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Tuesday Wakeup Call: Todd Reirden, today’s guest

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Brief and to the Point …

>> The TribLIVE Radio show today will feature special guest Todd Reirden, the Penguins’ assistant coach responsible for the defense. Always candid, Reirden will discuss the emergence of Paul Martin (and why), Brooks Orpik’s amazing nine-block game in Ottawa and what to expect from Simon Despres tonight against the Islanders.

Again, here’s how to listen:

Station: TribLIVE Radio, online only

Time: 1-2 p.m., each Tuesday

Where to find it: Click right here off your PC or laptop. It’s free, easy, no registration.

Mobile: The TribLIVE Radio app is for the iPhone, iPad and Android. Just search “TribLIVE Radio” in the app store. It’s also free, easy and all that.

Also, our Steelers beat writer Alan Robinson will call in from New Orleans to talk Super Bowl.

Alan’s first big file is on Colin Kaepernick.

I want you to be involved, too. Email: Or call 412-320-7925.

>> Matt Niskanen won’t skate tonight, but his injury doesn’t sound serious, according to Josh Yohe.

>> Man, Pitt is just a lousy shooting team. And the funny thing is, the closer they are to the basket, the worse they shoot.

Really hard team to figure, even harder to watch at times. You see the talent, the athleticism, and you watch them taking a top-ranked team like Louisville to the wire on its home court … only to miss layups and free throws, and more layups and free throws.

Some of it’s understandable. Steven Adams is a work in progress. Talib Zanna still shows his rawness. But it’s got to be more concerning to Jamie Dixon that James Robinson, his otherwise solid freshman point guard, shows so little touch after getting into the paint. One would hope that changes soon.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.


  1. Well, I’m glad to hear that about Niskie. It would be nice to see Bortuzzo for a game or two…though I doubt that will happen.

    • Seems strange to me that Bortuzzo is just sitting idly by.

      • Not necessarily. it’s a shortened season, Bortuzzo is still virtually an unknown factor in the NHL, so it doesn’t surprise me. That said, I’d love to give him a chance to see what he can do…but I’m not the coach.

  2. Robinson’s the least of Dixon’s concerns as they shouldn’t be counting on him for scoring at this point. Zanna 2-9 again, getting rejected or missing at point blank. From where he regularly gets touches, he should be well over 50% every game and yet he’s been we’ll under on a regular basis since the opposition got tough. Add moore’s 1-5 and they regularly get no offense from the 4 spot. Top that w/ Patterson being too slow against athletic teams (4 TO’s) and one huge free throw miss by Woodall when he could have made it a 1 point game w/ 40sec. remaining. Their horrendous FT shooting has become a big story, but the bulk of the misses in this one were from the 2 players that you count on to miss every time (Ziegler came in w/ that rep and Adams is destined for the next hack-a-shack at this rate). They actually handled the press surprisingly well but had too many unforced TOs trying to run and in half court.

    DK, Adams is really becoming active and assertive though, fun to watch his progress and he still has time to become the difference maker for this season.


    • 3 – 12 from the free throw line including Woodall’s critical miss on the front end of a 1 and 1 when it was 58 – 55. Repeatedly breaking down on defense and allowing Louisville free on the baseline to score on layups and dunks. Those two items cost the Panthers a victory more than the first half scoring drought and some short range misses.

      I thought Ziegler would score more in this game. I also thought Patterson passed up some shots he should have taken.

      Adams continues to improve but he must get better from the free throw line. Zanna’s offense has really fallen off in Big East play.

  3. How many more days until Spring Training?

  4. Steve Adams…..DUNK the ball when you are a foot away from the hoop ! :-(

    PS: Coach Jamie talks abut how much they practice their free throw shooting ; …they need to do something different….it isn’t working – year after year. 3 for 12 from the line contributes to another losing effort.

  5. JAL’s A Winters Tale Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Spring Training Tracker

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: How Can the Pirates Catch the Cardinals?

