The shooting wasn’t incredible last night, but 40% is a step up from the UConn game, so hopefully we’ll see this trending upwards, especially with what should hopefully be an easier game against 13-9 Providence, but I’ll save that preview for later. Confidence was sorely needed, and this game should certainly give us some of that. Last night, I was very interested in the play of our two true freshmen- Brad Wanamaker and DeJuan Blair. I think that Blair had a little bit of an off game last night. He is a force in the paint, but after what happened with the shot blocking of UConn, it almost seemed like DeJuan was still a little afraid to just take it straight up. Granted, there were some terrible fouls down low that the refs managed to “miss,” but I don’t hold that accountable in any game. With 20 seconds left in the game, DeJuan needs to take that ball straight up to the rim and try, if nothing else, to draw the foul instead of trying to make a move under the basket and go for the tougher reverse. We sometimes forget that he is only a true freshman, so it’s things like that which I hope to see improve over time.
I’m getting more and more impressed with the play of Brad Wanamaker. Every game, he seems a little more in control, a little more mature, and a lot more game-ready. Hitting that three early on was huge for his confidence, and I love the way he tries to get inside and make something happen. It’s a little tough right now because the three players we have capable of driving to the rim- Keith, Sam, and Brad- only do so sparingly, so the defense knows how to handle it. I think once Levance gets back, he and Brad will have some great plays together when the defense collapses on Fields and he kicks it out to Brad for either the open shot or a follow-up drive past a confused defense. Brad’s defense is also getting much better, and I really think by next year he’ll be a very solid contributor to a very good team.
On a little bit of a different note, Darnell Dodson (remember him?) is redshirting this year at Miami-Dade JUCO, so hopefully he’ll transfer back to Pitt in 2009 with three years of eligibility remaining and become the great player we thought he would be when first got recruited to Pitt. For those of you who don’t know, Dodson should have been a true freshman this year along with Brad, DeJuan, and Gary McGhee, but didn’t get past the NCAA Clearinghouse and had to go to JUCO to improve his grades. Also, it’s being said that Levance’s likely return is against Louisville at home, leaving us with two tough road games at Marquette and Notre Dame. If Pitt can go 2-1 in our next three games and get Fields back with a record of 20-6, we will be in very good shape.