Here are some quick notes from Pitt’s press conference on Thursday afternoon in advance of Saturday’s game at Louisville (12-3, 3-0) at Freedom Hall.
=Pitt (16-0, 4-0), which plays No. 20 Louisville and No. 8 Syracuse in a three-day span beginning Saturday, went with a light practice on Thursday afternoon. Later in the afternoon, South Florida worked out at Petersen Events Center. The Bulls, who lost to Pitt, 75-62 on Wednesday night, are staying north for Saturday’s game at West Virginia. There is no word if the bus trip from their downtown hotel took more than 90 minutes, like on game night.
– Junior guard Jermaine Dixon is showing no ill affects from a twisted ankle sustained during the shootaround before the South Florida game. “He’s fine today and he’ll be ready Saturday,” coach Jamie Dixon said.
– Coach Jamie Dixon of No. 1 Pitt will appear on ESPN Sunday Night Conversation along with coach Geno Auriemma of the No. 1 Connecticut women’s basketball team.
– Pitt dropped out of the No. 1 RPI spot for the first time in more than three weeks. The Panthers trail Duke by .0025 points. Duke (.6964), which won at Georgia Tech on Wednesday night, pulled ahead of the Panthers (.6939), a 75-62 winner over visiting South Florida. Duke currently has the No. 2 strength of schedule, while Pitt is No. 16. Both teams own a big edge over No. 3 Clemson (.6668).
– Brad Wanamaker played a career-high 26 minutes on Wednesday night against South Florida. The sophomore guard had eight points, three assists and no turnovers. Wanamaker is averaging 8.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the past four games. During that span, he has equalled or surpassed his career high in 11 different categories.
“My confidence is real high right now,” Wanamaker said. “My first year, it seemed like things were going so fast and I was kind of out of control at times. Now it seems like it’s slowing down and I’m more comfortable out there. I know what I’m doing.”
Wanamaker said there will be no sliding back to his freshman form.
“If I miss a shot or a couple shots, I won’t hang my head,” he said. “Last year I was kind of in a slump when I was missing shots. If I missed, I put my head down. Now my confidence is so high, if I miss a shot, it won’t bother me at all.”
– Jamie Dixon has long praised Pitt’s fans, but he realizes getting into Louisville’s Freedom Hall isn’t easy for opposing fans. For sure, there won’t be a repeat of the thousands of Pitt supporters who crowded into Verizon Center for the Panthers’ win over Georgetown. “We will have a good 40 people there,” Dixon said, “right behind the bench.”
– Levance Fields is one of the most candid student/athletes in town. He is forthright and refreshing. Consider his response to whether Pitt is more focused when it plays a ranked team on the road. Most coaches/players would fudge at the question. Fields, as usual, was blunt, like it or not.
“I hate to admit it,” he said, “but, yeah, we have a tendency to play down to our competition and sometimes it hurts us or (a win) doesn’t look as pretty. …
“When you go into a game against a team like Louisville on the road, you know any slippage and you could be blown out. It’s just natural to get up a little more for a game like that.”