Monthly Archives: February 2009

Pens 5 Blackhawks 4 (OT)

Image from espn.com

Image from espn.com

Game Recap

This is a quality win on the road, and the point we gave up doesn’t matter since its in the Western Conference, so I can’t complain too much.  However, we took a 2 goal lead into the third period and lost it.  I’m too lazy to look up the stat, but we’ve given up WAY too many late game leads this season.  I think it’s a sign of the weak defense that we’ve had all year, and that’s not good news for a team trying to make a playoff push.  But at least the offense seems to be clicking more as of late.  Plus, Chris Kunitz scored a goal in his first game as a Penguin.  Nothing like immediate gratification.  If nothing else, this team has been a lot more fun to watch in the week or two since Bylsma took over.

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Ryan Whitney Got Traded Or Something

Ryan Whitney you just got traded!  What are you going to do now!?  “I’M GOING TO DISNEYLAND!”  No, really.  He is.  Whitney got traded to the Anaheim Ducks today  for forward Chris Kunitz and a prospect (also a forward) and I just wanted to throw up a quick note and let my two cents be known.  I like this deal.  I see the argument that people are making for not trading him: that he’s just in a slump and he’ll get over it.  I totally agree.  He will.  But, the truth is that we had a glut of young defensemen.  We had a need for young wingers.  This is why teams make trades.  I heard someone on the X (I won’t say who it is, but it’s the only sports show on the station *cough Madden cough*) say that the Ducks got their defenseman of the future, so it must have been a bad deal.  Well, yeah, that Ducks got the defenseman of the future.  They had no other good young ones.  But we got the winger of the future for this squad, and a prospect to boot.  Don’t worry if Ryan does well in Anaheim.  I hope he does.  Pray that we finally got a finisher for the top line.

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Is College Basketball Too Physical?

So I noticed earlier in the week that msnbc put up a series of articles on the physical nature of college basketball.  In short, college basketball is taking away the beauty of the game (the athletic ability of the great players) by being too physical.  Msnbc.com then proposes a list of rule changes that will make the game more like the perfect version of the sport: the NBA (insert snicker here).  I agree that the college game is very physical, but what’s wrong with that?  Kids might get banged up a little less, but I seriously doubt the number of serious injuries would decrease.  Having absolutely no stats in front of me, I would guess that the vast majority of injuries come from landing awkwardly and doing something to a knee.  Bloody noses and bruises from elbows and pushing under the hoop are not career ending.  Now, if you want to say that it takes away the reward for athletic ability and places reward on strength, that’s fine.  But that’s a preference.  My preference is for physical style.  I think that it introduces the element of desire into the game.  In an NBA game, it’s about who’s more athletic and who gets the dumb luck of making more shots.  In the college game, a team can will themselves to a win (just look at Providence).  That’s what’s great about it.  If you like to marvel at the athletic ability of the players, I understand that.  But if you like that style, you have the NBA to watch.  Don’t make the college game the same thing, or you will see viewership decline.

I give msnbc.com credit, though.  I get really mad when journalists pose a problem but no solution.  The writers here pose solutions that would definitely solve the problem.  Some of them I actually agree with.  Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Call the games closer with consistent fouls called everywhere
  2. Put in a charge arc around the basket (a small arc in place in the NBA about 3 or 4 feet out from the hoop wherein you can’t draw a charge)
  3. Widen the lane
  4. Move the students back away from the court
  5. Calm down the coaches
  6. Limit the number of games refs can do
  7. Never call a travel (no wait.  That would make it too much like the NBA)

So the no-charge arc I can definitely see.  Taking a charge is a strategic part of basketball that I love, but gliding under a player right before he takes off is cheap and it puts the refs in a bad position.  I think just being a little more lenient on this would do the same thing, though.  If a player is on his way up and doesn’t have a legitimate chance to stop, call the block.  I also agree with limiting the ref’s work.  Some of the travel they do is just ridiculous.  I can’t imagine being mentally awake after a few nights of that let alone an entire season.  I can see the increased lane size point, but I disagree with it.  This would force the post players to come outside a little more and not park around the net.  I think this would add a little more strategy to the game but I really don’t see it decreasing the physical play.  I think that the rule would just redirecting it.  I think the pushing under the basket would be reduced drastically (which is the point), but with all those people away from the hoop rebounds will be an adventure.  I foresee a lot of collisions and pushing going for boards.  But it’s a good thought.  The calling the game tighter idea is, to be honest, unimaginative and dumb.  Nobody wants to see foul shooting contests.  Finally, the game atmosphere (students yelling and coaches having heart attacks) is a mixed bag.  On the one hand, it’s absolutely insulting and barbaric behavior that has no place in a collegiate atmosphere.  On the other hand, it does make for a very exciting atmosphere to watch a game in.  My opinion is that yelling and jumping around by the students is great for the excitement, but individually insulting players is crossing the line (and I realize that Pitt is more guilty of it than most).  So, that needs to be enforced somehow.  Maybe assigning technicals on the crowd?  That would certainly stop it in a heartbeat.  As for the coaches, they’re professionals.  I think going ballistic has turned into a tactic that they use, and that’s wrong.  I know that their jobs are on the line, but a little more restraint is not much to ask for.  My job can be stressful as well, but I’ve never yelled and sworn at someone in a meeting.  I’m thinking that would get me fired.

So, just to sum up my opinion.  Yes, basketball is physical.  Yes, it takes away some of the pretty plays.  But it replaces that with heart and strategy which makes for more compelling games.  In college where teams have fan bases that are fanatical because they are connected to the team, I wouldn’t want the game played any other way then where a team can win with heart and mind.  If you don’t like it, Cleveland and the Cavs are not that far away (unfortunately).

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Weekly Beer Recommendation 2/26/09

This week I’m going with a local brewery.  The East End brewery in Homewood is excellent despite the minimalist surroundings.  It’s the absolute definition of microbrewery.  I highly suggest you check them out if you’re a local (you can find their website here).  All their beer is very good, but my personal favorite is the Snow Melt Winter Ale.  It’s very dark for a winter warmer and it has an enormous head.  It’s definitely a malt based beer, but it has a lot of stout qualities.  It’s very dark and a bit heavy with a strong coffee flavor.  The beer I’m working on now also has a strong smoke flavor to it, but I’m not positive that’s always there (or at least so prevalent).  All in all, an excellent choice for those stout fans out there (even though this is a warmer).

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Pens 1 Islanders 0

Game recap

Good win.  After about one billion quality chances, we finally put one in the back of the net.  You got the feeling that the Islanders were just dodging bullets and eventually we would score, and that turned out to be correct.  As I stated before, I love the puck possession game.  I think the system we’re playing now really compliments the talent we currently have on the roster.  But, as I said before, the challenge will be maintaining the level of intensity we’re currently displaying.

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Pitt 73 Providence 81

This didn’t happen.  I’m refusing to admit it.

Ok.  So, maybe I have to.  But I’m not going to like it.  The delay in posting was caused from me being sick first from mother nature, and then from this game.  I tried to think of the last time Pitt played this poorly and I just can’t (and I remember going to games in the Field House a few years before it closed and watching Ricardo Greer airball a free throw).  This was awful.  I could break down some specific things that went awry like failing to cut off the pass when trapping on defense or trying to force the extra pass on offense, but I’m not.  It’s not worth it.  I could go on for a while with game, trust me.  But, in reality, these mistakes probably won’t happen again.  Heck, they were greatly reduced in the second half.  We just dug ourselves way way to big of a hole on the road.  So, instead, I’m going to just give credit to where it is due: the Providence Friars.  They came out inspired and played almost flawless fundamental basketball.  Watching another team make the extra pass (especially under the basket), box out and limit our rebounds, and take care of the ball was very frustrating.  It’s the reason we couldn’t come all the way back.  I guess we can always look at this game as good for the conference.  I still just wish it hadn’t come at the expense of my team.

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Weekly Beer Recommendation 2/19/08

This week’s beer will be a nice IPA for those hop fans out there. Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma California is a nice midsized microbrewery. Not big enough that they sacrifice taste for mass production, not small enough that you can’t get a hold of it. The IPA (they call it Maximus IPA. More manly, I guess) is a very interesting concept. It’s very sweet for an IPA, most likely from caramel, and it even has a hint of lemon flavor in it. The hops don’t really kick in full strength until the aftertaste. It doesn’t sound very appetising, but it’s actually very good. Kudos to Lagunitas for creativity. Until next week, cheers.

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