Hey, just when I was flexing my muscles when it came to the Pittsburgh Power, reality stepped in and won over imagination. The reality is that this is a “rookie” franchise with a lot of growing to do.
First of all let’s discuss the position of quarterback. The loss of the mobility and ability of starting QB Bernard Morris who is currently on injured reserve was evident as 2nd team QB Kevin McCabe struggled mightily and was eventually yanked for 3rd stringer Anthony Morelli, the former Penn State star who for all intents and purposes was even worse. McCabe, who is known for his accurate passing but not his mobility, did not display the precision that is normally his calling card.
The Power lost to the previously winless Tulsa Talons 45-22. Maybe Pittsburgh was under the incorrect assumption that Tulsa had to still be licking their wounds after a 69-20 drubbing at the hands of the Arizona Rattlers. Instead it appeared that Tulsa was licking their chops at the prospect of facing the “new kids” on the block. This game was a “turnover fest” for Pittsburgh. The Power ended the game with five turnovers. In the land of midget or any other football league, amateur or professional, it is very difficult to win if your team commits five turnovers. Power Head Coach Chris Siegfried put it this way, “There’s not many teams you can turn the ball over to five times and win in this league. Well coach I am in complete agreement with you. Although Morelli threw his first AFL touchdown pass, he still appeared to be a bit “skittish” in the pocket. Morelli does not seem to be the short or long term answer for the Power at QB. The “bye” week for the Power will not be a time to relax. They have to get their offense at least semi-healthy until starting quarterback Bernard Morris is healthy because as we all should know at least by now; in the NFL defense wins championships, in the AFL offense will more than likely win the Holy Grail.
There was a schoolmate who I despised. He really got on my last nerve. I was a tad bit apprehensive about fighting this boy. Don’t ask me why, I had never seen him fight but this was just a vibe that I had. However, I mustered up enough nerve to challenge this “cat” and I lost the fight. A few months later, we rumbled again and I lost that contest as well. I am not a dodo bird. There was not going to be a third fight because I was not going to lose three successive battles to him or any other person.
Take the Pitt men’s’ basketball team led by Head Coach Jamie Dixon. For the second year in a row, Dixon’s group of six foot plus couch potatoes were getting their snacks ready in preparation to view the NCAA championship game between Butler and the University of Connecticut. Some people are again describing Butler’s ascension as a storybook scenario. Last year Butler may have composed a “storybook” but this year the small school has published a “textbook.” Butler is writing a new manual; the title is “How to beat the Big Boys.” How could Butler’s head Coach Brad Stevens not have won coach of the year?
Dixon may have won the coach of the year award but Stevens is winning the big games. See, the coach of the year award has been in a few glaring cases awarded as a result of the politics of who you know as opposed to what is actually happening on the court. Butler is 10-1 in their last 11 NCAA tournament appearances. Butler does not mind getting grimy and sweaty doing all of the little things to make life a bed of roses for themselves a bed of nails for their opponents. Hey get this; Butler has an approximate student population of less than 4437 students. The University of Pittsburgh on the other hand has over 27,000 students.
The Pitt “ZOO” student body fan club has approximately 1400 members. That number is just 79 students shy of equaling one-third of the total student population of Butler.
How can such a small school win the big games? Well in my opinion, humility, tenacity and great coaching. Your squad has to be totally and genuinely humble.
Not the artificial humility displayed on the press conference podium after another predictable loss but a strong and truly gracious humility. Secondly, when no one expects your team to do much of anything, then your players have to have and display the tenacity of a school of piranhas.
The game plan must be just as tenacious and fearless as the players on the court. A game plan cannot be tailored on how to badger and work certain officials. Trying to manipulate the psyches of certain officials so that calls will go your way takes the focus away from you strategizing so that the game will go your way. We should be so lucky to have the Butler “ambiance” and attitude at Pitt.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)