Yonco: Ray, have you had an opportunity to speak to any of the recent basketball alums to get their perspective on the current team? Would be particularly interested in knowing the thoughts/ feelings of Levance, Wanamaker, Blair. On a Duke game the other night, the announcers said that Nolan Smith constantly talks to current Duke player Andre Dawkins with pointers - does this happen at Pitt too?
Ray Fittipaldo: Yes, there is communication between the alums and the current players. Tray Woodall said last week that Aaron gray sent him a five-page text message wanting to know why the team was struggling so much. Brad Wanamaker, Gil Brown and Gary McGhee are still close to all of these guys playing. They communicate via Skype and Twitter. They all care and want the team to do better.
Gonzo McGhee: If I still patrolled the paint, could this team make the NCAA tournament?
Ray Fittipaldo: Gary, yes I do believe your presence would help this team. It is in dire need of some muscle and size under the basket. You would help in that regard. Even without you in the middle, I contend this team would have been a No. 8 or 9 seed in the NCAA tournament had Woodall been healthy all season. This would not have been one of jamie's better teams, but it would have found a way to make it into the tournament. Now the Panthers pretty much need to win the Big East tournament to get an automatic berth.
13to9: Are we NIT bound?
Ray Fittipaldo: I believe the NIT criteria is to have a winning record so the Panthers would have to win a fair amount in the second half to qualify. But yes, the NIT is much more plausible at this point than an 11th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
Lightning Ozzie: WE NEED TO PLAY SOME PITTSBURGH DEFENSE!!! What is going on with these guys?!? WOOOOOOOOOOAAAHHHHH!!!
Ray Fittipaldo: Slow and unathletic at some spots on the perimeter, young and inexperienced at some other spots on the perimeter, frail and weak inside. With Woodall back the offense will improve, but I don't know about the defense. It might be like this all season long.
Panther Bill: Will the down year this season finally help me get off of the basketball ticket waiting list?
Ray Fittipaldo: Waiting list? The announced attendance last night was 10,000 or so. They should have called you an hour before the game you could have filled one of the many empty seats. Getting into the Pete is not as difficult when the team is losing. It took 10 years to happen, but your waiting likely is about to stop.
Yonco: Cameron Wright seems to have improved his rebounding especially and overall effectiveness since the Syracuse game. Can he be an effective 7th man in the rotation?
Ray Fittipaldo: Perhaps, but he continues to struggle with his scoring. He had a nice aggressive move to the hoop last night and he ended up air-balling a reverse layup attempt. He really needs to improve his offensive game if he wants to play more minutes. he is getting more aggressive. I like that, but the bottom line is he has to produce when he is in there, and he doesn't do that nearly enough.
Pitt 12, PSU 0: Are we still better than Penn State in basketball this year?
Ray Fittipaldo: That might be a good game. NIT matchup?
Guest: Closing in on ten years since the pete opened, what has been the top five games at the building
Ray Fittipaldo: Tough question to answer. The game in 2009 versus UConn has to be on that list. Panthers were No. 4 and Huskies No. 1, and Panthers won. Some of those Syracuse games have to be on there. The triple overtime game vs. WVU, the double overtime game vs. Louisville two years ago. That's just off the top of my head.
Yonco: J.J. Moore is a pretty good free throw shooter. It seems to me that he would be more effective offensively slashing and driving and drawing contact than he is currently shooting outside. What do you think of that assessment?
Ray Fittipaldo: That's a good thought, but I don't think he is confident enough in his ball handling to consistently drive to the hoop. He is quick enough and athletic enough, but he seems to slow down when he has the ball in his hands. Maybe that aspect of the game will come in time. He is now 5 for his last 33 from 3-point range. At this point he's better off passing no matter what.
Bill the Butcher: After hearing so much every time we play Providence at home about Jerome Lane breaking the backboard, I think it would be fun to play that game at the field house. Would Pitt every entertain playing a game at the fitz again?
Ray Fittipaldo: And leave that extra cash from another 7,000 seats on the table? No. last night was the anniversary of the Send It in Jerome Game. They showed a video of the scoreboard. Love seeing that play every time it comes on.
