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Pitt notebook: Gilbert's transfer was no shock to Dixon

Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Pitt freshman big man Steven Adams, flanked by teammates Malcolm Gilbert (33) and Aron Nwankwo (15), mugs for the cameras as the team photograph is being taken during the basketball media day at the Petersen Events Center on Thursday October 11, 2012.

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Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 7:50 p.m.

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon downplayed the decision by 6-foot-11 sophomore center Malcolm Gilbert to transfer, saying it didn't come as a surprise.

Dixon said he granted Gilbert a release from his scholarship so he could transfer to Fairfield, where his brother, Marcus, is a 6-6 freshman forward.

“Malcolm, before he ever got here, that was something that we talked about with his dad: Playing with his brother was something he always wanted to do. It was always in the back of their minds,” said Dixon, who planned to redshirt Gilbert this season. “I think it will work out for him. He'll get an opportunity to play next year.”

Dixon also was dismissive of the fact that Gilbert is the third player from the Class of 2011 to transfer. Khem Birch left last December for UNLV, and John Johnson left for Penn State before the start of this season.

“One of the main things is, we followed up that class with a very good recruiting class. That oftentimes has more impact than anything,” Dixon said. “You can't have great class after great class because someone's not going to play.

“We don't want a guy that's not happy not playing.”

Why Tray stayed

Tray Woodall, Pitt's fifth-year senior point guard, said the transfers of Gilbert and Johnson “hasn't affected us at all.”

Woodall told his teammates that patience is a virtue at Pitt, citing how he played 10 games as a freshman before taking a redshirt and started the first 11 games in 2009-10, then watched his minutes dwindle when Jermaine Dixon returned from a foot injury.

Woodall has 55 career starts for the No. 24 Panthers (12-1) entering the Big East opener against No. 8 Cincinnati (12-1) at noon Monday at Petersen Events Center.

“Everybody goes through their own struggles,” Woodall said. “A lot of guys just don't want to wait. They want the opportunity to come in, right then and there, because they feel they're ready. Maybe they are, but if you have patience it will work out because they definitely have a plan for you here. I didn't see it for myself at first. I had to be patient and know that the ultimate goal is winning. No matter how many minutes you play, just make sure you put your imprint on the game when you get in.”

Auld acquaintance be forgot

After missing the 66-63 loss to Cincinnati on New Year's Day last season with an abdominal injury, Woodall said he “can't wait to play” against Bearcats guard Sean Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick, a 6-4 redshirt junior from Yonkers, N.Y., leads Cincinnati in scoring at 18.8 points per game. Woodall, a Brooklyn native, said he has known Kilpatrick “for a long time.”

“He wasn't nowhere near the player he is now,” Woodall said. “He always had size, but a lot of guys doubted him growing up. He definitely used that as hunger to get better, and he definitely got a lot better. He always could shoot. He's just got confidence now.”

Pete celebrates 2 million mark

Fans attending Monday's game against Cincinnati will receive a commemorative item celebrating Pitt surpassing 2 million in attendance in its 11th season at Petersen Events Center. The Panthers eclipsed the mark Dec. 19 against Delaware State.

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7812.

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