Paul Zeise's Pitt basketball chat transcript: 1.7.14

Paul Zeise: Hey welcome to the chat - let's get it started. Panthers are 2-0 in ACC, all things looking good for another NCAA Tournament run
chicago_pitt_fan: it seems lots of opposing coaches have said pitt is a VERY good team. am i nuts to think that pitt is very good too? they seem like a very under the radar team at this point in the season that could do some damage come tourney time...
Paul Zeise: Pitt is good and here is one reason I've come to see up close and personal - the Panthers play extremely hard every night. Effort is never an issue. And that is how they approach things - they go after it hard. I say all the time to the kids I coach - if you just play harder than your opponent every night it puts you in the game. I can't honestly say every team plays hard, every night. Then you add the talent -which I have said several times - this may be Jamie's most skilled offensively team. I know some people get all bent out of shape because they think I am saying this is his best team. Obviously with two NBA players and one of the most clutch guards in school history the Elite Eight team of a few years ago was his best team. But offensively speaking, this team can score from all five positions and is very tough to defend.
The Dude: What are the chances that Uchebo can give some quality minutes in the late season?
Paul Zeise: Did you see him last night? Wow. I mean, I hope he was just nervous or something but he really was very gingerly trying to run on that knee. He looked like he was limping a lot - it didn't look like he could really play at a full speed in a competitive game right now. But it was a start, so we will see how he progresses.
LA Matt: Besides the new starters (Young annd Wright), what is the biggest difference between this year's team and last?
Paul Zeise: Patterson is in much better shape. Zanna is a year better. Newkirk, Young and Artis have all added another dimension of offense and athleticism. Johnson has become far more than just a shooter off the bench. And I think there has been some addition by subtraction in terms of losing some guys who didn't quite buy in to Dixon's "team-first, unselfish offense" philosophy. I think this is a much better team, to be honest, much more versatile, deeper
Pitt_grad_in_NY: Paul, I haven't seen any information on Mostella lately. What's the word on him?
Paul Zeise: He obviously isn't coming in January. And frankly, the plan is for him to show up in June but he seems to be a different kid and people around him don't seem to have a real good grasp on what his next move will be. So I'd say stay tuned
The Dude: Yes, Uchebo did not look like a highly touted recruit in garbage time, but he does look big and I think Pitt's rebounding is not up to past levels. Zanna is okay at the 5 with some teams, but will be a liability against others. It would be nice to have the position flexibility.
Paul Zeise: Yes, that is what coaches are pushing for. But like I said - did he look like a guy who is truly healthy? I mean, he was limping and not moving around really easily. The hope is that he gets stronger and stronger and can eventually contribute but right now, that's not where he is.
LA Matt: I too am excited about their start in the ACC, but are they once again setting us up for disappointment in both future tournaments (ACC and NCAA) or i their reson for optimism and do you think that they will actually get stronger as the season progresses?
Paul Zeise: This team has a lot of upside - when you have three freshmen playing key roles they are going to grow and get better and as they do, the team will. I don't know what is going to happen in the NCAA Tournament, but this is a team that wasn't picked to do much and they are playing really well right now so just enjoy the ride and worry about March when March gets here.
Bill: Hi Paul, Where are you currently ranking the Panthers in top 25? Hard to believe anyone who actually watches Pitt play doesn't at least have them in their polls. I guess most writers have only seen the Cinncy game.
Paul Zeise: I don't have a vote - I'd have them about 15th though probably, 17th or 18th at worst. and yes - the poor schedule and that Cincy game being on national TV didn't help
LA Matt: Is Paterson the "go to guy" that seems so crucial at NCAA tournament time or is this going to be our shorcoming again?
Paul Zeise: Sure seems to be shaping up that way but again, I think more than a go-to guy this team has a lot of options and they are versatile and have depth -- those hings are just as important in tourney where you see so many different styles of basketball
chicago_pitt_fan: more remarkable: that every win is by double digits or that they somehow lost to cincy?
Paul Zeise: Losing to Cincy - I don't think that team is very good to be honest. I thought that was a bad loss. It doesn't surprise me at all that Pitt has blown out all of its opponents because to be honest, they haven't played many good teams. Maryland isn't bad but they aren't great and they already have six losses. Some of course were without Allen but I'll be shocked if Maryland finishes higher than say 7th in the ACC
Bill: If Patterson makes 2 free throws in the Cincy game they are probably closing in on top ten...which sort of shows how useless the polls are at times.
Paul Zeise: At times? College basketball polls are meaningless, they decide nothing, they mean nothing and that is why I don't even really look at them or care about them.
LA Matt: Having a son who just recently went through the recruiting process (albeit in football), what are your thoughts as to the legitimacy and relavancy of a student "committing" to a school when they are just a sophomore in high school?
LA Matt: I am well aware of the competitive nature (I can beat anyone out for playing time) of star athletes, but will Dixon's recruiting be a lot more difficult considering the good, young players (Robinson, Young Newkirk, Artis, etc...) that should be together for the next few years?
Paul Zeise: This is sort of one big recruiting question - so I just combined them (without actually combining them because I'm not sure how to do that ....) -- First, I hate the ultra-early commitment but it is the wave of things in every sport but football. Coaches want to have their recruiting classes done at least a year ahead of time so they can know exactly what they will need in each recruiting cycle and players want to lock up a ride early in case they get injured or something they have a fallback. But as we have seen those ultra-early commitments don't usually mean a lot and guys change their minds as they go through the process. As for the second part - guys want to play on good teams and the better Pitt gets, the more players will want to come. So I don't think having so many good young players is a bad thing - it means the team is likely to keep winning.
Bill: I think the the only important thing about being ranked is your score shows up on sport stations ticker more often.... Curious question on Pitt attendance figures...for most games Pitt lists the actual attendance..10000 or so for normal nonconference game..but for sellouts they list same number 12510....(last night it was actually 12508)..but even though most seats were filled there were still a number of
Paul Zeise: I have no idea how they do attendance. Some days, for those early games, they probably inflate it, but trying to figure out how Pitt calculates attendance in either sport is something I gave up on long ago.
chicago_pitt_fan: due to the poor non conference schedule, how mnay acc wins do you think pitt needs to get a top 4 protected seed come tourney time?
Paul Zeise: I think Pitt will be about 13-5 which would put them at 26-6 going into ACC tourney. I doubt that would be enough to get them a top four seed unless they have a few wins over Syracuse, Duke, NC etc. I think this team will be about a No. 6 seed when the dust settles but again, we are getting WAY ahead of things.
Mark: What did you think of the small line up last night? I love Robinson and Newkirk in the game together and Patterson can give teams fits at the 4. They held their own on the glass with that line up also.
Paul Zeise: I'll say it again - I think the greatest strength of this team is versatility and that is because of Patterson and Durand Johnson. it enables Jamie to mix and match things. I liked that lineup - I also would like to see them go big some time and use Young at the 3, Patterson at the 2 and and Artis at 4. There are a lot of ways it can go and that makes Pitt a very difficult team to match up with.
LA Matt: With his quickness and athleticism, do you ever forsee Newkirk surplanting Robinson as the start 1 guard?
Paul Zeise: No, I don't. Jamie loves Robinson's toughness, his leadership, his defense. I do think we will see the two of them out there together a lot as Newkirk settles in and gets more comfortable. He is a good player, a steady player, I like what he brings.
chicago_pitt_fan: what's the point of being a fan without getting way ahead of things?! ha. it seems jamie's talk about the acc not being very good is coming to fruition. i could see pitt getting to 13-5, but i agree, it always seems like pitt is punished by the ncaa for their scheduling...
Paul Zeise: Yes, it is funny - the big RPI boost Pitt used to get from the Big East, I'm not sure it is coming from the ACC. That conference isn't very good right now - and I am not sure it is going to get any better. Not when teams like UNC - that the conference needs to be good -- lose to Wake Forest. So this conference has a lot of work to do to become the best ever - or even the best right now, which it clearly is not.
Mark: I agree with 13-5 in conference. The ACC is wide open this year. Syracuse is probably the best team and we always match up pretty well with them. Duke is Duke, but they don't have a true big man to anchor that defense. I think Pitt matches up well with them also.
Paul Zeise: Yes - I actually Pitt matching up against Duke and Syracuse. But you know how things go - there will be a game or two on the road they lose just because that is part of conference play and I think they may lose at UNC or something. But I will be shocked if they don't win 13 games in this league because (a) they are good and (b) I don't see lot of other really good teams.
Paul Zeise: Thanks as always for participating - we will do it again next Tuesday at the same time. See ya Saturday when Wake comes to town....

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