Poll Question: What will Pitt's Big East record be? 10-8 (50%) 9-9 (0%) 8-10 (0%) Better than 10-8 (50%) Worse than 8-10 (0%)
Robbie: Ray, who/what were you most encouraged about in the game Monday?
Ray Fittipaldo: Hard to encouraged by a lot after Cincinnati ran them out of the gym in the second half, but if I had to pick a few, here goes:
Talib Zanna scored 16 and continues to impress. Mick Cronin singled Zanna out afterward. He was asked a question about Steve Adams and his development but he steered the answer toward Zanna. He's not the first coach who has said Zanna is playing really well.
Also, the start against Cincinnati was encouraging. Pitt held an eight-point lead at halftime. Now they have to figure out how to continue that in second halves of these Big East games.
Robbie: Ray, IF Pitt were to lose at Rutgers, would you consider it a bad loss?
Ray Fittipaldo: Absolutely especially with No. 15 on the schedule a few days later. If I learned one thing from the game Monday I'd say Pitt will have a hard competing with the top teams in the league. That means you had better beat the teams you're supposed to beat on your schedule. That means winning at Rutgers, beating DePaul twice, beating Villanova twice, etc. Plus, Rutgers just got blown out by Syracuse last night. They lost by 25. Pitt has to go in there and take care of business.
Robbie: Ray, I'm just aching to see Pitt get it in the post more to its big men. Adams/Taylor get so few points because they get so few opportunities on the offensive end - do you feel the same?
Ray Fittipaldo: Well certainly I'd like to see Pitt's post players score more but I'm not convinced Taylor and Adams are capable of being consistent low-post scoring threats. Taylor has never shown that. He gets most of his points off offensive rebounds and dump offs from the guards. Adams certainly has not exhibited any low post skills that make me think they're overlooking him. It's a problem for Jamie Dixon. It's going to be hard to win a lot of games without a point from your starting center. It's also hard to envision them winning many games without making a 3-point shot. They were 0 for 10 on Monday. If I had to choose right now who I would like to take more shots it's the guards from behind the 3-point line because despite Monday's effort they've shown the ability to do it for most of the season.
Robbie: Last question from me: Should we be concerned about Zeigler or was it simply just one bad game?
Ray Fittipaldo: Well, that's the problem, Robbie. It hasn't just been one game. Zeigler has not played well all season. I believe he is second on the team in turnovers and has played the second-fewest minutes. He is a turnover machine, he is guilty of committing charges and he fouls a lot on defense, too. Dixon only played Zeigler two minutes in the second half. Cameron Wright played 24 minutes and did well, scoring 10 points. I like Wright, but Dixon has to find a way to get more minutes for JJ Moore, too. Moore only played 10 minutes vs. Cincinnati. He is one of the top team's top scoring threats. You have to find a way to get the ball to him more. But to answer your question, yes it's time to be concerned about Zeigler. It's been time for a while now.
Steve: Ray, what is your opinion of durand johnson. I would've liked to see him get a few minutes in the middle of the second half against cincy. I know he is turnover pronee and get a little too excited, but i think he can provide a spark.
Ray Fittipaldo: I agree with you, Steve. Why not give Durand Johnson some of Zeigler's minutes. He is a better 3-point shooter and probably about the same defensively. Maybe a little worse. But I think Dixon might have to start looking at some better offensive lineups at certain points in games. In the Michigan game, Pitt had a long scoring drought. Had three baskets in 13 minutes to start the second half. They had a similar drought vs. Cincy -- with 11 points in the first 13 minutes after halftime. It's nice to stress defense, but you have to score points to win these games. Also, people forget Pitt had a hard time scoring vs. Oakland in regulation. I think they had 58 or something before overtime. And that was after a furious rally in the final minutes.
Guest: how would you charcterize Tray Woodall's senior year thus far? After 5 years in the program, should we expect more from him?
Ray Fittipaldo: I think he's played OK. It was disappointing for me to see him miss that foul shot on Monday. It was a three-point game with 1:14 left. He really could have made things interesting there. He is the team's second-leading scorer and has a high assist-to-turnover ratio. He's a good player, not great. I think the problem is Pitt has had so many great college guards in recent years that we expect more from Woodall based on the performances of his predecessors. He's not Levance Fields or Brandin Knight. Or even Carl Krauser. But Pitt can win with him. But let's be real. There are so many other issues with this team right now that complaining about Woodall should be well down the list.
Steve: Why do you think we struggle so much coming out of the half? Is it the other teams adjustments that we can't handle? Personally I love Jaime Dixon, but I think he definitely struggles with making adjustments from the sideline. Teams seem to come out of the locker room and use zone that he cannot manage to break down with this team.
Ray Fittipaldo: At the beginning it was Dixon doing the adjusting at halftime against some weaker opponents after slow starts. In the Michigan and Cincy games, the Panthers had good starts and bad second halves. I think it goes back to the offense and not going through long scoring droughts. This team has to find a way to score in the half court against good defensive teams. They did not do that well enough vs. Michigan or Cincy.
Ray Fittipaldo: Thanks for taking part in the chat this week. I have to get to practice and write some stories. We'll do it again next Thursday at the same time.
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