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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Friday Wakeup Call: One, done and homeward bound

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

SALT LAKE CITY – Morning, lunatics …


>> The Friday column focuses on hard questions Jamie Dixon must face in light of yet another grisly tournament failure for Pitt, this one the worst of them all

Here’s beat writer Kevin Gorman’s game story focusing on Tray Woodall’s nightmare, my sidebar on Steven Adams’ possible breakout and Kevin’s notebook covering Wichita We Hardly Knew Ye State.

Also, our final video from up here in the hills …

We’re all flying home today, so I’ll be out of touch pretty much all day.

>> The chat transcript got into stuff other than Pitt, so some of it will still apply. We had some Steelers, Penguins and Pirates, too. Alas,  no Robert Morris entries. A bit surprising.

>> Evgeni Malkin might make his return tonight on Long Island. I’ll actually be more interested to see how the team handles the Islanders’ system-what-system style of play.

>> I’ll have a final Pitt column in Sunday’s paper, then check out Penguins-Flyers that night. Be good!

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, recently, 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 country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. DemonDachshund says:

    Had you offered me an 8 seed and a first round exit during the preseason of what was essentially a rebuilding year for Pitt, I would have gladly taken it.

    So pardon me if I won’t be calling for Dixon’s head. I can only hope Pitt doesn’t let him go.

  2. theplanisworking says:

    I nominate Robert Morris as the #1 basketball program in the city…….. right now.

    Pitt has many problems. It really pains me to say that. Coaching, talent, desire, I just cant pinpoint one problem.

    Thoughts on whether Dixon stays, or goes?
    I think a change is necessary, for a fresh start going into the ACC.
    Orlando Antigua would look good returning to, Pitt.

  3. Sherry says:

    Safe travels back to the Burgh!

    DK: Thanks, Sherry.

  4. Dave G says:

    Just saw the video of Jordan Staal scoring a goal into his own net with his goalie pulled for a delayed penalty.

    Martin Brodeur was credited with the goal since he had swept the puck into the corner before Staal made his errant pass back toward the cross-point, which chopped over a stick, deflected off the boards and sailed into the open net.

    Most infamous goal of the season so far.

  5. Jandy says:

    Oh My! That’s priceless, Dave LOL

  6. JAL says:

    JAL’s Vox 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

    Draft Preview: Top Pitcher And Hitter Square Off

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Jonathan Sanchez, Pirates pitch their way to scoreless tie


    The WHYGAVS Spring Training Extravaganza: Jonathan Sanchez Edition

    8 Camden Chat

    Baltimore Orioles 0, Pittsburgh Pirates 0: What is this, soccer?

    9 Rumbunter

    As Pittsburgh Pirates Roster Cuts Loom: Who Is Ryan Reid?

    10 Green Weenie

    Yes, There Are Ties In Baseball…

  7. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Rant Sports

    What Should the Pittsburgh Pirates do with Gerrit Cole?

    12 The Score

    2013 Pittsburgh Pirates: Awaking the Sleeping Everyman

    13 KDKA

    PNC Park Named America’s Best Ballpark By TripAdvisor

    14 Motor City Bengals

    Rick Porcello Rumor Mill Churns

    15 Jays Journal

    Zawadzki, Langerhans, and LaRoche Become Latest Spring Cuts by Blue Jays

    16 Bleacher Report

    Ranking All 30 MLB Teams by Overall Age Profile

    17 Sweetspot

    The myth of the proven closer

    18 PBC SITE

    Sanchez throws five scoreless in bid for rotation

    McDonald brings solid reputation to Pirates


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Fantasy Mailbag Profar or Taveras?

    20 Fangraphs

    2013 Positional Power Rankings: Left Field

  8. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    How to defeat the cut block

    To many players, the NFL is often a business, to the fans, it’s always personal

    22 Steelers Depot

    -The Terrible Podcast – Talking NFL Rules Changes, Ed Reed To Texans, O-Line, Pro Days & More Episode


    23 Daily Telegraph

    Unlikely heroes: the players and managers who have come to the rescue of football fans

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 21st March, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Penguins Usage Chart: March 19 .

  9. JAL says:

    Vox Sarah McLachlan 1988 Popular singer who founded the Lilith Fair tour. Sang her song I Will Remember You at the memorial in Stonycreek, Pennsylvania, commemorating the passengers and crew of hijacked United Airlines Flight 93

  10. gregenstein says:

    I hope Pitt fans realize just how good a coach Jamie Dixon is. Consistently undertalented teams earn pretty good seeds in the tournament. If he leaves, it will be similar to what happened to the Pitt football team when Wannstedt was let go; a good (not great) program will turn mediocre.

    You could argue potentially that he needs to get better recuits. I’d argue he’s getting better recruits than anyone at Pitt other than maybe Ben Howland. They just aren’t spectacular.

  11. bdubb says:

    I like Jamie Dixon but it is beginning to look like he has done as much as he can with Pitt. His recruiting style is to bring in good not great talent and coach them up. The problem the last few years is who has gotten better? I realize a lot of this is on the player. But if you are recruiting kids who aren’t hard workers then your system is flawed. Just look at this year alone: Moore regressed. Patterson took 2 big steps backwards. Zanna was great vs low level D1 competition but can’t handle big time D1. This team plays scared. Afraid to shoot. Afraid to drive to the basket. If you want to play a slow down, pass the ball 9 times before a shot you better have shooters. Wisconsin wins that way because they have shooters.

    Like I said I like Dixon a lot and part of my fear if he were to leave is we would have another Wannstedt situation. So what is it Pitt fans want or can handle because before Dixon and Howland Pitt wasn’t much but a .500 team. With the new building they should always be able to get 19-20 win talent. But can Pederson get a coach who can continue this success and get them to the next level?

  12. Joe D says:

    I think Dixon is a good coach. Any organization has to undergo a self evaluation when the desired result is not achieved. So far he has been unwilling to tweek his methods. We will see if he is willing to change.

  13. Zach V. says:

    DK, I meant to pose an RMU question to you in the chat yesterday but time got away from me at work and I didn’t have the chance…

    A few weeks back in the chat I asked if you thought that RMU had surpassed Duquesne in the local sports hierarchy, to which you respectfully disagreed, citing Duquesne’s higher ceiling for success as the reasoning. Keeping in perspective that it was just “one game,” but has the victory over Kentucky (and the subsequent avalanche of publicity that followed) changed your opinion or do you still think Duquesne has the edge?

    DK: Might be a future column. Think I’ll hang onto that.

  14. DJ says:

    As DK characterizes, Jamie recruits “scrappy” players, which can carry you through as you tough it out in the regular season, but you need more than that. Brad Wanamaker was scrappy, but he was an enabler for others on the court as well. Solid tournament teams don’t have one go-to scorer, they have two, who feed off each other and who open up the floor for other players. Jamie needs to recruit to shoot and I am not just referring to guards. He will respond all day with statisitcs about his team’s field goal %, where they rank in the nation, blah, blah, but the bottom line is there was no one on this team who could be consistenly counted upon to score.

  15. JuniataKid says:

    DK, does Dixon’s stock drop with this loss? Seems to me that such a recurring theme would give other programs pause before making an offer. Maybe his regular season success negates that.

    DK: Couldn’t help.

  16. JR says:

    Obervations of Pitt BB Team:

    This team over achieved this year; offensive outburst in one game DePaul @ The Pete
    otherwise struggled to score all season. Team is young. Robinson is a stud. Adams could be the best big other than Blair. Durand could be the scorer the team needs.

    Get the ball to the Big Men early! Big are open! Teach Adams how to work the “give ‘n go”
    then he needs to catch the BB. Zanna is a hard worker needs to improve his offensive

    Ziegler was a major disappointment given his success in the MAC; Top 100 recruit
    Out of HS?

    Wright, Moore and to some extent Patterson are great athletes however are they outstanding BB players?

    Pitt needs are guard who can penetrate and shoot 3’s who doesn’t?

    Any discussion of a coaching change is ludicrous. JD is an outstanding coach.

  17. TJ says:

    If he wants to go to USC they will take him in a heartbeat.