    Is Cost Certainty Better Than Roster Flexibility?

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #5 – Luis Heredia

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Ronny Cedeno to sign with Cardinals; Phillies sign Yuniesky Betancourt

    7 The Green Weenie

    That Old Gang of Mine…

    8 IS Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Reviewing Neal Huntington’s drafts- 2012, part 1

    9 Rumbunter

    Seven New Ads: If Pittsburgh Pirates Marketing Was Honest

    10 Minor League Ball

    2013 Baseball Farm System Rankings

  6. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Baseball Nation

    Out-Of-Character Season: National League Central

    12 CBS Sports

    Core Values: Pittsburgh Pirates

    13 MLB Daily Dish

    Yankees notes: New York will miss Russell Martin

    14 MLB

    Interact with players as Top 100 list is announced

    15 Rant Sports

    Travis Snider Facing Crucial Stage Of His Career With Pittsburgh Pirates In 2013

    Pittsburgh Pirates Set to Field Best Pitching Rotation in 21 Years

    16 In My Country

    Heat star to join the Pirates crew

    17 USA Today

    MLB may take issue with Dodgers’ record TV deal

    18 Sweetspot

    Pitchers with a bad record on a good team


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Pass the Bonds, Please

    20 Fangraphs

    Yuniesky Betancourt and the Worst Trend in Baseball

  7. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers possibly preparing to release Ryan Clark

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers S Ryan Clark Reportedly Quit Twitter To Focus On His Rehab & Training


    23 Daily Telegraph

    Thierry Henry ‘pushing me’ to complete Arsenal buy-out, claims Alisher Usmanov who attacks club’s owners

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 28th January, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Penguin Performances

  8. I’ll put in another suggestion I’ve heard from others for some time in the future – not today – to invite Keith Law onto the radio show to talk Pirates organization.

  9. Hard to watch PITT blow another game because they can’t hit their free throws, 3-12 is terrible. They seem to be moving the ball pretty well and getting it inside, but the big guys up front are not very aggressive in the paint. Not used to seeing that lack of physicality from a Coach Dixon’s team.

  10. Thunder says he’s free this afternoon. Hit him up.

  11. Interesting note from the NHL Bruins PK is a perfect 24 424

  12. DK–
    Some of those close in misses were due to 6’11″ Gorgui Dieng and his shot blocking ability…especially getting several of those blocks early in the game. Had to be a bit of a factor. The free throw shooting was a bigger concern.

  13. DK
    Is it possible Malkin playing against lesser competition in the KHL is part of the reason he is turning the puck over so much to start the season? Maybe a lot of those passes and plays were working over in Russia, but are getting him in trouble here.

    My guess would be that Bortuzzo plays tonight – perfect opportunity to knock the rust off and keep him involved. Plus with the Islanders offensive prowess early this season, a defensive-defensman would serve the Pens better than Despres.

    Pirates question – where is the Liriano deal as of today?

    • Interesting thought on Malkin.

      Along with that, I could be wrong, but I thought KHL rinks follow International/Olympic dimensions. Bigger ice, looser play might not work so well on NHL ponds.

      As for Liriano, the deal won’t be official until he takes a physical. My guess is that they’ll wait for the cast to come off first.

      • You’re right…their rinks are Olympic size. I wish there was an easy way for the NHL to make all their rinks Olympic size…that little bit of room would make their most talented players shine brighter and focus the play more on playmaking rather than blocking shots and clogging up the zone. Just no easy way to have every arena knock out the first two rows of seating on each side of the rink.

    • On Liriano, deal is now just pending passing the physical, which as of a week ago could reportedly take some time because of logistical problems.

  14. Speaking of moderation land. In about two hours, I’m taking a jet. Then a puddle jump. Then a wagon train. Reaching Cedar Rapids, Iowa sometime tonight for a meeting in the morning.

    The high today in Cedar Rapids is a relatively balmy 51.

    The low tomorrow morning is 9.



