BOSTON — Like its pizza, hot dogs and cheesecake, New York City's point guards are an acquired taste.
"Maybe there's something in the water," said Xavier freshman Terrell Holloway, who grew up in Hempstead, N.Y., about 10 minutes from St. John's University. "With New York and point guards, there's a lot of history."
Gifted and beloved, yet often doomed by hype, they're basketball's tortured artists. For all the examples of brilliance — think Tiny Archibald and Mark Jackson — there's an equal number of phenoms — Omar Cook and Sebastian Telfair come to mind — who just aren't as good as we're led to believe.
So where does New Yorker Levance Fields belong? The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Pittsburgh senior, who's built more like Kevin Faulk than Kevin Johnson, is unique, at least by today's standards. He may lack the explosiveness of his NYC brethren Stephon Marbury and Kenny Anderson. He may not be a pure shooter like Chris Mullin, a fellow Xaverian High School of Brooklyn graduate. Still, the playmaker hasn't been hindered by his perceived deficiencies.
"People brush him off because he doesn't pass the eye test," Pitt assistant coach Tom Herrion said from his team's locker room at TD Banknorth Garden yesterday. "His appearance isn't the fittest, but yet he's the toughest. He's a big shot taker, a big shot maker. He's a winner. Hopefully he can keep that going in the next couple weeks."
So where does Fields belong? At this point, he deserves to be mentioned among the Big Apple's success stories. The 21-year-old, a three-time finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, given each year to the nation's best point guard, has spent his four seasons at Pitt maximizing his talent.