Pitt senior guard Tray Woodall had concussion-like symptoms after he collided with Marquette's Derrick Wilson four minutes into a Big East Conference game Saturday against Marquette at Petersen Events Center. Shortly after going to the locker room for testing, Woodall said he felt fine after he returned to the bench a few minutes later.
Woodall wanted to re-enter the game, but he was informed by team doctors that he was being held out for precautionary reasons.
Dr. Robin West, the team doctor for the men's basketball team for the past 10 years who also is on the Steelers medical team, is employed by UPMC, which has been at the forefront of concussion research and how to treat them.
UPMC doctors treated Penguins star Sidney Crosby and many other athletes for concussions. When Pitt athletes are concussed or experience concussion-like symptoms they are not allowed back in games, even if those symptoms are short-lived.
"It was tough knowing I should be out there and felt well enough to go out there, but I just couldn't," Woodall said Monday after practice. "They wouldn't allow me to. They had to do their job and they made the best decision for my health. I thank them for that."
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon knew when Woodall went down that he was going to have to play the rest of the game without him. UPMC's approach to treating concussions or possible concussions is cautious. Players must be without symptoms for 24 hours to run and for 48 hours before contact.
A year ago, Dante Taylor missed two games with concussion-like symptoms, and Talib Zanna was not allowed back in a game against Cincinnati after getting hit in the head.
"If the doctors feel he can't play, even though he thinks he can play, he can't play," Dixon said. "We're at the forefront of concussions and how to deal with them. We err on the side of caution. There's no question that's where we're at and rightfully so."
Woodall did not experience any symptoms Sunday or Monday. He went through some conditioning and other drills at practice Monday and will practice today with contact if there are no symptoms. He said he expects to play Wednesday night against Villanova when the Panthers travel to Philadelphia.
Woodall had to watch his teammates lose in overtime to Marquette. It was an all too familiar experience for this senior guard who missed 11 games a year ago with an abdominal injury. The Panthers lost all five Big East games that Woodall missed.
"It was tough at that moment because of the games I missed last year," Woodall said. "It was like a reenactment in my head."
Dixon said the team missed Woodall most on offense. The Panthers had a hard time penetrating Marquette's zone defense, and Woodall's ability to create in the lane would have helped against the Golden Eagles.
Without Woodall, the team's second-leading scorer, the Panthers shot 39 percent from the field. It was their third-lowest shooting percentage on the season.
"You have to play without guys at certain times," Dixon said. "You have to find ways to win and we didn't. There are no excuses."
In Pitt's 73-45 victory a week ago at Georgetown, Woodall had 11 points and seven assists and expertly led the Panthers to the big road triumph. Because of the manner in which Pitt won it was viewed as a turning point by many, but that kind of optimism took a back seat after the Marquette loss, which dropped the Panthers to 13-4 overall, 1-3 in Big East play.
Woodall knows better than anyone how difficult it is to dig out of an early hole in the Big East. The Panthers started 0-7 last season and could never get any traction.
"I understand the situation that we're in and what it takes," Woodall said.
Ray Fittipaldo: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter: @rayfitt1. First Published January 15, 2013 5:00 AM