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Jim Ferry previews City Game vs. Pitt

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

Duquesne tips off against Pitt Friday in the annual City Game, with the Dukes (3-1) hoping to snap a 13-game losing streak against the Panthers (4-3).

Duquesne coach Jim Ferry met with media Wednesday to preview the matchup. I've posted the video above, via GoDuquesne.com, and here are some highlights.

On Pitt-Duquesne matchup: "It's two young teams trying to find themselves right now." Duquesne has been inconsistent defensively, must be more disciplined and, especially, be able to compete on the glass. "The last time Duquesne beat Pitt, we ourebounded them. That's what it's going to take to win this basketball game." ... "We're not here to compete. We're here to win."

On only playing four games so far: "It’s less than ideal." Dukes were supposed to have a game prior to NJIT but the opponent had to pull out because of a tournament commitment. Can’t focus on that, though. Duquesne has had a longer time to practice. Every Tuesday, the team came in and faked as if it were a game day. Treated it like a game day, played a full 40 minutes. "It's not the same experience. It's not against somebody else. There's no crowd. And my coaches are awful officials."

On how Duquesne matches up on the boards: "Not well rebounding, not well. I just challenged my team with that. I don't think we're playing physically enough yet. I don't think we're playing tough enough yet. I think we do it in spurts. I'm not sure if we're tough enough to complete on the glass tomorrow. We're going to find out. ... We might be, we just have to do it. And have to do it for 40 minutes. That's what my concern is."

On Pitt's rebounding: "They're getting 50 percent of their misses back, which is outrageous.”

On 3-point percentage (.490), which is No. 2 nationally: "We don’t just huck ‘em up. We're a pretty balanced scoring team." Pieces are fitting well together. "We can’t rely on 3-point shooting, but when you’ve got guys who can make them you’ve got to play off each other and take the open shot.”

On Pitt's faster pace this season: "That's our pace. We want to play at our pace. We're one of the highest-scoring teams in the country right now; we play at a very fast and aggressive pace. I'd like to get the game at that pace. I don't know if they're going to want to get the game at that pace."

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About the Canucks - 12-04-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Canucks.

When and where: 7 p.m, EST, Consol Energy Center.

TV: Root Sports, SportsNet 360.

Record: 17-7-1, 35 points. The Canucks are in second place in the Pacific Division.

Leading Scorers: Right winger Daniel Sedin and center Henrik Sedin (right), 24 points (6 goals, 18 assists).

Last Game: 4-3 road win against the Capitals, Tuesday. Daniel Sedin had two goals and an assist for the Canucks.

Last Game against the Penguins: 5-4 home shootout loss, Jan. 7. Left winger Chris Higgins and right winger Zack Kassian had a regulation goal and an assist for the Canucks.

Canucks Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Henrik Sedin. He has 13 points in 13 career games against the Penguins.

Ex-Penguins on the Canucks: None.

Ex-Canucks on the Penguins: Andrew Ebbett, C; Christian Ehrhoff, D; Mike Johnston, head coach.

Useless Canucks Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins:  Daniel Sedin is one of three players who were selected No. 2 overall in an NHL draft who have won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer. The others are Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Red Wings/Kings/Rangers center Marcel Dionne.

The last time the Canucks played the Penguins, this happened:

Probable goaltenders: Thomas Greiss (3-1-1, 2.37 GAA, .927 SV%) for the Penguins. Eddie Lack (1-3-1, 3.30 GAA, .894 SV%) for the Canucks.

Injuries: For the Penguins, center Marcel Goc (foot) is probable. Left wingers Chris Kunitz (foot) and Scott Wilson (xxx) are out. Right wingers Beau Bennett (knee), Pascal Dupuis (blood clot) and Kris Letang ("lower body") are on injured reserve. For the Canucks, defenseman Dan Hamhuis ("lower body"), right winger Zack Kassian (finger) and left winger Tom Sestito (leg) are on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins did not hold a morning skate with full attendance. Consider this a guess at their lines and defensive pairings:

13 Nick Spaling - 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
59 Jayson Megna - 71 Evgeni Malkin -  13 Blake Comeau
25 Andrew Ebbett - 16 Brandon Sutter - 23 Steve Downie
  38 Zach Sill - 57 Marcel Goc - 27 Craig Adams

  10 Christian Ehrhoff - 3 Olli Maatta
8 Brian Dumoulin - 7 Paul Martin
47 Simon Despres - 4 Rob Scuderi

-The Canucks lines and defensive pairings at today's morning skate were:

22 Daniel Sedin - 33 Henrik Sedin -17 Radim Vrbata
20 Chris Higgins - 13 Nick Bonino - 14 Alexandre Burrows
27 Shawn Matthias - 15 Brad Richardson - 7 Linden Vey
51 Derek Dorsett - 53 Bo Horvat -36 Jannik Hansen

 

23 Alexander Edler - 8 Christopher Tanev
5 Luca Sbisa - 3 Kevin Bieksa
18 Ryan Stanton - 6 Yannick Weber

Notes:

-Adams needs one game to tie former Penguins center Ron Schock's franchise record for consecutive games played (313).

-Comeau has 99 career assists.

-Henrik Sedin has 199 career goals.

-Canucks coach Willie Desjardins turned down an offer from the Penguins in order to take his current position.

-The referees are Marc Joannette (No. 25) and Greg Kimmerly (No. 18). The linesmen are Greg Devorksi (No. 54) and Darren Gibbs (No. 66).

-Note: We will not be live blogging tonight's game on account of unforeseen circumstances. We will be on location and will have a blog post recapping the game afterwards however.

(Photo: Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

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Being in Canada drove Desjardins' decision - 12-04-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

This past summer, close friends Mike Johnston and Willie Desjardins (above) were each candidates for head coaching gigs in the NHL including in Pittsburgh and Vancouver.

Johnston, who served as the best man in Desjardins' wedding many years ago, ultimately ended up as the Penguins' head coach but only after Bill Peters chose to go to the Hurricanes and Desjardins turned down the Penguins in order to take over the Canucks.

Earlier today, Desardins was asked what went into his decision to chose the Canucks instead of the Penguins.

"I think there's different things that went into it. One was being back in Canada, a Canadian market for my wife. She wanted to work. And my history a little bit with Trevor Linden maybe had a little bit to do with it too. There was a few things but they're both unbelievable spots, that's for sure."

(Photo: Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

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Empty Netter Assists - 12-04-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Robert Bortuzzo will have some free time the next few days.

-"Oh, I hope he plays 700 in a row." - Former Penguins captain Ron Schock on Craig Adams being on the verge of breaking his franchise record for consecutive games played.

-"You see the determination in both Ron and Adams’ case and you can understand why they play through things.” - Jim Rutherford on Schock, his former teammate, and Adams.

-Injuries have given Jayson Megna a promotion to the second line. Also, Scott Wilson is expected to be sidelined two weeks due to an undisclosed injury.

-“When you look at what was there and the opportunity, it’s unbelievable. You look at where they are in the standings, so that’s what type of team they are. And to have an opportunity to coach that kind of team is pretty special. That’s a special group. Not just [Sidney] Crosby. They have so much talent there and it’s a great city, too.” - Canucks coach Willie Desjardins on entertaining an offer to take over as Penguins coach this past summer.

-Bortuzzo speaks:

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Sidney Crosby speaks:

-Marcel Goc speaks:

-Injuries in Pittsburgh are making it tough to fill out a lineup in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-After the Jump: Alec Martinez gets paid.

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Freshmen will make impact in WPIAL basketball ...... predicted section winners

Written by Mike White on .

While the state football playoffs reach the semifinals this weekend, high school basketball in Pennsylvania begins.

