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Morning Java: On Panthers, Dukes, Hounds, 300 sellouts

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The TribLIVE Radio show today — 2-3 p.m. — will feature live special guest Jim Ferry of Duquesne, whose team will tip off against Pitt in the City Game this weekend … and will be a robust underdog, if only because of what we’re seeing from the Panthers in the early going.

Call me at 412-320-7925 or email sportstalk@tribweb.com

To listen, just click on the link above. If you’re mobile, try the TribLIVE Radio app.

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>> Jamie Dixon’s Panthers look for real, don’t they? Kevin Gorman reports from Brooklyn on a stirring rout of Stanford to win the Progressive Classic.

All I’ll add is that, in a talk I had with Cam Wright last week, I asked where his team will find its offensive identity without a true go-to guy. His response: “Our defense.”

>> The Penguins and Leafs face off tonight in front of what will be the 300th consecutive sellout in Pittsburgh. Rob Rossi authors a commemorative page for that in today’s Trib.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Leafs news from the Toronto Star.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> The Steelers’ O-line is jellin’ like Magellan, by Alan Robinson.

>> Ben Roethlisberer was right about all those rookie QBs. A column by Joe Starkey.

>> Le’Veon Bell is revving it up, by Mark Kaboly.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s Ravens news from the Baltimore Sun.

Here are official game highlights from NFL.com.

The quarterback spoke to a dozen or so of us over there …

Random randomness from the scene: Really healthy feel to the locker room. If you want an example, here’s what a softly smiling Troy Polamalu told me as the locker room session closed: “Steelers and Ravens, brother. Everything is good. This is how it’s supposed to be.” … When I tweeted that, prominent NFL agent Ralph Cindrich replied with this: “Sounds like what you would hear from two old fighters getting ready to get it on again. Nothing slows it.” Awesome. … One of my favorite things about Jason Worilds: Anytime someone asks him a question about playing well, he opens his answer with, “Thank you. I appreciate that.” … Worilds knows he’s playing well, make no mistake about that. … I was most moved by Ben’s praise for Kelvin Beachum at left tackle, especially in the context that Beachum continues to learn the position on the job. “I’m not going to say I’m surprised by Kelvin because that would suggest I didn’t have high expectations for him. But he’s doing the job. Cleveland called a corner blitz Sunday, and he picked it up like it was nothing.” … Really looking forward to this game. Not going to lie.

>> The Riverhounds continued to make offseason splashes by announcing an eye-opening partnership with the MLS powerhouse Houston Dynamo. Matt Grubba reports.

Here’s some of my talk yesterday with Chris Canetti, the Dynamo’s president, discussing Pittsburgh’s possible MLS future …

Random randomness from the event: The thing I found out at this press conference that struck me the most was that the Dynamo approached MLS in search of an affiliate, and it was MLS’ first recommendation to approach the Riverhounds. Someone’s paying attention. … Expect to see upgrades to still-new Highmark Stadium in the very near future. Not an expansion, just some practical stuff but highly visible. … You know those black nets over by the train-track side? You won’t see those when the season starts. Tuffy Schallenberger, the owner, wants them down. … Justin Evans has to coach at least half of an entirely new starting lineup next season, what with two other major offseason additions plus the four MLS guys coming from Houston. But, as he put it, “That’s a nice problem to have.” … In addition to the Dynamo possibly coming to Pittsburgh for a friendly during the World Cup break, Riverhounds CEO Jason Kutney says don’t be surprised to see Highmark Stadium opened up for outdoor viewing parties for the U.S. matches. Here’s one small vote in favor. … Readers will ask on occasion why I cover the Riverhounds and not any other second-tier team in the area. Days like yesterday are why. These guys are serious.

>> Here are this week’s three write-your-own-column winners …

Dennis Hollibaugh writes: If the Steelers did not want LaMarr Woodley to be their starting left outside linebacker, they would not have restructured his contract before the season adding more dead weight to the remainder of his contract; but they can want someone else to play the position Thursday night against the Ravens. Woodley is dealing with an injury and was unable to play this past Sunday. Even if he can go four days later, Worilds was  ready to go on Sunday, and go he did. Worilds will not be limited in practice, and will not need to get back up to speed. If Woodley is healthy, let him dress while starting Worilds on a short leash. If he struggles, Woodley is still the next best option, not to mention the long-term plan. If Worilds does not struggle however, Woodley could find himself going the way of Willie Colon in 2014.

Ron Bilak writes: Kris Letang, eight years, $58 million, age 26. Much like the Penguins, the parts of the player do not match or exceed his current play. Letang has incredible skating ability and can play a physical game. However, he is not a power-play QB, like Gonchar before him. To pay what the Pens paid, he should be the best power-play QB. He is not. Paul Martin is. His passes sometimes make you scratch your head. He should be part of a shutdown pair. He is not. The solution is not a trade. It is finding the right assistant coach to use the extreme talent he possesses. The organization should find a former player who can reinvent Letang. Another coach doesn’t hurt the cap. A player not playing to abilities does.

JAL writes: Can anything realistically revive hoops on the Bluff? The answer is yes. College basketball is cluttered with teams that came from nowhere to become successful. Butler has half as many students as Duquesne but had a great run in basketball. In Duquesne’s own conference, George Mason and Old Dominion have had some excellent seasons. Reviving Duquesne requires a good coaching staff that recognizes the type of athletes that make a good team. Ron Everhart had them moving in the right direction with an NIT appearance, a couple of CBI appearances, and a career record of 99-89. He was the only coach with a winning record since Mike Rice back in 1978-1982. We will never know if Everhart could have taken them a step further but his term shows that the right coach can revive the program. It will take a couple of years to see if Jim Ferry can move the program up the ladder.

>> Hope you have a chance to check out the show. If not, as always, I’ll have the podcast posted here on the blog shortly afterward.

I’ll also be at Penguins-Leafs tonight, then it’s off to Baltimore first thing Thanksgiving morning.

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.

307 Comments

  1. Based upon stats alone, Le’Veon Bell has not been impressive.

    Based upon the eyeball test, I like what I’ve seen so far.

    Love his size, body lean after contact, hands and fluidity as a runner. And he’s getting better every week.

  2. Great news regarding the Riverhounds! Any chance we see the team get some exposure on television next year?

    DK: Don’t think it’ll be straight TV next season, but an upgraded brand of live streaming.

  3. Have watched Duquesne play this season. They can put up buckets with Pitt, can’t defend to save their lives though, especially from 3 point range. If Pitt has an off night shooting, we could see an upset, but if not, the tradition of Pitt winning will continue.

    and how about some love for the Duquesne WBB? Under a first year head coach and they are looking like a serious tourney team. They play Norte Dame up in Toronto this weekend.

  4. The 82nd airborne had “IT”. The 60 pirates and Pop”s Pirates had “IT”. The 70′s Steelers had “IT”. The 1980 USA hockey team had “IT”. John Wooden’s basketball teams had “IT”. Seems like Cael Sanderson’s wrestlers have “IT” Mario’s teams had “IT” This years penguins don’t. You score with .03 seconds left and lose? You have 2 of the best players on the planet and repeatedly can’t score. Your good but no “IT”. No magic, no mojo, no chemistry, no whatever, No “IT”. Will they get “IT”? I hope so or we will be disappointed at the end of the year.

    • In general, I agree with your premise. This team is missing “something”. But, going against my pessimistic nature, I will remind everyone that it is still only November. However this team performs, for good or for bad, between now and April is generally irrelevant. Only the playoffs matter. I will caution, however, that in the playoffs, there will be no games against Columbus, Carolina or Buffalo to fatten up against.

  5. Don’t really give a hoot about soccer, but homer that I am, it is nice to see that this group is apparently serious about putting a quality team here. It appears at this point that they have the patience to build this correctly. Affiliating with a MLS team is a great step. Viewing parties sounds like a great idea – it has been very popular with the Pens and Pirates – great way to build your fan base at minimal cost.
    Anything that adds “value” to the city and region has my vote – so – Go Hounds !

  6. Under the Milky Way The Church 1988

    JAL’s Under the Milky Way Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6jhpaX7fNQ

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 MLB Important Dates

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/schedule/important_dates.jsp

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Why I Trust Neal Huntington
    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/first-pitch-why-i-trust-neal-huntington.html

    Winter Leagues Notebook: Pirates Have Talented Outfielders in Winter Ball

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/winter-leagues-notebook-pirates-have-talented-outfielders-in-winter-ball.html

    Pirates Sign Two Minor League Free Agents

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/pirates-sign-two-minor-league-free-agents.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates’ Zack Thornton could be a top Rule 5 Draft prospect

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/11/27/5150464/pirates-zack-thornton-could-be-a-top-rule-5-draft-prospect

    6 Rumbunter

    VIDEO: Pirates Sign Sidewinder Cody Eppley and Catcher Nevin Ashley

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/11/26/pittsburgh-pirates-sign-nevin-ashley-cody-eppley/

    7 Green Weenie

    Miles Mikolas

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/11/miles-mikolas.html

    8 Comcast Sports net

    Will Orioles pull deal off for Garrett Jones?

    http://www.csnbaltimore.com/blog/orioles-talk/will-orioles-pull-deal-garrett-jones

    9 Pirates Site

    Bonds hopes to see doors to Hall open on second try

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/pit/barry-bonds-hopes-to-gain-entry-to-baseball-hall-of-fame-on-second-try?ymd=20131126&content_id=64075432&vkey=news_pit

    10 Bleacher Report

    2014 MLB Offseason: Every MLB Team’s Rumor That Will Actually Come True

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1864921-2014-mlb-offseason-every-mlb-teams-rumor-that-will-actually-come-true

