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CHAT WRAP: Pitt coach Ben Howland

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Events_Moderator: Tonight we are chatting with the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, Ben Howland. Ben directed the Panthers on a dramatic run through the Big East Championship last season, earning a berth in the title game for the first time in school history. Events_Moderator: Tonight's Procedure : When Ben gets here, I'll open it up to you (the audience) to ask any questions you like. After your Q&A, Ben will say some final remarks and I'll wrap up the chat. Then we'll head over to our customized FOXSports Club/Community to mingle for a bit. I'll send the link at the end of the chat. Events_Moderator: Our FOXSports Club is a fully customized sports Community. We built this community for you to meet fellow sport fans like yourself. Feel free to start private chats, take polls, & post photos. Events_Moderator: We'll be starting in just a couple of minutes! So sit tight! Events_Moderator: Okay everyone! It's time to get started! Let's welcome Ben Howland to the chat! Events_Moderator: Hi Coach, welcome to Lycos Live Events! What's up? goin_to_pittsburgh: hi ben vonteego5: hey ben ben_howland: Its great to be on, I'm looking forward to being with you! shaqsftcoach: You absolutely crushed Rutgers on the boards last night (I believe you had a 46-29 edge)...Do you beleive in the old basketball philosophy that rebounding = (championship) rings? ben_howland: I think rebounding is obviously a critical elemnt. ben_howland: Its a big part of winning. ben_howland: When you look at teams that are sucessful, rebound margin, which we're first in the Big East right now, is a huge stat, and something that we talk about every game. ben_howland: Last night it was nice to be back and out rebound people by double digits. vonteego5: Mr. Howland I'm so happy pitt is finally a great team ben_howland: Thank you! ben_howland: But we're only as good as our last game. shaqsftcoach: Pitt wins with old-fashioned fundamentals — the kind that impress coaches more than those who choose TV highlights. Do you think your team is getting enough respect on a national level? ben_howland: The fact that we're now in the top 10 in the one poll, the ESPN coaches poll, and 11 in the AP poll, I think is a good indication that people are recognizing our team as being a very good team. ben_howland: So the answer is yes. ben_howland: However, I don't think out players get enough credit. ben_howland: We have some unbeliveable talent on our sqaud, starting with Brandin and Julius. Events_Moderator: DID YOU KNOW — Did you know you can get all kinds of basketball video clips, scores, and standings at FOXSports.com? Make sure to check it out after this chat. boomdoggy888: Can you tell us about the 5 new guys (Turner,Jacobs,Etc.)? ben_howland: You know, Ed Turner is going to be a very good player. ben_howland: He comes from the same HS as Julius Page, which is Turner-Caroll HS in Buffalo, NY. ben_howland: I'm very excited about him. ben_howland: And the Levon Kendall is our other signed recruit out of British Columbia, Canada, who we also feel has a very good upside. goin_to_pittsburgh: hows my boy brandons hand ben_howland: Brandon is very tough, and has played through a lot of nagging injuries all season. ben_howland: And its a real tribute to him to be able to play while not completely healthy, and be so effective and actually, in my mind, the best point guard in the Big East. ben_howland: If not as well one of the best point guards in all of college baskeball. vonteego5: how do you think the final four tourney will go for pittsburgh? ben_howland: Actually, its the NCAA Tournament. ben_howland: And we're hoping to get a good seed and obviously that's based on us finishing strong one game at a time. shaqsftcoach: Which team would you least like to face in the NCAA Tournament and why? ben_howland: I would have to say I can give you five teams. ben_howland: Duke, Kansas, Maryland, Cinncinatti, and Oklahoma. ben_howland: The reason being they are so good! shaqsftcoach: Pittsburgh is on its way to its first NCAA Tournament berth since the 1992-93 season...What plans do you have for yourself and the team on Selection Sunday? ben_howland: You know, honestly right now my only plan is to start watching film on Seton Hall, and get ready for our most important and biggest game of the year at Seaton Hall Tuesday night in the Meadowlands. ben_howland: That's what we've focussed on all year is just taking it one game at a time and never really looking beyond that. ben_howland: Thus far, its worked really well and we're going to continue to do that. ben_howland: One thing about selection Sunday is being able to get film on your opponent