  15. Sure miss the morning links. I wonder if the “moderator” is wearing a head set, and sitting with many other moderators in Bangalore!


  16. Actually I hear rumors the Cheese Chester is on the block. I think the pens should go get him for a 7th rd pick. Not very fleet afoot but he gets good stick on puck and is a PHENOMENAL shot blocker. Immovable in front of his own net.

  17. what the puck is a cheese chester?

    • Thunder’s wrestling name.

    • Cheese Chester= One of the Pierogies in the race at PNC. Get it?

      See, people are making suggestions for trades the Penguins should make that are kinda crazy…so I proposed a farcical situation in which the Penguins traded a REAL player to another team not even in their league for a cartoonish characterization of a popular local delicacy!

      Get it? Hes a Pierogie! know…on, like…on skates……get it? That’s funny, right?

      Never mind…..

  18. Anyone elses stomach turn when they saw a picture of Ray Lewis on the main page of the Trib website?

    As much as I don’t want the 49ers to win… I just as badly don’t want to have Lewis go out with a win. Going out with a win should be reserved for guys like Elway and Bettis. Last thing I want to hear year after year is will this guy go out like Ray Lewis. Makes my skin crawl.

  19. Anyone seen the over/under on the number of times the name Harbaugh will be mentioned during the Super Bowl?

  20. OMG…Sports Illustrated has officially lost their freakin minds… go check out the cover of their latest issue. I don’t even want to post the link…


  21. I’m watching the Super Bowl strictly for the commercials. Nothing good can come out of the actual game (though Ravens winning is the worst case scenario).

    And on the commercials, they’ve been losing their flare since the days of the Budweiser frogs and the Bud Bowl. Obviously everyone, especially kids, drinks more beer because of talking frogs, lizards and poorly animated bottles playing football. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the actual effects of alcohol and the fact that malty goodness is always enjoyable. Stupid FCC or whoever ruined Louie the Lizard.

    • Triple Amen, Brad.

    • Totally agree. Commercials just are not what they used to be. Not even close. You may get 2 or 3 that are good with 1 being really good. You can count on Go Daddy to have Dannica strolling around in a bikini, and Budweiser to have the dog.

      • TJ,

        I thought Bush’s Baked Beans had the dog? Either way, combining those two won’t be good news for my wife and kids. At least there’s Dannica and her hall of fa… oh wait. She never wins anything. Bring on the bikini!

  22. Brad, good Lord, I was thinking the same thing just the other day….about the Budweiser Frogs, Bud Light. Amazing :)

  23. There’s always Kate Upton for you guys.

  24. On that happy note, signing off for the first flight.

    I’ll leave you with this thought.

    Absolutely true.

    When I was newly married and traveling, I’d give my locations and relative times/dates to my wife. (Flying from Pittsburgh to Indy, arriving late afternoon.)

    Not good enough. She demanded full itinerary with all flights, times and connecting locations.

    I said sure. But why?

    “So if you crash.”

    So I always say a little prayer before takeoff. Both for the other passengers and crew, and to spite my wife.

  25. Super Bowl Commercial synopsis:

    Pepsi and Taco Bell will make some over the top commercial with 2-3 hack celebrities that will be anything but funny.

    All 3 major beer companies will introduce their new marketing campaign for the new year. On will work, one will fail.

    Car commercials will completely fail to be interesting.

    Doritos will be funny. E-trade will not.

    Some dark horse company no one expects to do well will have the “funniest of the night”.

  26. Is there any chance that the Trib techies could make the (space for the) avatars bigger?

    They’re shrunk so much that my poor dogs look like two columns of smoke and the ones with faces are really fuzzy. (Actually, they’re all really fuzzy.)

  27. Time to stop giving Adams excuses for his FT shooting. Most guys could shoot better blindfolded. I can understand 55-60 percent, but 30 percent is pathetic.

    Amazing how Pitt stays in games with how horrible a shooting team it is. Says a lot about their toughness and Dixon’s coaching (am I allowed to say that?).

