Pitt notebook: Durand Johnson suspended for season
Pitt junior forward Durand Johnson was suspended for the season, coach Jamie Dixon announced prior to Friday night’s opener against Niagara at Petersen Events Center.
“We just have to move on,” said Dixon, who indicated after Pitt’s 78-45 victory that Johnson will remain with the program and continue to practice with the team. “It’s an opportunity for some. Not going to change what our goals are.”
Johnson averaged 8.8 points in 16 games in 2013-14, recording double figures eight times before suffering a season-ending knee injury. A prep school standout at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, Johnson was rated the nation’s No. 88 player by Scout.com. He was ranked No. 90 by 247 Sports/Sports Illustrated, and Rivals.com rated him the No. 29 forward.
“Obviously, it hurts losing him,” sophomore forward Jamel Artis said. “He’s a big motivator. He’s always out there with us. He’s our brother.”
2015 season to open in Japan
Pitt will play its first international regular-season game under Dixon when it opens the 2015-16 season against Gonzaga in the Armed Forces Classic in Okinawa, Japan.
The game is scheduled for Nov. 13, 2015, and will be played at Camp Smedley D. Butler Marine Corps Base as part of ESPN’s “America’s Heroes: A Salute to Our Veterans.” The program honors men and women serving in the military.
It will be the first meeting between Pitt and Gonzaga.
“It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to play in such a great event,” Dixon said in a statement. “Our goal is always to play in college basketball’s top events, and the Armed Forces Classic certainly ranks among the best. The trip also will provide an opportunity for our players, coaches, administration and support staff to experience day-to-day life on an overseas military base.”
The Armed Forced Classic is entering its third year as part of a five-year rotation. Previous Armed Forces Classic games were held in 2012 at Ramstein Air Base in Germany (Connecticut vs. Michigan State) and 2013 at Camp Humphreys in Korea (Georgetown vs. Oregon). This year’s game will be played Friday night at CGAS Borinquen in Puerto Rico between Louisville and Minnesota.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected].