Tra'Vaughn White to transfer after one season at Duquesne

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .


Junior guard Tra'Vaughn White has been granted a release and will transfer from Duquesne, head coach Jim Ferry announced Thursday afternoon.

White spent just one season with the Dukes after transferring from Independence Community College last spring. He averaged 7.4 points in 16.6 minutes per game as a sixth man.

“Tra’Vaughn is a great kid and a great teammate who will always be part of our Duquesne family,” Ferry said in a statement. “He made the decision to pursue other opportunities and we, as a staff, are committed to supporting him in his transition. We wish him nothing but the best.”

It's not a particularly surprising move, either.

White opened the season as starting guard but was soon eclipsed by sharp-shooting sophomore Micah Mason, who averaged 10.6 points per game and shot .566 from 3-point range — the 10th-best 3-point percentage in NCAA history.

White struggled defensively in the Atlantic 10 and, at 5-foot-10, created a bad pairing when both he and starting sophomore point guard Derrick Colter (5-foot-11) were on the court.

White's departure leaves another scholarship open for the 2014 recruiting class. Ferry has already secured commitments from guard Eric James (Westerville, Ohio) and forward TySean Powell (Cleveland).

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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Best Neighborhoods nominations open

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

fountainPittsburghers, here’s your chance to get some recognition for your neighborhood.
Northwood Realty Services is holding a first-ever process for people to nominate their neighborhoods on points such as best view, best yard sale, architectural features, best holiday decorations, etc. The winners will be featured in regional editions of InCommunity Magazines and receive special recognition and bragging rights.
Residents of Allegheny, Butler, Westmoreland and Washington Counties can nominate their neighborhoods across a range of categories, which you can get more information about here.
The nomination deadline is April 30.
Here is the nomination form.
Winners will be notified and announced on June 15.
Here at Walkabout, we don’t value neighborhoods based on property values, although this contest’s “best all-around neighborhood” qualifications are based on these, the most prestigious of three being the legendary division, which has property values above $350,000.
I will refrain from nominating my neighborhood, but the Mexican War Streets would be a contender in the “best spirit” category, i.e., “most stoop parties,” i.e., “most empty wine bottles.”
Best view? Must we see the same Mount Washington hands? How about Fineview? Best yard sales? Anyone?
I have some categories that Northwood isn’t considering, with Walkabout winners already decided:
Best dried fish, Andean knitted goods and biscotti? The Strip.
Best metal awnings? Tie: Lawrenceville and Bloomfield.
Best bird watching? Duh. Hays.
Best pot holes? Squirrel Hill.
Best fountain? Downtown.
Most rentals? Shadyside.
Best kept secret? Brookline.
Most slender? Esplen.
Most quiet? Ridgemont.
Most potential: Homewood.


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Yinzerpedia: Squirrel Hill tunnel work, Pittsburgh litter, leaving Pittsburgh

Written by Ethan Magoc on .

Pittsblogh readers seemed to enjoy the first two editions of Yinzerpedia, so we’re bringing it back, albeit on a monthly basis.

And yes, we affectionately call this feature “Yinzerpedia,” because it takes the principle of the crowdsourcing site Wikipedia, but the "crowd" for our purposes is all of yinz.

On tap this week: tunnel repairs, littering and leaving Pittsburgh.

Question: When will the Squirrel Hill tunnel be done and what is their work schedule? (March 25)

Squirrel-Hill-Tunnels Darrell Sapp Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

(Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette)

This originally came to the Post-Gazette from Brian Horgan on Twitter, and we redirected to Jon Schmitz, our resident traffic expert and reporter.

In other words, hang in there, tunnel commuters.


Question: What is the deal with all this litter in Pittsburgh? (April 1)


Trash on Mount Washington Robin Rombach Pittsburgh Post Gazette



You need not rappel down the side of Mount Washington to help beautify the city, as Nick Romaniello of the Allegheny Mountain Rescue Group did at the end of March. (Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette)


A visiting Floridian and former Pittsburgh resident first raised the topic in a letter to the editor. He was shocked at the amount of litter in and around the city this time of year.

Many commenters in the thread pointed out that winter tends to shield some of the litter, and once the snow melts, everything from dog waste to beer cans seem pervasive.

Pittsburgh has a complicated history with trash clean-up efforts, as Mila Sanina wrote earlier this year on “The Digs.

We don’t recommend this approach from selltheburgh: “I've made it a habit of telling people that they dropped something when they litter. Once I tossed a woman's mcdonald's cup back into her window when I saw her drop it out. She went ballistic.”

But you can help solve the region’s trash issues in a more constructive way on April 12.

Question: How would you spend your last day in Pittsburgh? (April 8)

Pittsburgh Point State Park at night photo by Rebecca Droke Pittsburgh Post Gazette

(Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette)

It’s an interesting thought experiment (not new to Reddit), and many former Pittsburghers had to live it during the 20th century steel industry exodus. The responses highlight residents’ favorite things to do here.

Here’s a list:

  • Kennywood
  • Boating around the rivers and Point State Park
  • Rain-free Three Rivers Arts Festival
  • Visit friends
  • National Aviary
  • Pierogies at Church Brew Works
  • Penguins game
  • Pirates game with walkoff home run and fireworks
  • Primanti’s and Yuengling
  • Drive through the Fort Pitt Tunnel at night
  • Walk the Allegheny River trail east from the stadiums
  • Ultimate frisbee in Highmark Stadium
  • Eating at the Strip District
  • Packing

And, bringing this edition of Yinzerpedia full circle:

  • “...leaving Pittsburgh with like 4 dollars to myname... that way i can run out of gas on my way to the turnpike in the Squirrel Hill tunnels so that one day i can be the CAUSE of all the traffic on the parkway East, not just wondering why its there for no reason in the first place”

Previous Yinzerpedias:

Yinzerpedia: Park'n Eat, Mount Washington and virtual library cards (March 21)
Swimming holes, recycling schedule and Pittsburgh (March 14)

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Lenten Rose is beautiful, long-lived and blooming now

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog hllebore sunny frontI love purple hellebores, but I've got many colors in the garden. Photos by Doug Oster

The combination of long winter and late spring has compressed the season. Many of the early bloomers which usually blossom within weeks of each other, are now all flowering together.

One of these treasures is Helleborus orientalis or the Lenten Rose.

The plant comes in many colors and also is offered in an almost endless array of hybrids. It's an easy to grow shade lover which will tolerate some sun and isn't fussy about watering, although it does prefer moist to dry.

The three inch blossoms often look down, so I pick them an float them in water around the garden or in a small dish inside the house. It's the best way for me to enjoy the intricate blossoms.

It's wonderful to have flowers this size and color so early in the season, and they last for months, slowly fading away. The shiny, attractive foliage looks great all season.

The plants resents division and transplanting so find a spot which works and stick with it.

Helleborus niger is also called the Christmas Rose and blooms in November when just about everything else has finished. These two plants make amazing bookends to the season.

blog backlit helleboreThe late afternoon sun illuminates this hellebore flower.

blog helbore 40914Even though the flowers often look down, they are still beautiful.

blog helebore frontWhen they look up, the flowers reveal even more beauty.

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Notes, quotes and anecdotes from WPIAL Hall of Fame class

Written by Mike White on .

The WPIAL announced its 2014 Hall of Fame class this morning at a news conference at the Heinz History Center. The inductees will be honored at a banquet June 6 at the Doubletree Hotel in Greentree, and the event is open to the public. Go to the WPIAL web site for tickets.

A Post-Gazette story from earlier today has bios on all of the inductees.

But some notes and memories about the class:

Where are they now?

It's always interesting to find out what some of the athletes from the Hall of Fame class are doing today. Hey, I wouldn't mess with Shannon Davis. She has been a Pittsburgh city policeman for 22 years. She could be an imposing figure when she played at 6 feet 2 - and she can be imposing now.

Shannon DavisThe photo is of Davis standing next to a Franco Harris statue at the History Center. I think people forget how good Davis was. She was a three-time Parade All-American. Three times!!!! She was first-team USA Today All-American in 1989. She scored more than 2,000 career points and she led Sacred Heart High School to a state championship as a senior - and played the entire season with a torn ACL.

Former WTAE sportscaster John Meyer introduced all of the inductees.

"This was awesome," said Davis. "When [Meyer] was reading the stats, I didn't even remember them, as far as my numbers. It was very humbling for people to still remember them."

Davis signed with the University of Virginia, but never played college basketball. The knee injury forced her to miss her first year and she came home and attended Pitt, but did not play.

More from the Where Are They Now department: Remember Beth Friday, former Upper St. Clair two-sport star who had a great basketball career at Duquesne University. She works for PNC, is married and has a 1-year-old. And she still looks like she could post up and score from the block without any problem.

She was the Post-Gazette athlete of the year in 1999. People forget that she was a tremendous soccer goalkeeper in high school. She had more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her Duquesne career. She is one of only two Duquesne womens players to have her number retired.

Dante's love for baseball

Former Blackhawk basketball star and University of North Carolina player Dante Calabria is one of the headliners of the class. He was not able to attend the news conference, but I spoke with him over the phone. He is now living in North Carolina and spent the past year as a men's and women's assistant at Northwood University, an NAIA school in West Palm Beach, Fla. He's looking to be an assistant at a Division I college. Anyone hiring?

Calabria was a great shooter, but people forget how good of an all around player he was. I have to admit he was one of my all-time favorites to cover and will always remember he eventually got the nickname of "Cheap" because he never liked to pay for anything. We always talked about going golfing "but only if you pay," he would say.

As great of a basketball player that he was, people don't realize Calabria's talents in other sports. I never saw him play football or baseball, but he supposedly was a heckuva quarterback before giving up the sport in junior high. He also played baseball until his senior year at Blackhawk.

"I couldn't ever get to practice my senior year because I was doing so much with basketball," said Calabria. "I always could throw the ball pretty hard. In the high 80s probably, but unfortunately all I could throw was a fastball and changeup.

"But honestly my love is baseball. To this day, it is. I've been a Pirates fan forever. I love it. I even go to minor-league games. With football, I played until after my freshman year. Guys might tell you I was this or that in football. I don't know good I was, but I could always throw the ball. I could throw it 60 or 65 yards. I was tall, too. People say I could've done this or done that in football, but the bottom line is I didn't love football.

"I migrated toward basketball because that's what I thought I was the best in. But I still love baseball."

Calabria played 16 years professionally overseas. Many don't realize he made it to the final cut once with the Chicago Bulls when they had Michael Jordan.

The below photo is from the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 Calabria's senior year at Blackhawk. It's Terry O'Shea from Carlynton, Calabria, Valley's Tom Pipkins, Duquesne's Derrick Scott and Penn-Trafford's Peca Arsic.

Boys Fab 5 1992

WPIAL is "big" to Yannessa

Don Yannessa coached 37 years at Aliquippa, Baldwin and Ambridge and is still seventh on the WPIAL all-time list for wins. He was one of four coaches selected this year to the WPIAL Hall of Fame. Yannessa took Aliquippa to great heights in the 1980s, winning four WPIAL titles.

"Any Hall of Fames I've been inducted into and any awards I've received have all been significant honors, but this is a great honor because this is the league where I grew up," said Yannessa, who is 73. "I played in junior high and high school at Aliquippa. I grew up as a coach here, too, as a junior-high coach and then a varsity assistant and finally a head coach. I didn't know a heck of a lot about the league when I played but I sure do now.

"I remember when I was a freshman player at New Mexico State my line coach introduced me to someone and said 'this is Donnie Yannessa and he played in one of the greatest leagues in the country, the WPIAL.' I was 18 so I said, 'really, one of the greats in the country?' I didn't know how great it was then but I know now."

Yannessa was one of the most colorful coaches I ever covered and have many great memories of him. I will never forget the first time we met. I was in college and a part-time worker at the Post-Gazette. I was assigned to do a story on Aliquippa for our football preseason tab. It was preseason practice and the Quips weren't at school. I called Aliquippa basketball coach Red McNie and asked him where the team was. He said they were having a week-long camp at a place in Zelienople called Camp Brashear.

McNie didn't know how to get there, but I took off for Zelienople, figuring I'd find it sooner or later. I finally found Camp Brashear. It was lunch time on a Friday. The team was on a break. I met Yannessa, introduced myself and he then took me to a house where the coaches stayed. We went to a room upstairs.

He pulled out a cooler of Miller High Life beer and said "You wanna beer? Now what do ya want to talk about?"

I remember saying "Man, this guy is alllllright."

A few years later, I was watching him win WPIAL championships and then watching him take my money on a golf course, before we would always head to an Aliquippa watering hole for hot sausage sandwiches from a guy named "Coolie." Then once after the hot sausage we went to the Lebanese club and met "Joey." I wasn't told exactly what Joey did for a living, but Yannessa said, "Whatever you do. don't mess with Joey." I didn't.

Yannessa gave reporters many memorable lines over the years. One of my favorites came away from football, on Beaver Lakes Golf Course, one day when I was playing "Animal" from the Post-Gazette, Yannessa and former Steelers kicker Roy Gerela. Yannessa was at Baldwin then and Gerela was an assistant there. I hit Gerela in the leg with a shank shot that day, but we won't go into that. We were on a par 3 and Gerela hit a high shot.

"Oh that's terrible. ... That's not even close. ... That's nowhere near the green," Gerela said.

Then as the ball bounced on the green, Yannessa said loudly, "Holy hell Roy, no wonder you missed that extra point against Dallas in the Super Bowl. You can't see! That's 10 feet from the pin."


When asked today if he misses coaching, Yannessa said, "If someone said to me, 'We have eight Division I players next year, do you want to coach?' I'd be there in a heartbeat. But I don't miss the days when 'well, we have a tough schedule this year and we don't have many kids out for the team."

The picture below is of the four coaches selected to the Hall of Fame this year: From left, it's Yannessa, Connellsville baseball coach Tom Sankovich, Springdale soccer coach Dave Meloni and Canevin football-soccer coach Bob Jacoby.

Yannessa WPIAL Hall Fame


Kasper's memorable play

Former North Hills quarterback Eric Kasperowicz also was one of the inductees. In 1994, the Parade All-American football had eight quarterbacks. One was Peyton Manning. Another was Kasperowicz.

John Meyer had a good line when introducing Kasperowicz today at the news conference, saying "we never heard of Peyton Manning again and Kasperowicz became a star."

Seriously, Kasperowicz was one of the best all-around players I've seen in the last 25 years. He had more than 6,000 yards offense and was a terrific defensive back. He intercepted 14 passes as a senior.

But the thing I will remember Kasperowicz for the most is "That Play." I say maybe the most memorable play in state championship history. North Hills is losing to Central Bucks West, 14-7, on a bitter cold night in the 1993 Class AAAA state championship game in Altoona. It's late in the fourth quarter. LaVar Arrington catches a long pass from Arrington, but North Hills goes backward and North Hills is facing fourth-and-goal from the 28. I said FOURTH-AND-GOAL AT THE 28. This one appears over, especially with North Hills going into a stiff wind.

But Kasperowicz pulls off a miracle. He hits Chris Feola over the middle on a slant pattern at about the 10 and Central Bucks overruns the play and Feola scores. It was like Feola had Velcro on his hip because the ball just stuck there.

Then Kasperowicz ran for the two-point conversion to give North Hills the win - and intercepted a pass to preserve the win.






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