Artis Gets His ‘Groove Back’ in Pitt’s 83-73 vs. Rice

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Since his suspension vs. Duquesne, I wondered about Pitt senior F Jamel Artis. Before his suspension, he was second on the team averaging 19.7 points a game and looked very much like the Robin to fellow senior F Mike Young’s Batman. After he had been reinstated, he didn’t look like himself in the victories vs. Buffalo and Penn State (Never Forget Classic) although he did average 16 points in those two victories.

 

But when the Panthers welcomed Rice into the Petersen Events Center something clicked in Artis, it wasn’t just about him getting his ‘mojo’ back, but he seemed recharged like a fresh car battery as he scored a career-high 31-points to lead the Panthers past the Owls 83-73. And the Panthers needed every one of those 31 points as the Owls justified their 8-2 start.

 

But Artis was on his game, and it truly benefited the Panthers as leading scorer Young wasn’t quite himself as he finished with only 12 points. Artis was also sharp from 3-point range as he hit a game-high 4 for the Panthers. He looked like he got his ‘Groove’ Back.

 

But it was truly a ‘coming out’ party for junior F Ryan Luther as he was the ‘hustle’ behind Pitt’s ‘muscle’ as he scored a career-high 20 points, including 11 in the first half. While the Panthers are still having problems being more consistent on both sides of the court (especially on defense), Luther provided that balance as he also led the team with seven rebounds. I think games like this can truly be a confidence builder for players like Luther and hopefully, it’s a start of things to come.

 

The rest of the Panthers weren’t too shabby either as they had a total of 4 players in double-figures with redshirt sophomore Cameron Johnson adding 10 points in addition to Artis, Luther, and Young. Their bench wasn’t flashy but had key contributions as redshirt junior Jonathan Milligan hit a key 3-pointer and freshman Justice Kithcart added a clutch jumper to help extend the Panthers lead.

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But like most of the Panthers wins, this wasn’t easy, and Rice made Pitt sweat for it. After the Panthers had taken an early 2-0 lead, the Owls proved the one thing that every visitor to the Petersen Events Center has proven when they face Pitt: That they can shoot. Maybe it’s something in the arena; maybe it’s ‘The Force’ (Ok, I did take my family to see ‘Rouge One, a Star Wars Story’ last night) but teams tend to catch fire against Pitt. (To be fair, Duquesne shot well against Pitt in the PPG Paints arena, but this is my story, and I’m sticking to it)

 

The Owls top scorers are G Marcus Evans (19.5 PPG), G/F Egor Koulechov (19.4) and G Marcus Jackson (12.7) and all three of them can shoot, and they did it well against the Panthers. Jackson got the scoring early for the Owls as he led them to a 5-2 lead, while Koulechov and Evans made key buckets to enable them to stay withing range of the Panthers.

 

But Artis and Luther would only allow the Owls to get so close as they hit key baskets to give the Panthers the lead for good as they took an 11-9 lead. Although the Owls tied the game 16-16 with over 11 minutes to play, the Panthers would lead the rest of the first half.

 

The Panthers still have problems being aggressive on defense as they allowed the Owls to drive in for layups several times in the first half. It also helped that Rice shot the ball well, much to the delight of their well-traveled fan section (who traveled from Houston) who cheered them on every basket, foul and offensive charge by the Panthers. Meanwhile, Pitt looked like this morning’s weather: Cold as ice. They began looking like the team that has struggled to put teams away and looked like the team that laid that huge egg against Duquesne. But through it all, the Panthers were able to hold onto a 41-37 halftime lead.

 

In the second half, I felt like I had a deja vu moment as the Panthers looked sloppy and the opponent dominated. The Owls were able to tie the Panthers 50-50 with over 11 minutes left in the game, but that was the last time Pitt wouldn’t have the lead. Johnson immediately hit a 3-pointer to give Pitt a 53-50 lead, and they then took it to another level, especially after Young began to wake up and contribute. Artis and Luther would lead the team the rest of the way while the Owls shooting wasn’t as consistent and the Panthers secured the 83-73 victory, improving their record to 9-2. To be honest, it seems like Pitt lost more than two games, but the record stands as it is. Rice fell to 8-3 as they now begin Conference USA play.

 

For the Owls, Jackson led his team with 20 points on three three-pointers, Evans also added 19 points, and  Koulechov added 13 as their Big Three did all they could to keep their team in the game. But the Panthers Big Two of Artis and Luther was just too much for them.

 

“A peculiar game.” Said Pitt Head Coach Kevin Stallings “We had to grind. I appreciated what our guys had to do tonight to win the game. You have to embrace the game even if a game is played in a way that you don’t like it.”

 

On Artis & Luther Stallings said “Jamel and Ryan were terrific, but the key for us was holding them [Rice] under 40% shooting in the 2nd half.”

 

Apparently, Stallings wasn’t as pleased with this win, but I think this was one of their better victories if there’s ever such a thing. I still think the Panthers can be more aggressive, especially on defense when it comes to rebounds and defending the paint, but I feel that they had a look that they weren’t going to lose this game, especially without a fight. The Panthers were ready to fight and got the W because a fighter always has a chance. Mostly because Artis fought hard because he got his ‘Groove Back.’

 

Notes: The Panthers will play December 21st again as they welcome Omaha to the Petersen Events Center.

