March 27, 2009

Weekly E-book - The Prisoner of Zenda

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope.

Click here to read The Prisoner of Zenda, listen to the Librivox version, listen to the Lux Radio Theater version, and listen to the Screen Directors Playhouse version.

March 26, 2009

Fields’ baskets send Pitt past Xavier 60-55

BOSTON — Levance Fields pointed Pittsburgh in the right direction just in time—as usual.

For the second straight game, the orchestrator of the offense took the big shots himself, hitting a 3-pointer with 50.9 seconds left, then scoring off his steal as the top-seeded Panthers reached the regional finals for the first time in 35 years with a 60-55 win over Xavier on Thursday night.

One more win and they’ll be headed to Detroit for the Final Four.

“We came in expecting to win two games,” Fields said before acknowledging the obvious: “It was dramatic.”

The star point guard provided the drama in Pitt’s previous win, 84-76 over Oklahoma State. That game was tied at 74 with 2:42 left. Then Fields made a layup and a 3-pointer and the Panthers never trailed after that.

Pitt knows the late-game strategy by now.

“Give Levance the ball,” Big East co-player of the year DeJuan Blair said with a laugh.

The last time Pitt was in a regional final was in 1974 when it lost to eventual national champion North Carolina State and star David Thompson 100-72.

“It definitely was big for the players, the coaches and the city,” said Sam Young, who led Pitt with 19 points. “It’s something we’ve been waiting for, for a long time.”

Pitt (31-4) trailed 54-52 before Fields connected. He then poked the ball away from B.J. Raymond and went in for a layup with 23.9 seconds to go.

“It’s just sad that we had to go out the way we went out,” Xavier’s Derrick Brown said. “The season we had, it was about toughness and finishing what we do. And we didn’t finish.”

Fields did, scoring 14 points, while Blair had 10 points and 17 rebounds in the East semifinal victory. The Panthers overcame an eight-point halftime deficit.

Pitt plays Saturday against the winner of Thursday night’s second semifinal between second-seeded Duke and third-seeded Villanova for a berth in the Final Four.

“We’re a confident group,” Fields said. “We haven’t played our best basketball, but the good thing is we’ve found a way to make plays when we’ve needed them.”

Fourth-seeded Xavier (27-8) was led by Raymond with 15 points and Brown with 14.

“I thought the shot Levance Fields hit is all about (the poise of) senior point guards,” said Xavier coach Sean Miller, who knows something about that.

He was a star point guard at Pitt from 1987 to 1992 and is second in school history in assists.

Panthers coach Jamie Dixon made it to the round of eight for the first time in his six years on the bench after losing in his other two trips to the round of 16. Xavier fell short in its bid for a third berth in the regional finals in six years.

“They pushed us around in the first half, but we responded in the second half like we usually do,” Dixon said. “Like I’ve said before, I never get tired of seeing Levance take big shots. He’s made them year after year.”

Trailing 37-29 at halftime, Pitt scored the first nine points of the second half—and Xavier missed its first 10 shots—as the Panthers took a 38-37 lead with 14:33 left.

But the Musketeers recovered and went ahead 54-52 with 1:50 remaining when Dante Jackson cut to the basket for a layup.

Fields then had the ball past midcourt before it went into the backcourt off a defender. Fields retrieved it, dribbled into his own end and fired up the go-ahead shot over Jackson.

“We ran our go-to play,” Fields said. “I did a little bit of an in-and-out move, got him on his heels a little bit and took the shot. Once I got him back, I took the open shot. I had confidence in it.”

Jackson thought he could stop him.

“I thought I had a pretty good challenge,” he said.

Fields was in the right place again when Raymond lost control of his dribble. Fields got the ball, pushed it forward and dribbled ahead of the field to put the Panthers up by three.

Xavier’s Terrell Holloway made a free throw with 16 seconds left, but Young hit two just three seconds later. After a missed 3-pointer by Brown, Brad Wannamaker made one more free throw for Pitt with 2.6 seconds left.

The Musketeers went just 7-for-29 from the field in the second half when they were outscored 31-18.

But they were solid late in the first half. With the score tied at 27, Xavier outscored Pitt 10-2 in the last three minutes of the half to take a 37-29 lead. Brown started the surge with a 3-pointer and sank another one that made it 35-29.

Blair struggled offensively inside and finished with just two points and four rebounds in the first half. He had eight points and 13 rebounds after that.

March 20, 2009

Weekly E-book - The Four Feathers

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason.

Click here to read The Four Feathers.

March 13, 2009

Weekly E-book - Scaramouche

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini.

Click here to read Scaramouche and to listen to the Librivox version read by Gord Mackenzie.

March 07, 2009

No. 3 Pittsburgh beats No. 1 Connecticut 70-60

PITTSBURGH — Two games, two UConn losses, two big performances by Pitt’s Sam Young. By now, Connecticut could be excused for not wanting to see the Panthers again, yet the Huskies can’t wait for the next matchup. Or maybe the next two.

