Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Posts Tagged ‘Levance Fields’

Big East Preview: #4 Pittsburgh

Posted by Zach on October 25, 2008

4. Pittsburgh Panthers– Coach: Jamie Dixon

PG- Levance Fields (SR)
: It’s certainly been a battle for Levance Fields the last ten months as a Pittsburgh Panther. On December 20, Fields nailed the game-winning three pointer to defeat Duke at Madison Square Garden and move Pitt to 11-0. The next game in Dayton, Fields fractured a bone in his left foot and missed the next eight weeks, unable to practice even when Fields returned for the stretch run. In August, Fields discovered the same foot was fractured once again and now his full return in November for Pitt is in question. Without Fields, Pitt is a completely different team. They lack his leadership qualities, court vision and outside shooting. He’s an indispensable player for Coach Dixon, evident by their 8-4 record without his services (for Dixon, that’s less than stellar). Fields stars in big games- he shone in the win against Duke and averaged 21.5 PPG in the NCAA Tournament last year. Pitt is a potential Final Four team with Fields on the court and a possible middle-of-the-pack Big East team without Fields on the court.

SG- Brad Wanamaker (SO)
: The battle for the 2-guard spot could end up in the hands of freshman Ashton Gibbs by the end of the season, but for now we’ll peg in sophomore Brad Wanamaker. Taking over for the sharp-shooting Ronald Ramon is no easy task for Wanamaker, especially because he cannot shoot. He does everything else above average or better: rebounding, very physical on defense, second best passer on the team behind Fields. Dixon was hoping to have Mike Cook back and slide Gilbert Brown to the 2-guard. Instead, Wanamaker gets an opportunity and surely needs to improve on his 33% FG to hold down the starting spot on a team looking to go the distance.

SF- Gilbert Brown (SO)
: One of the reasons Pitt should be one of the top defensive teams in the nation this year is due to Gilbert Brown. Rather than clogging up the running game, this Gilbert Brown clogs up the other team’s top shooter. Dixon loves him because of his versatility and ability to play multiple positions. He’s an athletic swingman who has seen his shooting improve mightily over the course of his short college career. After not making a shot in February, Brown came alive and even scored 12 points on 6-10 shooting in the NCAA Tournament vs. Oral Roberts. Brown will never become as good of an offensive player as he is a defensive player, but some consistent improvement offensively, both shooting and penetrating, should take pressure off of Young and Fields to carry the load.

PF- Sam Young (SR)
: No play has shown the vast improvement from the day he stepped onto the Peterson Events Center court to today as much as Sam Young. An average recruit out of a winning high school program that spent some time at Hargrave Military Academy before joining Pitt, Young appeared to be nothing more than a useful role player his first two season before exploding in his junior year and earning honorable mention All-America. Young finished first in scoring and second in rebounding for the Panthers 27-win squad last year, bursting onto the national scene with a dynamic Big East Tournament performance in which he took home MVP honors. Young’s outside shooting has drastically improved; he is now hitting 38% of his three-pointers. Look for Young to contend for Big East Player of the Year this season.

C- DeJuan Blair (SO): Dixon and his staff saw the upside of Blair when they recruited him just blocks from campus coming out of high school, but none could have foreseen he’d make such a positive impact during his first year in a Panther uniform. Blair finished fourth in the conference in double-doubles, fourth in rebounding and seventh in FG%, culminating in the Big East Rookie of the Year honor (along with Jonny Flynn). Blair needs to improve from the free throw line due to his physicality in the post and tendency to draw fouls (Blair shot just 63% last year), but that will come with less freshman jitters this season. His rebounding skills are nearly unmatched and Blair features a series of developing scoring post moves. The offense will surely revolve around Young, Fields and the sophomore Blair for Dixon and the Panthers.

