Best summer road trips to the west coast

Where do you want to travel this summer? The West coast offers a bit of everything. It offers you a historic remembrance of the Wild west where outlaws and tough cowboys once called home. National and state parks are spread from Washington to Arizona and New Mexico, not to mention wineries and tours that you can’t see anywhere else. But wherever you go should be as unique as your family. All of these places have a great deal of attractions, no matter the interest of any family member.

Let’s start up north and work our way down. Seattle, Washington is probably most well-known for the Space Needle. It’s quite similar to Willis Tower in Chicago. You ride an elevator to the top and there’s an observation deck where you can take pictures. Seattle, too, has the Museum of Flight and the Museum of pop cultures. There are several parks to sit and relax after a busy day of sight seeing. Or, arrange to take the 3-hour Seattle tour around the city. You’ll explore Seattle’s neighborhoods and see where the Seattle Mariners (a Major League Team) play baseball.

Portland, Oregon is another place to visit. Portland has many attractions centric to those who love the arts or gardening. There is the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden, for instance, each of which offer unique plants and flowers relevant to their garden theme. In addition, there is the Portland Classical Chinese Garden. Take a stroll through the Portland Art Museum or the Pittock Mansion. Don’t also forget to check out the outdoors. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area offers waterfalls and hiking trails for those seeking adventure. Another fantastic perk about Portland: any shopping that you do will be tax free. This is a huge benefit if you hit any shopping malls.

Moving down the coast, San Francisco is a fantastic place to visit. Here you will see the Golden Gate Bridge, which may be the location’s most famous landmark. It’s also home to the infamous Alcatraz Island. Once a prison, it’s since been made into a museum and attracts millions of visitors each year. Also, don’t forget to check out Lombard Street. It’s known to be the crookedest street in the world due to its zig-zag formation. You’re going nowhere fast on this road; just follow the cars in front of you and take in the scenery. Chances are that you’re never going to be on a street quite like this again! Likewise, don’t forget to check out San Francisco Zoo. It’s home to over a thousand endangered species and nearly 100 acres of gardens.

The American Wild west may only live in history books, but this summer take your kids to get a glimpse of what life was like in the 1880s. Tombstone, Arizona takes you back to the day of gambling halls and saloons. While it may have the appearance of a ghost town, there are museums of the courthouse and the gunfighter hall of fame. Visit the Boothill Graveyard where the real outlaws and cowboys lie. There is a lot to keep you busy here. Try to only stay the afternoon and leave before the sun sets, however; it is the dessert and it does get chilly.

Finally, visit Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you want a cultural vacation, this is the place to visit. Make sure to check out the Sandia Peak Tramway, which runs over 10,000 feet above sea level. It runs to the top of Sandia Peak and has its own observation deck. You’re able to see the city of Albuquerque below you, which is a stunning view. Another spot to hit is old town Albuquerque. This is a tribute to Spanish and Native American culture, both of which are prominent within the area.

Traveling out west can be really fun. Add these cities to your road trip destinations and you’re sure to have a great time. editor@urbanmediatoday.com

Things I miss about Pittsburgh Summers

I will have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for four years this fall. It’s great except for the fact that most of its inhabitants–myself included–actually can’t afford to live here. But there are loads of advantages and unique flavor, like being able to claim an NBA franchise and an official city instrument (the accordion). But I’d be remiss not to mention the things I really miss during the summer months in Pittsburgh:
1. Actual humidity: I know it sounds crazy to miss humidity, but there is nothing worse than stepping out into what you think is a beautifully sunny day, only to be smacked in the face by defiant, inland winds. It was erroneously documented that Mark Twain once said “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Regardless of who actually said it, it’s not necessarily far from the truth. What’s the point of summer if you still have to wear layers? I now appreciate that summers in Pittsburgh require packing away winter clothes.
2. Cool, finished basements: The BEST way to recover when it’s a little too humid. Many of the houses in the surrounding SF suburbs are ranch-style, so basements are hard to come by. There’s nothing like leaving the arid humidity and blistering sun to descend into a cool, subterranean bunker with a perfectly worn-in old couch. Even better is that most of these refreshing oases feature refrigerators filled with Pittsburgh’s own summer sugar-water trifecta: pop, Hugs (a.k.a. Huggies) and popsicles.
3. Islay’s chip-chopped BBQ: This rivals Primanti’s as Pittsburgh’s most famous sandwich in my humble opinion. Even though I’ve recently stopped eating meat, I dream of lifting the top of a steamy crock pot and inhaling the sweet, bubbling goodness that is BBQ ham and slathering it on fresh Mancini’s italian bread. I have yet to find this delicacy outside of Pittsburgh.
4. Kennywood: Growing up in Pittsburgh will ruin you for multi-site amusement parks like Six Flags. There’s nothing like an amusement park that personally invites you 2-3 times per summer between school picnics, neighborhood days and ethnic celebrations. Selecting pre- and post-Raging Rapids/Log Jammer outfits and mapping the best food sequence are memories that span generations. Insider information (i.e., the Jack Rabbit “jumps” the track and you get squished going around the bend of the Thunder Bolt when you sit on the left side), oral histories (e.g., Garfield’s Nightmare used to be The Old Mill and Phantom’s Revenge used to be the Steel Phantom which used to be the Laser Loop) and urban myths (e.g., The skull and crossbones warning is on the Racers because a child stood up and subsequently died), are passed down among families and communities like ham BBQ recipes.
5. Ethnic/Church festivals: What’s summer without a sun-drenched celebration at the local Sons of Italy, Greek Orthodox Church, or Insert-your-catholic-saint here Church? So hot that you expect the delightful seniors citizens who wait all year to cook and serve thousands of people to slump over from heat stroke but praise Saint _______ they never do. So hot that everyone fans themselves with the stiffest piece of paper they can find until night fall when the winner of the 50/50 raffle is finally announced, they can grab their take-home dessert and go.
6. Dairy Queen: I watched the Pittsburgh Dad “Little League” video because I was 1000% sure DQ would be mentioned; I wasn’t disappointed. Its an after-sport tradition for children who engage in intramural sports and the parents forced to watch. While DQ is a national chain, out here in health conscious and wealthy SF, the fast food places I grew up with are few and far between. Sure, I can get a hot fudge sundae with peanuts elsewhere, but it’s a sad excuse for the real deal–the one and only Peanut Buster Parfait.