 

Please e-mail Ray at Ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him@urbanmediaRay on Twitter

Ray Jr. on Sports

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  1. Pitt Football Sells out Pinstripe Bowl Ticket Allotment (Over 7,000 tickets): I’m impressed but not surprised. Therefore, the football team wanted this Bowl, because it’s only 6 hours away in New York, and it’s a Tier One Bowl, a step above last year’s Military Bowl. I like it because it’s at Yankee Stadium, the House of Legends.
  2. That brings up an interesting point about Yankee Stadium. If the first one (built in 1923) was labeled ‘The House that Babe Ruth Built” does that mean the 2009 is called ‘The House that Derek Jeter Built?” I think it’s justified.
  3. Anyway, back to Pitt Football. When the Panthers take on Northwestern December 28th, all eyes will be on Senior RB James Conner, who will play his final collegiate game before entering the NFL Draft. Conner announced that he was leaving in a classy letter Saturday December 10th. I wish him the best. He’s done all he can do at Pitt.
  4. The Bowl game will also feature 3 All-Americans: KR Quadree Henderson, DE Ejuan Price, and OL Dorian Johnson, but Henderson also received another prestigious honor: He earned Consensus All-American Status Henderson was named a first team All-America kick returner by three of those organizations (FWAA, Sporting News and Walter Camp). He was named a second-team all-purpose player by the AP and AFCA.
  5. Henderson is the first Pitt player to earn such status since wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in 2003. Other sophomore Panthers to earn Consensus All-America honors include receiver Antonio Bryant (2000) and defensive end Hugh Green (1978). He’s also the first since DT Aaron Donald (2013) to earn that honor. He’s in good company. Congrats to him.
  6. I may not be the first to say this, but I’m the first to say it on here: Quadrature Henderson for the 2017 Heisman Trophy! I think he deserves to be in the running. That’s what I think this award is for, not just to a QB and RB almost every year. The committee need to be more creative with their picks.
  7. Now the not-so Pitt news (depends on how you look at it) Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has accepted the same coordinator job at LSU. His offensive mind will be missed at Pitt, but who doesn’t want a promotion and greater opportunity, which is what House views this as. I wish him the best.
  8. And: Pitt Athletic Director Scott Barnes is reportedly leaning towards taking the same position at Oregon State. Barnes himself gave this statement: “I am aware of a report stating that I have accepted a position at Oregon State. That report is not true.” It’s been all over the news, Mr. AD. How could you miss it? Especially since it reportedly came from you. Oregon State isn’t a bunch of liars. Stay tuned on this one.
  9. Speaking of the Heisman Trophy, the committee chose their 2016 winner and it went to Louisville QB Lamar Jackson who was my pick for that prestigious award in late September. That’s how good he really was Congrats to the kid.
  10. At age 19, Jackson is the youngest to ever win the Heisman Trophy. The Sophomore passed for 3,390 yards, but the fact that he also rushed for 1,500 yards, is just Ok, Ok, that’s something unique for a Heisman Trophy winner. He deserves it.
  11. Now onto the NFL, where the Pittsburgh Steelers are now one of the NFL’s hottest teams after now winning 4 in a row right after losing 4 in a row. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: That loss against the Dallas Cowboys opened their eyes, that they can’t mess up this opportunity.
  12. With the Baltimore Ravens (7-6) losing to the New England Patriots Sunday, the Steelers are now all alone in first place in the AFC North at 8-5. Obviously, their goal is to win the division, but with the recent struggles of the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins (also 8-5), the Steelers could have a Wild Card Game to fall back on, but their focus is the division.
  13. So now the Steelers next opponent is against the 5-7-1 Cincinnati Bengals Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. It’s important that the Steelers beat this team to keep their streak going and to stay at least a game ahead of the Ravens. It would also help if the Philadelphia Eagles would beat the Ravens on Sunday as well, but the Steelers must do their part.
  14. It’s too early to talk about the Steelers playoff scenarios, but I read one report that said they will secure a spot if they won their last 3 games vs. the Bengals, Ravens and Cleveland Browns. So, that means if they can get some help from the Eagles, then the Steelers may have a shot at securing the division Christmas Day vs. those Ravens. We shall see.
  15. Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell wins AFC Offensive Player of the Week. That was a no-brainier as he ate up the Buffalo Bills defense with 236 yards (a new Steelers season record) and 3 touchdowns. He’s on fire right now and here’s hoping he keeps it going vs. the Bengals.
  16. One of the players that I think the Steelers should look at is return specialist Devin Hester, who was released by the Ravens on Tuesday after reportedly refusing to catch a punt in their loss to the Patriots.
  17. I mean, why not? He would be much better than the tandem of Fitzgerald Touissant and the still hurting Sammie Coates. And if the Patriots bought him in for a look, so why not? But alas, there are no reports that the Steelers are interested.
  18. As for the rest of the NFL, it’s hard to believe that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had to announce that they’re sticking with rookie QB Dak Prescott after the team lost to the NY Giants Sunday. Seriously? What about the 11 wins that the rookie has led the Cowboys to? Foolishness.
  19. Pitt basketball (8-2) will resume action Saturday at the Petersen Events Center when they take on Rice (8-2) The Panthers have won 2 straight since their debacle vs. Duquesne at the City Game. With that 8-2 Record, Rice is certainly no pushover. Pitt F Mike Young’s 23 points a game is 9th in the country. Impressive.
  20. Sorry to hear about the passing of legendary NBA broadcaster Craig Sager who passed away from cancer at 65. Sager was known for his flashy and interesting suit jackets, but he was also known for broadcasting other sports, such as calling MLB HOF Hank Aaron when he hit the HR that passed fellow HOF Ruth in 1974. Prayers and condolences to his family.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

Benefits Of A Dynamic Warmup For Muscle Building Workouts

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Building muscle takes a lot of work, but it can take even more work if you are not prepared. If you don’t know what will work best for building muscle, you are creating more unnecessary work for yourself. Here are some effective tips for building muscle that can put you on the right path so that you can streamline your muscle building process.

