Chat with Pitt's Aaron Gray
|Aaron Gray will be at the center of Pitt's chances to live up to the preseason potential.|
Gray was among ESPN.com's Impact 25, a list of 25 players, administrators and coaches that will be in the news this season. Gray is one of nine returning players that made the list. You can also rank ESPN.com's Impact 25 teams.
Pitt returns eight of its top 10 players from a squad that finished 25-8 overall and 10-6 in Big East play. Gray is one of those players that returns, after the senior toyed with the idea of entering the NBA draft, before pulling his name out of the draft before the NBA draft's early entry deadline. Gray will lead a team that advanced to the Big East Championship final for the fifth time in the last six seasons and appeared in a school record fifth straight NCAA Tournament.
As a junior in 2005-06, the 7-0 center averaged 13.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
Check out Pitt's athletics home page for more information on the Panthers.
Send your questions now and join Gray in chat on Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Check out the other Midnight Madness chats SportsNation has lined up for Friday afternoon: (all times Eastern)
1:30 p.m. - Duke's Josh McRoberts
2 p.m. - Villanova's Curtis Sumpter
2:30 p.m. - UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
3 p.m. - ESPN NCAA MBB analyst Jay Bilas
Buzzmaster (3:26 PM)
We're getting Aaron right now!
Jeff Daniel Memphis. Tennessee
What got you into basketball?
Aaron Gray (3:28 PM)
What first got me into the game of basketball I guess it would be that I didn't start playing basketball into ninth grade. My varsity coach saw me play football and asked me to come play basketball. I did and I was pretty good and I realized I would make basketball my career.
Eric (NY, NY)
Aaron, Who do you see as the toughest matchup for you personally in the Big East? Which team is going to be the biggest test for you?
Aaron Gray (3:30 PM)
I think it will be either Marquette or Georgetown. Marquette has the guards and Georgetown has the big guys. I think the whole country is thinking those will be two big time matchups when we play them both on GameDay. There are no gimmies in the Big East.
Where do you think Pitt should be in the pre-season polls?
Aaron Gray (3:31 PM)
The way everyone's predicting us, we'll be a top 10, but we don't put any stock in the preseason polls.
Penn Hills, PA
So how far do you think that this Pitt team can go? What do you think that you guys should be ranked?
Aaron Gray (3:31 PM)
Absolutely, I think we can go far. Our expectations are high. We have a lot of talent. We have 10-11 guys that can play at this level. Our main goal is to improve every day and hope for the best.
Aaron Gray (3:32 PM)
But I definitely see us making some noise come March.
Aaron, I'm glad you came back for your senior year, this season looks very promising! What part of your game did you want to work on this season before you go to the NBA? GO PITT!!!
Aaron Gray (3:33 PM)
Mostly just conditioning and continuing to improve my body and my strength and my athleticism. On the other hand, I need another year mentally to prepare for the next level. When you get there, it's your job. Now it's just fun.
Ryan Jefferson Hills, PA
Whats up Aaron. How does transfer Mike Cook fit into the lineup? I am guessing he may start at the 3 or be the first guy off the bench?
Aaron Gray (3:34 PM)
He's the man. I love playing with Mike Cook. He's a fierce competitor and understands the game. As far as who plays and how much they play, that's the difficult decision that Coach Dixon will have to make. I have confidence that he'll make all the good decisions.
Paul (San Diego)
Aaron, how are you going to avoid falling into the trap of listening to the hype and looking ahead to the NBA vice focusing on the season ahead?
Aaron Gray (3:35 PM)
Two things. No. 1, I understand there's a lot of things I need to improve upon. By no means do I think I'm as good as I'm going to be. The second thing, just in coming back, my main goal is winning. I'm not interested in if a game improves my stock or not. Just in winning.
Being on Pitt's campus I've seen the basketball team out in the public a lot as a TEAM. Do you think the commemoratory of this year?s team is the best since you've been here? Over the past few years there's been discussion over the lack of chemistry. How has that changed?
Aaron Gray (3:36 PM)
I think by far this is the best year we've had for team chemistry. We're like a family. When we're on the court, we push each other. We're so competitive that sometimes practices end in fights. But when we leave the court, we're a family. It's always hard to find just one of us on campus. When we're out, there's at least two of us or three or eight of us.
Stacy (Pitt Alum!)
Who will step up to replace Krauser this year?
Aaron Gray (3:37 PM)
There's so many things that Krauser did. Team leader, toughness. He seemed to always put us over the edge when facing adversity. But this year we have so much talent and experience that hopefully we can pick it up just fine, without too much of a dropoff.
What game are you most looking forward to?
Aaron Gray (3:38 PM)
For me, it's against Georgetown. I play my best when we go up against the best competition. They say right now that Roy Hibbert might be the best in the Big East. That's my motivation right now. That's what I'm looking forward to.
Aaron, Pitt alum and big fan. First, let me THANK YOU for coming back! Secondly, I've been reading a lot this summer about how you guys have been doing strength and conditioning together as a unit. Is this different from past seasons? Do you feel that this is more of a balanced and cohesive unit than in the past?
Aaron Gray (3:40 PM)
Yeah, I do, but most of the reasons is that everyone's healthy and we're able to do the conditioning together. This year, we've had very few problems. Now we're able to work more as a team with the conditioning. We've set our goals higher this year and we're working hard to accomplish those goals.
Aaron, I was thrilled that you decided to come back to school. I think it truly showed fine commitment to a deep, talented program, in a sport where the trend has been a lack thereof. What do you think your display of commitment has meant to the team?
Aaron Gray (3:41 PM)
I think it shows how committed to them, how committed I am to the team. I think it also shows a belief that I wouldn't come back if I didn't think we could do something special this year.
Robert Hatfield (Matewan WV)
Do you play video games such College Hoops, if so how does it feel see yourself on the game?
Aaron Gray (3:42 PM)
It's really cool, actually. You've been playing video games your whole life and you pick your team and yourself is out there. The funny thing about our team is if you get embarrassed in the game, it's as if you were embarrassed in real life.
Andrew (Holbrook, ny)
Where is the toughest place to play in the big east.
Aaron Gray (3:42 PM)
I still think it's West Virginia. They have all the crazy fans and shoot the big guns that scare the fans. It's a tough place to play. They bring out a good crowd.
Hey Aaron, Whats up? Glad your back. Im not trying to cut up on you, but have you worked on your free-throw shooting over the summer? Once again that is not a rip. LOL! Good Luck this year! GO PITT!
Aaron Gray (3:43 PM)
Just continual practice. I realized that I'm a better shooter than I show from the free throw line. It's one of those things Coach Dixon told me a I need to work on and I'm going to concentrate on.
Aaron Gray (3:44 PM)
I appreciate all the support from the city and all the Panther fans when I was trying to make my decision. I'm happy with my decision. Come out and support us for this exciting season. I wouldn't be anywhere without my teammates.
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