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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Your turn to have ‘The Final Word’

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media


The joint venture between WPXI-TV and Trib Total Media continues Sunday night at 11:35 p.m. — right after the Channel 11 News — with the latest episode of The Subway Final Word.

>> Who’s on the panel: I’ll be joined by Alan Robinson, the Trib’s Steelers beat man, and Mark Madden, top-rated radio host of 105.9 the X. The host will be WPXI-TV’s Bill Phillips.

>> What we’re talking about: NFL conference championships, Steelers, Penguins and Pitt hoops.

>> How to participate: Each week, we also take comments from viewers through 20-second videos you submit on The Final Word’s Facebook page, as well as comments to The Final World’s Twitter account

>> Where to watch: In addition to the regular broadcast on WPXI-TV, we have WPXI’s live online stream for Pittsburgh’s many out-of-town sports fans, as well as video podcasts available on both outlets’ Web sites.

Here’s last week’s full episode.

Really hope to have you along, not only watching but also joining in!

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. Frankly, I saw the Pitt loss to Syracuse coming since the Orange always plays them tough. Also, the Duquense loss didn’t shock me either, although the Dukes’ coach bragged about how the team was improving before yesterday’s game.

  2. Does anyone care to comment on that lawsuit filed by that California little league baseball coach against one of his players? This character also told the networks he’d drop the lawsuit in return for an apology from the boy’s parents.

  3. Jim S. says:

    Part of me says it was another great effort by Pitt, and part of me is still frustrated about Pitt’s fatal flaws that they carry from season to season. This was certainly not a bad loss, and coupled with their win at GA Tech earlier this week they should climb several more spots in the national polls. I don’t know – I’m thinking somewhere around 15th?

    The good:

    * As usual, Pitt is as tough-minded and hard working on the glass as any team in the country. That wears down and demoralizes the opposition most of the time. Most of the time.

    * Pitt plays really sound team defense — for the first 25 seconds of most possessions. That is enough to hold down most teams well enough to win. Most teams.

    * Lamar Patterson stepped up when Pitt was about to take a 15 point loss and buried a bunch of clutch 3’s. He’s become a terrific player and leader. You could see the determination in his eyes mid-way through the 2nd half.

    * Pitt is not intimidated playing anywhere. They played the better overall “team” game.

    * Jamie is a tremendous coach, IMO. So many teams around the country have no clue how to share the basketball and look for good shots. Their players never pass up open shots to get the ball to a teammate with a better shot, as Patterson typified on the last second pass underneath for a Zanna bucket.

    The fatal flaws:

    * Pitt, once again, has no one to turn to when a possession breaks down to bail them out. Durand Johnson was the closest thing to that, and he’s gone for the season. Jones and Newkirk may profile as that kind of player, but they are young and practice is different from games. No one can create a shot in crunch time vs. a team playing lock down defense. Syracuse has CJ Fair and Tyler Ennis. They could get a “playground” shot anytime they needed it, and sometimes you need it.

    * Pitt struggles to deal with guys who can create their own shot. They play great team defense – as good as any team in the country – but athletically, they can’t lock down guys like Ennis and Fair on defense. Not being able to keep a slashing opponent in front of you on defense usually goes hand-in-hand with not being able to beat your opponent off the dribble to create a shot at the other end. So, when things break down for Syracuse, a couple of guys can bail them out. When Syracuse turned up the defensive intensity at the end with Pitt holding a 3-point lead, Pitt’s offensive became very stagnant and no one could bail them out.

    The frustrating part of the point above is that it is 10% of the game, at most. And, it is not about coaching, really. It is about recruiting and mindset. You need to find 1 or 2 guys who can always get a shot off, and allow them to do it in crunch time, as Boeheim does. Pitt either does not possess that type of player, or Jamie & staff coaches is out of them. I get why he does that. Just taking your man one on one is not good team basketball. But, sometimes you really need it. Athletically superior teams will continue to cause them problems, in my opinion. And, you can’t avoid those teams in March.

    I’m not blasting Jamie by any means. I think he is a Top 10-15 coach nationally. I’m sure he realizes he needs more athleticism and better shooting. And, he added more athleticism this year. But, Patterson is now the only guy who can consistently make 3’s, and as I said, no one can create a shot off the dribble. That may be selfish basketball, but it wins in March.

  4. Drew71 says:

    I was in a friend’s pub watching the second half.

    No, not the usual pub owned by my usual friend. Let’s just say I try to make lots of friends with lots of people who own bars.

    As the game progressed, I had three thoughts.

    1. ACC Game of the Year so far. pitt-Syracuse. That’s weird.

    2. If pitt plays like that, they’ll beat 80 or 90% of good teams and 100% of weak teams. They didn’t lose because they missed a few high pressure jump shots. Most teams struggle with those. (But first, remember they came close to winning. On the road against the #2 team that plays outstanding D.) They lost because they missed a number of 2-4 foot shots when they slashed to the glass, grabbed rebounds but couldn’t put it back in. And the opponent’s aforementioned outstanding D seemed to have something to do with that. Don’t sweat it. Play like that and they’ll win those games at home or most importantly on a neutral floor. You know, when it really counts

    3. This is a freaking awesome beer. I think I just found a BEST best friend.

  5. JohninOshkosh says:

    Could be a Serbian domination at Australian Open.

    Lovely Ana Ivanovic with the exciting 3 set match victory over number one seed, Serena Williams. I thought Serena appeared uncharacteristically tentative in the match. Actually looked unsure and lacked her customary confidence at times.

    Of course, the male draw is always dominated by a certain Serb.

  6. JohninOshkosh says:

    We all have our sports checklists of events to attend, I suppose. Australian Open at the top of my list.

  7. Kevin S says:

    To Jim S above… Agree 100%. Pitt played Cuse toe to toe for about 37 minutes. In the end when they needed that “guy” to step up and take a big shot, it seemed no one either could or wanted to. And I didn’t say make the shot.. They don’t all go in.. They needed someone to TAKE the shot.. Also thought they missed too many bunnies over the course of the game.. And it hurt when Zanna’s turn around jumper from the foul line rolled out with a couple minutes left.. Still love watching Pitt and their effort.. Fun team.. Too bad DJ got hurt..

  8. I wonder if despres got the memo about working on his shot…

  9. Jim S. says:

    I love them, too, Kevin. I could not believe that Zanna shot. I thought it was down. And, then, somehow it rolled around and off. Had that gone, Cuse may have been forced into panic possessions, and the outcome may have been different.

    You are right that they missed too many put backs and bunnies. And, sometimes they got fouled doing it. Pitt hurt themselves by going 13-23 from the line, and having the wrong guys going to the line. But, that’s what happens when Robinson and his 90% isn’t taking 6 free throws at the end of the game because you are closing out a win.

    Jamie’s passion is so evident on the sidelines, and it is obviously infectious. That is why this team plays so hard, year after year. Their coach demands it. He is so competitive. I love that, and would not change it. I still think they need to find a couple of players that do all the things Jamie demands of a Pitt player (toughness, unselfishness, defense), but who also can get to the hoop or create space for a shot when they absolutely need it.

    If they catch a break or two, I could see this being an Elite 8 team. But, I don’t think the selection committee will do them any favors – once again. The voters are already downgrading them due to pre-season schedule, rather than taking the time to realize how good they really are. And, it doesn’t help that they don’t have a lot more chances against elite teams in the ACC. They have to take advantage of the few they have left. Yesterday would have been a signature road win.

  10. Sid named captain canada….thinking Suter would be my choice for captain america.

  11. Ana Ivanovic has just eliminated Serena at the Aussie in 16 rounds. Ana is 1-4 versus Serena, who’s now 51-2 in these matches.

  12. Arriba Wilver says:

    That’s already been decided—Chris Evans.

  13. JohninOshkosh says:

    Ominous video out of Russia last night of terrorists threatening suicide bombings at Sochi.

