Paul Zeise's Pitt basketball chat transcript: 3.4.14

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Paul Zeise: Welcome to today's Pitt basketball chat - let's get started. A tough loss last night - yes the Warren kid went off but my goodness, two offensive rebounds? You should get more than that by accident most nights......

Pat: In your opinion, is another win necessary (Clemson, ACC tourney opener) or are they in te NCAA tourney already? I think the super soft bubble bails them out even with two losses.

Paul Zeise: Last night was the first time I thought "this team could be headed to the NIT" for a few reasons - no good wins, a weak nonconference schedule and now a LOSING record at home in conference games (4-5). I think Pitt will squeak by but the Panthers need to win one more game at least. I think if they beat Clemson and win their first round game they are definitely in. One win they are probably in. No wins and boy they may need to use some of that ACC cash to purchase some CB-4/Chris Rock Invitational games again.....

Bruce F: Do you think Pitt is still in the NCAA tourney if they beat Clemson and win one game in the ACC tourney. Also, is the chemistry of the team ok? Seems that they can't get in sinc all the time.

Paul Zeise: Chemistry is not the issue. Talent is the issue. We tend to do this all the time - it is worse with the Steelers - but in general in Pittsburgh we tend to overrate the guys in the home uniform then can't understand why they lose games. Here is reality - this team is not very experienced, not particularly deep and outside of Lamar Patterson, not a dynamic offensive team. They have a lot of guys with offensive skill but they have only shown it in spurts.

Ryan: I looked this as a retooling year anyway so I think they have overachieved to this point. My question is how do you think the team stacks up next year? Seems like there are alot of strong additions plus the Frosh class this year is looking good.

Paul Zeise: The team should be good next year -- provided they find someone to be their go-to guy and score in bunches like Patterson has at times. They lose him, they lose Zanna but they have the other nine guys back and three coming in in and a fourth - a JUCO big guy - likely on the way as well. They should be pretty good next year but again, you have to win games.

chicago_pitt_fan: i've asked before, but what happened? we literally ran that nc state team off the court in january on the road? i know johnson is dramatically missed, but what else!?!

Paul Zeise: I think some injuries have held this team back. I think losing Johnson has held this team back. I think teams figuring out that if you stop Patterson, you stop the Panthers. I think Zanna's inability to finish consistently, I think the inexperience --- all of these things have added up and I think that it is important to remember that unlike many other of Dixon's teams, this one isn't a great, great defensive team. So they have needed to learn how to win when they can't stop the other team and they have had a hard time adjusting to that. This is a good basketball team. Not great, not special, but good and tough. Those teams generally are like Pitt - a little up and down.

Ryan: Pitt has really taken heat this year for their out of conference schedule. Do you see anything changing the next two years with Pitt scheduling some quality OOC opponents?

Paul Zeise: Well I think it is going to have to change but it does take two to tango. Pitt is looking for a home and home with a major conference team and can't find one. But the hope is the Maui Classic, a better opponent in the ACC-Big Ten, the first leg of a good home-and-home series and all of the sudden it is better. Is it great? No, but better. At any rate, the committee has made it clear they frown on teams who don't play anyone out of conference so Pitt needs to do a better job.

Pat: Any update on the recruits in attendance last night? Both tweeted, but Haughten seemed the more impresssed of the two. Insight?

Paul Zeise: I think Haughton will be a Panther. In talking to a number of people that seems to be the direction he is heading. Eubanks is probably anybody's guess right now - Pitt feels good about him and where he is at with them but again, in recruiting who knows what a kid is thinking until he signs.

Paul: Kobie Eubanks was at the game last night. Seems like a great addition who can really shoot. You think he commits to Pitt?

Paul Zeise: Like I said - I know the coaches at Pitt feel good about where they are at with him but he has other options so until he commits it is going to be a lot of guessing. He seems like he likes Pitt, though, and I know Barry "Slice" is working on him so time will tell.

Transfers: Who is a transfer candidate?

