Blogs | Sports | News
Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

« Font size »
Decrease | Reset |Increase

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 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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..

    • 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.

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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

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

    At least there used to be.

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

  13. 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.

  14. Good evening everybody.

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

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

    Wake up when the Super Bowl kicks off.

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

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

  19. Prater has a cannon for a leg!

  20. 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.

    • 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 .

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

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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?

    • 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.

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

  25. 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.

  26. Great turnover!

    Now get it in the endzone!

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

  28. Crud…turnover, 9er’s ball.

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

    Woot Woot!

    Go Seahawks!


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

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

      • 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.

        • They really have things rolling up there.

          • 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.

  31. That’s game!

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

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

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

  34. 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”.

  35. 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.

  36. 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?

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

      • 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! :)

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

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

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

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

    • 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. :)

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

Other Blogs
Sports: Dejan Kovacevic | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | Sitting Ringside | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports | H.S. Sports Insiders
News: This Just In | Trib List
» Top Sports
» Top News
» Top Breaking News