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Former Pitt big man Birch airs complaints about stay

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By John Grupp
Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012
 

SYRACUSE, N.Y. �" Former Pitt freshman and McDonald's All-American Khem Birch said he didn't feel embraced by his teammates and believes some of Pitt's players were selfish and focused on individual statistics.

Birch, who last month transferred after one semester and enrolled at UNLV, also said in an interview with KDKA-FM on Monday that he believes some of his former Pitt teammates "felt threatened" because he arrived with such high acclaim.

"I felt like coming in as an All-American they didn't try to embrace me or anything. I think (some people) felt threatened," he said. "I don't want to name any names. I just felt like some people felt threatened."

The 6-foot-9 Montreal native out of Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep played in 10 games, starting six, for the Panthers.

"I don't have any regrets. I wanted to try something different," Birch said. "I only had relationship with two teammates. The rest were kind of acquaintances. Coach Dixon, we were OK. We didn't really connect. There was no relationship formed. I wouldn't call him to tell him how I felt."

Birch said Pitt's deliberate offense didn't suit his style of play.

"I felt like they slowed the ball down, it's not like a fast-break team," he said. "When I was there, they said 'We're the third-leading scoring team in the Big East. We don't slow the ball down.' They said with all the athletes coming in, we were going to be more of an up-tempo team."

Birch said Dixon and seniors Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson tried to talk him out of transferring, but his mind had been made up. When asked about Pitt's recent losing streak, he said there were some selfish players in the locker room.

"When I was there, I remember when some people didn't get what they wanted during a half, if they didn't score a certain amount of points, during halftime there would be silence from those players," Birch said. "It wasn't like they were happy, even if we were winning. They would just be mad because they didn't get what they wanted. ... They would just mope around."

Pitt senior guard Ashton Gibbs disputed Birch's assessment of the Panthers.

"We are definitely not selfish," he said after Monday night's loss to Syracuse. "If that's the opinion of his, that's the opinion of his. He's elsewhere right now, and I'm not really worried about him, and I wish him the best of luck."

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