Big Lead Sports Bar

1/16/2007

Happy Days for Pittsburgh Sports

In a scene eerily reminiscent of Saturday, both the Penguins and Panthers won highly spirited games on Tuesday night. Only on this night, both games were held in the city (at the same time) and both were played in front of raucous, sell-out crowds. Those were some fantastic hours of television.
We'll start at the Pete, where the Panthers took down a pesty UConn team headed by a pesty coach, 63-54. Grayzilla was on fire, racking up 22 points and 20 rebounds in a performance that reminded everyone of why he was named as the Big East preseason player of the year back in October. On the other hand, Mike Cook, who had a breakout game on Saturday against Georgetown, had a disappointing total of four points in 30 minutes. But that's the beauty of this Pitt team: every night produces a different star. Look at Levance Fields, how he dominated Syracuse for 24 points and five assists just two weeks ago, but managed just six and zero against the Huskies tonight.
The Panthers don't lean on that one star, even though Gray is so highly lauded. It can be argued that is the reason why they don't advance as deep in March as fans would hope, but the mix of this group seems better than any I've seen in the past. They have inside presence, outside shooting, speed, toughness, experience, and they can even make free throws. They look to be a complete team. At 5-0 in the Big East and 17-2 overall (with their only losses coming to the #2 and #12 teams in the country---on the road), I think this team will be well prepared for a lengthy postseason experience in 2007.
There was also another recruit signing on the dotted line for Pitt, as JDix got a verbal from shooting guard Nasir Robinson, who is ranked #8 among shooting guards and #45 overall by rivals.com. Is it cool to call him Nas?
We move to the other side of the Burgh, where the Penguinos topped the Islanders, 5-2, after a long day of delivering pizza to kids in the Student Rush line. That's right, Colby Armstrong, Chris Thorburn and Maxime Talbot personally handed out the 'za to the young fans of the Flightless Birds, who were very appreciative. I know fans show their appreciation for players like Talbot whenever they have a chance. But in all seriousness, how can you not love these guys? After the attitudes constantly reported from encounters with other pro athletes in this town, the Pens are a breath of fresh air.
Their play was inspired in the 3rd period, when they erupted for the three goals that marked the margin of victory. Two of the goals came from El Sid, who was not a happy camper after getting speared by Jason Blake with 33 seconds left in the game. I've never seen more F-bombs from any player in any sport than the dozens that Crosby dishes out on a nightly basis. It would be a dangerous proposition to suggest any network mic up Crosby and play the live feed. The FCC fines would be in the millions.
Crosby looks to me like a guy who's ready to erupt. You can only poke the bear so many times before he bites. And Crosby is that sleeping bear. One of these late hitters is going to get a Crosby Knuckle Sandwich. It's going to happen. Count me among those interested to see how Crosby and Blake interact in the East locker room at the All Star Game. Probably about as well as Bill Belichick will if he ends up coaching nine Chargers in the Pro Bowl. Of course, that would hinge on Peyton Manning beating the Patriots to win an AFC Championship, so I'm asking for a lot.
Anyway, back to the game...after the Pens once again stood around while Crosby was manhandled by Alexei Zhitnik on Saturday, I'm proud to report that the Ryans (Malone and Whitney) both retaliated on Crosby's behalf after a vicious hit in the 1st period from Brendan Witt. Malone is really showing some effort...perhaps trying to give Ray Shero second thoughts about that rumored trade to the Rangers for Petr Prucha?
The Pens now move to 20-17-7, good for 3rd in the Atlantic division and 10th in the East, just three points shy of a playoff berth. Their next game is a crucial matchup with 11th-place Boston on Thursday night in Beantown.
The Panthers' next opponent is Marquette (16-4) on Sunday. Thankfully for my exhausted remote, there is no Pens game on at the same time.

3 comments:

tbart213 said...

In reference to your comment about the coolness of these Pens, what are the attitudes of the young Bucs?

Being an outta-tah'ner n'at, I don't get much to read about the Bucs outside of some old Jack Wilson stuff.

dspag4 said...

My thumb is sore from changing the channel so much.

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

Even though I'm on ehis loudest critics, Grayzilla played a great game last night. That was the most athletic (gasp!) I've ever seen him look.

Now we just have to find out what the hell happened to Levon Kendall's hair. He wants to comb his hair so it looks like a duck's ass? No big deal, lots of people are doing that these days. But the Brian Bosworth look doesn't reflect well on the program. Shave it all off, Piano Man.

As for the Pens, it's great to see them playing improved hockey this year. The talent is incredible and they kinda remind me of the 1988-89 Pens who lost to Flithy in the 2nd round.

As for the Buccos, they remind me of the 1994 Buccos. Or is it the 1996 Buccos? Or the 2002 Buccos? I really can't imagine that anyone even cares anymore.