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BILL NEAL

:10—For the younger generation, old expressions like the headline above may escape the undetachable instrument in your somewhat enlightened hands, but for the true sports vets tuned in here, they know old sayings don’t get to be old sayings by accident. “Can’t judge a book by its cover”…“The fight ain’t over till it’s over”…“Champions are made when nobody’s lookin’!” You pick one. They all fit here. The only people that thought Pitt had no chance against No. 18 West Virginia (Dec. 9) were most of you, most of whom never played anything but checkers. The Pitt Panthers came to the dance and dance they did. Never mind the nine-point loss, 69-60. Long live “ The Backyard Brawl!”

:09—Every good coach will tell you that there are no moral victories and having been one, I will agree. But you have to take a little satisfaction in the results of this “David vs. Goliath” effort, given that most experts thought it was going to be a blowout in West Virginia’s favor.

:08—Just a sidebar here. I wish I could tell a few of my close basketball friends that I am not the kind of guy to say I told ya so, but they all know I will tell ya I told ya so, and repeatedly. You can take comfort in knowing that it’s OK for me to out them by name. They’re used to it. To the greatest female to play basketball at Pitt and Big East Hall of Famer Jennifer Bruce, and Waynesburg College star and Connie Hawkins League Hall of Famer Tim Tyler, and of course, “The Trooper” Donnie Johnson, from the University of Dayton that played small forward against big forwards as well as anyone…I will remind them of a conversation we had a few weeks ago when they expressed their doubts. “I – Told – Ya – So! This is not a bad team and certainly not as bad as some would suggest. (Yeah, I said it!!!)

:07—To those of you new to this rodeo, know this: No. 1, it’s not last year’s team; No. 2, they are young and learning on the job—seven freshmen, two sophomores, three juniors and only two seniors does not a make an ACC champion; No. 3, make no mistake—there’s no quit in this Pitt basketball team and their confidence is growing game by game.

:06—Hey, I am no hypocrite. I had my doubts, especially following last year’s turn of events. Anyone would. But I, you, we have to move forward. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is a new jump ball.

:05—Speaking of hypocrites, and I am glad you brought it up, some of you so-called alumni who only show up when the going is good could stand to swallow a few harsh words and get your butts back in the seats. They need you now. Say what? Slippery Rock grad, true that… But I got my masters coaching the Blue and Gold, and I show up to the games, now shut up and let’s get back to packing “The Pete.”

:04—Player Profile: Jared Wilson-Frame… wears Number 0, quite a leader, tough, hard-nosed, gets to the hole when he wants to and can shoot the 3. Parker Stewart…wears Number 1, sure enough a 3-man (small forward), not even close to knowing how much damage he can put on a team, so watch him… Jonathan Milligan…wears No. 2, the senior, very good man running the point, doesn’t turn it over, good leader, can score. Ryan Luther…wears No. 4, the other senior, strong 6’9”, 225 pounds, fundamentally strong, good rebounder, can score inside and out. Has a lot on his shoulders, but he stayed to play! Marcus Carr… wears No. 5, gets the party started, scores from anywhere, at any time, great future, and exciting player…. Shamiel Stevenson, wears No. 23, the number he wears tells you how he feels about his talent, and “He’s your huckleberry.” Will throw it down, will throw you down, has the Sam Clancy, Chevy Troutman body that you don’t want to be in front of!

:03—Coach Kevin Stallings? You got questions…give him time to answer them. Building a program takes time, people. You don’t stay in this game this long without knowing what you’re doing.

:02—Remembering the City Game. I previously said that Duquesne is young and injured and the promise is there, especially with new coach Keith Dambrot. Both teams, Pitt and Duquesne, share similarities, but the right team took home the City Game trophy. The Dukes brought the noise, but Pitt brought the heat!

:01—Robert Morris notwithstanding, some very good basketball to be seen by our local collegiate teams in the second half of the season. I advise you to get out and see it, but for me right now, Pitt is it in the city. No offense B.B. Flenory, Bruce Atkins and Gary Nelson. To which I offer, “Let’s Go…Everybody!!” Do several inner-city games make for a great season? No! But it sure makes for a great start. (By the way…Oakland Zoo, step up your game!!!)

:00—GAME OVER.

 

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