  7. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Denver Post

    Rockies turn eye to Justin Morneau after hiring E.Y. Sr., Doyle

    http://www.denverpost.com/rockies/ci_24609195/coaches-place-slugger-up-next

    12 Huffington Post

    Top 10 Celebs Who Bleed For Their Team

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/gals-got-game/celeb-sports-fans_b_4341317.html

    13 NY Post

    No Hall vote stirs passion quite like baseball does

    http://nypost.com/2013/11/26/no-hall-vote-stirs-passion-quite-like-baseball-does/

    14 Grantland

    Bargain Hunting: Baseball’s Five Best Free-Agent Values This Offseason

    http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/83841/bargain-hunting-baseballs-five-best-free-agent-values-this-offseason

    15 Baseball Nation

    The Rays and the seemingly inevitable David Price trade

    http://www.baseballnation.com/2013/11/26/5146554/david-price-trade-rumors-rays

    16 CBS Sports

    Analyzing the crowded 2014 Hall of Fame ballot

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24286683/analyzing-the-crowded-2014-hall-of-fame-ballot

    17 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Mozeliak on PED question: Cards not ‘morality police’

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cardinal-beat/mozeliak-on-ped-question-cards-not-morality-police/article_64ee3bb6-3d48-541e-beeb-3d4ebf4a3036.html

    18 Business Insider

    Another Huge Contract For An Accused Steroid User Shows Baseball’s Drug Program Is Not Working

    http://www.businessinsider.com/another-huge-contract-for-a-steroid-user-shows-baseballs-drug-program-is-not-working-2013-11

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    8 Unfulfilled Rumors From Last Year’s Hot Stove

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22311

    20 Fangraphs

    An Early Look at the Price of a Win This Off-Season

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/an-early-look-at-the-price-of-a-win-this-off-season/

  8. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Does side matter for the Steelers?

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/11/26/5149040/steelers-outside-linebackers-pass-rush-statistics

    Steelers Film Room: Style points awarded in rout of Browns

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/steelers-film-room/2013/11/26/5146368/steelers-film-highlights-gifs-cleveland-browns-campbell-sack-week-12

    22 Steelers Gab

    CB Brown Placed On IR; Green Promoted From Practice Squad

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2013/11/26/cb-brown-placed-on-ir-green-promoted-from-practice-squad/

    Soccer(football)

    23 NY Times

    Messi or Ronaldo?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/27/sports/soccer/messi-or-ronaldo.html?_r=0

    24 World Soccer Daily

    the stories you need to read – November 26, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-the-stories-you-need-to-read-november-26-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Pens Points Tuesday: Boston Aftermath

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/11/26/5147452/pens-points-tuesday-boston-aftermath

  9. This is a day early, but we start the day tomorrow cooking breakfast for thirteen. I offer the following:

    “There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.”
    – O. Henry

    On this most American of holidays, the Labecki family wishes you the inner peace that can be found in gratitude, nourished through family, and expressed by sharing. Cherish old memories and make new ones. Love and be loved.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  10. Tuffy Schallenberger.

  11. Since the Penguins play tonight, I ask only one question: will Bortuzzo be released from the doghouse?

  12. Pens should play a scene from “300″ tonight. Plenty good scenes to choose from to get crowd going.

    So its sill, ebbett, borts and engo instead of megna, despres and borts with engo at wing? Always liked ebbett as a heady playmaker, especially when he was in vancouver and anaheim. Hope his speed and vision can help sutter out. Kobasew back? Ebbett-sutter-kobasew on 3rd line?

  13. I’m not the burn specialist you are….or am i… :)

  14. Why this season is the SEC’s Last Hurrah

    1. The SEC may do in the SEC. Alabama will have to get by two strong teams, Auburn and Missouri (or SC) to make the BCS Championship Game. I wouldn’t bet against them but an upset wouldn’t be a shock.

    2. If Alabama makes it through, Florida State will do them in.

    3. QBs are about done. The following SEC bowl eligible teams have starting QBs who are seniors or heading to the NFL: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Missouri, Texas A&M. Only Auburn has a junior, a good one, Nick Marshall. But who’s to say he won’t declare for the draft? To be fair, Missouri has a highly touted red shirt freshman, Maty Mauk, who went 3-1 and played reasonably well in injury relief. But that’s a big class of good SEC QBs all leaving at once.

    4. Florida is done, period. The sudden, stunning demise of Florida clears the way for Florida State and Miami to catch a few more of the FL high school blue chippers who most often became Gators over the past decade.

    Why I May Be Wrong:

    I’ve been predicting the SEC’s Demise all season. And we all know how often EYE’ve been done in by Predictacevicitis.

    DK: Nicely done, Drew.

    • Predictacevicitis, is there meds for this????

    • I feel terrible for Aaron Murray. I thought he was going to need therapy after the Auburn game, now I just can’t imagine.

    • SEC doesn’t demise, they just reload.

      • I don’t know: I hear there is a recession in the South . . . .

        . . . . . that might cut down on those bi-weekly envelopes

      • You may be right. History is on your side. But if you mean reload to their recent level of dominance, I don’t think so.

        I don’t suggest they are turning into the American. Just that Alabama’s recent excellence has masked that the SEC is about to drop down to the level of the other couple of very good but not dominant conferences.

        I think the SEC will be very good for years. But that is the only conference for which being very good for years is a solid step back.

        • Though it is fair to acknowledge that the four team playoff could treat a very-good-but-not-dominant conference better than the current two team playoff.

          For instance. If:
          - the four team playoff began THIS year, and
          - Auburn or Missouri won out through the SEC championship game…in other words, one of these one loss teams beats Alabama and doesn’t lose somewhere else…

          …that team would make the four team playoff as the third seed.

          And a very-good-not-dominant conference with solid, top to bottom computer power rankings could place TWO different one loss teams in a four team playoff. No wonder the SEC was so over-the-top in favor of the new format.

          All that said. I think the days of the SEC having a top of the heap, absolute dominant team are over for now. I think the rising PAC-ACC and now equalized SEC will share the thrown.

          My point is not fading quality. Just fading dominance.

    • Big predictions, Drew.

      Number three depends on Winston being there to play qb, doesn’t it? That’s not fully guaranteed at this moment.

  15. Looking forward to this afternoon’s Rose Garden ceremony when the President pardons the traditional Thanksgiving health plan.

  16. Happy premature birthday to Marc Andre Fleury. He turns 29 tomorrow.

  17. 78 DAYS UNTIL PIRATE PITCHERS & CATCHERS REPORT TO PIRATE CITY FOR SPRING TRAINING

  18. Arriba:

    Got your message yesterday re: UVA. Many thanks!

  19. As JRay3 and I were posting in the Pitt thread last night, this Pitt team is a different animal from previous years. The transition D is really strong, they aren’t committing silly fouls, and they are making opponents really work for almost every point.

    On offense, I relly dont recognize this Pitt team. They are running up the floor like they did when Lavance Fields was running the point, Durand Johnson is providing clutch outside shooting, and the team is spacing the floor much better, resulting in better passing lanes, and better shot opportunities.

    And, Detrick Mostella, a 4-star recruit may be joining the team next month, if he gets clearance from the NCAA. And, Sheldon Jeter, a poor mans Brian Shorter, will be joining the team next year. Add in unreal FT shooting, and this Pitt team could do some great things this year. They definitely be a force in the ACC.

    Finally, I am happy for Coach Dixon. He gets an unfair rap in this town, so maybe this team will help quiet a few critics. Pitt absketball is looking good.

  20. I have {and will always be} critical of Pitt’s JV-type early basketball schedule . . . .

    . . . . but their play against decent true Division 1 teams the last two nights really opened my eyes.

    ——Lamar Patterson has lost some weight, tightened up both his body and his game, and is not the same player
    ——who were those guys hitting foul shots?
    ——who were those guys taking the ball to the hoop rather than throwing it back and forth outside for 23 seconds?
    ——Cameron Wright is not the same player
    ——James Robinson is a heck of a ball distributor
    ——ZONE: that zone collapsing on the bigger players created NO space to pivot
    ——that kid from Duquesne is a heck of a frosh

    Jamie has a NEW team with some old players who remade themselves over the summer. Congrats!!
    Should soon appear in the Top 25 now that they are NOT playing Woodland Hills JV.

    • Groat, Duke does the same thing.
      Only difference is that schools like Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, they do the tournaments with other strong schools in the preseason. But look at some of Duke’s opponents this year……….

      Davidson,
      Florida Atlantic,
      UNC Ashville,
      East Carolina,
      Vermont,
      Gardner-Webb,
      Elon.

      Not exactly strong teams.
      Almost every team does it. They do it for the $$$$$ of a home game.

      I guess I have to say to you what you said to JRay3 last night,
      Groat, be a fan, not a fanatic!!

      • Dude,

        Davidson——picked to win the Southern Conference——played in March Madness last season
        UNC Asheville——picked to win their conference——played in March Madness 2 of last 3 years
        East Carolina——beat UNC already this year
        Vermont——picked to win their conference——played in March Madness 2 of last 4 years

        Elon and Gardner-Webb——local North Carolina schools like Duquesne and/or Robert Morris on schedule

        Oh Yeah, let’s not forget #2 Kansas in Chicago.
        Let’s not forget Alabama tonight in Madison Square
        Let’s not forget #3 Arizona Friday night in Madison Square
        Let’s not forget Top 10 Michigan next Tuesday
        Let’s not forget UCLA in Brooklyn later in December

        Comparing Pitt’s lollipop schedule to Duke’s is like comparing a peanut to the Great Pumpkin!!!!!!!
        You’re walking in a mine field here.

        DK: Groat rules.

        • Good post.

        • Groat:

          if you would have read my post, which is obvious that you didnt, you would have seen the following statement in there……

          “schools like Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, they do the tournaments with other strong schools in the preseason.”
          That would cover the Kansas, Alabama, Arizona, etc…….

