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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.

Quadree Henderson named to Walter Camp Award Watch List

Pitt star Quadree Henderson was named to another watch list on Friday - this time for the Walter Camp Award. The award is for the Walter Camp Football Foundation's college football player of the year.

This would obviously be one of the more difficult awards for Henderson to legitimately contend for. It's open to everyone and is similar to the Heisman. Henderson would need to not only have another big year as a return man, but also become a much bigger factor as a receiver to gain any kind of real consideration.

Still, to be named as only one of 40 players on the watch list for such a prestigious award, it's another great acknowledgment of his talent.

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.

Ole Miss football coach made phone call to number tied to escort service

University of Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze announced his resignation Thursday night after school officials cited personal conduct issues that included a one-minute telephone call to a number associated with a female escort service, USA Today reported.

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The phone call was raised as a potential issue in a legal battle between the school and former Rebels coach Houston Nutt, who filed a lawsuit July 12 alleging that Ole Miss violated the terms of his severance agreement. Nutt’s attorney, Thomas Mars, sent an email to Ole Miss general counsel Lee Tyner, mentioning a “phone call Coach Freeze made that would be highly embarrassing for all of you and extremely difficult to explain,” USA Today reported.

School Chancellor Jeff Vitter, announcing Freeze’s resignation at a news conference, called it a “sad day” for the university.

“While Coach Freeze served our university well in many regards during his tenure, we simply cannot accept the conduct in his personal life that we have discovered” VItter said. 

Athletics director Ross Bjork said the resignation did not involve NCAA allegations but was based on a pattern of inappropriate conduct, USA Today reported.  Ole Miss put a self-imposed postseason ban this season and is already is operating with self-imposed scholarship reductions. The school faces the outcome of an NCAA investigation that traces back to 2012, ESPN reported.

Bjork said the phone call was brought to his attention last week.

“Because the call lasted less than one minute and did not appear at the time to be part of a pattern, we initially attributed this call to a misdialed number,” Bjork said. “We proactively looked into the rest of his phone records. In our analysis, we discovered a pattern of conduct that is not consistent with our expectations as the leader of our football program. As of yesterday, there appeared to be a concerning pattern.”

Freeze went 39-25 at Ole Miss and took the Rebels to a Sugar Bowl victory. He also guided Ole Miss to a pair of victories against Alabama when the Crimson Tide was ranked in the top three nationally.

Matt Luke, the team's co-offensive coordinator and line coach, was named interim coach on Thursday.

Cardiac Hill Poll of the Week: How closely will you follow James Conner with the Steelers?

Pitt fans have a unique connection with former running back James Conner being selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Draft this year. Conner will not only stay in the area, but he'll be working out with current Panthers over at the shared training complex in the south side.

With the news that Conner's jersey leads all NFL rookies to date, I'm curious about how many people will be following his pro career. I think in general that Pitt fans, like other college fans, tend to not pay close attention to what ex-players are doing in the pros after they move on from the program. But Conner's situation is really unique because he was a star player at Pitt that will now be playing for the pro franchise that a good number of fans consider their favorite as well.

All that said, how closely will you be monitoring Conner's rookie year in the NFL?

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.
Poll How closely will you follow James Conner's career with the Steelers? Very closely Somewhat closely Meh   0 votes | Results

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