Quite often, people will mistakenly emphasize their speed instead of technique. Form and technique are critical in muscle building, and it is always better to go slow and focus on form, rather than speeding through a workout. Take things slowly, ensuring that you are doing the exercise the right way.

Meat is a protein-rich food that will help aid muscle growth. You need to supply every pound of muscle you have with at least one gram of protein. That way, you will be able to stockpile protein, and if you have more protein, you will be better able to develop the type of muscles you desire.

Massage your muscles regularly. You can do this on your own by making use of a foam roller, tennis ball or any other tool that will help to relieve the stiffness of sore muscles. You could even consider going for regular massages at the parlor. Whatever means you use; you must be sure to relax those muscles regularly.

Be sure that you add in as many reps and sets as possible as you workout. Do fifteen lifts before taking a one minute break. Doing so is important in stimulating muscle growth because of the lactic acid. The more times you can complete this process during your workout, the more muscle growth you can expect.

Perform your lifting regimen every other day. After a vigorous workout, the protein synthesis process can take up to 48 hours to complete. In other words, your body builds muscle for up to two-day post-workout, and working out while your body is still recovering may undo your hard work. Enjoy the day of rest–it will help to maximize your results.

The best exercises for increasing your muscle bulk are those that utilize the large muscle groups. Doing these types of activity helps you build large muscles. Although you can perform other exercises in your routine, these should be the ones you focus on when exercising.

Push yourself hard while you are working out, to the point where you feel like you could not lift one more pound. You want always to be giving your maximum effort if you want to see a payoff. Hard work will equal the results that you are looking to have.

Not all supplements are equal when it comes to helping you build the muscles you need. Try to avoid any supplements that have heavier substances. Most professionals recommend using nothing stronger than a basic whey protein so that you don’t cause any nasty side effects to your own body.

Protein helps build bigger, stronger muscles, so make sure to eat quality proteins both before your workouts and after them. As a good rule of thumb, eat 15 grams of protein about 30 minutes before exercising, then another 15 grams when you are finished. 15 grams of protein is equal to about two cups of milk.

Focus on one thing at a time. If you want to build mass, you should concentrate on mass building exercises rather than develop your cardio. Working on your cardio will help you develop other parts of your body and might slow down the building of your muscles if it becomes the focus of your training.

Utilize the rest-pause method in your workouts. This method claims that your muscles usually gain up to 90% of its strength back in just a matter of 10 to 20 seconds. To do it effectively, pick a heavy weight that can cause you to go to failure at a particular rep, such as eight to ten reps, and then stop after short couple reps. Rest for around 10 to 20 seconds, and then resume your reps.

Tailor your intake of food to your efforts. You should eat more on the days you are planning on working out, especially just before, and after you exercise. On the days, you are not working out, choose lighter meals and cut back on the proteins. Make sure you choose healthy foods on the days you have to eat more.

There are the “big three” when it comes down to the subjects of weight training exercising and building muscles. The main three things to focus on are the squat, the bench press and the deadlift. Other trainers may call them other names, but they are all essentially the same thing, There three foundations of muscle building are essential because they add bulk and muscle mass, they increase strength and endurance. All muscle-building plans should include these as an important foundation to build on.

One of the best things that you can do to gain muscle is resistance cycling. This means that you will sit on a bike and pedal with a higher level of resistance and tension than usual. This technique will help to strengthen your legs, which is a core component in your body.

Do not spend your money on expensive training methods or supplements. You can get in shape and gain mass naturally with a few simple exercises. Develop a good workout routine and focus on doing more sets or adding an extra training session every week instead of following a miracle method.

Don’t take steroids. These drugs hurt your body in a myriad of ways, including the inhibition of your body’s natural hormone production. Other negative side effects of steroids include liver damage, high cholesterol and the development of breast tissue in men. They can cause a terrible mood condition called “roid rage” and can lead to increased acne. It doesn’t sound good, does it?

It can take a period to see results when you are trying to build muscle. That’s why it’s important to get on the right path today. Use the tips in this article so that the ultimate results you see when looking in a mirror are the results you want to see. editor@urbanmediatoday.com

Steelers Know How To Ring the ‘Bell.’

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Have you ever noticed when a person rings a bell that there’s an art to it? They just don’t hold it a certain way, and it has a certain sound to it. To be honest, that’s all I know about ringing bells, but one thing I know for sure: the right people know how to ring it.

 

Such as the case with the Pittsburgh Steelers as they traveled to Buffalo to play the Bills in in climate weather knowing that the snow as falling and the winds were blowing. In layman’s terms, it’s a terror for quarterbacks, which was proven correct as QB Ben Roethlisberger threw for three interceptions, one that was a miscommunication with WR Antonio Brown and the other an end zone snafu that was intended for TE Jesse James. Bills QB Tyrod Taylor also struggled as he was sacked five times and was intercepted once. But he was also able to pass for two touchdowns and orchestrate a late drive that ended with another.

