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January 16, 2012Former Pitt player Khem Birch joined Gregg Giannotti and Paul Alexander on the Fan Morning Show on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh on Monday morning to talk about his departure from the Panthers.
Here's what Birch had to say about Pitt, the system, Jamie Dixon, and his former teammates.
Gregg Giannotti: We want to hear from you what your determining factor was to leave Pittsburgh.
Khem Birch: I felt like it all started when Pat Skerry had left from what he had told me, and then when I got there and all of a sudden when I experienced the system.
Paul Alexander: As far as your contributions, it looked like they were going to get bigger and better, and you certainly were a lynchpin on this team. Now they're left without what they needed in you. Do you have any regrets in that regard?
KB: Not really. I don't really have a regret; I just wanted to try something different because that wasn't my fit.
GG: How would you characterize your relationship with your teammates?
KB: I only had a relationship with two teammates, but the rest was just like being an acquaintance.
PA: As far as your relationship with Jamie Dixon, I've never really heard many people say bad things about the coach.
KB: Oh no, no, no, me and Coach Dixon, we were okay. We didn't really connect like that.
GG: When you say you didn't connect, what do you mean by that?
KB: There was no relationship formed. Like, you know, I wouldn't call him to tell him how I felt and all of that.
PA: As far as the fit, you see UNLV and there was talk about maybe going to Kentucky; what is it about the way that Pitt plays basketball that doesn't fit the way you play basketball?
KB: I felt like they slow the ball down too much. It's not a fast-paced team.
GG: Did they say it was going to be a fast-paced team when you came in, and that kind of changed and that's what turned you off a little bit?
KB: Yeah, when I was there, they said, 'We don't slow the ball down. We're the third-leading scoring team in the Big East. We don't slow the ball down.' They said with all the athletes that were coming in that we were going to be more of an up-tempo team.
PA: Was the city okay, were you okay with the city of Pittsburgh?
KB: I didn't mind the city. The city wasn't any problem at all.
GG: So basically, just to reiterate, it came down to the system. There wasn't anything else with the relationships with the coach or the players that made you want to start somewhere fresh.
KB: It was also the kind of relationship I had with the team. And the system.
PA: What was it about the relationship that wasn't working, as far as your teammate?
KB: I felt like, just coming in as an All-American, they didn't try to embrace me or anything. I think some felt threatened.
GG: Like a little bit of jealousy?
KB: Yeah, kind of.
PA: Interesting. Dante Taylor, a fellow McDonald's All-American, did you strike up a decent relationship with him?
KB: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, I used to talk to Dante a lot about what was going on at Pitt and all of that.
GG: Who do you think felt threatened by you?
KB: I don't want to name any names. I'm just saying like you know what I mean? I'm just saying, I just felt like some people felt threatened.
GG: Alright Khem, when are you heading out to UNLV?
KB: On Sunday.
PA: When Jamie, when you finally shared with him that you were thinking about leaving, how much did he and teammates and others try to talk you into sticking around?
KB: He tried to talk me into it a lot, and Ashton Gibbs and Nasir tried to talk me into it.
PA: I guess they just, your mind wasn't going to be changed on this one, was it?
KB: Oh no, no, no.
GG: Alright, final one for you Khem. What do you think is wrong? The team has struggled right now mightily; what do you think their biggest problem is?
KB: I don't know. But when I was there, I remember when some people didn't get what they wanted during a half, if they didn't score a certain amount of points, during halftime, it would be silence from those players. It wasn't like they were happy. Even if we were winning, they would just get mad because they didn't get what they wanted.
GG: You're saying it was a little bit selfish in the lockerroom? It wasn't a team concept?
KB: Yeah, it wasn't really like a team sometimes, because some people just wanted what they wanted, and if they didn't get it, they would just mope around.
Click here to listen to Birch's interview on 93.7 The Fan.