Paul Zeise: I have no idea what any of these guys are thinking in terms of that. I would think all of them would be back - who, of the younger guys, would really have reason to? I mean, they all play a ton. If you want to tell me either Artis or Young is unhappy sharing time, perhaps, but I think that everyone should be happy at this point

ncaas: What would you consider Jamie Dixon's best NCaa tourney win in the past 5 years?

Paul Zeise: Wow. Maybe Xavier? Or didn't they beat Wisconsin up in Milwaukee? That's a great question - throw that out to the readers.

PEC: Teams dont fear this place anymore. Why?

Paul Zeise: Do you think it has to do with the fact that maybe the team isn't that good right now? And also maybe this team isn't particularly tough defensively? I mean, yes, they used to beat up teams at the Pete - but they beat them up everywhere? Those teams were tough, physical, defend til you cry and pound you on the boards.

Paul Zeise: This team can't defend anyone with any amount of athleticism and really is not scary in any way.

Pat: Lamar Patterson would be incredible on a team with other scorers IMO. His passing and drive and dish ability is somewhat wasted without finishers like Troutman, Lett, Blair et al. He is not quick enough defensively at the three for the NBA though, is he?

Paul Zeise: Funny you would ask - I asked an NBA scout this very question a few weeks ago and his answer was simple: "We need to see him at workouts with better players" In other words, most of these guys are on the fence about where he fits. A lot of these guys seem to like him, they like that he can play the game and his knowledge of the game and all that but wonder about his athleticism and also his size to an extent as he is a tweener.

chicago_pitt_fan: if pitt doesn't win at least one more game, i think the selection committee makes an example of pitt and their non conf schedule and denies them entry into the ncaa. agree?

Paul Zeise: I don't think it is making an example - if Pitt doesn't win one more game, they don't deserve to be in the Tournament and will be left out.

Mark: If Pitt gets into the tourney, I still dont think a higher seed will want to play them in the first round. If they get in, what seed do you seem them getting?

Paul Zeise: You can say that but (a) what evidence has this team showed you that they can beat a better team and (b) what evidence has Pitt in recent history given that they can beat a higher seeded team?

Rick: Hi Paul, What is Haughten's First name ? What position does he play ans how many Star Rated ? What is the big JUCO Kids Name ? Not to beat a dead horse, But in my baketball experience as a H.S. Player/Coach and Thousands of games watched at all levels I have never seen a WORSE Time Out Call by a Coach EVER ? What about You Zeiser ?

Paul Zeise: Tyrone Haughton is a JuCo center - a big guy in the tradition of Pitt bruisers in the middle from what I understand. He is the kind of guy this team really is missing right now - they can't get physical with anyone to be honest. And as for the time out - I hated it but it wasn't the worst call ever like some people are making it out to be. It didn't help things that Patterson had the ball and he is the guy you want with the ball, but I understand what DIxon saw. He thought the play had broken down and wanted to make sure they got a shot. I would have left Patterson create something.

Thomas: How much longer will you buy Dixon's story he can't schedule a decent OOC game? Its pathetic.

Paul Zeise: I don't buy it 100 percent but there is some degree of truth to it - there really is. You have to remember this - if you are Georgetown or Villanova or Indiana - what does playing Pitt do for you? It is all to benefit Pitt to play Villanova, for instance,as the Panthers recruit Philadelphia. I don't buy that they can't find any games but I do think it is tougher than you think.

chicago_pitt_fan: i would say the wisconsin game. maybe because i was there, but that was a true road game and a great wisconsin team....

Paul Zeise: That is what I was thinking - in Milwaukee that wasn't really particularly fair but Pitt won anyway.

Franky: Can Wright 19min and 1 shot. Please explain.

Paul Zeise: Foul trouble and a bad night. That is what is puzzling about this team - seems like every game now one of the main guys has an off game. He got into foul trouble quickly and never seemed to recover.

Every Year: Will Jamie Dixon get Pitt to a final 4?

Paul Zeise: I'll go with the Bill Cowher theory - if you keep knocking on the door every year, eventually you will be able to walk through it. He eventually won a Super Bowl after a bunch of disappointments and you have to believe sooner or later it will happen for Dixon if he keeps getting teams to the Tournament.

ED: Do you think this team will go far in the NCAA Tournament?

Paul Zeise: I think this team has some work to do just to get there. And right now they look like a No. 9 or 10 seed - which means they may win one but likely go home before the end of the first weekend.

Rick: With a very mediocre recruiting class for next year, is Dixon looking at any other transfers to help? I think Jeter should help, but next years roster looks unimpressive.

Paul Zeise: I think Jeter will help immediately. I think, like I said, if they get Tyrone Haughton it fills a need immediately as well. And don't forget they get Durand Johnson back so that is a good development as well.

Bubbleicious: Doesn't the committee have to take a look at this team with DJ? If so, what 7-7? Thats not a tourney team.

Paul Zeise: Yes and no -- like I said, if they win against Clemson, that is going to be 10 wins away from home and they will finish fifth in the ACC and with 11 ACC wins. I can't see a team with that profile being left out.

PaulChryst: Why won't Pitt play WVU in football or basketball?

Paul Zeise: Why won't West Virginia play Pitt?

I mean, I love this - Jamie claims they want to play WVU buy WVU backed out, and Huggins claims he wants to play. And WVU fans believe Huggins and say Dixon is a liar and Pitt fans believe Dixon and say Huggins is a liar. Here is my question - if both guys are claiming they want to play why isn't this happening?

David: James Robinson has not lived up to the hype of Hus recruitment. He is not a PG to get you to abn elite 8 is he?

Paul Zeise: He is a guy who won't turn the ball over, who has some toughness, who has hit some shots - - but he doesn't have that "wow" factor like I think Josh Newkirk has. Newkirk to me is a difference maker.

a different Mark: Bad defense, just an incredible performance by Warren, or both? I tend to go with Warren, who made several shots while guarded fairly well.

Paul Zeise: They aren't a good defensive team, especially against a high volume scorer. But the key stat is this -- they had TWO offensive rebounds. TWO. The ball should have hit them in the head a few times more than that. They got outscored 16-0 in second chance points.

Joe: James Robinson does turn the ball over though. At least lately.

Paul Zeise: In his defense, he is hurt. He has a pretty bad quad injury and probably should be resting more. But he keeps trying to push through. It is not an excuse as he is out there but it does explain why he has struggled of late.

Jerry S: I thought that Newkirk really provided a boost...he is a threat to hit an outside shot and gives the team a good look with his quickness . Do you see his playing time increasing the rest of the season?

Paul Zeise: Jamie has been talking about increasing his time and for good reason. He is a really good player, I like him a lot and I like him more every time I watch him play. He is a guy with a great first step and he also understands how to play.

Rick: Paul, Just Wondered did Jamie have any interest in the local kid (name escapes me) who is shooting 3" like crazy for Duquesne ??

Paul Zeise: Micah Mason? No, he is very small and he actually was at Drake for a year before he was at Duquesne. I think he is in the perfect system and the perfect place for his skill set. He might struggle in ACC, though, especially in Jamie's style of man defense.

Reporting: Will you do your job this off season and figure out who Dixon is calling to schedule games, the reasons why he can't get dates to work, etc.? I'm looking for a big in depth article on this come next October.

Paul Zeise: I wrote about that last fall!

Wichita: Proclaims they called every single Major conference for a home and home. Why wouldn't pitt do that given how "hard" it is to find good willing and able teams to play?

Paul Zeise: I agree - and I have asked but the answer is "we're not going to to go to a mid-major" -- so there's that. Again, I don't buy the "we can't get games" stuff 100 percent. There is some degree of truth to it but there is also some BS as there are teams willing to play but Pitt has been hesitant to sign up to play them.

Paul Zeise: And with that, I must end. I have a date with the dentist! Thanks for all the great questions. We will do this again next week at the same time. And next week will be preparing for the ACC Tourney!

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