Panthers feel they Have Unfinished Business in 2017 

The Pitt Panthers 2016 college football season was one to remember. They finished 8-5 for the second consecutive season (5-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference play) under 3rd year Head Coach Pat Narduzzi. They received a boost from the return of RB James Conner who missed most of 2015 with injuries and being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and they made national headlines after beating cross-state rival Penn State 42-39 (their first game since 2000) and pulling off the huge upset of eventual National Champion Clemson 43-41. They also made history of a different kind as they beat Syracuse by scoring 76 points, but they also gave up 61 points to the Orange, making it the highest combined scoring game in ACC history. A national ranking (Associated Press) for the first time in years, They also wore throwback uniforms that defined their football team in the 70’s and 80’s. Not even a disappointing 31-24 loss to Northwestern in the Pinstripe Bowl could dampen the Pitt’s season nor their enthusiasm as they prepare for even greater things in 2017.

 

And what are those greater things? A Coastal Divisional title and a trip to their first-ever ACC Conference Championship game, and a higher-tier bowl which will garner more national attention for starters and improvements on a unit that made Narduzzi a genius at Michigan State, defense.

 

Is it possible for Pitt to accomplish all that? Yes, but the reality of if all is that they will have to do so without several of their starters, 5 of whom were drafted in the NFL: Conner (Pittsburgh Steelers), QB Nate Peterman (Buffalo Bills), DE Ejuan Price (LA Rams), OT Adam Bisnowaty (NY Giants) and G Dorian Johnson (Arizona Cardinals). They also lost offensive coordinator Matt Canada to LSU. A good Head Coach knows that his players will eventually move on due to graduation and/or the NFL so he truly believes in the ‘Next Man Up’ philosophy and Narduzzi know that he has to apply that philosophy to his team in 2017.

 

In the spirit of Abbot and Costello, The Question for the Panthers will be ‘Who’s at QB and ‘What’s at RB’ will be answered as they team prepares for camp Tuesday, August 1st.

 

  1. Quarterback-It’s an understatement that Peterman will be missed. A transfer from Tennessee, he took the starting job from Chad Voytik and never let it go. In 2016, he passed for 2,855 yards, 27 touchdowns, and only 7 interceptions. His leadership skills truly made the difference in the victory over Clemson. Now that he’s move on, who will be the man under center for the Panthers? Enter Max Browne who came to Pitt as a graduate transfer from USC. He was ranked among the top freshman quarterbacks in the nation in 2013. He actually was the Trojan’s starter at the beginning of 2016 before losing his job to Sam Darnold. Browne is big (6-5, 230) and is clearly the incumbent for the starting job due to his experience. Also battling for the starting spot will be redshirt freshman Tom MacVittie and Sophomore Ben DiNucci. Each saw very limited time in 2016.
  2. Running Back-The phrase ‘What’s at RB’ aptly describes this unit who faces the daunting task of replacing the irreplaceable in Conner, who finished 2016 with 1,092 yards and 16 scores and set school records in yardage. Although the Panthers could go to a committee, one player who should have the inside track at the starting job is Junior Quadree Ollison who filled in admirably for Conner in 2015 when he had 202 yards in his first-ever game and finished the season with 1,121 yards and earned ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Ollison’s 2016 wasn’t as impressive as he slipped down the depth chart, but he makes a case for a strong rebound in 2017. Freshman Chawntez Moss was impressive in 2016, rushing for 222 yards. They also added 4-star recruit AJ Davis who chose Pitt over Michigan, Ohio State, Auburn and Florida State. In the Red Zone, they also have an incredible talent in Junior FB George Aston who scored 10 touchdowns (5 rushing, 5 receiving) in 2016.
  3. Offensive Line-Although Pitt lost All-Americans Bisnowaty and Johnson, they honestly aren’t panicking because of their depth and versatility. They expect Junior Brian O’Neill to take over Bisnotwaty’s spot at tackle as he moves over from the right side. O’Neill also was in on a few offensive plays as he scored 2 touchdowns in 2016. Fellow Junior Alex Bookster is expected to take Johnson[t spot at guard. The Panthers also have a returning starter in Sr. Alex Officer. Sr Tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith is expected to take O’Neill’s old spot at right tackle.
  4. Defensive End-It’s also a fact that the Panthers will miss Price, who led them with 13 sacks in 2016. He truly had a nose for the quarterback.  Tennessee transfer Dewayne Hendrix with hopes that he can duplicate Price’s success. But the concern is his health as he missed mostly all of 2016 with an injury.
  5. Other key replacements-TE Scott Orndoff was a valuable TE for the Panthers in 2016, with 579 yard and 5 scores. He signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent. UCLA transfer Chris Clark could have the first shot at replacing him. And at Kicker, Pitt’s all-time scoring leader Chris Blewitt has departed and is expected to be replaced by freshman Alex Kessman.

