Jerry Micco's Sports Chat Transcript: 3.20.13

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Poll Question:

How far will Pitt go in the NCAA tournament?

Answer #1:

Final 4 (0%)

Answer #2:

Elite 8 (0%)

Answer #3:

Sweet 16 (22.2%)

Answer #4:

Win one game (33.3%)

Answer #5:

One and done (44.4%)

James_Pittsburgh: I don't understand why people think next year's Pitt men's basketball team will be better? They don't have a scorer coming in. Woodall will graduate and they will lack a proven scorer.

Jerry Micco: I think the general consensus is that Pitt will have more experienced players and that guys like Lamar Patterson and James Robinson can develop into scorers. And if Adams stays around another year, you could see his offensive game improve. I think next year's team will be a bit better than this year's team.

The Dude: How far do you think Pitt gets in the NCAA tourney?

Jerry Micco: I think they can handle Wichita State, but should they play Gonzaga, I'm not sure Pitt has enough to beat them. I think there's a national buzz going around that Pitt can make the Sweet 16 by knocking off Gonzaga. I think when Pitt's at its best it can beat a lot of teams, but I don't think they'll be able to handle Gonzaga. Too much speed and the guards can shoot. Pitt will bang them inside, but the Zags firepower might be too much. It'll be close, though.

Bill T: Did you hear any talk that the Steelers even attempted to look at any real free agents (I mean other than Steeler retreads)? TE was ridiculously deep this year and Brandon Myers was gotten on the cheap. How can anyone select Spaeth and his FOUR receptions ('11 & '12)over a young and up coming threat like Myers (79 rec '12)?!!!!

Jerry Micco: Money, money, money. The Steelers don't have much cap space, so they can't go after top guys. They are going to get who they can, and then hope to supplement it in the draft. And remember, there are still some decent players out there unsigned. Victor Butler is a nice young LB who the Steelers looked at and he hasn't signed. Not to mention that James Harrison isn't getting sniff. I wonder if the Steelers would take him back at a reduced rate?

James_Pittsburgh: With less than two weeks until open day is this your starting rotation: A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, and Kyle McPherson?

Jerry Micco: I'd say that's probably correct, though you may see Locke for McPherson. And at some point in June, Gerrit Cole will have the spot occupied by either Karstens, McPherson/Locke. Also looking for the mid-May return of Charlie Morton to see if he can bring anything to the table.

Ray Lewiss Bloody Suit: Will Dustin Jeffrey be sent to the 4th line when Malkin returns?

Jerry Micco: That's highly likely, and he may split time there with Joe Vitale.

The Chief: How big of a deal was RMU's defeat of Kentucky ?

Jerry Micco: Really nice story and a really big deal for the program. Kentucky wasn't an overwhelming favorite -- less than 5 points -- but not a lot of folks thought RMU would win. But I think you saw that RMU can play with a lot of teams and is very well coached by Andy Toole. That said, I thought Kentucky didn't even want to be there last night and played that way. But they were able to tie it twice after being down by double digits on their talent alone. Bottom line: Great win for RMU and a great win for the program. Give them all the credit.

Ray Lewiss Bloody Suit: Adams reminds me of Aaron Gray, who became serviceable by his Sr year, but still couldn't dunk, even at 7 ft.

Jerry Micco: I think Adams will turn out to be better offensively than Gray, but my guess is he won't be around for four years. There are rumors that he'll be gone after this year because the NBA covets athletic 7-footers who they can work with every day in an NBA practice to get better. But I think he'll be back, and he'll be a better player for that.

Ray Lewiss Bloody Suit: If they aren't going to fight, why are Engelland & Glass ever in the Pens line-up?

Jerry Micco: Both bring some physical play to a team that is not known for being very physical. And if there is any rough stuff to go on, then you've got guys who can defend themselves and the star players. Engelland has been scratched a couple of times, but with Letang out, he'll play more.

Sid: Will this Pens team win the Cup?

Jerry Micco: I think they'll win the East and have a very good chance of winning a Stanley Cup. But both Chicago and Anaheim are very good and you could say on par with the Pens. And while I think the Pens are the class of the East, the Bruins are still very good and will give the Pens a fight.

Sid: Is it just my imagination or are the Steelers having a terrible offseason?

Jerry Micco: Well, depends on how you look at it. They lost 3 starters off an 8-8 team in Wallace, Mendenhall and Lewis. Of those 3, Lewis, in my opinion, is the biggest loss. They didn't re-sign Harrison (yet). Likely will let Starks and Hampton walk. So if you look at those losses, it's been a tough March. However, if you believe that there are guys on the team that need to step up and people think they are ready, then they did what they had to do. Guys like McLendon, Worilds and Cortez Allen all need to prove they can start and play well. And they aren't done signing FAs just yet. Plus, the draft will have to be a good one because they will need those guys to fill holes.

Nittany fan: Will you guys be covering the NCAA wrestling championships where Penn State goes for a third straight national title?

Jerry Micco: Ken Wunderley will cover from here in Pittsburgh, so we'll have stories every day. We've done it that way the past several years. Many local wrestlers from Pitt and other schools besides PSU. And it will be quiet an accomplishment if the Nittany Lions get that third consecutive title.

The Chief: Your thoughts on all of Coach Tomlin's chirpin' while he is in PHX !

Jerry Micco: I have no problem with him saying it. Now, he has to back that up. If you're going out on a limb like that, make sure you aren't sawing off said limb. He's right, it's only March, not September. We'll see how well he and his staff, as well as the players, prepare for this season.

Joe: Who is the starting QB for Penn State when they open with Syracuse?

Jerry Micco: Probably Steven Bench, though freshman Christian Hackenberg will get a long look.

Urban Meyer: Did you catch the story where the Big Ten commish said his league would go to a Div. 3 status if the Ed O'Bannon suit vs the NCAA involves the players getting paid?

Jerry Micco: Jim Delaney must be the president of some university to have made that comment, since it'll be the decision of university presidents on whether they want to change status. I saw the story. Seemed like a shot across the bow for the judges in the O'Bannon case.

Ray Lewiss Bloody Suit: Can either Vitale or Jeffrey play the wing, and can Tanner Glass PLEASE be scratched?

Jerry Micco: Vitale is the best face-off guy on the team, so you want him taking draws. Glass does bring a physical presence to the team, but I don't think anyone thought he'd not score a goal in 30 games. That's kind of stunning, really. Considering he was a replacement for Steve Sullivan, who could score a little bit, they took a big offensive hit with Glass. All that said, the team is playing really well and Glass has a role in that.

AceFreely: Afew seasons back the Pirates kept talking about how they would really be able to compete for the playoffs and get free agents in 2014...how close are they now? Will they keep pushing back their 'coming out party'?

Jerry Micco: They are as close as their pitching, I believe. I'll keep saying it: they will have a winning season in 2013. I predict 83 wins, but no playoff appearance. I think they have a nice core in McCutchen, Walker, Alvarez and Jones. Add in Marte, who is only going to get better and Russell Martin's ability to get on base, and you have a pretty nice lineup. But the pitching is a bit suspect. I think it's a nice rotation if Burnett can win 15 games and Rodriguez can match that. McDonald is the key. Won 12 games last year, but fell apart in the second half. If he can keep it together all season, then he can win 15, too. Bullpen has to prove it can close out games, so all eyes on new closer, Jason Grilli.

Panther Pete: Is it put up or shut up time for Jamie Dixon?

Jerry Micco: I don't think so, but if they lose to Wichita State, some people might start thinking that there needs to be a change. I think they are wrong, but you'll hear a lot from the fans about that. Dixon is a very good coach, and I think the next year or so can be a difference maker for Pitt. Now if they flop the next two seasons with early NCAA exits, then the detractors may have a point.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I don't think James Harrison brings a lot to the table. I think the Steelers should add Victor Butler or draft a pass rusher in the first round. The ship has sailed for James Harrison.

Jerry Micco: I think Harrison has one good year left in him, but that's all. I agree with you on Butler. Think he'd be a good signing. As for the draft, either outside pass rusher or a safety on that first pick would be a great help.

Lambert: Will this be Tomlin's 6-10 season?

Jerry Micco: It very well could be, but with Roethlisberger and a third-place schedule, maybe not. Hard to say how this team will do because we aren't done seeing what they'll add in FA or in the draft.

The Chief: Do the Penguins still look for a wing to play with Malkin & Neal or are content to keep Bennet , who has zero playoff experience?

Jerry Micco: I think Shero will always keep the radar up, but he's not going to mortgage the future for a one-and-done winger. I think they like Bennett a lot, and I agree with that assessment. He's done a very good job in his time here.

Ray Shero: Still think the Pens need a top six forward?

Jerry Micco: If you can get that guy, then you get him, but as I said above, not at the cost of young talent. I like how the Pens look right now. But Ray Shero is a guy who's pretty shrewd at the trade deadline. We'll see what he comes up with.

Dan Bylsma: Are there words that can describe how well Sid the Kid is playing these days?

Jerry Micco: Not really. He's the best player in the game for a reason, and fans here are being treated to that now. We really are spoiled here in Pittsburgh. Crosby, Malkin, Lemieux, Coffey, Francis, etc. Some of the past and current greats and they've all played here. Crosby looks great and that's great to see considering at one point, many thought concussions would end his career.

James_Pittsburgh: Jerry, I think it is too early to think the Penguins will win the East. They are a good team, but I think we need to see how the defense plays in the playoffs before believing they will make it to the Stanley Cup finals.

Jerry Micco: Maybe, but I think only Boston stands in the Penguins way to the conference title. And if the defense plays as well as it has the past several games, this will not be a problem.

Chunkles: Jerry, I wont call the Steelers cheap, how about financially responsible. So how is it they always have cap problems and cannot bring in any decent FA's and teams like Dallas, Washington, Green Bay and the Jets, do it year in and year out without reading about cap problems with them?

Jerry Micco: Well, teams like Washington and Dallas frequently miss the playoffs, so they get to draft higher. But when RG3's big payday comes, the Skins will be strapped. The Steelers have been successful for many seasons because they stretch the cap. They have good players and want to keep them, but that costs money. At some point, you need to use younger guys because you can't keep paying the vets. Of the teams you mentioned, only Green Bay has gone to a Super Bowl. And one reason they've slipped a bit is they have had to spend to keep a very good team together. And if those guys get hurt or fall off, you are committed to them moneywise down the road.

Steeler man: Am I the only one who is concerned ow the Steelers keep restructuring contracts? All they are doing is pushing money into the future when the caps are said to be flat.

Jerry Micco: No, the Steelers are concerned, too. Which is why you see them dumping guys and trying to get younger.

Bill T: Is it my imagination or is it a complete myth that the Steelers were built through the draft? Every team has a their #1's that are on the team (Ben, Troy), few have multiple years over the past 5 with ZERO drafted players on the team ('06, '08).

Jerry Micco: The 2008 draft was a disaster. But look at the OL. Pouncey, Gilbert, DeCastro and Adams all either first or 2nd round choices. Foster is a fifth rounder. Heath Miller was drafted. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders were drafted. On defense, Ike and Cortez Allen were drafted, as were Keisel, Heyward and Hood. Then of course there's Timmons, Woodley and Foote, all drafted.

Ray Lewiss Bloody Suit: Does it bother you at all that Pitt hasn't played yet, and they are in the 2nd round already? The "first round" is a play-in game....or am I being old and crotchety?

Jerry Micco: I'm old an crotchety too. And no one uses that second-round thing unofficially. Everyone around here says first-round game. We know those are play-in games, but the NCAA doesn't want those called that because those 68 actually do make the tournament. Whatever. Still play-in games to me.

Ray Lewiss Bloody Suit: Can they make the line high enough to scare you away from betting your house on FSU when they play Pitt on Labor Day?

Jerry Micco: I think Pitt gives them a game. I really do. Be fired up and ready to go on national TV. FSU probably still wins, but I'm looking for a good game.

James_Pittsburgh: With the way the Penguins lines are playing, I think it would be a mistake for the Penguins to acquire a forward. What are your thoughts? However a defensman would be nice!

Jerry Micco: I'd not change the lines at this point. I mean, you only have 18 or 19 games left before the playoffs so the chemistry might not be that good. Besides, why mess with what's working? And this is without Geno in the lineup. Now, a big, stay-at-home defenseman would be nice. But those are tough to find and you'll have to give up a nice player to get one.

Bill T. #2: Any thoughts on Rosnthal's tweet that the Pirates acquired SS John McDonald from the D-Backs?

Jerry Micco: I see Michael Sanserino is posting breaking news on this trade, too. Says that they are either scared of Barmes or Walker being injured. Though what does this say about Josh Harrison? I only saw a quick note from Michael. Anyone know who they dealt to get McDonald?

ThisIsOurYear: Jerry, Do you think Huntington went way too far in his comments about Cole not making the team? Everyone knows its a salary/rights issue. Let's be adults, it just seemed he was overly and needlessly critical in saying Cole was not ready. Hope that kind of comment doesn't hurt us long term.

Jerry Micco: Nah, it shouldn't hurt, but I'm in the minority when I think that Cole could use a bit more time in AAA. Sure, part of this is arbitration/free agency, but there's no need to rush the guy here right away. And maybe Cole is not ready to pitch up here in a regular rotation. I think the Pirates love what he brings, but just want to see more. Now, I also think Huntington could have been a bit more diplomatic in his comments. That said, he's the decision-maker and he's the one who has to live with his call.

Chunkles: Jerry, the best part about the Pens winning streak is that eventually it will end and they will hit a pothole and everyone will get nervous and then they will regain their momentum just in time for the playoffs and they WILL NOT be a one and done this year!

Jerry Micco: I do not think they'll be a one and done this season. And yes, they will hit a low point before the season ends. The question is, will it come late in the season and carry over into the playoffs. People talk about teams peaking too early, but I think if you're good, you're good even after a slide.

The Chief: Ever thought about adding Patrick Stevens, bracketoligist who predicted all 68 teams, to cover the NCAA tournamet for the Post Gazette?

Jerry Micco: Why would I do that? Once he picks all the teams correctly, can he write a game story on deadline, blog, tweet and do a chat with that team's fans, which our beat guy has covered all year? I don't think so. Bracketology is a fun thing and it's impressive he picked all 68. But I'm happy with the job our Ray Fittipaldo does covering Pitt basketball.

Pirateman: Is Bob Nutting one of the MLB owners pushing for the elimination of pensions for employees? That would impact many long term people in the Pirate organization.

Jerry Micco: I really don't know.

Dormonty Dawson: Which is more fun: Rooting for the Pens to win on any given night, or rooting for the Flyers to lose? I also enjoy it when two teams ahead of the Flyers play each other and the game ends up being worth 3 points.

Jerry Micco: Well, I think fans love to root for their home team more than against another team because you get real satisfaction out of your team winning. Just my opinion, because I have to approach the teams we cover through a journalist's lense.

The Chief: OK Jerry, share your bracket with us. Who you got in the Final 4 and who is this years NCAA Men's hoop Champion!

Jerry Micco: Sorry Chief, haven't done it yet. I picked Louisville at the start of the season, so I'll probably stick with the Cards. But after seeing how tough their bracket is, I'm sweating that out a little bit.

Mark: Hi Jerry.....with the Pens hitting on all cylanders not sure it would be wise to play with the chemistry....and while I think Shero is the best GM in the league, maybe its best to leave well enough alone....that being said would like to see a little more toughness added somewhere. Your thoughts....thank you!

Jerry Micco: I'd not be surprised to see Shero pass at the trade deadline barring a key injury where a guy would be out for the season.

Dormonty Dawson: Jerry, Is your opinion that SteelersNation is psychotic? If a fan isn't complaining the Steelers don't sign any free agents, he's complaining that it's a "myth" the team has been built through the draft. As a proud member of SteelersNation, just how nuts are we?

Jerry Micco: Well, isn't "fan" short for "fanatic?" It's there for a reason. I love to go back and forth with fans because I do try to take a macro-view of things from where I sit. Sometimes I chuckle and shake my head, but most of the time, I love to see the passion. Fans here care about their teams and sometimes they get a bit crazy. Beats the devil out of a fanbase that could care less. That interaction, for me, is one of the best parts of my job.

James_Pittsburgh: Any chance the Steelers sign Bradshaw? They really need a running back.

Jerry Micco: They will give him a good hard look.

Tony D: So what will the average attendance be for Pitt football this year, and will they ever come close to filling p the stadium on a regular basis?

Jerry Micco: That's a very good Panther home schedule. I can see crowds in the 50-55,000 range regularly and maybe sellouts for FSU and Miami.

JAMESH: Will we see Stevenson Sylvester back in uniform with the Steelers?

Jerry Micco: Most likely, no. But again, you never know if the price is right, you don't take him back. Steelers thin at inside linebacker.

The King: Saw the story in USA Today where Arnold Palmer is having dinner with supermodel Kate Upton. Take that Tiger!

Jerry Micco: I don't know. Lindsay Vonn isn't a slouch. And she's better on skis than Kate.

James_Pittsburgh: Since the Pirates acquired John McDonald does that mean Josh Harrison will be sent to Triple A? I think Brandon Inge will be giving a shot as the final man on the bench.

Jerry Micco: I think Inge is the odd man out. Harrison having a great spring and Inge is not. Both Harrison and McDonald likely make it.

Nate Silver: I am projecting the Pirates to lose 100 games this year

Jerry Micco: Stick to politics, Nate.

Ulf: Anyone think the Pens should dump Paul Martin now?

Jerry Micco: Shhhhhh....if you don't mention it, everyone will forget it.

Jerry Micco: OK folks I need to get to some other stuff. Tremendous chat today. Tons of good questions, and I really appreciate all of you taking the time to talk with me today. I'll see you next Wednesday at noon. Have a great week and enjoy the NCAAs. Should be a wide open tournament. Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco

marchmadness - pittsports


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