Vacation post - 08-29-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

-Today would've been the 95th birthday of former Penguins general manager and Pittsburgh Hornets goaltender, head coach and general manager Aledge "Baz" Bastien. In 527 games with the Penguins as general manager, Bastien had a record of 193-248-86. His wins are third-most in franchise history behind Craig Patrick and Ray Shero. He was killed in a car wreck, March 15, 1983 at the age of 63.

-Happy 30th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Dylan Reese (right). A native of Upper St. Clair, Reese joined the Penguins in the 2012 offseason as a free agent. He appeared in three NHL games in 2012-13 and did not score a point. Earlier this offseason, he joined Amur Khabarovsk of Russia's KHL as a free agent. He is currently a member of the AHL's Portland Pirates.

-Happy 54th birthday to former Penguins forward Tim Tookey. A free agent signing in the 1983 offseason, Tookey's Penguins career amounted to eight games and two assists in 1983-84. After spenting all of 1984-85 with the Baltimore Skipjacks, the Penguins' AHL affiliate, Tookey was signed by the Flyers in the 1985 offseason.

-Today's Obligatory Video: Iron City Beer's commercial tribute to the Penguins' 1991 playoff run:

(Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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Running back rotation and other week one notes

Written by Sam Werner on .

We're just two days away from Pitt playing a real, live football game against an actual opponent (and the party really gets going tonight with Texas A&M/South Carolina, Ole Miss/Boise State, among other games). In case you missed it, here's a link to my story from today's PG on James Conner looking to become a two-way threat for the Panthers this season. Now, here are a few more notes from head coach Paul Chryst and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph as the Panthers prepare for Delaware...

- One of the things I'm most interested to see Saturday is how the running back snaps and carries are divided. Rudolph said this week that Conner and freshman Chris James will likely get most of the first- and second-down work, with senior Isaac Bennett and sophomore Rachid Ibrahim coming on for third downs and passing situations. Conner will be the first back on the field, but I'm looking forward to seeing how they use James. The most likely scenario is probably giving him a series or two early in the game where he's "the guy" at running back, seeing how he does and adjusting the carry load from there. Bennett is also a guy that's obviously capable of handling a full load, so the coaches will very likely ride whichever guy appears to be the hot hand in the game.
"I think you have a plan going in based on the series and the feel of the game," Rudolph said. "I think some of that comes from the reps they have early in the game. We've gone with kind of the hot hand before. I think it kind of divvies up pretty good. I think they understand their roles and I think certain series we'll designate to certain backs, but beyond that I think the guys understand what situations they're the lead on."
Chryst said there wasn't any specific workload split heading into the game, but noted that he liked the way James has come on in camp to earn the right to be a first- and second-down back on a given series.
"You feel like you can trust him," Chryst said. "I feel like he's a little bit different than James or Isaac, Rachid. I think guys have a chance to kind of have their roles and we were talking about that as a staff."

- Chryst also spoke about another highly-touted freshman, receiver Adonis Jennings. Jennings was on the "wait-and-see" list of freshmen Chryst game Monday, as guys who could possibly play this year, but could also redshirt. Jennings' biggest issue is that a groin injury kept him out of most of training camp, so he just hasn't gotten the reps he needed to be ready to go. Other "wait-and-see" guys like quarterback Adam Bertke and offensive lineman Alex Bookser would need a starter or even multiple players to go down with injuries before they saw the field, whereas Jennings' potential playing time is almost entirely up to him.
"There's nothing that's changed in our viewpoint of how talented he is and we're really excited that he's here, but he just has to play and so I think that is a little bit different," Chryst said. "We'd like to redshirt Adam and only circumstances out of his control would you play him, where Adonis is [in control]. The light will come on and he'll feel comfortable. It just takes guys time and he lost some valuable reps and time in camp, so you just keep progressing."
Now, Chryst did add that it's probably too early to expect to see Jennings on the field this weekend. There also comes a point in the season where, even if he's ready to help the team, it's not worth burning his redshirt to get him on the field.
"There's a point where you say, 'You know what, he's redshirting' and you find a way to get through," Chryst said. "We were going to do that in the bowl game last year, we were one player away from [defensive lineman] Ty Ezell being our next offensive lineman. You're not going to take someone's redshirt year for something like that. If they're ready, and it's only going to help them grow, then they're in the discussion and then it's if they'll get enough snaps that it's worthwhile."

- It sounds like Kevin Weatherspoon has pretty much locked down the third receiver spot. When Pitt does go three wide, it'll be him in the slot with Tyler Boyd and Manasseh Garner on the outside. I do think there will be times when Boyd or Garner flexes in, though, and that'll open up a chance for guys like Chris WuestnerDontez Ford and Zach Challingsworth to get in on the outside. Rudolph classified Wuestner as an 'X' receiver and Challingsworth and Ford as 'Z' receivers. He said that, while there's some overlap between positions, it's also good to keep guys in one spot.
"I think as you come out of camp, especially with young guys, you want to help them kind of find a role and really have ownership of the role," Rudolph said. "If you're the fourth guy and you can play all of them and try and get you going because you are the next best at any given position, I think each of those guys possess skill sets within those roles that can shine. I think it helps them, being young guys, to kind of lock in to one or the other."

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Vacation post - 08-28-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

-Happy 82nd birthday to former Penguins and Pittsburgh Hornets forward Andy Bathgate (right). An all-star and former Hart Trophy winner with the Rangers, Bathgate was claimed by the Penguins in the 1967 expansion draft from the Red Wings, Bathgate spent two seasons with the Penguins. In 74 games with the expansion club in 1967-68, Bathgate led the team with 39 assists, 59 points and four game-winning goals. During that season, Bathgate scored the franchise's first goal in a season-opening 2-1 loss to the Canadiens, Oct. 11, 1967. A week later, in a 3-3 tie against the North Stars, Bathgate recorded the first hat trick in franchise history. In the 1968 offseason, Bathgate was loaned to the Vancouver Canucks of the Western Hockey League. After two seasons in Vancouver, Bathgate returned to the Penguins in 1970-71 and appeared in 76 games and recorded 44 points. He retired in the 1971 offseason. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978, Bathgate appeared in 150 games for the Penguins and recorded 103 points, 82nd-most in franchise history. Bathgate currently owns and operates a driving range in Mississauga, Ont.

-Happy 46th birthday to current Penguins assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald.

(Photo: eBay)

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Atlantic 10 releases 18-game conference schedule

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

Duquesne will open its 2015 Atlantic 10 season with a nationally televised visit to Dayton, which made a surprise run to the Elite Eight in March. The full 18-game conference schedule was released Wednesday afternoon.

The Dukes will play three times at Consol Energy Center, their home across the road from home, hosting Pitt Dec. 5, VCU Jan. 17 and Dayton Feb. 21. Those games as well as at least three other Atlantic 10 games will be televised.

Saint Joseph’s, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, George Mason, George Washington, Saint Louis and conference newcomer Davidson will all visit Palumbo Center. In total, six of the seven Atlantic 10 teams that reached the NCAA postseason this spring will visit Pittsburgh.

Duquesne’s five home-and-home series of the conference season are against Davidson, Dayton, George Washington, St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis. The Dukes shocked the 10th-ranked Billikens, 71-64, in late February.

For the full schedule, check here.

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WPIAL on display at Heinz Field ...... Two Brumbaughs will start ..... More state rankings

Written by Mike White on .

Starting tomorrow night, WPIAL football will be showcased at Heinz Field.

Before Thursday night's preseason game at Heinz, Steelers officials will unveil a new "WPIAL Champions" exhibit inside the stadium on the west concourse.

What will the exhibit look like? Well, we're not quite sure. 

"We haven't seen it yet," WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said with a laugh. "It will be some kind of wall mural that will somehow highlight our football champions. They reached out to us this summer to try and reach out to our schools to send back some art work of their helmets. I think a vast majority of our teams sent back. Other than that, I don't know what exactly it will be.

"The relationship we have with the Steelers, Heinz Field and the Rooney family is special. Every kid that put on a uniform this Aug. 11, I think their goal was to get to Heinz Field for the championships. So this is a nice thing."

"Only" 2 Brumbaughs will start

It had the makings of a three-day Brumbaugh QB extravaganza. But it turns out, only two of the Brumbaugh brothers will start for their teams this weekend.

It begins Thursday night when Luke Brumbaugh gets his first start as Robert Morris University's QB when the Colonials play host to Eastern Kentucky. (photo is of the brothers earlier this summer at South Fayette).

On Friday night, Brett Brumbaugh will start for South Fayette High School when the Lions play host to East Allegheny. Brett needs a little more than 1,100 yards to become the WPIAL's all-time leading passer.

There was a chance for the Brumbaugh triple crown Saturday. Christian Brumbaugh, the oldest of the brothers, was battling for the starting job for William & Mary. But when W & M plays at Virginia Tech Saturday, Steve Cluely will start at QB for W & M. He won the No. 1 job in preseason practices. There is still a chance Christian Brumbaugh, a redshirt junior, will play.

No matter what, the Brumbaugh parents intend to attend all three games.

More state rankings

The Post-Gazette released its state rankings last Friday. The rankings are now out for Class AAAA, AAA, AA and A and Erie Epler has some info on the top teams in each class.

The four No. 1 teams in the P-G and Pennlive rankings are all the same - Clairton, South Fayette, Archbishop Wood and St. Joseph's Prep.

This and that

***** Lauren Waller is one of the best female golfers in the state. But she is back to beating the boys.

Waller is a senior at Canon-McMillan High School. But because Canon-McMillan doesn't have a girls team, she plays on the Big Macs' boys team. She sometimes finishes first in team matches and she is doing well again this year. Two weeks ago at the Tri County Athletic Lauren WallerDirectors Association Championships, she tied for fourth against the boys with a 76 at Village Green Country Club. 

During boys matches, Waller tees off at 85 percent of the boys distance.

Waller will go back to playing against the girls when the WPIAL girls individual championships come around. She is the defending WPIAL AAA champion.

By the way, Waller will play Division I college golf. She has made a verbal commitment to the Penn State women's team.

***** Looking at some preview information for the Perry football team in the City League, Rich "Moses" Giles could be one of the Commodores' running backs. Giles is a junior who is in his third school in three years. He attended North Hills as a freshman, Avonworth last year and now Perry.

***** Comcast cable television will once again show its "Xfinity Game of the Week" this season. One contest will be aired the day after the game and will be available "On Demand." Go to the "Get Local" and "Sports" folders. Chris Shovlin will handle the play by play and Ellis Cannon the color commentary.

Here is the game schedule for this year:

 August 29 – Ringgold at Thomas Jefferson

September 5 – Gateway at West Mifflin

September 12 – Beaver at Beaver Falls

September 19 – Seton-LaSalle at Steel Valley

September 26 – Kiski Area at Plum

October 3 – Franklin Regional at Hampton

October 10 – Penn Trafford at Shaler

October 17 – Peters Township at Bethel Park

October 24 – North Hills at North Allegheny

October 31 – First Round WPIAL Playoffs

November 7 – WPIAL Quarterfinals

November 14 – WPIAL Semifinals



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