Ray Fittipaldo: Yeah, go ahead and bet some lunch money. If Pitt had to pick a game to win out of this 2-game stretch it was Seton Hall because beating the Pirates would yield a bigger spike in the RPI. The Seton Hall just turned into a must-win pretty much, but this team has shown it can get onto a roll before. Maybe they'll do it again.
Panther Bill: What are Pitt's chances now (%) of making the NCAA tournament?
Ray Fittipaldo: Maybe 10 percent. The Panthers have to win five out of six to get to 9-9. That's not a guarantee, but it probably gets them in the tournament. Still a slight chance at 8-10 depending on what happens in the Big East tournament.
Jjvt: Well Ray, I am now of the mind that Pitt is short on talent and can't win with the current players. They have nobody who can play inside that is any taller than 6'5'' other than Zanna and Taylor. You can not continue to play 2 forwards that are 6'4'' & 6'5'' and are also turnover machines. This team clearly lacks talent and at times JD seems to lack the focus needed to win games.
Ray Fittipaldo: Zanna and Taylor are killing this team. Opposing teams are throwing two and three players at Gibbs and Woodall because they have no fear of Taylor and Zanna hurting them. Taylor missed two bunnies in the first half last night, Dixon turned to his assistants and just smiled. I don't think he knows what else to do. He won for so long because he had very good to great play from his centers. Now he has below average players, and it's ruining the offense.
13to9: What's up with Gibbs' tirade against the bench? Was Birch referring to him when he said that certain players are selfish and pout if they don't get their points? This can't be typical of previous Pitt teams.
Ray Fittipaldo: I think he was frustrated. I'm not sure who it was directed at, although I have an idea. Dixon didn't like it and immediately pulled him for the game at a very crucial point. I'm not sure who Birch was referring to, but I wouldn't put much stock into anything Birch said. Players get frustrated with coaches sometimes. It happens. Both sides will move on from it, but it was kind of ugly last night.
Goober: This Bill guy sounds like a Penn State fan. Do you think PSU would be able to beat Pitt at basketball? STAMP IT!
Ray Fittipaldo: Penn State beat South Florida...
chicago_pitt_fan: you mentioned that dixon took gibbs out in the 2nd half following a tantrum directed at the bench. do you know who the tantrum was directed towards? it seems gibbs has had some problems in a leadership role, which honestly is one of the more disappointing aspects of the season.....
Ray Fittipaldo: As I mentioned I'm not quite sure, so I'm not going to speculate. But Dixon didn't like it at all. The word he used toward the bench rhymes with witch.
Yonco: I noticed that Dave Wannstedt was at the Georgetown game, in a box right behind the Pitt bench. Do you know if Pitt has made any efforts to mend fences with Wanny?
Ray Fittipaldo: Haven't heard anything along those lines. I know he left with some hard feelings.
Costing: How much of a difference do you think Birch would have made had he stayed? I think we beat Depaul and Marquette with him, possibly South Florida.
Ray Fittipaldo: Not much. Maybe he could have done enough to win that DePaul game. Not sure if they win Marquette or USF game with him, though. I've written it many times, but the kid was weak physically and mentally. And he only averaged 4 points and 5 rebounds a game. Not exactly DeJuan Blair numbers.
Jjvt: If Taylor and Zanna are killing the team, along with Patterson and Robinson, who is left. To much is asked of role players and the team just lacks talent other than Gibbs and Woodall. Who is to blame, JD or the coaching staff for not developing the players they have?
Ray Fittipaldo: Robinson has struggled in some games and flourished in others. Other coaches I repsect too much say they owuld love to have him on their team. Maybe not in the role of second or third scorer as he is now, but he is definitely someone other coaches respect. I think the same can be said for Patterson. He knows how to play the game, but he has struggled with his consistency. I just think this team is missing a wing player who can generate offense on his own. When things break down with the guards it's nice to have someone like Sam Young to make a play. Pitt doesn't have that now in Patterson or JJ Moore, and it's hurting the team. But I as I wrote above the biggest issue with this offense is the inability to get production from the center position. Dixon was just shaking his head in disbelief at how many missed layups there were last night.
Dante: I hope we can join the ACC next year so I can put up an average of 25 points and 15 rebounds against the likes of Duke and North Carolina. I'll also throw down a putback slam over Goober and then steal his lunch money.
Ray Fittipaldo: What about Floyd the barber?
Yonco: John Johnson seems to have reverted to the mean with his 3-point %. For next year, do we rely on Durand Johnson for outside shooting?
