Paul Zeise's Pitt basketball chat transcript: 3.18.14

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Paul Zeise: Hello, welcome to the chat today. Pitt plays Colorado Thursday - let's get started. What are your thoughts on the tourney? I like Louisville, Mich State, Florida and Arizona... who you like?

Guest: I think Virginia and Wichita St are good value at this point with all the love for the fours in those regions. I think Pitt is in a great spot. Coach Dixon finally gets a great opportunity to beat a higher seed, then FLA is a no-lose situation. Agree?

Paul Zeise: Yes, but Pitt is favored against Colorado so they are supposed to win even if it is a higher seed. Florida is the kind of team that, like Virginia, is senior-laden and knows how to win. The thing is, I don't think Florida has high level NBA guys so frankly, Pitt can play with them but their experience probably puts them over the top. Virginia played really well in the ACC Tourney, they could make a run. I have to see Wichita play someone first before I decide where they fit

Pitt86: Josh Newkirk seems to be elevating his game at the right time. Do you expect him to see more minutes in the NCAAs?

Paul Zeise: He played I think 27 minutes against Virginia. So yeah, if he can play that much in that game given what was at stake, I think he probably does get to play more and he should - he takes Pitt to a different speed and a different level when he plays.

Matt from LA: Any word on Eubanks or Mostella?

Paul Zeise: The Mostella ship has sailed from what I am told. Eubanks is still in the croos hairs and Pitt still feels good about him but we will see

Matt from LA: No love for the Shockers, both by you and the Selection Committee? If they make it through that bracket, no one will ever question their schedule again!

Paul Zeise: I don't enough about the Shockers. And what I mean is - it is has been since mid-December since they played anyone with a pulse. So I have seen them play a bunch and they mow down awful teams - that doesn't tell me enough to pick them. They probably are really good but going into the tourney without being battle tested makes me wonder if they will be ready to go. And they are a No. 1 seed.

Matt from LA: DO you envision Newkirk as the starting point guard next year with Robinson as the backup?

Paul Zeise: No. Not a chance. Jamie loves Robinson because he is a guy who just makes plays.

Pat: Not to move on too quickly, but I am interested in your EARLY take on next year's expectations. No Talib or Lamar, but 6 of top 8 returning, and better, and at least Jeter and Haughton (Not to mention Eubanks possibly). At least as high as this year?

Paul Zeise: I think replacing Patterson is going to be much more difficult than you think so I am not ready to say "they have a lot of guys coming back therefore they will be better" I think they will be good. They should be picked in the top four in the ACC but that is a lot of points, rebounds, assists and leadership to try and replace not to mention a true go-to guy

Matt from LA: He makes plays but is slow and cannot cover the other team's quick guards?

Paul Zeise: But he does't turn it over and he is the kind of gritty player Jamie loves

Matt from LA: Hindsight being 20/20, if Pitt does not hang on to beat North Carolina, they might have had to play in a Round 1 play-in game? Maybe next year Dixon will take that into account when setting up the non-conference schedule?

Paul Zeise: Yes, I definitely think that Jamie needs to do something about his nonconference schedule because (a) it is usually really weak and (b) Pitt isn't getting the bump in RPI from the ACC it got from the Big East. That being said if Pitt wins a few more games they would have been a better seed as well.

chicago_pitt_fan: if lamar had sunk those free throws against cincy, what seed do you think pitt would have got? would it have avoided the dreaded 8/9 game with the 1 seed awaiting the winner?

Paul Zeise: Maybe an 8 - I don't think it changes much to be honest. If you look at what the committee did to the AAC teams, there isn't a lot of love for that conference so I don't think it would be that much of a bump to beat Cincy.

Matt from LA: All things considered, was a 9th seed fair to Pitt? Of course, considering their potential second game, maybe a 10 seen would have been preferred?

Paul Zeise: Yep when you (a) lose to almost every good you play (b) play a really weak nonconference schedule and (c) lose five times at home, you don't deserve to be upset about whatever seed you get

Pitt86: How does Pitt match up with Colorado. What style of play do the run? Pitt all the way!

Paul Zeise: Colorado is big and physical, the Buffaloes lost their point guard so they have remade themselves as a little bit slower and more patient but pound it inside and go to the glass. They will give Pitt some problems inside but by the same token, the way Zanna is playing I think he may give the Buffs all kinds of trouble.

Matt from LA: Prediction on Pitt's NCCAA tournament this year?

Paul Zeise: I am not going out on a limb here - I think they beat the fighting Kordell Stewarts and then lose to Florida

Matt from LA: Biggest need for improvement for next year's team besides a year's experience and the new recruits? E.g., Robinson needs to improve his 3 point shot, Cam needs to work on his outside shot, bulking up for Young and Artis, etc...?

Paul Zeise: They need to get better at defending the perimeter. They need to get better offensively. They need to find a go-to guy who can make shots late in shot clocks and in the game.

Pat: Totally agree on Patterson, I meant the six returnees will be better than they were this year. I do think Cam and JR can pick up the leadership role, but Patterson is so underrated as an overall player. Any chance at the transfer kid from Temple? How tall/big is he with 8.6 boards a game?

Paul Zeise: I don't think they have any more scholarships to take on a rent-a-player guy. They are already one over.

Matt from LA: Is that player currently on the roster?

Paul Zeise: A go-to player? I don't know - I think Artis wants to be that guy but I am not sure they will let him. I would suppose the guy who best fits that profile is Durand Johnson, but he may not be ready until late December so we have to see how his injury heals

Matt from LA: With the change in NCAA rules, is it the coach's prerogative on who returns to the team (conversely who will be "forced" to transfer) next year or solely up to the player?

Paul Zeise: Scholarships are renewed every year so it is always up to the coach whether or not a guy gets his walking papers or not. But they won't just kick a guy out, they will find a soft landing spot for him as well so he has a place to go.

Pat: In which aspects will Jeter be able to help offset Patterson's loss. Where will he be unable to offset the loss?

Paul Zeise: I haven't seen Jeter in two years so I have to see where his game is but he is a guy who can do some of the ballhandling, rebounding and scoring of Patterson. But I don't think he is a high-level, high-volume shooter/scorer kind of guy. I think Patterson was underutilized this year to be honest - he is really good and should have been given more opportunities in some games to carry the offense.

Matt from LA: If they are one over on scholarships, who is not coming back next year?

Paul Zeise: Time will tell - will be very interesting to see how they work things out - --- and don't forget, one of the newcomers may not get into school or something.

Pat: How does Newkirk get even more minutes next year with Jamie's propensity to be loyal to guys like JR and Cam?

Paul Zeise: He could play Cam more at the 3 - he could also use Newkirk to spell both James and Cam and cut into their time a few minutes as well. I expect him to get a lot of chances to play and be one of their top players next year.

Jason: Why is the ship sailing on Mostella?

Paul Zeise: He apparently has done what he needed to do to get his academics in order and get serious about getting into school.

Matt from LA: Not that it really matters, but did Zanna make the ACC all tournament team?

Paul Zeise: First team, Patterson was second

Matt from LA: Is Zanna NBA caliber? I know that he is still relatively raw, but his potential seems unlimited?

Paul Zeise: You have to ask yourself this - what position is he going to play in the NBA and more importantly, who is he going to guard? I just don't know that there is a good answer for either. I think he will make a lot of money playing professional basketball but I don't know that it will be in the NBA

Pat: I'm really pleased about this year's Freshman class, but is it just because they've played so much this year? Are they really good or just more exposed than previous classes?

Paul Zeise: No I think they are really good players - they are more skilled offensively than most of the guys Jamie has brought in. Now we need to see if he evolves enough to let them play or is he going to force them to play within his system and take away some of that offensive potential. I am not sure how it will go but I really like they three that have played a lot. I have not seen enough of Chris Jones to know what to think yet.

Matt from LA: Got to love the NCAA! The athletes get no monetary compensation and the coach can get rid of a player after a bad year?

Paul Zeise: It is rare because it is not good business but it does happen from time to time and sometimes, the athlete fires himself so to speak

Matt from LA: In response to your comment about Patterson, does Dixon's offense magnify the team's or an individual's' offensive potential or retard it?

Paul Zeise: It is a very structured system and I think sometimes too structured. To me if you got a guy like Patterson, let him make shots and let him win games for you. I don't know that is always the case with the way the system is run. For instance, down 3 to Virginia and Robinson takes the shot? Tied against ND and Patterson has an iso and you call a timeout and run a play for Robinson? I think you put the ball in your best player's hand and let him win the game.

Matt from LA: With cam, JR and Newkirk, can you see Pitt employing a three guard offense similar to Nova's?

Paul Zeise: No, that is why they recruited the JuCo big guy from Iowa. They will play with a center and a power forward and they will use a small forward as well. Now, they may use Cam as a 3 more, but they won't go strictly to three guards.

Matt from LA: Any predictions on the next champion or at least the final game?

Paul Zeise: Well like I said - Florida, Arizona, Mich State and Louisville. I like Florida or Mich State to cut down the nets

Jason: Any chance John Degroat sees any time in this one?

Paul Zeise: LOL - that was quite a graphics mix up indeed

Matt from LA: Just out of curiosity, how many brackets do you do?

Paul Zeise: None. I am not a big fan of all that, just like to watch the games.

Pat: I read that DJ is way ahead of schedule, which would be great news. Any truth or knowledge of that? If he's available all of next year and not just some of it that would be huge for Pitt

Paul Zeise: Yes, I've heard this as well. But I will say this - let's wait to see how he responds when he is out there practicing and playing hard. If he gets back before the season starts, it changes them dramatically because it means he will likely be finding his stride right about the time ACC season starts.

Doug S: Hi Paul. Back in the 90's I seem to remember Pitt telling everyone they should be called Pittsburgh. Is that still in effect? We are PITT!!!

Paul Zeise: No, you are free to call them Pitt.....

Paul Zeise: Well it has been fun but I have to run, got to get ready to go to a press conference and then get ready to go to Orlando. We will do it again next week.

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