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Tuesday Wakeup Call: Ladies first today

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media columnist

Morning, lunatics …

>> The TribLIVE Radio show today — 1-2 p.m. — will feature a special guest still to be determined, but our media guest, the Trib’s Ralph Paulk on site at the Daytona 500, will call up to talk Danica Patrick stirringly taking the pole over the weekend.

Should be fun, if only to hear if I Ralph can carry me through all 10 minutes of a conversation about auto racing. Pressure’s on, man.

To listen to the show, just click on TribLIVE Radio. It’s free, easy, no registration. If you’ve got an iPhone, iPad or Android, we’ve also got the TribLIVE Radio app that’s recently been upgraded.

And yes, the local Twitter legend @suckmeter will offer, in his own inimitable manner, the Suck of the Week in Pittsburgh sports.

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

>> The winningest basketball team in the city took a tough, tough loss last night, with the Duquesne women falling late at No. 14 Dayton, 58-57. And not just because the Flyers lead the A-10 and the game was televised nationally on CBS Sports Network. It’s more that the Dukes were legitimately in command most of the game, only to unravel in the second half.


Yeah, absolutely, between this and losing to Saint Joseph’s, the other conference power, in overtime in back-to-back games, it means the Dukes are getting there. But I’m betting Suzie McConnell-Serio isn’t seeing it that way this morning.

>> Wow, could Pitt play any worse than that dud against Notre Dame?

Just look at this video of Jamie Dixon afterward, courtesy of Chris Peak’s Panther Lair.

>> Monday’s curling column brought more mail than usual from women, always a welcome development in the sportswriting, and this was my favorite:

Dear Dejan,

No way. I was sweeping the snowfall on the sidewalk yesterday thinking … hmmm, I could do curling … until I got quarter of the way done — whipped. Not even 10 yards. First-down failure.

No wonder my granny could haul kids, calves, feed bags and stir two pots with the other hand at the same time. I’m a wimp. My sport: Dog walking! And reading!

Great piece. Go Pens!

Thanks ,

Lisa Reilly of Oakmont

>> Hope to hear from you for the show. If not, the podcast will be up here shortly afterward.

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. FIRST! (Well, I’m a lady)…

  2. Just got done watching Pitt on the DVR. Thoughts:

    1. I know Jamie loves his big guys to go out and hedge out at the three-point line on defense, but in tonight’s game, it was not worth getting out of rebounding position for.

    2. Wow, how many times did I yell, “Shoot the dang ball!” Notre Dame was gift-wrapping the three-point line for us, but our guys apparently would rather ball fake to no one and drive into the teeth of the defense.

    3. Aside from being out of position, we just got flat-out out-hustled on the boards, which was more discouraging. I noticed several times a Pitt player was in prime position to make the rebound, only to see it ripped away by the opponent flying in. Our players seemed content to let rebounds fall to them; Notre Dame went and got them.

    • This is a good summary. Didn’t seem like anyone on Pitt wanted to take a shot last night. Patterson passed up numerous open threes. This team is so offensively challenged. If they can’t out rebound the opponent and score on put backs or in the transition game they are in deep trouble. I never felt comfortable as Pitt stretched the lead to 19 – 3. It was obvious the Panthers were doing little offensively and with almost 30 minutes left in the game there was plenty of time for a comeback. Zanna has disappeared on offense. I would say the last two games have put to rest the Steven Adams to the NBA talk at least for the time being although his steal and 3/4 court drive were impressive.

  3. DK,

    Loved the column yesterday. Never have had the chance to curl yet, but hey I’m still young.

    Just out of curiosity how do they resurface the ice in a curling only arena?

    Do the partitions separating the curling surfaces come up and then they run a Zam over it?

    Or do they just scrape, shovel and flood?

    DK: Again, I so glad this was asked because there’s so much fun information I left out of that piece.

    At the Granite Club, the “resurfacing,” if you will, consists of an older gentleman running backward — yes, running — with a jetpack-looking thing on his back and spraying out droplets of water. That creates a beaded or pebbled look and feel to the ice.

    It’s not smooth. I never knew that.

    But that also explains why curlers, like some golfers or baseball pitchers, actually prefer to throw the rock with a curl — hence, the sport’s name — rather than aim for anything straight. They prefer their own motion to the one the surface or air offers.

    I could do this all day. Really neat learning experience.