Bench: Dixon lured in some backcourt depth and competition for Wanamaker at the guard spot opposite Fields, including the brother of former Maryland star Juan Dixon, Jermaine Dixon. He’ll need to contribute offensively from behind the arc along with incoming freshman Ashton Gibbs and Travon Woodall. Replacing Ronald Ramon’s production from outside is a huge factor. Forward Tyrell Biggs should be the first player off the bench for coach Dixon. He’s beginning to live up to his potential and may steal minutes from Brown. Center Gary McGhee may play a prominent role this season if he has to spell Blair when he gets into foul trouble. At 6’10, he provides much-appreciated height and rebounding off the pine.

Backcourt: B
Frontcourt: A-
Bench: B-
Coaching: A

Bottom Line: Pittsburgh has quietly molded into a 30-win mainstay on the national scene under the tutelage of Ben Howland and now Jamie Dixon, but they have yet to make a Final Four. Will this be the year? I have a hard time believing this team has the secondary parts or depth to reach that plateau. Don’t rule it out, though. Dixon has commented this may be his best defensive team ever, and the Big Three of Fields, Young and Blair is certainly a coach’s dream. The golden question: Can this team score enough points to contend with teams like North Carolina, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Duke on a national stage?

Key Non-Conference Games: 11/28 @ Texas Tech, 12/6 vs. Vermont, 12/17 vs. Siena, 12/21 @ Florida State
Key Conference Games: 1/17 @ Louisville, 1/31 vs. Notre Dame, 2/16 @ Connecticut, 3/7 vs. Connecticut
Most Valuable Player: Levance Fields
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA (Sweet 16)

Advertisements

Posted in Big East Report, Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

News And Notes: 8/29-9/5

Posted by Zach on September 5, 2008

Hey everyone (if there is anyone). No, we’re not dead. It’s just been harder posting lately due to the beginning of school and lack of any serious news in the college basketball world. Things will heat up on the site in October with in-depth conference previews and player rankings before the start of the season in November, when there will be a guaranteed post every day by either Pat, Tommy or me. At least until the end of this month, look for the occasional post as well as a News and Notes article from me every Friday night summing up the previous week or so in college hoops. Here’s another edition:

– Not only did the current Kansas Jayhawks team have a hectic week both inside and outside the United States, but their former players experienced a few trials as well. Two stars from last year’s national championship Kansas team were thrown out of an NBA rookie program for having marijuana and women in their hotel room. Arthur denies any wrongdoing, but it was clearly an immature decision by two immature people. David Stern came down on them hard, and now we know a bit more on why their draft stock plummeted so severely on draft day (at least Chalmers).

Also in Lawrence news, the current KU team spent this past week in Ottawa facing off in exhibition games and getting a feel for, other than Sherron Collins, an entirely new main cast. It was a smart move for coach Bill Self to schedule this trip and build continuity both on and off the court. Not surprising is the emergence of Cole Aldrich north of the border as a dominant big man prepared physically for Big 12 basketball. Also faring well were freshmen Tyshawn Taylor with two 20+ point games and Travis Releford, who scored 25 points in the second exhibition. They also received good news that Marcus and Markief Morris have been cleared by the NCAA to play this season. Remember, it’s not rebuilding…it’s reloading.

– Other teams playing exhibitions at this time: Kansas’ conference foe Missouri in Ontario. They’ve been led by DeMarre Carroll, who scored 20 points in the thrashing of the Ontario All-Stars, and freshman guard Marcus Denmon, totaling 23 points against Brock University. Virginia looks to be the weak link in the ACC this season, but does have an impressive rookie: Sylvan Landesberg, who scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a rout over St. Lawrence College. Encouraging news for NC State as the much maligned Brandon Costner scored 31 points in their game vs. York University. Sure, the competition is less than stellar, but these are still early signs on the progression of certain teams for the upcoming campaign.

– Two New Jersey area Big East bottom fodders are looking to move up. Rutgers was able to rack in one McDonalds All-America in talented point guard Mike Rosario. Now it appears they’ve cleared talented big man Gregory Echenique to play for the Scarlet Knights this season. Had he remained in the Class of 2009, it’s likely Echenique would have played in the McDonalds game. Their rival, Seton Hall, received another big-time transfer in former New Mexico State forward Herb Pope to aid a below-average frontline. Pope averaged 11.1 PPG and 6.8 RPG last year. We know Bobby Gonzalez isn’t afraid to reel in low-character players for the sake of winning, and Bobby hopes to gain a waiver for Pope to play this season.


