My experience with “Beef”

Andrew Johnston has taken off quite a bit in America. He was a known commodity winning the Open de Espana.

Many do not know this name though, but rather one word “Beef”.

My first Beef experience came in the third round of Saturday’s U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. Johnston was way behind in the standings but his attitude did not change. Fans were cheering him as he raised the roof.

This was something special and I stored it away for later. Clearly this was just temporary and this happiness would not last.

Fast forward one day and I went into the media interview request area submitted my request to talk to the man named Beef. I wanted to see what the hoopla was all about.

I walked back over to the area as Johnston was on the 18th hole. All of a sudden I heard a loud, clear scream.

“Beeeeeffff,” the audience roared.

I will be honest and state that at first I thought they were chanting “Spieth”, for Jordan Spieth but looked at the pairings guide to confirm this not to be the case.

After the final hole was done, the wait for Johnston began. He finished in a tie for 54th place, but that was not the story, though it was his first start in America.

I was told I had a few minutes to speak with Johnston as he had a flight to catch. He had switched into his tennis shoes, gave me a firm handshake and away we went.

After some basics about the round, I asked him about the impression he got from this first start in America and it was a genuine one.

“People told me that they were going to love me in America,” Johnston said at the time. “I thought ‘okay, yeah, yeah you might get a little bit of a reception’. I never thought it would have been this mad. The last two days have been absolutely crazy, and all of the playing partners have had no idea what was going on.”

A lot of people are drawn to Johnston who was seen in at Pittsburgh International Airport in a 1979 style Pirates bucket hat and Penguins Stanley Cup shirt among other items he purchased from the city.

Johnston makes himself very accessible to fans whether its doing face swaps on Snapchat, spending hours signing autographs and posing for pictures, eating hamburgers made from food trucks or just interacting on Twitter, there may not be a professional golfer more fan friendly.

Recently, Johnston added a fitting sponsor in Arby’s, whose logo now can be seen prominently on his polos.

Johnston endears himself to fans with his relaxed nature and reactions that the average person would have.

When he won the Open de Espana, he was quick to admit his plan to “get hammered”. Johnston promised to do the same for a week were he to have won the U.S. Open. This every man type of reaction earned him his fair share of fans.

“I’m just telling the truth,” Johnston said. “I’ve grown up and had a normal childhood. I was a member of my home course, nothing special, playing golf and then you end up playing in a U.S. Open, it’s mad. I don’t see myself as any different than anyone else. I don’t care where someone is from and what they are, if they’re nice and they’re fun, I’ve got all the time in the world for them. I think the guys picked up on that and I felt so much love this week, it’s been great.”

Since Oakmont, Johnston has gained experience playing in the United States playing in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and tied for eighth recently at The Open Championship.

My interview on that Sunday afternoon in June ended with another handshake and a “cheers” from the 27-year-old from London, England before he walked off Oakmont Country Club.

It was that moment that I knew why he was so likable.

Practically anyone can relate to him and everyone roots for him.  It is clear that this is no act. Fans love Johnston and he loves them right back.

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Schugel corresponding move for Glasnow

Tyler Glasnow’s start Saturday was a dud but someone needed to toe the rubber for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Glasnow is someone who fans have been asking to be a mainstay on the roster since last September, and injury or not there is still a lot for him to learn.

Regardless there had to be a move made for him to start and it ended up being A.J. Schugel sent down. Why? Because he had an option.

On Twitter Friday night, Jason Shetler put forth options for what the corresponding move would be and I turned it into a poll.

The question was that if you were the one who had the authority to make the corresponding move, what would it be.

Well the overwhelming winner with 47% of the vote was designate Jonathon Niese for assignment.

Any Pirate fan would not be surprised by that. Niese has been demoted to the bullpen and admittedly was erratic tying the National League lead for home runs allowed. This, from a ground ball pitcher.

Not only has Niese admitted to his first half failures, but GM Neal Huntington also admitted perhaps he had made a mistake.

The mistake is magnified because this trade involved Neil Walker, also known as “The Pittsburgh Kid” but the idea was that shifts would benefit Niese who was to be a back-end of the rotation pitcher.

He was one of the best pitchers available in an offseason the Pirates were rather passive with.

Jeff Locke got 25% of the vote, good for second place.

He arguably was the best pitcher in the first half but his inconsistency in addition to fans already pent up frustration with him set Locke back.

He has extreme home-road splits and just recently lost at home for what feels like the first time in forever.