 

 

In addition to making changes, the Panthers also go into 2017 with 2 main strengths and weaknesses. Here is an example of both:

 

Strengths: Wide Receiver-The Panthers not only had some of the most talented wide receivers in college football, but they most certainly had some of the fastest. All-American Junior Quadree Henderson certainly grabbed national attention with his quicksilver-type speed. Although he’s listed at receiver, he was truly a threat at running back and kick/punt returner. He had 917 total yards from scrimmage (631 yards rushing, 286 receiving) and 1,166 total return yards (914 kick, 252 punts) and 9 total touchdowns. Sr. Jester Weah was a pleasant surprise as he was the team’s top deep threat with 36 catches, 870 yards, and 10 touchdowns. He also averaged 24.2 yards per catch, which was good for second in the country. A dark horse at this position could be freshman Darian Street, brother of former Pitt star WR Devin Street (2009-13) who is the school’s all-time receptions leader. If he has the speed of his brother, this unit will be even more explosive.

 

Weaknesses: Pass Defense-Make no mistake: This unit was the team’s Achilles heel after giving up 333.2 yards per game in the air. Teams basically knew that the key to beating Pitt was to simply throw the ball deep. The pass defense also gave up 28 touchdowns and allowed 580 yards to Oklahoma State. Narduzzi will be grateful that star safety Jordan Whitehead is returning after missing the second half of 2016 due to injury. Whitehead was truly their defensive stud in 2015 as he earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors with his stellar play. He was also pretty good in 2016 before his injury as he had 65 tackles, an interception, and a TD, earning him 2nd-team ACC honors. Whitehead is also a force on offense as he excelled on several running plays that resulted in touchdowns in 2015. Pitt also added top-rated recruit Paris Ford, who turned joined them after turning down Penn State. Ford is listed as a true superstar, but he is having eligibility concerns at the moment. Sr. Avonte Maddox returns as starting cornerback and could be joined by junior Phillipe Motley and sophomore Dane Jackson. On paper, this unit looks better, but it remains to be seen how they will look on the field.

 

Schedule-Although they don’t play ACC powers Clemson, Florida State or Louisville, it’s not an easy schedule for Pitt. After opening up against FCS Subdivision great Youngstown State, they will hit the road against Penn State and return home for a rematch vs. Oklahoma State. After their ACC opener at Georgia Tech, they have another non-conference game at home vs. Rice and then get into their ACC schedule beginning at Syracuse, then NC State, Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and then they finish vs. Miami. If all goes well, the Panthers could finish 2nd in the Coastal with a 9-3 record (7-1 ACC) and a trip to the Citrus or Belk Bowl. The ACC Preseason Poll has the Panthers finishing 4th in the Coastal Division.

  

Please email Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmedaiRay on twitter

Pitt Coach Pat Narduzzi Announces Disciplinary Actions

PITTSBURGH—Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi announced disciplinary actions for four players prior to the Panthers’ opening of training camp on August 1.

 

  • Senior defensive end Rori Blair has been dismissed from the program for “conduct detrimental to the program.”
  • Junior offensive tackle Alex Bookser will be suspended for the season opener for his involvement in an offseason legal situation involving a motor vehicle.

 

  • Senior linebacker Quintin Wirginis and junior safety Jordan Whitehead will both be suspended for the opening three games of the season for the violation of team policy.

 

“Our program’s foundation will always be built on discipline and personal responsibility,” Narduzzi said. “These are highly disappointing situations but I am hopeful that each of these young men will be better, stronger and wiser after taking accountability for their actions.

 

“Alex Bookser will sit out the season-opening game and has also been subject to internal disciplinary measures and accountability. I’m confident he will make better decisions moving forward.

 

“In addition to sitting out multiple games, Quintin and Jordan will continue to be held accountable to internal standards of conduct.”

 

How stress effects the heart

What stresses you out? This question is sure to be answered differently by each person, but it’s an important answer. More importantly, how we handle our stress matters. If we are too stressed out, it spikes our risk of a heart attack or heart disease. On the flip side, if we manage stress well, it lowers the risk. As you read through this article, ask yourself how you rate with each of the techniques.

First and foremost, stress can increase your chances of a heart attack. Heart attacks are associated with pain not only in the chest but all throughout the body. It’s common to have pain the back, arm, jaw, and neck. Shortness of breath and headaches are also common. Most experience these symptoms with high levels of anxiety, but a heart attack is serious. Chest pains can be absolutely frightening. If you have a stressful job, you may want to switch careers where your stress is more under control.

Stress also impacts blood sugar levels. Most people think of diabetics when this is mentioned. However, non-diabetics should still be concerned with their blood sugar. When you get angry, your blood sugar rises. When you stay calm, so does your blood sugar. You can tell when it rises because you feel like you’re about to pass out. A person’s face gets red like a cherry, their hands get red and their voice trembles. Your body turning you red is a warning sign. It’s telling you to calm down. It’s telling you that, should you get any angrier, it’s probable there could be a heart attack.

Digestive problems or obesity could also be a sign of stress. Many people have nausea or vomiting when they are too stressed out. They stray away from their typical eating habits and start eating comfort foods, which may lead to excessive weight gain. They sneak food where nobody will see them eat it, such as closets as if they are ashamed. Diarrhea or constipation may also affect the body. These are also signs that you’re stressed out. When you’re experiencing these symptoms, your body is having to pump more blood. Your heart knows you have anxiety and it’s trying to keep up.

