Tag Archive | "panthers"

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Steve Smith not looking to be Boldin, Andre Johnson in Kubiak’s system

Posted on 15 March 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens hope that much of what new wide receiver Steve Smith brings to the field won’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet every week.

That’s not to say Baltimore won’t take advantage of the remnants of the 14th-year receiver’s ability in a career that includes five Pro Bowl selections, 12,197 receiving yards, and 67 touchdown receptions, but Smith’s intangibles were equally attractive to an offense that lacked a vocal leader willing to ruffle some feathers when needed last year. Smith has occasionally come under fire for his willingness to speak his mind and tell others what they might not want to hear, but coach John Harbaugh told the veteran during his free-agent visit that the Ravens want him to be himself.

The Ravens signed Smith to a three-year, $11 million contract on Friday afternoon.

“We’ve added one of the top competitors in the NFL to the Ravens,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a released statement. “Steve is a proven player who has performed his best in big games and on the biggest stages like the playoffs and Super Bowl. He adds toughness to our offense, big-play ability, and leadership to our team.”

Those intangibles aside, what should the Ravens expect from a wide receiver set to turn 35 in May?

From the start of the offseason when Newsome and Harbaugh spoke about the Ravens’ need to add a wide receiver who can move the chains and pick up the tough yards after a catch, it sounded as though they were envisioning Anquan Boldin’s replacement as someone who can line up in the slot and make difficult catches over the short-to-intermediate middle portion of the field. The similarities in attitude between Boldin and Smith are clear, but the 5-foot-9 Smith has relied more on his speed on the outside throughout his career while Boldin is bigger and slower but has always made catches in traffic.

You can hardly blame Smith for not wanting to be compared to someone else after being one of the better receivers in the NFL over the last decade.

“I’m not Anquan Boldin,” said Smith when asked if he can fill the void of the former’s departure from a year ago. “I respect the heck out of ‘Q,’ and what ‘Q’ brings to the table is what ‘Q’ brings to the table. I’m Steve Smith, and what I bring to the table as a Baltimore Raven, I have to earn that, and my time on the field will display what I bring to the table.

“We play similar games; we want to win and we go all-out. But we’re also individuals, and I’m not here to replace anyone. I’m here to be myself.”

Determining what role Smith will play isn’t easy as many believe he’s lost a step after recording only 64 receptions for 745 yards last season, his lowest totals since 2010 when the Carolina Panthers were the worst team in the NFL with a 2-14 record. And the Ravens offense will clearly present a different look under new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

Smith met with Kubiak to discuss what his role would be in the Baltimore offense, using the coach’s offenses in Houston as a point of reference. The former Texans coach really didn’t have any player in Houston who compared to Smith in terms of physical makeup, but the veteran made it clear he’s not expecting to have the extensive role of No. 1 wide receiver Andre Johnson during all those years he played with Kubiak.

This is good news for an offense that can’t put all its hopes in a veteran receiver whose best days are behind him. Until proving otherwise, Smith should be a complementary option to fourth-year receiver Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta as the featured parts of the passing game while Pitta and 6-foot-4 wideout Marlon Brown profile as better red-zone threats.

Quarterback Joe Flacco certainly doesn’t need a veteran nearing the end of his career demanding to be the focal point of the passing attack, so Smith’s position had to be a breath of fresh air for Harbaugh and his coaching staff.

“I know his system. I’ve seen his system,” Smith said about his discussion with Kubiak. “I’ve seen the very creative ways they’ve gotten other guys the ball. I want to be a part of that. One of the things I’ve seen for myself — I don’t see myself in coach Kubiak’s system like Andre Johnson. I see the complementary dude of Kevin Walter. I see how he contributed and how he was instrumental in getting Andre the ball but also getting his own opportunities.”

Smith said new teammate Torrey Smith is going to be a “fantastic” player, but it was interesting that the former Panther went out of his way to compare himself to Walter, who never recorded more than 900 yards in Kubiak’s offense. Walter’s run with the Texans came to an end in 2012, but he served as Houston’s No. 2 wideout behind the Pro Bowl receiver Johnson for several years and averaged 732.8 receiving yards per season as a possession receiver from 2007 through 2010.

Kubiak’s use of Walter in the slot fluctuated from year to year as he ran 45.8 percent of his routes from that spot in 2012 but ran less than 20 percent of his routes there in 2009 and 2010, two seasons in which he eclipsed 600 receiving yards. In contrast, Smith was rarely used in the slot under current Panthers coach Ron Rivera the last three seasons — only 15.5 percent of his routes last season and less than 10 percent of the time in 2011 and 2012 —  and was only used in the slot about a third of the time from 2007 through 2010.

Given the perception of his declining speed and lack of previous work in the slot, Smith compares favorably to former Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason, who didn’t work very often in the slot after 2008 and caught 73 passes for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns at age 35 in 2009. The Ravens would be thrilled if Smith can post numbers even remotely approaching those of the 5-foot-10 Mason that season. He isn’t the deep-ball threat that he was in his prime, but Smith doesn’t need to be with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones as available vertical threats on the outside.

Perhaps the Ravens will simply need to rely on Kubiak’s creativity to maximize Smith’s ability at this stage of his career, but there’s no questioning how pleased they are to acquire a player with his pedigree to add to an offense that finished 29th in the league last season. And they hope his addition will be part of the solution to put Baltimore back among the elite in the AFC, even if there’s more work to be done on the offensive side of the ball.

“I believe and the Baltimore Ravens believe that I can help increase the chances of us being successful,” Smith said. “So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to swing for the fence, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

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UMBC makes first trip out of state Saturday at High Point

Posted on 14 March 2014 by WNST Staff

UMBC plays its first road game in one month and travels out of the state of Maryland for the first time in the 2014 season when the Retrievers make their first-ever visit to High Point University to take on a 5-2 Panther squad at Vert Stadium on Saturday, March 15. The Retrievers are 3-2, after completing a four-game homestand with a 15-6 victory over Mercer on Tuesday, March 11, while High Point has won five straight, including a narrow 9-8 win over VMI on March 8. Video streaming is available via the Big South Network and live stats will be provided via High Point’s website.

RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC outscored visiting Mercer, 7-0, in the third quarter and the Retrievers went on to defeat the Bears, 15-6, at UMBC Stadium on Tuesday evening. Five Retrievers posted three or more points – led by four points on two goals and two assists by sophomore midfielder Jack Gannon. Attackman Matt Gregoire was the lone UMBC player to tally three goals and the senior continues to lead the squad with 13 scores in five games. UMBC won its third game in the last four outings and improved to 3-2 on the season. UMBC outshot Mercer, 16-1, in the third period, and 49-28 for the contest. Red-shirt freshman goalkeeper Connor Gordon made 10 saves and allowed six goals in 54:14 of work. Gordon, who entered play sixth in the nation with 13.5 saves per game, has 10 or more saves in all five outings in 2014. Senior midfielder Zach Linkous, junior midfielder Ty Kashur and freshman attackman Grant Searfoss all tallied two goals and an assist for the Retrievers.

Gannon now has six goals and four assists in his last three games. Searfoss played in just his second game of the season and scored his first three collegiate points versus the Bears.  The 15 goals scored by UMBC was a season high. Gregoire now has nine career hat tricks, including three in his last four games.

PANTHER UPDATE: High Point is riding a five-game winning streak after losing their first two games of the season. They are also in the midst of a five-game homestead, and have not lost at home this season. For the second time this season the Panthers swept the Atlantic Sun weekly awards last week. Graduate student Stevie Kirkup was named the Atlantic Sun Offensive Player of the Week and redshirt-junior Austin Geisler was named the Defensive Player of the Week. Kirkup, a transfer attackman from UNC, scored five goals on seven shots in a 9-8 win over VMI last Saturday. Geisler had nine saves in the same game, and an even more impressive 17 saves against Michigan in a 9-7 victory. High Point’s last six games have all been decided by three goals or less and the Panthers have won their five contests by a total of eight goals. Sophomore attackmen Matt Thistle and Dan Lomas lead HPU in scoring with 21 points (4 goals, 17 assists), and a team-best 17 goals on the season, respectively.

SERIES RECORD/LAST YEAR’S MEETING: In the first meeting between the two schools, Nate Lewnes tallied a team season-best six points and sophomore netminder Wes DiRito collected 15 saves in his first home start as the host Retrievers defeated High Point, 16-11, at UMBC Stadium on March 16, 2013. UMBC’s special teams were outstanding as the Retrievers scored on all four of its extra-man chances, while denying High Point on all six of the Panthers’ opportunities. UMBC led, 11-9, after 45 minutes, but scored twice in the first 3:24 of the fourth quarter and added two more in a 34-second span in the middle of the stanza to take control.

WHO’S UP NEXT: UMBC is in the midst of a stretch where they play five times in 15 days. As spring break begins for the university, the Retrievers return to the field on Tuesday evening, March 18 when they visit cross-town rival Towson. Game time at Johnny Unitas Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m.

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Newly-released receiver Steve Smith firmly on Ravens’ radar

Posted on 13 March 2014 by Luke Jones

What’s been expected for a couple days became official Thursday morning as the Carolina Panthers released longtime wide receiver Steve Smith.

And the Ravens are ready to pounce as multiple outlets immediately pointed to Baltimore as the favorite to land the 34-year-old wideout who had spent his entire 13-year career with the Panthers. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound receiver is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and has long been praised for his toughness and playmaking ability despite his slight stature.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Smith was to fly to Baltimore Thursday night to meet with the Ravens on Friday. However, New England, San Diego, Washington, and Seattle have also expressed interest in the veteran receiver, according to Yahoo! Sports.

“He can play. It would be nice,” wide receiver Jacoby Jones said after signing his four-year contract on Thursday. “[I’d have] open arms. If you can play, and they like you, then I love you.”

Smith was scheduled to carry a $7 million cap figure, but the Panthers instead elected to move on from the franchise’s all-time receiving leader after he recorded 64 catches for 745 yards in 15 games, his lowest totals since 2010. Carolina will still owe him $5 million as he will receive $3 million guaranteed and an additional $2 million in deferred bonus money.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh expressed their desire at the beginning of the offseason to acquire an impact receiver who can move the chains and gain yards after the catch. However, Smith’s 11.6 yards per catch average in 2013 was the second-lowest mark of his career (not counting the 2004 season in which he only played one game) and a sharp decline from the 16.1 yards he averaged per reception in 2012.

In his career, Smith has recorded seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons and has caught 67 touchdowns, but he will turn 35 in May.

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DeNapoli scores four goals to lead Towson past High Point

Posted on 08 February 2014 by WNST Staff

TOWSON, Md. – Senior Thomas DeNapoli had a five-point game (4g, 1a) and freshman Joe Seider added four points (3g, 1a) to lead Towson men’s lacrosse to an 11-8 season-opening win over High Point at Unitas Stadium Saturday morning.

The Tigers finished the first quarter tied, 3-3, with High Point and went into the half trailing, 5-4. But Towson exploded to outscore the Panthers 5-0 in the third quarter and withstand a late three-goal rally from HPU. DeNapoli’s four goals paced the Tigers. Christian Beith and Dan Lomas each had two goals for the Panthers. Tiger goalie Tyler White made four saves in his collegiate debut while Austin Geisler stopped 12 shots for High Point.

“I thought this first game would be an adjustment, with so many guys in different roles,” said Head Coach Shawn Nadelen. “Our guys continue to get comfortable with each other. It’s why I wanted to play Syracuse in the preseason, to give our guys the chance to come out and execute. I’m excited they came out onto the field [today] and attacked and played with a lot of poise, for the most part.”

DeNapoli recorded his 11th career hat trick at 7:18 when he scored back-to-back tallies – the first was an extra-man goal and the eventual game-winner. DeNapoli was the last Tiger to have a four-goal game when he led Towson in a 9-8 overtime win over Mercer on Feb. 24, 2013.

Seider made his 19th birthday memorable with his first career hat trick. He scored two straight goals at 6:14 and 2:09 in the third quarter before scoring falling down from close range at 9:30 in the fourth.

“I didn’t really focus on my birthday; it was the first game of my college career,” said Seider. “I was just focused on scoring goals and helping my team win as much as I can.”

The game was uneven to start, with both teams running the field and committing turnovers. Spencer Wichert got High Point on the board first, at 8:57 in the first quarter. The Tigers and Panthers matched goals for the rest of the frame. Senior Max Siskind had his first multi-goal game of his career when he opened the second and third quarters with tallies. The goal at 9:22 in the third came on an extra-man opportunity off a pass from DeNapoli.

DeNapoli and Seider each scored back-to-back goals in the third quarter as part of that 5-0 run. Beith scored his first of the season for HPU to start the fourth quarter, but it was too late to mount a comeback.

Towson outshot High Point 41-26 and picked up 25 ground balls to HPU’s 14. The Tigers also won 11 of 20 face-offs.

Next up, Towson faces Johns Hopkins on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 4 p.m. on Homewood Field. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

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Towson welcomes High Point for lacrosse opener Saturday

Posted on 07 February 2014 by WNST Staff

TOWSON, Md. – Towson Lacrosse hosts High Point (0-1) in the Tigers’ season opener on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 11 a.m. in Unitas Stadium.

The teams have played just one other time – Feb. 8, 2013 when the Panthers defeated the Tigers, 9-7, for HPU’s first collegiate lacrosse win. Junior Cory Dobyns scored four EMO goals for Towson in the loss.

Towson comes into Saturday’s contest as the defending Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) champions after they defeated No. 9 Penn State in the CAA finals, 11-10. Senior Thomas DeNapoli, an honorable mention USILA All-America selection, returns to lead the Tigers on attack. He had 41 goals and 19 assists for 60 points in 2013. Sophomore Tyler White is projected to take over in goal for the graduated USILA All-American Andrew Wascavage.

High Point comes into the game off a 10-3 loss at Delaware on Feb. 1. Michael LeClairDan Lomas and Brad James each scored a goal for the Panthers. Austin Geisler made 13 saves in the effort, earning Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Week honors.

TOWSON TIGERS
Record 0-0
Ranking RV (USILA), RV (Warrior-Inside Lacrosse)
Last Game May 12 – at No. 3 Ohio State (L, 16-6)
Head Coach Shawn Nadelen (Johns Hopkins, 2001)
HIGH POINT PANTHERS
Record 0-1
Ranking N/A
Last Game Feb. 1 – at Delaware (L, 10-3)
Head Coach Jon Torpey (Ohio State, ’00)

 

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Maryland gets rematch attempt against Pitt Saturday at Comcast Center

Posted on 24 January 2014 by WNST Staff

Maryland returns to Comcast Center Saturday night at 6:00 pm as it completes the second leg of a home-and-home series with Pittsburgh. The Terps are hosting Pitt in College Park for the first time since 1980 – a span of 34 years.

Watch: ESPN2 – Carter Blackburn (Play-by-Play), Sean Farnham (Analyst)

Storylines:

• The Terrapins have won eight of their last 11 home ACC contests, including their first two of the 2013-14 season. Maryland handily defeated Georgia Tech by a 16-point margin on Jan. 4, 77-61, before overcoming a nine-point halftime deficit to beat Notre Dame, 74-66, on Jan. 15.

• Maryland is 5-3 overall and 2-0 at home against Pittsburgh in a series that dates back to 1977. The Panthers defeated the Terps earlier this season on Jan. 6, 79-59, as they pulled away with 43 second half points. SophomoreSeth Allen had a team-high 18 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond-the-arc.

• Sophomore Charles Mitchell had a tremendous night on the glass in the Terps’ loss to NC State Monday, grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds (9 offensive). The mark is tied for the second-most in a single game among ACC players this season, and Mitchell is currently t-2nd in offensive rebounds (3.2/g) in the ACC.

• Comcast Center has been kind to sophomore Jake Layman, who is averaging a team-high 14.6 points in addition to 5.2 rebounds in nine games at home. He is shooting 49 percent (49-for-87) in Comcast, while averaging a team-high 31 minutes of action.

• Maryland is 11-0 when leading with 5:00 to play and 8-1 when leading at halftime. Additionally, the Terps are 9-0 when holding opponents below 40 percent shooting and 9-1 when holding opponents below 70 points.

Maryland Falls at NC State
Ralston Turner matched his career-high with 23 points, helping North Carolina State rally to beat Maryland 65-56 on Monday night.
Dez Wells and Evan Smotrycz each scored 10 for Maryland, which shot 31 percent for the game. Charles Mitchellfinished with eight points and a career-high 18 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end.
Desmond Lee added 14 points for the Wolfpack, who rallied from 11 down early in the second half to snap a three-game losing streak. NC State shot 57 percent after halftime, with Turner scoring 19 points and knocking down all five of his 3-pointers in the second half.
Maryland looked on its way to a second straight win when it took its biggest lead at 31-20 on Shaquille Cleare’s hook shot over Jordan Vandenberg 30 seconds into the second half.

Last Meeting
Pitt shot 53 percent from the floor to down Maryland, who was on the verge of moving to 3-0 in the ACC for the first time since 2001-02 by a score of 79-59.
Seth Allen and Evan Smotrycz led the way with 18 and 14 points respectively, but Lamar Patterson countered with a game-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
Pitt and Maryland battled back-and-forth in a tightly contested game during the early stages, as the Terps took a 28-25 lead on an Allen lay-up with 5:42 to play. The Panthers then flipped the script by taking an 11-2 run into the halftime break to take a 36-30 advantage.
Allen and Nick Faust combined for 18 points in the second half, but the Terps made just eight field goals on 29 percent shooting in the frame as Pitt pulled away for the win.

Statistically Speaking

  • Sophomore Jake Layman is averaging a team-high 14.6 points on 49 percent shooting in home games.
  • The Terps are outrebounding opponents by an average of 9.1 boards in home games.
  • Junior Nick Faust is averaging 11.3 points (45% shooting) in victories, and 8.6 points (31%) in losses.
  • Maryland is 11-0 when leading with 5:00 to play and 8-1 when leading at halftime.
  • Maryland is 9-1 when holding opponents below 70 points.

A Look Back: Jan. 12, 1980
In the last meeting between Maryland and Pitt in College Park, the Terrapins opened up a 17-point lead before eventually winning, 95-88, in front of 13,028 at Cole Field House.
The Terps moved to 11-2 on the young season as four players scored at least 20 points in the game, including Buck Williams (24 pts, 15 rebs), Albert King (23 pts), Greg Manning (22 pts) and Ernie Graham (20 pts, 7 rebs, 7 asts). Graham is the father of current Terrapin, Jon Graham.

Turgeon, Dixon Support Coaches vs. Cancer
Both Mark Turgeon and Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon will be wearing sneakers to show support for Coaches vs. Cancer – a joint effort of the American Cancery Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches that empowers basketball coaches to make a difference in the fight against cancer.
The annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Weekend runs from January 24-January 26.

 

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 07 January 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-Wake Forest @ Maryland (Thursday 7pm Comcast Center); Boxing: Arash Usmanee vs. Juan Antonio Rodriguez (Friday 9pm from Tacoma, WA live on ESPN2)

10. Jimmie’s Chicken Shack (Friday 9pm Rams Head Live); Dirty Dozen Brass Band (Thursday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Cracker (Saturday 6pm 9:30 Club); Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder (Friday & Saturday 7:30pm Birchmere); Peter Gabriel “Scratch My Back & I’ll Scratch Yours” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

JCS is celebrating the 15th anniversary of one of the most important records OF MY LIFE.

I would like to go see Dirty Dozen Brass Band, yes, thanks for asking.

Cracker does that one song you kinda remember.

And now here’s Ricky Skaggs.

9. Blue Man Group (Friday-Sunday France-Merrick Performing Arts Center at The Hippodrome); Jim Gaffigan (Friday & Saturday 7pm & 9:30pm Warner Theatre); Rob Schneider (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); “Archer” season five premiere (Monday 10pm FX); Lone Survivor“, “Her” and “August: Osage County” out in theaters (Friday); Baltimore County Restaurant Week (Friday-Monday throughout Baltimore County)

Obviously the only thing that matters this week is the return of Archer. Enjoy the next eight minutes of your life. They won’t get better.

Also, this is great.

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Maryland makes quick turnaround to visit Pitt Monday night

Posted on 05 January 2014 by WNST Staff

MARYLAND (10-5, 2-0 ACC) at PITT (13-1, 1-0 ACC)

Monday, January 6, 2014 • 7 p.m. ET

Petersen Events Center (12,508) • Pittsburgh, Pa.

MEDIA INFORMATION

Television: ESPNU (Bob Picozzi and Kara Lawson)

Coaches: Pitt: Jamie Dixon, 15th year at Pitt, 11th year as head coach (275-87); Maryland: Mark Turgeon, 3rd year at UM (52-33), 16th year overall (302-192).

Rankings: Pitt: AP-ARV; USA Today-ARV; Maryland: AP-NR; USA Today-NR.

Series: Pitt and Maryland meet for the eighth time in school history. Maryland holds a 5-2 advantage in the series which began on Feb. 15, 1977. The last time the two teams met was on Nov. 18, 2010 in the 2K Sports/Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden, a 79-70 Pitt win. Pitt has hosted Maryland on two different occasions: Feb. 11, 1978 (89-86 Pitt win in OT) and on Jan. 27, 1981 (69-66 UM win in OT). Both were played at Civic Arena.

 

GAME PREVIEW

PITTSBURGH–Pitt (13-1, 1-0 ACC) plays its first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball game at home when it hosts Maryland (10-5, 2-0 ACC) for a Monday, January 6 contest at the Petersen Events Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. ET.

The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU with Bob Picozzi (play-by-play) and Kara Lawson (color analysis) making the call. Matthew Bartley will handle production. The broadcast was moved to ESPNU to accommodate coverage of the FBS national championship game on ESPN2.

Pitt has won its 13 games by an average of 17.9 points per game margin, all 13 wins have come by nine or more points and 10 of its 13 by 17 points or more. Offensively, the Panthers are averaging 76.7 points per game, converting 48.0 percent (379-789) of field goals, 33.0 percent (69-209) of 3-point field goals and an amazing school-record pace of 74.6 percent (247-331) of free throw attempts. Pitt is also outrebounding its opponents by a sizable plus-9.2 margin. Defensively, Pitt is holding its opponents to 58.9 points per game and yielding a 39.5 percent (295-747) field goal percentage. Thirteen of Pitt’s 14 opponents have been held to 70 points or less and eight have scored 60 points or less.

Pitt is 9-0 at home this year, on an 11-game home win streak and 19-game consecutive win streak against non-conference opponents at home. Pitt also owns a 110-3 record vs. non-conference opponents at the Petersen Events Center and has won 131 of its last 135 home games against regular season non-conference opponents.

Pitt hosts Maryland, its second ACC opponent, after registering a 74-62 victory at North Carolina State on Saturday in Raleigh, N.C. The Panthers battled all the way back from an early 17-2 first half deficit to win by 12 points. In the second half, Pitt used 63 percent shooting (17-27) and hit 11-13 free throws in taking control. During a decisive seven-minute stretch after halftime, Pitt converted on 12 of its 13 possessions and outscored NC State 24-6. Lamar Patterson led Pitt with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Talib Zanna added 15 points and nine rebounds and freshman Michael Young contributed a career-high 13 points. Patterson (17) and Zanna (nine) combined to score 26 of their 37 points in the second half.

Maryland (10-5, 2-0 ACC) is on a three-game win streak after consecutive wins over Tulsa, North Carolina Central and Georgia Tech. Head coach Mark Turgeon’s Terrapins are led by four players in double figure scoring including Dez Wells (15.0 ppg./5.3 rpg.), Jake Layman (13.7 ppg./5.1 rpg.), Evan Smotrycz (12.3 ppg./6.9 rpg.) and Nick Faust (10.4 ppg.). This marks Maryland’s third ACC game as it has defeated both Boston College (88-80 on Dec. 12) and Georgia Tech (77-61 on Jan. 4).

 

MONDAY’S TOP STORYLINES

•Pitt plays its first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference home game when it hosts Maryland on Monday, Jan. 6 at the Petersen Events Center.

•Pitt coach Jamie Dixon owns a 12-0 record vs. previous ACC teams and a 28-10 overall record vs. current ACC teams (including Syracuse, Notre Dame).

•With its 13-1 record, Pitt has currently amassed the second most wins in the ACC.

•With a 9-0 home record and currently on an 11-game home win streak, Pitt is in its 12th season at the Petersen Events Center and carries a 189-22 record (.896) in the arena. The Panthers have won 95 of their last 107 home games and 38 of their last 48 conference home games.

•When comparing ACC basketball programs over the last 13 years, Pitt ranks second among league programs in overall winning percentage (332-97, .774), league winning percentage (142-63, .693), homecourt winning percentage (.896) and NCAA Tournament appearances (11).

 

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“The Reality Check” Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 04 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Houston Texans (Last Week 32)

So nothing’s changed.

31. Washington Redskins (29)

I stand by it.

30. Oakland Raiders (27)

But at least there’s nothing.

29. Atlanta Falcons (31)

Mike Smith needed a win. He got it. Nothing more to see here.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26)

I have to talk about them for another month?

27. Cleveland Browns (25)

Caleb.Hanie.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)

RED HOT.

25. Buffalo Bills (23)

They beat the Ravens. They BEAT THE RAVENS.

24. New York Jets (22)

They’re going to finish the season 32nd. I think.

23. Minnesota Vikings (28)

Looking forward to Matt Pondman starting at QB Sunday.

22. Green Bay Packers (21)

Just…Tebow.

21. St. Louis Rams (20)

Back to not being interesting.

20. New York Giants (24)

Honorary “best of the crappy teams”.

19. Tennessee Titans (18)

But if the Indianapolis Colts can’t fulfill their duties as AFC South champions.

18. Chicago Bears (15)

Nice run defense.

17. San Diego Chargers (16)

Not dead yet.

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Backstrom, Neuvirth Get Caps Back to .500

Posted on 02 November 2013 by Ed Frankovic

Coming off of a huge and emotional win in Filthadelphia on Friday night, the Caps were back at home to take on the Florida Panthers at the Verizon Center on Saturday evening. As one might expect, Washington had a bit of a letdown and didn’t play a very good game overall. However, thanks to a super performance from Michal Neuvirth (31 saves) and a dominating effort from Nicklas Backstrom, the Caps somehow managed to get two points by beating the Cats, 3-2, in a shootout.

The victory, while pretty ugly, is an important one this early in the season. It moves the Capitals to 7-7 overall and they managed to win again without injured captain Alexander Ovechkin (upper body injury).

The biggest problem for the Caps on this night was something they’ve struggled with most of the season: effort. Simply put, the Capitals are not skating hard enough throughout games. There is too much puck watching and gliding going on and as a result the other team is owning the puck more. In addition, by not skating well, the Caps have opened themselves up to taking more penalties. Florida had six power plays on the night and it wasn’t until they scored on a 4 on 3 with just over two minutes left that they were finally able to beat a Capitals PK unit that had killed 30+ straight man advantages situations. Washington’s penalty killing has been outstanding, but six minors is far too many and the last one was just a terrible retaliation move by Steve Oleksy so late in a one goal game. #61 has to learn you have to keep your head when points are on the line.

Washington’s power play also struggled without Ovechkin, going 0 for 3 on the night. Playing against a below average goalie in Scott Clemmensen the Caps should have simplified things and focused on getting pucks and bodies to the cage, instead there was far too much perimeter passing. The Caps were minus one on the evening in the special teams department and when you aren’t playing well, that is difficult to overcome.

But the Caps did do enough good things to prevail. Backstrom was by far the best player on the ice and he has such a good shot that he needs to keep using, even when the Gr8 returns to the lineup. Eric Fehr played well again with Martin Erat on that top unit. I also liked, despite only getting about six minutes of ice time, the way the fourth line of Michael Latta, Tom Wilson, and Aaron Volpatti played. Latta earned his first NHL point with a sweet cross ice feed to John Carlson in the second period that Captain America buried with a nice shot. Carlson was also one of Washington’s better players, along with Karl Alzner.

The Caps red hot trio of Mikhail Grabovski, Joel Ward, and Jason Chimera struggled, primarily because those guys didn’t move their feet. Grabovski did have a nice goal in the shootout, along with Brooks Laich (scored despite fanning on his move) and Backstrom in the gimmick. Laich does not look himself on five on five right now. He’s been super on the PK but he hasn’t developed any chemistry with any linemates this season so far. Brooksie needs to get his legs churning too, I see too much hesitation from him, especially coming out of his own zone.

On the back end, Mike Green still isn’t playing near peak performance. He’s making far too many turnovers in his own end and in the neutral zone. Washington will need #52 performing at a high level when they play the better teams in the league.

On Saturday the Caps showed up and managed to just do enough to win against a weak Florida team. There was far too much lollygagging for my liking again, but a bit understandable given Friday night’s events. The team got the victory and now have a day off on Sunday to rest.

Coming up though, the schedule will get tougher so it’s important that the Caps get their effort up, especially on Tuesday against a New York Islanders club that gave them fits last season.

Notes: Shots were 33-23 in favor of Florida…Washington won the faceoff battle, 35-31…Carlson led the Caps in ice time with 26:15. Green played 25:47…Fehr had four shots on net and led all forwards in that department.

 

 

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