    • Pitt actually is shooting 48.9% from the field 12th best in all of Division 1 Basketball. It shoots 35.9% from three-point range which ranks 90th our of 330+ teams.

      Now when it comes to FT Shooting the club is just 66.1% from the line, much room for improvement.

    • Maybe he can join Gregg Williams as an assistant in Tennessee. They kind of deserve each other.

      • I can’t believe Williams got hired this soon after Bounty-gate. Especially with that title.

        • I can’t believe the NFL is going to allow him to return in that role to be honest. But then again if you let Vick, Lewis and all the other thugs even those on the Steelers back in I guess you have to let a coordinator who never broke the law back in

  28. Mr. JAL,

    I know you have probably answered this numerous times, but I’ll ask again.
    How do you come up with the song of the day each day?

  29. @JoshYohe_Trib Niskanen officially out 2 to 4 weeks. Was wearing walking cast today. Nothing season threatening, obviously.

  30. @Jason_La_canfora Penguins rumored to have soured on Niskanen since he wont man up and play with a broken foot.

  31. Ahh the ever so saint like Ray Lewis casting forgiveness upon Welker’s wife. I like the comment about no one saying a thing about the Patriots last year when they lost but he doesn’t mention how much of an idiot Suggs was after winning this year.

  32. Seems like there is more talk / mentions of me than the Pirates or the hot stove.
    Keep it up.

    That is one way to get baseball talk back on the blog.

    • Usually hijacking a blog to talk about things other than what the topic(s) was originally about ruins the thread and is frowned on but for some reason baseball fans and political zealots will do anything to get their point across here. I could easily get my Mom and her friends on here to talk about gardening, needlepoint and liver spots ad nausea all day to juice things up for you people who would rather talk about anything other than football, hockey or basketball. It’s a shame there are no other blogs on the Trib or elsewhere to get your baseball fix other than DK blog. You should try this site, I hear they just love talking B Ball here:

      • Someone wiz in your Cheerios, SJB?

      • I’ll ignore your whole rant and try to beat DK to the punch. NO POLITICS HERE.

      • SJB —

        You are right, there is something different about baseball fans. Here, on DK’s blog, we’ve become a sort of community. It’s not a matter of “hijacking” the blog. When I think of hijacking a blog I think of another blog where a group of fans with strong points of view rant and mock and call another group with an opposite point of view names who return the favor until every topic becomes the same old battleground and those in the middle or who just want to talk about what the blogger wrote are drowned out and eventually stop commenting or (worse) take sides in the war. That’s hijacking a blog.

        So we wander around a bit in our conversation. Basketball? I love what Hoiberg is doing with the ‘Clones, but the Hawks have got to learn to shoot.

        As for the day to day give and take, either join in or page down. It’s up to you. There’s a difference between a blog and a newsgroup.

      • Sjb,

        Please go get your Mommy . . . . I think all of us would rather talk to her, even if it’s about gardening.

        Did little snookums miss his nap today?

      • I am slightly confused by what your point is. This is Dejan Kovacevic’s blog. He is a general sports columnist for the Trib. He puts up a blog at his discretion with whatever subject matter he would like. Usually there is a daily one and depending on the day there will be event specific blogs. i.e. pitt vs whomever. DK usually posts about what he has written about or found interesting. He then allows others to post whatever they would like within the sports field. To my knowledge there are no restrictions. if someone would like to post about lacrosse they could. DK moderates it and comments on people comments for clarification purposes. There are other blogs on the site for specific subjects however this blog is the most commented on because of it’s a daily nature.

  33. There is a story breaking out of miami concerning ped use and mlb. Article lists players nicknames, and real names. Among alligations is that A Rod was using ped’s through last season. Also lists Gio Gonzales of Nats, and more.

  34. Did anyone hear the breaking news about ARod potentially using PED’s?

    • Or as I like to say AFraud. Now I am reading where the Yankees may come after him for the remaining 200 Million or so that is owed to the cheat who no longer performs at a high level.

