Archive for March, 2009

Are You A Football Player?

Posted on March 31, 2009. Filed under: Life, NFL | Tags: |

IT FEELS GOOD . . .

Have you ever had a random stranger come up to you and tell you you look just like a celebrity?  It makes you walk with a little more swagger, have a little more confidence.  I get the “you know who you look like?  Mariah Carey!”  All the time . . .

But this isn’t about me.

As my husband, Jason, and I were in Aspinwall, a small town in Pittsburgh, doing drive-bys of several houses we saw on the market, and you know you have to do that before wasting your time scheduling a tour because the pictures always LIE and this house ended up having a highway as its “privacy fence”.  I can’t stand the leading on of home buying sites.  Why not just say, “bumps up against a huge hill that although it might shift and take out your kitchen at any moment, is full of gorgeous greenery, and the highway next door provides lovely background music’?

But this isn’t about our house hunting. 

So after the letdown of thinking we were going to see our dream house, we were driving around the cobble stone streets as the wrought iron lamp posts were just about to come on and children were outside playing, when all of a sudden we hear shouts of “WAIT!  WAIT!”  Of course we pay no attention, thinking these kids were yelling at someone else, and kept driving around the block.  But we continued to hear “WAIT! WAIT!” so my husband slows down and looks back out of his window and three young boys around eight or nine years old, were  chasing our truck . . . odd.  We thought that they needed help or maybe the ball they were playing with had gotten stuck to our vehicle.

But no . . .

The kids finally catch up to us and say “Are you Ben Roethlisberger?”

We look at each other and start cracking up!  Jason turns around and says “Sorry guys, unfortunately I am not Ben Roethlisberger.”

“Are you a football player?” 

To their immense disappointment, he replied “Nope, I can’t say that I am.”

As the kids walked away, dejected, Jason turned to me and said, “That really made my day.”

And it hasn’t been the first time someone has said that he looks like Big Ben . . . eventhough he’s about 6 inches shorter.  You decide: 

Big Ben

Big Ben

 

Jason aka "Little Ben"

Jason aka "Little Ben"

Good times . . .
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Pitt Doesn’t Like FREE Points

Posted on March 29, 2009. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA | Tags: , , , , , , |

Is this how Memphis fans felt last year after coming oh so close to the championship just to have Mario Chalmers make a miracle shot to send it into overtime and then take the title right out of John Calipari’s hands after he swore up and down that his players didn’t have to be good at the FREE throw line because they would always come through when the stakes were highest?  The Tigers shot 63% from the stripe while Kansas sunk 93% during that game . . .

Is it something about the Pittsburgh Panthers’ team philosophy where they have to make everything tough?  They don’t want it to come easy?  Does this team have a mental block against sinking FREE throws?  It’s not like they don’t count as much because they aren’t contested shots – they are FREE . . .

I get that this game was to reach the Final Four and not for the National title, however for Pitt’s players and fandom everywhere, it stings.  Granted, the Panthers improved on their pathetic 67.6% team average for the season by going 21 -for-29 and shooting 72.4% but that doesn’t matter when your opponent is over 95% from the FREE throw line.

Yet there Levance Fields stood with two shots to tie the game with 5.5 seconds left and he sinks them both.  Why couldn’t his  teammates have that calm, cool and collected presence at the line throughout the game? 

I said in my Elite Eight Expectations blog that these things had to happen for the Panthers to have a chance to win:

Connect on more shots – they shot 48.1% CHECK

Not turn the ball over as much – Levance Fields went turnover-less and the team had 11 total CHECK

Stay out of foul trouble – No starter had more than three personal fouls – CHECK

But I forgot to mention the damn FREE throws. 

The Panthers were better than Villanova in every one of those categories but one.  You guessed it . . . friggin FREE THROWS!

ARGGHHHH!

Samy Young Consoles Levance Fields After Pitts 78-76 Loss To Villanova

Sam Young Consoles Levance Fields After Pitt's 78-76 Loss To Villanova

I feel sad for the seniors who really had a chance this year to win the title, Tyrell Biggs, Sam Young and Levance Fields.  There’s no doubt Sam Young will go to the NBA.  Maybe Tyrell Biggs plays in Europe.  But I truly hope to see Levance Fields playing for the Association.  He is small in stature, but huge in heart and toughness.  He almost Levanced his team with more late game heroics, but this time it didn’t work out the way it usually does for Pitt. 

Turns out those FREE throws were pretty darn costly . . .

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Elite Eight Expectations

Posted on March 28, 2009. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

BACK IN DA ‘BURGH . . . After a victorious Sweet Sixteen performance by the Pittsburgh Panthers, an equally as victorious appearance speaking at The Harvard Club in Boston, and a bumpy flight home, I am ready to watch the hopefully more competitive Elite Eight action with just one thing to say . . .

Told you Missouri would beat Memphis

During my March Madness Preview radio show www.blogtalkradio.com/stacyonsports that was the one pick that raised the eyebrows of bracketeers.  Now Mizzou’s match up with Connecticut will be one of the more intriguing games to watch on my list.  With the Huskies rolling through the first three rounds, the Tigers’ full court press and high flying offense will be a pace that Calhoun’s players aren’t used to playing.  Memphis spent much of the second half doubled over in exhaustion, and they ARE comfortable running for 40 minutes.  Missourui Coach Mike Anderson rotates players in and out with none averaging more than 28 minutes per game, so his guys are always fresh and looking to wear out the opponent.  Huskies’ point guard, AJ Price has been efficient and will need to continue to play mistake free to keep Missouri out of their transition game to survive.  Hasheem Thabeet is a force, but not if he has to be on the run. 

PLAYER TO WATCH:  Connecticut’s Stanley Robinson, who has been averaging  15 points 7 rebounds during his three tournament games, and CAN run the floor and finish strong. 

Of course, the other three Elite Eight games aren’t so shabby themselves:

PAYBACK GAME?  Villanova is a small team, but plays big with their guards turning the drive and dish into an artform as they pummeled Duke into their worst lost since UNLV beat them by 30 in the 1990 national title game.  Duke lived and ultimately died at the arc this year because they have no interior presence.  The same can not be said about the Wildcats’ next opponent, the familiar Pittsburgh Panthers, who has the top offensive rebounder in the country, DeJuan Blair patrolling the paint.  Villanova beat the Panthers as they closed down the Spectrum in Philadelphia back on Jan 28th, forcing Blair to the bench in foul trouble, limiting him to only 20 minutes on the floor.  These two only met once this year and with the sour taste of that loss in their mouths, and the pressure of not being able to break the Sweet Sixteen ceiling finally off their minds, Jamie Dixon’s squad can finally get back to playing good basketball, because they haven’t yet in this tournament.  Uncharacteristically turning the ball over and missing shots in the paint will NOT lead to an opportunity for late game heroics from Levance Fields against Jay Wright’s squad who IS playing good basketball. 

KEY TO THE GAME:  Panthers have to improve on their paltry 34% shooting against Xavier.  Watch for Villanova’s guards to get Pitt’s bigs in foul trouble early.     

IZZO vs. PITINO:  Louisville looks unstoppable with their uptempo full court press that induced a  39 point thrashing of Arizona, propelling Pitino’s crew to the round of eight.  Michigan State grinded out a win against defending Champions, Kansas, and will need to slow down the Cardinals and take care of the basketball against a swarming Louisville defense.  Similar to the challenge facing the Huskies, State needs to be sure not to let their opponents get out in transition.  Louisville’s Terrence Williams has gotten better and more confident as the season wore on and can do a lot of damage from ANYWHERE on the court.  After being snubbed for Big East Player of the Year, he seems to be playing with a chip on his shoulder and that does not bode well for the Spartans.  This is going to be a game of depth and athleticsim versus contolled tempo and ball security.

KEY TO THE GAME:  With two tournament tested head coaches pulling the strings, execution and taking advantage of mistakes will determine who wins.  

THE SELECTION COMMITTEE WINS:  This is the game everyone was hoping to see in the South Region.  Last year’s Player of the Year, Tyler Hansbrough, versus this year’s imminent Naismith award winner, Blake Griffin.  Against Syracuse, Griffin put in his usual day at the office with 30 points and 14 boards, while the Orange couldn’t get their dangerous outside shooting game started, only going 7-for-24 from behind the arc.  North Carolina fared much better against Gonzaga, sinking 11 of their 19 attempts from downtown, and with Ty Lawson in mid-season form the Tar Heels should give Oklahoma’s defense, that played well forcing 18 Syracuse turnovers with 11 steals, a much tougher challenge.  The Tyler Hansbrough – Blake Griffin match up will be one to watch as both teams can score and run the court.  Expect this to be a high scoring game.

PLAYER TO WATCH:  Oklahoma’s sharp shooting Tony Crocker, who had 28 points against the Orange, but only 8 in his previous two tournament games combined.  If he stays hot and North Carolina pays too much attention to Blake Griffin, the Tar Heels could get burned.

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Survive and Levance . . .

Posted on March 27, 2009. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA | Tags: , , , |

Once again, the point guard with nerves of steel, the point guard who turned the ball over more than his nation-leading 4 to 1 assist to turnover ratio during his last Sweet 16 performance, Levance Fields, puts the ball in his own hands when the game is on the line.