In this weekend’s series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Locke has been available out of the bullpen with his start skipped and future unknown.

Clearly patience is starting to run out on Locke as well.

The “other” category placed third with 16%. These were the people who assumed Schugel because they know how the Pirates operate or maybe had something else in mind.

Sending down Jared Hughes placed last with 12%.

No doubt Hughes is a popular figure but his pitching has been another story.

It seems like the Pirates have been struggling putting him in good though lately the efforts have been with inherited runners.

Whether or not Hughes came back from injury too soon because of genuine need (massive bullpen struggles) is up for debate but his results have not been great, regardless of what the ERA says.

Here are some separate Facebook comments:

Jonathan Birchok: “Gotta be Niese. When the GM basically admits that two fringe prospects might have been a better move, that says it all.”

Eric Rudel: “DFA Niese, he would probably clear waivers, so he may accept the assignment. If he doesn’t (then it’s a far removed) Niese for Glasnow trade which looks a lot better for the stretch run.”

Randy Page: “If Schugel doesn’t have any options then the Pirates will DFA Schugel, Caminero or Nicasio most likely. While many have Niese in that conversation, I wouldn’t just yet.”

All three mentioned Niese in their answer which seems to be a very small sample size for how the fans feel.

If you want to win games, do it with the best team around you. Schugel was strictly a victim of have options remaining and being able to pitch at length. The Pirates already had three relievers of that type, so the move had to be made.

 

 

 

Wrestlemania 32 predictions

A lot of people who know me are aware that I am a WWE fan. My dad is the one to blame for this as for as long as I can remember he watched Monday Night Raw. At times I would join him out of curiosity but I am a newer fan having actively followed along for the past two or three years.

With this in mind, I am going to take my best guess at Sunday’s card.

Wrestlemania 32 preshow:

Usos defeat The Dudley Boyz– Usos will find a way to use the tables as The Dudleys put the younger talent over. Both teams will get their spots but Usos get the win. Not much else really to say here.

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal– Two names come into my head and that is Mark Henry and Braun Strowman. I know what you’re thinking, really, Mark Henry? WWE could get away with it here. The winner really gets nothing out of this and Henry, a giant and Texas boy could end his career on a high so it makes sense. Strowman makes just as much sense as the Wyatt family does not have a clear role on this card and need to establish a known presence again with Luke Harper injured. I will take Strowman for that reason.

Team Total Divas (Natalia, Paige, Brie Bella, Alicia Fox and Eva Marie) vs Team B.A.D. & Blonde (Naomi, Tamina, Lana, Summer Rae and Emma) – I fully expect the Total Divas team to come out and get the upper hand until Eva Marie swerves the audience of sorts and turns on her team giving Team B.A.D. & Blonde the win. WWE was expecting an ovation for her but the reaction she received from NXT fans continued on Monday Night Raw this past week. They need to embrace this and allow the reception to affect her character. Anything less would be underwhelming. This very well could be Brie Bella’s final match with WWE.

Wrestlemania 32 Card

Kalisto (C) vs “The” Ryback for the United States Championship- I will admit I am not a Ryback fan. WWE did him a disservice making him a face and even as a heel he is reading off cue cards. It does not feel natural and ruins the improvements Ryback is making in the ring. Kalisto is a special high-flying talent. These two met in the King of the Ring tournament and Kalisto won. I think the same happens here. There is the potential for several titles to change hands tonight but this will not be one of them. Kalisto takes it and retains.

Kevin Owens (C) vs Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Star Dust, Sin Cara, The Miz and Zack Ryder Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match- To me this is a two person match with Ziggler the dark horse with the chance as he so calls it to “steal the show”. This is all about Owens and Zayn. Ziggler could capitalize and creep up the ladder to win. I could easily see Owens and Zayn team up to eliminate everyone else and let the true action begin. There is no love lost between these two. Could Zayn be distracted by his NXT Takeover loss to Shinsuke Nakamura? Yes. I could see Zayn go up the ladder only for Nakamura to provide the distraction Owens needs to win. Owens will be by himself Sunday night but that is all he needs to retain his title.

League of Nations vs New Day 4-on-3 Handicap match- There is a chance League of Nations wins this as the title is not on the line but I just do not see that happening here with all kinds of New Day merchandise selling like hot cakes. Let’s face facts, nothing is hotter than New Day right now and that has been true for months now. Rusev will be the one pinned.

Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose No Holds Barred Street Fight- This one I feel will be a very bloody affair with both men busted open. Lesnar will control early and that is when Mick Foley will come out to provide a distraction which levels the playing field. There are so many other surprises that could happen. I could see Seth Rollins providing a pedigree or a signature move on Lesnar to support his former Shield partner or Terry Funk comes out with more weapons. This will be a long match and I believe with both men bloody and unable to fully get up, Stone Cold Steve Austin comes out and hits the stunner on Ambrose. Lesnar gets up and the ref counts to three to seal the win. While Lesnar and Paul Heyman prepare to come out and celebrate Bray Wyatt’s music hits and he hits Sister Abigail. Wyatt stands tall.

Charlotte (C) w/ Ric Flair vs Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks– There are so many opportunities for interference here it is crazy. The question is if Ric Flair does anything dirty enough that could be caught by the referee which would warrant removal from the match. Charlotte will control the match early, for me there is no question about that. Becky Lynch does not want help and will suffer for it. For some reason one name comes to mind here and that is Snoop Dogg. With so many injuries WWE will try anything and Snoop Dogg brings ratings. He could always get physical with Flair which would be enough of a distraction for Becky or Sasha to pin the champ. Realistically I think Charlotte will not get pinned in this match. Lynch will find an opening to try and pin the champion but Sasha will have the last word and be the new divas champion… well at least until they likely rename the title and re-brand the division.

Chris Jericho vs A.J. Styles– This will be a good storytelling match. There is absolutely no chance Jericho wins this. He is all about putting others over at this stage and will do so again. That is not to doubt in Jericho, especially with him being so much better as a heel character but a win does not do anything for him. A.J. will have a phenomenal (I’m sorry) performance to win.

Triple H (C) w/ Stephanie McMahon vs Roman Reigns-I think this match will be hard hitting but I think it needs to be about Triple H trying to lure Roman to be a heel. He could bring The Rock out. Reigns would spear and/or Superman punch his cousin and complete the turn. Seth Rollins could come in and take a side. Shawn Michaels will come out and protect Triple H when Reigns gets the upper hand. Insert DX chop here. This is when Triple H gets his sledgehammer. For me assuming the Rock does not do a 20 minute promo at some point earlier in the card, he will run out to protect his cousin. Triple H could also bring out several heels to wear down Reigns. This would include the eague of Nations allowing the Rock to come out and lay out Rusev. Regardless of the guest spots, no one has lost at Wrestlemania more than Triple H and you can almost guarantee he puts another talent over. Roman Reigns will become the heavyweight champion once again.

The Undertaker vs Shane McMahon– Vince McMahon will be out there for sure trying to do whatever it takes for The Undertaker to win. Everyone knows that Shane McMahon will have at least one fun high flying spot in there. I have Shane McMahon winning but how is still unclear. For one thing it will not be clean. I do not consider The Undertaker turning on Vince and letting him be counted out as a clean win in this kind of a match. I could easily see Finn Balor, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows all making an appearance to push Shane over the top. This deserves to be the final match of the night and on paper a Shane win means Taker would be done at Wrestlemania but it did not say his career would be over. Plus if Shane O’Mac is in charge he could reinstate Taker at ‘Mania. Just something about The Undertaker wrestling in his home state has a finality to it though it is hard to say because the John Cena and Sting matches people have been looking for will not happen it looks like. If The Undertaker does win I expect one of those two to come in after the match and make their move to start building towards Wrestlemania 33. Right now though, I’ll take Shane.

Singer will be sorely missed

I got a text from DK Pittsburgh Sports colleague Josh Yohe shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and immediately stopped in my tracks.

The text told me that MLB.com reporter Tom Singer had passed away.

It was hard to believe that Tom had passed away and I like many others checked to see if it was true. Unfortunately the answer was yes, he passed away just a couple of days before everyone found out.

I can honestly say that I’m extremely privileged to call him a friend. Yes I am using present tense here, and I completely mean it that way.

Though we had met a couple of years before, last season was my first on the Pittsburgh Pirates beat. Tom was in his fourth season with the Pirates and 15th overall with MLB.com.

If you take one look at Tom you see the pinstripe pants, suit jackets and hats. Only he could pull these various looks off. He truly was one of a kind and I mean it in the absolute best way. This made Singer who he was and it was some of what endeared him to the players.

There are different ages and experience levels in the PNC Park press box but that did not matter to Tom. He was a friend to everyone in the press box and was always willing to eat the press dining soup of the day with you.