Bill the Butcher: Is pitt going to try and keep playing some of the current big east teams annually once they move on to the new frontier (ACC)
Ray Fittipaldo: Nothing is confirmed. Bob Huggins said he assumes Pitt and WVU will still play, but Jamie Dixon would not go as far as to say that. I would love to see the rivalry with UConn continue, too. Those two teams would be my top two targets if I'm Jamie Dixon. Problem is, Pitt has to play Duquesne every year and the Panthers have been playing Robert Morris pretty much every year. You can't overload the schedule with difficult games. I think that's why Dixon was non-committal on it when I asked him in the fall.
Recruit the Juice: Now that Khem Birch is gone I assume that opens up a scholarship for next year. James Robinson and Steven Adams are coming - any news of other recruits for 2013??
Ray Fittipaldo: Nothing concrete, but I do assume Jamie will fill the ship if he can land a good player. As I've said before, it could be a high school player or a player from the JUCO ranks.
Yonco: When healthy, is Woodall the best player on this team?
Ray Fittipaldo: Woodall is the most important player on this team. He makes everyone better. Gibbs isn't that good without him, but he looks really good with him. You can say the same thing for every other player on that roster.
Anton Chigurh: Pitt looked good last night, albeit against providence, with the schedule not looking as daunting the rest of the way how many wins do you think they could finish with in the big east
Ray Fittipaldo: I think 6-12 is a realistic goal. Not sure where that would get them in the standings, though. Probably in the 11th or 12th place range.
Yonco: Weird season in college hoops. Lots of strange results, even more so than other years. Providence blows away Louisville, FSU blows away UNC, Indiana beats Kentucky and then drops a bunch of games against lousy teams, then Oklahoma State (who looked terrible in MSG against us, without Woodall) beats Mizzou last night. To what do you attribute these lopsided results?
Ray Fittipaldo: Lots of parity. Players from elite teams leave early for the NBA. Players on mid majors and other high major programs are staying for four years and getting better as they go along. You're right. This is shaping up as a crazy year. Too bad Pitt probably won't be a part of what figures to be a wide open NCAA tournament.
Guest: Why do you think Dixon kept Taylor and let JJ Richardson leave the program? Taylor gets winded quickly, gets his shot blocked or stripped 75% of time and I am being kind, and seems lazy. Richardson at least competed
Ray Fittipaldo: Richardson played hard, but he wasn't going to be somebody who was going to put up big numbers for you. He was a role player here and would have been for two more years had he stayed.
Recruit the Juice: Where's Malcom Gilbert???
Ray Fittipaldo: On the bench. I think they might still try to get a medical redshirt for him. I just don't think the coaches are comfortable enough with him from an offensive standpoint. He's a fine defensive player, but doesn't offer much else right now.
Guest: Do you think Pitt will offer a scholarship to Jeter from BF? Or does he have others on the radar for next year?
Ray Fittipaldo: I heard jeter has picked up some offers, including one from Wisconsin. I know Jamie has watched him play, but I don't know if any others are on his radar more than him now or not.
Guest: In looking at what Pitt has inside and considering it hasn't been a good season, why cant Pitt play Gilbert more to get him some experience for next year. His redshirt is already blown
Ray Fittipaldo: I don't think it's already blown. You have to play in a certain games, and I don't think he has done that. Then you have to document an injury. Jamie has already laid the groundwork for that.
Ellen Ripley: How can someone play bball as much as robinson and have as ugly of a shot as he does
Ray Fittipaldo: He seems to put up some nice numbers no matter what, though. He's been a very good player for this program for four years now.
John Connor: Do you think college bball should start doing tip offs after jump balls or do you like the possession arrow rule
Ray Fittipaldo: Possession arrow is fine.
Yonco: Richardson was a role player, as opposed to Dante... I'm just saying. In any event, I'm still a bit confused about Adams's game. Will he be tough down low, or does he drift to the perimeter?
Ray Fittipaldo: He can play inside and outside. I'm sure Dixon will have him concentrate on his inside game because the Panthers are in desperate need of a presence in the middle.
Guest: You mentioned that Richardson wouldn't put up big numbers and would be a role player? I don't see much more out of Taylor and actually see less
Ray Fittipaldo: Guess what I'm saying is the coaches didn't think he was a better option that Taylor. Otherwise, they would have encouraged him to stay and either Taylor or Talib Zanna to leave.