          As for Davidson, UNC Asheville, Vermont, etc, so you are saying that just because a school is favored to win their conference, no matter how crappy the conference may be, they are a strong opponent?? Ok, so if Robert Morris is picked to win their conference, they become a strong opponent?

          Again, if you would have read my post, which you couldnt have, my point wasnt to excuse Pitt’s schedule. It was to show that all major D-1 schools pad their schedule. I am not walking in any minefield here. They have creme puffs also, but I know you dont want to admit that.

          Guess I am sorry to have engaged you in a conversation.

          Dude.

          • Plan,

            You are correct a lot of power teams schedule the same way. Take a look at #8 Syracuse and historic non-scheduler Jim Boeheim.

            Outside of the Maui Invitational and the ACC/Big Ten challenge they play:

            Cornell, Fordham, Colgate, Binghamton, High Point, Eastern Michigan, and do throw in a game with Villanova.

            #4 Arizona led by Sean Miller play an OOC schedule that looks like this:

            Cal Poly, Long Beach, SD ST, Farleigh Dickinson, Rhode Island, Drexel, New Mexico St, UNLV, Southern and Northern Arizona. Their BEST game is against Michigan.

            Don’t see all that much difference in Pitt’s schedule against some Top 10 teams in the country.

            • One correction Arizona does play in a pre-season tournament that was not on their schedule and will most likely get a game with Duke as well.

            • Thanks, JRay.

              Good to see I am not losing ALL my marbles…..

            • Goodness!!! My post at 9:58 was extraordinarily complimentary of Pitt and its performance the last two games. And it’s turned into “My Dad can beat up your Dad!”

              I have in the past, and will continue to talk disparagingly of Pitt’s weak out of conference schedule. I don’t think it helps Pitt. On these pages in the past, I have also talked poorly of Boeheim’s early schedule, where he does not leave New York until January. I do not think his teams are prepared to face tournament-tested teams at the end of the year. I don’t think Pitt’s team is.

              I found it ironic that you cite Pitt’s #1 seeds, yet fail to mention their poor NCAA performances. How many straight years have they lost to lower seeds? In the NCAAs and in the Big East?

              Duke tries to schedule teams projected to win their conferences . . . . . the very same teams they will or might face in the first two rounds of the NCAAs.

              I’m not trying to bust on Pitt here. I lauded them above! I only got into specifics about scheduling when it was said above that the schedules were similar. They are NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING SIMILAR!

              Johnny Ray III, take another look at that Arizona schedule: San Diego State, UNLV, Long Beach State, Drexel, Rhode Island (with their new coach Danny Hurley), Michigan, DUKE———there’s no way you can compare that schedule to the one Pitt has!

              I like Pitt! I follow them closely! They are the home team I root for!

              Don’t be so rabbit-eared that all you hear is my justified criticism of their out of conference early schedule. Don’t be so rabbit-eared that you defend an obvious weakness in the Pitt program, that may keep it from being even better.

              I hope Pitt makes the National Championship Game, where it loses to DUKE!!!

        • Groat,

          I respect that you do not care for Pitt’s OOC schedule, I however see no problem with it. Jamie Dixon schedules in the same manner MANY not all, power schools do. Look at Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, he never leaves upstate NY, but will play a neutral court tournament.

          Every year Pitt elects to play in a pre-season tournament this year the Legends next year it will be the Maui Invitational.

          Every Year Pitt plays in a Big East/SEC challenge or ACC/Big Ten Challenge type game.

          Every Year Pitt tries to play in NY at a Coaches vs Cancer, NIT or Jimmy V type arrangement. This year that game is versus Cincinnati.

          There alone is 4-5 games of the 13 OOC games Pitt plays each year against high level BCS type programs. So that leaves just 8-9 other games and 2-3 of those are Duquesne, Robert Morris and some local schools.

          Jamie Dixon has earned a #1 seed twice, has earned a Top 5 seed five times In Dixon’s tenure. He too tries to schedule teams that are predicted to finish near or at the top of their conference as he gets RPI and how to best accomodate that.

          Like I said the other day a few years ago, CBS tried to schedule a two year home and home series between Duke and Pitt and Duke would not play it. It takes two sides to tango.

          I agree that each year Pitt should look to add a home and home type opponent to its mix but does not have to do much more when you play in a power conference and are facing some of the top teams in the country all through January and February.

          Once again I respect that you may not like their OOC schedule, but to think Pitt is the only power team in this boat is inaccurate, and with as many Big East titles Dixon has captured in both the regular season and tournament to his resume, it does not appear his scheduling hurts his teams.

          • Good Post, JRay3.

            You added more depth than mine, but no one on here was ever defending Pitt’s OoC schedule, and very few teams schedule a murderer’s row of opponents. That is what the game in conference do.

            Oh, and I dont know if you saw this in last nights thread, but I enjoy your games recaps for PItt as much as you doing the game recaps for the Pirates.

          • Johnny Ray III,

            Just for your info, the North Carolina media reported that Duke wanted to play Pitt in New Jersey in Brynden Byrne Arena, but Pitt would not play in the week time frame (between Christmas and New Year) that Duke needed for the rest of its schedule.

            Duke wanted to play——Pitt wouldn’t. Pitt wanted to play——Duke couldn’t. Depends on who you talk to, I guess.

        • Dejan, whatever do you mean by Groat rules?

          That’s puzzling.

  21. The RiverHounds are now affiliated with Houston in MLS. This is a huge step forward for them. I dont know which is more impressive………….. the fact Houston and the Hounds signed the deal, or the fact that MLS recommended the RiverHounds for this opportunity.

    DK, I have to ask you…….. how much of a surprise is this to you? Was this something that was out of the blue? Or did you hear rumors about this before?

    All I can say is ………….. GO RIVERPUPPIES !!!!!!!!!!1

  22. Is this Tuesday or Wednesday??

    I’m pretty sure its not Sunday, no NFL stuff on ESPN ….

  23. Another nice job by the weather guessers. Done in by the dreadded dry slot.

  24. Required reading for any Pens fan: Mark Madden analyzes what’s wrong with the Pens (a lot), and why.

    http://www.1059thex.com/pages/markmadden.html?article=11861880

    • Thanks Scott. Required reading indeed. I’ll add just two words – Country Club.

      • Milo, you said it all. Sound familiar?

        • Yep. We talked about this very thing right here last summer. Let’s keep the same team that was clearly not good enough & go with that. And I include the coach in that statement.

          • Ok, since we all know the coach and GM arent going to be fired, what should the team do?

            Shero must have confidence in the way things are going, or he would do something different.

            It should have been obvious that a shakeup was necessary after last years debacle in Boston……… but nothing happened. So what should be done, outside of firing the coach and GM?

            Pens are up against the cap, have many players hurt…… I dont see the needed fixes coming.
            Just my 1 cent……..

            • I like how we’re playing now. Would just try to fix bottom 6. Patience…I’m sure shero is working the phones.

              • Playing better…but man, it’s still dysfunctional…

              • Depth has always been my concern post staal, tk, and Cooke. Still is but they’re playing to their strengths now. Fix bottom 6 and our chances are as good as anyone’s. But who’s available? Wish i knew…

            • Problem is, when you continually sign guys in their mid 30′s to multi year no trade contracts it really limits your options.

              • Don’t disagree bout age situation but don’t think we’d trade kuni or duper or piece that easily anyway. And until we know who’s available kinda hard to gauge who’s expendable.

              • Everyone’s expendable except for Sid. But 10 guys on their roster have at least a limited no trade clause. Insane.

    • thanks for the link, Scott, good stuff, to be sure!

    • It’s an interesting argument from Madden. Here’s the thing: Mario is not an owner who doesn’t know hockey, and Shero doesn’t seem to me to be dumb. If the Pens continue to fail the eyeball test of those two, something will change, and it could be very big when it happens.

  25. Very excited to be able to watch a world cup game down there that would be great. Good to see my sport catching on finally here.

  26. This is a strange time. The Steelers have a huge game tomorrow night against their most hated rival, and unless I missed something, not one comment on the blog today about that game.

    The Steelers can win this one, imo. Be ready for the deep pass, and cover Rice out of the backfield.

    Anybody out there excited at all?? Or are we all hoping for draft picks still?

  27. I see where the Nationals asked the city of Washington to build & pay for a retractable roof over almost brand new Nationals Park. The Mayor said no. Better be careful, they might move to the suburbs of Atlanta.

  28. Paul Martin has a fractured leg, out 4-6 weeks…

  29. Hey Biz, just got confirmation. It’s Wednesday.

  30. One man’s view of the AFC playoff picture amongst the teams trying to qualify…..

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20131126/afc-wild-card-pittsburgh-steelers-san-diego-chargers/?eref=sihp

    • ESPN also ranks the Steelers as having the best odds to get the 6th spot…

      No. 6 – Pittsburgh Steelers

      Current record: 5-6 | Weighted DVOA: 3.4 percent
      Projected wins: 7.9
      Total playoff odds: 38.0 percent | Weekly change: +18.3 percent

      Thanks to a three-game winning streak, the Steelers have seen their playoff odds increase six-fold over the past two weeks (from 6.8 percent after Week 10), which is good enough to vault them into the final AFC playoff spot in our simulations. At 28.4 percent, however, it’s nowhere near a stranglehold. What gives Pittsburgh a slight edge right now is that it’s the only team with a positive weighted DVOA among the six vying for the No. 6 seed. What makes the Steelers’ edge tenuous is that, while our simulations view them as a projected favorite in three of their final five games, they view San Diego as a favorite in four games.

      All this optimism worries me for some reason…

      • Agreed.

        All you quoted there wont amount to a hill of beans if the Steelers dont win tomorrow night.

        • You’re exactly right, and unfortunately, I don’t see a win in Baltimore on Thursday eve.
          These two teams almost always split the season series unless one of them is a dominant team.
          That is not the case in 2013.
          I won’t say a win is completely out, but I count on it very little.

          It’s nice to see Tomlin and some of the players bounce back as the season has proceeded.
          However, I feel like this is still a sub .500 team.
          If they finish over .500, it’s probably going to create more problems for next year because of where they will draft.

      • I’m thinking it will be the Ravens.

  31. Pens lines at practice:

    Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis
    Jokinen-Malkin-Neal
    Conner-Sutter-Ebbett
    Adams-Vitale-Megna

    Orpik-Letang
    Maatta-Engelland
    Despres-Niskanen-Bortuzzo

    I’m starting to feel bad for Sutter. I’d rather have Magna on the 3rd line, Engelland on the 4th, and Conner on the bench.

  32. Wow just checked in and seeing a lot of pessimism bout pens. I say sit back n enjoy the show cuz our offense is about to break out in a big way. Not sure if we’ll light it up tonight but I’m telling u guys that pretty soon the circus will be coming to town.

    And the way we’re playing now minding the neutral zone and moving puck as a unit I don’t think comparing this season to previous seasons is wise. Like I said sit back n enjoy cuz the monster mash is coming soon.

  33. I don’t know about the Pens, am getting a bit worried with all the injuries

  34. You know, my initial thought when I saw this article was – Noooooo (see link below)…. BUT, if Fleury would get playoff-like experience playing for the gold medal at Sochi and possibly get the monkey off his back before the Pens get into the playoffs – awesome. If he screws up Team Canada’s chances by choking, OK…Team USA may benefit, and then you know you need to get a backup goalie for the run….

    http://thehockeywriters.com/marc-andre-fleury-team-canada/

    • Interesting, but I still don’t see him making it…

      • I don’t think so either – I think Canadians might revolt if they picked Fleury as the Team Canada goalie – but if somehow they did, I am becoming OK with the idea. If he isn’t on the team, OK he gets rest. If he is, see above….

  35. These past 2 wins are not really as impressive as some are making them out to be. Texas Tech and Stanford were not even in the NCAA tournament last year, so lets not kid ourselves about the actual talent level of these teams. While I’ll admit they are better teams than the typical McNeese St.’s we are accustomed to them playing this time of year, they are far from elite status in the ACC as some would infer. I’ll wait until conference play to begin before making any conclusions about this team.

    • Agree that Stanford and Texas Tech may not be elite, although Stanford will be a fringe bubble team this year to make the NCAA’s.

      I think the impressive part is winning the games by 23 and 21 respectively, totally dominating performances from start to finish the whole 40 minutes.

      Can tell you this, the Sagarin Index now rates the Panthers #5, Pomeroy #2 as Pitt runs the 6th most efficient offense in the country to this point (no surprise they have always been very efficient but this year they have shooters) and the 13th most efficient defense.

      Pitt will have probably just one “true” test before conference play and that will be against Cincinnati, as the Panthers should dismantle Penn St.

      Pitt good be looking at 13-0 headed into league play and will be easily favored in their first 4 ACC games- NC St, Maryland, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest before a huge tilt Jan. 18th at Syracuse.

      The eye test shows quite a bit with this team, level of opponent or not.

  36. I see D’Agostini was claimed off waivers by Buffalo…

  37. Walmart Holiday Spirit.

    Shopping cart aisle rage.

    Trust me.

    • Funny you say that, Drew. The Walmart I go to is usually a much better atmosphere than most of the Walmarts. it’s a super store, but it’s still a bit smaller than most. The people are also much more courteous and friendly.
      But…
      I wouldn’t dream of going there Black Friday. And honestly, I got all my food and stuff for Thanksgiving on Sunday. No way I wanna be in a grocery store or a Walmart tonight or Black Friday.

  38. For those who may not be on later, have a happy, blessed Thanksgiving Day.

  39. I will be on tonight’s Pens blog but wanted to say to all my friends here….Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

    DK: You, too, Barb. Looking forward to having you here tonight!

  40. So D’agastini got claimed i see…not sure if he got enough of a shot but he definitely didnt make it a hard enough decision. I think he would’ve been better with a center that could hold the puck and buy him some time but he’s still a good player. Too bad it didnt work out. Should be a good one tonight…

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

  41. Nice. I’m sitting here complaining about Conner and he scores lol

  42. Seems kind of strange without a hockey thread. The hamster who runs on the wheel to generate the threads must be on strike! :-)

  43. The minor league soccer team gets a thread. (That should do it.)

  44. Ha! Half the Pens’ team is minor league tonight

  45. Only 4 players out there for that goal. Someone remind Maata when it’s his turn he’s actually supposed to go out there.

  46. Okay I finally figured out that this is the Pens blog. DUH. So what the heck is happening?!?!?!?

  47. Just saw we outshot them 17-10 and we’re down a goal…Sun will probably rise tomorrow morning too…

  48. DANG IT! They need to WAKE UP!!!!! SHEESH!

  49. 1st goals softies too? Didn’t see them.