There are a number of interesting storylines in basketball for this season. How long will New Castle's winning streak last (it is at 31 games)? Will New Castle and Hampton still dominate after dropping to Class AAA? How will Lincoln Park fare moving up to Class AA and Chartiers Valley up to Class AAAA?

But another one of the interesting storylines this season also will be the "fresh" faces that will show up on teams. It seems there are some freshmen around the WPIAL who could have big impacts.

One of the best is Phil Jurkovec, a 6-foot-5 ninth-grader at Pine-Richland. I have yet to see this kid play, but have been hearing about him for a few years. He scored a ton as an eighth-grader on a ninth-grade team. He is extremely athletic, dunking with ease as an eighth-grader. He will start for Pine-Richland at forward.

Jurkovec is more than a basketball player, though. He is an excellent quarterback in football. Current Pine-Richland quarterback Ben DiNucci called him a "stud" and said he is much further along with skills when DiNucci was a ninth-grader. But DiNucci said Jurkovec is probably better in basketball. That says a lot.

Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz kept Jurkovec on the ninth-grade team this season, but Jurkovec might very well be the Rams' varsity quarterback this season. If you wonder whether this kid has talent, check out his highlight tape from Hudl.

Other freshmen who might have big impacts this season are:

**Rob Carmody, a 6-3 guard at Mars. The son of coach Rob Carmody, the younger Carmody has good size and will start and be a key player for the Planets. He is solid in many phases of the game. He was a starting defensive back on the football team.

**Curtis Aiken, 6-1 guard at North Allegheny. Aiken isn't listed as a starter for North Allegheny, but he will see plenty of action. The son of former Pitt player Curtis Aiken, the younger Aiken is quick, has a good handle and has an extremely bright future.

**John Paul Kromka, a 6-7 forward-center at Gateway. Another in a line of Kromka brothers at Gateway, John Paul has good size. New Gateway coach Daryn Freedman isn't shy about talking about his team. He said the Gators are aiming to be the top defensive team in the WPIAL and state and that the team has one of the best frontcourts in the WPIAL. About Kromka, Freedman said, "He will likely lead all WPIAL freshmen playing varsity in points, rebounds and blocked shots."

One of Kromka's older brothers, James, will be a senior guard-forward for the team.

**Torian Leak, a 5-7 guard at Beaver Falls. It looks like Leak will start at guard for the Tigers, which means they will start a freshman and two sophomores (6-4 Donovan Jeter and 6-6 Josh Creach). Leak also is an excellent athlete. He was a running back on the football team and rushed for more than 200 yards in one game.

Some other freshmen around the WPIAL also could have impacts. Ford City coach Greg Hutcherson plans to start two freshmen - 6-4 Nate Baillie and 6-foot Dawson Porter

Three of New Castle's top reserves are freshmen - Marcus Hooker, Lorenzo Gardner and Geno Stone. Hooker is the younger brother of former New Castle star Malik Hooker, now a freshman football player at Ohio State.

Two of Beaver Falls' top players off the bench will be freshmen - 5-10 Malik Shepherd and 6-2 Syron Noyes.

Put it all together, and maybe the future looks bright for WPIAL basketball talent. But the question is how high will these freshmen rise and how much will they improve over the next few years?

Predicted section winners

The season starts with tipoff tournaments around the state. But section play begins next Friday.

Here are predicted section winners for the entire WPIAL and City League:

WPIAL CLASS AAAA - 1. Hempfield. 2. Gateway. 3. Seneca Valley. 4. Chartiers Valley.

WPIAL CLASS AAA - 1. Hampton. 2. Ambridge. 3. Indiana. 4. Steel Valley. 5. South Fayette.

WPIAL CLASS AA - 1 Lincoln Park. 2. Apollo-Ridge. 3. Seton-LaSalle. 4. Brownsville. 5. Aliquippa.

WPIAL CLASS A - 1. Sewickley Academy. 2. Vincentian. 3. Monessen. 4. Jeannette.

CITY LEAGUE - Allderdice.

 

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