Guest: Why has JJ Moore become pretty much a 3 point shooter with his athleticism? Haven't the coaches talked to him about taking the ball toe hoop or it will open up his outside shot?
Ray Fittipaldo: Yes, they have, but as I wrote above, he is not a great handler of the ball at this point in his career, so driving is not one of his strong points.
chicago_pitt_fan: what should the expectations of Adams be realistically? and of the team next year then?
Ray Fittipaldo: Assuming Woodall is healthy and there are no other major injuries I would expect the Panthers to make the NCAA tournament and be very competitive in the Big East, but they'll need another outside shooter to develop because Gibbs is gone. Maybe John Johnson or Durand Johnson can step up and fill that role.
Guest: Can James Robinson play SG? Just don't see John Johnson and Cameron Wright as the answers at SG?
Ray Fittipaldo: James Robinson is a point guard. He'll learn behind Woodall for a year and then he'll be the guy.
norman bates: why does basketball have such a different signing period than football
Ray Fittipaldo: Two signing periods -- one in the fall and another in the spring. Not sure why it's that other than it's always been that way. I wouldn't mind one signing period. Could eliminate some mistakes coaches make when they sign 16 and 17-year old juniors in the fall of their junior year of high school.
Yonco: Is there any chance that Dante might be more useful playing the 4? He has (very) occasionally shown the ability to hit a 12-foot jumper. I'm just desperate to find some redeeming value in a McDonald's guy, I know...
Ray Fittipaldo: He might get a shot at some minutes there next season because Zanna likely isn't the answer at the four either. I'm with you, though. Why not try something else with him, especially with Adams coming in at center.
Guest: Doesnt Pitt have a player named Durand Johnson sitting out this year? How has he been in practice? Are coaches encouraged?
Ray Fittipaldo: Durand came in with the reputation as an offensive player. I think they'd like to see him improve defensively. But as I mentioned before, I think they might need his offense on the perimeter next year.
Recruit the Juice: I love Adams but given the choice I would take Myles Davis (not sure how that team would ever lose in HS)
Ray Fittipaldo: They're in town Sunday at Ambridge. Lots of Pitt fans looking forward to seeing him play.
Yonco: Watching the games only on TV/Internet (I don't live in the Burgh anymore), it's interesting to watch Jamie. You see flashes of frustration, but he always changes immediately to positive encouragement. I watch a ton of college hoops, and his body language is so much better than that of many coaches, especially if they were losing game after game.
Ray Fittipaldo: Tray Woodall said after the game last night that Jamie has been really positive in practice, too. I do believe that's one of his strong points. That's why I said a few weeks ago that you would not see him playing Gilbert and other freshmen at the expense of older players because he was going to try to win every game he could.
Marty McFly: Dickie V or Bill raftery
Ray Fittipaldo: Onions!
Rick Deckard: Who would win in a 3 point shootout you or zeise
Ray Fittipaldo: Definitely me now that Zeise is injured. If both healthy it would go to the money ball.
Skip: Sent it in, Jerome
Recruit the Juice: Send it in Big Fella!!!
Goober: Ray I am going to guarantee that we are going to beat Georgetown and WVU this week and find a way to get into the NCAA Tournament. STAMP IT!
Ray Fittipaldo: Nice to be so positive, but I hope you're not betting your mortgage on it.
tommy devito: Is Pitt grooming curtis aiken to take over for dick groat, because he needs a lot of grooming
Ray Fittipaldo: Not sure what their plans are after Dick leaves. I do know Dick loves doing the games and being around the team. I think he wants to do it as long as he can.
Goober: What do you think it would take for us to make the tournament. How many Big East regular season and tournament wins?
Ray Fittipaldo: Gotta get to 9-9 I would think and then they'd still have to win a game or two at the Big East tournament. That would mean only losing twice more in the regular season.
Yonco: It seems like there was a clear difference between Jamie and Woodall as to whether he was cleared to play. Do we know what the deal was there?
Ray Fittipaldo: No, I do not. Jamie was adamant that he was cleared to play, and Tray was adamant he was not cleared to play. I guess Jamie and Tray were getting different interpretations from the doctors and trainers because I'm sure they were staying consistent.
Ray Fittipaldo: Thanks for taking part in the chat this week. We'll do it again next week.
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