Friday, July 31, 2009

Blogger 2009 Big-East Preseason Polls

Jon over at what I think is the best Rutgers blog out there, Bleed Scarlet, has organized a 2009 Preseason Poll for Big East bloggers and I was fortunate enough to be a part of it.

Check in on Monday for my selections, along with those of other Big East bloggers. The voting results of the entire contest will be posted right here - stay tuned.

A Scary Opponent

True, I'm excited about Pitt's announcement of a home and home series with Utah. It will bring a unique opponent to Heinz Field.

Maybe it's just fact, I'm pretty sure it is as I've not seen this mentioned elsewhere. But what exactly does Pitt have to gain from this?

Utah has been a power, recently with two undefeated seasons. This is certainly a game Pitt can, and over the past couple of years, probably would lose. Not saying that's a terrible thing - heck, I'd love to see them play Florida or someone like that (and chances are, they probably would lose. But at least there would be something to gain. Imagine if they beat a top tier team like this. A win vs. Utah would be nice, but certainly not the greatest of feats.

Second, it's only a home and home. Utah has much more to gain from this than Pitt would. A win over Pitt would be a win over a BCS-conference team and likely would considerably help their BCS standing. It would have been nice (although possibly unrealistic) for Pitt to get a 2 for 1. I'm sure Utah, would have balked at that, but again, what does Pitt really have to gain by this other than putting more butts in the seats. Obviously, that's nice and the goal as stated over and over by the athletic department. But from the football side of this, Pitt doesn't have nearly as much to win as Utah does.

However -

Will I be there? Absolutely.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Welcome to the NBA, Super Sam

And just like that, the sliding of Sam Young to the 2nd round of the NBA Draft was basically forgotten as he has agreed to a deal with the Grizzlies:

Sam Young plans to sign a three-year contract today with the Memphis Grizzlies, becoming the second member of the 2008-09 Pitt basketball team to officially join an NBA club.

A portion of the contract is guaranteed, according to Young's agent Lance Young, who's not related to his client.

'Today' was actually Friday, but I couldn't find any news of the signing on the Grizzlies website today (Sunday).

However, the Post-Gazette reports it's a 3-year/$2 million guaranteed deal:

He will get nearly $2 million in guaranteed money.

Young will sign a three-year contract with a club option for the third year. He will make nearly $900,000 in the first and second years of the contract, all of which is guaranteed.

Young's agent, Lance Young, also has $600,000 worth of incentives written into the contract for accomplishments such as making the NBA all-rookie team.

I don't think there were too many doubts that both Young and DeJuan Blair would both be inked to contracts, even though it was no 'guarantee.' Still, it's good to see them both get off on the right foot and sign fairly quickly. Both should have the ability to make impacts this year.

Adding a Running Back

Pitt landed a commitment from running back Andre Givens, bringing their total to 16 for 2010.

Givens was highly sought after, receiving offers from ten schools including some fairly heavy hitters:

Givens, who rushed for 1,433 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, chose the Panthers over offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Louisville, Cincinnati and Syracuse.

Givens was a 3-Star recruit by Rivals.

Despite the heavy recruiting from the Big Ten, Givens thinks the Big East was the place for him - citing one specific reason:

"The Big Ten has big backs and big lineman. It's not as fast as the Big East Conference," Givens said. "I want to be somewhere that plays fast. I felt Pitt was right."


The more the merrier...this guy looks like he might stick, but a lot will depend on how the running back position gets sorted out this year.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another O-Lineman in the Fold

Okay, so I have to admit, the first thing I noticed in this article was...

350 pounds

Welcome to Arthur Doakes of Lebanon High School - the newest member of the 2010 recruiting class.

Man, are you kidding me? The next thing that struck me was that he wasn't getting a lot of good offers - at least not yet.

"A lot of other schools wanted to wait for my senior film," said Doakes, who also was receiving interest from Connecticut, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Virginia and West Virginia, "but I'm glad Pitt saw (potential) in me."

