More Hoops

The first preseason ESPN/USA Today Hoops poll is out and to the surprise of virtually no one, Pitt was not ranked. They came in at #37 overall, but I would be surprised if they didn't find their way into at least the bottom part of the poll at some point this season.

Pitt's official website is offering up spotlights on some of the new players this year and has a good article on freshman Talib Zanna. One of the things that jumped out at me were the quality of schools looking at him:

That's the thing that made Pitt stand out when Zanna was looking at different colleges. The 6-foot-9 forward snagged the attention of schools all around the country, including places like Oklahoma, Colorado, Connecticut, Boston College and Georgetown, among others. He wanted to go somewhere new and exciting, where he could continue to grow. The most important thing, though, was finding somewhere he'd be comfortable.

"Pitt has a good basketball program and academics, and I liked the coaches," said Zanna, who is now fluent in four languages. "I talked with coach [Jamie] Dixon and I came to some games. I really liked everything."

The first exhibition game is THIS SUNDAY. While it's only an exhibition, it will be interesting to see how the minutes are split up. I expect to see Pitt go as many as ten deep and I'm curious to see if Pitt will try to redshirt Zanna or JJ Richardson this year.

Dante Taylor was only able to come in at #15 on Gary Parrish's list of top freshmen. A less-surprising snub may be that he doesn't have any Pitt players in his top 25 point guards (though Chase Adams may surprise him), top 40 wings, or top 40 big men.

Pitt has four players currently in the NBA. What, Chad Varga or Antonio Graves couldn't get a look?

Oh, and that NBA thing? DeJuan Blair is off to a great start with...you guessed it, another double-double, going for 14 and 11 in 23 minutes. Surprisingly it wasn't Duncan or Parker who got the bulk of the focus in the AP recap:

Parker walked back to the bench OK after a hard landing in the third quarter, leaving the game with 17 points but with rookie DeJuan Blair and the Spurs already well in command of the New Orleans Hornets in a 113-96 victory on Wednesday night.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Parker simply had the wind knocked out of him after falling to the court almost horizontally following a layup. Blair, meanwhile, continues enticing the Spurs after a dominant preseason, getting 14 points and 11 rebounds in his NBA debut.

The Spurs spent atypically lavishly this summer to add veterans Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess. But so far, it's been the former All-American from Pitt getting the most buzz.

"He's showing really good maturity so far," Popovich said. "You just have to give him credit. He's got a great way about him and let the game come to him."

Yeah, I may have gotten this one wrong as I criticized Blair a bit after the draft day fiasco. Based on what he's shown already finishing 3rd in scoring and 2nd in rebounding among rookies in the preseason (he also finished 1st in FG% among rookies scoring at least 5.0 ppg), if he isn't starting over journeyman Matt Bonner before the end of 2009, something is terribly wrong.

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