David: Is it time to sit down Talib Zanna and give Dante Taylor a start at the 4 after an efficient performance in the loss at Louisville?
Ray Fittipaldo: Zanna's slump is beginning to become a bit worrisome, but I don't know if Taylor at power forward is the answer. He is a good backup center and has done well in that role. Not sure how he would perform in extended minutes. Perhaps the answer is giving JJ Moore some of Zanna's minutes. Whatever the case, Pitt needs Zanna to be an effective scorer if this team is going to do well in March. Your leading scorer cannot become a non-factor and expect to do well in any postseason tournament. The coaching staff has to find a way to get him going.
chicago_pitt_fan: early prediction.....pitt beating cuse this weekend?
Ray Fittipaldo: Just as Louisville has been a bad matchup for Pitt in recent years Syracuse has been a great matchup for the Panthers. Jamie Dixon knows how to coach zone offense and his teams have always done a great job attacking the Boeheim zone. The Panthers have not been a great zone offense team this season, however, so that has to change. The biggest issue in this game, though, might be stopping the Syracuse offense, which leads the conference in scoring. I won't give my prediction until Saturday morning on the blog, but I think it will be very competitive. Remember, when Pitt played at Syracuse last year and the Orange were the No. 1 team in the country and Pitt was terrible the Panthers found a way to make that a competitive game in the second half. For whatever reason it's just a good matchup for the Panthers.
David: Can we expect to see a healthy dose of Trey Zeigler on Saturday? Seems to be the zone-breaker/slasher type of player Pitt will need a good game out to win on Saturday. If not Zeigler who plays that role? Durand Johnson? Cam Wright?
Ray Fittipaldo: Pitt has defeated that zone without a great penetrator in other seasons. It would certainly help if Zeigler was able to get inside that zone and make some plays for others, but it's not a necessity. The Panthers have been able to beat the zone by getting a big man at the foul line and having the big man be the distributor. It could be Zanna in this game. He is a good passer and has shown an ability to knock down some foul line jumpers, although not in recent games. The Panthers will need guys like Lamar Patterson and Tray Woodall to knock down some 3-pointers, too.
chicago_pitt_fan: do you think 10-8 in the conf and a first game loss in the be tourney without a signature win (if they lose to syracuse on sat) gets us in the ncaa? or do you think they would need one more win then....
Ray Fittipaldo: I think 10-8 in this conference will be good enough, but a loss in the first game at the Big East tournament would likely leave the Panthers sweating it out for a few days until Selection Sunday. Let's face it, if they stay around where they are now they'd be an 8 or 9 seed at the Big East tournament. So a first-round loss would be to a team such as Villanova. That might not be a terrible loss, but it wouldn't be a good one, either. This is a very competitive conference race. Pitt is facing a very difficult stretch now. The Panthers would do themselves a favor by pulling an upset in the next week or two, so they could have that signature win on their resume.
chicago_pitt_fan: i have asked and you wrote in the past about how pitt says they need to schedule the non conference games like they do to balance the budget. i just don't understand how other schools who don't have the football program that we do can then afford to schedule premiere matchups, like the kentucky-nc matchup that got announced? how can we not at least schedule wvu every year? as josh baskin said in big, i don't get it.
Ray Fittipaldo: Simply put, the Pitt athletic department counts on the revenue generated from home basketball games. That's what Jamie Dixon told me and I have no reason to doubt his answer. I don't know the inner workings of the North Carolina athletic department or the Kentucky athletic department, but I do know Pitt has a hard time keeping up with other universities when it comes to raising funds for its sports teams. I wish I had a better answer for you, but from what I have been told it's simply balancing the budget for the school.
chicago_pitt_fan: i believe you and the administration too.....just frustrating for a pitt fan that would love to see them challenge themselves more in the non conference. and esp see them about the mountaineers year in and year out!
Ray Fittipaldo: I absolutely understand the frustration involved. I brought up the old two-game series Pitt used to have with Wisconsin and Washington and Auburn and Georgia a few years back and asked why they can't do those any longer. The reason given was the home game you lose every other year. Plus, Pitt's non-conference is fine most seasons with the two or three games in the postseason tournaments and the yearly matchups in the cross-conference games such as next year's ACC/Big Ten challenge. The issue is brought up this year because the Big East reneged on its promise for a home game in the Big East/SEC challenge and Virginia lost in the preseason NIT, giving the Panthers a game with Delaware instead of the Cavaliers.
The master: What kind of scoring potential do you think Robinson has a couple years down the line.
Ray Fittipaldo: He's not a scoring point guard by any means, but I think he'll become a more dependable scorer as his career goes on. He is deferring to other players around him now and that's smart because he has players around him who are better scorers than he is at this point in his career. The thing I like about Robinson is he is not afraid to take a big shot. He showed that in the Connecticut game. Once he develops some better quickness and some confidence in his jump shot I think he'll be a much different offensive player. He's pretty good at what he does right now, though, which is running the offense and distributing to his teammates.
Wayne Brady Djokovic: How much of an effect has the cbi tournament had on this season?
Ray Fittipaldo: I'd venture to say little, if any. Dixon believed it would serve a purpose by getting his players more experience, but beyond that I'm not sure if it was worth that much.
Ray Fittipaldo: Thanks for taking part in the chat this week. Join me next week at the same time for more Pitt basketball talk.
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