Kind of surprising that he maybe didn't get more looks if he's as agile as his team's defensive coordinator thinks he is. Still, maybe this was one of those kids that Pitt seems to think they got in on early.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fitz Wins an ESPY...Hooray.

Sorry, but I just can't get more excited about this. I love sports, but hate the ESPYs on every level. No interest at all.

That said, always good when former Pitt players are involved.

So, congrats to Larry for winning the ESPY for Best NFL Player. A pretty big achievement if you consider all of the players in the league.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blair and Fields Get Their Deals Miles Apart

Good news for both DeJuan Blair and Levance Fields as both signed contracts.

Blair gets his guaranteed deal as a 2nd round draft pick with the Spurs.

Blair, a 6-foot-7, 265-pound forward who turned professional after his sophomore season with the Panthers only to fall into the second round of the NBA draft, signed his first professional contract yesterday with the San Antonio Spurs.

Terms of the deal were not immediately known, but according to a source familiar with the negotiations, Blair signed a four-year contract worth almost $4 million dollars. Three of those years are guaranteed with guaranteed money approaching $3 million.

Also, here's a video press conference with the San Antonio media.

Good for him. Despite all of the feelings about thinking he may have been better served staying, he's worked his butt off to get to this point. Here's hoping for a good career as well as some early playing time for him.

Meanwhile, Fields gets his own deal, but in Russia:

Before the dust had settled from a disappointing experience with the Orlando Magic's NBA summer league team, Levance Fields already was seeking another chance to return to the court.

It didn't take long for the former Pitt point guard to get an assist from a Russian Super League team.

Fields, who last season helped Pitt to its first NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance, has signed a multiyear contract with Sparta St. Petersburg, said his agent, Keith Glass.

The deal includes an opt-out clause to leave for the NBA if he gets an offer. Glad to see him land somewhere after a somewhat disappointing Summer League.

All Kinds of Basketball News

Updating some basketball news during these lazy days of Summer:

Congratulations to Jamie Dixon and the US Under-19 Men's basketball team for bringing home the gold for the first time since 1991.

This continues to raise his stock and can only be good for Pitt (at least as long as he sticks around). You've got to think he'll be involved in international basketball down the road.

Ashton Gibbs was an integral part of that team and looks to step into a larger role for Pitt this Fall. I'm expecting big things from Gibbs this year, but just hoping point-guard duties (should he get them) don't impact his shooting. That burden might have a negative effect on his three-point shooting, which is a huge asset for Pitt.

In other international news, Pitt women's player is now off of the women's under-19 team due to injury.

On the recruiting trail, Tom Droney has chosen Davidson despite some renewed interested by Pitt.

Droney, who called Pitt coach Jamie Dixon yesterday, said Dixon was "upset" when he told him of his commitment to Davidson.

"He said he really wanted to get back after me," Droney said. "They sent two scouts to watch me play at the Reebok All-American camp (last week) in Philadelphia.

"Pitt is one of my favorites. I love Pitt to death. Coach Dixon is a great guy, but they (are recruiting) a guard in my class."

I can understand Droney's decision - playing time will undoubtedly be easier to come by at Davidson. I'm very curious to see what kind of college player he'll turn into.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pitt Lands a Prize

The recruits keep coming and Pitt lands what sounds to be a big one - literally - in Matt Rotheram:

Rotheram, a 6-foot-6, 305-pound offensive lineman from North Olmstead (Ohio) in suburban Cleveland, picked the Panthers over Indiana and Purdue. He had 27 scholarship offers, including Arizona, Boston College, Louisiana State, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin.

27 Scholarship offers? This is a rare stud lineman pickup for Pitt. Rotheram is rated by as a top 10 offensive guard in the country. Whoa.

In all seriousness, Pitt has had a real problem landing above-average offensive linemen. The school has had success showcasing top-notch offensive talent (i.e. McCoy and Fitz) and has a reputation for a tough-as-nails defense, which has gotten players to the pros. Heck, even special teams players like Andy Lee, Adam Graessle, and Conor Lee have been picked up by teams in recent years - Andy's even had a pretty good career. But the offensive line is where they've struggled a bit (Jeff Otah notwithstanding). Let's hope we can get more down the road.

Football Scheduling

Times have been announced for three more of Pitt's football games:

- Youngstown State (Sept. 5th / 1:00 p.m.)
- at Buffalo (Sept. 12th / Noon)
- Navy (Sept. 19th / 6:00 p.m.)

I'm scared about the Buffalo game already...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

U-19 Team Rolling Along

The U.S. U-19 men's basketball team is rolling along with a 3-0 record after beating Egypt 112-55 on Saturday.

Team USA led, 33-11, after the first quarter and 62-24 at halftime. With the game out of reach, all 12 players saw court time in the second half.

"We handled things well," Dixon said. "We knew this was a game that we should win. One of our goals was to finish the preliminary round with our group's No. 1 seed, and we achieved that."

Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs led all scorers for Team USA with 18.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Herrion Loses Out

Buried at the bottom of this scheduling article was the fact that Tom Herrion was passed up for the Holy Cross job:

Also yesterday, Holy Cross decided against hiring Pitt associate head coach Tom Herrion for its head coaching position. The Crusaders hired Notre Dame assistant Sean Kearney instead. Herrion had been one of three finalists for the job that was vacated when Ralph Willard, a former Pitt head coach, left to become Rick Pitino's top assistant at Louisville.

You don't like to see this happen, but losing Herrion would have been tough as he's a solid recruiter. You've got to think it's just a matter of time before he's hired somewhere.

Dixon Wins Debut

Jamie Dixon and the USA U-19 team dealt Iran a harsh 51-point loss in the opener, 106-55. Scoring must have been pretty balanced as Tyshawn Taylor of Kansas led the team with only 13.

Pitt Super Soph Ashton Gibbs had 10.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Help Fitz

I am not a fan of the ESPYs, so it's with a grain of salt that I mention this. But....

Larry Fitzgerald is up for some awards including Best NFL Player and Best Record-Breaking Performance.

You can vote ends July 11.

09-10 Basketball Schedule

Pitt appears to have caught somewhat of a scheduling break this year when the conference schedule was released today.

The team's home and home games include West Virginia, St. John's, and Seton Hall.

Pitt will only have to face the likes of UCONN, Georgetown, Syracuse, and Notre Dame once.

Pitt will also play Indiana in an intriguing match-up in the Jimmy V Classic at MSG on December 8th.

All non-conference opponents will be released later.

Football Tidbits

A few relatively small pieces of football news this holiday weekend:

Adam Gunn seemed genuinely scared of the police and hopes he won't have any more troubles with the law:

"I have never been on the other side of the law before and I don't ever want to be there again," Gunn said in his first interview since he was arrested May 9 and charged with two misdemeanor (resisting arrest and failure to disperse) and two summary offenses (disorderly conduct and public drunkenness) for an altercation with police officers outside a Station Square nightclub.

"I think the first thing I need to say is that I'm sorry and I take full responsibility for my actions -- I know I let my team down, my family down and my coaches down -- but more than anything else, I let myself down.

"The whole entire incident could have and should have been avoided."

Still trying to wrap my arms around the fact that he RAN FROM THE POLICE. You have to know that is going to cause some trouble. Hopefully he's learned a lesson from this - it seems as if he has.

In NFL news, Shady gets a four-year deal with the Eagles and the Brian Westbrook comparisons keep coming:

In McCoy, the Eagles believe they have an almost 21-year-old all-purpose back in the Westbrook mold - a shifty, elusive running back with a knack for finding the end zone.

"I think he can do the same types of things that Brian can do," said Eagles' general manager Tom Heckert. "We think he's an all-around player and we think he can step right in and help us out. He's a great receiver out of the backfield. You can spread him out and he can also run the ball in between the tackles. It's not fair to him to say he's just a change of pace guy, that he's not a full-time player. He's proven that he can be durable enough to carry the football in major competition."

Also, Sto-Rox receiver Andrew Carswell will apparently be a Panther, choosing Pitt over Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and others.