Ferry calls Smart incident 'appalling,' previews Richmond

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

Duquesne coach Jim Ferry joined the weekly A-10 teleconference Monday morning to touch on a few college basketball matters and preview the Dukes' Wednesday night matchup against Richmond (15-8, 5-3 Atlantic 10).

Following right behind VCU coach Shaka Smart, Ferry started off with his thoughts on the Marcus Smart incident, in which the Oklahoma State star pushed a fan after being provoked late in a loss against Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. Smart was suspended for three games.

On Smart incident ...

"I'd like to echo what Shaka had to say. The incident with the kid Smart at Oklahoma State, I'm actually surprised it doesn't happen more. We speak to our student athletes about this all the time. I really think it's starting to get out of control, especially here in February, in the heat of the battle, everybody's fighting for something. I think that was appalling — by an adult. Obviously, the kid made a poor decision, but we've got to make sure stuff like that doesn't happen in our conference. I think this is a great conference. I think the schools really care about each other; I think this group of coaches in this league is great coaches, great people. I think everybody really cares about the league, and that's something I think could be helped. I think it needs to be addressed a little bit stronger. It's just not good for our game. I don't think it's fair that you've got these kids from 18 to 21 dealing with a lot of pressure — you've got Twitter, you've got Facebook, kids getting attacked — and then you have something being said to a kid like that. We've got to be careful that doesn't happen more. I just wanted to echo that; I agree with Shaka.

Opening statement ...

"On our end, basketball-wise, we're not playing real well. I think we were playing a little bit better a couple weeks ago. Offensively, I think more than anything else, we've gotten out of our rhythm. We haven't clicked in these past three games. We're struggling scoring. Obviously teams are getting to know each other a little bit more and are seeing what we are, but we've got to start playing a little more unselfishly. The ball's got to move more. We have the ability to score the ball when we play the right way. Defensively, it's a constant grind in this league because everyone's so talented. We have to defend, and we have to rebound. We've really been hurt on the glass; we've been out-rebounded our last three games, which is such a big factor in winning in this league. I think we've got to clean this stuff up as we get ready for the stretch run, get ready for the conference tournament."

On team's frustration level ...

"We haven't practiced yet since we lost, so I don't have the answer to that in regards to how they [players] are responding. The league is brutal. If I'm correct, I think La Salle might have lost four out of five, and they're a fantastic team — four starters back from a Sweet 16 team. I know Dayton went through a stretch. It's a tough league, and especially where we're at. We're rebuilding our program. We're significantly better than we were last year, but we're obviously not where we want to be or need to be compared to a lot of the teams in this league. Our message is we've got to focus on things we can control, and that's getting better every day. We have to give the kids certain things to grab onto to get better. You can't come in and say, 'We're not doing this, this, this, this, this,' and give them 10, or you're not going to get better at any of them. So, we've really got to focus in on specific things — two things defensively we have to do better, and two things offensively we have to do better. And then hold ourselves accountable for that. I think we'll be fine. We've got a great group of kids. They're playing really hard. It's not anything about effort. It's playing better. We have to do that; we have to play better. We've been up or very, very close in every single league game except for that St. Joe's game. So, we have the ability to compete. Whether it's fatigue, whether it's lack of depth, lack of maturity that's been hurting us, we've got to clean that up."

On necessary offensive fixes ...

"Some of it has to do with the teams we're playing against, what their defensive philosophies are. Some of it has to do with some of the decisions we've been making lately. We haven't really been clicking. I think our point-guard play hasn't been great, though it got a little better the other day. We need some guys off the bench to make some plays for us as well. It can't just be the guys that are starters; I'd contribute some of that to the depth."

On problems Richmond presents ...

"[laugh] A lot. They really defend you. They only give up 65 points per game. Here we are talking about us not playing well offensively, and now we've got to play a really good defensive team. Obviously, coach [Chris] Mooney does a really fantastic job with all their Princeton offense stuff; it's very difficult to prepare for. They lost somebody [Cedrick Lindsay], but they still have the leading scorer in the league in Kendall Anthony, who is just playing phenomenal right now — averaging 20 points per game in league play, with great quickness and great shot-blocking. We've got a lot to prepare for this week. But we've really got to focus on ourselves and make sure we are playing the right way for our team no matter who we're playing against. If we clean that up coming into this game, we'll give ourselves a chance."

On production of Ovie Soko ...