Sleep problems may also be an issue. Many times I have been kept up thinking. Stress always get the better of me at night, but you have to get sleep in order to stay healthy. Without sleep, it opens the door to insomnia and other problems. It also increases your chances of encountering heart attack, stroke or diabetes. If you lose too much sleep, it could lead to memory problems, a weakened immune system or weight gain. Likewise, it could contribute to high blood pressure or heart disease.

Finally, stress can cause broken heart syndrome. This mimics the symptoms of a heart attack and often occurs when someone is a great deal of physical stress. It may occur after a job loss or the death of a loved one. In contrast to a heart attack, however, the arteries are not blocked due to too much fat buildup. Rather, the heart enlarges and does not pump as well. While this is a treatable condition, it can strike an old person or a young and healthy person. The best way to protect your heart is to reduce your stress. Learn how to manage it well and stay ahead of the game. editor@urbanmediatoday.com

Best alternatives to college for students not planning on attending college

These words are hard for any parent to hear: “Mom…dad—I don’t want to attend college.” You spend eighteen years raising your child with good values and ready to send them off into the world, but we often forget the world has changed since we were their age. The opportunities have changed. The requirements for jobs have changed. I could go on, but you get the point. Do your child a favor. Hear them out when they say the statement. Let them defend why they don’t want to go and then mention the following alternatives to them.

 

First and foremost, suggest they attend trade school. In light of misrepresentation, trade school is not college. In college, your mind is expanded and stretched in all different topics and theories. The cost is higher and it takes much longer to get your degree. But, in trade school, you pay a third of the cost and get out in the world much quicker. You’re learning a trade or skill that is applicable to a specific job, such as sewing, plumbing skills or how to become an electrician. It’s more hands on and the classes are usually smaller. And, you have a much higher chance of getting a salaried job versus working for minimum wage.

 

Another alternative is to start your own business. Let’s say you play the piano and several other instruments. You could charge each student $10 a lesson. If you have 15 students a week, that’s $150. That’s just about $600 each month from lessons alone. Of course, you could vary that price with each instrument or charge the student for mileage if you have to travel to their home. You could have a blog where you sell products that relate to your business. Maybe you made an album of your own piano music and you put it up on Youtube. Or you have a podcast in which you talk to experts in the music industry. Nobody is going to ask if you have a master’s degree in music education. They couldn’t care less. What matters is that you teach the instrument well and effectively teach it to each student.

 

Another option is to sell your products online. This is especially useful for photographers or artists. If you paint or take photographs, it’s essential that you have your own website where people can purchase your prints. Make it available in all sizes, as small as wallet size to as big as canvas or poster size. You could work as an at-home photographer taking portrait photographs, food photographs or wedding photographs. And let’s not forget about art shows. Take your photographs or art work to art shows all around your state—or even the nation. Have prints in all sizes. Print your photographs on mugs, t-shirts, book covers and anything else. You would be surprised what brings in a profit.

 

You must also be willing to take any job. It may be flipping burgers; the job may be in your industry. When the power bill comes due, you want to make sure that you can pay it. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made and you have to work odd jobs to pay the bills. This doesn’t mean that you have you have to stay in the 9-5 grind. Rather, look at this as a temporary job. While you’re bringing in the money, pay off bills and put money in the bank. This way you can quit your job while you are still young. You can work at home and do the job that you are fulfilled to do. Is it going to be easy? Not by a long shot, but it’s going to be worth it.

 

Finally, you have to take classes somewhere. If college isn’t your thing, search the Internet. Check out sites like teachable.com and skillshare.com. There are thousands of free (and paid) classes right at your fingertips. You can interact with teachers and students from all around the world. You don’t have to worry about the commute or even getting dressed out of your pajamas. There are no expensive textbooks to buy; everything is provided for you. There are simple classes that explain the basic concepts and excelled classes that explain more difficult concepts. You don’t have to take classes that don’t appeal to you but take classes that will further your knowledge.

 

While college was once the normal milestone, it’s not the right fit for everyone. Listen to your child and hear them out about why they don’t want to go. Engage in a conversation about their career and what the options may be. They may be able to get a decent job without the college debt.  editor@urbanmediatoday.com

Steelers Hope to Take ‘Extra Step’ in 2017

Let’s look back before we go forward: After narrowly missing the playoffs in 2013 and 13 with 8-8 records, they won the AFC North Division in 2014 (11-5) but lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card Round. In 2015, they didn’t win the division, but they secured a Wild Card Spot (10-6), beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card Round and almost upset eventual Super Bowl 50 winner Denver in the Divisional Round, and in 2016, they won another AFC North title (11-5), beat Miami and Kansas City in the Wild Card and Divisional Rounds respectively, before losing to eventual Super Bowl 51 Champion New England in the Conference Championship.

 

Now that 2017 is upon the Steelers, their goal (which has been their yearly standard) will be to take that extra step, win the AFC Championship and earn a trip to the Super Bowl, something that they haven’t done since the 2010 season when they lost to the Green Bay Packers. The last time they won the Super Bowl? In 2008 vs. the Arizona Cardinals.

 

This year’s Super Bowl will be played in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Steelers are hoping that they will be the AFC representative, but to do so they have to prove if they have what it takes to get there.