Ray Fittipaldo: Yes, I do believe that will be the case. I don't know that Johnson has regressed as much as cooled off. Dixon said from the very beginning that he was surprised at how well Johnson did from 3-point range because he had not been counting on it. Johnson was known as a penetrator in high school and AAU. HIs 3-point shot has been a bonus. And I still think he's shooting in the 40 percents...That's pretty good for a freshman. And don't forget about Woodall next season. He's the team's best 3-point shooter now. I'm sure he'll work just as hard on his game this summer in hopes of improving and getting even better.
Yonco: Does it seem like Jamie is reticent to recruit Western PA kids (with the obvious exception of DeJuan)? It seems to me that McConnell or Droney would be valuable players on this team. Any idea if he ever seriously looked at this Mason kid, who I think is headed to Drake? Sounds like he could have been a real zone buster...
Ray Fittipaldo: Dixon was in on Droney for a while. McConnell committed as a sophomore, so there was never really any contact there. Mason was never really recruited by any major conference schools, so why would Dixon recruit him? Just because he's a Western Pa. kid? For the most part, Dixon has done just fine in recruting. This year his recruiting can be critiqued because some of the misses are more noticeable, but he has a long track record of success, and he's done it without any Pittsburgh kids save for DeJuan and Yuri Demetris, who was kicked off the team.
chicago_pitt_fan: I would think we are headed toward 8-10 in the big east at this point....if so, which loss do you think the panthers will be kicking themselves over most, the wagner game, the depaul game, the rutgers non showing, or last nights?
Ray Fittipaldo: Definitely DePaul. They had that game won and put it on a silver platter for the Blue Demons. This is going to sound crazy, but Wagner and Rutgers were the better teams in those games. DePaul was not. Plus, DePaul has a terrible RPI number, which has dragged Pitt's RPI down. Wagner's RPI isn't bad.
Goober: Looks like Dante is not near the player we thought he would be. Do you think its Dixons inability to develop the more talented players? I feel Gilbert Brown never fully reached his potential either and we saw what happened with Birch. But then you have players like Wannamaker, Krauser, Fields, Gray, Mcgee who arent as good when they come in and Dixon does a great job of making them a real player by their junior and senior seasons
Ray Fittipaldo: Gilbert Brown was pretty darn good last season. Third-leading scorer, very good defender, team leader. I'm sure Dixon would take him a hundred times over. Was he frustrating at times? Yes, but all young players go through growing pains. It happend with Woodall, and look at him now. I don't know what the story is with Dante. I interviewed him ealrier this week. The back hasn't been an issue since November, and he says his knees haven't bothered him all season. I keep hearing people throw out those "injuries" as excuses for himm, but he doesn't even use them as excuses. I think people just try to explain away his level of play and want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he said himself this week that there are no injury concerns.
Yonco: Is it possible that Ashton thought he was already playing in Turkey and the people on the bench would not speak English and understand that he cursed?
Ray Fittipaldo: Good one.
Goober: I agree that Gilbert Brown had a very good senior season, but his talent was something else. This guy should have been in the NBA this season. I just think Dixon seems to get more out of the lesser talented players.
Ray Fittipaldo: Brown spent training camp with the Boston Celtics. This can go either way. Dixon got the most out of Sam Young, did he not? Maybe it's up to the player, too. I'm not saying Brown did not have good work ethic, but Young was known for his legendary work ethic. A coach can only get so much out of a player. It's up to the player to get to the next level on his own sometimes.
Yonco: Wonder why we seem to be so up-and-down with free throw shooting? The Nova game looked like some team from another planet, compared to Pitt's usual free throw shooting.
Ray Fittipaldo: Was going to write a story about the free throw shooting earlier this week. Glad I didn't. Nasir was good early in the seaosn and has regressed back to his previous years of throwing up bricks. JJ Moore inexplicably is incnsistent from the line. Even Gibbs, who had been a 90 percent foul shooter entering the season, is down around 84 percent or so. Like most things this season, Woodall is the best foul shooter, and even he missed one last night.
Darren Morningstar: How does Dick Groat continue to do it?
Ray Fittipaldo: He has a love for the program and the players who come through it. He genuinely loves it. Hope to be going as strong as he is when I'm 80.
ChadVarga: Trying to score in the low post while under the hoop l;ast night? Did Ashton all of sudden think he was 7" taller and 50lbs heavier? No discipline....
