Posted: 11:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 20, 2013
Pitt's Durand Johnson has been a sparkplug and the best player off of the bench for the team. Averaging 9.6 points per game, he can be relied upon for instant offense.
That doesn't mean he's had a perfect season, though.
11 games in, Johnson continues to struggle with his shot as he did last season when he shot a modest 41% from the field. Johnson is shooting a shade below that this year at 38.6% and lately, has been even worse. That number, by the way, ranks him last on the team among regulars (walk-on Mike Lecak is 0-2 in mopup duty).
DJ had only three points against Cincinnati and has only reached his season average once in the past four games. That, in and of itself, isn't terribly surprising since he's been playing less lately. What's a little discouraging, though, is that he has struggled with his shot even more than normal. Over that stretch, Johnson is only 8-26 from the field - good for a 31% percent clip from the field. That just isn't getting it done, obviously, and if he continues to struggle, Pitt will be worse off.
Despite his inaccuracy, I'm not sure I want to see him play any less. It's really a bit of a mixed bag with him and I fear that, with most shooters, the less time he gets the harder it will be for him to build up a good rhythm. For now, I'd continue to give him his 15-20 minutes a game as he'll certainly have his share of good games to go along with the bad.
He's one of the few guys on the team with a scorer's mentality and there are times when the starters are struggling that he'll be needed. He has a quick release and when he's on, really adds another dimension to Pitt's offense. That said, Pitt needs him to be be a little more efficient right now.