Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 1, 1990 · Page 101
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 101

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Thursday, February 1, 1990
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Page 101
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PittsburQl) iPosf-Casrifc &:7::::;::;r7rr-,,:..v::-""' i A Ml THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1990 25 ackledge, Newsome unprot ected V" A. V 7 HIM ' .mvm 2v "It's nothing I'm jumping for joy about. " Plan B free agent Dwayne Woodruff DRUCE KEIDAN Dukes on the rise but that could change By Ed Bouchette Post-Gazette Sports Writer Quarterback Todd Blackledge is out, former Green Bay quarterback Randy Wright may be in and 15 Steelers become unrestricted free agents today as the team begins its preparations for 1990. Blackledge's contract expires today, and he will not be offered a new one, effectively ending a disappointing two years as a backup quarterback with the Steelers. The Steelers begin their search for his replacement this morning when several coaches and scouts work out Wright at the University of Wisconsin. Blackledge and 14 other players on their 52-man roster will not be among those the Steelers protect today under the NFL's Plan B unrestricted free-agency system. That plan allows each NFL team to protect no more than 37 players by today. All others are free to sign with any other team until April 1 without any restrictions. players and their agents after they were informed by the team yesterday. "It was a little bit of a surprise to me," said Newsome, the Steelers' punter since 1985. "But it's nothing I'm concerned about. I feel I'm one of the better punters in the NFL and I can play for anybody." Newsome led the league with a 45.4-yard average in 1988, but he slipped to 41.1 last season. Except for Blackledge, who won't be extended a contract, most of those left unprotected will probably be invited to training camp by the Steelers if they do not sign with another team. Woodruff, for example, was unprotected last year, but returned to start at cornerback in every game last season. He works for a Downtown law firm in the off-season and last year did not pursue offers from other teams. CONTINUED ON PAGE 27 UNPROTECTED Hera are 14 of tha 15 Steelera left unprotected under tha NFL's Plan B tree agency. David Arnold, defensive back Todd Blackledge, quarterback Brian Blankenship, guard Jason Johnson, wide receiver Harry Newsome, punter Terry O'Shea, tight end Tracy Simien, linebacker Vinson Smith, linebacker Weegie Thompson, wide receiver Tim Tyrrell, running back Ray Wallace, running back Eric Wilkerson, running back Dwayne Woodruff, cornerback Craig Wolfley, offensive lineman Players the Steelers will not protect include two 10-year veterans cornerback Dwayne Woodruff and offensive lineman Craig Wolf ley wide receiver Weegie Thompson and, in a bit of a surprise, punter Harry Newsome. Among the others who will go unprotected are guard Brian Blankenship, tight end Terry O'Shea, defensive back David Arnold, linebackers Vinson Smith and Tracy Simien, wide receiver Jason Johnson, running backs Tim Tyrrell, Eric Wilkerson and Ray Wallace, and one other player. The Steelers would not release their unprotected list, but it was obtained from several ludgeoned by West Virginia in Morgantown four weeks earlier by a score too obscene to mention, Duquesne University flirted at Wit it . v i m 'J'i ' ft',. f -f ' y h ij " xi 1 ?Ynf4 J.Tij m V.W.H. Campbell Jr.Post-Ga V.W.H. Campbell Jr. ffi Post-Gazette Panthers center Bobby Martin is swarmed under by four Boston College players last night, including Llor Arditti (No. 14), who was guilty of a foul on the play. length Tuesday night with a stunning reversal. But when show-and-tell time arrived in Palumbo Center, the Mountaineers had amassed 78 points to the Dukes' 77. The trouble with moral victories is that they go in the loss column. Which is why coaches Duquesne's John Carroll no less than others prefer the other kind. Old-fashioned, immoral victories have been scarce on the Bluff of late. Carroll has presided over just three, in 20 games. That is not surprising. In addition to an exceptionally talented transfer student named Mark Stevenson, Carroll inherited a program in chaos from Jim Satalin. And a succession of injuries has at times transformed Stevenson's modest supporting cast into an orthopedic ward. Gifted