Monday, March 21, 2011

Around The Horn: 3-21-11

Well, that was a pretty shitty weekend. I have been on somewhat of a break from the blogging and not getting too in depth into stuff. Football season took it out of me a lot and with the Pirates and Steelers draft stuff coming up I really didn't feel like forcing anything that I didn't want to write just to throw something up there to fill space. That isn't why I do this and to be honest that would be insulting the people that do come down here to read things if I did that. It has been nice to take some time off and catch my breath and enjoy laying on the couch.

I used to throw up an Around The Horn post every once in a while with some quality links and stuff and I think I would like to try and do that a little more since I don't always focus the teams out of season. When it is football season I am heavy Steelers, when it turns to hockey I usually focus on Penguins and the same in the summer with the Steelers. I would love to cover all them all year round the same amount but as a sole "writer" of this blog I just don't have that kind of time and I like keeping it pretty simple. Whatev. So here are some thoughts on some things:

Pitt Panthers

I typically don't do a ton of college stuff, but if you have followed me on twitter (which you should) you know I am a huge supporter of Pitt in pretty much everything. Even know they kinda blew in football I still watched and cheered them on and their basketball is the only resemblance of what we could talk about a professional team here. Thus, this was a pretty shitty weekend.

If you were under a rock for the past four days or so you would need to know that the Panthers lost in the round of 32 to Butler. Now, for a lot of people running their mouths this is nothing knew. Hearing choke and can't win the big one and blah blah blah. This was a particularly hard loss to take. Really hard loss to take. This is arguably one of the best Pitt teams they have had that I can remember (I am 25 and have watched a lot of Pitt so I have an idea). I was a homer and picked them to win the whole thing, but I knew that might not happen, but I had no doubt in my mind that this was a Final 4 team.

They had won the Big East in pretty convincing fashion and went toe to toe with the toughest competition they faced and usually ended up winning. Sure, they had some early exits before, but that had little to do with this game, in my opinion. College teams turn over so much that you can't really use that. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you overachieve, sometimes you underachieve. It happens. If things worked out according to seeds and projections then you wouldn't need to play. In a one-and-done format anything can happen, and it did.

To me, this wasn't a choke, this was a loss. Sure Butler was an eight seed and the Panthers were a top seed, but I think we all knew that if Pitt was going to make that Final 4 run that the winner of the ODU/Buter first round game was probably going to be the Panthers toughest opponents. It happened to be Butler, and they were.

If before the game I told you that you were coaching Pitt and you were guaranteed to shoot 56% from the field, make two more field goals than Butler, one more free throw and out rebound them by 11 how many times out of 100 would you take that and say you were going to win? Probably 100 times. All it takes it one bad half or one hot team to beat you when you pull out stats like that.

Butler was lights out in the first half and although Pitt played pretty well Butler hit pretty much everything they shot, even what seemed like every three point shot. Pitt was down by eight at the half, but you still felt pretty good. Pitt came out and quickly erased the deficit and you felt really good. Veteran team that is good at winning games. You know how it went down though. I don't have to tell you about how the game ended. Giving up the lay up with 2.2 seconds left of Gil Brown somehow getting fouled or Nas fouling Howard after Gil missed the second shot. It sucks. It hurt. It fuels the choke theory.

Look, this was not a choke. The Panthers played a pretty good game. Were mistakes made? Hell yea. The recent past of Pitt in the NCAA tournament fuels that chokers mentality that everyone talks about. Butler was one shot away from winning the whole thing last year and people talk as if they lost to DePaul. Sure it sucks, sure they should have been a Final 4 team, but in a one and done scenario sometimes a team out plays you.

The seniors on that team deserve better. They do. They had amazing careers and they came a long way. It was a joy to watch them and I have no doubt that they kids that return next year will carry on a legacy that they did when they came to the city. It's just how it is. A loss this past weekend should not tarnish a great career. It doesn't in my eyes.

If you want Jamie Dixon fired or let go then go cheer for DePaul or South Florida. Jokes.

Pittsburgh Penguins

-Man, just when you thought it couldn't get much worse after the Pitt loss then you came to the Penguins the next day. Matt Cooke does some stupid shit, the Penguins take a lead on the PK and then the flood games open. Penguins let up two goals in like five seconds and it was all down hill.

Matt Cooke just got the boom laid down on him with a 10 game suspension plus the first round of the playoffs (anywhere from 4-7 games).

-Ray Shero made some comments that were pretty refreshing to see. He, and Disco, pretty much said it wasn't right and said the right things as they have preached the past couple of weeks.

Ok, he got the suspension. It's over. I am done with it.

-How sick is Sidney Crosby? Even when he is just skating and stick handling he is a beast. Don't believe me? Check it out:

-Outside of that we have 10 games to go in the season (before the game tonight). Here is what the playoff stuff looks like:

So the Penguins are pretty much in, but in order to get that home ice advantage they are going to have to do some work. Here is what the Penguins have left:

Going to be a frantic finish. The Flyers have a game in hand and they are six points up. Have to win both games against those clowns. Then it could get really interesting considers the Penguins finish up with Florida, Islanders and Thrashers as three of their last four with possibly Crosby coming back. Could get really interesting.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Can you believe that the Pirates open up just over a week away. Unreal how fast the spring has gone. Just a few things to report from the Pirates camp. Nothing earth shattering with them, seems to be pretty standard as they head into the real part of the season.

-The Pirates released Garrett Atkins earlier today. Not a real surprise. Atkins really didn't do much and there just wasn't much room for him. Shouldn't be a shocker.

-Scott Olsen will start the season on the DL so Chuck Morton will get the fifth spot in the Pirates rotation. If you know me you know that I think Chuck Morton can be a huge player for this team. He had a very strong end to last season and been pretty good so far this spring so needless to say I am excited. There are people that wanted him gone and really talked trash, but now that he is throwing his pitches (sinker) it looks as if not only could he be the fifth guy on the spot but that he might be able to work as one of the best on the staff and make this rotation a lot better. Here is what Tim Kirkjian had to say about Morton's sinker. Not bad.

-This week Pat from WHYGAVS is going to be down at spring training. He already has some unreal pictures and analysis from his first day.

-I will have some sort of preview up for the Pirates hopefully by this weekend. It won't go too in depth but I do want to go over some things I have been thinking of and it should be alright. I will also be at opening day in Chicago on April 1st so make sure you are checking back and visiting me on twitter for some cool pictures and info about it.

Pittsburgh Steelers

-The Steelers are awesome.

-Go vote for Hines Ward to be on the cover of the next Madden.

-Also vote for Hines Ward on Dancing With the Stars. Never watch that stuff but I will be since Hines is in it.

-Should the Steelers trade up for Mike Pouncey? That is a huge question. If you ask me today I probably say no. There are a few holes for the Steelers to fill and if it is me I stay pat at #31 in the first round and trade up in the second round. From what I hear the draft is pretty deep with offensive lineman and defensive backs and that is what the Steelers are going for. The Steelers have a great track record of success when they trade up in the first round so I would not be against doing it, I just don't get the feeling they will go that route. Someone via the Steelers also said that they might think about trading out of the first round, which would be a different way to go that I haven't even thought of.

-New rules might hurt Ben. I don't get into saying that rule changes will drastically impact certain players, but in this case it might.

Other Awesome Stuff

-As many of you know I am a big fan of the Calvin and Hobbes comic books. Best stuff you can get your hands on. I will now start to incorporate them into some of my posts. If you don't like it then I don't care.

Leave it in the comments. Or don't.

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