 

Like a good meal, it isn’t just one ingredient that will turn a team into a champion. It’s more than just their regular season, a good offense and defense and getting hot at the right time, it’s even more than chemistry, though that is a critical ingredient. No, the one ingredient that is needed above those others is hunger and if you are hungry, then you will do whatever it takes (as the Late Chuck Noll stated years ago) be a champion.

 

Can the Steelers make it to the Super Bowl? Yes. They proved that in 2016 before fizzling vs. the Patriots in the AFC Title Game, they also had that ‘look’ in their eyes when they almost beat the Broncos in the Divisional Round 2015. On paper, they are 12/1 odds to win the Super Bowl (behind New England, Dallas, and Green Bay) they are also predicted to win the AFC North for the 3rd time in 4 seasons. They have a strong shot at a 1st Round Bye. But the true question is, will they?

 

Steelers offseason moves

 

For the first time in a long time, the Steelers actually had salary cap room, but true to their nature, they didn’t go out and spend it all in free agency. But they do know how to spend money on their own and they did so with their All-Pro WR as they gave Antonio Brown a 5-year extension worth $73 million. the eighth-year pro leads the league in targets, receptions and receiving yards while tying Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison with four straight campaigns of 100-plus catches in the regular season.

With more receptions over a four-year span (481). Brown’s 2016 wasn’t too shabby either as he caught 106 passes for 1,284 yards and 12 scores. The Steelers then placed the Franchise Tag on All-Pro RB Le’Veon Bell who can make $12.1 million with that tag. Bell had 1,268 yards rushing and scored 7 TD for the Steelers, but he also caught 75 passes (2nd on the team) for 616 yards. (More on him later).

The Steelers then signed three of their own free agents: 39-year old LB James Harrison, backup QB Landry Jones and FB/TE David Johnson, then they went outside and signed WR Justin Hunter, CB Coty Sensabaugh, RB Knile Davis and DE Tyson Alualu. In the NFL Draft, they made LB TJ Watt (brother of Houston’s JJ) their #1 pick, grabbed WR JuJu Smith-Shuster at #2 and former Pitt Panthers RB James Conner at #3 and also drafted several others with hopes of making their team better.

And as the team prepares to make their 51st trip to Latrobe for Training Camp July 27th, here’s what the Steelers need to do to punch their ticker to Super Bowl 52:

  1. Defense-It is said that defense wins championships, and even though today’s NFL seems to contradict that fact (See Super Bowl 51)you still need a good defense to win the Super Bowl (See the 2015 Broncos and 2013 Seattle Seahawks) and for a team who won their 6 Super Bowls with a great defense, it behooves the Steelers to have made improvements on this unit for 2017. As good as the 2016 team was, their defense had awful moments, especially in the secondary and it was truly proven when Patriots QB Tom Brady picked them apart in the AFC Championship Game. An excellent defense is what’s keeping this them from being the best team in the NFL.

Here’s what the Steelers did to improve this unit: With the re-signing of Harrison, they also drafted Watt as a potential Edge starter to improve their pass rush and added Alualu for depth on the line to backup the returning Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Jason Hargrave and added Sensabaugh and drafted Cam Sutton to help improve the secondary to complement top rookies Artie Burns and Sean Davis. Veterans William Gay and Mike Mitchell are mainstays in the unit as well. They let veteran LB Lawrence Timmons walk in free agency and nearly signed LB Donta’ Hightower before he returned to the Patriots and are putting their inside LB game in the hands of Vince Williams and Pro-Bowler Ryan Shazier. Now, defensive coordinator, Keith Butler needs to add the chemistry to make this a better unit on the field.

  1. Beat the Patriots-You would think this would be #1, but the Steelers wouldn’t admit that to you, but you know that this is high on the list. Face it, the Patriots are truly in the Steelers heads. They have their number and they also are the standard of the AFC. They have beaten the Steelers in 3 AFC Championship Games (2001, 2004, 2016) and have owned them in the regular season. Since 2001, the Steelers have only beat the Patriots 3 times (2004, 2008, 2011) and will face them again this season at Heinz Field, so there’s no escaping this team unless they get eliminated in the playoffs before the Steelers can face them. In the AFC Championship Game, the Steelers were outsmarted by the Patriots from start to finish on offense and defense in that 36-17 defeat. The Steelers lacked the hunger that they had vs. the Dolphins and Chiefs and it sent them home while the Patriots were Super Bowl bound.

If the Steelers are to slay this giant, they need to do what they did in their 2004, 2008 and 2011 wins and that’s by punching them in the mouth early and often. Putting the pressure on Brady on defense and scoring touchdowns on offense. Plus, the offense can use time of possession to their advantage by keeping Brady on the sideline as often as they can. If they do that, then victory is possible.

