Insiders College Basketball Report

Pitt's Brad Wanamaker finds himself in elite company.

Guard Brad Wanamaker has proven himself to be the versatile kind of performer Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon was hoping for when he recruited him four years ago.

Wanamaker sat on a milestone entering the week, just 31 points shy of becoming a 1,000 point scorer, but that doesn't come close to telling the whole story. Wanamaker also was 46 rebounds shy of 500 and two assists short of 400 for his career.

When and if he reaches those milestones Wanamaker will be only the second Panther to accomplish it, joining guard Carl Krauser, who had 1,642 points, 526 rebounds and 568 assists.

"It is special because I can have my name out there with Carl Krauser as being one of the best, or at least well-rounded, guards in Pitt history," Wanamaker told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Just for my name to be put alongside of someone like Carl, that means something; it isn't what I am focused on, but it is something that has happened over the years.

"Since my freshman year, coach has told me I could be a really good player in this system, a playmaker, a rebounder, and that's what I've tried to do. I just try to work hard and I've always tried to just get a nose for what coach wants me to do."

"When we were recruiting him, the thing that stood out to me was his passing first and his ability to see the floor," Dixon said. "And also, his versatility -- he could rebound, he could defend, he could get other guys' shots, he could score, he could get to the basket and now his outside shot has developed every year since he got here."

Far more important, however, is that this is a Pitt team that believes it has the talent to contend for a national championship and it is Wanamaker's play that gives them direction.

It is his job now to help the Panthers bounce back from a rare home loss to Notre Dame and a close call against Rutgers.

--Rutgers turned the defense loose on Pitt and held the Panthers to their worst shooting night of the season, hitting only 16 of 45 shots for 35.6 percent. That was not totally unexpected, however, as Pitt was facing former assistant Mike Rice, who uses much of the same stuff in his offense that Pitt uses so they practice against it often.

--Pitt Coach Jamie Dixon is 37-11 in games following losses in his career and back-to-back games only six times.

--Through Jan. 29, Pitt was the only team in the Big East to rank in the top three in both scoring and defense.

THE NUMBERS: 10 -- The number of consecutive seasons Pitt has recorded 20 or more victories.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We won tonight with our defense, that was good to see, and, hopefully, we'll see more of that because lately we've been relying a little too much on our offense, and there will be nights when you don't shoot well. When you're not making shots, you have to be able to defend and get stops and grab the rebound and not let them get that second shot." -- Coach Jamie Dixon, quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on the victory over Rutgers.


--vs. Cincinnati, Feb. 5
KEY MATCHUPS: This is another war shaping up in the Big East. Cincinnati is the best defensive team in the league and Pitt is second, although giving up five more points than Cincinnati. Attacking the Bearcats' big men is what Pitt will probably try to do while being patient as the Bearcats do like to hold the ball and run the shot clock to keep the score down. G Cashmere Wright of Cincinnati is coming off a 24-point performance.

--at West Virginia, Feb. 7
KEY MATCHUPS: This is a game they've been waiting for around Morgantown for a long time, the basketball version of the Backyard Brawl. Bob Huggins is a master at getting his team ready for tough battles and this one will be all the Mountaineers can handle. The play of Pittsburgh's guard Brad Wanamaker and Ashton Gibbs has always given WVU a battle and this should be no exception. WVU's ability to hit the offensive glass, among the best in the Big East, also will be challenged by the Pitt front line led by Gary McGhee.

FUTURES MARKET: Pitt is hoping it can learn from the mistakes it made in the loss to Notre Dame. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, players were saying they have to recognize the importance of every possession in games where the opponent slows things down and hold the ball the way the Fighting Irish did. Coach Jamie Dixon commented that mistakes are magnified in situations like that and his team can't get anxious and rush shots or try to create them on their own.

--Senior C Gary McGhee tied a career high with 13 points against Rutgers. He also set a career high for free throws made (five) and free throws taken (10).

--Senior F Gilbert Brown now is closing in the 1,000 milestone, needing only 84 points to reach the figure entering the week.

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