  18. TJ says:

    Here is what I continue to fail to understand about Pitt athletics.

    For years now we have seen the Pitt basketball team go through stretches where they were ranked in the top 10; given a high seed in the tournament and flamed out with I believe only 1 trip to the elite 8. For the most part of the first half of Dixon’s time here at Pitt they were at least making runs in the Big East tournament going to the finals year after year and winning it multiple times. But Dixon’s record is always boosted by his non-conference schedule; who can blame him with the talent in the Big East.

    But what is the ultimate goal at Pitt? Is it to have a top 25 team every year? To be happy to make the NCAA tournament?

    Reason I ask is because we had a football coach a few years ago that had winning records; took his team to bowl games; seemed to be recruiting quality talent and was fired.

    I’m not saying that Dave was on the same coaching level as Jamie but what is the goal of Pitt athletics? I don’t believe you fire Jamie Dixon as there is no one out there that is available right now that I would want. But if Jamie is wanting the USC job I wouldn’t shed a tear.

  19. Duquesne has the edge.

    1/ Atlantic-10 is light years ahead of North East Conference.
    2/ One game is one game!
    3/ Andy Toole will be gone soon, and Bobby Mo will be starting over.
    4/ North East Conference, Robert Morris’ home, is still never better than a play-in game in NCAA.
    5/ Just because you have the best house in Homestead doesn’t mean your neighborhood is equal to Mt. Lebanon. (Fox Chapel is the ACC and old Big East!)

    Revel in today, Bobby Mo fans, because tomorrow puts everyone back in their normal places!

  20. TJ says:

    I think Jamie has gotten away from recruiting the way he used to. And that could be from the loss of some of his top recruiters to head coaching positions. But I don’t ever recall early on in Jamie’s career him getting high profile recruits. He was getting guys that fit into his system. Now he’s seemed to have shifted into going after key players. Something just doesn’t seem to be the same.

  21. You would trust Steve Peterson to hire a better coach than Jamie Dixon?

    What———is this a member of the BMTIB making this comment?

  22. Steve says:

    I’m looking at yesterday’s loss and the BE tournament loss in the context of last season. Last year Pitt failed to make the NCAA, had a losing conference record and was roundly criticized for playing in the CBI. Expectations weren’t very high for this season – certainly no one was going around claiming this was a top ten team with final four potential. They improved over last season with a winning conference record and returned to the NCAA tournament where they essentially lost to an even seed. This was no 13 seed upsetting a 4 seed (see New Mexico). Assuming Adams returns, they bring back a solid core next year and should be better.

    I do think Dixon needs to really examine his approach and what seems to be, at least recently, an annual habit of the team peaking early. I also think he needs to try to land more players who demonstrate offensive prowess and not just try to turn every recruit into a top notch defender.

    Let’s not foget that Pitt basketball seems to have remained above the cesspool of recruiting violations, marginal academic qualifiers, acaddemic fraud and other scandals that many “top” programs seem to be associated with. I’ll take that over the alternative.

  23. This is the fount of wisdom. Wash in it. Drink from it.

    Good job, Mr. Ewing!

  24. bdubb says:

    I do not trust Stevie P to make a hire in any sport. I get the ugly feeling he would bring Howland back. I just feel that Jamie has taken this program as far as he can. Believe me I am scared this program would fall back to the 1990’s level.

    Maybe Smizik is right and it is his assistants who are lacking. Something is different. The development of these kids is not what it was a few years back. So either he is getting lazy kids or they just don’t teach them the way they did with other assistants

  25. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Not a die-hard Pitt fan or anything. But from what I’ve seen, I’d take Jamie Dixon’s word at face value over Bob Nutthing’s.

  26. JAL says:

    3 more cuts–Morris to Indy and Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Jared Goedert to minor league camp.

  27. TJ says:

    I thought Morris was out of options.

  28. Granted an extra year’s option about a week ago by Major League Baseball.

  29. Dejan,

    Sorry your first trip to March Madness was short-lived and a bummer ending.

    These 4 days are truly the greatest show on earth! Wish Pitt had won just so you could have stayed two extra days and been overwhelmed by it.

    Go DUKE!!