right away, that would be the only thing that I would be concerned with, is to start the preparation for that game. ben_howland: Wherever and whoever it may be. ben_howland: But that's about all I have on that. scooma: What do you think of Rutgers, having seen them last night? ben_howland: I think it was a great win for us, because they are a very good team. ben_howland: I think there's actually about 9 or 10 teams in our league that would be very good representitives of the Big East in the NCAA Tournament. ben_howland: They are definitely one of the hottest team with some huge wins over some very good teams like Miami, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Syracuse, and Connecticut. ben_howland: So obviously they are a very good team and are very well coached. shaqsftcoach: You've lost to Notre Dame twice this year. Anxious for another shot at the Irish? ben_howland: You know, they have an outstanding team, Mike Brey is a very good coach. ben_howland: And they are a team that I'm sure is going to finish strong and there is the potential that we would play them again. ben_howland: But I'd rather play Morgan State and Savannah State on our way — you know, its so tough to play these teams in the Big East. ben_howland: Because anybody can beat anybody on a given night. ben_howland: Which is proven time and again throughout the year. Events_Moderator: For those of you just joining us, welcome! We're chatting with the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, Ben Howland. Ben directed the Panthers on a dramatic run through the Big East Championship last season, earning a berth in the title game for the first time in school history. boomdoggy888: I think it is wrong for Gonzaga too be ranked ahead of teams like Pitt and Miami. What are your thoughts? ben_howland: I think Gonzaga has a great team, very well coached. ben_howland: Its true that they are not as high in the RPI as their ranking. ben_howland: But that's not their fault, because of the league they compete in. ben_howland: Therefore, I have nothing but respect having been a coach there myself at one time, for the deserved higher ranking that Gonzaga has. ben_howland: They are 26 in the RPI and 7th in both polls. ben_howland: I would say that when you look at Texas Tech, which is 12th in the RPI and not ranked in either poll, or Utah, which is 16th in the RPI and not ranked as well, that those two schools in particular should be in the ranking somewhere. show1542: what do u think is brandon's problem at the line? ben_howland: I think that a lot of it now is just mental. ben_howland: Because on Tuesday, just he and I in the gym, I rebounded 91 makes out of 110 attempts. ben_howland: And I think its tough when everybody and his brother is trying to make suggestions, and it just adds fuel to the fire. ben_howland: Before his career is over at Pitt, I expect that he will be an 80 percent freethrow shooter for the season. ben_howland: Brandin has a great work ethic, and I'm confident that in close games not only is he going to make the freethrows as we've seen earlier in the year, but I want him at the line when the game is on the line. Events_Moderator: FUN FACT — Known for his disciplined approach to defense, Ben looks for three factors when evaluating players: character, athleticism and shooting ability. shaqsftcoach: I heard that you're running a basketball camp in the summer. What are some of the details? What skills do you help players develop and what are your methods? ben_howland: We teach fundamentals at both ends of the floor, especially focussed on shooting, dribbling and passing. ben_howland: And anybody who would like information about our basketball camps, feel free to call 412-648-8350 or you can call 800-404-4667. ben_howland: We will be in the new Peterson Events Center for camp this summer, which will be a lot of fun for both the campers and coach. ben_howland: We take ages starting at 8 years old, to age 18. goin_to_pittsburgh: how do u think u will do with your hometown recruiting next year with u getting a new basketball arena and having a great season this year ben_howland: Well, you know honestly there hasn't been a lot of Big East level players in the local area. ben_howland: The one player that I really coveted was Bradon Fuss-Cheatham. ben_howland: But unfortunately, we lost him to Ohio State. ben_howland: He's a great kid and is going to be an outstanding point guard for the Buckeyes. ben_howland: I'm definitely hopeful that the pendulum will swing, and we'll have more and more local talent to recruit in the future. ben_howland: I do know of one 8th grader in the city of Pittsburgh that I already want to offer a scholarship to. ben_howland: He was dunking at 6 feet at age 12. ben_howland: The only other two 12 year olds that I know that could dunk were Julius Page and Chevy Troutman. boomdoggy888: Yuri made a nice finishing shot last night. Will we see more of him? ben_howland: Yury is a very good player. ben_howland: And I have told him that if he continues to work hard, he's going to definitely end up playing for us at the University of Pittsburgh because we are so good with Brandin and Julius we feel like we have one of the best backcourts in the country. ben_howland: Its very difficult for me to rationalize taking them out of the game! ben_howland: But Yury has been outstanding throughout the year in practice. ben_howland: I don't think people understand what a good player he is and what an intelligent and unselfish player he is, as well as how the coaching staff and teammates appreciate him. ben_howland: There's definitely going to be a good future for Yury here at Pitt. shaqsftcoach: Last year the Panthers advanced to the second round of the NIT, their first postseason invite in four years. What do you think of the NIT's decision to expand it's field this year? ben_howland: I think its a good decision. ben_howland: When you consider that there's 105 football programs in I-A football, and over half are invited to a postseason bowl, its good for the players. ben_howland: And definitely the experience of being in the NIT last year helped and motivated our players for this year. ben_howland: So I'm very happy and pleased that they have decided to accomodate a few more teams. ben_howland: But there's definitely a few teams that should go to postseason that don't get to. Events_Moderator: I hate to say it, but we have to wrap this up in a few minutes. Our time with Coach Howland is almost up! We'll take a few more questions & comments. show1542: How do u feel about our fans, and if we play at the Mellon arena do u think students will be able to get tickets ben_howland: Our fans are great! ben_howland: I'm really happy and excited with the long time Pitt supporters who've always been there through good and bad. ben_howland: And I'm sure that there will be an allotment of tickets made available for the students. ben_howland: The one thing I'm so happy about is in the new Peterson Event Center setup, the student body surrounds the court. ben_howland: And Steve Pederson did a great job making sure that we carry the Fitzgerald Field House atmosphere over to the new "Pete." ben_howland: The students will be able to stand the entire game as they do now and not impede the view in the chairback seats. ben_howland: Truly unique in college basketball, and a great idea! boomdoggy888: Does it ever bother you that the Pittsburgh media won't give you guys enough attention, unless you win a ton of games? boomdoggy888: I promise I am not a sports journalist. ben_howland: {laughs} ben_howland: You know, that's natural for any sport, unless of course, you're the Steelers. ben_howland: I think the media locally has been great, since I've been here. ben_howland: I appreciate all the coverage that we recieve. shaqsftcoach: What do you think of the rumors that you might be a candidate for the UCLA job when it opens? ben_howland: We have things going so well here at Pitt — a top 10 team, only 1 senior in the program — it would be very difficult to leave because I love to win so much. ben_howland: And I'm confident that we're going to have a good team next year. ben_howland: The other part to the answer is Steve Lavin is good friend, has had some huge wins this year over the likes of Kansas, Alabama, Arizona, etc. ben_howland: One of my former assistants just joined his staff this year, and I'm confident that they will be coaching there for a long, long time. Events_Moderator: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us this evening, Coach Howland! It's been fun! We'll have to do this again sometime! boomdoggy888: You are making every Pitt fan proud. Thanks. ben_howland: I really appreciate everyone following our program, being such great supporters, and joining me online today! ben_howland: Go Panthers!! vonteego5: good luck the rest of the year coach. thanks for the time che_mac: We will see in the month of March show1542: i just wnted to say that i am glad u decided to come to pittsburgh and i've seen the bad but i stuck around and i am happy that u turned this program around Events_Moderator: Great questions everyone. Y'all are the best!! I hope everyone had fun!! We sure did!! Events_Moderator: OK everyone, it's time to go to our customized FOXSports Club. Here is the URL....enjoy!! Events_Moderator: http://clubs.lycos.com/live/Directory/CommunityHome.asp?CG=7b95hc34mirkjej88fdivgqglk&Area=2
Tagged: UCLA, Ohio State, Ohio, Morgan State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Texas Tech, Texas, Gonzaga

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