The thing that set Singer apart many of the other journalists was how he treated the young journalists, myself included. He was a friend to everyone, and I mean everyone in that press box. He was always up for a talk and offered a friendly smile.

Last season, I immediately saw what every other reporter who has met Tom already knew, he had a love for baseball that was unmatched. He approached the game in a way unique and different from anyone else in that press box. He had stories galore and was always ready with a fact that would even stump Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.

As the season progressed, Singer and I developed a bond and frequently were two of the last writers in the press box each night.

Each day the routine would be the same. I would come into the press box and Tom was the first if not one of the first to greet me. We would catch up in the clubhouse and he always checked to see if everything was okay.

The highlight of my time getting to know Tom was the road trip we took together to cover the Pirates series against the Tigers.

Tom had a set playlist on his iPod and there was a 30 song or so collection on it. Singer, born in Pittsburgh of course snuck the 1960’s Beat ‘Em Bucs song in there and I never questioned it. It made total sense, he was a fan of the game and always the historian.

What I did question however was his next song on the playlist, Mariah Carey’s Shake It Off. I can definitely say I did not see that selection coming from Tom, nor did I expect to hear him sing to it. Of course he wrote “Shake It Up” on the iPod and I jokingly never let him live it down.

It was all in good fun and he knew that. In fact, he took it lightly and each time we passed each other for the rest of the season we would sing the song according to his version.

To this day, I still break down laughing each time I hear that song because I think of Tom.

Tom also was a big support system for me. Both of us approach the game in a different way and explore stories and concepts which others do not think of or consider. We each have the thirst for knowledge which was fulfilled with these articles.

He would ask what I was working on and I would pitch it to him. He would always nod his head and approve. Even in the clubhouse I would on occasion tell him my game plan and he would always support me.

Tom always read my stuff and told me he learned something several times, which is the ultimate compliment.

The last time I saw him was the last game of the season and we had a nice talk and handshake before parting ways. Though he would not be the Pirates beat reporter for MLB.com next season, he promised that our paths would cross again soon.

I last heard from Tom on Twitter when he responded to a tweet from Dejan Kovacevic. He called me “the goods” and “hardest worker in that (press) box”.

Words cannot express what both of those words of praise mean to me. Once again, a compliment from Tom means the world.

Tom and I often would talk to players before and after games on and off record. Each conversation was a treat and showed me how much the players trusted him.

I can say I spent several hours trading stories with Tom over meals in the press room. If you can imagine, no story ever repeated.

Every journalist in PNC Park has a Tom Singer story and those were some of mine.

Despite the health struggles he went through, Singer was always sharp as a tack and an almanac of sports knowledge. I can honestly say I learned so much from him as a person and writer.

Tom loved sharing and interacting with everyone about the game he loved. Anyone that commented fairly and/or constructively on his articles had a good chance of hearing back from him.

This is a very sad time for everyone who knew him. He worked until the very end and his last tweet was about Spring Training, a sign that he was excited for what was to come. His final reply was to Pirates closer Mark Melancon at 8:03 this past Monday evening.

My condolences to Tom’s family, especially his wife Malvina in such a difficult time. His memory will live on for years to come and I was privileged to meet and get to know him just a little.

 

Dukes make national headlines

My day started Saturday at 10 a.m. and it ended at 5:30 Sunday morning. There was a good reason for that as throughout the time I was kept busy by the news of the Duquesne men’s basketball team being stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

This is national news and there is no disputing that. Something such as this happens once every year or two but this incident was avoidable.

It is not the Atlantic 10’s fault. The conference scheduled the game 26 hours earlier so that Duquesne could try and get home safely as the snow started just a couple of hours before the final whistle sounded in the game against George Mason. Though A-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade will talk with athletic directors, the conference will continue to monitor the weather. Scheduling favors two games a week so in theory rescheduling a game would not be out of the question though it would prefer not to.

A popular target has been Duquesne’s athletic director David Harper. I would say that is the easy way out and an unwise way to point blame. The team had a bus at VCU and keeping Duquesne with limited supplies in a Fairfax, VA area where 2-feet of snow were being projected was not any better than being unable to move on the PA Turnpike. Everyone in Pittsburgh and the coaching staff all monitored the weather and felt it was safe to proceed. With a game on Tuesday you want your team best prepared for the contest which is against LaSalle, an A-10 opponent.

No one could have been able to foresee several trucks causing a standstill. On any other day this is not a story because the Dukes are back in campus resting within 4-6 hours after leaving Fairfax. Blaming Harper is foolish because there was nothing he could do. He as well as Duquesne’s chief of police did all they could but given the situation that was just getting food to the bus. When you are trapped on the turnpike, you cannot get another bus or find another way to transport the team.

If anyone is to blame it is the PA Turnpike Commission. It was aware of how tough the roads would be to drive and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf had declared a state of energy for all of PA. It may be easiest to criticize them, but that is where most if any of the blame should be placed.

The good news for Duquesne is that all 32 people were able to maintain high spirits throughout the 30 hours and 24 minutes in the bus. The Dukes made friends with a bus next to them which contained eighth grade students from Iowa. When Duquesne did get food, it shared with the eighth graders.

This story is more than sports, its about a group of individuals used to adversity overcame more during this two day stretch.

My reporting included calls with the PA Turnpike Commission, Harper and senior forward Nick Foschia. I was also was able to obtain a statement from A-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade.

Whether I was covering the Duquesne women’s basketball game or eating my birthday dinner, I was quick and consistent when it came to updates.

When I finally heard the Dukes would make it back on campus Saturday night, I knew what to do and never hesitated. It could have been 30 degrees below zero and I still would have been waiting at the A.J. Palumbo Center for the team to return.

It turns out I was the only reporter to do so, for a national news story. At 10:46 p.m. the team bus came into view and myself and the local TV cameramen prepared.

This is an experience the team will never forget. They will be brothers and family for life. I also will never forget the experience. Though I was not anywhere near the bus, it was my goal to give the readers the impression that I was.

The team remained together even after it got off the bus going to a restaurant close to campus to eat. A final scene of solidarity as I made my way back home.

Here are my links to my reporting on the story. Both are free and no subscription is needed to read either of these articles.

http://dkpittsburghsports.com/FREE/2016/01/23/dukes-remain-stuck-on-pa-turnpike/

http://dkpittsburghsports.com/FREE/2016/01/24/snow-stranded-dukes-came-a-long-way/

Photo credit: Ed Thompson

 

Five things I think Jan. 9

It’s back again and this time on sports in general.

  1. Playoff predictions:

Chiefs 17 Texans 10- The Chiefs just know how to win and I feel that momentum will carry them. My one concern is the Chiefs really haven’t played anyone since this winning streak. They defeated the Denver Broncos when Peyton Manning was injured and Landry Jones was starting for the Steelers.

Steelers 24 Bengals 13- I just do not trust A.J. McCarron at quarterback in a playoff game. The Bengals have admittedly scaled back the playbook and that will be the undoing. Sure Ben Roethlisberger has not won a playoff game in a good while, but that should not matter here.

Seahawks 13 Vikings 10- This will be an ugly weather game, the only reason why the Vikings have a chance. Neither team will get much going, but in this situation, I like the Seahawks experience to get them through.

Redskins 23 Packers 20 OT- I really could see this going either way. Perhaps it is because I am in Washington D.C. as I type this entry, but I just see the Redskins doing just enough. Kirk Cousins has transformed into a franchise quarterback and the Packers have lost six of their last 10 games.

2. Hall of Fame– Glad to see Ken Griffey Jr. in. He deserved it and his induction should have been unanimous. Mike Piazza admitted to using PED’s. As a voter, I would have been on the fence with him. I felt a lot of people gave him a pass. This admission tells me he is not the best catcher ever to play. I would have had to make a judgment call. A bit disappointed to see Jim Edmonds is off the ballot and it is because a lot of the BBWA does not embrace the new school of thinking. He was one of my favorite players to watch growing up. I am a big Mike Mussina fan as well and hope he gets in. I also would have voted for Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Trevor Hoffman. So that would have been six definite picks for me.

3. Early NL Central prediction– NL Central will  take a step back next season. It absolutely has to. The NL Central winner in 2016 will have under 90 wins.

  1. Cubs– This did not take long at all. The Cubs are stacked. I think their youth will hurt them at times but I really like their team from top to bottom.
  2. Pirates– I am a fan of most of the free agency moves. The rotation as a whole will have to step up and that will be tough. Jung Ho Kang’s health will be a key question early.
  3. Cardinals– This may surprise a lot of people but I am not impressed. Cardinals feel they have enough to contend now and will build later. Yadier Molina’s health concerns me and I liked Tony Cruz as his backup more the Brayan Pena. I am not a fan of the rotation. Adam Wainwright is coming off injury and older. Lance Lynn is done for the season. Jaime Garcia concerns me. Michael Wacha limped to the finish line. Mike Leake would help but still the rotation is a question mark.
  4. Brewers– Rebuilding a bit but less than the Reds. I have a lot of respect for Craig Counsell. He was a very smart player and seemed to have a better grip of things despite the hand he was dealt than Ron Roenicke. This team still has pieces though Jimmy Nelson and Taylor Jungmann need to be more consistent.
  5. Reds– Just a total rebuild. No excuses for Bryan Price this season. He’s dealt with injuries to his core group but this year’s team needs to show a pulse or he needs to go.

4. PGA Tour major winners 2016

Masters Rory McIlroy– I just like the way he finished the 2015 season and will be back to full health. This win will put him atop the Official World Golf Ranking in addition to earning the career grand slam.

U.S. Open Dustin Johnson– Finally Johnson gets it done and at an Oakmont course where length off the tee will matter. This will be a career moment for him.

Open Championship/British Open Patrick Reed– It was a down 2015 for Reed’s standards but I like what he was able to do on the European Tour following the end of the FedEx Cup. That promise has me picking Reed just over Rickie Fowler.

PGA Championship Hideki Matsuyama– This pick may surprise a few people but I think Matsuyama will surprise a lot of people. He has shown promise and has a PGA Tour win in the 2014 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance but also was able to contend in big tournaments in 2015. I think he wins twice on tour this season and this will be a big moment for him and Japanese golf.

5. Novak Djokovic wins French Open in 2016/Serena Williams prediction– More people should be paying attention to tennis. Novak Djokovic is on a run similar to that of Roger Federer a few years ago. I have Djokovic winning three majors next season including a four-set win at the French Open this season. This would allow him to win the career slam. As for Serena Williams, I hope for her sake it is a healthier year. She fought through a lot on the court last season. It is for that reason that I rule out a calendar slam because she will fall in the Australian Open semifinal match. I like her to win the other three majors once she has that pressure off her and can play a bit more freely. Both men’s and women’s tennis are at a high point again and it is exciting to see.

 

Dukes win but again not satisfied

FAIRFAX, VA— How you do in practice certainly can result in a correlation with in-game performance. The Duquesne women’s basketball team nearly learned that the hard way in a 72-56 road win against George Mason.

Coach Dan Burt admitted the Dukes had two days of practice which were below par and it clearly seemed to affect the team.

To the Duquesne friends and family members in attendance for Thursday night’s game, seeing a 32-31 halftime deficit against a rebuilding George Mason team had to be a little concerning.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well. At all,” Burt said of the team’s first half shooting struggles.

The Dukes had just run roughshod against three consecutive tough opponents. On this night though, it was a 6-8 team creating problems.

Though the Patriots clearly scouted Duquesne well and wanted the win, it was the Dukes who were doing a lot of the damage themselves.

In that first half, players clearly were not completing plays on offense and they knew it. The body language at times was absolutely atrocious.

Burt noticed that as well.

“I didn’t think we had great body language and I brought that up in two different huddles,” Burt said. “It was just like we were running in quicksand almost.”

Though Duquesne had a better second half, it should be no surprise that it was a silent library once again once the players left the floor.

“This was definitely a quiet locker room,” freshman forward Kadri-Ann Lass said. “We didn’t play well the first half and we were not happy with the game. We got the win, that’s good but now we have forget about this game and come back better.”

Lass made key shots down the stretch and finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, just missing a double-double. It appears she has become more of a consistent force in the Duquesne offense, though she downplayed this.

“I was just in the game and wanted to win so badly,” she said. “I didn’t think about getting the shots. We were down when we came back to play the second half, and our goal was to win the second half. It’s a team and that’s what I like. You’re happy for everyone.”

It was another good game for senior guard Deva’Nyar Workman. A 21-point 12-rebound performance was her second double-double of the season as well as her second 20-plus point contest this season.

Workman carried the Dukes first half offense and was the lone bright spot.

Key to the game: Getting to the free throw line is a sign of aggression and Duquesne fired 23 shots from there in comparison to George Mason’s seven. Sure passes into the post were defended well for most of the game but the plays often were not completed resulting in free throws. Workman was 9-9 in this game, getting to the line more than the Patriots did as a team.

Up next: The Dukes face Fordham Sunday at noon in a game televised on CBS Sports Network. Fordham is 6-9/1-1 A-10. The Rams are traditionally known as a tough defensive team which could test the Dukes offense to see what it learned in this game.

Photo credit: Ed Thompson