  1. The return of Martavis Bryant-Fact: The Steelers made it to the AFC Championship Game without Bryant, just imagine what they could’ve done with Because of Bryant’s year-long suspension, the Steelers weren’t able to see what they could do with their deep-threat and had to rely on several youngsters (Eli Rogers, Darius Heyward-Bey, Sammie Coates, Coby Hamilton, Demarcus Ayers) to complement Brown and although Rogers was excellent all season, the other receivers were as successful, and it truly showed in the AFC Championship Game with several dropped passes and fumbles. Plus, it didn’t hurt that veteran Markus Wheaton missed most of the season due to injury. The Steelers let his walk via Free agency. The return or Bryant fix that problem quickly. Although he has played since 2014, he still hasn’t played an entire season (His best season? 2015: 50 rec, 765 yards, 6 scores)yet so the sky’s the limit on what this team can do with him for 16 games. He’s a proven deep threat that can stretch defenses.
  2. A Healthy Offense-This is truly not just one of the best offenses in Steelers history, but also n the NFL. It’s a fact that as the offense goes, so does this team, so it will help that this unit stays healthy and ready to roll in 2017. Of course, it starts at QB where 35-year old Ben Roethlisberger begins his 14th season and although he was injured for 2 games in 2016, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Last season, he passed for 29 scores and 3,819 yards. With Big Ben on the field, this team is a Super Bowl contender. But the foundation of this team is their offensive line who only allowed Big Ben to get sacked 16 times. The quintet of Maurkice Pouncey (Pro-Bowl), David DeCastro (Pro-Bowl), Marcus Gilbert, and Alejandro Villanueva provided holes for Bell and has proven to be one of the top lines in the league. Add Brown, Bryant, and Rogers to the mix, and this will be a sight to see in 2017. Being injury-free will truly benefit this unit.
  3. No Distractions! Which means no holdouts from Bell, and Villanueva, who want new contracts. Although Bell was given the Franchise Tag, he still hasn’t signed it and missed mini-camp. He rejected a contract from the Steelers that would’ve averaged $12 million annually and can’t participate in training camp without a contract. Although Brown is publicly pleading for Bell to come to camp, it remains to be seen if he does show up July 27th. The same goes for Villanueva who signed his exclusive-rights deal but has made it known that he want’s a new deal. The Army veteran filled in for Kelvin Beachum in 2015 and played so well, that they let Beachum walk to the NY Jets.

The Steelers don’t need to deal with holdouts in a season in which they’re trying to reach the Super Bowl, They’re a side-show and a distraction, which is why it was a good thing that they re-signed Brown. And Bryant and Villuneva both need to realize that the Steelers aren’t intimidated by holdouts, that won’t force their hands to sign players. If they want a deal, they need to come to camp.

So there you have it. It proves to be an interesting season for the Steelers, who’re truly inspired by the 2-time Stanley Cup Champions Pittsburgh Penguins. Now it’s time to see if they’re hungry enough to take that extra step join the Pens for another ring.

Notes: Throughout the 2017 regular season, the Steelers will honor owner Dan Rooney with a patch on the right side of their jerseys with Rooney’s initial’s DMR, which stands for Daniel Milton Rooney, lovingly enveloped in a black and gold shamrock to honor, remember and show love and respect for the man who was more than an owner, but family to the players. Rooney passed away in April at the age of 84.

Please e-mail Ray at Ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

Black Family Reunions

One of my favorite things about inhabiting a brown body is the shared cultural heritage, connection, and celebration.  Sharing stories of all too familiar (good) experiences of being black in America is one of my favorite pastimes. Recently, I had a hilariously side-splitting conversation with two black co-workers about our similar experiences at black churches of differing denominations that were each in entirely different corners of the country. The continuity and sweet familiarity is a great binding agent amongst a widely and wonderfully diverse group of people. As it is summer, I would be remiss not to give a shout-out to the cherished and time honored communal celebration that is the black family reunion. Keep reading and see if you can fill up your black family reunion Bingo card:

  • Your reunion is a weekend-long event with a reception/fish fry/crab boil on Friday, the cookout on Saturday, and church on Sunday with an optional early dinner (of Saturday’s leftovers)
  • Your family reunion was the only vacation your family could afford some years
  • One reason it was affordable is that your bed was the floor of a relative’s home or hotel room
  • Reunion t-shirts prominently featuring some species of tree
  • Babies are passed around like church collection plates all weekend
  • The one (or more–sugary drinks are aplenty)youngin’ wilding out all day finally getting dragged to the bathroom by his grandmother who “don’t play that” and sits sniffling in the corner until he/she “knows how to act.”
  • One or more relatives sporting a monitoring device…that’s not a Fitbit
  • Random military cousins who haven’t been in attendance since ’83 show up with their European or Asian wife and kids
  • Impromptu liquor runs…this includes the actual liquor store or just to your uncle’s trunk because the liquor license was not purchased for the pavilion
  • Mandatory uniform for the grill cook: an XXXL shirt t-shirt (white or a vintage reunion shirt), a sweat towel draped over his shoulder, man-capris (i.e., oversized mid-calf skimming jean shorts), white kicks (because he’s never one to spill the BBQ), a fitted cap and a Bluetooth
  • Cookout starts at 10 AM, and the pavilion reaches a critical mass by 3 PM, but y’all can’t eat because the grilled meat ain’t ready until 6 PM.
  • Family business meetings where someone always has an irrelevant and ancient bone to pick
  • Your entré into adolescence was marked by aunties looking you up and down and saying “Ain’t you cute/handsome?”
  • Showing up extra fly the year you’re finally old enough to hang with your older cousins after the cookout
  • Being quizzed and preached to about your marital status despite the fact that we all just accept that Uncle Kenneth has been shacking up with Ms. Deloris for 30 years despite technically still being married to Auntie Karen
  • Going to bed on Saturday night (or Sunday morning) dreaming about digging into your take-home plate.  Shanna K Houser Contributor  editor@urbanmediatoday.com

WNBA: “Watch Me Work”

“Watch Me Work” is the theme this year for the ladies of the WNBA. The league just wrapped up it’s 2017 All-Star weekend which was held in Seattle. The game was won by the Western stars 130-121 as Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore led the way with 23 points on her way to winning her second consecutive MVP award.

