Gilbert Brown Set To Return

Pitt redshirt junior forward Gilbert Brown has been champing at the bit to get back on the court, according to junior teammate Bradley Wanamaker, and he'll get that opportunity as early as Sunday.

Pittsburgh (8-2) faces Mount St. Mary's (3-6) Saturday at 4 p.m., but since there are still some finals to be taken that night Gilbert Brown must wait until Sunday to be re-instated after missing the first semester and 11 games on an academic suspension. Brown spent the time at his family's home in Harrisburg.

"Gilbert has fulfilled all his responsibilities (to be eligible),'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said, and added: "There's no formula for the Gilbert situation. We'll see come Sunday where he's at, but we hope he's ready to play.

"(But) the thing that's unique is that he's been in the program for four years, and that's something that should factor in for something. And he's played minutes (compared to the six freshman on the roster).''

Bradley Wanamaker said he and various teammates have spoken to Brown every day since school began to keep him apprised of the Panthers, and Wanamaker can't wait for him to be added to the rotation.

"Gil's going to bring more experience and more leadership,'' Wanamaker said. "When Jermaine came back, you saw more enthusiasm with guys working harder out there. And with Gil, that's going to make us go even harder, and we'll have even more leadership on the court.

"And that's something we've needed. ... We talk to Gil every day (to) tell him how practice went that day and what we need when he comes back. Gil's very hungry. He said he's been working out every day so he can come back in shape, and that's something that we need so he can contribute right away.''

Brown's return could substantially cut into Wanamaker's playing time since they both can play the three (small forward) spot. Wanamaker has averaged 31.9 minutes per game during the first 10 contests, second on the team in that stat and scoring (13.6 points) to sophomore Ashton Gibbs. Brown also can play the four (power forward) position.

"Gil coming back makes me hungrier, too,'' Wanamaker said. "When he comes back, that's going to be great. Even if it cuts some of my minutes down, as long as it helps us win I'm going to be happy.''

Dixon noted that Pitt practiced Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week with the last day being a little lighter. But the first two were two of the most difficult and longest this season, according to the players. Jermaine Dixon practiced this week and continues to improve.

"Jermaine had two good practices and went long and hard and got better each day,'' Coach Dixon said. "He took off Thursday, as scheduled, although he wanted to play. He's improving and is on track right now. He just has to play through it and get into more game situations. And we anticipate him playing more minutes come Saturday.''

Due to injuries and Brown's situation, the Panthers have been light on players for practice since the outset this season. However, Coach Dixon said that 12 scholarship players practiced Tuesday and Wednesday for the first time in quite a while.

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