Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Tonight, Pittsburgh was America's Number 1 Party Town"

Editor's Note: The title of this post is a quote from Against the Odds. If it is lost on you, perhaps this might help.

I texted Sam at about 6:45 tonight saying "You know, tonight could be awful on a number of levels". Such was not the case. A glorious, strange, at times worriesome night of Pittsburgh sports. Johnny Mac and I had the two TV setup going and it worked quite well. Some quick-hit reactions to the games played tonight...

Pitt beats Duke
Make no mistake about it: Levance Fields needs to be "the guy" on this team. Even without taking his ballsy game-winning shot into consideration, he played with a beautiful blend of poise and tenacity that kept the team in it down the stretch in the 2nd half. Pitt was able to keep things at a slow pace, capitalize on transition opportunities, and (gasp!) make big shots in crunch time when they needed them. DeJuan Blair played like a "man" in a "man's game" (boy did Bilas beat that one into the ground). His 20 boards were remarkable, though expected, considering that even my sister wondered how "all of Duke's little guys would deal with that big guy who smiles alot". Sam Young made some clutch shots down the stretch, which negated the unbelievably stupid things he did throughout the game. Yes, it is a big win for Pitt because they beat Duke in the Garden. But it is even bigger because of how they did it - clawing back, controling the pace, and making clutch jumpers.

The Pens beat...wait..what?...phew...beat the Bruins
On any other night, this game would have gotten top billing in the recap. Malkin and Crosby were back together, and three first period scores were the result. Laraque and Chara went at it several times, and Crosby got in a fight with...Andrew Ference? Somewhere, Sam was smiling. Conklin made 37 saves, too. But GOOD LORD, will the Pens ever get a lead and sustain their momentum? Four...count 'em...FOUR goals weren't enough cushion tonight for the Pens in what is becoming a remarkably frustrating habit of sorts. Fortunately, the Pens have two of the best penalty shooters in the NHL. Any novice fan would quickly state Crosby and Malkin, but not so fast my friends. Christiansen and Letang absolutely schooled Thomas tonight. Letang seemingly has an endless bag of tricks to pull from, this time doing the old foot-pull, stay-at-home fakeout (topshelf, not less...ok, well, upper shelf). For as much confidence as the Pens have in Crosby and Malkin, it must be equally reassuring to know that they have such shootout studs.
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Steelers beat a crappy team
When Allen Rossum was fumbling punts and Stephen Jackson was slicing through our defense, I definitely had a moment where I thought the Steelers would provide the sour game of the night. Ben played great though, and the Rams looked absolutely awful in the second half. Najeh played a terrific game, but that isn't much of a consolation for losing Willie. Not just losing him, but losing him for the year it seems. I won't comment more until it is all official, but, not good. But hey! They mentioned Verron Haynes name in the broadcast tonight! Only two weeks left in the season...think he could get a thousand yards a week to make your prediction come true, stache?

End of Post


Anonymous said...

Pitt got lucky and didn't deserve that game. Duke had a bad shooting night, one that won't happen again if these teams meet in the tournament.

Enjoy the success now, you're lined up for another Sweet 16 exit.

Pat said...

Um...hmmm...well, uh, welcome! I was actually raised a Duke fan so I don't see the need for hostility. But anwyays, Duke has a lot of positive things to take from the game:

- Gerald Henderson can be a go-to-guy. He is quickly becoming their best mid range shooter, which is, traditionally, something Duke has lacked. All their great shooters over the years (Langdon, Dunleavy, J-Wil...) have mostly been spot up guys that couldnt necessarily back someone down and shoot over them. Henderson proved last night that he can rise up over just about anyone.

- If Singler makes that shot at the end of regulation, then its a different story this morning. For a young kid that has gotten all the accolades in the world early on and pretty much have everything go his way, I think it will be a good motivator of sorts for him.

- Everyone knew that Duke would have trouble inside with Blair. But all things told, they did a pretty good job with him. Maybe not on the boards, but he could have had alot more than 15 points and they forced him to the line a lot without having anyone foul out. It was a good test for them before they start handling the ACC big men.

Maybe I'm wrong on all accounts, but I thought it was a very enjoyable game (well, 2nd half...) that did exactly what a big showdown in December should do: confirm some strengths and highlight some weaknesses for each squad.

Sam said...

I'm thinking Laraque told Sid that opponents will respect him more if he got in a fight, and that the next time someone small and weak hit him, he should fight that man. Enter Andrew Ference.

Anonymous said...

Something that was bugging the hell out of me: why was Ramon so frequently playing the point instead of Fields? Ramon is a good shooter, but he's a pretty bad ball-handler. It didn't make any sense to me.