UPDATE: Sorry, having issues with the poll so I removed it.
So I would call this 'Catching up with Julius Page', but that almost makes it sound like we're close friends. Fact is we're not as he's much cooler than a 30-something Pitt grad that watches episodes of The Patty Duke Show and pro wrestling in his spare time. But I've always been a huge fan of Page and he was a member of those early Pitt teams that turned things around. So for that, he'll always get tons of respect.
I mentioned last week that Julius is now co hosting a daily internet sports talk show over at the new station - TribLive Radio. Definitely be sure to check it out from 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. (replay from 11:00 p.m. - midnight). Page also has plenty going on including an upcoming fitness center here in Pittsburgh, and I got a really cool opportunity to do a Q&A with him - here are his thoughts about Ben Howland, dunking head to head with Gilbert Brown, making a comeback, and more:
Cardiac Hill: What have you been up to since you left Pitt?
JP: I played some ball overseas and had a great time traveling the world. All while I was there I was preparing for life after basketball and that's what phase I am in now. I'm sure everyone has heard about Just Play Fitness, it is still in the works...has to be done right the first time but I also have some other things going on as well.Cardiac Hill: After playing in Israel, Russia, Germany, and the Dominican Republic, do you have any other plans to play basketball professionally or are your interests focused elsewhere?
JP: You know, I was debating on making a comeback just to see if I still had it but I am not sure. I am happy coaching the kids, I'd much rather see them make it than myself. What I mean by "make it" is in life in general. Basketball is just a tool that can teach you a lot of different life lessons.
Cardiac Hill: You had one of the most successful careers in Pitt history, winning about 100 games, and reaching three straight Sweet 16s. Which of those teams do you think were the best?
JP: My team my junior year was the best. We had experience, we were hungry and focused. But it takes longer than three years to build a true program and that's what we have right now under Jamie Dixon.
Cardiac Hill: You were one of the Pitt players that played under both Ben Howland and Jamie Dixon while they were head coaches. Compare the two - how were they alike and different?
JP: Well now they seem to be a lot alike these days. Both guys want to win and when you're the head coach you're going to yell a little more...something that Dixon didn't do while I was there. I don't think it much difference in the way they prepare or coach the game. I think the difference is mainly with the personality. Ben is a little more edgy and Jamie is laid back.
Cardiac Hill: What was the mood of the team when Ben Howland left and did players use it as motivation the following season?
JP: Not really. Most of us was pretty upset at first but you had to understand his reason for leaving. Hiring Jamie after was the best thing that the University could have done. You really have to roll with the punches in sports so I'm pretty sure after a couple of days everyone was over it.
Cardiac Hill: Take me through that famous dunk over Ruben Boumtje Boumtje - what happened on that play? Were you thinking dunk all the way?
JP: Well before that play I adjusted my shot while going to the basket and ended up on the floor when I knew if I just went strong I would have finished. So I said to myself the next time I touch it I am dunking it. Everything happened so fast that I didn't know who was standing there I just went up to dunk it and their you have it. Classic!
Cardiac Hill: How closely do you follow this year's team? How far do you see them going this year?
JP: I follow the team pretty close. I do not have the time to go up and talk to them as much as I would like but I watch all of the games. I'm really proud of McGhee because when he was a freshman I saw him play and I knew it had something if he continued to get better. People started giving him a hard time but he stayed on the grind and he is holding the middle down for us. I think this team can go to the final four, they have to get and keep the us against the world attitude because in the tourney you only need to win six in row.
Cardiac Hill: You can pick one guy from this year's team to add to any of the teams you played on - who would have helped the most?
JP: Brad Wanamaker. I think Brown could fit as well be not like Brad....now that I think about it that's a tough one because Jaron was really the only small forward we had. I think we could have used another one in the cases that he got into foul trouble but I think that's a coin toss.
Cardiac Hill: Better dunker - you or Gilbert Brown?
JP: Right now....him. Let me lose about 15 pounds, ME!!! I know I can do anything he can and he has about 3 inches on me. Maybe we will see this summer, I'll be ready by then. But on another note since we are a couple days away I want to finish with, LETS GO STEELERS BABY!!! BLACK & YELLOW x3.