Pitt-Nova Spectrum Finale

The Spectrum in Philadelphia was home to many big games played by the NBA's 76ers and NHL's Flyers, but both have moved their home games next door to the Wachovia Center the past few years.

College basketball games there have been limited over the years, but the building will close its doors to the sport after Pittsburgh and Villanova play a Big East Conference game there Wednesday night.

And Pitt's Philadelphia players, sophomore guard Bradley Wanamaker and freshman forward Nasir Robinson, have a chance to be part of history in front of their hometown friends, family and fans. Wanamaker played for Roman Catholic High School in Philly, while Robinson was at suburban Chester, Pa. High.

"It's very exciting, especially going back to my hometown, to play so close to home will let me have a lot of family and friends there,'' Wanamaker said. "It's exciting, and hopefully we can go there and get a win.

"I have a lot of family that wants to come to the game, so I have tickets from three of my teammates. They aren't using them. I'm thankful that my teammates are giving their tickets to me.

"When I came to Pittsburgh, it was a big thing for me that a couple times a year we would be playing close to home for me,'' Wanamaker added. "Villanova, even in Jersey, so I'm really looking forward to the game this week.''

Wanamaker never played in a game at the Spectrum, and he didn't recall attending any events there, either. But Robinson has a little history with the building, as well as several Villanova players.

"I went to a camp there when I was 14, so I played there before,'' Robinson said. "But this is a chance for me to go home and play in front of my family and friends. Just to play on that floor, it's the last game, so it's going to be a good feeling. I saw Sixers games there, and I always wanted to play on that floor in a real live game. So, this game will give me a chance to do that.''

Robinson noted that he was involved with Villanova players Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes at some camps and played pick-up games with Wildcats Shane Clark and Reggie Redding. Robinson said he'll have about 12-15 friends and family members at the game, including three brothers and high school coach.

"Me and Brad, we're trying to divide up the tickets,'' Robinson said. "I've been trying to get some from him, because he has a lot. But I think he'll probably need more than me, so we'll see.''

Both Wanamaker and Robinson have picked up their play recently, so they should see quite a bit of action in front of their families.

"It's very exciting for me now, because last year I was part of the team but not really in the rotation that much,'' Wanamaker said. "Now, I'm a big part of the rotation, and it's even more exciting for my family to see me play this year.''

Wanamaker added that he'll have 20-25 friends and family in attendance.

Head coach Jamie Dixon is quite familiar with the Philadelphia area, since he has recruited there heavily since arriving at Pitt, but this game isn't as nostalgic for him as it apparently is for Wanamaker and Robinson.

"I've driven around it a bunch of times, but I've never played in the Spectrum,'' Dixon said. "We're always down there recruiting, so I've been lost driving around down there. Chester's close to there, and I've been through there a bunch.

"I remember watching the Sixers and Julius Erving when the games were at the Spectrum, but I don't have a memory of that building other than that.''

Maybe Pitt's game against Villanova Wednesday night at the Spectrum will have a lasting memory for Dixon.

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