    I sure hope the Russians are working with security experts from the nations that have the most expertise in the area: United States, Great Britain and Israel. I lost some faith in the international security efforts at the Mandela memorial and the whole interpreter incident.

    I saw a documentary on Israeli security. One of their experts said they have answers for most threats except suicide bombers. Hard to stop someone who is going to strap bombs on their body. Also, bombs can be ingested or surgically placed in the body.

    Used to be the Winter Olympics were devoid of most political concerns. Not anymore.

  14. JohninOshkosh says:

    Just read an article that the Russians are balking at support, expertise from other nations’ security forces.

    Big mistake.

  15. John, what’s wrong with Badgers and Buckeyes? 5 straight losses between the 2.

  16. JohninOshkosh says:

    I don’t know. The Badgers made a nice run in the second half yesterday but came up short. They usually win those type of comebacks at the Kohl Center. The Big is a very strong conference.

    The NCAA tournament is going to be wide open this year. Could be a lot of upsets in the opening two rounds.

  17. Jim S. says:

    Deep conference, I think. Danger awaits at every turn.

  18. Jim S. says:

    It’s what they do. They know everything, trust no one.

    And their leader steals Super Bowl rings.

  19. theplanisworking says:

    Carlos Danger?

  20. 21sthebest says:

    10-2 run by Syracuse and two layups with under 2 minutes to go. That’s horrible defense if you ask me.

  21. Arriba Wilver says:

    Definitely had some lapses. And the uncontested layup by Ennis at the end was a killer.

  22. Dom says:

    The nfl games are about to begin. Is any NOT rooting for the Broncos and Seahawks?

    I think that it will be a New England/Seattle super bowl but I will not be rooting for New England.

    I really don’t see how the Patriots lose this one.

  23. They only won by a field goal in OT at Foxboro. Why should they be a shoe-in today?

  24. Arriba Wilver says:

    The B’s and S’s are who I’m “rooting” for.

  25. Dom says:

    i feel that Brady should be to pick apart the Broncos DBs since theyre down to injuries. I feel that NE has the better of the two defenses at this point. Plus, Manning doesnt have the best record against New England.

  26. JohninOshkosh says:

    I like Brady. Enjoy watching him lead his teams with his cool confidence.

    I also think Bill Belichick is a genius.

    That’s right. I said it. And I’m glad I did.

  27. Dom says:

    2 letters: M T

    (Me too)

  28. Dom says:

    Three and out for the Broncos when they were near the goaline. They should obtained a TD and a FG.

  29. pattonbb says:

    Officiating continues to be a joke. There’s a difference between physical play and holding.

    At least there used to be.

  30. Dom says:

    i dont understand why the game is called one way in the regular season and then another way in the post seasn.

  31. Dom says:

    So much for the game being about the run. Denver had negative rushing yards before that long run.

  32. 21sthebest says:

    I’m rooting for the Patriots!

  33. Dom says:

    Why is that?

  34. 21sthebest says:

    Can’t atand Peyton. Throws his teammates under the bus frequently and gets a pass by the media every time. And it happened again this week.

  35. 21sthebest says:


  36. Lad 9 says:

    Manning’s audible to the draw on third and 10 was as good a call as you will ever see a QB make. When you don’t have a rooting interest against him, he is a whole lot of fun to watch.

  37. Dom says:

    What did he say this week?

  38. 21sthebest says:

    He blamed the defense for the regular season loss to the Patriots.

  39. Agree. I like him a lot more than Tom Terrific.

  40. theplanisworking says:

    You and Oshie need to crack the whip with your respective college clubs. The boys are a-slippin…….


  41. You said it, bro. 0 for the last 5 combined.

  42. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’m with you and the Luckster, Lad.

  43. Brandie says:

    Good evening everybody.

  44. Arriba Wilver says:

    I didn’t know Denver’s defense was this good.

  45. theplanisworking says:

    Well now, the day is complete.
    Brandimal is in the bloghouse.

