Tuesday’s Daily Five

1. Malkin has to play with Neal Right Away!: Evgeni Malkin’s strong training camp continued Monday night in the Penguins Black and Gold Game. Malkin scored twice while centering a line with Steve Sullivan at left wing and James Neal on his right wing for the most part.
While Malkin centering Sullivan and Tyler Kennedy is the Penguins ultimate plan when Sidney Crosby returns to game action, the Penguins would be foolish not to play Malkin with Neal right away with Crosby sidelined, regardless of what the long-term plan might be with Malkin’s line. And, It needs to start this week when preseason action begins Wednesday night at home against Detroit.
As a coach you play your best center with your best winger. Right now, Malkin and Neal are the two best active players at those respective positions. No excuses for Malkin not to have Neal on his wing until Crosby returns.
2. Perception of Pitt/Patience needed with Graham, Staff: A big surprise to me is the perception of Pitt on their move to the ACC. They have been getting blasted at nearly every second by the National Media. Can you really fault them for not wanting to wait around? Pundits act like this sudden move has put an end to the Big East as a prominent conference but the Big East did it to themselves years ago. Pitt and Syracuse leaving was just the final straw.
Pitt football coach Todd Graham said it best on Monday.”The perception is this is a big-time move up for us, and perception is reality, ” Graham said.
Speaking of Graham, the move to the ACC has taken some of the heat off of him following Saturday’s debacle in Iowa. The developments in that game shouldn’t go unnoticed, including Graham’s woeful play calling at times, but Graham deserves a lot of patience with this football team and more than he’s getting. It’s going to take time for the program to play the type of football Graham and his staff envision, especially on the offensive side of the ball, considering the offensive line they have to work with and a quarterback who doesn’t suit this type of system.
3. New York Recruiting Base not a concern for Pitt Hoops: A hot topic with Pitt’s move to the ACC is how Pitt basketball’s recruiting in the New York Area will be impacted. Pitt established strong recruiting roots in the New York/New Jersey area in the early part of the decade and it has and was the backbone to the emergence of the program under Ben Howland and now Jamie Dixon.
Those involved in the program have little concerns about that area being affected and there should be little worries regardless, as Pitt has expanded their recruiting base away from having their primary focus in the New York/New Jersey area.
Of note, an area becoming a strong hold for Jamie Dixon and his staff is the Maryland area. Four-Star commit Durand Johnson, of the current 2011 class, a 6-foot-7′ shooting guard from Baltimore, Maryland and 2012 four-star commit James Robinson, a 6-foot-3, 197-pound point guard, are among the notable top tier recruits from Maryland, Dixon and his staff have been able to bring in.
Becoming a player in the state of Maryland should continue and Pitt officials believe the team’s recruiting base will expand significantly with the move to ACC. Another prominent area Pitt is establishing strong roots in is the Philadelphia area. Don’t fret about the possibility of Pitt no longer becoming a prominent player in the New York/New Jersey recruiting scene. They have several other strong holds and more doors likely opening, if that becomes the case.
4. Zero INT’s in last 43 Games for Gay: William Gay did not have a bad game by any means against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon but going over the tape on Monday, it is just so frustrating in how he can never make a big play on a ball. Gay who has 1 interception in his career and 0 Interceptions in his last 43 games, just always seems to be a step slow from making that impact play.
Another interesting tidbit, the Steelers have not had a cornerback record 3 interceptions or more in a season, since 2007 when Ike Taylor did it with 3. I’d put the odds at 80 percent on no cornerback having 3 INT’s or more in 2011.
5. Family, friends eye Hall of Game recognition for LC Greenwood: I personally never had the chance to watch LC Greenwood play in the 1970’s, 80’s but Greenwood was often the forgotten star on the Steelers Super Bowl winning teams in the 70’s and that’s been the case when it comes to the Hall of the Fame.
I meant to post this a few weeks back when a subscriber to the site informed me that close family members and friends of Greenwoods have started a facebook page to help get the word out on LC as they feel enough is enough.
Greenwood was a 6 time Pro Bowl selection (1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979), 4 time Super Bowl champion (IX, X, XIII, XIV) and 2 time First Team All-Pro selection (1974, 1975).
Greenwood has 73½ career sacks and led the Steelers Steel Curtain defense 6 times in sacks.
Here is a link to The Facebook Page “Elect LC Greenwood to the ProFootball Hall of Fame