On Tuesday, analysts from the ACC Network took a trip to Pittsburgh to check out Pitt football camp, one of which being Dalen Cuff, a South Hills native who has covered college basketball for ESPN since 2016.
After spending a day around the Panthers facilities and watching a practice, Cuff caught up with several media members, including Alan Saunders of Pittsburgh Sports Now, and discussed his time around Pat Narduzzi.
“He’s been great,” Cuff said about Pitt’s head coach. “The great thing about talking to Coach Narduzzi and a lot of coaches in the league is that you feel the energy. They love what they do. They just come through. The chance to be around him and talk about his guys, how some of his guys have developed, where they are at this spring, it’s been great.”
As for a prediction? The Pittsburgh native gave his thoughts on Pitt’s chances this upcoming season.
“You’re in the coastal, what else,” he went on. “They have a chance to win the division. I am excited to see Kenny [Pickett] back, obviously the most experienced quarterback. Can the line do its job, can they run the ball a little bit more? How do you feel filing in fro Weaver and Jones not being there? There are questions. But there are potentially some really good answers, and I think this team has a lot of potential.”
Cuff then flipped the switch over to basketball to talk about Jeff Capel’s new-look squad that features four transfers and one freshman.
“That’s the biggest thing around the country, is filling out your roster,” he stated. “Who is capable of playing, who is going to be on the squad? Coach [Capel] has had a lot of guys transfer out, every coach has. This carousel has not ended yet. Some guys are still finding spots in August, you may find some transfers who left an opportunity now wanting a scholarship in September. It’ll be interesting to see how all of those chips fall with the new transfer policy.”
For an analyst who covers more than just one program, let alone an entire conference and more, getting a good look at each squad in the pre-season is certainly tough. For Cuff, the work starts now, by looking at who each team brought in this offseason.
“Right now, we’ll see what the roster actually is,” he said. “And then when we get to practice to, that is what will help this year too, being able to go back on the road and see guys in the preseason. Same thing we’re doing here. Maybe not with shows and everything, but as an analyst, to go and see practice, especially because there is so much movement, really helps us do our job and just get a better feel for the team.”
As conference realignment rumors fill the college athletics world seemingly every day now, many are wondering what the future of the ACC looks like and who Pitt will be playing against.
“Somehow, we always find our way back to Big East stories, and talk about playing at the Garden,” Cuff said. “Those games, you’d watch those teams, that Pitt-UConn final, they put the lights down and it goes black in the garden and there are 22,000 people in there, there is almost no environment like that in college basketball. It has a different energy. But they’re in a better situation obviously now being in the ACC. If there is gonna be more movement, who knows.”