though Stevenson is, it is asking a lot of him to go one-on-five and win. He matriculated originally at Notre Dame University and had but a single year of eligibility remaining by the time he showed up at Duquesne. Before it is finished, he is likely to smash to smithereens Sihugo Green's school record for points scored in a season. Green garnered 662 points in 1955-56. The 43 Stevenson scored Tuesday night raised his total to 548, and the Dukes have a minimum of eight games left to play. Despite Stevenson's imminent departure, basketball at Duquesne would appear to be on the ascent again, after a decade or so in the doldrums. In addition to having a home court of its own, Duquesne now has Carroll, who helped P.J. Carlesimo transform Seton Hall from perennial Big East patsy into a powerhouse. Carroll is competent, charismatic and tireless. Those characteristics will, in time, translate to a winning program. Unless, of course, circumstances beyond the control of Carroll (or anyone else at Duquesne) intervene. I am not talking about earthquakes or an outbreak of measles. I am talking about the uncertain state of the Atlantic 10 Conference, of which Duquesne is a member. And I am talking about the vagaries of life in the shark tank of big-time college athletics for a comparatively little fish like Duquesne. Let's start with the Atlantic 10. Penn State is leaving the conference in order to join the Big Ten. Three other Atlantic 10 schools West Virginia, Temple and Rutgers are tinkering with the idea of leaving to help form an all-sports conference. If that happens, the Atlantic 10 dies. The last rites would be premature. There are pitfalls aplenty in the proposed all-sports conference. Not the least of which is that it would require Pitt, Syracuse and Boston College to forfeit their membership in the Big East. A good guess is that the new conference will turn out to involve football only, leaving the Atlantic 10 intact. In a best-case scenario, DePaul, Miami and La Salle would help make it the Atlantic 12, perhaps split into two divisions. It would be a logical step up for La Salle, which resides now in the no-frills Metro Atlantic Conference. DePaul and Miami are independents, an endangered species due to the NCAA's recent decision to prune three games from the current allowable maximum of 28 in a season. When and if that legislation becomes effective, independents will find themselves begging for games. There will not be enough home games to go around. In a worst-case scenario, the Atlantic 10 folds, and Duquesne takes its hat in hand and joins the Metro Atlantic Conference. Goodbye West Virginia, Temple and Rutgers. Hello, Iona, St. Peters et al. Can Carroll recruit blue-chip players to perform for Duquesne in the Metro Atlantic Conference? You don't want to find out. There is always the possibility that the much-discussed, never-consummated Catholic Conference could at long last become a reality. Galvanized by the new 25-game limit, Notre Dame and Marquette and DePaul might form the nucleus of such a league. But, as with any new conference, their champion would not qualify automatically for a berth in the lucrative NCAA postseason tournament for five years. Which brings us around to that aforementioned shark tank. Lucre, filthy and otherwise, is the name of the game in Division I men's basketball. The NCAA Tournament will generate a billion dollars in TV revenue alone in a seven-year period beginning in 1991. The bigger the spoils become, the less eager the victors are to share them. There is sentiment in some quarters to make membership in Division I more restrictive. The NCAA is considering certain recommendations designed to discourage the Duquesnes of the world from attempting to compete with the elite. Current NCAA regulations require each team that competes in Division I in basketball to field a minimum of six men's and six women's teams in other sports. But only the basketball team is compelled to play the Ereponderance of its games against Division competition. That may change. Another recommendation would require Division I schools to award at least 60 percent of the maximum allowable grants-in-aid in each sport in which it competes. If, say, the NCAA permitted schools to give out 10 scholarships annually for women's volleyball, you could dispense no fewer than six. At present, Duquesne doles out 60 percent of the maximum allowable grants-in-aid awards in one sport basketball. 