 

Today the second half of the WNBA season gets underway with a full schedule of games tipping off with the Washington Mystics ( currently the number four team in the league) paying a visit to the San Antonio Stars.

 

The Mystics finished the first half of the season with 12 wins against 9 losses in and their leader was former Delaware star forward Elena Delle Donne who suffered a sprained ankle in a game against Indiana earlier this month. That injury caused the “DC” star to miss the  All-Star game. The Mystic also lost Tayler Hill to a right knee injury in the same game, So if Delle Donne and Tayler are not able to go, look to Emma Meesseman to help lead the way. The Stars, by the way, have the worst record in the WNBA with only 3 wins against 18 losses.

 

Tonight the Chicago Sky who have mustered 8 wins against 13 losses this season finished the first half of the season on a two game winning streak and will look for their third win as the ladies from the Midwest pay a visit to the Connecticut Sun. The Sun currently third in the league with 12 wins and will try to shake off the loss they suffered to New York before the All-Star game. Keep an eye on Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones, the 6’6″ Forward averages a double-double 15 points and 11 rebounds per game. She wrapped up her WNBA All-Star game debut with a slam dunk in the closing seconds on her way to 24 points.

 

In other action, the Atlanta Dream who are looking for playoff contention will take on the fifth seeded Phoenix Mercury in the “ATL”. Atlanta’s  All-Stars Tiffany Hayes and Layshia Clarendon will try to take advantage of the Mercury who may be without leading scorer and rebounder Brittney Griner. Griner suffered injuries to her knee and ankle in a game against Minnesota earlier this month and may be out until mid-august. But the Atlanta will still have a tough time with the Mercury who will be led by the all-time leading scorer  In WNBA history Diana Taurasi.

 

The top team in the league the Minnesota Lynx who wrapped up the first half of the season with a 16 and 2 record on a three game winning streak, will get a visit from the New York Liberty. The lady New Yorkers are on a two game winning streak and will by All-star center Tina Charles who averages 20 points and 9 rebounds per game. The Lynx will be led by WNBA All Star game MVP Maya Moore.

 

The first of the final two games of the night will be between the Indiana Fever and Dallas Wings. Dallas is 10-12 on the year and Indiana is 8-13. Meanwhile, the Seattle Storm fresh off of hosting this year’s All-star game will head to Los Angeles to play the defending champion Sparks. The Storm will look to veteran Point Guard Sue Bird to get the Seattle offense going against LA All-Stars Nneka Ogwumike and Candice Parker.The Sparks are currently second in the league, while the Storm in ninth place in the standings of the 12 team league.

 

So, today the ladies of the WNBA will get back to work with exciting action in the second half of the season as all eleven teams set out to  dethrone the L.A. Sparks the reigning  Queens of the court

Trevin A  Jones

Follow me on Twitter: @UMTSportsreport

Reach out with questions or comments at New@UrbanMediaToday.com

Best food for a summer party

The summer is upon us. This means it’s time for fun, family, and cook-outs. If you’re planning to have friends or family over throughout the season, you’re going want food to serve them. Some enjoy food that is easy, which is perfectly fine. But, if you want to stand out—and have a memorable party—then try some of them outstanding summer foods.

 

First, realize that a skewer…is, not just a skewer. There’s no written rule that says each skewer must have meat and vegetables. Why not spice it up? Create dessert skewers that have a strawberry on each end, while a brownie and marshmallow are placed in the middle. Drizzle chocolate sauce over it. Place fruit onto a skewer and put it onto the grill. Have you ever tried fruit after it came off the grill? If you haven’t tried it, then you must. It’s a whole different range of flavor. You can also alternate your meat and vegetables. Take a piece of roast beef, for instance, like you would have them slice at the supermarket deli. As you place it on the skewer, weave a vegetable (or vegetables) in between the meat. It gives it a very decorative look.

 

Frozen lemonade is another delightful treat. You can flavor this nearly any flavor, such as raspberry or strawberry. If you have the time, make at least two different frozen lemonades for your guests. It’s as simple as getting a bottle of Sprite and the Minute Maid Lemonade from the freezer section of your supermarket. Then, all you do is buy frozen fruit to flavor it. Mix it together and you have your beverage. This is going to cool your guests down on a really hot day. I would keep this inside, however, because it could easily melt if it’s kept outdoors.

 

Similarly, think of how you can dress up food in relation to the holiday. This is usually done with strawberries. You can dip strawberries in white chocolate. Dip the strawberry so it covers two-thirds of the berry. Then, dip the berry in blue sprinkles if it’s the Fourth of July. This same concept can be done with pretzels. You can ice cookies all red, all blue or all white. Then place the cookies on a platter in a way that they resemble the American flag. You can do similar dress ups with watermelon and blueberries. The idea is to make your food memorable and make it stand out.

