Pitt won't pressure 1 player to replace injured Johnson
ATLANTA — When Jamie Dixon learned Durand Johnson was lost for the rest of the season with a knee injury, the Pitt coach didn't want to put pressure on one player.
Johnson, a redshirt sophomore small forward, tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee in the second half Saturday against Wake Forest.
The injury was a setback for Pitt, which returned to the national rankings Monday at No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches poll and No. 22 in the Associated Press poll.
The Panthers played at Georgia Tech at 9 p.m. Tuesday at McCamish Pavilion, and visit No. 2 Syracuse on Saturday.
Dixon downplayed the desire for someone to step into Johnson's role as sixth man and 3-point ace, noting that no one needs to change their game.
“The four freshmen are going to be playing more, given the situation,” Dixon said. “They don't have to change what they're doing. What they're doing is fine. They'll be out there longer, for longer periods of time, but no one has to reinvent themselves.”
Redshirt freshman Chris Jones (2.6 points per game) and newcomers Mike Young (6.1), Jamel Artis (4.7) and Josh Newkirk (3.8) should benefit from increased playing time, depending on whether Pitt wants to employ a guard-oriented lineup or go big with more forwards.
“All of the articles will talk about who's got to do this with the scoring, this and that,” Dixon said. “The minutes are going to come to certain guys, and they don't have to change their game or do anything different.”
Dixon is more concerned about whether his freshmen can replace the energy and enthusiasm Johnson brought to the team in practice and to games.
The Pitt coach said he is hoping Johnson's mere presence can have a positive effect on the Panthers.
“Durand is a talker in practice — in a good way,” Dixon said. “He's positive, he brings energy on the bench. Those are the things that I know he's going to continue to do but we need to have on the floor.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.