Gorman: Pitt's Woodall prepares to join 1,000-point club
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Tray Woodall wasn't keeping track of his career point total until he started closing in on joining Pitt's 1,000-point club.
Now, Woodall is well aware that he needs 11 points — just a fraction above his scoring average — to become the 41st player in school history to reach the milestone.
The only thing the 6-foot fifth-year senior point guard wants to do more than score his 1,000th point Saturday at Cincinnati is to do so in a victory. It would mark the Panthers' 100th victory in games in which he has played during the past five seasons.
“Your name can go down in the history books, but you're known for winning,” Woodall said. “I know there's a lot of critics who didn't think I was capable of some of the things that I've done. I even think some of the things I've done flew under the radar, and I probably won't get credit for it. But as long as we win, my individual accomplishments don't even matter to me. People can still, to this day, tell me all the things that I haven't done. But as long as we win, we can talk about all the things we've done as a team.”
What Woodall has done individually is impressive given the way his career started. He played the first 10 games of the 2008-09 season before a knee injury forced a redshirt. He started the first 11 games the next season but saw his playing time reduced by a third when starter Jermaine Dixon returned from an injury.
Woodall says he heard talk at the time that he should transfer. That's when the Brooklyn, N.Y., native, whose mother, Theresa Ratliff, is a recovering alcoholic who lives in the Paterson, N.J., projects, leaned on his personal motto: Tough times don't last. Tough people do.
“Once you hack it out, at the end the success is much greater and the taste is much sweeter,” Woodall said. “This is fun for me right now.”
Woodall waited three seasons to take over the point for the Panthers, but it wasn't until he missed 11 games with an abdominal injury last season and the majority of the Marquette game with a concussion Jan. 12 that Pitt fans learned to value Woodall's worth.
“People didn't appreciate how much every team needs an experienced point guard,” Woodall said. “Honestly, I think last year they gained a great appreciation for me in my absence.”
Even so, Woodall is fueled by his failings. He dwelled on missing the front end of one-and-ones with Pitt trailing by three in the final minute in losses to Cincinnati and Louisville.
“I'm a senior who's been here for a long time,” Woodall said. “I'm supposed to knock down shots like that, so it was frustrating. I definitely want the ball in those last moments. I'm that confident.”
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon certainly noticed, as he called Woodall's number when the Panthers needed a big basket at Providence.
Woodall delivered in the final minute, just as he did against Syracuse, when he sank four free throws in the final 1:08, and Seton Hall, with a layup and five free throws in the final 50 seconds.
Dixon notes this about Woodall: His shooting percentage has improved to 48.3 percent, including 37.5 percent on 3-pointers, in Big East play; his assist-to-turnover ratio (2.62) ranks third in the league and 20th nationally; and his improved defense corresponds with Pitt winning six of seven.
“He's improved a lot, there's no question about it,” Dixon said. “He's been around a lot of wins. He's obviously been a big factor for us when we didn't have him last year and didn't have him against Marquette this year. But that's how point guards are.”
As point guards go, Woodall has learned from two of Pitt's best. Assistant coach Brandin Knight, the school's all-time assists leader, preached ball security. Predecessor Levance Fields told Woodall to make every possession count.
Soon, Woodall will rank among Pitt's most accomplished point guards. He can become the seventh player in school history to score 1,000 points and dish 500 assists — he already has 544 — and is on pace to finish among the top five.
“It's an honor to be mentioned with those names, the guys who paved the way for point guards at Pitt,” Woodall said. “They were pushing me every day. Eventually I was going to find my own way.”
Who knew it would lead to a place in Pitt's record books?
Show commenting policy
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 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.
- Steelers stalled by Seahawks, on outside of AFC wild-card picture
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger reported symptoms that led to his exit vs. Seahawks
- Rossi: It’s past time for NFL to protect players
- Family of man accused of shooting St. Clair officer say allegations don’t fit his character
- Steelers notebook: Seahawks’ Sherman gets better of WR Brown
- Week 12 — Steelers-Seahawks gameday grades
- Steelers players say they support Tomlin’s attempts at deception
- Muslim civil rights group seeks investigation into shooting of Pittsburgh taxi driver
- New Kensington man killed in North Buffalo crash
- Community comes together to mourn death of St. Clair police officer
- Sports Deli is latest tenant to say goodbye to Parkway Center Mall