  50. Letang should buy a ticket.

  51. Ok letang is now on the list

  52. 4+1 bad guys. Way to take the crowd out of the game guys!

  53. Quality play by Letang once again.

    I guess it trickled out today that some part of his body was ailing (knee?). Given his play, I was wondering when I was going to hear something like that.

  54. Dejan should have gone to a movie

  55. I’m officially done defending this mess.

  56. This is getting beyond ridiculous.

  57. The NCIS marathon on USA is more entertaining than this hot mess.

  58. I left for 8 minutes and Pens down 4-1.
    But all is well.
    This is what Shero and Bylsma want.
    No changes needed, stay the course.

    I feel bad for the players that ARE trying.

    Everyone have a great Thanksgiving. I hope all of you enjoy family, and remember those who dont get a Thanksgiving…… our troops. I aslo hope nobody patronizes stores who open tomorrow, depriving their employees Thanksgiving with their families.

    Biz, its the day before Thanksgiving, if that helps.
    Good Night.

  59. Alright GENO. A PP goal to boot.

  60. Randy Carlyle looks like he just swallowed rat poison. Of course, Randy Carlyle always looks like he swallowed rat poison.

  61. ok someone tell me how and why Phaneuf is allowed to do that to such an extent and get away with it??? friggin azzmunch refs!

  62. Hope you all had the over.

  63. Yes KUNIE….another PP goal.

  64. Letang actually puts a low puck on net and good things happen.

    Remember the date.

  65. Unreal…disco stretch costing us again.

  66. Just saw more useless stretch passes in 2nd then last few games combined. I think disco is addicted and was suffering from withdrawal. Time for intervention again…

  67. Horrible pass by Orpik trying to squeeze it up the boards . . . turnover . . . goal.

  68. Here’s the official word on the disallowed goal.

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/blog.htm?id=2165

  69. Horrible pass by Orpik trying to squeeze it up the boards . . . turnover . . . goal.

    Said it before so I’ll repeat. Time to move on this year when his contract ends. If Shero even thinks about a one year deal for him we’re doomed.

  70. With Conner at 5-8 & Ebbett at 5-9, looks like Pens are making recalls from the Lullaby League.

  71. Lost in the horrible play by Fleury behind his own net, the failure of Letang to move toward Fleury’s pass instead of waiting for it, the fact Letang then got outmuscled by JVR to get the goal, is the fact Sid lost the center ice face-off to start the 2nd period.

    Missed the 1st period so I don’t have his stats, but Sid got his lunch eaten by Bergeron in Boston. For whatever reason, Sid has just not been Sid lately in that phase.

  72. I love dirty goals

  73. Chances the Leafs are through scoring ?

  74. Can jandster get a woop woop?

  75. So Malkin only has like 6 goals, right?

    Time to trade him.

  76. OK…how the he^^ did they NOT score smh

  77. Since there’s no Penguins thread… this game doesn’t count…..

  78. Wow I do a few things for dinner tomorrow and we have managed to tie the game.

  79. I can’t believe they’ve blown all these chances…

  80. Leafs have no shots this period. Zatkoff looking strong. :)

  81. When we were in high school, we called Carlyle “Porky”.

  82. For whatever the call-ups may lack in finishing skill they’re all working hard.

    Nice to see.

  83. He earn that nickname the hard way?

  84. We cannot, simply CANNOT lose this one in regulation.

  85. Who’s this new kid, Depres?

    He looks pretty good.

  86. No 3rd period shots for Toronto.

  87. Can someone please knock Phaneuf into next season?

  88. The Leafs registered their last shot at 19:55 of the 2nd period. Any way to hold them without a shot in the shootout ?

  89. Fewer stretches passes in 3rd led to more possession and no shots allowed. Coincidence? Definitely not. Definite pattern at this point.

    Disco stretch = fewer goals and more turnovers

  90. Oh. My. God/ Zats beats Bernier in SO…wow…

  91. Well, there are 2 points they didn’t deserve. But hey, I was entertained.

    • Maybe they didn’t deserve them after the first, Milo, but they sure did after the third…

      DK: Ugh! Why didn’t anyone TELL me I forgot to put the game post up?

  92. What a wild and woolly end to a wild and woolly game. Happy Thanksgiving all. Don’t eat too much turkey!

  93. Welcome back Malkin

    3 Stars:
    3 – Malkin
    2 – Malkin
    1 – Malkin

    WOOOO

  94. Another … punishment for Letang…he didn’t get to shoot in the shootout…

    • Good point, Jandy. I’m sure he was going to be 4th if it came to that.

      And speaking of Letang, on the Neal blast from the right dot, Malkin first went left to Letang on the left dot immediately before that goal. Letang’s one-timer missed the net by 8 feet . . . from the left dot for god’s sake. That result is why we always see Letang settling the puck. It’s a major deficiency in his game.

      He should sacrifice one month each summer from his renown conditioning training and have a coach feed him 100 cross-ice passes per day to practice that one particular skill.

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