  4. Looking forward to hearing you discuss NASCAR. Will probably sound like me trying to discuss hockey.

    The majority of people I know couldn’t tell you who Erik Karlsson is if their life depended on it, but they can explain in great detail what changes NASCAR made to the cars this year.

    Guess it just depends on what part of the country you live in.

    Danica Patrick winning the Daytona 500 pole is a huge story. NASCAR is the only sport that starts their season off with their version of the super bowl. To have a woman not only win the pole for the biggest race, but also run one of the fastest qualifying laps ever at Daytona, deserves a couple minutes of coverage.

  5. JAL’s Moon River 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

    Pirates To Extend Hurdle Through 2014

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Roundup: Michael McKenry trying to steal more bases

    7 This Is Getting old

    Pirates #Hurdled For Two More Years

    8 Bleacher Report

    5 Reasons Pittsburgh Pirates Will Make the Playoffs in 2013

    9 Rumbunter

    Kevin Correia Gets A Little Salty

    10 Green Weenie

    Around the Campfire

  6. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Bradenton Herald

    Former Marauder McPherson looking to make big-league rotation

    12 Rant Sports

    MLB Rumors: Kyle Lohse Is Exactly What The Pittsburgh Pirates Need

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Extending Clint Hurdle Helps Pirates in Many Ways

    13 KDKA

    New Pirate Brandon Inge Excited For Opportunity With Pirates

    Colin Dunlap: Hurdle Extension Well Deserved

    14 The Southern

    Let us not forget about Gene Baker

    15 Syracuse Post Standard

    Poliquin: Jason Grilli’s long baseball road has led him to the ninth inning in Pittsburgh

    16 PBC Site

    Tabata looks to earn trust — and outfield job

    17 New Jersey Record

    MLB notes: Brewers’ Mat Gamel tears ACL

    18 Chicago Daily Herald

    NL Central update: Gold Glove, closers and more


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    What Really Predicts Pitcher Injuries?

    The Pirates Gamble on Marte

    20 Fangraphs

    Daily Notes: The Top Possible Rookies, According to Steamer

  7. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    When it comes to some long-time Steelers veterans, the time for change may have to be now

    AFC North Roundup Finale: Receivers II

    22 Steelers Depot

    -Steelers S Ryan Clark Calls Comments Made By Anonymous Teammate Cowardly


    23 Daily Telegraph

    Manchester United 2 Reading 1: match report

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 Stories You Need to Read 18th February 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Pens Ups and Downs

  8. Andy Williams…ahhhh..the memories :)

    • Indeed. I don’t think Williams got the play or recognition that say, Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin, did, but he had a fine, fine voice. Personally, I like Tony Bennett. He’s one of my all time favorites.

    • I’m with you, Jandy. One of my favorites from that era and also one of my all-time favorite songs. It still gives me goosebumps.

      • That’s Aliquippa’s Henry Mancini.

        • Ahh yes…Henry…well said 21!

        • AND Cleveland’s: “Mancini was born in the Little Italy neighborhood of Cleveland, and grew up near Pittsburgh, in the steel town of West Aliquippa…”

          My entire family is from Cleveland’s Little Italy, and I was born there, too! Mancini’s aunt lived two doors from my Grandma, although I never caught sight of him when he visited her.

          • Great story, Karen! Thanks for sharing. I trust you are Italian? I was born and raised Pittsburgh, but lived in Cleveland for a few years. Been to Little Italy in Cleveland a number of times.

            • You trust correctly, TJA – Italian on both sides. If I sat on my hands I wouldn’t be able to talk…heh heh! But I actually grew up in “Little Israel,” Cleveland Heights. Which is why I’m a bit schizophrenic today!

  9. Tony Bennett, yes a great voice. Williams was one of my Mother’s favorites. i remember watching him and listening to him sing as a child.

    • I have to be honest. I don’t get Tony Bennett. I think he’s vastly overrated but I realize I’m in the minority here. I’m also influenced by my Father who was a long time musician playing in big bands. He thought Bennett sucked and my Dad played with him a couple of times years ago.

  10. If someone asked me who I would want to win the Daytona 500, I’d say Danica Patrick. Not because I’m a fan but because I cannot name another racer.

  11. How about the proposition that the Big East is already a mediocre league? Pitt could not do what a truly mediocre Providence team did: crush the Irish. When they got them down, they finished them off. #20 vs #25? Pfuii!


    When I asked Huntington what would be fair for a Pirates fan to expect this season, he told me, “That’s not for me to decide. Our goal is to be one of those teams playing playoff games in October. Anything short of that is not something we’re looking at right now. Our goal is to win the division. Our goal is to play deep into October and do what the other 29 teams are trying to do — win it all.”

    • I’m not holding my breath! Don’t want to turn blue.

    • Thanks for the link, JMB. Not a huge fan of Morosi, but I he did a good job here.

      On Huntington:
      “But if The Streak reaches 21, well, Pittsburghers have every right to grimace like Bill Cowher after a missed block and demand changes to on- and off-field management.

      Really, what other alternative would ownership have? Another plea for patience? Right. That would be about as popular locally as trading Sidney Crosby to the Flyers.”

      On Hurdle:
      “To Hurdle, I offer my congratulations. To the team, I ask why.

      While I agree that Hurdle deserves to keep his job for now, it’s another matter entirely to give him an extension. The move seems unnecessary, given the disappointing conclusion to last season. Hurdle should prove he’s capable of guiding the Pirates through the most trying months of the year before receiving a new contract.”

    • From Colin Dunlap in Link #13, “Hurdle Extension Well Deserved,”

      “From this vantage, here is the focus for me: The Pirates have increased their win total from 57 in 2010 to 72 in 2011 and upped that mark to 79 last season.
      It doesn’t take Archimedes to figure out that the Pirates had 22 more wins last season than the club did in 2010, the final year of the John Russell era, a man whose excitement level matched that of a broken down, 1978 station wagon.

      Even with those collapses, those second-half breakdowns, the Pirates are, indeed, still headed in the right direction on the field under Hurdle.
      But there’s more to it, much more to it. The Pirates realized 2,091,918 through the turnstiles at PNC Park last season, an average home crowd of 26,148. It was the first time the Pirates surpassed 2 million fans since the debut season of PNC Park in 2001.”

      Not to mention, the extension makes his contract length now the same as Neal’s, which I believe DK, as well as others, have predicted since Neal got his extension.

      • Dunlap nailed the reason Hurdle is so well liked…he’s the opposite of John Russell.

        • You mean he has a pulse?

        • I agree that is a factor, including with me.

          • That article is a laugher.

            “Or, if you truly want to side with the glass-half-empty portion of the populace, you can twist your focus onto the pair of second-half collapses that have happened under Hurdle’s command at the tail-end of the Pirates’ past two seasons.

            Certainly, there aren’t a whole lot of positive ways to spin last season’s peak of 16-games over .500 to a fall down the mountain at what eventually ended in at 79-83 and fourth place in the National League Central.

            If that’s your focus, that’s your emphasis, that’s what you extract most from the 2012 season, cool.”

            Thats worse than the apologist Pirate blogger schills.

            • Read the whole article. Your last statement is laughable. He’s taking a different view than you. Deal with it as a whole, don’t cherry pick.

              • How bout his first reason: “Hurdle has done so much more — he’s changed a culture.”

                Ah yes, the culture. The last gasp of a dying argument.

                Don’t have any concrete reasons? Go with the culture!

                Did Colin sleep through the last two months of the season? “The culture” looked awfully familiar.

              • Talk about cherry picking. You don’t even acknowledge the whole argument you’re criticizing.

                “Hurdle has done so much more — he’s changed a culture.

                OK, if you want to compromise, if you think that previous sentence is too strong, Hurdle is “in the process of changing a culture” — I’ll go with that, but I won’t bend any further. In short, things are different now.”

              • Its slowly coming out that much like some of us bloggers felt, the air was taken out of the clubhouse when NH made the deadline trades last season

                One can argue that should not have happened, they are pros and yada-yada-yada

                But it happened

              • Grilli was surprisingly candid about that. Cutch took the other approach and said it was on the players.

              • Grilli came off like a complete baby.

                A veteran shouldn’t be worried about losing your buddies or not acquiring a certain player. He should be worried about his 6.52 September ERA.

                Nobody to blame but themselves. Anything else is a complete excuse, ad a poor one at that.

              • Jason Grilli joined the Pirates on July 21, 2011. I don’t recall whose spot he took but I suppose that was one of the reasons for the 2011 collapse which was already in progress.

              • I don’t care what moves are made around the trade deadline. The players have a job to do regardless of who’s on the roster. I don’t ever recall ballplayers whining about this before with the exception of Johan Santana when Luis Castillo was traded away from the Twins in 2007.

              • Not exactly the mentality you want your closer to have, right?

                Can’t wait for him to blame the umpire, ball boy, and left field scoreboard.

  13. Last night I listened to the Notore Dame broadcast of the game. When it was 19-3, the ND announcers kept saying it wasn’t a blowout, and that the Irish were still in it. I thouht they were just trying to hold the audience. Turns out they were right. They complained of the physical nature of the Pitt play at that point, claiming Pitt had turned the game into “a semi wrestling match.”
    I don’t agree with their homer comments, but, there has been a national outcry about the poor shooting and low scores this year. Has the game become more physical than ten years ago? Are they allowing defenses to play differently than previously? Or is it a lack of offensive skills going back to AAU ball?
    One thing is for sure. The NCaa tournament is wide open this year. No dominent player or team. And Oshkosh, who wins tonight’s IU- Spartans game?

    • I think you hit the nail on the head with your second paragraph, RW.

      Basketball and baseball have shown it the most, but football is right in there, too.

      Fundamentals are lacking from elementary and middle school on up through college and glaringly in the pros. Emphasis from elementary forward is on winning only, not teaching. I’ve seen it first hand and we’ve witnessed it with the terrible fundamentals of the Pirates and college BB in general and, in some aspects, in football, too. Not enough teaching, only winning at all costs. No development, just win, baby.

      Can’t speak for hockey, but those other 3 are glaring. When my boys were growing up, their elementary BB coach told them to watch womens’ BB to see strong fundamentals. I don’t think you can even do that, now. Sad. My opinion only, but sad.

    • I think it a combination of letting defense play rougher and lack of offensive skills. The one and done rule has an effect as the best players do not stay around. You see the lack of offensive skills when players miss wide open shots. Drives to basket have become an adventure in survival. Because of the lack of outside shooting teams pack their defense into the middle.

    • Hi Radio Wave:

      Welcome back from the cruise. I gotta go with Sparty. I think they are getting focused and Izzo always seems to have them firing on all cylinders about this time of year.

      However, this is not the best year for being confident with predictions.

  14. @BiertempfelTrib #Pirates Karstens has sore rt front shoulder, not throwing for couple days

    This is my surprised face.

  15. I have so much disinterest in nascar and sorry for being this guy. But, am I the only one who snickers when seeing Danica Patrick and “on the pole” in the same sentence? I blame Talladega Nights.

  16. Interesting the issue of poor foul shooting was brought up. On the Notre Dame radiocast last night, the color announcer(I don’t know his name), was critical of Steven Adams’ technique. He said his guide hand was badly positioned, and he had wrap on his right hand and wrist from an injury. I was spoiled because Calvin Murphy came from my local high school. He went on to be the second best NBA foul shooter at the time of his retirement 30 years ago. I assume he’s still in the top ten. Rick Barry with his underhand scoop technique is the all time leader. Interesting no one else uses it.

    • Find it hard to believe that the wrapped wrist is doing anything to Adams’ FT technique. He looked just fine going coast to coast with the right hand for a layup early in the 2nd half last night….

  17. Pistorius’ story? He thought an intruder was in his bathroom and his girlfriend was next to him in bed. Um hum . . .

  18. DK – I saw a stat this morning that really surpirsed me given the number of points they have each scored: Malkin is a -2 and Neal a -6. I can’t believe that this has anything to do with “early season struggles,” not when they’ve each scored about 20 points a piece. Is it a factor of not having a consistent 2nd winger? I think Malkin has been sloppy at times in the defensive zone, but nothing has really stood out to me in a negative way for Nealer defensively. Thoughts?

    DK: I know that I haven’t detected a trend visually of poor defense for that line. In Neal’s case, actually, it’s exactly the opposite.

    I’d give it time. Plus-minus is a bad stat, and it’s doubly bad in a small sample size.

    • Malkin has scored 7 points at even strength all season. Neal only 5. Their wingers haven’t scored a goal. It’s not necessarily bad defense, just simple math. There’s no way to be a plus player when you’re not scoring at even strength.

      • Exactly. And not only no goals, their LW du jour only has one assist and even that was questionable.

        IMO the plus /minus numbers are also reflecting the sometimes poor puck handling that Geno is also slumping with as well as not scoring. He needs to regroup.

        But the thing I’ve noticed the most is that the Pens are really not getting any bounces…and you have too, regardless of the sport, to win championships. Some of it is consistent hard work, but sometimes it looks like we are playing with the “wood puck” and the other team is playing with the “magnetic one”.

      • Building off your’s because I’m thinking I might have finally figured out this +- stuff; you only get the plus minus during 5 on 5 right? PP and PK don’t count?

  19. Did you know that the Mets two highest paid outfielders this year are Bobby Bonilla & Jason Bay. And you thought Bernie Madoff took Fred Wilpon broke.

  20. Brian Strait broke his left ankle yesterday in the Isles’ 7-0 loss to the Flyers. He could possibly miss the rest of the season.

  21. Murray Chass has gotten in on the Hoka Hay stuff. DK has a link to it in a Tweet.

    “A person familiar with the thinking of the team’s chairman, Bob Nutting, said, “The reason they’re stressing the mental part is because Nutting instructed them to because he didn’t want them to do the physical things.”

    “Nutting,” the person added, “wants nothing to do with that other stuff. He says ‘we’re not running a boot camp; we’re a baseball team.’”

    Wonder who that “source” was who was familiar with BN’s thinking? And I wonder if he/she ever took curling lessons?

  22. Couldn’t believe the isles coach left his golie in for all 7 goals yesterday. Bush league.

  23. Every time i read someone lament the sorry state of basketball, whether it be the complaints about the NBA or, as today, college’s over reliance on the three point shot, I think of that brilliant SNL skit when Michael Jordan isn’t allowed to play on the the 1930′s era basketball team. It was an insightful statement against the widespread myth that things were better in the old days.

    For the record, I agree with JAL somewhat on his assessment. However, I don’t think things in college basketball are as bleak as some think. I personally think last year’s Kentucky’s squad or Anthony’s Syracuse team are just 2 examples of recent teams that could have competed with the 76 Indiana team or the Alcindor Bruins teams. Maybe not the Walton era Bruins.

    • Good points, John. And you see a lot more BB than I do. I just think sports and other non-sports areas, also are sorely lacking in fundamentals and we have adjusted our thinking to winning over teaching on some of the lower levels.

      Some of Calipari’s Memphis teams may have won the National Championship if they could shoot FT’s. Last year’s Pirates were horrid at fundamentals in many areas.

      More of a blanket statement than picking on any one team or sport or profession.

    • Oshkosh: In 73, I made a road trip to LA to seemy school, Ohio U play at Walton’s UCLA. We lost 110-63. We sent on to win the MAC that year, and lost in the first round to Marquette. Most relaxing game I ever attended.

      • Good story. I assume you are talking about the 73-74 season. No shame to losing to either one of those teams. Ohio must have had a good squad. Only 16 teams made the tournament then, right? Marquette lost to NC State in the national final that year, after NC State upset the great Walton UCLA team in the national semifinals. I was young, but I still remember ND ending the 88 game Bruin winning streak in January 74. My mother, I recall, was going crazy (well as crazy as she ever got). I think Pitt might have had a good team that year to. Was too young to follow it closely but I have certainly read a lot about those years.

      • Was that one of the years George Green from Midland played at Ohio U.?

  24. If I was inclined to believe in sports conspiracies, I would find it interesting that:

    1. NASCAR has spent the last week and a half dripping stories about Patrick and her budding romantic relationship with fellow rookie driver, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

    2. Patrick has a new ride with completely different mechanical telemetry and handle yet still recorded the fastest trials without ever previously finishing higher than fourth in a NASCAR event.

    3. Patrick drives for one of the circuit’s most popular driver/owners.

    4. Ratings and attendance have been slipping in the last few years.

    5. She has exploited her looks for high profile sponsorship and media attention to build a tremendous fan base that includes women and young men-two demographics passionately sought by NASCAR executives.

    Now if I tended to believe in conspiracies one might wonder about the winner of this year’s pole position. But I’m not, so, as is said around here, just sayin’…

    • You should not believe in conspiracies but you should believe that we care way too much about this average to below average NASCAR driver and that she is probably living a pretty normal life that the media just decides to report on as if it is actual news. Kind of like a real life Kardashian with moderately more talent. I say real life because I am not convinced any of them are real.

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