And it pays off . . .

With the TD Banknorth Garden only three-quarters of the way full during the first game, and fans trickling in to cheer on Duke and Villanova in the second game, which turned out to literally be a SNOOZER anyway, Levance Fields orchestrated his usual “I am the MAN” moment, draining a three pointer with less than a minute left then stealing the rock and laying in the nail in the proverbial coffin.

What a nail biter!

We had a great time although I expected MORE of a Pittsburgh contingent to represent . . .

AND I did actually fall asleep during the Villanova / Duke game.  If you saw it, you would understand why.  Anyway, will get into more detail on our Boston adventres, and there are more, a bit later.  It’s 3AM and I am even more sleepy . . .

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Cheers To FATE!

Posted on March 26, 2009. Filed under: Basketball, Beer, NCAA | Tags: , , |

image_116

Of course while in Boston, you must do what the Bostonians don’t do . . . eat and drink at CHEERS!

Proudly sporting our University of Pittsburgh gear, we indulged in a Sam Adams, in a souvenir mug of course, and while waiting for Norm to walk through the door so I could let out a loud “NORM!”, a tall silver haired man stopped by our table to say hi . . . It was none other than Univeristy of Pittsburgh’s Athletic Director, Steve Pederson.

Along with him was Sports Information Director, E.J. Borghetti, who my husband had worked with while at KDKA radio, so we struck up a conversation with them, bought them a beer, and now have an invite to take a private tour around the Peterson Events Center back in the ‘Burgh!

Our trip couldn’t be going any better . . . time to go to my speaking event and then it’s time for the game!

LET’S GO PITT!!!!

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Helping Out The Competition . . .

Posted on March 25, 2009. Filed under: MLB, NBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL | Tags: , , |

FOX Sports Sky Bar Broadcasting ESPN ONLY

FOX Sports Sky Bar Broadcasting ESPN ONLY

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BEERlaxin’

Posted on March 25, 2009. Filed under: Beer, MLB, NBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL | Tags: , , |

Touched down in Boston and decided, as I would at 2:30pm on a weekday, to have a brew at the FOX Sports Sky Box Bar . . .

 

What struck me as funny was that they had ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNews on their 16 televisions, BUT NO FOX SPORTS!

 

As Pitt is having an open – translation, FREE – practice at TD Banknorth Garden, we are hanging at the airport FOX bar that does not have ANY FOX broadcast showing . . .

 

As an aside, airport bars should be careful before they get arrested for RAPE – we had 4 beers and our tab was $28.31

YIKES!  Updating you on more Boston adventures tomorrow . . .

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Our Tickets Are Not Stolen!

Posted on March 25, 2009. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA |

So . . . my husband and I are waiting for our plane to Boston.  As fate would have it, we had a prebooked business trip for Thursday.  Yes, the same Thursday when Pitt is playing Xavier and Villanova is playing Duke in Beantown for the Sweet Sixteen matchups  . . . how lucky are we?

We splurged and extended our trip a day, spent the extra cash to make it happen!

How crazy is that?  We happened to already be in Boston, the Panthers make it to the Sweet Sixteen and are placed in the East bracket where they play in Boston . . .

Now I am chillin’ in the Sam Adams (Boston anyone?) bar waiting for my plane and I just called our hotel and the tickets have arrived!  WORD.

Stay tuned as I update everyone on our travels and experiences with the NCAA tourney!  If anyone is in Cincy OR has XM satellite radio – check me out LIVE on Thursday at 6:45PM Eastern Time – I’ll be reporting in from the ACTION!

Till next time . . .

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Monday Musings . . .

Posted on March 9, 2009. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA, NFL | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Terrell Owens Signs One Year Deal With Buffalo:  I hope the Bills don’t get dizzy . . . there will be a lot of circling the wagons if Lee Evans doesn’t step aside and make room for the T.O. sideshow.  Sure, the Bills were smart by only giving him a one year deal since he has traditionally flourished during that first year of a new deal.  Call it the “I T.O.’ed you so” year.  The “I’ll prove I am not a troublemaker and I can fit in” year.  The bottom line is that Buffalo showed glimpses of relative goodness last year, but it’s frigid in northern NY the deeper we get into the NFL season, and Owens is going to realize that playing catch up to New England, an improved Miami team, and a new look Jets squad led by a rookie head coach on a mission, is not going to warm his soul very much. 

Why will they be playing catch up?  After going 7-9 for the last three seasons, the Bills need a lot more help than just an egotistical wide receiver.  Marshawn Lynch just pled guilty to gun possession charges last Thursday and received 36 months of probation.  He wasn’t disciplined by the NFL for his hit and run stunt last year, so he will surely miss games at the start of the season for Buffalo.

Marshawn Lynch In His Finest Hour BuffaloNews.com

Marshawn Lynch In His Finest Hour BuffaloNews.com

Their Defense was putrid when it came to getting to the quarterback – the recorded 23 sacks ALL YEAR.  Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware almost out sacked the Bills himself with an NFL best, 20 sacks.  

So is T.O. taking Buffalo back to the postseason for the first time in 10 years?  I doubt it.  Will he ever win a championship?  Kinda ironic if he doesn’t, dontcha think?    

The Big East Regular Season Lived Up To The Hype:  The Pittsburgh Panthers swept the season series against UConn with a dominating win on Saturday.  There’s talk about how the Huskies bounced back from a 14 point deficit in the second half, however Pitt absorbed it and went on an impressive run complete with defensive toughness, fast breaks and alley oops to seal the deal.   Just another day at the office for Pitt who is a lock for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, the first in school history.  Madison Square Garden hosts the conference tourney again this year and it jumps off March 10th, with all but four of the teams playing the first two rounds.  Louisville, Pitt, UConn and Villanova have two-round byes and will be well rested as they enter into the cage match that will be reminiscent of an MMA event to be sure.  Pitt has been to the Championship game seven of the last eight years and their 2009 squad is their toughest yet, so only time, or officiating, will tell . . .

Jaguars WR Matt Jones Gets Pinched AGAIN:  After escaping with a slap on the wrist for felony cocaine possession and serving a 3 game suspension from the NFL last year, Matt Jones just can’t say no to drugs.  Monday he was arrested for the same exact offense, in the same exact place.   Good ‘ol Washington County, Arkansas where he was a star QB . . . I guess who won’t need his Razor back anytime soon . . .

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T.O. is Told to G.O.

Posted on March 5, 2009. Filed under: NFL | Tags: , , , , , , , |

So it has come to this . . . THANK GOODNESS 

Ever since the implosion that took place last December at Heinz field where Pitsburgh’s 10 fourth quarter points were topped off by Deshea Townsend’s pick six of Tony Romo’s errant pass directed to Jason Witten, and I am a Dallas Cowboys fan who witnessed it first hand, I knew Terrell Owens was going to crack.

It’s kinda like this – you’re cruising down the highway and all of a sudden TING!  A random pebble that flew out of a dumptruck driven by someone who just didn’t care enough to secure his load properly, hits your windshield and now there’s an itty bitty nick staring you in the face.  And it won’t be long until just the right bump in the road or frigid morning urges that itty bitty annoying nick to become a huge crack running across the glass threatening to split your windshield in two, destroying your ability to see clearly and drive anywhere . . .

After that day in Pittsburgh, T.O. (otherwise known as the nick) began to slowly crack the windshield of the Cowboys in two.  He went from crying over Tony Romo, sobbing “that’s not fair.  We lose as a team.  That’s my quarterback” . . .

To accusing Romo and Witten of clandestine game planning and play creation designed to keep him out of the offense and then recruiting teammates to take his side.  With their playoff lives on the line, in a win and in situation, the drama culminated in an embarrassing ass whooping handed to them by the Eagles.  The flippin Philadelphia Eagles of all teams!  

This had to happen.  Jerry Jones obviously had to be persuaded to make this move because he just swallowed a cool 9 million dollars against the salary cap.  Plus, I do believe Jones actually wanted to see the divisive receiver succeed and feed the ego machine that is T.O.  Remember, Jerry Jones has a PR fetish and loves superstar marketing pawns and T.O. is that media magnet that gives him the chills. 

You did good, Jerry . .  you did good.  

On the flipside, the Cowboys save 3.1 million bucks because of a bonus Terrell Owens was due to receive in June and can begin repairing the fiber of the team that has been shredded.  Like it was in Philadelphia.  Like it was in San Fransico.     

Now the door is open for wide receiver Roy Williams to step up and earn the #1 spot vacated by T.O.  Hopefully Williams hasn’t been poisoned by buying whatever Owens was selling last season and he will come to camp wanting to prove that he can be a reliable and exciting receiver.  I also hope he can outperform Owens on third downs, where he only caught a paltry 35% of the passes thrown in his direction last year.  Dallas needs a clutch receiver who won’t drop the ball.  Or destroy the lockerroom chemistry, for that matter.

The bottom line is that T.O. is on the downside of his career.  After his worst statistical season of his career, and granted Brad Johnson’s three starts at QB didn’t give him too much of a chance to rack up the stats, but at 35 years old, it is a good a time as any to part ways. 

A word to the wise . . . any team considering signing Owens better be sure their load is secured properly and their windshield is immune to those annoying little nicks.  They tend to crack at the most inopportune times . . .

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