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Woodall welcomes his return to Pitt's lineup

| Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011

Pitt junior guard Tray Woodall returned to the court Tuesday — albeit a loss at Notre Dame — thanks to a relatively new treatment used by major sports teams.

Woodall, the team's assist leader and second-leading scorer, underwent ACP, or autologous conditioned plasma, a treatment in which the patient's blood is used as part of the healing process.

"I think that's helping me a lot," Woodall said.

The Panthers (11-3) are hopeful Woodall's return will help them get back on track after losing to Notre Dame, 72-59, on Tuesday night at Purcell Pavilion in their Big East opener.

The setback, Pitt's fourth in a row to Notre Dame, followed a 59-54 loss to Wagner. The Panthers, who have lost three in a row only twice in coach Jamie Dixon's nine-plus seasons, will play host to Cincinnati (9-3) on Sunday.

"We need to play better," Dixon said. "We will play better."

Woodall, who missed six games with a torn abdomen and a strained groin sustained in the final moments against Duquesne on Nov. 30, had a disappointing return. He was 0 for 5 from the field while being held scoreless with two assists and two turnovers in 18 minutes.

Cautioning against re-injuring the abdomen — "It's still fragile," he said — the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder was slowed defensively.

"I didn't play well," he said. "In this game, they made me do a lot of things that I wasn't really doing in practice, especially with the kind of movement they were doing. In practice, I have to limit myself. Out here, I've got to play defense to the competition."

The decision to play came following Woodall's improvement after participating in three straight practices. He has undergone the ACP treatment on three occasions. The treatment involves his blood being placed into a centrifuge to separate red blood cells from platelets, which have noted healing properties. The plasma solution then is injected directly into the site of the injury, in Woodall's case, his abdomen/groin area.

Doctors have experimented with ACP to quicken the healing process: The Steelers' Hines Ward (knee) and Troy Polamalu (calf) underwent similar procedures before the victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

Woodall said he will undergo the treatment again in coming days.

Woodall isn't the first Pitt guard to struggle in his debut after returning from injury. Former Panthers Levance Fields and Jermaine Dixon also took time to reach full strength. Fields went 1 for 7 from the field in his return in February 2008 after missing 12 games with a foot injury. Jermaine Dixon played 12 scoreless minutes with three turnovers in his first game back from an eight-game layoff after a foot injury in December 2009.

"I don't know a good way to go about it," coach Jamie Dixon said. "We've never had a good performance when we've brought the guy back after a long stretch out."

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