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Jersey hunt - Islanders at Penguins - 01-02-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The best jerseys at tonight's Penguins-Islanders game:

-Zbynek Michalek:

-Mark Recchi:

-Matt Cooke:

-Kevin Stevens:

-Tyler Kennedy:

-Sergei Gonchar:

-Alexei Alex Kovalev:

-Down in Wheeling, they're having a throwback night. The Wheeling Nailers are wearing the jerseys of their predecessors, the Wheeling Thunderbirds:

-There are a few Islanders fans on hand. John Tavares:

-And Frans Nielsen:

 

-Tom Barrasso in "pigeon" form:

-And ... whatever form this was:

-Jussi Jokinen:

-No. 37 is a popular number. The current bearer, Jeff Zatkoff:

-And Jarkko Ruutu (to say nothing of former Penguins/Islanders forward Ruslan Fedotenko):

-Jerseys Of The Night: Former Penguins/Islanders forward Martin Straka:

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Rapid Reaction: Robert Morris 65, Sacred Heart 69

Written by Megan Ryan on .

Andy Toole is a man at his wit's end. Again. It took at least until one month into last season for the Robert Morris coach to be so at a loss with his team, but just one game into the Northeast Conference season this year, and he's struggling with how to make his team care. It was a tense postgame presser, to say the least. Anyway, rapid reaction time.

Turning point: Yet again, the Colonials made a thrilling last-minute push for the comeback, with a Matty McConnell 3-pointer putting the game within two points with about 10 seconds left. But Matej Buovac making his two free throws with five seconds left put the game out of reach.

Game ball: It's got to be sophomore guard Cane Broome from Sacred Heart. He played all 40 minutes. He scored 33 points. He made eight rebounds. He shot 11-for-22 from the field, 3-for-7 from the 3-point line and 8-for-9 on free throws. Like, goodness.

What it means: Well. As Sacred Heart coach Anthony Latina said, he felt both his team and Robert Morris were sort of parallels of each other. Both had awful non-conference records with a lot of close losses and injuries to some key players. Yet Sacred Heart gets the win. Yeah, Broome was big, but in general the Pioneers seemed to play harder. The Colonials don't really do that, and Toole said the fact that his players don't seem to care is breaking his heart. So. Yet another loss means the team has really got to start caring. But how do they do that, if it hasn't kicked in already? Toole's tearing his hair out trying to figure it out.

What's next: It's a quick turnaround as Robert Morris plays host to Wagner at 7:30 p.m. Monday for another NEC game. Maybe this game will finally be the fresh start the team's been needing.

Random shoutout: Eh, I don't really have one today. Sorry to disappoint. There were no players from Minnesota and no angry old men in the stands. A disappointing game all around.

Follow me on Twitter for more#hottakes. Or just me getting secondhand embarrassment from failed dunk attempts. See ya'll Monday.

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Robert Morris falls to Sacred Heart in conference opener, 69-65

Written by Megan Ryan on .

A total lack of respect for the game of basketball.

That’s how Robert Morris coach Andy Toole described his team’s Northeast Conference opener loss to Sacred Heart, 69-65, on Saturday at the Sewall Center.

After an abysmal 2-11 non-conference season, the league season was supposed to be a fresh start for the reigning champions. Instead, the Pioneers, who were 1-10 in their non-conference slate, were the ones leaving the court revitalized.

The Colonials led for the majority of the game, up until about midway through the second half when Sacred Heart went on a 21-6 run to take command. Robert Morris tried for its usual late comeback with 3-pointers from junior point guard Kavon Stewart, senior guard Rodney Pryor and freshman guard Matty McConnell with fewer than two minutes to play, but it was too late.

Pryor cited a common problem plaguing his team all season as the reason for the loss: a lack of urgency.

“We’re not just going to walk into the league and just win games by just showing up,” Pryor said. “We’ve got to be the hardest playing team every time we step onto the floor. … We’ve got to stop taking other teams for granted, especially now that we’re in the league because guys are coming to play hard and coming to win.”

Toole’s remedy was a little more shocking.

“What we need is, like, AEDs,” he said. “We need to jump-start people. And coaches are trying to create all this energy that, it’s fake because it’s not from within. It’s not from within the locker room. It’s not from within individuals.”

Toole said it was clear his team was not mentally prepared to play as one of the top-three defensive keys on his Sacred Heart scouting report — written in big, bold letters — was, “No big game for No. 1 Cane Broome.” The sophomore guard finished with a game-high 33 points, shooting 11-for-22 and playing all 40 minutes.

Stewart led the Colonials with 19 points.

“It’s a wakeup call for everyone in the locker room,” Stewart said. “I hope this loss lets everybody know it’s really hard to win games.”

Toole, however, said he isn’t sure yet another loss is going to bring this team to life.

“I’ve never had a team respond less to me as a human being than this group,” Toole said. “And it’s extremely humbling because you think you’re actually, like, halfway decent at something and have a little bit of a track record of success, and I can’t get these guys to do anything.”

Notes:

-Senior forward Aaron Tate practiced the past few days but is still not comfortable playing. He’s been limited since having surgery on a lower body injury before the season started.

-Freshman forward Joe Hugley will transfer, Toole said. He had yet to play any minutes for Robert Morris this season.

Megan Ryan: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 412-263-1722 and Twitter @theothermegryan.

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Clairton's Mathews picks Penn State

Written by Mike White on .

Penn State lost the TaxSlayer Bowl today, but gained a recruit.

Before the game, Clairton's Aaron Mathews made a verbal commitment to Penn State. He called PSU coach James Franklin to tell him the news. Mathews (6 feet 4, 182 pounds) was an all-state pick, a Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 selection and the P-G WPIAL Class A Player of the Year. He played receiver, quarterback and defensive back in his career. Colleges liked him at receiver, but Mathews said he was recruited by Penn State as an "athlete" and is not sure what position he will play.

Mathews' recruitment was interesting because it changed totally in recent weeks. He had said a few weeks ago that he would choose among Pitt, West Virginia and Toledo. Then Penn State came along and offered.

"My mom and I had always liked Penn State," said Mathews. "When they came along and offered, it changed the whole recruiting process."

Mathews said he wasn't sure what school he would've picked if Penn State hadn't offered. Mathews said Pitt was still recruiting him.

It will be interesting to see if Mathews' decision means anything in the recruitment of Lamont Wade, the standout Clairton defensive back who is ranked among the top juniors in the country. You can bet Penn State was also thinking of Wade a little when it offered. Wade has offers from schools across the country.

Mathews didn't mind the whole recruiting process.

"I don't think it was tough," said Mathews. "It was exciting, I think I'd say."

Now Mathews will focus totally on Clairton's basketball team. A number of Clairton football players are on the basketball team, and Mathews is one of the team's top players. Khori Fusco, the son of Clairton assistant football coach Eric Fusco, is a 6-1 freshman and the starting point guard in basketball. Clairton is 5-0 and the Bears have a big game Wednesday against Monessen, the No. 1 Class A team.

"I think we're pretty good," said Mathews. "We have a lot of height and some players. Our first test will be Monessen."

 

 

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Pregame thoughts - Islanders at Penguins - 01-02-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury isn't the only player returning to the lineup after dealing with head-related issues.

Defenseman Ian Cole will play tonight after missing the last two periods of Thursday's game against the Red Wings. He revealed he was pulled from that game due to concerns for a head injury after being hit during the first period. After today's morning skate, he talked about the past 48 hours and his new defensive partner, Trevor Daley:

How do you feel?

"As far as symptoms and stuff, everything seemed to clear up pretty much right when it happened the day of the game. Obviously, everyone is very cautious. I think that was probably the main reason. I obviously wanted to get back in there and keep going. I thought I felt good but with the whole head injury landscape as it is, everyone is very cautious. They said no, our doctors and stuff. Every since then, haven't had any issues. No headaches, no symptoms or anything."

When did the symptoms go away?

"I skated hard yesterday. Just with the amount of skating that I was doing, getting the heart rate up pretty much up to what the max should be and also yesterday and today, doing a lot of spins and cutbacks and wraps and all these kind of things which usually throws off your [equilibrium] and no symptoms or headaches or anything. And that's usually one of the last things to go when you're recovering, headaches from that type of stuff because everything is spinning. But no problems and everything feels good."

What symptoms did you feel?

"It really wasn't much. I obviously don't want to get into any specific things but there were a couple yellow flags, not even red flags. But everyone is very cautious, especially with the history around here with some guys on the team. [Defenseman Kris Letang] and guys like that. I guess it's better to be cautious, you know? It was tough to not be playing."

You've played with Trevor Daley the last few games. What have you noticed about him?

“It's quite obvious he's a great skater, right? He's a great skater. Just so smooth out there. His balance on his skates is really something to watch. Obviously, we have another great skater in [Letang]. To have of those world class caliber skaters on our team [on defense] is unique. He's really smart with the puck too. Everyone just thinks he's an offensive guy. [Letang] too. Its one of those those things when you play with him, you're not surprised but certainly you notice how good they are defensively, how smart they are with the puck. I think way more than people give them credit for. … Playing with [Letang] and playing with [Daley], it's not something where I'm like, 'wow.' It's never been like that at all. Two really smart players and two guys that are really good defensively."

---

The Islanders are expected to start former Penguins goaltender Thomas Greiss tonight. He has been having a strong rebound season after a spotty 2014-15 campaign with the Penguins. With starter Jaroslav Halak in and out of the lineup due to injuries, Greiss has played in 18 games and has an 11-5-2 record with a 2.03 goals against average and .936 save percentage. 

After today's morning skate, he was asked what has led to his strong season:

“Playing time always helps. It's easier when you're in a groove, in every game than once a month. Have the timing and being comfortable. You have to be comfortable around the team too. We have a really good group of guys and it's fun to play here.”

-This is Greiss' first game in Pittsburgh since he left as a free agent last offseason. In October, he said the fans in Consol Energy Center were "pretty dead." He didn't really say much when asked today if he expects to get some grief during tonight's game:

"We'll see. I don't know. I'm not too worried about it. Whatever happens, happens."

-We can't say we disagree with Greiss. This building resembles a library many nights.

-Also, Greiss has size 12 skates. We figured you'd like to know that useless information.

 (Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)

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