Sunday, February 1, 2009

Almost time...

We've got everything taken care of. The only thing left to do today is to watch the big game!!! The DiGiorno Pizza is getting ready to be placed in the oven. What more could you ask for.

The Steelers are favored by a touchdown in the game, but you never know what's going to happen. The Steelers defense SHOULD be able to control the Arizona running game and hopefully put pressure on Kurt Warner. The Arizona defense hasn't been statistically good all year (except in the first two rounds of the playoffs). The Steelers should be able to move the ball. Here's some issues that I think could affect the game:

1. Can the Steelers get enough pressure on Kurt Warner? If not, Warner has Fitzgerald, Boldin, and Breaston to throw to.
2. Is Larry Fitzgerald defensible? Kurt Warner can just throw the ball up and know that Larry's going to go get it. They just need a couple of big plays to change the game.
3. If the Steelers get pressure on Warner, he's been know to fumble the ball. Can they win the turnover battle? There's some crazy high percentage of teams who win the turnover battle win the Super Bowl.
4. Is Woodland Hill's Steve Breaston going to be a presence of special teams? I remember a certain game with certain clock issues back when he was at Michigan (I'm not bitter) where he changed the momentum of the game with a return. He also returned one against the Steelers last year when they played in the regular season.
5. Will the Steelers' O-line play well? If not, then the running game won't work and then Roethlisberger will have to pass more and may try to do too much and throw interceptions (see #3).
6. Will Hines Ward be healthy? If not, we all know how (not) well Limas Sweed played last game (BIG DROP). This will again cause the Arizona D to focus more on the run, making it tough to run, causing Ben to pass more (see #5 and #3)
7. Will the crowd be an issue? Can it be so pro-Steeler and so loud that it will cause Arizona issues on offense (false starts and bad timing)?
8. Will my father-in-law's favorite player, Leonard Pope (TE from Georgia), be a factor? Probably not, but I just had to give a Leonard Pope plug.

It wasn't pretty down the stretch with the AWFUL free throw shooting (missed 4 or 5 in a row at one point), but their 12 point lead was just enough as they ended up winning by 4 at #9 Michigan State. That's the first time EVER they've won in East Lansing, following up the first time they ever won in Bloomington earlier in January (but that almost doesn't count since Indiana hasn't won in the Big Ten yet this year). PSU was throwing up crazy long 3 pointers that were poor decisions, but they kept going in (including even one that banked in). It was bringing back memories of Jon Crispin chucking up 3 pointers from so deep that they were nearly from the Lion logo on the court. With this win, the Nittany Lions are getting closer to a tournament berth. They've still got work to do as 5 of the last 9 are on the road.

Also, Davidson won by 3 at Samford. It was ugly shooting, but a win is a win on the road. Arizona swept the "Washingtons" this weekend to keep their faint NCAA tourney hopes alive. They're still on the outside looking in, but we'll see.

High School Hoops
Speaking of basketball, I had a chance with a couple of other coaches/teachers at school to help at our high school's girls basketball practice Saturday morning. They're #1 in the district and #3 in the state and lost in the state final last year. The coach was feeling like they needed more of a challenge in practice to get them ready for the playoffs, so she asked us to come in a give the girls a little more incentive to work hard in practice. What more to get you motivated than sticking it to your algebra/calculus teacher and making him look silly on the court?

I have to admit that all I know about basketball is just from watching it on TV and playing in pickup and intramural games. So, my overall basketball IQ is pretty low. But, the main goal for our "scout team" was to apply a full court press and just play tough defense on the girls, so they would have to work a little harder. Not much thinking involved, just run around like a mad man.

My main goals were to 1) Run hard and make the girls work harder and 2) Not get hurt. Both were accomplished (#2 had a couple of close calls, though), but I know my calling is not in basketball. I got "crossed over" by the point guard a couple of times, causing me to trip over my own feet and spill to the ground. Oh well, hopefully they got a lot out of the practice.

Let me tell you, though, when I woke up today I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. Playing basketball and distance running are two completely different muscle sets. I was (and still am) stiff and sore--quads (all the backpedaling), lower back, hips, knees, ankles...... I remarked to the coach after the 2-hour practice that running a half marathon would be so much easier than all that running I just did in practice.

I went out with Beth this morning for an 80 minute run. I after working out the kinks it wasn't too bad of a run (how can it NOT be when it's nearly 40 degrees and sunny?!?!?!?). But, the legs sure felt heavy after about an hour. I now know what Beth's legs feel like for EVERY Sunday run after the long hard bike workouts on Saturday. She's a machine!!!!!

Okay, it's Pittsburgh Steeler Time. GO STEELERS!!!!!


BriGaal said...

Our high school coach would also bring in some of the male teachers in post season for the same incentive - it was so fun! Also, I totally know the sore feeling you got - every year I would run cross country all fall, then go right into basketball practice in mid November. Those first few practices hurt SO bad - and all my teammates could never get it since I was so in 'shape.' It's a totally different type of shape.

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