 

But none of that mattered. Why? Because the Steelers knew how to ring the Bell, that is Le’Veon Bell. The 4th-year Steelers RB was called upon to do the one thing that God created running backs to do in snowy conditions: Run the ball. And did he ever as he ran around and over the Bills defense for a team record 236 yards and three touchdowns, which were all that the Steelers needed as they beat the Bills 27-20. The other 6 points came via K Shaun Suisham who made two field goals in his return after missing last week’s game with an injury.

 

For a minute there it seemed like the Steelers offense tried to resist sticking with the run as Big Ben was trying to get the ball to his receivers, namely Brown who in my opinion, is still the best WR in the game. Brown did have a decent game as he caught five passes for 78 yards, but he didn’t do much in the second half, which is a good thing because it wasn’t a day for passing the ball.

 

Just ask Big Ben.

 

The Steelers Signal-caller didn’t have his best games, and when he usually plays a game this statistically bad the Steelers lose, but for once they didn’t need Big Ben to win the game and to be honest, I hadn’t seen that happen since his first two years. In the league when they were still a run-first team and relied mostly on Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis and eventually Willie Parker to set the tone.

 

Well, I believe the Steelers did have ‘Bettis’ on the field in this game, or at least what resembled Bettis as Bell destroyed the Bills defense as he broke Parker’s record for yards (225) and had more yards in a game than even Bettis and Franco Harris. In fact, Harris only rushed for 200 yards once in his career and Bettis did as an LA Ram, but not a Steeler. And Bell already has 2 in his 4-year career. Bell also caught two passes for 62 yards and went over 1,000 yards for the second time in his young career. Impressive.

 

I like when Big Ben lets loose as much as the next Steelers fan, but I grew up watching Harris, Rocky Bleier, and Bettis run that ball. I also remember Barry Foster, who still has the season yardage record with 1,690 yards and of course I remember Parker, who still has a record for the longest TD run in the Super Bowl (75) but none of them got it done like Bell did in this game.

 

I was also impressed with the defense in the first half as they chased Taylor around the field and sacked him four times, in the first quarter alone. DE Stephon Tuitt had a half sack, which he shared with rookie safety Sean Davis, who also had a sack of his own. LB Ryan Shazier had one of his own, but the defensive star was clearly 2nd year LB Bud Dupree who had two sacks on the day, his first 2 of the season. I’m so glad that defensive coordinator Keith Butler has decided to let these guys loose. They did enough to keep the Bills off the board until their first TD.

 

However, I was not impressed with how the defense played in the 4th quarter. The Defense looked like they were in cruise control, as if the game was already won, and reverted to their old ways: Missing tackles leaving receivers wide open and making Taylor look like Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, for at least 7 minutes. Frankly, at one point, the Steelers defense resembled the University of Pittsburgh Basketball team, and that’s not a compliment.

 

But those late scores had no effect on the outcome, which resulted in the Steelers 4th straight victory, after losing four straight…4 weeks ago. The Steelers are now 8-5 and currently are alone in first place in the AFC North. They can stay there a little while longer if the New England Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens Monday night, but the key to the Steelers ticket to the postseason will be to keep winning, and that includes a victory over those Ravens Christmas Day.

 

So now the Steelers will travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals next Sunday, and after beating them early in the season, they can go for the season sweep.

 

These past few weeks have revealed the secret to the Steelers success after their 4-5 start, and one of them is plainly obvious: They just have to Ring the Bell. www.steelers.com

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on Twitter

 

Foods You Can Eat For Better Health

 

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Do you need to start practicing better nutrition? Misinformation or lack of knowledge prevent most people from eating healthily. Learning about nutrition will help you make smart food choices.

Try to eat a white meat in your diet every day. Most protein comes from animal fat, and this kind provides the least amount versus red meat. You can find tasty white meat in turkey, chicken, and even pork. Add these to items such as sandwiches, salads, stews, soups, etc.; the possibilities are endless.

Many people don’t like to bother with breakfast. One reason to focus on proper nutrition in the morning is that your brain has been fasting all night: You need that boost of energy and protein in the morning to get your brain and body working quickly for the day. A good protein-and-fruit-based breakfast smoothie will provide a quick way to improve your nutrition profile from the time you wake up in the morning.

Everyone should have their vitamin D level checked at least once a year. If they are deficient, their doctor can recommend a supplement to increase their level. Even though vitamin D is grown in milk, many people do not drink enough to get the amount they need. The another main source of vitamin D is from sunlight. Since people in northern countries have less sun exposure during the year, they are especially prone to deficiency. Widespread sunscreen use has contributed to low levels of vitamin D also.

You want to work on making sure your digestion system is properly functioning regularly, as this has to do with your health and weight loss goals. Drink plenty of water, eat the recommended amount of fiber and take probiotics to keep the digestive tract healthy.

When you are craving a glass of fruit juice, you should consider having a small piece of fresh fruit instead. This will curb your craving, and it will also keep you full for much longer. If you must drink fruit juice, try to drink a diet or 100 percent natural version.

Choose organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Organic food is grown without pesticides and fungicides. While organic foods can be more expensive, the long term health benefits save money in future health care costs. The more strange things you can cut out of your diet the healthier you will be.

Follow the Mediterranean diet plan. This diet is typically followed by people who live in Greece, Spain, France and Italy. It mainly consists of fresh fish, fruit, vegetables, dairy products. Wholemeal pasta and olive oil. Meat is only consumed occasionally. It isn’t a diet, rather a lifestyle. Eat good food in moderation, and know what to avoid. Any fake products are a no-no. Not only will you lose weight, but you will also feel much healthier.

To eat a nutritious diet, while suffering from an ulcer, look for soft, vitamin-rich foods that are easy to digest. Avocado is easy on a sensitive stomach and is also full of fiber and healthy fats. Kale, spinach, and other leafy greens provide your body with B vitamins, which can help speed your recovery.

To lower the amount of tissue damage done by free radicals, include copper in your diet. Superoxide dismutase, an enzyme essential for removing free radicals from the body, is dependent on copper to function properly. A copper deficiency severely limits your body’s ability to fight free radicals. Foods high in copper include cashews, sweet potatoes, and oysters.

A great nutrition tip is to invest in a blender. Blenders are great because you can mix a wide variety of foods into one simple beverage. You can throw in a handful of fruits, a scoop of protein powder, and some oats in a blender to create a fantastic and healthy shake.

To reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, try using natural sweeteners instead of white sugar. Honey, molasses, and syrup can sweeten your food without adding as many calories. When you’re baking, try substituting fruit juice for some of the sugar. Use fresh fruit to add some sweetness to your cereal in the morning instead of another spoonful of sugar.

When concerned with what liquids to drink, you will find that water is perfectly satisfying for your nutrition needs. You should avoid sugary soda drinks. You can find fortified water that contains vitamins to be a great alternative. Because of water and these vitamin drinks, you will not be spiking your system with sugar and excessive calories. This will help you become healthier.

The world of nutrition has unfortunately become incredibly over-saturated recently. This has led to hundreds of diets and books being released. The best thing to do with this is to ignore them completely. The fads change week by week, so it is essential just to stick to the basics of healthy food.

High fructose corn syrup, sugar, and other forms of carbohydrates are all essentially the same when it comes to nutrition. They might react in a different manner with the body, diffusing sugar faster, but they all carry similar calorie contents and behave like sugars. Starches like bread and pasta provide a significant portion of carbohydrates which allows you to store up energy in fat cells.

Help your child avoid obesity by making sure he/she has a healthy balance of play and nutrition. Shop carefully for healthful foods to be sure your child always has plenty of nutritious choices in snacks, and make sure he/she gets outside to play a sport or engage in some other vigorous exercise for at least half an hour every day.

Set your fork down between bites. This simple habit can bring complex rewards. When you eat a bite of food, allow plenty of time to chew and enjoy the food. When you swallow food, your body does not immediately register that you are filling up. Allow time for each bite to get to the source, and you will find that you eat less.

Hopefully, the information presented above will allow you to feel more confident about nutrition. Remember that knowledge is worthless without action, and use the advice above to help improve your diet choices.

Pitt Players Receive More All-America Accolades

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Quadree Henderson, Dorian Johnson and Ejuan Price are recognized among the nation’s finest.

                                                                                                                               

    PITTSBURGH—Three Pitt standouts—sophomore all-purpose player Quadree Henderson, senior offensive guard Dorian Johnson and senior defensive end Ejuan Price—have been named to multiple All-America squads announced this week.

 

Henderson (Wilmington, Del./Alexis I. du Pont) has been named a first team All-American as a kick returner by four different selectors to date. In the last 24 hours he was honored by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, SI.com and USA TODAY. Earlier this week, Henderson was named to the Sporting News All-America team.

 

Henderson is the first All-America return man in Pitt history. He has four returns for touchdowns this season, including a nation-leading three on kickoffs. Henderson ranks second in the country in combined kick return yards (1,121) and fifth in kickoff return average (31.1).

 

Henderson is also among the country’s top all-purpose players, ranking 11th with an average of 159.75 per game. He has compiled 1,917 all-purpose yards, the fifth highest total in Pitt history. If Henderson hits his average in the bowl game, he will become only the second Pitt player to reach 2,000 all-purpose yards in a season. Legendary tailback Tony Dorsett, who had 2,217 all-purpose yards during his 1976 Heisman Trophy season, is the only Pitt player to reach that milestone.

 

Johnson (Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon Area) was a first-team selection by SI.com and Sporting News. He was a second-team pick by Walter Camp. Johnson becomes the first Pitt offensive lineman to be selected a first team All-American in 22 years.

 

Johnson was a vital contributor to the highest scoring offense in Pitt history. The Panthers have compiled a record 508 points this season and boast the nation’s No. 10 scoring offense at 42.3 points per game. Johnson did not surrender a single sack this year. He was also integral for a Pitt ground attack that produced 35 touchdowns, the fourth most among Power 5 teams.

 

Price (Rankin, Pa./Woodland Hills) was named a second team All-American by USA TODAY and Walter Camp. He is one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in college football. Price leads the nation in tackles for loss (1.8 per game) and ranks sixth in sacks (1.0 per game).

 

Incredibly, half of Price’s 42 tackles this season have been behind the line of scrimmage. He has compiled 21 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 13 QB hurries, three forced fumbles and a blocked extra point.

 

Price’s 12 sacks this season are the most by a Pitt player in 25 years. He has 28.5 sacks for his career, which ranks fifth all-time in school annals.

Pitt will face Northwestern in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on December 28 in New York City. The game, played at iconic Yankee Stadium, will kick off at 2 p.m., and be nationally televised by ESPN.

 

The Panthers enter the postseason with an 8-4 record and boasting Top 25 rankings in the Associated Press poll (No. 22) and College Football Playoff ratings (No. 23).

 

Ray Jr. on Sports

sports

  1. Pitt Football team accepts bid to Pinstripe Bowl vs. Northwestern. I’m glad about that, because it’s a Tier 1 Bowl and it’s in New York in Legendary Yankee Stadium. Now who wouldn’t have an issue with that? If I’m correct, it’s the first time the Panthers have ever played a bowl game in a cold weather city, and we know on December 28th, it’s going to be cold and maybe snowy.
  2. Another thing about that bowl game is that it’s a no-brainier that ESPN will put the focus on Pitt RB James Conner as this may be his final bowl game because he might declare for the NFL Draft. They’re probably treat him like how Jerome Bettis was treated when the Steelers were in Super Bowl 40, which would be cool.
  3. As for the rest of the football team, the individual awards keep coming as DE Ejuan Price was named a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive Player of the Year award. His 12 sacks are the most by a Pitt DE in over 25 years.
  4. 2 Pitt players were also named All-Americans. KR Quadree Henderson and OL Dorian Johnson received those honors by The Sporting News. Congrats to them both because their 2016 standout seasons.
  5. And 9 Pitt players were named to the Coaches ALL-ACC team. five players earn first-team All-ACC honors: junior running back James Conner, sophomore return specialist Quadree Henderson, senior offensive guard Dorian Johnson, senior offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty and senior defensive end Ejuan Price.
  6. Sophomore offensive tackle Brian O’Neill and sophomore safety Jordan Whitehead also earned second team All-ACC from the coaches’ votes, with O’Neill improving on his third-team selection from the league’s media. And two more Panthers, senior placekicker Chris Blewitt and sophomore offensive guard Alex Bookser received enough votes to be named as Honorable Mention selections. Henderson also received an Honorable Mention nod as a wide receiver.
  7. It’s cool to see the Pitt players get these honors, it really goes to show just how good of a team they really were this season. Sure, their defense had their issues, but you don’t finish 8-4 in a season by accident. Not to mention upsetting nationally-ranked Clemson as well. They had a good year.
  8. As for the rest of college football, the Playoff Final Four was announced and to no surprise Alabama is the #1 seed, followed by Clemson, and then Ohio State and Washington. Of course, the controversy was over how the Buckeyes could get the spot, and they didn’t even win the Big Ten Conference Championship, which went to Penn State.
  9. I side with the Playoff Committee on this one. Ohio State has been a Top 5 team all season, even at #2, who why all the griping? It’s more than just winning your conference, just like the Wild Card Game in professional sports. Ohio State belonged in the Playoff and folks know it.
  10. Speaking of that Big Ten Championship Game, that was honestly one of the best title games that I’ve seen in a minute. I just knew Wisconsin was going to win it with a 28-7 lead, and then Penn State came back. I was rooting for former Pitt HC Paul Chryst, but I’m happy for Penn State HC Kevin Franklin who folks need to admit is a good coach.
  11. As for Pitt basketball, they play Penn State in the Never Forget Tribute Classic Saturday at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. The event, also featuring a matchup between Notre Dame and Villanova, is partnered with the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, which helps support the education of children of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
  12. To be honest, I had never heard of such a tournament, but it’s truly an honorable one and I’m sure that Pitt is honored to play in it. As for the basketball team, they face a Penn State team (6-4) that’s probably better than Duquesne and better than Buffalo, the team Pitt beat last night. So, here’s hoping that Pitt brings their ‘A’ game Saturday.
  13. Speaking of Duquesne, they played their second version of the City Game vs. struggling Robert Morris and Robert Morris beat them 64-60. It just goes to show once again, that on any given day, a team can rise to the occasion, no matter what their record is.
  14. As for the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to make strides as they have now won 3 in a row and are 7-5 and tied with the Baltimore Ravens for first place in the AFC North Division. This week, the Steelers may have a chance to be all alone in first place as they take on the Buffalo Bills Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
  15. Now I’m not saying that the Bills are a pushover, because we know HC Rex Ryan will have their defense ready as he always does. It’s a surprise that the team is only 6-6, but that’s the kind of team that the Steelers know to watch out for. But if they keep playing like they have been the past few weeks, no team can beat them.
  16. The other part of that scenario is the fact that the Ravens will play the New England Patriots on Sunday and even without TE Rob Gronkowski, who injured QB Tom Brady and company shouldn’t have a reason to fail against Joe Flacco and Co. We shall see.
  17. As for the rest of the NFL, the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys are the first team this season to clinch a playoff spot and could clinch Home field advantage in the NFC with a win Sunday. As for the AFC’s top spot, it’s a toss-up between the Patriots and the Oakland Raiders who both have 10-2 records.
  18. I must admit, the 2016 Raiders are a shock, they’re used to being a joke in the NFL, but HC Jack Del Rio has turned them around and it’s impressive. QB Derek Carr deserves the MVP, hands down.
  19. Now onto the NBA, where OKC Thunder G Russell Westbrook is truly a Triple-Double ready to happen. He’s averaging 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists per game and has 6 straight triple-doubles. The Thunder is truly feeding off it with a 14-8 record, but they’re only good for 6th in the Eastern Conference.
  20. That’s because the usual suspects, the Golden State Warriors are at the top at 19-3, followed by the 18-4 San Antonio Spurs, the 16-7 LA Clippers and the 15-8 Memphis Grizzlies. But the Thunder is in their which folks thought they wouldn’t be following the departure of F Kevin Durant.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

 

Pitt’s Dorian Johnson and Quadree Henderson Named Sporting News All-Americans

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Both players were first-team All-America selections.

 

PITTSBURGH—Pitt football’s rich tradition of All-America players added two new names this week with the unveiling of the 2016 Sporting News All-America Team.

Senior offensive guard Dorian Johnson and sophomore return specialist Quadree Henderson were named first team All-Americans by the venerable sports publication.

Johnson (Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon Area) becomes the first Pitt offensive lineman to be selected a first team All-American in 22 years. College Football Hall of Famer Ruben Brown was the last Panther to achieve that designation back in 1994.

Athletic and physically punishing, Johnson was a vital contributor to the highest scoring offense in Pitt history. The Panthers have compiled a record 508 points this season and boast the nation’s No. 10 scoring offense at 42.3 points per game.

The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Johnson did not surrender a single sack this year. He was also integral for a Pitt ground attack that produced 35 touchdowns, the fourth most among Power 5 teams.

Henderson (Wilmington, Del./Alexis I. du Pont) is the first All-America return man in Pitt history. He has four returns for touchdowns this season, including a nation-leading three on kickoffs. Henderson ranks second in the country in combined kick return yards (1,121) and fifth in kickoff return average (31.1).

Over his past 14 games, Henderson has six kickoff returns that have gone for more than 80 yards, including two 100-yard touchdowns.

 

Henderson is also among the country’s top all-purpose players, ranking 11th with an average of 159.75 yards per game. He has compiled 1,917 all-purpose yards, the fifth highest total in Pitt history. If Henderson hits his average in the bowl game, he will become only the second Pitt player to reach 2,000 all-purpose yards in a season. Legendary tailback Tony Dorsett, who had 2,217 all-purpose yards during his 1976 Heisman Trophy season, is the only Pitt player to reach that milestone.

Pitt gets the victory over Buffalo, but the struggles continue

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As this game between the Pitt Panthers and Buffalo Bulls began, I figured that it was a no-brainier that the Panthers would win this game. After all, they had embarrassed themselves and the Pitt fans who supported them at last Friday’s City Game at PPG Paints arena when they fell to the Duquesne Dukes 64-55, their first loss to the Dukes in 15 years. I figured ‘Hey (to myself) Pittsburgh teams are known for having to bad games in a roll, right?’

After watching this game vs. Buffalo, I almost had to hold my breath and eat my words, because the Panthers almost lost this game as well. But as we know, almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, because the Panthers were able to hold on to beat Buffalo 84-79 and improve to 7-2 on the season. Buffalo fell to 6-7.

I know what you’re thinking: “How in the world did Pitt barely beat Buffalo?” Well, if you saw Friday’s loss to Duquesne, then you would’ve answered your own question. Talent alone will not beat an opponent, no matter how good or bad their record is. If a team isn’t prepared on game day, they will lose, plain and simple. After upsetting Maryland Tuesday (in a game in which they were prepared for) Pitt wasn’t prepared against the Dukes, and they lost.

But that was then, and this is now. Pitt was looking to turn over a new leaf against Buffalo, and after the first jump ball, they looked like the team that we expected them to be: Quick scoring and high speed & to be honest, playing like they cared about winning. The Panthers breezed to 10-4, 27-6 and 41-18 leads in the first half. I noticed that they were playing selfless, team ball. Dishing the ball around and believe it or not, playing defense. Buffalo look a bit disheveled and appeared out of their league. It kind of reminded me of how non-conference teams looked when they played those 2007-2009 nationally ranked Pitt teams when they arrived at the Pete.

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I honestly thought this game was in the bag after they led 41-18 and then I started thinking about how Pitt should thank the Dukes for helping them get their heads straight, but then Pitt started looking like the team that lost in the City Game: Sloppy shooting, and bad defense and suddenly Buffalo was back in this game. You don’t believe me? The score went from Pitt leading 41-18, to a halftime lead of 49-37. Observe: Pitt only scored eight more points compared to Buffalo’s 19 points. While the Panthers looked sloppy, the Bulls looked energized as both teams went into the locker room.

It didn’t get any better in the second half as the Bulls started the scoring. Led by F Nick Perkins who looked like Alonzo Mourning out there (OK, mostly because his number is 33) the Bulls slowly turned a laughter into a game. What I saw on the court was a lackluster effort (once again) by senior F Mike Young, who looked like Superman early in the first half, then looked like bumbling Clark Kent in the second half. At least Clark Kent acted like he was clumsy, just so folks didn’t reveal his secret identity. Young on the other hand, wasn’t acting at all. Something is wrong. Maybe the pressure is on him? Maybe he’s realizing that he may not be as good as advertised? Whatever the reason, he needs to snap out of this funk.

But what I also saw something different with the Panthers compared to Friday: They could hold onto their lead despite letting Buffalo back in the game. In fact, the Bulls never led once in this game, so that should stand for something. But before Pitt woke up, they had only led Buffalo 69-68 with only 6 minutes to play. Then F Sheldon Jeter hit a jumper and then G Brandon Johnson sort-of rebounded from his bad game against Duquesne and hit 2 clutch 3-pointers (one while falling on his backside) to push Buffalo away when they got as close as 71-68.

Pitt wins over Boston College

The Panthers would then add key baskets via jumpers and free throws which helped make it impossible for the Bulls to pull off the upset. Ironically, the final points were scored by F Jamel Artis, who hurt his team by being suspended and Young on 2 free throws to seal the 84-79 victory.

Here’s what HC Kevin Stallings had to say about this game: “I really liked our balance. When Mike Young got in foul trouble, other guys stepped up and played well.” I think he did have a point. 6 Panthers scored in double-figures with Young and Johnson leading with 17 points apiece. Artis (16), G Chris Jones (12) Jeter and F Ryan Luther had 11. Even with Artis in there, they didn’t rely on Young to win the game.

But the others?? a big, fat zero from the rest of their bench. Not good. And that will hurt them when ACC Conference Play starts later in the month.

Again, I’m glad that Pitt won, and I do stand on a win being a win, but this team still has struggles that could make this a tough season for them if they don’t get it together. Because it certainly isn’t going to get any easier.

Notes: The Panthers will travel to New Jersey to face Penn State in the Never Forget Tribute Classic Saturday and then they will return to the Petersen Events Center to face Rice December 17th.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

Cooking Secrets That Everyone In The Kitchen Should Know

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Whether you’re a brand new cook or an experienced one, there are plenty of sources of frustration in the kitchen. No matter what your cooking skills are like, little annoyances can make preparing a meal much more stressful. Here are some cooking tips that will help preparing your meals go a little more smoothly.

Use a tried and tested recipe when entertaining. When you have guests over for a meal, always prepare something tasty that you have made before. This is not the time to test a new recipe as it could turn out to be a disaster! Also, remember to find out if your guests have any dietary requirements or allergies, or if they simply don’t like a certain kind of food. This will ensure that your evening is a success.

The most difficult and time consuming thing about cooking is doing all of the prep work. You can buy pre-prepped vegetables or prep your ingredients the day before to cut down on the time you are in the kitchen. This is very helpful if you need to get dinner out in a hurry.

Make soup stock in large quantities. Soup stock can be used in many different recipes. If you make a large portion of it once, it is easy to store for later use. Just put it in baggies that can be sealed. Put it in the freezer and thaw it out when you need to use it.

To increase the texture and quality of the pasta that you cook at night, make sure that you finish cooking with the pasta in the pan with sauce. This will help to absorb the sauce so that it blends in properly and tastes great when you sit down to the table and eat.

Slicing meat into thin even strips is easier when the meat is partially frozen. This technique is particularly good for meats served in Asian cuisine. When you freeze meat, it makes the slicing much cleaner because it prevents the meat from being as flexible. Just remember, though, to let the stripped meat completely thaw out before you start cooking. This keeps the meat from cooking unevenly.

The best thing that you can do when you are making hamburgers is to engage in trial and error. Instead of guessing that the meat is cooked well, make a small patty and taste it yourself. This will allow you to adjust your level of seasoning and cook your burger more if it needs it.

Leave the bone in a roast to speed up cooking. By leaving the bone in, heat moves to the inside of the meat faster, speeding up the cooking process. Because the bone transmits heat, the entire roast cooks more evenly throughout the cut of meat by leaving it in rather than removing it.

When you are cooking for your family, try not to stick to one style. If you cook the same meal over and over, it can get boring and your family will become jaded with the dishes that you make. Change things up every night so that you can introduce new meals and cuisines to your family.

If you have a family, you will want to implement a process for cleaning up after you cook your meal. This is very important as you will want to conserve the excess food that you do not eat for future servings. Post meal cleanup is just as important as pre-meal preparation.

When you want to make a soup using stock, follow this tip. Be sure to make a large amount of stock, pour it in a plastic bag, and place it in the freezer. This will allow you to quickly make soup whenever you want to by simply thawing out the already made stock.

You should separate your meat into usable portions before you freeze it. You can separate your meat and store the portions in sandwich bags. You can then place the sandwich bags inside of freezer bags. This will give you that ability to have your meats perfectly portioned and to be able to use the freezer bags over and over again.

When freezing meat it is important to use freezer bags. Meat will get freezer burn if it is not properly stored. Meat that has freezer burn will not taste good when it is cooked, and it often has to be thrown away instead of being eaten. This can be very costly, but can also be easily avoided.

Don’t use bitter, sour, or tasteless wine in your recipes. Because wine will have a big impact on the flavor of your food, a bad wine can result in a bad meal. There is wine available that was made specifically for cooking.

If you want to pan sear a nice tuna steak, you want to do it right! Make a baste for the tuna that is comprised of ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, pepper, and salt. Put oil on the pan and heat it, sear for one minute on each side. The middle of the fish should still be pink.

When you are making casseroles, roasts, and other things that may stick to the bottom of a baking sheet, you should line the bottom of the pan with foil. This is a good idea because after you are done cooking you can throw the foil away and you will not have a lot of cleaning up to do.

Include some salt in the water when you make pasta. This will help season the pasta as it cooks. Salting after boiling your pasta will not give the same effect of absorption.

Make perfect meat and fish by applying seasoning, evenly. Especially with salt and pepper, think of the seasonings as snow that is falling delicately onto the meat and fish. As a result, you won’t have too much seasoning on one section and not enough or none on other sections. It also prevents the seasonings from clumping.

There are plenty of things you can do to take the stress out of cooking. Now that you’ve read this article, you have plenty of advice you can apply the next time you head to the kitchen. Now that you have these tips, you may find you’re willing to try cooking something a little more challenging.

editor@urbanmediatoday.com