10-80 BC, lit Masts Oakmont closing in on Opens By Marino Parascenzo Post-Gazette Sports Writer Oakmont Country Club is just a couple of signatures away from becoming host to both the 1992 U.S. Women's Open and the 1994 U.S. Open. Oakmont President Larry Wal-lisch last night confirmed that the U.S. Golf Association, which stages the national golf championships, submitted contracts for both events to Oakmont officials last weekend. The contracts are currently under study by club lawyers and officials. "I don't think there's going to be any great problem with them," Wal-lisch said from his vacation spot in Florida. "No, we don't have any deadlines for returning them, but obviously the USGA would like to have this accomplished as soon as possible." This Open would be Oakmont's seventh, tying it with Baltusrol, in New Jersey, as site of the most U.S. Opens. Any doubt that Oakmont would get the '94 Open was erased last weekend when the USGA announced that the '94 Men's Senior Open had been awarded to Pinehurst CC, in North Carolina, the only other candidate for the '94 Open. This will be the first Women's Open ever at Oakmont. The USGA asked Oakmont to stage it when it became clear that the previous host. Merion Golf Club, outside Philadelphia, would be facing too much competition from the U.S. Senior Open at nearby Saucon Valley CC. Backman fills holes in Pirates' infield plan By Paul Meyer Post-Gazette Sports Writer Wally Backman became the Pirates' Wally Backup yesterday. The Pirates signed the free-agent infielder to a one-year contract that his agent, Dick Moss, said is worth a base salary of $400,000. It also includes incentives based on number of games played that could earn Backman up to an additional $500,000. Backman, 30, who made $750,000 last year while playing for Minnesota, primarily will back up third baseman Jeff King and as a backup to second baseman Jose Lind. "And we'll find out in spring training how much shortstop he can play," General Manager Larry Doughty said. Backman's acquisition means the Pirates no longer will pursue a trade for an everyday third baseman. "I wouldn't make an attempt to trade for one at this point," Doughty said. Backman is a switch-hitter but probably will play most of his games against right-handed pitchers, enabling Manager Jim Leyland to rest either King or Lind. "I just think this makes us so much different," Doughty said. "Against really tough right-handers, he can play second or third." "He's also a possible leadoff candidate if I wanted to move Barry Bonds down in the order on days Wally plays," Leyland said. Backman, the New York Mets' first-round draft pick in 1977, spent all or parts of nine seasons with the Mets, compiling a .283 batting average. When the Mets decided to play rookie Gregg Jefferies at second base last season, they traded Back-man to the Twins. Bothered by a bruised muscle in the rotator cuff of his left shoulder, Backman slumped to .231 in 87 games with the Twins. CONTINUED ON PAGE 27 By Chuck Finder Post-Gazette Sports Writer Inbounds passes thrown out of bounds. Air balls not once, but twice in the first half on consecutive possessions. This was how January ended for Boston College: with a clunk, with a 110-80 humbling at the hands of Pitt last night. The victory by the Panthers (8-10, 2-5) gave them two straight and three in their last four games. It also helped them to avoid the Big East Conference basement, where Boston College (6-13, 0-9) dwells. That is what nine defeats in a row will do for a team. The Eagles dragged into Fitzgerald Field House last night having lost their last eight games. The schedule was far from kind. It pitted them against Georgetown and St. John's at home, at Notre Dame, against Syracuse at home, at Georgetown and St. Johns's and Seton Hall, and against Providence at home. Each resulted in a loss. Then came Pitt. The Panthers, after losing five straight games earlier, had fashioned somewhat of a spurt. They won two of their past three games before BC, including a weekend upset of No. 19 Arizona. For them to retain any hope of a posseason berth, they had to win at least eight of their remaining 11 games. The spurt would have to become a full-fledged streak. They started this game with a a streak. Fueled by Bobby Martin, Jason Matthews and Brian Shorter, Pitt opened first-half leads of 16-4, then 26-15, then 36-19. They possessed a 19-point cushion at halftime. Then BC, with guard Lior Arditti firing 3-pointers, chipped away. Arditti cut it to 10 points, at 48-38, with a trey with about 16 minutes to go. Then Shorter went to work. He sandwiched a three-point play and a lay up around a Rod Brookin trey to push the Panthers' lead to 18, at 58-40, with about 13 and a half minutes remaining. That Shorter lay up came courtesy of a Darelle Porter pass. Porter is subbing this season at point guard for Sean Miller, who underwent foot surgery in December. Yet that pass propelled Porter past Miller in the Pitt all-time assists list, with 362. BC, staying gritty, whittled the margin to 11, at 60-49. Pitt pulled away again. The Panthers uncharacteristically converted 10 straight free throws. They combined those with another three-point play by Shorter, a Matthews trey (his fourth of the game) and a Shorter fast-break slam to take a 78-56 advantage. Martin added another three-point play making it 11 consecutive free throws to boost Pitt's lead to 25, at 81-56. It has been that kind of month for the Eagles. They became so frustrated, they racked up four technical fouls: two on Coach Jim O'Brien, and one each on Arditti and forward Doug Able. Pitt romped past 100 points again, as it did Saturday against Arizona. Trivial statistic of the week: The Panthers are 4-0 when they score triple digits. The game had an auspicious start for the Eagles. Guard Bobby Moran dived for a loose ball off the opening tip, rolled over and was called for traveling. It was the first of 10 turnovers in the half. Well, at least it wasn't another miss. They had enough of those 19 of 29. While BC went 0-for-9 from the field, Martin and Matthews stoked Pitt to a 9-0 lead. Freshman David Hinton erased the shutout with a jumper at 16:15. The Panthers proceeded to widen the margin to 15-4 on Matthews' third trey in four minutes and a Martin dunk. Soon after, the Eagles went on a bit of a spurt. They pieced together an 11-2 run that pared the Pitt advantage to three points, at 18-15. Enter Martin. After being poked in the right eye on that earlier dunk, he returned to right the listing Panthers with a turnaround jumper at 8:47. The gates opened. Pitt outscored the visitors by 23-9 the rest of the way. New mountains for Pens' Tanti to climb goals. Three of them. He now has five goals, four assists for nine points in nine games as a Penguin. Overall this season, he is 19-22-41. The hat trick was overshadowed by the Penguins' 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, but it was not lost on Patrick. "He's traditionally been a 40-goal scorer, although he fell off last year," he said. "We've got 29 games left, and he's got 19 now. Not wanting to put any pressure on him, but I think he's going to get close to 40 again. "I'm sure the hat trick will help Tony feel more comfortable with things. It takes a while after a trade to totally blend in to a team." Tanti came over with center Barry Pederson and defenseman Rod Buskas for forwards Dan Quinn, Andrew McBain and Dave Capuano. CONTINUED ON PAGE 26 By Shelly Anderson Post-Gazette Sports Writer They don't play him that mountain music in the Penguins' locker room like the folks in Vancouver used to play, but Tony Tanti is feeling at home just the same. "I like country music," said Tanti, the right wing obtained by the Penguins from the Canucks Jan. 8. He lists Alabama as his favorite band. "Vancouver's all country. There's not too much here." Tanti sat near the Civic Arena locker room yesterday after practice, enduring the rock music that blared out. It wasn't too difficult, though. He had a hat trick from Tuesday night to talk about - something that took a little of the edge off both the music and the Penguins' three-game losing streak. "Each game, I'm feeling a little more comfortable," he said. "And I'll get better, "Each game, I'm feeling a little more comfortable. " Tony Tanti especially with the people I'm playing with." Tanti has been center Mario Lemieux's right-hand man since the trade. On the left side, Bob Errey this week replaced Kevin Stevens, giving the top line a bit more defense. It's offense that Tanti, 26, has supplied since breaking into the NHL in 1982-83. In six full seasons with the Canucks, he averaged 38 goals, reaching 40 three times. He struggled last season and finished with 24. Tuesday, Tanti was busy doing what General Manager Craig Patrick had in mind when he traded for the 5-foot-9, 185-pounder scoring

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