometimes.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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