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Jim Ferry previews Davidson

Written by Craig Meyer on .

With Duquesne entering the end of a week-long break -- its longest of the Atlantic 10 slate -- coach Jim Ferry discussed the end of his team's six-game losing streak, the ramifications of that time off and an unappealing matchup against a Davidson team that ranks among the top 10 teams nationally in offensive efficiency (averaging 117.2 points per 100 offensive possessions).

 

SCOUTING REPORT

Matchup: Duquesne (7-13, 2-7 Atlantic 10) at Davidson (14-6, 5-4), 7 p.m., today, John M. Belk Arena, Davidson, N.C.
TV, Radio, Internet: Atlantic 10 Network (PCNC locally), WJAS-AM (1320), iHeartRadio, GoDuquesne.com.
Duquesne: Coming off 62-54 victory Jan. 31 vs. George Mason. The win snapped a six-game losing streak. ... F Dominique McCoy had a career-high 16 rebounds in the win. ... Looking for first road win since Nov. 22 at Abilene Christian.
Davidson: Coming off 62-61 loss last Wednesday vs. St. Bonaventure. The loss was its first one at home this season. ... Five players are averaging double figures in scoring, a group led by G Tyler Kalinoski's 16.5 points per game.
Hidden stat: Three of Duquesne's nine Atlantic 10 games have come down to the game's final possession. The Dukes have gone 1-2 in those contests.

 

With with that losing streak finally over, is a week off in this kind of an instance a benefit or does it halt some of that progress?

“It’s a double-edged sword. You always want to roll in with confidence after a good win and you want to play right away. But at the same time, I think it allows us to really focus on ourselves and tighten some things up defensively. This week, we had some really good practices and we were really focused on ourselves and tweaked a couple of things. We started preparation today [Thursday] for Davidson. I’ll take it either way. I would have liked to have played sooner, but we had this little break and I thought we used it to really help ourselves.”

Was the end of that skid a burden off your team’s shoulders?

“We never even talked about the losing streak. It’s always one day at a time and one game at a time. We never even talked about the losing streak, to be honest with you. Every game is different and every game that was played was significantly different. It was more about getting better and getting prepared for the next game.”

Nonetheless, have you noticed a difference in your team this past week, having finally gotten a win?

“Always after a win, there’s significantly more confidence in young guys, so you saw that. I thought we had some pretty good practices leading up to this game right now. We’re prepared. We have one more practice before we go out and play Saturday. The group looks good.”

In a number of offensive categories, Davidson’s one of the top teams in both the A-10 and Division I. From what you’ve been able to see of them on film, what makes their offense so good and so effective?

“They’re an exceptional, exceptional 3-point shooting team. They play really fast and they’re a rhythm team. They attack you on made baskets, missed baskets, steals. They play so fast and aggressive. They spread the floor and have at least four 3-point shooters on the floor at all times. And they’re really unselfish. They play really good motion offense. It’s a group that’s played off of each other and there are threats all over the place. It’s a high-octane team that can get 80 at any moment. They’re averaging about 27 [attempted] 3s per game and they’re making around 11 3s a game. That’s mainly what their game is – tempo and firing 3s.”

Your team’s obviously one that likes to play at a pretty fast pace, too. So even with those challenges on the offensive end, do you feel your guys might feel a sense of comfort playing that familiar tempo?

“We’ve been better against teams when it’s an up-tempo game, more so than when we’ve been against a team that wants to grind it and pack it in. Hopefully, we can come out with great energy and defend the 3-point line well. Then we can get our game going by getting tempo and pushing it back at them. It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out. It still comes down to defending the 3-point line, rebounding and executing against them offensively.”

This season, your team has struggled on the defensive end. Against a good 3-point shooting team with so many weapons, how do you feel like you guys match up?

“I don’t think anybody’s matched up really well against these guys in the league. They really spread you out and shoot it. Hopefully our zone is going to keep us extended on the 3-point line and take us to the shooters quicker. I thought we did a good job last week of really crowding the paint and I feel like we have to adjust our zone differently in this game to extend and guard that line.”

Davidson has gone 5-4 in nine conference games after going 9-2 in non-conference games. Does that speak to the strength of the A-10? Or maybe just the difficulties and growing pains schools face in their first year in a new conference?

“I think it has more to do with how challenging the Atlantic 10 is. Every single night is a brutal night out. Everybody’s well coached, there’s good players, different types of styles from different teams. I think they’ve found it’s a little more difficult, like everybody else has, on the road in conference play. It’s tough. It’s a great conference from top to bottom. There’s no easy night out and you’ve got to play well every night. Whichever team does play well wins the game. I think that’s what all teams in our league are finding out, not just Davidson. Davidson’s a very, very good team that plays exceptionally at home. I think it shows how tough this league really is."

 

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

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Duquesne women offer scholarship to seventh-grader

Written by Mike White on .

The Duquesne University women's basketball team already has one Blackhawk High School player in its recruiting class. Chassidy Omogrosso is a Blackhawk senior, one of the WPIAL's top players and signed with Duquesne in November.

Now Duquesne is after another player from the Blackhawk school district. But this one is in seventh grade.

And she's only 12 years old and stands 5 feet 1.

Yes, Duquesne has offered a scholarship to a seventh-grader. Mackenzie Amalia is two years away from high school, but Duquesne coach Dan Burt recently offered her a scholarship. Think of it. A girl has her first scholarship offer before she becomes a teenager.

This is not a joke, or publicity stunt. Actually, it's not all that unusual for the Duquesne women. In the spring of 2013, Burt offered a scholarship to Desiree Oliver of Penn Hills. She was in eighth grade at the time.

Amalia, a point guard, obviously is a talented player. She attended the Duquesne women's camp last summer and Burt liked her there. Amalia and her family were invited to attend a Duquesne game recently. Burt met with Amalia and her family after the game and offered the scholarship.

You may be scratching your head at Duquesne's move, especially when you consider Amalia is 5-1. What if she doesn't grow much more?

Is the whole thing crazy? Maybe. But this is the way of the recruiting world nowadays. College coaches in various sports recruit kids earlier and earlier, for better or worse. I'm waiting for the first Tee-ball player to be offered. It can't be far off, right?

There are no NCAA rules pertaining to when a college can offer a scholarship to an athlete. There have been numerous stories in the past few years of a college offering a scholarship to kids who weren't in high school yet. A few years ago, when Lane Kiffin was the football coach at Southern California, he offered a scholarship to David Sills, a talented seventh-grade quarterback from Delaware.

As for Amalia, she has not accepted the scholarship offer from Duquesne. Her older sister, Madison, is a talented sophomore player on the Blackhawk girls team, the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA champion. The Amalias father is Bob Amalia, highly successful baseball coach at Blackhawk. Bob Amalia is a former basketball assistant coach at Blackhawk under John Miller and is in his first season as a Blackhawk girls assistant.

The Amalias are trying to downplay Duquesne's offer.

"We're humbled, but we're not making a big deal out of it," said Bob Amalia. 

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Empty Netter Assists - Faceoff struggles for the Penguins - 02-06-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Penguins aren't doing too well in the faceoff circle.

-A look at how the Penguins' prospects are doing.

-Do the Penguins have any interest in Jets forward Evander Kane?

-“They’ve shown all year they have a lot of different guys that are helping him. They get on the forecheck and generates a lot in the offensive zone, especially here at home, they seem energized here. We have to make sure we don’t get caught in our own end for extended periods of time.” - Sidney Crosby (right) on the Flames.

-“Not speaking any English … he really made me feel welcome there right away. That’s why I think I had so much success there. He gave me a lot of confidence right away." - Flames forward Sven Baertschi, a native of Switzerland, on Mike Johnston, his former coach with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.

-Happy 34th birthday to former Penguins forward Andy Hilbert. Claimed of waivers from the Blackhawks late in the 2005-06 season, Hilbert's Penguins career amounted to 19 games and 18 points that campaign. The following offseason, he joined the Islanders as a free agent.

-Happy 48th birthday to former Penguins forward Mike Hudson. Claimed off waivers prior to the start of the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, Hudson's Penguins career amounted to 40 games and 11 points that season. During the 1995 offseason, Hudson joined the Maple Leafs as a free agent.

-After the Jump: The Evander Kane saga.

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An introduction

Written by Craig Meyer on .

I'm sure you all have had a few of these over the years, so I'll aim to keep this as short as possible.

My name is Craig Meyer and I'm the Post-Gazette's new West Virginia football writer, as of last Sunday. I've been at the P-G for the past two and a half years, where I've covered high schools, Robert Morris basketball, the now-defunct Pittsburgh Power of the Arena Football League and a slew of other things.

College sports have long been a part of who I am and I intend for that to be reflected in my coverage. I was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, at the nexus of two universities with incredibly rabid fan bases. It's the kind of place where college basketball and football are a part of life and the athletic exploits of a group of teenagers mean a little more than they probably should. It didn't take long for me to embrace that passion.

From there, I went to school at Boston University, an incredible academic institution with an unforgivable shortcoming -- it hasn't had a football team since 1997. Boston's a great professional sports town, but my four years there allowed me to realize that the zeal surrounding college sports is truly unmatched. Though I've never lived in West Virginia, I grew up in a state with no professional teams and know the kind of captivating crucible that creates. After years of living in it, I now have the privilege of covering it.

I realize I'm the third writer assigned to the team in the past five or so seasons, but I also know that I'm taking over for an incredibly capable and diligent reporter in Stephen Nesbitt. While I can never predict what our staff movement will be like moving forward, I can assure you that I'll provide you with the absolute best stories and information I can.

Coverage of what takes place on the field is paramount and I plan on chronicling that as comprehensively as possible.

But aside from the games and trends are players with stories that go beyond a series of 60-minute games, the kind of stories that I hope to tell in the best way I can. To me, those kind of pieces are the most rewarding part of my job and I look forward to getting to know as much as I can about as many Mountaineers as possible so that you as fans can know more about the players for which you cheer.

There's a select and admittedly small amount of space available in the paper for West Virginia coverage, but I plan on utilizing this blog for everything that can't make it into print. In some ways, I plan on treating this blog like I did the one I started on Robert Morris basketball, but this thing's far from an autocracy. If there's something you would like to see or a feature you'd maybe like to see added, feel free to reach out to me.

Ideally, journalism isn't a lecture, but a conversation, so if you ever want to get in touch, please don't hesitate. My email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and my Twitter handle is @CraigMeyerPG. If you're at a game and happen to see me roaming around, feel free to say hi. I'm the white, 6-foot-2 25 year old whose hair makes it look like he just rolled out of bed. As much as I plan to get to know the players I cover, I'd also like to know some of the people for whom I'm providing that coverage.

This post has gone on a little longer than I originally hoped, but I just wanted to say how excited I am for this new opportunity. Hopefully it's the start of something enlightening, informative and, most of all, fun.

I know that a newspaper in Pittsburgh probably isn't going to be the first place you'll turn for West Virginia coverage, but I hope to contribute in a meaningful way to an ongoing and constantly evolving narrative that extends well past a three-month run in the fall.

 

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

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WPIAL basketball playoff picture

Written by Mike White on .

This is the final weekend of section play in WPIAL basketball, and only a few playoff spots are open in both boys and girls.

Here is how the playoffs work: The top four teams in each section qualify. If there is a tie for fourth, head-to-head competition breaks the tie. If teams tied for fourth and split two section games, they both qualify.

If there is a three-way tie for fourth, head-to-head competition again breaks the tie. Head-to-head competition also breaks a three-way tie for third.

Teams that have already clinched playoff spots are fighting for seeds. This could change, but right now I have Hempfield, Mars, Aliquippa and Vincentian as the No. 1 seeds for their respective classes.

The WPIAL will announce playoff pairings and seeds Tuesday night. The playoffs will start next Friday.

Here are the teams that have clinched playoff spots, and also scenarios for teams still alive.

BOYS

CLASS AAAA - (Section 1) Hempfield, Latrobe, Norwin, Penn-Trafford (pictured is Hempfield star guard Kason Harrell). (2) Plum, McKeesport, Fox Chapel, Gateway.Kason Harrell (3) North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, North Hills. The winner of Seneca Valley vs. Butler also qualifies. (4) Mt. Lebanon, Chartiers Valley, Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair.

CLASS AAA – (1) Mars, Hampton, Knoch, Highlands. (2) Beaver Falls, New Castle, Ambridge, Central Valley. (3) Indiana, Southmoreland, Greensburg Salem, West Shamokin. (4) West Mifflin, Uniontown, Steel Valley, Laurel Highlands. (5) South Fayette, South Park, Montour, West Allegheny. Also, Trinity can make it, but only if it beats McGuffey, and West Allegheny loses to Montour.

CLASS AA – (1) Lincoln Park, Laurel, Neshannock, Riverside. (2) Greensburg Central Catholic, Apollo-Ridge, Shady Side Academy, Ford City. (3) Seton-LaSalle, Bishop Canevin, Washington, Chartiers-Houston. Also, Burgettstown can qualify, but only if it beats Washington and Chartiers-Houston loses to Fort Cherry. (4) Charleroi, Brownsville, Waynesburg, Frazier. (5) Aliquippa, Quaker Valley, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Avonworth.

CLASS A – (1) Sewickley Academy, Cornell, Union, Eden Christian. (2) Vincentian, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, Riverview. Also, If St. Joseph’s beats Leechburg, St. Joseph's qualifies. If Leechburg wins and Riverview beats Springdale, then both St. Joe’s and Leechburg qualify. If Leechburg wins, and Springdale beats Riverview, then just Leechburg qualifies. Springdale can’t make it at all. (3) Monessen, California, Geibel, Jefferson-Morgan. (4) Jeannette, Clairton, Winchester Thurston, Imani Christian, Serra.

GIRLS

CLASS AAAA – (Section 1) Penn-Trafford, Norwin, Hempfield, Latrobe. (2) Penn Hills, McKeesport, Gateway, Plum. (3) North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, Shaler, Seneca Valley. Also, Butler can qualify if it beats Seneca Valley tomorrow. (4) Bethel Park, Baldwin, Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair.

Chassidy OmogrossoCLASS AAA – (1) Mars, Hampton, Ford City. Also, If Deer Lakes beats Highlands tonight, Deer Lakes qualfies. If Highlands wins tonight, Highlands qualifies. Kittanning is still alive also. (2) Blackhawk, Ambridge, Beaver. (pictured is Blackhawk star guard Chassidy Omogrosso). Also, Hopewell and Ellwood City are alive for the other spot. If they both win or both lose tonight, they both go because they split in head-to-head. If one wins and the other loses, the winner goes. (3) Indiana, Mount Pleasant, Greensburg Salem, Derry. (4) Elizabeth Forward, Belle Vernon, South Park, Ringgold. Thomas Jefferson can qualify but only if it wins tonight and Ringgold loses to South Park. (5) Chartiers Valley, McGuffey, South Fayette, Trinity.

CLASS AA – (1) Neshannock, Mohawk, Riverside, Shenango. (2) Burrell, Greensburg Central Catholic, Shady Side Academy, West Shamokin. Also, if Apollo-Ridge beats West Shamokin, then Apollo-Ridge also qualifies. (3) Seton-LaSalle, Bishop Canevin, Chartiers-Houston, Brentwood. (4) Frazier, Washington, Beth-Center, Charleroi. (5) Carlynton, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Freedom, Avonworth. Also, South Side Beaver is still alive, but can make it only if it beats Freedom, and Avonworth loses to Northgate.

CLASS A – (1) Quigley, Aliquippa, Cornell, Sewickley Academy. (2) Vincentian, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, Riverview. Also, the winner of Leechburg vs. St. Joseph's tonight will most likely qualify, provided Vincentian beats Leechburg Friday, and St. Joseph beats Springdale Saturday. 3) California, Jefferson-Morgan, Geibel, Fort Cherry. (4) Serra, Imani Christian, Winchester Thurston, Ellis School.

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