Shanna K Houser Contributor/Freelance Writer

editor@urbanmediatoday.com

NBA: Cleveland Was in a Giving Mode in Game One of the NBA Finals

 

Thursday, in game one of the NBA Finals the Cleveland Cavaliers looked like they just did not want the basketball. Golden State forced the Cavs to turn the ball over 12 times in the first half alone. Lebron James appears to have put his team on his shoulders dropping in 28 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and finding open teammates to finish with 8 assists. But King James (who had a double-double in the first half) committed 7 of the Cavaliers total of 20 turnovers. Kyrie Irving finished 24 points and Kevin Love scored 15 points while grabbing 21 rebounds.

 

The Cleveland big three (James, Irving, and Love) did not get much help from the bench as no one else scored more than nine points (Richard Jefferson). Tristan Thompson their chairman of the boards so to speak was held scoreless and limited to only 4 rebounds.

 

So, you see when I say Cleveland gave the game away. I say that with no disrespect toward Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors. KD playing in only his second NBA Finals (The first was with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012) was magnificent. The 6’9″ forward came out from the opening tip playing like a man that had something to prove. On his way to a game-high 38 points, Durant Had six dunks in the first half alone. The Warriors forward was not only scoring, he was grabbing rebounds (8 total) and getting the ball to his teammates as he finished with 8 assists.

 

The fact that I mentioned that Cleveland gave the game away would be one way of looking at it. But I really think that Durant and crew took it!

Steph Curry (Splash Brother number one) looked at ease as he dropped in six three-pointers and finished with 28 points.  Draymond Green grabbed 11 boards while only finishing with 9 points, but that is Greens’ style. He gives the Warriors just what they need when they need it and he doesn’t have to be a big scorer. Klay Thompson (aka Splash Brother number two) could not buy a bucket as he finished with only six points. Thompson like Green adjusted to not scoring many points and contributed on defense getting the ball to open teammates.

 

The build to game one of the finals consisted of many people talking about Durant having much to prove since he decided to leave Oklahoma City and join Golden State in his quest for an NBA title. Fans are looking for KD to prove that he is a championship caliber player and that he makes a difference on the court. Well, Thursday night in game one if you saw the game, you saw Durant do just that as he dribbled the ball down the court on fast brakes, leaped through the air and finishing with thunderous dunks. The big man showed plenty of excitement slapping high fives with his teammates and he was fun to watch. I think he made the statement with his play that he is playing at the highest level and ready to perform. To me, it looked like KD was having fun and showed his love for the game; while at the same time he was giving critics, and fans the answer they were looking for and that is simply yes, he made the right decision.

 

Game two of the NBA Finals is Sunday in Oakland, can Durant and the Warriors repeat their game one performance?  What do you think?

 

 

Trevin A Jones

Follow me on Twitter: @UMTSportsreport

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

“Time Out”!

Is it just me or do you also believe that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will end up meeting in the NBA Finals without a loss in the entire 2017 NBA post season?

 

Tonight, Lebron James and the Cavaliers will enter game two of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics with a one game lead. King James is averaging 34 points per game in the playoffs (2017) and has led Cleveland to nine straight wins. The Cavs did away with the Indiana Pacers in the first round in four games despite never winning by more than six points, Cleveland handled its business. Then in the second round, the Toronto Raptors were declawed in four games never getting closer than seven points in any of its losses.