    Any wisdom from you on these games today?

  46. Lad 9 says:

    BRANDIEEEEE! Good evening to you. Hope all is well.

  47. Lad 9 says:

    Especially without Von Miller AW. This is a beat down!

  48. Brandie says:

    Plan and all,

    Not sure why Patriots game has gone South on them. I have noticed the inconsistency in penalty calling on both ends. One gets tired of beating a dead horse about this, but it makes me wonder just how fixed this league is. Not like GODell will do a thing about it from his ivory tower.

  49. Brandie says:


  50. JohninOshkosh says:

    Two more weeks of “OMAHA!” blather from the talking heads.

    Wake up when the Super Bowl kicks off.

  51. JohninOshkosh says:

    *Wake me

  52. Brandie says:

    Just wish my Penn State guys could take advantage…


  53. Brandie says:

    Quite surprising indeed Arreebz!

  54. Brandie says:

    Time for concern Revvie?

  55. Arriba Wilver says:


    In favor of whom?

  56. Might be. Hope it’s just a lull for both of them. I’m a Badger fan, too.

  57. You’re right on that. You’d think they’d never heard a cadence or an audible or line call in their lives.

  58. Brandie says:

    Not sure. I have seen holding called inconsistently in both AFC and NFC games across the board so I don’t think it gives anyone an advantage as much as it makes for manufactured WWE style drama. I find that annoying.

  59. Brandie says:


  60. Brandie says:

    University of Wisconsin is a mighty fine school. I hope they get it together.

  61. Dom says:

    The Pats score with 930left. 23-10 Denver. Its in Manning’s hands now. He’s got to kill time to win this one.

  62. JohninOshkosh says:

    A Denver turnover here and the game gets really interesting quick.

  63. Brandie says:

    Where is the Patriot defense?

  64. Brandie says:

    Prater has a cannon for a leg!

  65. Dom says:

    Just realized that there hasnt been a turnover all day. Both teams playing smart.

  66. JohninOshkosh says:

    It’s ovah, it’s all ovah! Down goes Brady! Down goes Brady!

  67. Dom says:

    Shows what I know. My prediction was obviously dead wrong. The Pats will have to wait till next year yet again. It’s been a decade since they won a super bowl.

    Now, let’s go Seahawks.

  68. theplanisworking says:

    Glad the Broncos won the game.
    GODell must be crying in a secluded room somewhere.

  69. Dom says:

    The two biggest plays of the day was the fourth down stop by denver in the first half and the play that took Aqib Talib out of the game.

    WR Thomas was no match for any other defender he went up against .

  70. Ha! Let him and Belichick cry. No offense to the departed radio wave or any other Pats fan.

  71. It says it’s currently unavailable. Hope it comes up later.

    Who do we root for in the Seattle-SF game? Pete Carroll or Harbaugh? How about neither?

  72. theplanisworking says:

    I have no wish to see either coach go on.
    But, I have a feeling GODell wouldn’t want Seattle in the Super Bowl, so I will root for them, I guess.

  73. theplanisworking says:

    Glad I could be of service. :)

  74. Brandie says:

    I like Russell Wilson. He gets it done under the radar.

    Go Seahawks.

  75. Arriba Wilver says:

    I don’t get the connection between Goodell and the outcome of the games today.

  76. Dom says:

    i dont like how this game is going. It seems like the 49ers are playing superior on offense. Kapernick is being rushed and thus allowing him to scramble. The seahawks have to contain CP and not attempt for a blitz.

  77. Dom says:

    On a serious note, could Bradys legacy be tainted if he never wins a legitimate championship, post spygate?

  78. Arriba Wilver says:


  79. Dom says:

    Uh, that was supposed to be CK not CP.

  80. Dom says:

    Now 58 yard run by Kaepernick after another failed blitz. When are they going to learn?

