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Incoming Pitt women's basketball player Pika Rodriguez impressing at FIBA World Cup

I've been tracking the U.S. U19 women's basketball team that Suzie-McConnell Serio is leading at the FIBA World Cup in Italy. But there's another Pitt connection to the event as incoming freshman Pika Rodriguez is playing for Puerto Rico.

Rodriguez isn't only playing in the event but is one of the best players.

Through two games, her Puerto Rico team is 0-2. However, Rodriguez isn't the reason why. She's scored 19 points in both of the team's games and is second in the entire tournament in scoring. Amazingly, she's doing it all from the field. Her 38 points have come without the benefit of a single free throw attempt.

When Rodriguez was announced in the team's recruiting class for this season, McConnell-Serio said she can 'flat out shoot the ball and with deep range.' That last part has been true as well as she's connected on four of her ten three-point attempts.

Interestingly, from the sounds of things, Rodriguez might actually be the least-heralded of the players coming into this year's class. Sounds like a strong addition by the way she is playing in the FIBA World Cup.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Suzie McConnell-Serio leads U19 team to 2-0 start with 91-51 win over China

Pitt women's basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio led the Team USA U19 team to an easy win in their first game of the FIBA World Cup on Saturday.  The team was back to it on Sunday and cruised to another easy victory - this time an easy 91-51 win over China.

So far, so good. The team cracked 90 points in each of their first two contests and has won both by an average of 38.5 points.

Next up for the team is the last game of Group play as they will face Italy, the host country, on Tuesday.

Pitt wrestling transfer Micky Phillippi talks being back home

Last week, Pitt announced the addition of wrestler Micky Phillippi to their program. Phillippi, who spent his first year at Virginia, comes to the Panthers with three years of eligibility remaining. He's also a local guy, coming to Pitt from nearby Derry.

Coming back home was definitely a factor for him, as he said in an interview with the Trib-Review. Even despite the coaching turmoil that was occurring in Pitt's program last season, a transfer to Pitt had actually been on Phillippi's mind for quite a while.

"I thought about it all year, and I really wanted to be closer to home," Phillippi said. "I like to be around my family, and I was grateful that (Virginia coach) Steve Garland granted me a release. He wasn't happy at first about me transferring to Pitt because it was within the (Atlantic Coast Conference), but then he understood I wanted to be close to home.

Ah, there's that pesky transferring in-conference thing.

Of course in this case, though, Phillippi won't be allowed to compete right away as he has to sit a year first. That was what Pitt's basketball program had clamored for during the Cam Johnson case. Johnson, who had graduated, certainly has a little bit of a different case than Phillippi, of course. But something tells me we won't hear Jay Bilas rail about this for several weeks as he did with the Johnson case.

I digress.

Another reason for the move? Coaches, per that Trib piece. New Pitt head coach Keith Gavin and current assistant Jordan Leen, who also came from there, both recruited him to Virginia.

"Coach Gavin and coach (Jordan) Leen recruited me to Virginia. I was looking forward to working with them there. Now I can. Being at Pitt is the best thing for me."

Overall, it just seems like a really good fit.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Suzie McConnell-Serio leads USA U19 team to win in 2017 FIBA World Cup opener

Pitt women's basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio led the U.S. U19 team to a 95-58 victory over Mali on Saturday in the opening game of the 2017 FIBA World Cup.

Ironically, the tournament is being played in Italy. After the tournament, she'll be returning to the country fairly soon since last week, it was announced that the Pitt women's team would be making a trip to Italy next month to play a series of exhibition games.

Next up, the team faces China today at noon.

McConnell-Serio is no stranger to international basketball. Last year, she led the U18 team to the gold medal in the FIBA Americas Tournament.

Vegas calling for seven wins for Pitt football team in 2017

Bovada released win totals for college football teams this week. Currently, they've got seven for the Pitt Panthers.

Pitt has another difficult schedule so, even if they are a reasonably good team, more wins than that might not be expected.

Leading the way in the ACC are Florida State, Clemson, and Louisville - all of whom are penciled in for 9 1/2 wins. Worst teams in the ACC? Syracuse and Boston College who are slotted at 4 1/2 and four wins, respectively.

Ohio State's and Alabama's 10 1/2 wins are the largest totals given out.

Personally, I've got the Panthers penciled in for eight wins (regular season) but nine wouldn't surprise me too much. That would still allow for losses to Penn State, Oklahoma State, and either Virginia Tech, Miami, or North Carolina. Winning two of those last three seems a bit difficult but an upset against one of those two first teams shouldn't seem impossible - particularly after last year's victories over Penn State and Clemson. I'm not expecting nine regular season wins since Pitt lost quite a bit but I also wouldn't call it entirely out of the question.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt website showcasing baseball highlights from 2017 season

Pitt's baseball team didn't have a great year in 2017. In fact, at 23-30, it was plenty bad.

Still, the team got off to a fast 7-1 start to the year and had some pretty good highlights as the season went along. The new Pitt website is currently showcasing some of those highlights with its Top 17 from 2017 series.

Have a look here.

Despite the rough season, baseball coach Joe Jordano talked optimistically about the team's future and says he finally feels like the roster is good enough to compete.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

College football working to shorten game times

With college football games generally lasting between three and three-and-a-half hours, administrators are trying to find a way to shorten them.

One area of focus? Halftime.

While halftimes are generally 20 minutes, extra time has been allotted in the past for special ceremonies (i.e. Senior Day). That is coming to an end in 2017 as there will be a hard 20-minute break now without exceptions.

Another area included timeouts, per ACC Commissioner John Swofford:

According to ACC commissioner John Swofford, every bit counts. Which means losing what he calls "de facto timeouts" at the start of the third quarter and holding TV partners to their pre-defined commercial time and "not another minute." "We have a whole new generation coming up that is more constrained time-wise about what they're going to pay attention to," he said. "Baseball is going through it. I saw an article where the NBA is looking for ways to shorten their games. A pitch clock potential in baseball, which would be a significant change to the rules. So we're going to be working on that."

Anytime ways to shorten games in any sport is generally brought, my overall feeling is one of a lack of interest. It's not that games being shortened wouldn't be welcomed but I'm not sure I'll be all that ecstatic if they can shave another 15 minutes off the game.

Watching any game is a commitment. I realize that when I sit down to watch a football game that I'll be there for a while. I can do with out some of the mandatory TV timeouts, etc., but I also go in understanding they're going to be there. And even if they're not there, it's still going to be a pretty big chunk of time.

The biggest benefit for me wouldn't necessarily be that the game is shorter. It could help cut the amount of games that overlap into the next game to start on a particular network. There are few things more annoying than going to a specific channel to watch a game and seeing the earlier game still running. If games are shortened, in theory, that should happen less.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

College football working to limit game times

With college football games generally lasting between three and three-and-a-half hours, administrators are trying to find a way to shorten them.

One area of focus? Halftime.

While halftimes are generally 20 minutes, extra time has been allotted in the past for special ceremonies (i.e. Senior Day). That is coming to an end in 2017 as there will be a hard 20-minute break now without exceptions.

Another area included timeouts, per ACC Commissioner John Swofford:

According to ACC commissioner John Swofford, every bit counts. Which means losing what he calls "de facto timeouts" at the start of the third quarter and holding TV partners to their pre-defined commercial time and "not another minute." "We have a whole new generation coming up that is more constrained time-wise about what they're going to pay attention to," he said. "Baseball is going through it. I saw an article where the NBA is looking for ways to shorten their games. A pitch clock potential in baseball, which would be a significant change to the rules. So we're going to be working on that."

Anytime ways to shorten games in any sport is generally brought, my overall feeling is one of a lack of interest. It's not that games being shortened wouldn't be welcomed but I'm not sure I'll be all that ecstatic if they can shave another 15 minutes off the game.

Watching any game is a commitment. I realize that when I sit down to watch a football game that I'll be there for a while. I can do with out some of the mandatory TV timeouts, etc., but I also go in understanding they're going to be there. And even if they're not there, it's still going to be a pretty big chunk of time.

The biggest benefit for me wouldn't necessarily be that the game is shorter. It could help cut the amount of games that overlap into the next game to start on a particular network. There are few things more annoying than going to a specific channel to watch a game and seeing the earlier game still running. If games are shortened, in theory, that should happen less.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

2017-18 Pitt basketball ACC opponents named

Earlier this month, Pitt's basketball program released its non-conference schedule. A few days ago, the ACC matchups were settled as well.

Pitt's breakdown of opponents looks like this:

Pittsburgh Home/Road: Louisville, Syracuse, Miami, Duke Home: Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, NC State, Virginia, Boston College Road: Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame Yeah, it's pretty tough and the home/road matchups, in particular, aren't light. Three of the four teams are in the top four of the conference, according to Sports Illustrated. Pitt gets the Boston College game at home and that could be beneficial if the goal is to stay out of the conference's basement this season. If there were ever a need to have a home/road series with Boston College, well, this would probably be it. Overall, it's hard to see too many wins here. Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt Football Recruiting: Panthers add a local kicker Will Connelly as 2018 preferred walk-on

Jerry DiPaola in the Trib had a story up earlier this week about a local kicker joining Pitt's program for 2018. Beaver's Will Connelly is expected to join the team next season. Connelly, who had been playing basketball and soccer in high school as well, says he's focusing on football this year.

Connelly's longest field goal at Beaver has been 39 yards but he's up to 65 yards in practice.

He will reportedly join the team as a 'preferred' walk-on. The difference between that and a regular walk-on can vary a little but, in general, it seems that they will automatically be added to the 105-player roster for the start of training camp. Typically, 'regular' walk-ons have to earn their way to reach even that point.

We don't discuss walk-ons too much but the kicking game is one area where Pitt will be seeing an adjustment this year with the departure of Chris Blewitt. Blewitt was invited to a Steelers minicamp back in May after going undrafted.

Currently, Pitt has two kickers on the roster in redshirt freshman Alex Kessman and junior Ian Troost. If Kessman works out for Pitt and stays healthy, they won't have to worry about another kicker for four years. But the Panthers need a capable backup there so the more options you have, the better.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

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