 

Fast forward to Wednesday night when the Cavaliers after not playing since May 7th unleashed a fury of points in the beginning of game one against the Celtics, knocking Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder for a loop before they could adjust, Cleveland showed pure dominance. Lebron James led the way dropping in 15 points in the first quarter scoring at will and finished the night with 39 points. The scoring may be expected of the Cleveland star, but what I’m getting at is that he is making his teammates better. Not only is Lebron getting his, he is making sure his teammates get theirs. Kevin Love scored 32 points in game one and grabbed double-digit rebounds, Tristan Thompson scored 20 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, while Lebron dished 7 assists and grabbed nine rebounds of his own. The frightening part about what I just mentioned is (if you’re a Celtics fan) that have not mentioned Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith nor Iman Shumpert, who can also make an impact when Collab with the King.

 

Many people compare Lebron to Michael Jordan, but what Lebron is doing these days is truly putting him in that rare air. He only needs 104 more points during the playoffs to pass ” MJ ” at the top of the NBA postseason All-time scoring list. Not to mention he is the third All-Time Assist leader in the postseason (behind NBA legends John Stockton and Earvin “Magic” Johnson). I bring all of that up to say this at the age of 33 when most players would appear to have reached their peak and start a decline in performance, James appears to be reaching his potential playing like he has another level. Combine that with the experience and knowledge he has picked up in his 14 seasons in the league and he becomes a lethal weapon against opponents like the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors.

 

I mention the Warriors because the way Steph Curry and company are handling the Western Conference playoffs is totally absurd. Golden State opened the postseason having their way with the Portland Trailblazers in four games winning by margins of 12, 29, 6 and 25 points. Then the Warriors made quick work of the Utah Jazz winning every game by double digits. Saturday, The Warriors enter game three of the Western Conference Finals with a two-game lead over a San Antonio Spurs team that has already lost Point Guard Tony Parker and may or may not have their leading scorer Kawhi Leonard back from an ankle injury.

 

When you have the Splash brothers (Steph Curry and Klay Thompson) averaging a combined 42 points per game in the playoffs, In addition to Kevin Durant and his 23 points per game average. I don’t think the Spurs can hobble their way to one win even if the next two games are in San Antonio. If the Spurs are fortunate enough to get Kawhi back it will make things competitive (and that’s if he is at 90-100 percent). Without their leading scorer, there is really no one to help big man LaMarcus Aldridge and crafty veteran Manu Ginobili keep the Spurs competitive with the Warriors. I see Cleveland and Golden State in the NBA Finals for the third year in a row and this time neither team will have a postseason loss when they meet.

 

Trevin A  Jones

Follow me on Twitter: @UMTSportsreport

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

How Would You Rate the NBA Playoff Action So Far?

 

I know I’ve been talking about the NBA playoffs a lot, but can you blame me?
Think about it Lebron James is one of the greatest players ever in the game (some may argue that, but I doubt many would) and he has the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers humming along with six straight wins so far in this postseason.
King James just passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the All-Time NBA post-season scoring list and is only 211 points behind Michael Jordan (who is the NBA All-time leading scorer in the playoffs). By the way, Michael Jordan scored 5,987 points in his career in the playoffs and Lebron is now sitting behind “MJ”  with 5,777 Points. That is just one of the many records James has already set this postseason and we are only in the semi-final round.
If the performance of the Lebron and the Cavs isn’t enough to convince you that this NBA postseason has been “FAN”- tastic, How about the performances of Russell Westbrook?  The new “Triple-Double King” was fantastic in the opening round of the playoffs while trying to keep the Oklahoma City alive. Westbrook averaged 37 points 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the five games the Thunder played against Houston, before “The Beard” and the Rockets eliminated OKC  4 games to 1.
Speaking of  “The Beard”, How about James Harden and Trevor Ariza leading the Houston Rockets in a 27 point blowout of the San Antonio Spurs in game one of their Western Conference Semi-final. It had to be exciting watching the Rockets convert 22 three-point buckets and beating the Spurs by that many points on San Antonios’ home court. That was not supposed to happen as the Spurs quickly proved by winning game two of the series with game three being played tonight in Houston.
Do you need more to help you with how you would rate this season’s NBA Playoffs? How about the upstart Milwaukee Bucks led by former player and now head coach Jason Kidd giving the Toronto Raptors (the third seed in the Eastern Conference) a hard way to go before bowing out of the playoffs  4 games to 2 in the first round. Milwaukee big man Giannis Antetokounmpo aka “The Greek Freak” averaged 24 points per game for Kidd and the Bucks not to mention added some exciting dunks during that six-game series.
And if that isn’t enough for you to give this years’ NBA Playoffs a rating of approval. The story of Isaiah Thomas and how has dealt with the death of his sister just before the Playoffs began has tugged at everyone’s heartstrings. The Boston point guards younger sister was killed in an auto accident 24 hours before the Celtics first playoff game in round one. Thomas in dealing while trying to get a handle on the horrible news decided to play and played well dropping in 33 points in that win over the Chicago Bulls. Thomas and the Celtics went on to win that first round series and while still dealing with his sisters passing Isaiah and the Celtics are now lead the Washington Wizards in their NBA Eastern Conference Semi-final two games to one with game four scheduled for Sunday in D.C.
Now there are many other performances I did not mention like the Grizzlies giving the San Antonio Spurs a hard time in round one and the Utah Jazz upsetting the L.A. Clippers in seven games to advance to their Western Conference Semifinal meeting with the Golden State Warriors. As a matter of fact, I have not even mentioned Steph Curry and the Warriors, but the playoffs are not even close to being over.
If you ask me the NBA playoffs so far this postseason get an A plus, But then again I’m an NBA fan.
Trevin A  Jones
Follow me on Twitter: @UMTSportsreport
Reach out with questions or comments at New@UrbanMediaToday.com

Urban Media today launches online urban ac radio station

Contact Aleigha Johnson                                                                                       For Immediate Release

Telephone 412-742-4345                                                                                                            May 5, 2017

 

Email  aleigha@riversidesalesgroup.com

Website  www.UrbanMediaToday.com

          

Urban Media today launches online urban ac radio station

 

Pittsburgh, PA, May 5, 2017–Online lifestyle and entertainment magazine, Urban Media Today, which also focuses on sports, health, and business, has officially launched an online urban adult contemporary radio station titled, Urban Media Today Radio.

Urban Media Today is proud to share our stories and now, urban adult contemporary  music that everyone can enjoy from anywhere.

Audiences can experience familiar selections from artists of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. In addition to music, Urban Media Today Radio will also host a series of sports and entertainment podcasts from local and national personalities.

Urban Media Today is a lifestyle and information website for all audiences and excited to share with you the music that helped create the fondest of memories.

All inquiries, comments and thoughts can be sent to pd@urbanmediatoday.com or editor@urbanmediatoday.com

For more, log onto www.UrbanMediaToday.com

# # #

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Aleigha Johnson at 412-742-4345 or email at aleigha@riversidesalesgroup.com.

Ray Jr. on Sports

 

  1. NFL Draft-Well, the most popular 3 days in the NFL has ended with all 32 teams adding to their rosters and I have to say, it was one of the more entertaining drafts that I’ve seen in years. It included Denver Broncos 1st round pick Garrett Boles bringing his infant son to the podium (precious) and Atlanta Falcons draft pick Takkarist McKinley expressing his love for his late grandmother and his promise that he would go to a Division 1 school.
  2. More on McKinley-I also liked that the young man also held a portrait of his grandmother as well, that was truly precious. His grandmother raised him so I can understand his emotions when he was selected. I didn’t like his profanity outburst, but I respected NFL Network’s Deion Sanders gently pulling him in and encouraging him to “Direct his emotions positively” That was good, because I remember Deion in the Prime-Time days…
  3. Draft Creativity-I also liked how on the 3rd day, the NFL allowed draft picks to get selected in different locations. Ex: Former Pittsburgh Steelers S Mike Logan announced the Steelers 6th round Pick at a youth community center in Pittsburgh. Picks were also announced from military bases to state landmarks and attractions to even outer space by current NFL players and legends, military personnel, actors, singers, and other special guests. New this year, Round 6 will be youth football-themed, and youth football players from Pop Warner, NFL FLAG. Very creative.
  4. Cleveland Browns-Apparently, the team who had the first overall draft pick stole the show at the NFL draft. The Browns who finished 1-15 last season made some huge first round moves by drafting Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett as the first pick and then grabbed Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan; (29) David Njoku, TE, Miami and in Round 2: (52) DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame. Impressive? Yes, but they have to prove it on the field and maybe the Browns will improve to 4-12.
  5. Steelers-and then there’s the local team who selected 8 players that included Houston DE JJ Watts brother (LB JT), a stud WR (JuJu Smith-Shuster), a cancer survivor (Pitt’s James Conner) and a Long Snapper (Colin Holba). I think the Steelers did well as they’re trying to get to Super Bowl 52 while continuing to fix that defense. Those young men have to prove themselves on the field as well.
  6. A Long Snapper though? Yes, that is what the Steelers chose to do in the 6th round (announced by Logan) It makes no sense to me why the Steelers would pick a player that most teams never draft and basically find by accident, but if they end up winning the Super Bowl this year, nobody will really care or remember the long snapper that was selected from Louisville.
  7. Steelers release QB Zach Metterberger- So long Mettenberger, we hardly knew you!” Because in reality, we hardly did. He was picked off waivers from San Diego and never played a down for the Steelers. And after the Steelers selected QB Joshua Dobbs in the 4th round, I guess that was the signature on Mettenberger’s walking papers. Go figure.
  8. Richard Sherman-Lost in the NFL Draft festivities was the fate of the Seattle Seahawks All-Pro CB as they were entertaining possible trade offers. But none have taken place and Sherman remains a Seahawk for now. In fact, HC Pete Carroll stated that there was ‘zero chance’ that Sherman will be dealt. But stay tuned, he still could get dealt in the summer..
  9. Former Bears QB Cutler auditions for TV role with Fox-Seriously, what is with these quarterbacks auditioning for media spots, and the networks taking them seriously?? First it was former Cowboys QB Tony Romo getting the #1 spot in CBS and now it’s Cutler, who not sure if he’s returning to football, auditioning for a spot with Fox. Not all athletes make good media persons (see: OJ Simpson and Eric Dickerson)
  10. Peterson ‘amped’ for season-opener vs. Vikings-I think New Orleans Saints Adrian Peterson will have a huge game against his former team, the Vikings, especially after they let him walk in Free Agency. Peterson himself said that it will be ‘revenge.’ But he also stated that it will be fun. I can’t wait to see it.
  11. NBA Playoffs-The Playoffs to continue and after seeing the 125-103 Cleveland Cavaliers rout of the Toronto Raptors, I have come to this conclusion: The Raptors have zero chance against the defending NBA champions. LeBron James and Co. are locked in like never before and they will probably steamroll through the rest of the Eastern Conference en route to the NBA Finals.
  12. Boston Celtics-If there was one team that could be a test for the Cavs, it would be the Celtics, led by NBA MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas. But I think the Cavs will beat them too as both teams will probably make the Eastern Conference Finals.
  13. NBA MVP-Usually, the NBA would announce who the winner of this award is this week, but since they’ve followed the NFL’s route by having an award show, we have to wait until June 26th to see OKC’s Russell Westbrook win that award. I’ll say it again, he deserves it this season. And so, what if his team is eliminated. The award is based on the regular season.
  14. Spurs Parker done for the playoffs with injury-It was sad to see the San Antonio Spurs veteran go down with a ruptured tendon in the Spurs 121-96 win over the Houston Rockets Wednesday night. Parker is done for the playoffs and I think he should call it a career. He was playing well for the Spurs (15.6 PPG in playoffs) his absence will hurt.
  15. Pirates lose 3 of 4 to Reds-For some reason, the Cincinnati Reds has the Pirates number in this young MLB season as they’ve won 6 of 7 against them, including 3 of 4 in the weekend series in Cincinnati. Once again, it’s a lack of consistency for the Pirates as they’re now 12-16 in last place in the NL Central Division.
  16. Pirates Outlook? Not a good one from where I’m sitting. I think this team is lost and are basically done for 2016. Struggling pitching, awful offense, and a suspended Starling Marte. It makes you wish they could just start 2017 over. But alas, they have 134 games left to play. Oh, what fun.
  17. Pirates P Nova wins NL Pitcher of the Month-And to think that folks criticized the Pirates for re-signing this dude. I was glad he stuck around, because Ivan Nova could’ve surely went somewhere else for much more money. Anyway, he was awarded the NL Pitcher of the Month for his outstanding April. Unfortunately, he couldn’t celebrate it much as he lost to the Reds on Thursday.
  18. Yankees Aaron Judge leads MLB in home runs-Here comes the Judge! Yep and he stands 6-7 and weighs 282 and is leading baseball with 13 home runs and is the youngest MLB player to do so after 26 games. The kids on pace to shatter some HR records if he keeps it up.
  19. Pitt Basketball gets St. John’s Transfer-After all the Pitt players who have left the basketball team in the past month, it’s truly good news to see one who wants to join the team as St. John’s G Mark (son of Pervis) Ellison. But HC Kevin Stallings will have to wait to see what Ellison can do as he has to wait a year to be eligible.
  20. Penguins bead Caps 3-2, lead 3-1-No Sidney Crosby, no problem as the Penguins proved they’re a veteran team as they beat the Washington Capitals and can close out the series Saturday with a win in DC. As for Crosby who missed the game after suffering a concussion in Game 4, he was practicing with the team Thursday. I wouldn’t be surprised if he returned Saturday.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

Steelers Expected to Start NFL Draft on Defense

       Steelers Expected to Start NFL Draft on Defense

 

When you finish the NFL Season one win short of the Super Bowl, you know that the key to eventually getting to that Big Game will not just improve your team to beat the team that kept you from it, but to also set up your team for many years of success. Such is the case of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who finished the 2016 season 11-5 and AFC North Champions, but with a bitter taste in their mouths as they fell short of Super Bowl 51 after falling hard to the New England Patriots 36-17. Those same Patriots would go onto beat the Atlanta Falcons to win their 5th Super Bowl in their history.

 

There are many reasons why the Steelers lost that AFC Championship Game in the manner that they did, and one of the main reasons is their defense, which failed to show up against a strong Patriots offense, led by QB Tom Brady. They had no pass rush and Brady exploited their secondary.

 

It is said that Defense wins Championships and the Steelers 6 Super Bowl Championships have come because of great defenses which have produced several Hall of Famers. Even the 2 that they lost (Super Bowls 30 and 45) were teams that got there because of great defenses.

 

The Steelers know that their offense is set with QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Antonio Brown, the now-reinstated WR Martavis Bryant and an excellent offensive line, but they know that the key to their success is a balanced attack, and in their case that means fixing a defense that finished 12th overall in the NFL in Total Defense (16th vs. the Pass) as opposed to tie for 5th (With Indianapolis) in Total Offense.

 

Although they added some defensive pieces in Free Agency, anybody that knows the Steelers are fully aware that they stick to their principle of improving their team in the NFL Draft which begins Thursday night through Saturday in Philadelphia, Pa. Thursday night will feature the 1st Round picks in which the Steelers will pick 30th. Friday will have Rounds 2-3, (Steelers have a compensatory 3rd Round pick) and Saturday will have Rounds 4-7.

 

Who will the Steelers pick? That’s the $54 million question as they have several options to choose from, especially on defense. And while many fans and some media types hope that the Steelers pick Big Ben’s future replacement in this draft, it wouldn’t be no surprise if the Steelers didn’t make that a priority (especially since Big Ben’s probably 3 years from being done) but since they’re known for selecting the best player available in the Draft, it still wouldn’t be a surprise if they added a QB if the best one in the round is sitting there.

 

To no surprise, the Steelers aren’t verbally showing their hand when they speak of the Draft. At their annual Pre-Draft news conference, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and Head Coach Mike Tomlin stated that this will be an unpredictable NFL Draft.

 

“We are picking at No. 30, and I am sure there are 30 guys that can help us,” said Colbert. ““A lot of times going into this part of the draft process we have a pretty good idea of where this thing could go,” “This year it’s really an unpredictable draft. There are so many different variables that we see could happen around the league, and I think it all starts with the quarterback position. There are so many differing opinions on who the quarterbacks are, who is going to take who, where. It doesn’t matter to us, but it leads into the unpredictability. I think you will see more trade up, trade down possibilities around the league. That part is unpredictable, more so than in the past.”

“The analytics guy that develops a ‘will index,’ they are on the cutting edge,” said Tomlin.

 

Despite their non-answers, we know that the Steelers aren’t blind or ignorant of their needs and you can expect them to start the early process of the draft focused on defense.

 

Here’s the Steelers predictions for the top 2 Rounds

 

Round 1-Inside or Outside (or Edge) LB-Although they have a Pro Bowler in Ryan Shazier and a rising star in Bud Dupree, the Steelers know they still have holes to fill in their pass rush and although they’ve got 39-year old James Harrison for at least 2 more seasons, he’s not going to play forever and this is the position that they need to start thinking about for the future. On the inside, they allowed veteran Lawrence Timmons to depart and join Miami and were that close so signing the Patriots Dont’a Hightower. In 3 of the past 4 seasons they have picked a linebacker in the first round (Jarvis Jones, Ryan Shazier, Dupree) and last season it was CB Artie Burns.

 

Most projections have the Steelers picking ILB Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt), while other Mock Drafts have them taking Edge Rushers Carl Lawson (Auburn), Carl Harris (Missouri) and others have them selecting Cornerbacks Tre’Davious White (LSU) Marlon Humphrey (Alabama)

 

Still there are other mock drafts who suggest that the Steelers will go offense in this round by selecting WR John Ross (Washington). While others have them selecting QB Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech)

 

Prediction: Lawson from Auburn

 

Round 2-It can still be used for another defensive pick as they still need to fix their secondary so they could pick a CB or go with an inside LB. Or if the Best QB Available is there, they could select him.

 

Prediction: Cornerback or inside LB.

 

                                                            Local Draft Hopefuls

 

The Pitt Panthers could possibly have their largest number of draft picks since 2004 when that crew was led by WR Larry Fitzgerald. This year, Pitt could come close to surpassing that number as they have a few local players who could join the NFL this weekend. OLs Doran Johnson (Belle Vernon), Adam Bisnowaty (RB James Conner, QB Nate Peterman, TE Scott Orndoff, OL Adam Bisnowaty (Fox Chapel), Dr Ejuan Price (Woodland Hills), TE Scott Orndoff (Seton-LaSalle) TE Tyrique Jarrett (Allderdice) and RB James Conner who is from Erie has local ties as his high-school Erie McDowell was part of the WPIAL when he played there.

 

Here’s the non-Pitt player with local ties who hopes to hear his name called in the next few days:

 

LB Jaylen Coleman-Although he broke his leg and tore his Achilles in 2015 and 16 respectively, Coleman finished his 3-year career with 76 tackles and an interception for the Rockets. His uncle is former Steele Lamonte Coleman who played on the team in 1995 and earned an AFC Championship ring with the team.

 

In addition to the 7 rounds of the NFL Draft, the hopefuls can also hope to be signed as an undrafted Free Agent which will give them the opportunity to allow NFL Rookie Camps, Mini-Camps, Training Camps, and the Preseason to make strong impressions.

 

Notes: The New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders made news Wednesday as they added veteran running backs in Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch, respectively. Peterson was signed as a free agent from the Minnesota Vikings and the once-retired Lynch was acquired from the Seattle Seahawks for a late 2018 Draft pick.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmedaitoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

 

Sources: www.Steelers.com, www.utrockets.com, www.behindthesteelcurtain.com

 

 Sources: www.Steelers.com, www.utrockets.com, www.behindthesteelcurtain.com

The Journey to the Sweet Sixteen

“March Madness” is real. The NCAA Mens’ National Championship Basketball tournament started last week and has provided 6 straight days of college basketball excitement. The opening round  “Play-in” games were the appetizer as USC,Mt.St. Mary’s, Kansas State and UC Davis all picked up victories and advanced to the field of 64.

 

Then came the main course,  round one where 12th seeded Middle Tennessee State upset the 5th seed of the South Region (Minnesota) by nine points; The 11th Seed in the West Region ( Xavier) did the same  to the 6th seeded Maryland Terrapins by  nine points.USC who was the only team to play in the “Play-in” games  and advance to round two grabbed a one point win over SMU. Northwestern who was in the tournament for the first time in school history picked up the schools first tournament victory beating Vanderbilt by two.

 

That set up the stage for second round action with a field of thirty-two teams left in the tournament. On the first day of second round action the highlight of the day took place in the East Region, where Wisconsin the 8th seed knocked off the Villanova Wildcats by three points. The senior laden Badgers Lead at the half 31-27  and in the second half  Villanova came back and had a seven point lead with under five minutes left  in the game. The Badgers charged back and tied the game with less than 20 seconds left before scoring their final three points and winning the game 65-62  punching  their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth year in a row.

 

The excitement of the second round did not stop there as Northwestern looking for their second tournament win in school history gave Gonzaga (the top seed in the West Region) all they could handle before succumbing to the Bulldogs 79-73. Day two of second round action saw two big upsets as Michigan knocked off Louisville (The second seed in the Midwest Region) 73-69 and South Carolina overcame a slow start to upset Duke (the second seed in the East Region) 88-81.The South Carolina win gives the Gamecocks their first trip to the Sweet Sixteen in school history;The Gamecocks reward will be third seeded Baylor. 

 

The  “Sweet Sixteen”  action tips off on Thursday  with Michigan battling Oregon; West Virginia and Gonzaga tip off 30 minutes later. The  two late games feature  Purdue against Kansas ,followed by Arizona and Xavier.  Friday the action will continue  with Butler taking on North Carolina and South Carolina battling Baylor in the early games. Friday night UCLA and Kentucky face off in a battle between the second and third seeds in the South Region, with Wisconsin facing Florida in the night cap.

 

The Tournament will not lose any excitement in the upcoming action,There are still three number one seeds in the final Sixteen teams ( Gonzaga, Kansas and North Carolina)two number two seeds (Arizona and Kentucky ) and Three teams that are seeded number three in their respective region (Oregon,Baylor and UCLA). So there is plenty of fire power left as this weekends action will whittle 16 down to the Final four. The lowest Seed breaking into the “Sweet Sixteen” is Xavier who is an 11th seed and I for one doubt that the team from Ohio with 23 wins this season and 11 losses is really an eleven seed in any region. Keep your eye on the four seeds (West Virginia,Purdue,Butler and Florida) as they are all still around, but the seven seeds (Michigan and South Carolina) are the dangerous teams as they are the giant killers. Speaking of giant killers 8th seeded Wisconsin who eliminated the defending champ is also still around. Who will be your final four?

 

Reach out and talk about the tournament  at new@urbanmediatoday.com 

Follow me  on Twitter  @UMTSportsreport 

Trevin A Jones 

 

Steelers get Manhandled by Eagles 34-3

MikeTomlin_UMT

 

In the world of Sports, it’s easy to think that the key to victory is scoring more points than the other team, and you may be right, because the final score determines the outcome, but without one main factor behind that scoring, a team will never have a chance when they step on the field of play and that factor is preparation.

Two teams stepped on the football field at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia Sunday afternoon, but one team appeared prepared and that was the Eagles who continue to look like the surprise of the NFL as they destroyed the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-3 to improve to 3-0, their best start since 3-0, when they were under former head Coach Chip Kelly. New HC Doug Pederson’s presence is slowly breathing something into the Eagles that they haven’t seen in years: Life. And it’s no coincidence that Pederson came from a HC whom Eagles fans know well: Andy Reid.

Rookie QB Carson Wentz is looking like an early candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as he passed for 301 yards (23-31) and 2 TDs. He wasn’t sacked at all and has also started the 2016 NFL Season without throwing an interception. (His quick passes fooled the Steelers defense and his ability to extend the play compared him to the man that he beat-Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers Signal-Caller didn’t have a good day at the office as he passed for 257 yards (24-44) 0 TDs and an interception. He’s also the first rookie in NFL history without an interception in his first 100 pass attempts to begin a career. He was also sacked 4 times and looked confused and frustrated by a charged-up Eagles defense who was truly prepared to play. It had been said that the Eagles defense had improved, and the concern was whether this team could beat a legitimate contender after their wins vs. the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears.

Now it’s time to stop wondering. This team is for real.

Big Ben and the Steelers actually looked like that had things under control after they drove over 50 yards on their first drive. WR Antonio Brown caught most of the passes and although RB DeAngelo Williams didn’t generate much yardage, he got key first downs when needed. The Steelers got into the Red Zone and it appeared that they would have gotten their first TD of the game when Roethlisberger extended the play and found WR Markus Wheaton in the back of the endzone. Problem was, Wheaton dropped it. The Steelers then lined up for a 36-yard field goal, but Chris Boswell’s attempt was blocked and the Steelers came away with nothing.

To be honest, the Steelers lost the game right there.

The Eagles then took over and drove the ball right down the Steelers throats, but settled for a 29 field goal by K Caleb Sturgis to give them a 3-0 lead. After the Steelers did nothing on their next drive. In the second quarter, the Eagles scored their first TD when Wentz found WR Jordan Matthews for a 12-yard TD and a 10-0 lead. The Steelers then responded when they drove down the field and settled for a 40-yard Boswell FG closing the Eagles lead to 10-3. Sturgis would add another FG to extend the Eagles lead to 13-3 at the close of the first half.

In the second half, it got better for the Eagles and worse for the Steelers. Wentz once again

extended the play and found a wide-open RB Darren Sproles who ran through the lackluster Steelers defense en-route to a 73-yard TD run extending their lead to 20-3. The Eagles would score again when RB Wendell Smallwood ran it in from the 1 and RB Kenjon Barner would score from 8 yards out to seal the 34-3 victory.

Smallwood would lead with 79 yards rushing and the TD and Sproles finished with 6 catches for 128 yards and the 73-yard TD. For the Steelers (2-1), Williams did not have a good game as he was limited to 21 yards on 7 carries. Brown had his usual signature game with 12 receptions for 140 yards, but he was unable to get into the endzone.

Ray’s Take: According to the record books, this was the worst Steelers loss since 1989, when they were destroyed 51-0 by the Cleveland Browns. I guess you can say that since they didn’t score a TD. Bottom line folks: The Steelers weren’t ready. I honestly think they were a little big-headed coming into Philly because face it, according to the media, they are considered a legitimate Super Bowl threat and they were ranked #1 in the NFL.com power ratings (maybe before New England won Thursday) but when you believe your own press, that’s usually a set-up for a letdown, which the Steelers experienced Sunday.

I haven’t seen Big Ben play this bad since they lost to Baltimore last season, He looked lost, confused and frustrated, Wheaton’s 2016 debut was awful as he dropped 3 passes (including the one in the endzone) and the defense? Don’t get me started. They looked like the Pitt D looked Saturday in their still-disappointing loss to North Carolina. They couldn’t pressure Wentz and their tackling was horrible. And how they looked on that 73-yard TD pass to Sproles…speaks for itself. Deplorable. I give the Eagles credit because they’re hungry and when you are hungry, you will eat, which the Eagles did.

I’m not concerned about the Steelers because one game does not a (early) season make. They’re a good team that got punched in the mouth, and it happens. Now they have to learn from this and prepare for the visiting Chiefs next Sunday. They will also receive a boost as RB Le’Veon Bell will return from his 3-game suspension. That can only help the team.

Notes: The Steelers also suffered several injuries as LB Lawrence Timmons ended up in the hospital after an apparent shin injury. S Robert Golden (hamstring) G Ramon Foster (chest) and WR Eli Rogers (toe) also didn’t return in the second half.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter