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Brewed On Grant: Dick LeBeau

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Dick LeBeau is no longer the offensive coordinator for the Steelers, who released him in January. But he is not retiring. He's is moving to Tennessee to coach for the Titans. Pittsburgh City Council proclaimed February as "Dick LeBeau Month." 

021115 Dick LeBeau

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Marvel and Sony agreement unites Spider-Man and Avengers' cinematic universe at last

Written by Sharon Eberson on .

 

Sony Pictures and Marvel announced today that "the new Spider-Man" will appear in a Marvel film from Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU), and Sony will thereafter release the next installment of its Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by Marvel's Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal and the team at Marvel.

Spider-Man is the most successful franchise in the history of Sony Pictures, taking in more than $4 billion worldwide.

"Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the webslinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films," according to the announcement at Marvel.com.

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Marvel and Sony Pictures are also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the Marvel into future Spidey films, the statement said.

It continued, "The new relationship follows a decade of speculation among fans about whether Spider-Man – who has always been an integral and important part of the larger Marvel Universe in the comic books – could become part of the Marvel Universe on the big screen. Spider-Man has more than 50 years of history in Marvel's world, and with this deal, fans will be able to experience Spider-Man taking his rightful place among other Super Heroes in the MCU."

The report did not confirm rampant speculation that Andrew Garfield would not be back as Spider-Man after two films as Peter Parker. The deal follows on the heels of a Change.org petition after "Sony recently declined the opportunity to include Spider-Man in the upcoming Civil War movie, in which he plays a major role," according to Comicbook.com.

Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said, "This is the right decision for the franchise, for our business, for Marvel, and for the fans."

 

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Jim Ferry, Jeremiah Jones talk defensive struggles, GW

Written by Craig Meyer on .

I've tweeted about it a few times this week, so I don't want to belabor the point, but Duquesne's been really porous on defense this season. Those struggles will be the focus of a story I have running in tomorrow's paper. For now, I'll leave you with some statistics before sharing some insights from both Jim Ferry and junior guard Jeremiah Jones.

The Dukes are 319th of 351 Division I teams in scoring defense at 73.3 points allowed per game. They're giving up 110.4 points per 100 possessions, ranking them 322nd in Division I. In Atlantic 10 play, that mark's up to 115.3. The next closest A-10 teams in those categories are Fordham (104.1) and Saint Louis (107.4), respectively.

Here are some thoughts from Ferry and Jones regarding the team's early season switch to a zone defense and other reasons as to why Duquesne can't seem to find its defensive footing.

 

 

SCOUTING REPORT

Matchup: Duquesne (7-14, 2-8 Atlantic 10) vs. George Washington (17-6, 7-3), 7 p.m., today, Palumbo Center.
TV, Radio, Internet: Atlantic 10 Network (PCNC locally), WBGG-AM (970), GoDuquesne.com.
Duquesne: Coming off 95-69 loss at Davidson last Saturday. The loss was its seventh in its past eight games after starting the season 6-7. … F L.G. Gill had 13 points in the loss, the third time in the past six games he’s scored in double figures. Three other players – F Dominique McCoy (12), G Jeremiah Jones (11) and F TySean Powell (11) – scored in double figures against Davidson.
George Washington: Coming off 65-64 victory against Dayton in overtime last Saturday. The win was its fifth in its past seven games and snapped a two-game losing streak. … Defeated Duquesne in their previous meeting this season, 73-59, on Jan. 24. … Four players are averaging double figures in scoring, led by F Patricio Garino at 13.2 points per game.
Hidden stat: George Washington is 3-6 in road games this season.

 

JEREMIAH JONES

What do you think has contributed to so many of the team’s defensive struggles this season?

“I think there have just been a lot of adjustments we’ve been going through. Coach hasn’t really been much of a zone guy since I’ve been here, but this year, we’ve been playing a lot of zone. We started doing it a little before conference play and it’s just been a little different of an adjustment for us. We’ve gotten a lot better at it. It’s helped us keep the ball out of the paint a lot, but sometimes, it opens up the perimeter for other teams and teams that can shoot the ball well have been shooting well against us. The adjustment we’ve made going to zone also has hindered our rebounding a little bit because when you go into scramble mode, you’ve got to find guys to box out and sometimes, it’s easier to get offensive rebounds against a zone. At the same time, the zone has taken away a lot of the penetration that we used to give up in man. It’s made it easier for younger guys to play defense because in zone, you have fewer things to worry about. There’s not a lot of ball screen action and things like that. I think it’s been the adjustments that have gotten us to the lower part of the defensive stats.”

Why’d you all make that switch to the zone?

“I think we were having trouble containing penetration a lot at the beginning of the season. Our ball screen defense wasn’t very good, partially because we’re a younger team. Communication on defense wasn’t very good. The zone has helped us contain penetration. I think we’ve gotten better at rebounding as the season has gone on.”

Do guys seem more comfortable with it now? Have there been signs of progress?

“I think the zone’s gotten a lot better as we’ve played it more often. Some guys thought it was going to be easier than man, but you actually have to work harder in zone. At the top of the zone, the guards have to cover from wing to high post to the other wing. I think we’re better off playing zone than we were playing man.”

You all played GW only about three weeks ago. Was there anything you all learned from that first meeting that you might try to apply for this next one?


“We know their personnel better. Our coaches do a good job of getting us scouting reports and things like that. It’s on us to focus on the personnel and to carry it over to the games. GW isn’t a 3-point shooting team, but when we played them at home, they shot the ball very well. This time, we’re going to stick to our principles again and we have to contest shots harder. I think last time we played them, they were too comfortable and that’s why they shot the ball well. We didn’t contest shots very hard and they’re good Division I basketball players – if you don’t contest shots, they’re going to make them. We learned from that game that we need to focus more on personnel, we need to win the 50-50s – they absolutely kicked our butts on 50-50s last game – and they outrebounded us also. We learned that we need to play harder and see how much better we got.”

JIM FERRY

What do you think has contributed to so many of the team’s defensive struggles this season?

“We defend at home, we’re close every game and we win at home. Then, on the road, we’re been getting beat. We’ve played some of the better teams in the league on the road, too. The home record of the teams we’ve played on the road is like 43-5. We’ve played some good teams on the road, but we’re not able to defend on the road like we’re defending at home. Whether it’s inexperience or it’s that our offense isn’t as efficient, either, so that puts pressure on us defensively. That’s playing into it a little bit, too.”

Has the transition to the zone distorted some of these defensive numbers a bit?

“At the beginning of the year, we were struggling defensively in man-to-man. We were struggling in conversion, we were struggling in containing the basketball off the dribble and we were fouling at a ridiculous rate. We were playing both and we realized that we were playing better in our zone defense. We broke down all of the analytics of what we were doing right and doing wrong in both defenses and it was so blatant that playing 2-3 zone was the answer for us. And, to be quite honest, it’s been significantly better. We’ve given up less in conversion, we don’t get broken down to the basket as much, we’re fouling significantly less and we’re actually rebounding a little bit better. It’s getting better, but we made that decision nine games into the season, so now you’re still trying to get better at it even though we started as a man-to-man team in the summer. Now, there’s this change. We’re trying to evolve and get better at it. We’ve tried to simplify everything. My defensive scheme didn’t fit the personnel that we have right now. We thought it would, but it didn’t. Understanding how to guard ball screens, what we do on a flip screen, what we do on a side ball screen – it was too much for a lot of these young kids, who were breaking down. We simplified it in zone to basically being able to guard our area, guarding personnel and keeping the ball out of the lane, which was really where we broke down a lot.”

Do guys seem a lot more comfortable defensively now?

“They seem a lot more comfortable with it, they’re getting better at it and we have to continue to get better at it. We’re better against teams that aren’t great shooting teams, we’re able to crowd their space a little bit better. Obviously, against a team like Davidson, they beat Saint Louis by 35 and Saint Louis plays all man. It’s one of those things where you’re facing shooting. We just have to get better at it, we’ve got to continue to get better at it, we’ve got to continue to play without letting the ball get in the lane and rebound out of it. That’s what we work on on a daily basis. Every single day, we do breakdown and one-on-one out of it, so by positions, we work on playing one-on-one defense. It’s still man-to-man principles that you have to play in [the zone].”

Generally speaking, how do you teach defense? To a lot of people, it’s something that’s so hard to define or think about in concrete terms. How do you go about it?

“To me, it’s all based on personnel. And you have to take defense personally. You have to take it personally, whether it’s in zone and guarding your area or man-to-man. It still comes down to the basics of playing one-on-one defense, keeping the ball out of the lane, contesting hard to challenge everything your opponent does and being really competitive on the glass. That’s the stuff that we focus on – one-on-one containment, contesting, and rebounding and blocking out responsibilities. That’s the stuff we focus on every day. If you try to focus on everything, it becomes too much, especially when you’re trying to teach some of the younger guys and the older guys a new defense. You’ve really got to focus on certain things and keep focusing on those things and sending the same message every day. We’ve got to keep pounding away and getting better at it.”

With only one senior on the roster in Domo, how much more difficult does that make teaching those principles?

“It makes it really difficult. If you look at our roster, we have nine guys who are either freshmen, sophomores – and if they’re sophomores, they didn’t play much last year, so that’s like a freshman – or new to the program. That’s a lot of guys. That’s a lot of work and that’s a lot of time put in. But that’s where you start developing a program. And it takes time. If you look at all the programs that are like us, it takes time. It takes five, six, seven or eight years to really establish what the program is. The first part is getting some good talent and we’ve gotten that with two really good recruiting classes. Now, we’re building it.”

With the pace you all play at, does that maybe open you guys up at all on the defensive end?

“What the pace opens up is more possessions in the game. We’re going to play a contrasting style Wednesday. GW wants to milk the shot clock and play at a slow pace. When you play at a faster pace, it allows more possessions in the game. What’s happening is that our pace has slowed down a little bit because we’re playing zone and people are taking longer to shoot against us. What’s been happening to us on the road is our offensive efficiency is not as good. So now we’re creating more possessions in games, yet we keep having those gaps, those three to four minute spurts where we have these empty possessions that are really hurting us which is then putting a lot more pressure on us defensively.”

What kind of signs of improvement or signs of progress have you seen from the defense?

“There’s been a lot. We’ve been better at conversions, we’ve been significantly better at not letting the ball in the lane, we’ve been significantly better at not fouling and we’re rebounding the ball better. We’ve made progress in things that we wouldn’t have made this progress in if we were playing man-to-man. I want to be a man-to-man coach. That’s what I’ve had my success at. But as you evaluate your team and you see how your team’s being put together, you have to do what’s best for the team and what you think will help the team. For us, it’s been playing zone.”

What do you feel like you all learned from the first matchup with GW?

“The way they attacked the zone was really good. We packed it in way too much and allowed too much comfort on the perimeter. It’s only a team that makes four 3s per game and in that game, they had nine in the first half. We still have to understand what they are. They’re a paint team, but we have to do a better job of closing out once the ball gets thrown out, to challenge things and make it a little more difficult for them. And then we have to rebound the ball significantly better than we did down there. We didn’t rebound the ball down there at all.”

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

 

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Jason Isbell rocks sold-out house with dark, lonesome tales

Written by Scott Mervis on .

Isbellphoto by Johnny Saint LethalThe body count kept escalating as Jason Isbell’s set wore on Monday night at the Carnegie Music Hall in Homestead.

And the singer-songwriter from Alabama, as adept as they come with a murder ballad, captivated the sold-out crowd through a two-hour set.

Listening to Isbell, who spent six years with vaunted Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers, one gets the sense that he wore out his copy of Springsteen’s “Nebraska,” along with knowing his Willie, Waylon and Cash.

On Monday night, he played almost all of 2013’s “Southeastern,” his fourth and most accomplished solo album. It is heavy, to say the least, tackling such dark subjects as loneliness (“Traveling Alone”), a cancer battle (“Elephant”) and pedophilia at home (“Yvette”). In that last one, a classmate with a rifle and a scope takes care of the problem.

Isbell writes with exquisite detail and subtle twists, like on the song “Live Oak,” about a killer on the run: “We’d robbed a Great Lakes freighter/killed a couple men or more/When I told her, her eyes flickered like the sharp steel of a sword.”

He had a darkly humorous story about a young girl, only 9, holding a sign, requesting that at a concert. “I don’t think I write songs that appeal to people in that age group,” he said with a laugh. After the show, the girl asked him what happened to the woman, who is buried at the end of the song. When he suggested that maybe she didn’t die, her dad to him, “Thanks a lot. That’s gonna be four or five weeks of nightmares.”

Although the subject matter rarely sees the light, Isbell’s delivery is anything but droning. He has a voice as sharp and shiny as that sword, and his quartet gave the songs moody Southern accents — including slide guitar and accordion — while rocking as hard as the Truckers on “Decoration Day” and “Never Gonna Change,” songs that he did with that band.

“It’s all folk music,” Isbell said. “Some’s louder than others.”

He saved one of the loudest for last, sending people into the cold Monday night with “Super 8,” a churning and almost joyous roadhouse rocker that has the narrator in a hotel room on the wrong end of a jealous boyfriend’s fungo bat.

Seattle indie veteran Damien Jurado was a fitting opener with his own haunting narratives and lonesome vocal style.

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Jennifer Hudson booked for Oscars along with 6 presenters

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

npharriswoscars
At 4:04 p.m., the Academy sent out a corrected list. No Chris Rock in this round, but Kerry Washington among the new names of presenters. 
 
Another half-dozen names have been added to the list of presenters at the 87th Academy Awards:  Jennifer Aniston, Sienna Miller, David Oyelowo, Chris Pratt, Kerry Washington and John Travolta.
 
Show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced the new names today. They also said Oscar and Grammy-winning singer and actress Jennifer Hudson will be performing. 
 
“We’re creating several musical sequences for the Oscars and we couldn’t be happier that our friend, Jennifer Hudson, will be performing in one of them,” the producers said. 
 
The Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, Feb. 22, live on ABC.
 

 

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