– Levance Fields looks to finally be 100% healthy by November and ready to lead Pitt to a Big East title this season. He received bone graft surgery about a week ago to stabilize his broken left foot, which had been causing him periodic pain over the summer. Fields wanted closure and received surgery. While this will put a hamper on his preparation for the season, Jamie Dixon is fine with having Fields ready for Opening Night. Also on the Big East injury front, David Cubillian may miss the start of the season due to off-season shoulder surgeries.

– I don’t know how reliable this source is, but BruinsReportOnline.com is reporting that talented class of 2009 guard Abdul Gaddy is down to Arizona and UCLA. Gaddy is ranked as the #2 point guard in the land by Scout.com and has proven to be an elite backcourt player with enormous upside. Gaddy is somewhat like Derrick Rose in his feel for the game and tremendous passing ability from the point guard position. Why do I have a feeling he ends up at Westwood?

– I’m just as sick of Derrick Caracter as you are. Still, because it’s Division 1 and Conference USA, it’s worth reporting he’s likely to land at Southern Miss. It appeared Caracter was going to land at a NAIA Oklahoma school before Larry Eustachy stepped in and decided to give Caracter a second chance. And if anyone can relate to second chances, it’s Larry Eustachy.

– Andy Katz has a fine write-up on his ESPN blog about Memphis and how much John Calipari is looking forward to the upcoming season, more because he wants to forget about last year’s national championship game than the actual caliber of his players, I would gather. Still, Memphis looks strong. Tyreke Evans joins the fray as their leading scorer and floor leader. Nebraska transfer Roburt Sallie failed to meet Big 12 eligibility standards and instead opted for Memphis. Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson withdrew from the draft, which helps greatly. Calipari also mentions that Pierre Niles dropped 40 pounds and the lanky Shawn Taggart put on 25 pounds this summer. Calipari also attempts to persuade us the coup of C.J. Henry has nothing to do with Xavier, which is of course complete and utter nonsense.

– Perusing over the Big East conference schedule, here are my top five games:

1. Connecticut at Pittsburgh, March 7
2. Louisville at Notre Dame, February 12
3. Pittsburgh at Louisville, January 17
4. Connecticut at Marquette, February 25
5. Notre Dame at Pittsburgh, January 31

Posted in News And Notes | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

NCAA Position Rankings: Top 10 PG

Posted by Tommy on July 17, 2008

The ability of a point guard to run an offense and distribute the ball is very key for a college basketball team’s success. Great point guards are tough to come by, and extremely tough to keep around because there is such a high demand for point guards in the NBA. I am going to run down the top 10 point guards in the country for the upcoming 2008-2009 season.

1.  Ty Lawson: Lawson is one of the few exceptions of highly skilled point guards that stick around for all four seasons. The “Roadrunner” is the fastest player with the ball in the NCAA, helping him run the potent UNC fastbreak. He can get the ball into the right hands, but Lawson is also a great scorer around the rim. With all the running UNC does, Lawson doesn’t get too many chances to show what he can do in a half-court offense, but he would be my first choice to run a fast-break. He spent the second half of last year bothered by an ankle injury so he’ll be back at 100 percent for the first time in a while.

2. Jeremy Pargo: As a freshman, Pargo was a guard with plenty of raw, unpolished talent. There was no question he could get to the bucket, but there wasn’t much else he could do with much effectiveness at the college level. Pargo has come leaps and bounds from where he was as a freshman, and now he is the leader of the Zags. He not only developed his decision making, but improved his shot as well, making him a big scoring threat from the point guard position.