  35. Someone left there politically correct dictionary home in Baltimore.

    Flacco calls cold weather bowl “retarded”.

    And did I really see a debate on whether Flacco deserves Drew Brees money?

  36. Flacco just proved all his critics right. What an Azz

    • I don’t see any attribution there other than “Flacco’s camp.” If it’s his agent talking, and I wish they wouldn’t, you start at the high point.

  37. Does anyone remember a super bowl miller light commercial that lasted only one second? It took place the year we defeated the Cardinals. You might remember string of the miller highlife commercials where the beer delivery guy would take away someone’s beer if he didn’t like the situation where the beer was being served at. For example, if to took the beer from a restaurant that serves an $11.50 hamburger. Anyways, the actor who played the delivery guy, Windell Middlebrooks, is standing alone and states, “One Mississippi,” and the commercial ends.

    Every time I bring this up, nobody has any recollection of seeing it.

  38. whoa, big changes around these parts.

    -Nice to see the Pens put up some D in Ottawa. To me, that’s what they lack in. They will be unstoppable if they can continue that type of defensive play.

    • Only if they continue that type of defensive play AND complement it with offense. It felt like they focused so much on defense in practice that day that they forgot that there was this whole thing about scoring goals they needed to take care of.

      To be fair Ottawa played a pretty good defensive game themselves.

      I’m not saying go back to trying to make every breakout pass a stretch play. All I want is to take control of the puck, make an educated outlet to a winger at the blue line, and have that winger either carry, headman, or dump. You know like a normal hockey team. Pretend the two line pass rule is still in existence.

    • I find it very, very convenient all of this Ray Lewis Deer Antler story is coming out an hour before he takes the podium on Super Bowl media day. Almost as if it was a staged and premeditated event….just sayin…

    • That would probably be enough to get them in the NCAAs?

      • After last night’s loss to Louisville, Pitt actually moved up in RPI (47), KenPom (6), and Sagarin (12) ratings. SOS is now 80 up 19 spots.

        RPI and SOS only figure to improve greatly with Syracuse, Cinci, Marquette and Notre Dame as four of the next five opponents. Would be really nice to get 2-3 of these to add to the resume and help with seeding.

        3-2 on the road in conference play with wins at Villanova and Georgetown help.

        Latest bracket predictions show Pitt as 8/9 seed so room to improve if they can get some big wins.

        • Late to the game, but if Pitt is put up against a #9 VCU, they will be blown away–VCU will have them for lunch!

          • On a neutral floor based on ratings Pitt would be a four point favorite versus the VCU Rams.

          • To my unprofessional eye, I would think Pitt will have to vastly improve ball-handling and shooting to handle Smart’s “chaos.” I think I see Pitt’s potential, but I think VCU would mangle them. (but March is a month away . . .)

  39. I agree with previous posts about going to Olympic size rinks. With the size and speed of players today it only makes sense…. It’s not 1980 anymore where the average defenseman was maybe 5′ 9″ tall and couldn’t skate.
    Let’s get some room out there!
    I know, I know the poor owners will have to give up some seats but let’s do what’s good for the game!

    • I’m pretty sure the last 3 months proved that the owners are not even remotely interested in what is best for the game.

    • I don’t even buy the whole loss of revenue argument by the owners.

      Ok, so you remove the first few rows of seats.

      Just make rows 3 & 4 the same price as 1 & 2. That leaves you with, oh, about 17000 other seats for which you can raise the price evenly to make up for the net loss.

      Not to mention the added benefit of improving the quality of the on-ice product and keeping your stars safer.

      Makes too much sense, I suppose.

  40. 13 days, Groat!!!


  42. More breaking news….

    Now does anyone really expect Lewis to admit to it? I’m sure he’ll get by with an obstruction of justice charge

  43. Dom, stale Twinkies are NOT valuable, my friend.

  44. You can be TC’s wrestling promoter ;)

  45. Here’s some mid-afternoon predictions:

    1/ Simon Depres is excellent tonight, with an assist and nice play around the net.
    2/ Sands is regular rightfielder over Snider once season starts. (unless they put Garrett Jones in right and Sands at 1st, as some have suggested.)
    3/ Tabata is moved for a 2nd or 3rd line pitcher near the end of Spring Training.
    4/ Teams won’t pitch to McCutch early in the season.
    5/ Malkin give the puck away on the power play.

  46. I could smack him upside the head when he does that! Grrr!

  47. make that 9 WIDE ;)

  48. TJ, yes, of course, what else were you thinking? :p

  49. On the Pirates web site:

    “The Bucs’ NRI list currently includes 17, and there is at least one more on the way: Indications are that Francisco Liriano — when all the roadblocks to formalizing his signing are cleared — will wind up coming to camp on a Minor League deal and an invite. “

    • “Bringing in Liriano on a Minor League deal would give the team ample time to figure out how to make room on the 40-man for the veteran lefty, whose participation figures to be delayed due to the broken right arm that complicated his signing. “

  50. Folks..I hate to break the news to everyone. There *ARE other good players in the NHL besides Crosby, Malkin and Letang.

    Sometimes…just sometimes…when they lose it will be because the other team played well, not because the Pens played bad. The other team is allowed to make a good play once in awhile, too.

  51. Anyone else having trouble reading this blog now that it is a blue color??

  52. No plane crashes today

    Our prayers for Drew worked

  53. DK – just a note to say the blog is extremely difficult to read / follow via IPhone now. Wow.

  54. The blog is almost impossible to follow on my phone. Too much scrolling around needed to see who posted where. Not that easy to follow on the computer either. Have to go back to posts made several hours ago to see what people are saying.

    Completely disagreed when Naje used to complain about the old format. Much easier to follow because everything was sequential and in real time.

    I guess I’m an old simpleton, but I am going to find where Milo is playing and go there.

  55. John,
    At this early stage, I’d have to say I completely agree. “Sequential and in real time” was much easier to follow, even if that meant various different conversations going on at once. The one thing we all may want to try, however, is opting to *not* reply within posts and keeping things “in time” on our own. Only when a few people have something really contentious or really arcane going, could they opt (or be gently told) to keep things threaded.

    Just a thought, don’t know how it might all play out.

  56. John and Others,
    At this early stage, I’d have to say I completely agree. “Sequential and in real time” was much easier to follow, even if that meant various different conversations going on at once. The one thing we all may want to try, however, is opting to *not* reply within posts and keeping things “in time” on our own. Only when a few people have something really contentious or really arcane going, could they opt (or be gently told) to keep things threaded.

    Just a thought, don’t know how it might all play out.

  57. I just had an opportunity to take a look at my most recent SI issue with Frick and Frack on the cover. One thing that I found interesting was found on page 42….

    If everyone will indulge me if you have a copy of SI. Please turn to page 42 and take a look at what you see in the picture. A picture of Ray Lewis dropping to one knee arms stretched wide in celebration. Tom Brady was in the back ground so I’m unable to tell whether it was after the game or not. But if I remember correctly the Ravens were on offense to end the game which means said celebration took place during the game.

    If I remember correctly Kiesel was given a 15 yard penalty for dropping to one knee in celebration. So it begs to ask the question which is meaningless at this point but still helps me pass some time.

    1. Why wasn’t the Duke of Dirty flagged?
    2. If a player that is not directly involved with the play drops to a knee in celebration does the 15 yard penalty apply? In my opinion its no different than holding when its on the other side of the field but what do I know.
    3. Was the Duke of Dirty given a pass as it could have appeared as he was once again thanking god that he was wearing a ravens uniform and not a prison uniform?

    Found that picture rather interesting and in some ways shows the inconsistencies across the officiating; but then again this was Ray’s final ride so I’m sure they were told not to throw a flag (sarcasm)

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