 

You may also want to include easy-to-eat foods. If you invite a lot of people, this will entail a lot of places for people to sit and enjoy their meal. But, if you include finger foods, such as mini corn dogs, chips, and dip, or Chex mix, this makes it easier for people to stand if they can’t find a seat. Try to think of food from the perspective of your guest. Nobody enjoys being crowded around a table. Lefties often bump into those eating with their right hands. It’s not easy to pull chairs in or out, You just feel…crunched. Providing easy-to-eat foods gives people to option to sit or stand; they don’t need to feel so close to others.

 

Finally, have a type of food bar. This doesn’t have to be an alcoholic bar. It could be a dessert bar, an appetizer bar or a bar that simply contains toppings. Make it easy for your guest to find what they want. They shouldn’t have to track you down or disrupt conversations just to find the catsup or silverware. You can have more than one food bar at your party, but make sure all the food is located in a centric area. This is going to make it easy to find everything. Summer is a terrific party time, but throw a party without the hassle. You deserve to have just as much fun as your guests. editor@urbanmediatoday.com

 

WNBA: All Star Game Today

This afternoon at the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington the women of the WNBA will take the court for their 2017 All Star game.

 

The Western Conference all stars will be led by 36-year-old Point Guard Sue Bird of the  Seattle Storm. Bird who is the oldest active player in the league will be playing in her record tying 10th All Star game and her eighth start. Less than two days ago Bird announced that she was gay and dating soccer star Megan Rapinoe. The 15 year WNBA veteran stated that family and close friends had known for years and she just felt it was time to make the announcement to the public. I say bravo for making the announcement, but I hope that at this day an age hoop fans would recognize and respect  Birds hoop game and have no concern about who she is dating.

 

This season the former UConn star has engineered the Seattle offense to a top five ranking in field goal percentage, three point shots made per game, field goals made per game and assists per game. Bird is averaging  6 assists per game herself and 10 points per contest.

 

As for the rest of the Western Conference starters, Bird will be joined by the all time leading scorer in WNBA history and another former UConn star in Diana Taurasi who is averaging 18 points per game for the Phoenix Mercury this season. There is another Lady Husky starting for the Western All Stars and that is Maya Moore. The Three-time WNBA champion is scoring 15 points per game while hauling down 5 rebounds per outing for the Minnesota Lynx.  Moore’s teammate Sylvia Fowles is the starting Center, this season Fowles has tickled The twine for  20 points per game and 9 rebounds.Two Time WNBA MVP  Candace Sparks with 15 point average will start at forward and rounds out the starting squad from the West.

 

The Eastern Conference starters will be lead by Tina Charles who is playing in her fifth All-star game and is the second leading scorer in the league dropping in 20 points per game for the New York Liberty. Charles is second only to the Mercurys’ Brittany Griner who will miss this year gathering of all stars due to a knee and ankle injury. Former University of Delaware star Elena Delle Donne was elected to be a starter , but she will not play due to an injury. Delle Donne is averaging 18 points a game for the Washington Mystics this season , She will be replaced in the Eastern Conference line up by Alyssa Thomas who has been averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds a contest for the Connecticut Sun. The addition of Thomas to the Eastern Conference Starting line up means that the Sun will have three players starting. Thomas is joining teammates Jasmine Thomas and Jonquel Jones. Jasmine is a point guard and who will team up with Atlanta Dream guard Tiffany Hayes to make up the backcourt of the East.

 

At halftime of the game, a three point contest will take place. Friday the All Star weekend festivities tipped off with Seattle displaying Orange lights and the WNBA Players walking the Orange carpet before a welcoming reception. In the history of the WNBA  Classic which first tipped off in 1999,  the West leads the series 9 games to 4. The West won the last game played in 2015 by a score of 117-112 and the year before the East won in overtime 125-125, So there will be no shortage of excitement or scoring.

 