3. Tyrese Rice: Rice was one of the few bright spots for BC last season. He can fill the hole with anybody in the country, just look at the UNC game last season. The only problem for Rice is that there was so little offensive talent around him last year that he had to do a lot of the scoring on his own as well as force the ball into tight holes. As a result, he averaged 3.4 turnovers/game and had a 1.45 assist-to-turnover ratio. It would be awesome to see a talent like Rice in Lawson’s place at UNC, but he isn’t, so that’s why he is my #3.

4. Scottie Reynolds: Unlike Pargo, Reynolds came to Villanova and performed as a point guard right away: he scored 40 points versus UConn as a frosh and was named 2006-07 Big East Rookie of the Year. Last year, Reynolds had a good year, averaging 15.9 ppg and 3.2 apg, but didn’t really live up to his high expectations. Villanova returns many of the same players so I think they’ll build more chemistry as a unit, and this is a big draft stock year for Reynolds as well so look for him to really try to improve his game.

5. Greg Paulus: Paulus has improved over the past couple of years more than anybody in the nation. He really struggled at times running the point for Coach K as a freshman, averaging 3.3 turnovers/game and only 6.7 ppg. Over the course of his junior season he cut his mistakes down to 1.6 turnovers/game and improved his scoring to 11.4 ppg. Although his stats show improvement, you have to watch him to see how much he has improved. You can see how his confidence has increased, not only as a point guard, but as a scorer as well. He stopped forcing passes and took better shots, not to mention he became deadly from behind the arc last season. If Paulus can continue improving, look for him to be a great true point guard.

6. Darren Collison: Collison has one of the most well-rounded skill sets as a point guard in the country. Nothing about his game really stands out on the offensive end when you watch him, but he does everything well. He is a good decision maker, can get to the rim pretty well, has a pretty good shot from beyond the arc and is a good floor general. What makes him different from most point guards in the nation is that he takes pride on the defensive end of the floor and is a lock-down defender. His well-rounded skills, coupled with his defensive ability make him a top tier point guard.

7. Stephen Curry: With Curry being a two-guard his entire college career, this is kind of based on speculation. He played point guard in high school so he knows what it takes, but the college game is a huge step up for point guards. Scoring-wise, we all know what Curry can do with the ball in his hand. The only question is whether he can make good decisions as a point guard. I wouldn’t be surprised if Davidson ran an NBA style pick-and-roll offense to give Curry chances to create. I think he’ll be a great point guard, but he’s at #7 only because his skills aren’t proven.

8. Levance Fields: Heart. It’s the first word that comes to my mind when I think about Levance Fields. He was expected to miss the whole second half of the season due to a broken left foot, but Levance made it back in the middle of the Big East regular season for the Panthers. He makes up for his diminutive stature (listed at a generous 5’10”) with his heart, and is the leader of the Panthers. His assist-to-turnover ratio was close to 3:1 last season, meaning he is a great decision maker and who could forget about his shot to beat Duke?

9. AJ Price: Price is one of the more talented guards in the country, and his improvement since his freshman year makes for a promising junior year for Price. Price suffered a near-fatal brain hemorrhage before his freshman season, resulting in an extra year of eligibility. His comeback from the hemorrhage has been remarkable, and I think he’ll continue to grow as a point guard. Last season he averaged a huge 5.8 apg, but he had 2.4 turnovers/game. If he cuts down on the turnovers he is a top tier point guard with plenty of scoring ability.

10. Devan Downey: One of the most underrated guards in college basketball looks to improve on his 18.4 ppg from last season for the Gamecocks. He transferred from Cincy to South Carolina after his freshman year and will be coupled with Zam Fredrick in the Gamecocks’ backcourt. Downey is a very explosive athlete and can get to the rim with the best of them. He also added 5.4 apg last year as a sophmore, but like AJ Price, committed too many turnovers with 2.7 TO/game. Look for Downey to surprise a lot of people this year with his explosive talent.

Also Considered: Jonny Flynn, Kyle McAlarney, Dominic James, Grievis Vasquez, Eric Maynor, Ish Smith, Chris Warren, Trevon Hughes, Kalin Lucas.

Posted in Player Rankings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »