Tuesday, March 18, 2014

PITT Heads to the Big Dance



         The Pitt Panthers basketball team underachieved or overachieved this year depending on who you ask. They finished the season 25-9 after starting the season 16-1. The Panthers record does not tell the story of the season though. Several heartbreaking loses to top teams marred the perception of a good first season in the ACC. They had Syracuse beat twice and lost both games. They missed free throws against Cincinnati that could have won the game. Virginia hit a three at the buzzer and got the benefit of a no call in their second game to beat the Panthers twice. 

         A few more wins in those close games and Pitt is likely a 4 or 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Instead they are a 9 seed and play Colorado on Thursday. They draw is pretty good against Colorado, a team that lost their best player and is 9-9 since. The downside is they would face the Florida Gators if they advance. The Gators have won 26 in a row and have only lost 2 games all season. They have not had the toughest road as the SEC was pretty bad all year. 

          Pitt will need Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna to play their best basketball of their career to make a run in the tournament. Zanna played exceptional in the ACC tournament and was the difference in Pitt's win over North Carolina with 19 points and 21 rebounds. Patterson was solid but not spectacular.  The wildcard for the Panthers is James Robinson. Robinson is often reluctant to shoot, but the Panthers need more scoring from him to make a run. Josh Newkirk has really played well over the past month and has seen his minutes increase as the season has gone on. 

              The Panthers will likely beat Colorado on Thursday. Florida will be a tough match up for Pitt if they advance. As a Pitt fan I know the game will be close, I also know Pitt will find a way to break my heart in the end. 


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

PITT Basketball


Pitt will play in their first ACC tournament tomorrow at 2 PM against either Notre Dame or Wake Forrest. The Panthers finished 23-8 overall and 11-7 in ACC play. I did not know what to expect from Pitt this year given all of the shuffling in the roster after last season. In many ways the Panthers surprised people but the also disappointed too. So many games were lost in the final minute of play. Chances to knock off  Cincinnati, Virginia, Syracuse, and North Carolina were there and slipped away in heartbreaking fashion. If they had managed to win just a few of those games the perception of this team would be vastly different.

So the question is what to expect from this team in the ACC and NCAA tournament? The answer is, anything. This team could lose in their first round games in each tournament. They could also make a nice run in both. We don't know how the NCAA tournament draw will be but the ACC draw is actually pretty good for Pitt. They would not have to face Duke until the title game. The only team that is a terrible match up for the Panthers. North Carolina in the second round is a tough draw but Pitt [played them well in the game at Chapel Hill.

The Panthers will need Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna to play aggressive to make any noise this postseason. Zanna has a habit of disappearing against physical teams. he only scored 5 points against the Tarheels in the first game. Michael Young seemed to hit a freshman wall late in the year but has played better the past few games. Point guard James Robinson is steady but the Panthers need him to be more of a playmaker instead of just a game manager. Cameron Wright has been very steady this year and at times looks like an all ACC talent. Pitt will also need help from the bench. the most important player could be Josh Newkirk who has been playing very well of late and could really give a boost to an offense that struggles at time.


It's March once again and the Panthers are going to surprise us or disappoint us in the tournament, or like most of the year they will do both


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

PITT Loses ACC Opener





Pitt lost 41-13 to Florida State on Monday night. It was the first game for Pitt in the ACC and was a huge national stage that Pitt could not take advantage of. Pitt fans have grown accustom to Pitt not preforming well when the bright lights are on. Despite the score and the Seminoles's dominance there was some good to take away from the game.

Pitt played 18 true or redshirt freshman. This is a very young team and the experience of getting playing time against a top ten opponent will only help the development of the young guys.

Tyler Boyd looks every bit the playmaker that he was at Clairton. Boyd had 151 total yards on a limited number of touches. 

The offensive line did not play that badly and at times played well against a very good defensive front. Savage was sacked a few times but for the most part had time to throw the ball. I thought he was a bit late on a few of his throws and decisions. He does throw a much better ball than Tino but he needs to be smarter with the football and quicker with his decisions.

Pitt's defense and especially the secondary was awful. Not sure if it was a scheme issue or just bad play  but I would guess it was a combination of both. Florida State receivers were wide open all night and there were a number of missed tackles. The Panthers got little pressure on Jameis Winston and the freshman quarterback made them pay. Pitt played the run pretty decent with a number of tackles for loss by the defensive front.

Pitt will get better but there is a clear and wide talent gap between Pitt and the elite team in the ACC. This will only be fixed with stability and recruiting. Chryst will need to time to get his players into the system and will need to land elite skill position players to get Pitt back into the top 25. 


Friday, June 21, 2013

Penguins Roster Decisions




The Penguins roster will look a bit different heading into the 2013-14 season.  

Marc Andre Fleury
Chance of staying 97%

Many have suggested that the Penguins trade Fleury and go with Voukon. That is not likely to happen, Voukon will be 37 in a few weeks. Fleury has not been great in the playoffs but was solid all year and has won a cup.

Kris Letang
Chance of staying 40%

Letang is in the final year of his deal and is reportedly asking for $7 million per year for his next contract. Letang is a great offensive defenseman but is not great on the power play and was awful in defense in the playoffs. The Penguins could trade him and receive a good return. Whatever they choose to do with Letang will directly affect everyone else on this list.

Pascal Dupuis
Chance of staying 75%

Duper loves Pittsburgh and Crosby loves Duper. The only question is will Dupuis give the Penguins a good deal for the second time. On the open market he could get $4 million a year. The Penguins will likely be looking in the $3 million range.

Jarome Iginla
Chance of staying 35%

I think Jarome would like to stay in Pittsburgh and try to win a cup, but does it work from a financial standpoint? He could probably find a team that will over pay for him but Jarome has made his money and may sign on the cheap to make another cup run.

Brandon Morrow
Chance of staying 1%

Not sure there is much interest on either side

Douglas Murray
Chance of staying 5%

I think the only way that Murray stays is if the Penguins trade Letang and need another defenseman. Even if that happens I think the Pens look elsewhere.

Tyler Kennedy
Chance of staying 15%

There is no way that the Penguins will give Tyler Kennedy the $2 million a year he was making. However, another team might and he may be a top 6 forward on another team. Those may be two factors that lead Kennedy out of town.

Craig Adams
Chance of staying 25%

Adams had a very steady playoff run especially on the penalty kill and is a guy the Penguins should try to get re-signed.

Matt Cooke
Chance of staying 50%

Cooke really is more than just a goon. he has a unique skill set and the Penguins are a better team with him. His reputation may keep some teams away from him but it will come down to money for the Penguins.

Mark Eaton
Chance of staying 20%

Eaton was solid all year long but with Despres and Burtuzzo likely getting a bigger role Eaton could be the odd man out.




Thursday, June 6, 2013

Penguins on Brink of Elimination




The Penguins now find themselves down 3-0 against the Boston Bruins after last nights heartbreaking double overtime loss.  Unlike last years disappointing first round exit this series has been about the Pens inability to score goals. The Bruins have held the Penguins to just two goals in 11 periods. That is astonishing given the offensive firepower the Penguins posses. Crosby, Malkin, and Letang have failed to register a single point. The Penguins have managed to ring the post a ton in the series but close does not count in hockey.

Give the Bruins some credit, they have essential shut down Sidney Crosby and Rask has been outstanding in goal. The Penguins played their best hockey of the series last night but it was not good enough to get the win. The season which had so much promise just a week ago has turned sour. The Pens need a miracle to win the series. Do you believe in miracles?


Thursday, April 25, 2013

With the 17th Pick the Steelers select.....




After a disappointing 8-8 season the Steelers hold the 17th pic in this years draft to be held later today. With so many positions of need it is hard to predict what the Steelers do. The most common names have been Georgia LB Jarvis Jones, Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert, and Texas S Kenny Vaccaro.  Jones seems to be the most common choice from the so called experts. The Steelers could take West Virginia WR Tavon Austin or Utah DT Star Lotulelei if they fall but that is unlikely. So my prediction.... Tyler Eifert. Heath Miller will not be ready to start the season and may not be ready all year. Most NFL teams are going to two TE sets and Eifert can also line up at receiver. It is harder to find a top tier TE than a WR. For the record i would love for Austin to fall to the Steelers.


Friday, March 29, 2013

A Day and a Night as a Penguins fan




The Pittsburgh Penguins have now won 14 hockey games in a row after beating the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 on Thursday Night. The performance was dominating in every aspect of the game and the score could have easily been 8-0 if not for some outstanding goaltending by the Jet's Al Montoya. The Penguins outshot the Jet's 43-20 and did not even have a power play opportunity. As impressive as the performance was on the ice the performance by the Penguins front office off the ice has been just as solid.

Last night around 12:40 I checked my Twitter timeline and saw that Jarome Iginla had been traded to the Boston Bruins. I will admit I was a little concerned that the Bruins had finally added some firepower that they needed to win the East. This morning as I checked my Twitter timeline I saw a tweet by the Pittsburgh Penguins that everyone was on the ice expept for Letang and Iginla.  I thought well of course he is not on the ice he plays for the Bruins. Then I looked deeper into my timeline and saw that Iginla was indeed a Penguins. My next thought was well who did they have to give up to get him. Then I saw the trade and immediately crowned Ray Shero a Jedi Knight. Shero obtained Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrow, and Douglas "Crankshaft" Murray for some draft picks one good prospect and two prospects that would never make the Penguins roster. 

The Penguins as currently constructed may be every bit as good as the 92-93 Penguins team, maybe even better. We all know what happened to that team in the playoffs. Hopefully history does not repeat itself this time around.