Ray Fittipaldo: That happened a lot early in the season. He would try to drive into the lane and score, but even Albany's big men were swatting him. Guess he hasn't learned his lesson. It's not all his fault. Woodall had some foul trouble and Gibbs had to play point again for some stretches. We all know he's not a point guard. Which brings me to the question...where is Isaiah Epps? I'm thinking he's transferring out this summer. Don't see a role for him in the future either.
Yonco: I know Ashton's free throw shooting % is excellent, but does it seem like he tenses up a bit on shots at the ends of games? It seems like his % on those is considerably lower than his overall%.
Ray Fittipaldo: I'd have to go back and look at the play by play during games to make that determination. I think he made four or six in a row in the final minutes of the Nova game. That was crunch time.
Goober: I agree its up to the player. But it looks like he has hit and missed with the two biggest recruits in Pitt history. So either its a bad judge of character, talent, etc. or an inability to connect with them. Maybe it happens all over and its just mroe amplified here because we dont get as many of those hgih profile recruits so we dont have any room for error with them.
Ray Fittipaldo: You may be right. Big-time recruits do crash and burn at other places. It's definitely looking like Taylor was overrated by many. At least he's not a jerk. All the players like him and he tries hard. He's a good teammate. Sometimes those guys are primadonnas, but that's not the case with Dante.l He fits in well with his temamates. He just doesn't produce.
JBoard: Ray. I have said this all along, when gibbs is not knocking down jumpshots he offers nothing to this team. His defense is awful, not average, but awfu,.he cannot penetrate and is a poor leader. What else does he bring or am I missing something?
Ray Fittipaldo: For this season, you pretty much hit in on the head, although I will caution that I once heard Levance Field tell Dixon or someone on the Pitt bench to shut the blank up during a game at Marquette a few years back. And he was a good leader. Little team skirmishes happen all the time. The important thing is that it gets smoothed over. Knowing Dixon and GIbbs, I'm fairly certain this won't be an issue.
Keith: I guess Epps prediction as a HS senior that he would be one and done at Pitt was a bit off the mark.
Ray Fittipaldo: Yeah, just a bit.
STP: Besides hillgrove whos the best play by play in college bball
Ray Fittipaldo: I like Dan Shulman from ESPN. And the best color guy is Bill Raftery. Onions!
crash: who is weight room wise the strongest player on team
Ray Fittipaldo: I don't think of anyone on this team as being strong. I think that's a problem, too. Maybe Jamie has to start bringing Tim beltz on the road with the team again. Beltz is the strength and conditioning coach.
Frank: Pitt changing conferences will not affect the annual City Game, correct?
Ray Fittipaldo: No, but it likely will mean a halt in the series with WVU.
coco: Is jamie dixon's personaltiy a lot different around the team when he's not with the media
Ray Fittipaldo: All coaches are different with media and their team. Only Rex Ryan tells it like it is. All others pretty much tell us the company line.
Yonco: If we go 8-10 and win 3 games in NYC, does that do it?
Ray Fittipaldo: I believe Joe Lunardi said 10 Big East wins would do it, which would only mean two Big East wins. But I don't think that's a slam dunk.
poris: It was interesting listening to the tv they said most african players dont have the feel of the game that allows them to match their physical abilities, like with zanna, he has a lot of good atributes but do you think he'll ever put i together
Ray Fittipaldo: I sit near NBA scouts all the time at road games and they say the same thing. One of them wondered aloud why any college coach would take an African because they are only good on defense, although that guy Olajuwan turned out pretty well.
KeepTheFaith: Good thing about this team is Aston Gibbs is leaving after this year.
moranis: why don't they want the wvu series to go on?
Ray Fittipaldo: I'm not sure. I asked Bob Huggins about it in October, and he said he assumed the series would continue. Jamie basically said what AD Steve Pederson said last week "we'll have to look at our options." I think this might be an upper administration decision. I'm sure Dixon and Huggins will get asked about it next week with WVU coming to town for perhapsn the final time for a long time.
chicago_pitt_fan: it would seem pitt would do best to end up being like the 10 seed in the big east....easy game thurs, then against 7 seed and then avoid cuse in round three.....
Ray Fittipaldo: You mean Tuesday. Still a long way to go, but when you say easy game you do realize this team already lost to DePaul and Rutgers and had some trouble putting Providence away.
Ray Fittipaldo: It was great spending an hour with you and answering your questions, but I have to finish writing a story for the paper for tomorrow. We'll do it again next week.
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