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Pitt, WVU, Duquesne Players Wrap Up Second Week at Greentree

The fourth round of games in the Greentree Summer Pro-Am Basketball League took place Wednesday night. Plenty of local college players were on hand and a big surprise (literally) was in store.


Game 1: The Lair vs.


The first game of the night featured an all WVU freshman and transfer team (Steel City Tickets) against a collection of Robert Morris and Youngstown State players (The Lair).  Dante Taylor and Isaiah Epps from Pitt are both on the roster for the The Lair, but neither were in attendance.



-6-foot-10 West Virginia freshman Kevin Noreen is an interesting possibility for playing time for the Mountaineers. He has good size and rebounding ability, but RMU forward Dallas Green had no problem shutting him down on offense despite being a few inches shorter.↵


-After leaving Dayton, and then Penn State, Juwan Staten has found a home at West Virginia and is getting some summer work in at Greentree. He was always one of the better out there in his time with the Flyers but lacked confidence in his shot. On Wednesday, he was putting up shots frequently and making quite a few of them. If he continues to develop his shooting ability, he could be a great all-around addition to the team when he is eligible.↵


-Gary Browne, a freshman guard for WVU, has some tremendous speed. He took the ball from the baseline and got to the opposing three-point line in three seconds. Defenders had trouble keeping up with him all game, but he needs to work on finishing at the hoop.↵

Game 2: SPK Law vs Center Court



-Certainly the crowd on hand was excited to see Ashton Gibbs back in action, as they should have been. Yet the Pitt star laid egg on this night for SPK Law. He took no less than 30 shots, and brought the temperature down in the gym by 10 degrees with all of the misses. Luckily for him, this is a summer league and not the NCAA tournament. I think he will be more careful with his shot selection come the regular season.↵


-Unfortunately, the greediness of Gibbs dampened the ability for Duquesne forwards Jerry Jones and Derrick Martin to see looks on offense. Martin is expected to be a key component for the Dukes this season and is the tallest on the roster. He had his hands full having to watch Khem Birch all night. He did an acceptable job on defense, but I would have liked to see more from him on offense than just standing off to the side.↵


-Speaking of Khem Birch, I was very impressed with what I saw. His post moves were quick and he beat defenders with relative ease. He had five blocks and gave driving opponents fits. He may need to bulk up before being able to become a force down low, but he’s one of the more refined freshman big men I have seen. It was also nice to see him play in game three, as he helped filled out a shorthanded roster.↵


-J.J. Moore has made great strides and I like his chances at seeing more playing time for the Panthers in 2011-2012. He was really strong going to the hoop, and knocked down a decent amount of his shots. He certainly looked better than Lamar Patterson tonight, and the Panthers could certainly use his athleticism on defense.↵


-David Jackson, the lone Penn State player taking part in the league, did a good job handling Birch down low.↵

Game 3: PBC vs UPMC↵


-The connection of T.J. McConnell and Mike Talley was a pleasant surprise for the Duquesne Dukes last year, and the pair of sophomores appears to be ready to pick up where they left off. The two had great moves and decisions all game, with the highlight being a beautiful one touch pass to Khem Birch on a fast break resulting in a dunk. While McConnell is one of the smarter players in the game, he will need to start taking more shots instead of making the extra pass as he has done in the past. He has a lot better shooting ability than he thought.↵


-Talib Zanna will be looking to shed the "project" label and become a serviceable player for the Panthers this season. He is still making progress, but he still has strides to make. His post offense was lackluster Wednesday.↵


-Also from the "project" file, Duquesne forward Andre Marhold is coming along slowly as well. After two subpar seasons on the bluff, the Dukes will have no choice but to rely on him more as they are very thin in size. At 6-foot-6, his athleticism is off the charts, but the rest of his game is still very raw. He knocked down some mid-range jumpers, which is encouraging, but he needs to get tougher on defense and rebounding.↵


-It was absolutely awesome seeing DeJuan Blair suit up tonight for UPMC. With the impending NBA lockout, Paul Zeise is reporting that the Pittsburgh Basketball Club has reached out to several NBA players with ties to the area to come play in Greentree, including former Pitt players Sam Young and Aaron Gray. If they come join, things could become very interesting at the SportsPlex the remaining weeks.↵

Team PGT Trucking, featuring Pitt player Nasir Robinson and Duquesne's B.J. Monteiro and Eric Evans, had a bye and was out of action.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.