Trevin A  Jones

Follow me on Twitter: @UMTSportsreport

Reach out with questions or comments at News@UrbanMediaToday.com

Ray Jr. on Sports

  1. Pirates Sweep Brewers, hit .500 mark-Yes, you read that right. The Pittsburgh Pirates are now at .500 after beating the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 to complete the 4-game sweep and now this team is only 3 games out of first place. Amazing.
  2. Keys to the Pirates victory-Their fight. In all 4 games I saw this team trail the Brewers, only to rebound and win each game, with Wednesday’s game a walk-off winner. They’re looking like the team that were Wild Card Contenders from 2013-15. They’re refusing to lose.
  3. The Pirates Chances at a playoff berth? It will take a miracle, but they will need to win the NL Central. Yes, they are technically in the Wild Card race, but they trail WC leaders Arizona and Colorado by 7.5 games and also trail the Chicago Cubs by a game.
  4. Are the Pirates ‘buyers’ or ‘sellers?’at the Aug 1st Trade Deadline?-Good question. I think the Pirates are now buyers with their focus on the division. I honestly wouldn’t think I would say that after how they’ve looked at times this season, but now they’re contenders. I would grab a veteran starting pitcher, a reliever and possibly a 3B for the stretch run if I were GM Neal Huntington.
  5. What if the Pirates become ‘sellers?’ Then they would be foolish, plain and simple. This sudden ‘fire’ that they’ve caught will fill up PNC Park and make the city excited for the Pirates again. If the front office decides to cut costs and trade OF Andrew McCutchen, IF Josh Harrison, and P Gerit Cole, then I will once again accuse the front office of not caring about winning.
  6. Cubs catch fire too-After acquiring P Jose Quintana from the White Sox, the defending World Series Champions are once again looking like…defending World Series Champions. The Cubs are red-hot going 6-0 and sweeping both of their opponents. In my opinion, they’re still the team to beat in the NL Central.
  7. Next up for the Pirates-After an impressive 6-1 homestand, the Pirates( 48-48)will head to Colorado to face a pretty-good Rockies team(56-41) that has the misfortune of playing in the same NL West Division as the LA Dodgers (66-29) who have the best record in baseball. The Rockies know they they’re best chances at a postseason berth will come with getting one of those NL Wild Card Spots as they and the Arizona Diamondbacks trail the Dodgers by 11 games.
  8. Starling Marte returns-After being suspended for 80 games, the Pirates Gold Glove OF returned to the team July 18th and helped them win 3 of those 4 games against the Brewers with timely hits, 2 scored runs and a sliding catch. I believe the Pirates are fueled by his return and I respect his humility throughout his suspension. He knew he did wrong and apologized for it. Hopefully he’s learned.
  9. MLB trades-There were a few trades this week as the deadline looms. The NY Yankees acquired 3B Todd Frazier and 2 relievers from the Chicago White Sox for prospects, Seattle grabbed P David Phelps from Miami for prospects, Arizona gets JD Martinez from Detroit for prospects, and it’s just the beginning.
  10. 3B Sandoval may return to the Giants-After under performing and being released by the Boston, 3B Pablo Sandoval may return to the team whom he helped win 3 World Series titles as the Giants brought him in for a physical. Sandoval left SF to join the Red Sox for $95 million. Unfortunately he couldn’t live up to that contract.
  11. Steelers, Bell don’t agree to deal, will get Franchise Tag-Both parties had until 4pm on Monday to agree to a long-term deal, and even though the Steelers had a deal on the table, they couldn’t come to terms with All-Pro RB Le’Veon Bell on a new contract which means that he will play for that franchise tag of $12.1 million, which is truly a raise for Bell, but not his desire.
  12. Will Bell report to training camp? I hope he does. He has nothing to prove by sitting out because of his contract situation. The Steelers knew they had options with the Tag and they know they have options next year as well, but Bell still hasn’t signed that Tag, which means he’s not obligated to report. But if he cares about getting his team to a Super Bowl, Bell needs to be in Camp.
  13. Villanueva may sit out as well-I’m not surprised by this, but it was obvious that Steelers T Alejuandro Villanueva may hold out when Training Camp starts July 27th. Like Bell, he deserves a raise, but I don’t agree that a holdout is worth it. As I’ve stated before, the Steelers don’t blink at holdouts.
  14. NFL signings-The Arizona Cardinals inked RB Chris Johnson to a 1-year deal. It’s hard to believe he’s a far cry from the 2,000-yard rusher that he was with Tennessee. He was on pace for another 1,000-yard season in 2016 before a season-ending injury. The Dallas Cowboys re-signed LB Justin Durant to a 1-year deal. He had 57 tackles, a sack and an interception for the Cowboys last season.
  15. The ‘Blind Side’ gets cut-T Michael Oher, who’s life was turned into the movie ‘The Blind Side’ was released by the Carolina Panthers after failing a physical for concussions. He had also won a Super Bowl in 2013 with the Baltimore Ravens.
  16. Cavs, Rose nearing 1-year deal-After trade talks with Carmelo Anthony have cooled down, the Cleveland Cavaliers are now on the verge of signing another NY Knick, G Derrick Rose. They’ve offered the NBA minimum of $2.1 million. Rose has also met with the LA Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and LA Clippers, so I guess the ball’s (no pun intended) in his court.
  17. Will Rose help the Cavs? If he can stay healthy, absolutely. But I will also say that the Cavs will help Rose, because he needs to be in a championship environment and not have to worry about being ‘The Man.’ He was close in Chicago, but he basically wasted his time in New York. In Cleveland Rose would be an excellent backcourt mate with Kyrie Irving.
  18. Timberwolves, Wiggins close to record deal-After 2 All-Star season that included winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award, Minnesota is looking to sign G Andrew Wiggins to a long-term deal that worth $148 million. I think he’s earned that deal as he averaged 23.5 points per game this past season and will also benefit from team additions like former Bull Jimmy Butler.
  19. Lonzo Ball wins Summer League MVP-To be honest, I never knew there was a trophy for the NBA Summer League, but apparently there is as the LA Lakers rookie has won it after earning several triple-doubles. Many are comparing him to Jason Kidd, and I’m starting to believe that as well after watching one of his games. Time will tell when he faces real NBA Competition.
  20. OJ Simpson is paroled-For the first time in over 20 years, the country was glued to a story involving NFL Hall of Famer OJ Simpson as he was officially paroled after spending over 8 years in prison. He will be released from jail October 1st. I wish him the best as he gets back in the real world.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter