larry: Who is the better ppg lookalikes ed bouchette and the dos equios world's most interesting man or ron cook and bruce arians?
Ray Fittipaldo: Those are two really bad calls. I contend Paul Zeise's lookalike is Pitt freshman John Johnson, though.
under bridge: why didn't jamie dixon coach the national team after he won it all his first time
Ray Fittipaldo: He coached a 19-and under team to a gold medal at the FIBA world championships. I'm not completely sure about this, but I believe USA Basketball asked him to coach again since then and he declined.
under bridge: crazy to think about but do you think the hall and usf are going to the big dance
Ray Fittipaldo: I listened to a conference call yesterday with NCAA chair Jeff Hathaway, and he said teams are judged solely on the criteria the committee uses. In other words, the RPI is most important followed by strength of schedule and non-conference strength of schedule and so on. So even tough USF might finish with 10 wins before the Big East tournament the Bulls will be judged first by their RPI. So I would say the Hall is in better position because the Hall has a better RPI than the Bulls. Last time I checked USF was around 70 and Hall was still in the 30s.
olie: why does this team have so much trouble closing out games
Ray Fittipaldo: Great question. I think it starts with defense. This team just doesn't have good defenders. When you want to close out games you want to be able to do it with defense first because your shots aren't always going to be falling. Defense for good teams should be a constant. It has been anything but for Pitt this season.
beavis: wasn't that one of the worst leads you've seen pitt blow
Ray Fittipaldo: I can't say off the top of my head, but I'm sure they have blown bigger leads in the nine years I've been covering the team. This was a six-point lead with eight minutes to go. That's hardly insurmountable. I remember them blowing an eight-point lead at Georgetown a few years back with about the same amount of time left. This was a bad loss because the Panthers needed it to stay in contention for the NCAA tournament.
upj89: Confused by Gilbert's usage, think he'll redshirt next year instead? Do you think Zanna could do well at the 4 next yr? Finally, any idea on how Durand Johnson is performing in practice and if he'll contribute next yr?
Ray Fittipaldo: The redshirt rule is 30 percent of the games and a documented injury. I'd have to check Gilbert's stats to see if he has played in 30 percent of the games. Dixon used him last game so I don't think he's looking to redshirt him at this point...I think Zanna will play the four next season because Adams will be the starting center. Dante Taylor will be the backup center, and Dixon has to recruit a backup four or someone to push Zanna to start. I'm assuming they'll look at the JUCo ranks for that player because most of the good recruits were signed to LOIs in November.
JohnT: Hi Ray, what do you think is the bigger need for next year, a 6'8" forward like Andrew Young or Sheldon Jeter or a 6'2" guard like Kaza Keane?
Ray Fittipaldo: I think they need a power forward more than another guard. The starters next year will be Woodall and probably John Johnson with James Robinson the backup PG and Cam Wright and Durand Johnson vying for playing time at shooting guard. Unless you tell Wright to Johnson to leave the program I don't see how another guard is a possibility.
JohnT: You are right about defense and both of Pitt's seniors are bad defenders.
Ray Fittipaldo: Yes, Ashton is not a good defender. Robinson is an OK defender depending on the matchup but he gets caught in mismatches a lot because he is smallish for a power forward.
JohnT: Do you think Isiah Epps has the ability to play at this level?
Ray Fittipaldo: From what I have seen to this point, no. I know he hasn't had a lot of opportunities, but Dixon has not shown any confidence in him, so I'm trusting the coach on this one.
butthead: would you rather see pitt lose in the opening round of the ncaa tournament or win the nit
Ray Fittipaldo: That's a good question. I suppose lose in the first round because it's never good to miss the NCAA tournament, but I'm sure coaches will tell you a long run in the NIT can be beneficial for the program in some ways. Coaches are always looking to practice and teach their players, so the longer they had access to their players the better in their eyes. Then again, some seasons are better off ending rather than going on.
butthead: if pitt and cuse met up in the be tournament do you think pitt's chances of winning are pretty good
Ray Fittipaldo: I think Pitt owuld have a good chance because Woodall did not play in the first game and Dixon always does a good job coaching against the zone. Syracuse is really good, but I'd like that matchup better than some others at the Garden.
upj89: Aside from Woodall, and possible James Robinson, would be nice to have a few guys with a handle to penetrate. John Johnson was supposed to be one of those guys but seemed to freeze up/give up after handling problems against zones. JJ Moore only some glimpses. Wonder how Durand Johnson would fare in this regard?
Ray Fittipaldo: I'm looking forward to seeing Durand more this summer and next season. I know he has a reputation as a shooter, but he has an athletic build and appears to have some upside. I think Johnson can penetrate, but he is small and has had a hard time adjusting in that regard among the taller forwards and centers in the Big East. JJ has to work on his ball handling plain and simple. I still think JJ can be a really good player, but he has some growing to do. This summer will be big for him.
beavis: will pitt get a w tonight, and also do you think wvu may be the biggest disappointment in the league this year considering they have two legit be player of the year candidates and a solid turkish center
Ray Fittipaldo: Two POY candidates? Kevin Jones is legit, but Truck Bryant is not. I like Bryant as a player, but he's not great. And Kilicili is too up and down for my taste. Some nights he's on and other nights he disappears. So really they have Kevin Jones, a solid guard in Bryant, an inconsistent center and a bunch of young guys learning the ropes. Huggins is a really good coach, but no one though the Mountaineers were an NCAA lock before the season because the team was so young. Now we're coming to understand why.
Ray Fittipaldo: Malcolm Gilbert has played in 9 of the 26 games. That's 34 percent so he is not eligible right now. That could change depending on whether he is used the rest of the season.
young: the media and fans make a big deal about changing conferences, but do you think the players really care
Ray Fittipaldo: Not really. I think the older players probably have some feelings on leaving the Big East because they've been involved with it for a longer period of time. The Big East to the ACC is a lateral move for Pitt in basketball. The university can tout playing against Duke and North Carolina, but after that it's suspect. I'd prefer the Big East, but why complain now. Players are the same way. They don't have a say in the matter, so they're just going to go out there and play the game they love.
JohnT: I recently read an article about the lack of leadership from the 2 seniors on this team, Gibbs and Robinson. In fact the article said that Gibbs didn't want to come back and only came back b/c of his projected NBA draft status and for the most part has been a big part of Pitt's problem this year. What are your thoughts on this?
Ray Fittipaldo: I did not read the story you referenced so it's hard to comment. I will say sometimes players approach the season in a different manner after they go through the predraft process because they learn what the scouts want to see from them. I don't think it's a coincidence you saw Gibbs trying to drive more and show of his abilities as a point guard this season. But it's hard for me to sit here and tell you the team would have been better off without him because he's still the leading scorer. I think the team probably would have been a whole lot worse.
Lower Level Tickets: Thanks for doing this, Ray. What do you know about this Anya kid? He sounds like a DeJuan Blair like player, physically, at least. Thanks.
Ray Fittipaldo: I saw him play on ESPNU last week. Loved his game. Has a similar build to Blair. You hate to make comparisons, but he does remind me of Blair. I understand he is good friends with Robinson too, which is good.
JohnT: I guess the point I was trying to make was not that the team would have been better without Gibbs but that he came back with a chip on his shoulder and in my opinion has never exhibited leadership skills. Also, I continue to believe that Robinson is a solid role player and should be coming of the bench to provide minutes at the3/4 position. There is just to many big forwards n the BE for him to play inside and I also think the coaching staff needs to be held accountable for his poor free throw shooting that never seemed to improve.
Ray Fittipaldo: I think Robinson is better than a role player. He's a three-year starter. Aside from this season, he started for a Big East championship team and a team that finished in a tie for second place. I do think he is better cast as a fourth or fifth scoring option rather than a second or third option. And his free throwing shooting has been killing the team. As for Gibbs, I'm not sure he has been a very good leader either, but where was the scoring going to come from if he didn't come back? You think the team has trouble scoring now? It would have been even worse without him in my opinion.
Ty: Is Lamar Patterson a bigger version of Brad Wanamaker
Ray Fittipaldo: Brad was a better defender and better off the dribble. But yes there are similarities. Lamar sees the court very well, knows how to pass, can score a little. I like Lamar's game, but I also think of him in the same way I think of Robinson. I think you want to surround him with a bunch of really good players. If Lamar is playing with a bunch of mediocre players his skills are not maximized.
LaVon: Are the players given things to "work" on in the off-season by the coaching staff? It seems to me that someone like JJ Moore should have a better ability to dribble the ball going into this year. Also has Dixon considered using Taylor at the 4 since he came into Pitt wanting to play that position?
Ray Fittipaldo: Taylor can play power forward in a pinch, but he hasn't displayed those types of skills throughout his career. The coaches can work with players on a very limited basis in the offseason. There are some individual workouts in the fall, but in the summer the coaches have not been allowed to instruct. For the most part, the players play pickup and in the summer league to stay in shape. The coaches do keep an eye on what they're doing and count on the older players to make sure the younger guys are doing what they have to do to improve.
JohnT: I think we have a really good chance to get Anya but only if Adams leaves after 1 year
Ray Fittipaldo: I'm not sure why that would be. They could both play and play a lot because centers tend to get into foul trouble. Plus, Adams is so skilled that he might morph into a power forward if he stays more than a year.
IDA: Do you know if the players read your articles
Ray Fittipaldo: After wins or after losses? I'm sure they do sometimes.
ChrisSeabrooks: Seeing as this is the last BYB for the forseeable future do you think Huggy will wear one of his better warm up suits tonight?
Ray Fittipaldo: He might upgrade to a sweater vest for the occasion.
JohnT: What are you hearing from your sources about Pitt's interest in Jeter? Can he play in the BE?
Ray Fittipaldo: We all know there is a scholarship available, but as I said I believe the bigger need is for a power forward. Now if they don't get that power forward and they want to use the scholarship I think Jeter is a possibility. And I can't comment on whether he can play at Pitt because I haven't seen him play enough.
HOP: do these two basketball teams hate each other as much as the football teams
Ray Fittipaldo: I think it's a healthy dislike. Believe it or not, the players love to play in games like these because they're the ones you remember when you're old and the career is over. What did you do against your biggest rivals? These Pitt teams of recent lore have pretty good memories of Backyard Brawls.
Ray Fittipaldo: Thanks for taking part in the chat this week. We'll do it again next week before the Louisville game. Enjoy the game tonight.
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