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Kansas win brings payday for Huggins

Written by Craig Meyer on .

 

Bob-Huggins-WVU-Oklahoma

(Photo: Raymond Thompson, Associated Press)

On Monday, the West Virginia men’s basketball team captured a potential season-altering win, a 62-61 thriller against No. 8 Kansas decided on a layup from star guard Juwan Staten with six seconds remaining.

Following a four-game stretch in which they lost three times, the win provided the No. 23 Mountaineers with a much-needed boost heading into the final five games of the regular season, a slate that includes four contests against currently-ranked teams.

For their coach, Bob Huggins, the victory provided something else entirely – a healthy payday from a quirk in his contract.

As part of an extension he signed with the university in Nov. 2012, Huggins receives $25,000 each time his team defeats Kansas in the regular season, according to a copy of the extension obtained by the Post-Gazette through a Freedom of Information Act request.

It doesn’t take much to figure out why such an arrangement exists.

Huggins’ extension was signed during West Virginia’s first month of play as a basketball member of the Big 12. At that time, Kansas had captured at least a share of the conference’s regular season championship in seven consecutive seasons, a streak which has since been pushed to nine.

Like it is for many major conference coaches, Huggins’ contract is laced with incentives for things like conference championships, coach of the year honors, NCAA tournament appearances and Final Fours. If the Mountaineers hoped to truly succeed in the Big 12, beating a Jayhawks team so few have been able to best over the past decade would go along with those kind of feats.

How important is a win against Kansas, at least fiscally speaking? By beating the Jayhawks Monday – something he’s now done twice in the past 11 months – Huggins makes $5,000 more than he would if West Virginia appeared in a first (or, under the current language, second) round NCAA tournament game or if it won the NIT championship.

There was no provision in Huggins' contract for beating a specific conference foe when West Virginia played in the Big East.

As important as Monday’s win was, there will likely be more on the line when the two schools meet again on March 3 at Allen Fieldhouse in the second-to-last game of the regular season – not only for the teams themselves, but for Huggins. While a win would net him another $25,000, the Mountaineers will at that point be on the verge of cementing their final spot in the conference standings, with anything from a first-place ($40,000) to fourth-place ($10,000) finish earning their coach another bonus.

In a deep and hyper-competitive Big 12 field this season, the emotional toll taken on an almost nightly basis is significant. But so too are the rewards.

 

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

 

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Everything is on for WPIAL ..... Back to Geneva College ..... Quarterfinal predictions

Written by Mike White on .

A number of schools in Western Pennsylvania are off today because of the weather, but everything is on as scheduled for the WPIAL in terms of basketball playoffs, and swimming and wrestling championships.

WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said this morning that there are no postponements in anything scheduled for today or tonight. The only change was that the WPIAL pushed back the start of the WPIAL swimming championships at Pitt for a few hours. But the league already decided that yesterday.

With everything on as scheduled, Geneva College will host a playoff basketball for what is believed to be the first time in 23 years.

In one of the top games tonight, Hampton will play New Castle at Geneva at 6:30 in a Class AAA quarterfinal. This is the 11th meeting between the two in the past four seasons. I will be at Geneva to cover the game. The funny thing is I was also at the last playoff game at Geneva - and it was a memorable one.

It was March 20, 1992 and Blackhawk met Beaver Falls in a PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal. It was the fourth time that season that the two played and Blackhawk had won the first three. I remember the game well because Sean Miller watched the game with me in an area for the media. He was there to watch his father, John, the legendary Blackhawk coach. 

I also seem to remember some strange events in the game. Upon checking archives, it was indeed a strange game. The start was delayed 15 minutes because the lights went out. It was delayed another 18 minutes in the third quarter because the scoreboards went out. 

Blackhawk prevailed, 61-60. I remember the technical Blackhawk star Dante Calabria received for taunting. But it was an outstanding game. Blackhawk fell behind in the fourth quarter but came back to win as Calabria scored 18 and Hal Koenemund 17. Scott Weaver hit a free throw with 10 seconds left to give Blackhawk a 61-57 lead. Troy Nesmith hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for Beaver Falls.

That was a great Blackhawk team. The Cougars lost only once that season in the season opener to Dunbar (Md.), ranked the No. 1 team in the country at the time. Blackhawk wouldn't lose again that season, capturing a state title.

Predictions

Here are predictions for the WPIAL boys and girls quarterfinals and City League championships, played tonight and tomorrow.

BOYS

CLASS AAAA - Hempfield over Fox Chapel (Pine-Richland couldn't score against Fox Chapel, but Hempfield's Kason Harrell is a big scorer); North Allegheny over Bethel Park (but I think Bethel Park has a real shot at knocking off the No. 1 seed); Mt. Lebanon over North Hills (yes, I have a son who is a North Hills assistant. So picking would North Hills would make me a "homer," right?.); Chartiers Valley over Upper St. Clair.

CLASS AAA - New Castle over Hampton (the winner is the team that shoots 3-pointers better); Mars over Ambridge (could be close); Indiana over Highlands; Beaver Falls over South Fayette.

CLASS AA - Lincoln Park over Quaker Valley; Neshannock over Greensburg Central Catholic (a tossup game); Seton-LaSalle over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (but OLSH is my sleeper team in Class AA and an OLSH win wouldn't be surprising); Aliquippa over Bishop Canevin.

CLASS A - Sewickley Academy over Eden Christian; Monessen over California (Monessen has blown out California twice this season, and this one will be in double figures also); Vincentian over Cornell (Cornell needs more than just a big game from Dane Jackson); Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic over Jeannette.

CITY LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP - Allderdice over Obama.

GIRLS

CLASS AAAA - Penn-Trafford over Penn Hills (but Penn Hills has been playing so well lately); Bethel Park over Pine-Richland (isn't it about time Jonna Burke is recognized as one of the WPIAL's best coaches?); North Allegheny over Baldwin; Norwin over Shaler.

CLASS AAA - Blackhawk over Trinity; Chartiers Valley over Beaver; South Fayette over South Park; Elizabeth Forward over McGuffey.

CLASS AA - Seton-LaSalle over Neshannock; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart over Carlynton; Burrell over Chartiers-Houston; Greensburg Central Catholic over Bishop Canevin.

CLASS A - Vincentian over Imani Christian; Quigley over Serra; Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic over Jefferson-Morgan; California over Riverview.

CITY LEAGUE - Obama over Allderdice.

VARSITY XTRA SHOW

Yours truly and colleague Terry Shields talk about the quarterfinals and a few other subjects in this week's Varsity Xtra show.

 

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Empty Netter Assists - Recapping Penguins-Blue Jackets - 02-20-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Post-Gazette's recap from last night's game. “I don’t think we can go in every night and worry about the standings. We have to worry about our game, the way we play. Try to get points.” - Marc-Andre Fleury.

-The Columbus Dispatch's recap. "Anytime you get a chance to make a tradeoff with one of the best players in the world, I’ll take it. I’ll take him for five in the box.” - Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky on fighting Sidney Crosby (above).

 

-The Associated Press' recap. "It's something we've got to fix. We've got time but we have to fix it." - Crosby.

-Highlights:

-Mike Lange's goal calls call.

-Crosby vs. Dubinsky:

-A good look at the lid of Columbus' Curtis McElhinney:

 

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Marc-Andre Fleury speaks:

-Dubinsky speaks:

 

 

-Christian Ehrhoff took some contact in yesterday's morning skate.

-The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are struggling in the shootout too.

 

-Happy 50th birthday to former Penguins forward Mark Kachowski. A free agent signing in the 1987 offseason, Kachowski spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1987-88, Kachowski appeared in 38 games, scored eight points and recorded 126 penalty minutes. He followed that up in 1988-89 by playing in 12 games, recording two points and 43 penalty minutes. His final NHL season was 1989-90. He saw action in 14 games and netted one assist as well as 40 penalty minutes. After spending each of the next two seasons with the Penguins' IHL affiliate in Muskegon, Kachowski was released in the 1992 offseason. In 64 games, Kachowski scored 11 points and recorded 203 penalty minutes.

 

-Happy 31st birthday to former Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy. A free agent signing in 2007, Lovejoy spent parts of fives seasons with the Penguins. He debuted in the NHL during the 2008-09 season by appearing in two games and failing to record a point. In 2009-10, Lovejoy saw action in three games and recorded three assists. During 2010-11, Lovejoy played in 47 games and scored 17 points. He saw action in seven postseason games last spring and recorded two assists. In 2011-12, Lovejoy appeared in 34 games and scored fives points. He played in two postseason games that spring and did not score a point. After three games and no points this in 2012-13, he was traded to the Ducks for a draft pick In 98 career games with the Penguins, Lovejoy, one of nine players in NHL history from New Hampshire, scored 25 points. He is still a member of the Ducks.

 

-Happy 72nd birthday to former Penguins and Pittsburgh Hornets goaltender Joe Daley. Claimed from the Red Wings in the 1967 expansion draft, Daley spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. He made his NHL debut in 1968-69 by appearing in 29 games while serving as Les Binkley's back up and going 10-13-2 with a 3.23 and two shutouts. In 1969-70, Daley was limited to nine games, a 1-5-3 record and 2.95 goals against average. In the 1970 offseason, Daley was claimed off waivers by the Sabres. Daley eventually became the starting goaltender for the WHA's Winnipeg Jets. When that league merged with the NHL, Daley was its career leader in goaltending wins with 167. He currently operates Joe Daley Sports Cards in Winnipeg. He can be found on Twitter: @JoeDaleySports. In 38 games with the Penguins, Daley had an 11-18-6 record with an 3.16 goals against average and two shutouts.

-After the Jump: The Islanders, Capitals and Rangers each get points.

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Blue Jackets at Penguins - 02-19-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Some postgame thoughts from the Penguins' 2-1 home loss to the Blue Jackets Thursday.

-The common theme in this low-scoring game was ugliness. Yes, there was a fight between Sidney Crosby and his long-time nemesis Brandon Dubinsky and there were several chippy moments throughout the contest but we're talking about the offense. All three goals these teams scored tonight were within the gravitational field of the blue paint. Nothing was pretty.

-For the scrappy Blue Jackets, that's by design. They have to score goals that way in order to compete. They have a ton of net-front crease crashers and each of their goals were scored within a handful of feet of the Penguins' crease.

-For the Penguins, their lone goal, a rebound shot by Evgeni Malkin, it was almost by accident. They didn't mean to score that goal. It just happened through some bizarre cosmic force. For them, every goal must be a work of art. In the NHL in 1995 2015, there isn't room for pretty goals which will end up on YouTube.

-It's a league for house painters and the Penguins are trying to play like Van Gogh.

(If that make sense.)

-Mike Johnston was asked after the game if his team focuses enough on scoring ugly goals:

"If you look at the ones we've scored, the only ones we've scored lately have all been the exact the same. We've scored ours right around the blue paint tonight. The last goal we scored in Chicago was right in the blue paint. It's that type of thing. You've got to get in there. As I've said to you in the last few weeks, I don't think we get in there enough. Do we get enough touches in tight to the net there? Do we have enough pucks there? I thought there were some rebounds tonight that we didn't convert that we should have. We had those opportunities and those are the ones you have to bear down when it's around the crease. You're not going to score from a long range unless it's on a power play on a cross-ice play but that doesn't happen too often."

-Rob Scuderi was asked the game question as well:

"You're not going to see the highlight reel goal much any more. We're in the last 25 games of the season. Everybody's clamping down. If you're going to play a team that's even remotely in the playoff race, it's going to be a tight, tight game. The pretty play is not there. Even on the power play, it's not there. It's getting pucks and bodies to the net, crashing it and trying to get another one. "

-Like it or not, the NHL has in some fashion reverted back to the rodeo days from before the 2004-05 lockout. You don't see clear-cut Roman-Greco wrestling matches like you did with the Devils in their heyday, but this is how the NHL is played and officiated right now. The Penguins need to adjust accordingly. They can't win and score on masterpiece goals the way they did in October. If they focused on creating goals in front of the net the way the Blue Jackets did tonight, they might have won this game, 5-2.

-We can't conceive a reasonable argument against blowing up the line combinations right now. If we had a say, we'd have the top two lines look like this:

David Perron - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Blake Comeau

-We have absolutely nothing to indicate if that will bare positive results, but we do know the current line combinations aren't working.

-The Penguins did change their top power play unit back to Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Hornqvist and Kris Letang when they got a chance late in regulation. It seemed to control the puck in the offensive zone pretty well but didn't really do much in terms of posing a legit threat.

-The Blue Jackets scored first in a pretty lifeless first period. After Hornqvist lost a puck at the Penguins' left point, Alexander Wenneberg was able to play a puck to Scott Hartnell above the crease. Hartnell shook off a check from Pouliot and tucked a forehand shot by the right skate of Fleury at 17:43 of the period.

-The Penguins tied the score, 1-1, at 8:58 of the first period. Paul Martin glided up the right wing and played a puck to the crease. The puck kicked to the slot where Malkin flung a wrister by the glove hand of Curtis McElhinney. It wasn't pretty but in the context of this game, it was the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

-Things got a little nasty at 14:10 of the second. Brandon Dubinsky, a long-time rival of Crosby, pinned the Penguins' captain against the left corner boards and tried to roll him into a small package for a pin. Crosby had enough and dropped the gloves. Here's the fight:

-After the game, Crosby was asked what sparked the fight:

 

“Nothing really. It wasn't much of a fight really.”

 

-With less than ten minutes remaining in regulation, the Penguins managed to keep the game tied, 1-1, after killing a five-on-three power play by Columbus which lasted 1:38. Fleury made three saves during the power play while Blue Jackets right winger Cam Atkinson failed to tap in a seemingly easy goal from the left of the cage and instead put the puck off the back of Fleury's left skate.

-Then came that power play by the Penguins we mentioned earlier. The J.V. power play came on the ice and ... yuck. Blake Comeau, who has been fairly reliable all season, had one of the worst shifts of his career. After Comeau turned the puck over in the neutral zone, Matt Calvert raced up the left wing and attacked the net. As Fleury poke checked the puck away, Comeau, furiously backecheck in an attempt to hit Calvert, bumped into Fleury and allowed Dubinsky to clean up the rebound for an easy short-handed and game-winning goal.

-Fleury was not the problem. He robbed the Blue Jackets of several goals, including a few times on that five on three. Fleury was outstanding, especially in the first period.

-Give credit to McElhinney as well. He stole a few goals too, including on a little wrister of a rebound by Crosby in the second period.

-We can't say he generated a ton of high quality scoring chances, but Robert Bortuzzo was not afraid to shoot the puck. He threw the puck at the Columbus net a lot.

-With Christian Ehrhoff sidelined indefinitely, we wonder if it would be ideal to break up Letang and Martin in order to "spread the wealth" a little bit with the defensive pairings. With them teamed up, that seems to be the only pairing capable of really generating much from the backend.

-This Crosby-Dubinsky thing isn't anything new. It predates Dubinsky's time with the Blue Jackets going back to his Rangers' days:

-One thing which didn't help the Penguins at all was the ice. The puck was bouncing like a Superball most of the night. The Blue Jackets handled that issue by playing simple and just throwing pucks on net and hoping for a rebound or a re-direction. The Penguins kept trying to play fancy despite the ice conditions. Square peg/Round hole.

-The Penguins' penalty kill wasn't an issue. Prior to this game, they had allowed the opposition to score a power-play goal in 10 out of their past 15 games. Tonight, they blanked the Blue Jackets on four chances, including a lengthy five-on-three late in regulation. The Blue Jackets aren't a great power-play team by any means, but this was a step in the right direction.

-Shot on net were even, 30-30.

-The Penguins had a 54-53 edge in attempted shots.

-Malkin, Letang and Dubinsky each led the game with five shots.

-The only Penguins' skaters who failed to record a shot on net were Comeau and Beau Bennett.

-Letang led the game with 28:09 of ice time.

-Jack Johnson led the Blue Jackets with 26:34 of ice time.

-The Blue Jackets led in faceoffs, 29-27 (52 percent).

-Malkin and Sutter were each 8 for 16 (50 percent).

-Mark Letestu was 6 for 9 (67 percent).

-Fire Ray Shero.

-Kevin Connauton and Letang each led the game with four blocked shots.

-Crosby's fight was the sixth of his regular season career. Including playoffs, it was the seventh of his career.

-His last fight was against Flyers captain Claude Giroux in the 2012 postseason.

-The fight pushed him over 500 career penalty minutes (504).

-The players with the top three penalty minute totals among those selected in 2005 draft all played in this game tonight:

(Those totals don't include tonight's game.)

-Some sights. The ice:

-Speaking of ice, check out the Monongahela River:

-Fans entering the barn:

-Matthew Barnaby:

-Jaromir Jagr:

-Crosby Rimouski Oceanic:

-Craig Adams:

-There were a few Blue Jackets fans on hand. James Wisniewski:

-Dubinsky:

-Fleury All-Star Game:

-Jersey of the Night: All hail Miroslav Satan:

-This isn't good:

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

 

 

 

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James Harrison trolls every single NFL scouting dept.

Written by Dan Gigler on .

In an era of social media feeds by athletes & celebrities that are often 1. Totally banal and obviously done by a publicist 2. Teeming with arrogance or 3. semi-literate, James Harrison's Facebook/Twitter/Instagram presence are among the best and most underrated of any professional athlete for both having a genuine sense of humor and pulling the curtain back on his professional and personal life.

Well, earlier today he pretty much gave the business to everyone who was employed as a scout for all NFL teams in 2002:

harrison troll

Safe to say he got the last laugh.

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