Monday, March 9, 2009

The Weekend Recap

It has been a wild run the past couple days in Pittsburgh, lots and lots of little yet exciting things worth talking about

-As I mentioned, I attended my final game in the Oakland Zoo Saturday afternoon against the UConn Huskies. I already talked at length about that game, but it bears repeating: This was one of the best games I've ever been to. The only others I can think of that were even in the same stratosphere were last year's WVU thriller and the 2006 game against Notre Dame when Chris Quinn exploded all over a porous Pitt D for 37 points before the Panthers won it in double OT. Those two games were thrilling because they went down to the wire and had incredibly exciting endings (multiple endings in the ND game's case). This one was thrilling more because of the raucous crowd (the loudest I have ever heard it for an entire game) and the incredibly high level of play.

-I've said it before and I'll say it again: This is as good of a squad as Pitt can ever really hope to have. Sure, the incoming recruit talent level keeps going up, but this squad is perfectly constructed for a big run this month. A spectacular point guard, a dangerous scorer from the wing and a bullish inside man capable of taking over a game at any time lead the charge. They are supported by a defense-first, rebounding grinder who can guard anyone, a slashing 2 guard who is an absolute lockdown defender, two athletic bench guys who can step up at any time and take over starter's minutes and a sharshooting backup guard who can drill it from long range. If this team doesn't break that Sweet 16 barrier (and for the record I think that they easily will) then what Pitt squad will?

-The Big East tournament gets fired up this week, and I really couldn't be any more excited about it. I'll even go so far as to watch the opening round games on the Internet on Tuesday. Should be a grand old time.

-I know I wrote a column and updated it yesterday and everything with this information, but how in the hell does Levance Fields only make it to the third team on the All Big East squads? That is an absolute joke and shows how stupid the Big East coaches really are. Even worse, TWO point guards made it ahead of him. A.J. Price and Jonny Flynn both got outplayed up and down the court by Fields when their teams met. They couldn't carry Levance's jockstrap. That is just downright stupidity and I feel like Calhoun and Boeheim are somehow the root of this conspiracy, though that might just be because of my blinding hatred of both. What a joke.

-While we are on the subject, how dumb is it that the teams are chosen with no regard whatsoever for the positions on the floor? That's insanity. The All Big East first team has a center, 2 power forwards, 2 small forwards and a shooting guard. You know what would happen if that team sat down one of those guys (there are 6 on the first team) and played Pitt or UConn or Louisville in some sort of video game simulation? The All Big East team would get crushed because THEY HAVE NO POINT GUARD!!!! They would have to move McNeal to the point, play Terrance Williams at the 2 and would probably sit down Luke Harangoy (no I didn't misspell his name, I spelled it that way because there is no D in that guy). The second and third team are structured the same way with 2 point guards a shooting guard a small forward and a power forward who really isn't a power forward. Why not structure the All Conference squads at least sort of like a real time with a point guard, a shooting guard, a small forward, and 2 power forwards/ centers. Why did I structure it as two power forward/ centers? Because there really is only like 4 centers in the whole league, the other teams just start power forwards at the center position. So considering that, here's what I think the teams should look like:

First Team
1 Levance Fields
2 Jerel McNeal
3 Terrance Williams
4 DeJuan Blair
5 Hasheem Thabeet

Second Team
1 Jonny Flynn
2 Wesley Matthews
3 Sam Young
4 Dante Cunningham
5 Luke Harangody

Third Team
1 A.J. Price
2 Earl Clark
3 Da'Sean Butler
4 Jeff Adrien
5 Greg Monroe

Now don't you feel much better about these teams than the other, mismatched squads? I know I do.

-Things are ho-humming along down in Bradenton. One of the stories I read in the paper the other day talked about the Pirates ideally looking to put Nyjer Morgan in the leadoff spot in the lineup. The lineup would likely look a little something like this:
LF Morgan
2B Sanchez
CF McLouth
C Doumit
1B LaRoche
RF Moss
3B LaRoche
SS Wilson
P Maholm

Ugh. I don't even want Morgan to start, let alone get to the plate more often than anyone else on the roster. I was going to go ahead and write something about this, and if they do end up putting Morgan in the leadoff spot, I probably will anyway, but Bucs Dugout beat me to it and said everything and more that I wanted to say. I'm not going to repeat him (at least not yet) so check his stuff out if you want to see what I mean.

-Pitt football released their schedule for the 2009 season, and it seems like a solid slate. There are not 1 not 2 but 3 Friday games, but thankfully they are all away. Personally, I loathe the Friday games and think they diminish what the Big East has tried to accomplish the past few years, but whatever. 1 of the Friday games is the day after Thanksgiving against WVU and I have no problem with that, as that is kind of a cool day for a game. There are 7 home games on the schedule in all, and for once, half the home slate isn't in August and September. They get the token creampuff Youngstown State on September 5 to open the season and then get Navy on September 19. They then get a few weeks away from Heinz Field and play UConn October 10, South October 24, Syracuse November 7, Notre Dame (!) November 14 and Cincinnati December 5. The non-conference schedule also includes road trips to Buffalo (uhm what?) and North Carolina State (solid).

-The Steelers lost Bryant McFadden yesterday to the Arizona Cardinals. Can't say I am surprised, as B-Mc is a solid corner in a market that loves to overpay for corners. However, I was surprised by the contract. McFadden got just a 2 year 10 million dollar contract. I really am surprised that is the best he could do on the open market. I was beginning to get a bit optimistic that maybe he might return, as many teams have already spent a bundle this offseason and somehow McFadden had been passed over and that the Steelers might get him back at a reasonable price. While I don't think 5 million a year is reasonable, I find myself wondering what the Steelers' best offer for McFadden was. I mean what would he have rather signed for: 2 years 10 million with 5 guaranteed or say, 4 years 16 million with 8 mil guaranteed? I don't know what he would have chosen, but the total package in the second option certainly has its upside.

-Speaking of Steelers off-season stuff, here's an interview to check out over at Whatcha Talkin Bout with massive Steelers tackle Max Starks. Definitely worth a listen. There are actually quite a few audio clips over there worth checking out.

-There was an incredibly exciting game of puck yesterday afternoon between the Pens and one of their biggest archrivals, the Washington Capitals. It was a tremendous game, and it was especially vindicating to watch Sidney Crosby steal the show and be the star of the day after the issues last game between Sid and Ovechkin. AO was his usual overly aggressive and pompous self on the ice, and at times I think that hurts the Caps more than it helps. It was also good to see the Pens storm into Washington and get the W and for Sid to be the one to rub it in their faces after the Caps fans tried their best to taunt him. I just love it when fairweather fans like those Caps losers try to act like they are all hardcore. Please. I've been to games in D.C. and seen countless others on TV and this is probably one of the very rare times I've ever seen the Caps fan outnumber Pens fans. And it goes well beyond the ice rink. Remember the absolute no-show by the Skins fans when the Steelers turned their gigantic stadium into Heinz Field south last November? That was tremendous, and spoke volumes about the "support" Washington fans give their teams.

-I've turned into a scoreboard-watching, standing-checking addict the past week or so, and expect that to continue. Coming into this week, here's how things look right now with just 15 games to go for the Pens this season. Here's how things are shaping up right now.
Obviously the Pens have played 1 more game than any of the 3 teams ahead of them, but they also have played the same amount of games as the team 1 point behind them and they are 3 points ahead of Buffalo who has played 1 less game. So they are unquestionably sitting in 8th place right now. That's pretty solid considering where things were a few weeks back.

-We'll finish things up with a bit of a personal anecdote: I'm on spring break this week, and because I have no money and need to interview for some jobs, I'm not in Florida or Mexico or anything. Instead I'm in a weird flex situation between Oakland and my parents' house. It is definitely a pretty strange existence. Oakland is downright deserted, and to tell you the truth I really enjoy it this way. I was at the bar Saturday night and it was maybe 50% of what it typically is and I figure I might be the only person in the house when I head to Hemingway's or Peter's tonight.

So instead of getting hammered every night and running around South Beach with a bunch of similarly aged people on Spring Break, I am laying low in Oakland until I have to head to Philly Wednesday for an interview. I have nothing else to do, so I've started doing some reading. I am now working on Slaughterhouse-Five. I've wanted to read this for some time and am enjoying it so far, though it is definitely a bit strange. Anyone out there have any thoughts on it? Let me know if you do.

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