Kevin C. Cox
You know the drill - ESPN hires lots of former coaches to serve as analysts in a variety of sports to offer some expert analysis. Truthfully, the model works pretty well and was a great idea. They made another big score in my opinion by picking up former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl.
Even better for us, Pearl took some time to answer a few of our questions about Pitt's upcoming basketball season. Take a look below for his answers to my questions:
1. Were you surprisd Pitt couldn't get into the NCAAs or even the NIT last season? Jamie Dixon was working with a fairly young team, but has always found a way to get into the Big Dance even in years they were supposed to be rebuilding.
Pitt got off to a great start last season, but you could see early on that this team didn't resemble a typical Jamie Dixon ball club. First off, they were young and it took Jamie a little time to beat the toughness into them, and secondly, they were injured at a position you can least afford, point guard!
They turned it over and didn't have good shot selection and that hurt them in transition.
2. The Panthers went on to play in (and eventually win) the CBI. Some people in Pittsburgh had never even heard of that tournament until Pitt was chosen to play in it. How much do you think that playing in a tournament setting (even against some average teams) helped the younger guys?
Ask any football coach and he will tell you how important it is to get to a bowl game, any bowl game, just for the experience. Pitt played like a champion and felt better about themselves as a result.
3. What do you make of the whole Khem Birch situation? He was a highly-touted kid that came in last year and maybe even Pitt's biggest recruit of all time. But halfway through the season, he decided to look elsewhere and ended up at UNLV. It's tough to criticize an 18-year old too much, but do you think that was a bit of a snap judgment on his part?
There's a lot of pressure on these kids from different people in their lives to be "one and done", or get to the NBA quickly. If things aren't perfect, some can panic and abandon ship.
4. What do you expect from Pitt this season in terms of the postseason? Is this the year they get back to the Big Dance?
They are strong at point guard and center with Woodall and Adams . That bodes well for this season. The Panthers will claw their way back into the tournament!
5. Where do you come out on the 'One and Done' rule? Should players be forced to stay in college longer or do you think they should be able to do whatever they want?
"One and Done" works great for the NBA and some student athletes, but it has hurt the college game. Those are the rules today, so you have to play within them.