"Ovie's got great versatility for a forward, and I love for our forwards to have that. The ability to drive the basketball from the forward position puts a lot of pressure on teams defensively. That's why we're so good at getting to the foul line. Forwards guarding guys that are driving foul a lot. I think his ability to get to the rim, to get fouled, he finishes offensive rebounds, and he can shoot — he shoots better than people think, he's got a good mid-range game — his total versatility. I think sometimes with Ovie he'll take some bad shots when he doesn't need to; if he just continues to play he'll either get to the foul line or get himself a layup. Sometimes when he takes a bad shot, his shooting percentage comes down. But he has the ability to drive and kick and create for other guys as well. When Ovie's playing well, we're playing well. That's been very obvious throughout the year. I think we've got to play a little bit better around him offensively so he doesn't have to do as much."

On how far Soko's game can expand ...

"He's expanded a lot. His sit-out year, he really expanded a lot. When he came here, UAB had played him as basically a low-post player. He didn't have the freedom to play on the perimeter and drive the basketball. We spent the whole offseason really improving his ball-handling skills, his passing skills, and his shooting skills. He does have a ways to go; he can improve significantly. His future once he leaves college, how good he's going to be, is going to be all dictated by his shooting ability. I think that goes for every kid. How well he can shoot the basketball, and how well he can expand his range and shoot the ball consistently. I think that's farther behind than other part of his game right now."

Stephen J. Nesbitt:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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Free Landscape Design Course for beginners at Mt. Lebanon Library

Written by Doug Oster on .

Mt. Lebanon Public Library Landscape Design Course
Penn State Master Gardener and landscape designer Claire Schuchman will teach this three week course geared to the novice.
We will use the concepts of sustainable design like right plant/right place, shading out weeds with ground covers; use of hardy natives plants; and installing rain barrels or permeable pavement.
Please bring: graph paper, pencils, ruler, package of different colored pencils, and some 18"-24" tracing paper. Students will benefit from having a plot plan or a survey of their property if available and pictures of gardens they like.

Week One
(2/24): Site analysis, which is simply an inventory of site features including the house, a garage,
trees, paths, driveways, easements or even a bad view. Also things like soil conditions, wind, shade and sun.
Week Two (3/3): the dreaming begins when the students will develop a program which includes planning for outdoor activities like children's play areas, a pool or pond, entertaining, and napping, as well as privacy, lighting and security. These ideas will go on paper and be moved around like a jigsaw puzzle until the student is happy with the placement.
Week Three (3/10): we take all that information and begin to put it into a realistic form using the scale of 1" = 8' on graph paper. Supportive materials covered during the three sessions will include a discussion on the five elements of good design, necessary tools toaccomplish the plan,and a time for practical questions and answers.
No advance registration is required; however, participants should plan to attend all three sessions and bring the
recommended supplies and information about their property to get the most out of this landscaping course.
Claire Schuchman is a local landscape designer, Master Gardener, and frequent contributor to Mt. Lebanon Magazine.
Her garden has been featured on past Mt. Lebanon Public Library Annual Garden Tours.
Course begins at 6:00 PM on the following Mondays, Feb 24, Mar 3 and Mar
10, 2014.
For more information call the library at 412-531-1912 or e-mail the Garden Tour coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Crosby on Sochi - 02-10-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Prior to the overtime period of  the gold medal game in the 2010 Winter Olympics, Sidney Crosby had a rather pedestrian tournament by his considerable standards. But concerns over his "mere" point per game scoring average and an inability to mesh with all-star linemates such as Rick Nash were eliminated after he shouted Jarome Iginla's nickname and exposed Ryan Miller's five hole with an overtime goal which won a gold medal for Canada in Vancouver on a smaller North American rink.

Four years later, the Olympics are being held in Sochi, Russia on a larger rink and Crosby will lead Canada's defense of its gold medal as the team's captain.

Earlier this season, Crosby addresses questions regarding the games and Canada's history on larger rinks.

The NHL will shut down for more than two weeks and put several of its high profile players at risk to injury. Does the NHL get enough benefit from participating in the Olympics?

"I think they do. It’s great exposure. On top of that, hockey fans, whether you’re a fan of the NHL or other leagues, get to see everybody together at the same time. I think it’s a great thing to be a part of."

There's a nine hour time difference between the East Coast and Sochi. Will any benefit the league gets from television be limited by that?

"I don’t look at it from that standpoint. I look at it from a player’s standpoint. It’s an opportunity to play for your country and basically having the whole world watch, I think that’s good for everybody whether you’re a player or a fan."

What do you expect the atmosphere to be like in Sochi?

"I’ve never been there [to Russia]. They showed us some stuff at the orientation camp in Calgary. I think when you’re there, you’re pretty much practicing. You’re with your group. It’s not like you’re going too far [outside of the Olympic village]. From what I’ve heard, basically that city was built for the Olympics. The village is pretty much where you’re staying for most of it."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock will be your head coach for Canada as he was in 2010. Dan Bylsma played for him in Anaheim. Are there any similarities in how they coach?

"I think just the style. They want a fast pace game. They like speed. They try to really force guys to move the puck quick, make quick decisions. Play with a lot of place. I think that’s pretty noticeable, at least for me either at Team Canada camp or playing of team Canada and here [the Penguins]. It’s a pretty seamless transition that way. They both expect that. That’s nice for me. I don’t have to change much."

The 2006 Olympics were the last played on the larger dimensions of an International Ice Hockey Federation rink. Canada's management was criticized for taking several players seen as better fits for North American rinks. After finishing in seventh in those Olympics, do you think Canada has taken a different approach to playing on a larger rink?

"Maybe. From what I understood in camp, everything looked to be pretty similar to the way we played in Vancouver on North American ice. Foundation and the way your play and guys’ strength, you’re not going to be able to change that in a couple of weeks. I’m sure there will be tiny adjustments. But for the most part, even with the ice being a little bit bigger, you try to play the same way."

There was a lot of criticism at management when you were left off that team. Do you ever think about that or dwell on it?

"No. Honestly, I didn’t think I had a chance of being considered. I’m 18 years old. I didn’t even think it was possible. So when my name was being thrown around, I was obviously excited. To not be on it… it wasn’t like I expected to be on it. I thought it was just a good thing that I was mentioned in the mix and that meant I had a pretty good start to my first [NHL] year. As soon as I wasn’t picked, I was a fan like everyone else."

Since the NHL first starting participating in the Olympics in 1998, the United States and Canada have only won medals when the tournaments were held in North America (2002 in Salt Lake City and 2010 in Vancouver). Do you think the difference in time zones with tournaments in the Eastern Hemisphere have played a factor?

"I don’t know. [Europeans] are playing here and going over. Whether they’re used to it…I don’t know. I don’t think that had much to do with it. Everyone has to travel back to do the same thing. I can’t see that playing too big of a part. There’s definitely more of a comfort level here [in North America], there’s no doubt. In Vancouver, you know your surroundings and you’re familiar with everything. You get treated probably a little bit better when you’re hosting. You get a nicer room and stuff like that. You get taken care of a little bit better just because you’re the host. Other than that, I think there’s not a great explanation for that."

Are questions or concerns about how the North American teams will play on the larger IIHF rinks overblown?

"I think it’s overblown. It’s a fair point. It’s a fact. But to say that’s the reason for winning, that’s looking into it a little bit too much. I think ultimately the team that plays the best is going to win. It’s not going to matter, the size of the ice. If your goalie stands on his head and steals you a game, the size of the ice doesn’t really matter. It’s a detail of the game. Just like playing a different team, you have to adjust sometimes. I don’t think you have to change the way your team plays. If that’s the case, you’re probably going be in trouble."

(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

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Do you have a Pittsburgh song?

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

The Post-Gazette held a Best Pittsburgh Song Contest in 2006 and Bob Pegritz gave each one a listen. Bob is a native of Smock, Fayette County who used to live and work in Pittsburgh. He has been living in Lancaster County for several years.

“Some people used melodies that already existed and put in Pittsburgh words,” he said. “Some were original melodies but I got so angry one night that I sat at my computer and this song came out.”

Bob writes: "Mike Gallagher, Pittsburgh Irish and folk music icon was so kind to set my words about my home town to music. Paddy Folan, accordianist in Guaranteed Irish lent his expertise and Jamie Peck, master engineer and part-time bassist and percussionist made our song come alive.

 “I don’t want to make anything from this," he told Walkabout today, "but I want to let people know what Pittsburgh is about. It’s not synonymous with Primanti’s. It’s not the shot-and-beer thing or the Steelers. My grandparents did not break their backs in this town to be told that’s what Pittsburgh’s all about.”
Post-Gazette readers cast 14,866 votes in choosing “I Love Pittsburgh” by Jimmy Sapienza in 2006 It has a swinging, uptown spirit and calls out all the sports teams. You can surely dance to it. It won with 64 percent of the vote.
My former colleague Monica Haynes reported on the contest result, citing the inspiration as coming from Atlanta’s 2005 commissioning of a song to promote that city. “The result was a hip-hop-flavored R&B tune called the ‘ATL,’” she wrote. “After hearing about Atlanta’s new ditty, folks at the Post-Gazette began wondering what kind of song could best show the world what Pittsburgh is all about.”
It has been eight years since the contest. Might be time for a new contest to see how the city is inspiring a new generation. 


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It's time for WPIAL basketball bracketology

Written by Mike White on .

The WPIAL basketball steering committee is meeting today to determine seedings and playoff pairings. Matchups will be announced tomorrow night at a meeting in Green Tree.

But let's have a little bracketology class today.


I think three teams from Section 3 deserve the top three seeds. Based on what they did this year, and also what happened last year. A year ago, four teams from Section 3 made the semifinals. That's the first time four teams from once section made the semifinals. Last year shouldn't have much to do with this year, but last year proved the strength of Section 3 and it is strong again this year

North Allegheny and Hampton tied for second in the section. It's hard to differentiate between the two because they split two meetings. So let's put them 2-3. (Pictured is North Allegheny senior guard David Haus).

What makes the seedings for this class a little difficult is what to do with the three teams from Section 2 - Franklin Regional, Fox Chapel and Gateway. They should all be seeded somewhere 7 through 12, but it's a little hard because you have to keep them away from playing each other in the first round.

So let's go with this: 1. New Castle vs. 16. Latrobe; 2. Hampton vs. 15. Peters Township; 3. North Allegheny vs. 14. Norwin; 4. Hempfield vs. 13. Mt. Lebanon; 5. Plum vs. 12. Seneca Valley; 6. Upper St. Clair vs. 11 Gateway; 7. Franklin Regional vs. 10. Kiski Area; 8. Bethel Park vs. 9. Fox Chapel.

I thought of moving things around a little to have USC play Kiski Area, but you would also have to make some other changes. That is a possibility. But should Kiski Area, a second-place team from Section 1, drop all the way to a No. 11 seed, even though Section 1 hasn't done well in the playoffs lately?


What "Valley" team should get the No. 1 seed - Central Valley or Chartiers Valley? Chartiers Valley has one loss (to Ambridge) and Central Valley two (Obama and Hampton). Chartiers Valley lost to Ambridge and Central Valley beat Ambridge twice. But Chartiers Valley didn't have standout guard Matty McConnell (pictured) against Ambridge.

So who should it be? Well, the coin is in the air and ...

Chartiers Valley is No. 1.

There are 21 teams in this bracket, so there will have to be some preliminary-round games. So I will just give you my top 12 seeds because the preliminary-round games could go so many different ways.

1. Chartiers Valley. 2. Central Valley. 3. Uniontown. 4. Thomas Jefferson. 5. Elizabeth Forward. 6. Indiana. 7. Mars. 8. Knoch. 9. Montour. 10. Steel Valley. 11. Blackhawk. 12. Ambridge.

Does Uniontown deserve the No. 3 seed over Thomas Jefferson? Tough question. Uniontown has only one loss, but troubles in early-round games the past few years make you wonder just how good this Uniontown team is. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt one more year. It's also tough to decide where to put Indiana, Mars and Knoch, who all tied for the Section 1 championship. We decided the best thing is to put them right next to each other in 6 through 8.

CLASS AAMike Mastroianni

Two questions with this class are about Quaker Valley and Beaver Falls. Quaker Valley had only two losses - both to Avonworth - so where should the Quakers be seeded? They have a terrific record, but can't be ahead of Avonworth. (Pictured is Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni). By the way, a shoutout to Avonworth, which won a section title for the first time in 40 years.

And where should two-time defending champ Beaver Falls go? Should an injury affect a team's seeding? Beaver Falls is without standout point guard Elijah Cottrill because of a knee injury. There is no way the Tigers are the same team without him.

Like Class AAA, I am only seeding the top 12. There are 24 teams in these playoffs and those preliminary-round games could go a lot of different ways.

Here goes ...

1. Seton-LaSalle. 2. Greensburg Central Catholic. 3. Aliquippa. 4. Avonworth. 5. Summit Academy. 6. Quaker Valley. 7. Beaver Falls. 8. Washington. 9. Neshannock. 10. Brownsville. 11. Apollo-Ridge. 12. South Allegheny.


The top is easy to do in this class. The bottom is a little hard to do because there are four teams with records below .500 and trying to differentiate between them is difficult. Also, where should Section 4 champion Wilkinsburg go? Should the Tigers get a top five seed because of a section championship or go below Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic and Sewickley Academy, who tied for second in Section 2? North Catholic played a very good non-section schedule.

Here goes ...

1. Lincoln Park vs. 16. St. Joseph. 2. Vincentian vs. 15. Mapletown. 3. Monessen vs. 14. Trinity Christian. 4. OLSH vs. 13. Eden Christian. 5. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic vs. 12. Winchester Thurston. 6. Sewickley Academy vs. 11. Clairton. 7. Wilkinsburg vs. 10. Union. 8. Western Beaver vs. 9. Carmichaels.



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