  81. scapper says:

    The NFL: Proof that the sports viewing public doesn’t give two skips about PED’s. NFL players have muscles growing out of muscles that normal humans don’t have. No one’s whining about how these guys have these bodies. They just want a good show every Sunday. That’s just how it was with baseball for that wonderful decade when guys were performing feats we’d never seen before. Only reason baseball had to crack down was because so many of its stupid “sacred” numbers were falling.

    Hockey players are ripped beyond belief…NBA players have ridiculous bodies. No. One. Cares. I know I don’t.

  82. 21sthebest says:

    + Hundreds of thousands

  83. 21sthebest says:

    Professional athletes are ripped because they have a lot of time to workout, professional trainers at their disposal and professional nutritionists. You and I do not.

  84. Dom says:

    Could players still get away with taking PEDs in this day in age, you know, with all the bad press that has been around for the past decade?

    I remember formner Panther DT Hollis Thomas was given steroids while he was in the hospital with an illness and thus given a suspension. How could a large majority get away wiht it if he didnt?

  85. Dom says:

    See the previews for that new 300 movie? Between the actors in that film and the NFL players, it would be hard to cypher which ones are on the juice.

  86. theplanisworking says:

    Now THAT call took guts on 4th down !
    Carroll might have been the only coach to go for it there.

  87. Vette60 says:

    Let’s go Seahawks! Really want to see local Richmond guy Russell Wilson in the Super Bowl. He is a class act.

    Can’t stand the 49er’s…

    11 and change left, clock ticking, 49er’s with the ball.

    Randy in RVA.

  88. Dom says:

    Great turnover!

    Now get it in the endzone!

  89. Vette60 says:

    Woot Woot! Fumble 49ers! Seahawks recover and are in business, 1st and goal!

  90. Vette60 says:

    Crud…turnover, 9er’s ball.

  91. Vette60 says:

    Ok. I’ll take that! 9er’s turnover – Seahawks pick!

    Woot Woot!

    Go Seahawks!


  92. Milo Hamilton says:

    Colin Kaepernick is spectacular. But you don’t win championships on broken plays.

  93. Milo Hamilton says:

    As a matter of fact, I don’t see how either one of these teams can win the next game with this quarterback play.

  94. theplanisworking says:

    Agreed to a point, Milo.

    Teams have won Super Bowls before with non-existent QB play before. SB XXXV, and XL come immediately to mind.

    By the way, you missed a barnburner last night, New Castle at Lower Merion.

  95. Dom says:

    That’s game!

    The World Famous Steelers will remain the ONLY team with six super bowl rings.

  96. Milo Hamilton says:

    That Richard Sherman is all class, isn’t he ? :)

  97. Milo Hamilton says:

    They really have things rolling up there.

  98. theplanisworking says:

    Not that the refs didn’t try their best to give LM the game. ;)

    It helps to have a coach that has won state titles before (with George Junior Republic).

    But the state playoffs this year will again be dominated by the Philly area schools.

  99. theplanisworking says:


  100. Lad 9 says:

    Sure is. All of it low….

  101. Milo Hamilton says:

    Looks like Seattle opens a 1 point favorite. I expect that one to jump around some.

  102. JohninOshkosh says:

    Well, we know a lot of marijuana will be sold in the next two weeks. Legal in both Washington and Colorado.

    New meaning to Super “Bowl”.

  103. Dom says:

    Terrible clock management by the 49ers at the end of the game. I’m not sure who is to blame for that but Kaepernick should not have had to force that pass with 25 or so seconds left in the game from the 30 yard line.

  104. Milo Hamilton says:

    He didn’t have to force anything. Bad decision on his part. They handled the clock just fine.

  105. Dom says:

    Crabetree aint going to forget that one. He’s put a fire in his belly.

  106. Milo Hamilton says:

    Funny thing is, I posted that before the interview !

  107. Dom says:

    Personally, I thought that they should have done more dinking and dunking and worked their way closer to the endzone. It wasnt possible to do that with the little time they had.

  108. theplanisworking says:

    Somewhere, in a darkened room all alone, Roger GODell is crying.

    His choices for big ratings, NE, and SF lost today.
    Worse yet, his BFF, Robert Kraft, won’t be taking his team to SB XLVIII .

    Poor Rog.
    Guess he will have to get over it, huh?

  109. Dom says:

    Hard to predict this SB. It’s offense vs defense. For the moment, I’ll go with Seattle but Russell Wilson doesnt seem like a SB QB to me.

  110. Milo Hamilton says:

    They could have made a 1st down & then used all four subsequent downs. Plus, they had 2 timeouts left. Time wasn’t a factor.

  111. Milo Hamilton says:

    Already bet down to pick em.

  112. theplanisworking says:

    Still won’t approach what will be smoked in the NYC area…….. where it isn’t legal…… ;)

  113. Milo Hamilton says:

    Excuse me, Mr. Sherman ? Vince McMahon is on the phone.

  114. Milo Hamilton says:

    Did you see he’s going to pull a Bowie Kuhn & sit outside in the cold ? What a man of the people.

  115. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Steelers6……Stands protected!!!!!!
    It’s a beautiful day……

  116. theplanisworking says:

    Hahahahahaha! Great!
    Maybe people will do like I used to when sitting out in Pitt stadium in the snow? Make a real-life snowball video game? ;)

    Man of the people……… Milo, please stop! :)

  117. theplanisworking says:

    Yes it is.
    Maybe you could send Rog a box of tissues? ;)

  118. Dom says:

    Good points

  119. Jim S. says:

    Great line, Milo.

  120. Vette60 says:

    Yeah, what a jagoff during that interview. He is getting skewered on some national radio show that I had on in the car when I ran to the supermarket.



  121. Milo Hamilton says:

    Heavy early money on Denver. Broncos now favored across the board.

  122. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    I spent all day yelling my throat off to protect it….)

  123. Dom says:

    i thought you were betting on seattle…

  124. Jim S. says:

    I think Harbaugh may be losing it.

    Ok, I know he’s not losing it. But, he needs to get control of himself on the sidelines. He whines and goes nuts every time he doesn’t get the call. It is not just on blatant bad calls. He complains every time the play doesn’t go the way he wants it to.

    And his locker room interview with Pam Oliver was priceless:

    PO: Is your team devastated by this loss?

    JH: A man can be destroyed, but he can’t be defeated.

    PO: Back to you, Joe.

    Earth to Harbaugh. Are you still with us?

    That guy is out there. He has issues.

  125. Jim S. says:

    Isn’t the Super Bowl in New Jersey? They keep saying all day it is in NYC.

    I get it. They want to pretend it is in NYC because that is cooler than NJ and all.

    NJ gets no respect. Philly never acknowledges it. NYC never acknowledges it. Doesn’t seem right.

  126. Milo Hamilton says:

    I heard if they don’t start saying New Jersey, someone’s going to close all roads into the state so no one gets in.

  127. Jim S. says:

    I love it, Milo!

  128. Jim S. says:

    I’d have a hard time handicapping this Super Bowl. Seattle has a defense that flies around and gets after the QB. Denver has an offensive line that doesn’t let a lot of people near the QB very often. Denver seemingly moves the ball at will and scores on everyone. Seattle shuts down most every team’s offense. Both teams run the ball very well. Denver cleary has a huge advantage with Peyton.

    I am going back and forth. I think if the weather is bad and it is windy, that could present a problem for Peyton as it did in New England on that Sunday night. But, if he has a dry track, I like his offense against any defense. Should be a great game.

  129. Jim S. says:

    Annointed himself the best CB in the NFL … to the complete surprise of … everyone.

    That was a great play, though.

  130. Jim S. says:

    Make book on it, Dom. That will be addressed next season.

  131. theplanisworking says:

    Or have more donuts……. ;)

  132. theplanisworking says:

    Your second point is correct. The weather will have a great deal in the outcome. Good weather, Denver wins.

    Bad weather, Seattle should win. And GODell will get pelted with snowballs. :)

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