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Pitt shouldn't panic, plenty of opportunities ahead -
The Pitt men's basketball team is coming off a 14-point blowout loss at Duke in its most recent outing. The loss sank Pitt's mark in the ACC to 3-3. Through its first six conference games, Pitt has demonstrated signs of inconsistency. It appears this team is still searching for something, quite possibly its identity. Panther fans do not know exactly what to expect night in and night out. However, what is known, is Pitt faces a daunting schedule over the next 4 weeks. Pitt will either play with its competition or fail. It's really that simple. Given the nature of this team and the program, I believe the Panthers are going to seize the opportunity at hand. There is too much at stake for Pitt not to. Pitt is used to playing a rigorous conference schedule. Go back to the old Big East days. This ACC is nothing new. The Panthers possess the experience, athletes, home court advantage, and the right leader to get the job done, and punch their ticket to March Madness.
Jamie Dixon will lead Pitt to an NCAA Tournament berth for the 11th time in 12 seasons as head coach. The media seems to disagree. Specifically, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PG) columnist and sports writer Ron Cook is in that boat. In a January 11 article, Cook states the Panthers do not possess “enough good players.” Really? Sophomore F Jamel Artis is coming off a career night, scoring 21 points, and has reached double figures in the past 3 ACC contests. PG columnist Paul Zeise points out Artis is embracing the scoring role. His abilities are blossoming for the Panthers, and leadership is ever apparent. Zeise writes, “Coach Jamie Dixon said Artis' slow transformation into the Panthers' top scoring threat has been an important development and a big reason they have an opportunity to make big strides offensively.” It's not just Artis who is making strides. F Michael Young has been a large contributor to Pittsburgh's rebounding. Young is average 7.6 rebounds per game. He further demonstrates exemplary versatility, both underneath and around the perimeter. At 6'9” Young is not a true “big man”. Thus, he possesses ability to shoot from the perimeter, creating match up issues for opposing guards. Young and Artis will be two key cogs in the Panthers' offense the rest of the way. The abilities these players have demonstrated will continue to guide the Panthers through ACC play. In addition, players such as Aron... [Read More]
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long and rich history and since 1970, they have won more games than any other team. Throughout that history, many players have been identified by their numbers, like Mean Joe Green and #75, Terry Bradshaw and #12, Jack Lambert and #58 and Hines Ward with his #86. All of these guys have played critical roles in helping the Steelers win Super Bowl titles, but there are a lot of other jersey numbers that helped make the Steelers what they are today, the greatest franchise in NFL history. So without further adieu, here are some of the players, throughout franchise history, who have put on a Steelers jersey, starting with jersey numbers 00 through 9.
Johnny Clement played in 26 games for the Steelers between 1946 and 1948. In his three seasons with the Steelers, Clement was a multi-threat with the ball gaining 991 yards on the ground off of 239 carries and scored 7 touchdowns. Through the air, although not very efficient, he completed 86 passes on 228 attempts for 1,630 yards, 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. The only other player to wear 0, was Jack collins in 1962.
The Kicker who wore this number is one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, South African, Gary Anderson. The Steelers signed him as a free agent for the 1982 season after he failed to catch on with the Buffalo Bills, and he went on to become the Steelers all-time leading scorer, with 1,343 points, during his 13 seasons with the team. While wearing the black and Gold, Anderson kicked 309 field goals on 395 attempts with a career long of 55 yards against San Diego on November 25, 1984. His 416 extra points are still a franchise record, as is his 420 extra point attempts.
Dennis Dixon was drafted by the Steelers out of Oregon as an intriguing Quarterback prospect in the mold of Kordell Stewart. Dixon played with the Steelers from 2008 thru 2011 and only saw action in 4 games. Dixon's lone start was a prime time start against the Baltimore Ravens where he came close to leading the Steelers to a victory. For his career with the Steelers, Dixon was 35 out of 59 for 402 yards and 1 touchdown with 2 interceptions. Other players who have worn number 2... [Read More]
Now that our offseason is officially underway and I have a little downtime, I felt like sharing some stuff that I've been keeping to myself for a while now. I'm one of those people who loves the what-ifs. I love simulating games on www.whatifsports.com and I love reading on www.alternatehistory.com. I find it fascinating to see what could have been and where people can take these kind of ideas and thoughts. Though a lot of them can get a little far-fetched, there are certainly ones that were so darn close to becoming a reality.... like this one. Hopefully you have a lot of time on your hands, as this is a big read. Enjoy the crazy ride though my alternate universe of the Steelers drafting Dan Marino.
The day is April 26, 1983 in New York City. It is day one of the 1983 NFL Draft, one that will go down is history as being one of the greatest draft classes in league history, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. John Clayton, a local sports journalist and Steelers beat-writer, is having a discussion with Steelers' Dan Rooney, one that they have every now and then. As they are talking, Clayton comes up with an idea: instead of drafting Gabriel "El Sacko" Rivera with the 21st pick, draft local golden boy Dan Marino with the pick and then trade up to the 26th pick to take Rivera, where he will still be waiting. Clayton finishes by saying "you will regret passing up on him." Dan likes the idea and takes it into the Steelers' war room, where it receives a good response. Then Chuck Noll asks a fateful question: "where did you come up with this idea?" Dan, who was "not thinking at the time", said it came from Clayton. That's when Noll, who was still mad at Clayton for the 1978 "Shouldergate", immediately dismisses the idea and locks in on his DT of the future, Gabriel Rivera.
So let's say Dan Rooney doesn't spill the beans and claims the idea for himself. Chuck Noll and the Steelers would ultimately select Pitt quarterback Dan Marino and then trade with the L.A. Raiders to get back into the first round, nabbing Noll's top player, Rivera. This would then leave the Steelers with at least four quarterbacks for the start of the season: Marino, Terry Bradshaw, Cliff Stoudt, and... [Read More]
Some may question whether the 2015 Pirates are better than the 2014 version and that is a worthwhile question whose answer is mainly a matter of opinion. However there is one aspect of the 2015 team which is unquestionably better than its counterpart on the 2014 team and that is the length and depth of the roster. The Pirates projected roster 1-25 is a deep group with few glaring weaknesses but it goes even beyond that as the Pirates will likely have a large group of serviceable players waiting in AAA should the need arise. These players are often overlooked in analyses about how good this team will be and that is reasonable because we don't know who will be called upon but without a doubt some of these guys will surely be needed.
Before we look at the Pirates depth we first need to figure out just what the likely construction of the 25 man roster is so I'm going to post my belief as to what it will look like.
C: Francisco Cervelli
1B: Pedro Alvarez
2B: Neil Walker
3B: Josh Harrison
SS: Jordy Mercer
LF: Starling Marte
CF: Andrew McCutchen
RF: Gregory Polanco
C: Chris Stewart
1B/OF: Corey Hart
IF: Jung-ho Kang
OF: Travis Snider
U: Sean Rodriguez
SP: Gerrit Cole
SP: Francisco Liriano
SP: AJ Burnett
SP: Vance Worley
SP: Charlie Morton
LR: Jeff Locke
MR: Radhames Liz
MR: Stolmy Pimentel
MR: Antonio Bastardo
SU: John Holdzkom
SU: Tony Watson
CL: Mark Melancon
That is a deep and talented 25 man roster that only a handful of teams can match or better. Behind them though is a large group of players who in past years would at the very least be competing for a roster spot and also a few prospects that could have an impact some time this season.
Tony Sanchez: We all know the back story of Sanchez but regardless of what you may think of him he is a high quality third catcher. He has shown enough offensive skills that he could be an average hitter in the majors and his defensive reputation is for the most part solid. To expand on the defensive part he is considered a good game caller, a great blocker and an average pitch framer. Of course there is one part of his game that is well below average, his throwing arm/ caught stealing. Sanchez has major problems controlling the running game and for that reason will... [Read More]
Dick LeBeau's surprise resignation has kicked off an offseason that is going to reshape the defensive side of the ball for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015. It is also the end of an Era that included the second best display of defense in franchise history that resulted in two more Lombardi Trophy's in three trips to the Super Bowl in a six year period, from 2005-2010. LeBeau's replacement came from the in house promotion of Linebacker's coach, Keith Butler, often labeled as the DC in waiting over the last three years. It would make sense if the Steelers were to promote Jerry Olsavsky to Linebacker coach to replace Butler. These changes are just the beginning as things look to get interesting on the players side of the equation.
Just as the journey in Pittsburgh has ended for Dick LeBeau, the same will be true for many of the players as well. Ike Taylor, Brett Keisel, James Harrison and Troy Polamalu have very likely also played their last game in Heinz Field. All four of them played key roles in bringing two more Lombardi Trophy's home to Pittsburgh, but the time has come to move on from them and build for the future and there is a lot of work to do with the defense.
The Defensive line showed much improvement by the end of the season, especially rookie Stephon Tuitt. Both he and Cameron Heyward look to be solid bookends for years to come. Starting DT Steve McClendon isn't spectacular but has been solid, backup Cam Thomas should be on the first one way flight out of Pittsburgh. It should not be too hard to replace him whatsoever.
At Outside Linebacker, the Steelers have only one player under contract for next season, Jarvis Jones. Jones showed improved play this season, but was derailed by a dislocated wrist while sacking Cam Newton during the Carolina game and was never truly the same afterwards. The Steelers have a few decisions to make here as well, whether to resign free agents Jason Worilds and Arthur Moats. While Worilds is certainly not worth his tag price, I'd sign him for 3yr/$20 million.
The key to the CB woes is for Cortez Allen to get back on track. The same negative things being said about him now, used to be regularly bestowed upon Willie Gay, who has turned into the second coming of DeShea Townsend so to speak. Gay was easily the best CB on the roster this year, but the contributions of Brice McCain and Antwon Blake can't be overlooked, neither can the need for their return.This position... [Read More]