With Fields still healing, battle for second guard spot heats up

By Adam Littman

Heading into the season, the Pitt men’s basketball team faces a few questions. They’re mostly… Heading into the season, the Pitt men’s basketball team faces a few questions. They’re mostly surrounding inexperienced players who are being asked to contribute right away. But the biggest question right now is the status of senior point guard Levance Fields, who broke his foot Dec. 29 against Dayton. He missed the next 12 games, but came back in time for the end of the regular season and postseason tournaments. Over the summer, Fields was rehabbing when he and doctors realized there was an infection in his foot, which slowed down his recovery. He had another surgery and is still recovering. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said that he thinks Fields should be ready for the first game of the season, which is on Nov. 14 against Fairleigh Dickinson. Dixon also noted they thought Fields would heal over summer before he had his setback, so they also can’t accurately predict exactly what will happen. Fields didn’t play in the Blue-Gold scrimmage at Fan Fest on Sunday, but Dixon said Fields has been practicing with the team, and they’re just being precautious. ‘We’re giving him a lot of time,’ said Dixon. ‘We were very conservative last year, and we’re being even more conservative this year.’ He added that during practice, Fields has been able to run and make cuts. Men’s freshmen healing Freshmen Travon Woodall and Dwight Miller both missed time leading up to, and including, the season’s first few practices. Woodall collided with a teammate during a drill, which gave him a mild concussion. Miller missed the last few weeks of summer workouts and most of the team’s practices so far with a bruised heel. Both players are now practicing with the team, and both played in the Blue-Gold scrimmage. Woodall led all players with four assists. He also scored five points and had three rebounds. Miller saw limited action, splitting his time between the Blue and Gold teams. The battle for No. 2 With Ronald Ramon graduated, Pitt enters the season without a proven shooting guard, as well as losing its best outside shooter. Junior-college transfer Jermaine Dixon, in his first season as a Panther after transferring from Tallahassee Community College in Florida, and sophomore Brad Wanamaker appear to be the favorites for the starting spot. ‘They’ve both played well,’ said Dixon of the two guards. ‘I feel comfortable with how those guys are going to perform for us this year.’ In the Blue-Gold scrimmage, Dixon scored 16 points, including hitting 3 of 5 from three-point range. Freshman Ashton Gibbs is another player who can help the Panthers’ outside shooting. He went 2-3 from beyond the arc in the scrimmage. ‘ ‘Ashton and Jermaine are very good shooters,’ said Dixon, who recently signed a new contract. ‘Travon shoots the ball well, too, but we just haven’t seen enough of him in practice.’ While he might not knock down threes just yet, power forward DeJuan Blair said he too has been developing a bit of an outside game. The sophomore led all players with 22 points during the Blue-Gold scrimmage and showed off his improved jump shot by hitting 10 of 12 shots from the field. ‘I’m comfortable [playing away from the basket],’ said Blair. ‘My shot is getting better.’ He added that along with a mid-range jumper to go with his post game, he’s tried to improve in all areas. ‘That’s what you’re going to see from [this year],’ said Blair. ‘No more misses. I got my fatigue up. [My game]’s just going to be better all around.’ Women’s update: Zellous back to practicing after spraining her ankle One of the star senior guards on the women’s team also suffered an injury, as All-American candidate Shavonte Zellous sprained her ankle on the team’s first day of practice a little more than a week ago, said Pitt coach Agnus Berenato. Zellous practiced for the first time last week on Sunday morning, but only for a little bit before the Blue-Gold scrimmage. ‘We wanted to save her for the game,’ said Berenato. The senior guard played the entire scrimmage, scoring four points.