Wanamaker Hopes To Make A Point

The Pitt men's basketball team, ranked fifth in the Associated Press preseason poll, should have no problems beating Seton Hill in an exhibition game today at 4 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center but that doesn't mean the game won't be interesting for Panthers fans.

Pittsburgh should give three players some work at the vacant point guard spot reserved for senior Levance Fields, who will sit out while still rehabilitating his left foot. Sophomore Bradley Wanamaker and freshmen Travon Woodall and Ashton Gibbs should all get some time there.

Wanamaker, in particular, will be interesting to observe to see how much he has improved from last season after many believed he was the biggest bust from the 2007-08 campaign.

"I think he's a really good player, and when I recruited him I thought he was a really good player,'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "And even last year, I thought he was a really good player, but he was just put into a situation as a freshman where he was playing against five really good perimeter players.

"It was a learning experience for him. He didn't come into a situation like DeJuan Blair where there was no other guy at his spot. So, that was the difference, but I think he's going to be a very good player for us. He had a very good offseason, and he's fitting in very well with our guys.

"And I never had any doubts in my mind about him being a very good player,'' Dixon added. "Some people might have wanted more out of him last year, but we had a very experienced team last year. We were especially experienced on the perimeter, and that made it a difficult situation for Brad.''

Wanamaker did his best to prepare for the rigors of Big East play by bulking up a bit during the offseason. He now carries 210 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame.

"Bradley's not a knew guy, but he's come a long way,'' Pitt senior forward Sam Young said. "He's worked very hard, and I'm really impressed with where he's at right now. Ashton, he's a lights-out shooter. It's like picking up where we left off with Ronald Ramon from last year. He's going to be a very good player.''

Woodall is a 5-11, 190-pound slick ball-handler and the only true point guard among the trio. Wanamaker and Gibbs, who is 6-2, 190, are better two guards.

"We all can play either the one or two spots,'' Wanamaker said. "It doesn't matter to me which one I play, but I just want to get some more playing time this season. I think I worked very hard in the offseason, and hopefully it will pay off. Last season was rough for me, but I'm putting that behind me and looking forward to the future.''

The Panthers return seven of their top nine players from a 27-10 Big East Tournament champion team. They are ranked sixth in the preseason ESPN-USA Today coaches' poll. Pitt also has an exibition game against La Roche College Sunday at 1 p.m. in the final tune-up for the regular-season opener against Fairleigh Dickinson Nov. 14 at the Petersen Events Center.

Seton Hill, which formed its basketball program six years ago, is in its second season in Division II. The Griffins played in front of an average of less than 400 fans per game last season, so this will be the largest crowd they've had to face.

Note: Following the Seton Hill game, Pitt students are invited to attend an event sponsored by the Oakland Zoo, the Panthers' student cheering section. There will be food available and a chance to meet the Pitt men's and women's basketball teams and get autographs.

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