    DK: Sorry why? Home with the family all weekend.

  30. JohninOshkosh says:

    Some thoughts on the greatest sporting event in the world:

    1. JD is a good coach and I hope he stays. Pitt is among the many schools that makes the tournament often but ends up not going deep most of the time. It is incredibly hard to make the final eight…let alone the final four! Most schools haven’t been there in decades, if not ever. The history of the tournament is littered with teams greater than this year’s Pitt team exiting stage left early. I accept that Pitt will often make the field and might occasionally go deep. I don’t expect much more. Although, I am weary of coaches using rumors to squeeze more money from the schools.

    2. Congratulations to Harvard and their Dukie coach. A great joy to see student, nay scholar, athletes succeed. Exceptional kids, all. The fact that it meant despicable,and rapist protector, Steve Alford, from advancing only makes it more enjoyable.

    3. On Wisconsin!

  31. Zach V. says:

    Not one of the reasons you listed had anything to do with the quality of Duquesne’s play, which is far below that of RMU as evidenced by RMU beating them each of the last 3 years. I believe the school is dedicated to keeping Andy Toole around, however no one can blame him if a larger school makes him an offer that he can’t refuse. People said the program would die after Mike Rice left, so pardon me if I am skeptical of it’s demise if Toole departs as well.

    Having a beaten down house with a leaky roof in Mt. Lebanon doesn’t make you any better than someone who lives in the best house in Homestead.

  32. My favorite game yesterday.

    The fact that it was a 3/14 game made it even sweeter.

    Boy, would I love to see Harvard now take out Arizona!

    Go DUKE!!

  33. I can repair a leaky roof. But you can’t move the house out of Homestead.

    I’m so happy for Robert Morris beating Kentucky I have bugs in my teeth from grinning!

    Yet Toole will soon be gone and any startover is difficult. And Bobby Mo is still in the North East Conference.

    Location. Location. Location.

  34. Milo Hamilton says:

    You really need to stop repressing your feelings John. Tell us how you really feel. :)

  35. TJ says:

    Well looks like one option for the pens at the deadline is done…

    Kovalev has officially retired from the NHL.

    I guess thats one 7th round pick we will get to keep

  36. Jandy says:

    Oh no, you mean he is like Dan Bylsma? Won’t make adjustments??

  37. Jandy says:

    Aww shucks! ;X

  38. Fire Dan Bylsma!!! Fire Jamie Dixon!!!

    And fire Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert while you’re at it!!!

    Fire the coach at Chartiers Valley High School!!

  39. theplanisworking says:

    Location. Location. Location.

    Ok, Bobby Mo is in Homestead. Dooquessnee is in West Mifflin.
    Say the WM house gets neglected for many years, leaky roof, broken windows, weeds, etc., and the owner/landlord doesnt make any repairs. I do believe that the spiffy house in Homestead is in a better place.

    Shame of it all, is that there could be a great rivalry between Duquesne/Pitt…………..but the Duquesne administration doesnt want any athletic success, and the cost it would take.

    Just my .02

  40. AJS says:

    So now that Pitt is done is it time to get into full on baseball mode? Other than the NFL draft that’s all we got on the plate for the next 6 months right?

  41. TJA says:

    Did I hear this correctly (?) – – – That Dixon is very interested in the USC job and may indeed jump to it tjis time around, BUT, that a possible replacement would be Ben Howland?! Anyone else hear that?

  42. NMR says:

    You’re forgetting about a certain flightless bird.

  43. Reading says:

    Since when is Southern Cal a great basketball job? Have they ever done anything? I would think that Dixon would want to challenge himself by pitting his teams against Coach K and Roy Williams every year.

  44. Reading says:

    Georgetown might need a new coach, also.

  45. pattonbb says:

    It’s OK Pitt b-ball fans. Imagine what those Hoya fans are feeling. THAT is an upset.

  46. Reading says:

    Big Least: Pitt, Nova, G-Town, Cinci (anybody I missed) all gone.

  47. Reading says:

    Add ND to the list. A pathetic performance by the Conference.

  48. TJA says:

    Football is the $$$$ out there!

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