Young dominated one of this season’s biggest games with 31 points and No. 3 Pittsburgh likely secured one of the top seeds in the NCAA tournament, opening a 14-point lead early in the second half before holding off top-ranked Connecticut 70-60 on Saturday.

Pitt (28-3, 15-3 Big East) had never beaten a No. 1-ranked team in school history, only to accomplish it twice in less than a month—both times against Connecticut (27-3, 15-3), which still hasn’t figured out how to slow down Young.

Pitt becomes the seventh school to beat a top-ranked team twice in a season, the last North Carolina over Duke in 1998.

“Every time I see those UConn jerseys, my eyes light up,” said Young, who scored 25 points in Pitt’s 76-68 win at Hartford on Feb. 16.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun used all the superlatives to describe Young— including “fantastic,” “magnificent” and “very special”—yet he and his players are eager to see the Panthers again, perhaps in next week’s Big East tournament. Or maybe beyond.

“I guarantee you we’re going to see them again, nine times out of 10 we’re going to see them in the Big East tournament and we’re going to be ready for them,” said the Huskies’ Stanley Robinson, who had six points and 12 rebounds. “We could see them after that—in the NCAAs, semifinals or national championship or whatever.”

Calhoun called the Panthers a potential national championship team, but still thinks he has the team to beat them.

“Do I think we can beat Pitt?” Calhoun asked. “Yes, but we are 0-2 and I don’t have any graphic evidence to support that.”

The Panthers had to wait for the outcome of Saturday night’s game between No. 6 Louisville and West Virginia to see if they would win a share of the Big East regular season title. If West Virginia won, Pittsburgh and Louisville would be tied with the Panthers getting the No. 1 seed in next week’s tournament. A Louisville win and Pitt would get the tiebreaker over UConn and the No. 2 seed.

The Panthers did it a different way than they did in winning at UConn, when 6-foot-7 DeJuan Blair pushed around 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet for 22 points and 23 rebounds and Thabeet ended with only five points and four rebounds. This time, Blair had eight points and eight rebounds in a relatively quiet performance and Thabeet had all 14 of his points in the first half.

“Hasheem was limited only by the fact we didn’t get him the ball enough in the second half,” Calhoun said.

Thabeet, who had nine shots in the first half and two in the second, credited a Pitt defense that held UConn to 37.7 percent shooting (23-of-61). A.J. Price led the Huskies with 19 points but missed 10 of 15 shots.

“Every time I got the ball inside, they came over and doubled me,” Thabeet said. “In the first half, somehow they thought they could stop me 1-on-1, and they didn’t double. The second half, they adjusted.”

Thabeet didn’t allow himself get pushed around this time, either, not backing off when he and Blair went for a loose ball early in the second half and Thabeet initiated the contact.

“He got me once,” Thabeet said, referring to the earlier game. “He tried to (get) me twice, and he wasn’t going to get me twice.”

Calhoun, critical of the way the officials allowed Pitt to play physically when it outrebounded UConn 48-31 in the first game, had no such complaints this time.

“I didn’t want to be on YouTube again,” said Calhoun, aware that some enthusiastic Pitt students handed out hundreds of white hankies labeled “Calhoun Crying Towels.”

Young scored the two biggest baskets of the game after Connecticut went on a 12-0 run, keyed by Price’s eight points, to close within 52-50 with 8:24 remaining.

Young, a senior playing his final home game, hit a driving layup through traffic to make it 54-50, then went above the rim to put down Levance Fields’ high lob pass—a dunk that drew the loudest roar of the game from the standing-room crowd of 12,908 and seemed to take the life out of UConn’s rally.

Price responded with another 3 but Jermaine Dixon drove the lane after a frustrated Thabeet, who twice couldn’t score from in close, swatted the ball downcourt in an attempt to maintain UConn’s possession.

After that, Young dunked again and added a free throw to finish off a three-point play created when Blair tapped the ball away in the backcourt to force a turnover, giving Pitt a 61-53 lead with 4:42 remaining.

Young was such a factor that at, one point, Blair went 18 minutes without scoring, yet Pitt still increased its lead from three points to 14. Young, stepping outside more in the second half, hit 3-pointers for successive Pitt baskets to make it 48-36 after UConn had scored six consecutive points to close what had been a 14-point deficit.

With Thabeet not scoring inside after halftime, UConn didn’t have enough to come back in its first loss in 10 road games this season despite Jeff Adrien’s 11 points and 10 from Kemba Walker.

Pitt reserve Brad Wanamaker scored 13 points and Fields, playing despite a bruised lower back, added 10 in 37 minutes although he missed 10 of 14 shots.

The Panthers finished 19-0 at home, the second time since the Petersen Events Center opened in 2002 that it swept every home game.

Pitt hadn’t swept UConn during the season—the teams haven’t always met twice in a season—since 1996-97, when Pitt also beat the Huskies in the Big East tournament.

“We won both games, but we’re going to keep playing the same way, we’re not going to do anything different,” Blair said of a possible third UConn-Pitt game. “We’ll see them when we see them.”

March 06, 2009

Weekly E-book - The Yearling

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

Click here to read The Yearling and to listen to the Lux Radio Theater version starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman.