Paul Zeise's Pitt basketball chat transcript: 1.28.14

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Paul Zeise: OK welcome to the chat let's get started now. We can begin the chat talking about Duke game and looking ahead to Sunday against Virginia, which suddenly is a huge game.

Mark: Was last night just the result of matchup problems? Duke had so much size and so many great athletes.

Paul Zeise: I think Duke is better than Pitt. I don't think there is any question. Player for player they were much better to be honest. But Pitt could beat them if the Panthers did a few things better - made some layups early and defended inbounds plays better. I think Parker is a tough matchup for them but they did a good job on him in second half - the key is, you can't let the Dawkins kid get that many open looks. This was not a good game for Pitt, but Duke had a lot to do with that. The Blue Devils played a great game and they did a good job of getting the ball to their most dangerous guys.

Alexa: End of season, what do you think the Panthers will be ranked? (ballpark)

Paul Zeise: Probably right around where they are - the problem they have now is they won't have many more opportunities for big wins - in fact, they have one -- against Syracuse. Heck FSU and Virginia, two decent teams but not great teams, are the only other two teams they will play who are in the top 50 of the RPI. That's why I thought last night was an important game for Pitt - they needed a marquee win.

Mark: Agreed. I guess my point was, not many teams can assign a 6-8 player as athletic as Rodney Hood to guard a small forward (Patterson) and still be effective elsewhere. Same thing at the other end of the court. Pitt didn't handle assignments well to begin with, but maybe they were overmatched at a couple spots.

Paul Zeise: Yes, Hood was a key, his defense was huge. And his size did give Patterson fits, but again, early on they missed a few bunnies that may have changed things some because had the Panthers made them they would have had a lead and perhaps Duke would have had to play a little differently. The best teams all seem to have guys who can defend and guys who can play at a high level and Pitt has found ways to win those games in the past.

Mike: Pitt is now 0-3 against the top 50 RPI opponents, with only a few more opportunities for these quality wins (UVA, Cuse, FSU). Should we be concerned with tourney hopes/seeding?

Paul Zeise: Yes, I think so. Pitt doesn't have a lot of opportunities to get these kinds of wins. That shows the difference in the ACC and Big East - in the Big East, a loss like this wouldn't have been a big deal as Pitt would have five or six chances in their next six games to get top 50 wins. Last night would been a very nice win for the resume but the key for Pitt is this - keep winning and get to tourney.

Jake: I don't know if it is just me, but when Newkirk was in the game , we scored on a few fast breaks led by him, with some beautiful passes to Chris Jones. He was the fastest player on the court. I really would like to see them run with him in more. Duke was just on fire all night.

Paul Zeise: They have played Newkirk and Robinson together some and that is a look I like a lot, I like that smaller lineup some as I think they do become faster and push the ball a little more and in a game like this, when they can't stop the other team, they better come up with a plan to score more.

Goodee: Is Wichita State for real? They were the last team that I thought had talent that overmatched Pitt.

Paul Zeise: They sure look like it to me - they have good size, they have athleticism, really good guards and they defend the heck out of teams at times. But here is what I would say about Wichita State - who the heck have they beaten? Yeah, I know, they beat St. Louis and Alabama. And? St. Louis should have lost to Duquesne the other night for God's sakes. All I am saying is I think they are a really good team, they look the part but they haven't exactly ran through a schedule of who's who among college basketball giants.

Goodee: Is Luther a serious ACC player or just a local kid Pitt wanted to have for depth?

Paul Zeise: I think he is the most un-Jamie Dixon like player that Jamie Dixon has recruited - and that is a good thing. Luther is an excellent offensive player. He has size and he can score. Period. He can shoot it, he can drive it. Those guys have been missing from Pitt's arsenal for as long as I can remember. It will be interesting to see what position he plays. Al: Is there any chance of Artis eventually beating out Young for the starting PF job this season? The past few games, Artis just seems like the better player.

Paul Zeise: Not sure about that but right now, I'd be playing Artis more. I think he is playing better, especially on offense. But I'd also say this - Young is a better defender right now and rebounds the ball extremely hard. I know he is not scoring a lot right now and has been in a bit of a shooting slump, but Young's length and rebounding have value for this team.

Al: A little bit off topic but do you think Talib Zanna has any chance of making an NBA team? I would've said no way until this year, but he seems to have improved a lot and has a decent mix of size and athleticism.

Paul Zeise: Um, that's a tough one. He plays hard, he works hard and those are two good qualities to have. He also has improved his skill level tremendously. But he is a "tweener" - is he guarding 6-11 guys in the NBA? Is he guarding power forwards? I just don't know. I think he is a guy who will get invited to some pre-draft camps and it is there he will have to really state his case to get drafted or at least invited to a camp. He will get paid playing basketball somewhere, I'm not sure it will in NBA

Mark: So how does Pitt match up with Virginia?

Paul Zeise: Much better than they match up with Duke. Ha. The Cavaliers are a solid team, not special. They are one of these "ball control" possession teams and they will try to grind the game and play like, well, like Wisconsin. They don't have anyone as good as Parker or Hood -- they do a good job of staying within themselves and playing their game. If the scoring gets going a little, they will be in big trouble as they are a team that wins by controlling possessions (similar to Pitt in philosophy but system is different). They did nearly knock off Duke a week ago or whatever so this will be a tough game.

Paul Zeise: Thanks for participating, it is time to move on! We will do it again next week.

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