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Monday Planner: Sketching out the week ahead

Rob Ullman is working on staff sketches to share later in the week, and I must say this is the second time I’ve been turned into a sketch.

Sketches of staff members are now a thing. -- ROB ULLMAN / DKPS

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Can you identify these two staff members pictured above?

Cartoonist Rob Ullman is working on some staff sketches to share with you all later in the week and I must say this is the second time that I’ve been turned into a sketch. During the height of the Penn State scandal, my face — well a cartoon-looking version of me — ended up in GQ Magazine. That’s right, me shoving my phone in the air to grab some audio in an interview scrum ended up buried inside the magazine while Tim Tebow graced the cover. Go figure.

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My friends had a blast with that and I’m sure you all will enjoy seeing Ullman’s finished product later in the week. I do not know if Matt Gajtka’s hair gets its own sketch. Stay tuned. And yes, that’s also photographer Matt Sunday sketched out above.

As always, here’s the look at our week ahead:

PENGUINS

Another busy week for the hockey team. Go figure. DK and I will get things started with coverage from Sunday’s game against the Panthers at PPG Paints Arena. On Monday, I’ll provide coverage of practice from Cranberry Township before driving north to Buffalo. I’ll be on hand for the Penguins-Sabres clash on Tuesday. After a day off for the squad on Wednesday, I’ll be in Ottawa to bring you Penguins-Senators on Thursday. DK will be on hand 24 hours later when the Penguins are back home in a possible playoff preview against the Islanders. The Penguins will be off on Saturday, and then I’ll be on hand at PPG Paints Arena as the Flyers make their one and only visit (the other was at Heinz Field) to the Penguins’ home rink Sunday. I’ll do a little pregame Q&A before that one as well. — Josh Yohe

PIRATES

I’m aiming to provide you a variety of content from the Gulf Coast this week. I’ll update you on the battle for the final bench positions, as I see it, on Monday from Port Charlotte, then hopefully greet Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco at LECOM Park on Tuesday. Wednesday is an off day for the ballclub, but I’ll have something special on an old Pirates tradition made new this spring. From there, we’ll see where the storylines take us, from Fort Myers in the south, Clearwater in the north and the old Bradenton yard in between. — Gajtka in Bradenton, Fla.

STEELERS

Free agency hit its second full week, and the Steelers are bound to do something a little more relevant than last week, right? If they do, I’ll bring it to you and what it means. If not, it’s time to prep for the owner’s meetings in Phoenix. I’ll chat with the boss man, Art Rooney II, at some point during the week before heading to Arizona on Saturday. General manager Kevin Colbert on Sunday will sit down with DKPittsburghSports.com along with two other publications somewhere inside the iconic Arizona Biltmore to discuss the offseason so far and I’ll have that for y’all as well. — Mark Kaboly

RIVERHOUNDS

It’s opening weekend for the Hounds as they get set to host the defending USL champs, New York Red Bulls II, at 5 p.m. Saturday. I’ll do some positional primers all week to get you ready, plus a look at how Dave Brandt took the reins and built the team that he wanted for his second year as head coach. — Matt Welch

PITT

There will be plenty more football coverage as the Panthers enter their second week of spring practices. I’ll take a look at the competition to replace James Conner and will go in-depth on one senior who had a breakout season in 2016, plus much more. — Lance Lysowski

PENN STATE

Spring ball ramps up with James Franklin addressing the media Tuesday afternoon for his spring news conference. The Lions hit the practice field on Wednesday, their first of 15 spring workouts, and I’ll look at the top storylines and a few players to keep an eye on this spring. Also, who better to find out who can fill some of the team’s voids than by asking the Lions’ departing players about who they think will take their spot? Also, I’ll swing by hockey early in the week to check in with the Lions before they head off to NCAAs. — Snyder 

DUQUESNE

The coaching search for men’s basketball continues (insert epically scary music here). — Welch

ROBERT MORRIS

I’ll work on putting the final words on a successful season for the men’s hockey team, which finished with a 2-1 loss in the conference championship over the weekend. — Welch

LIVE Qs at 5

Who is chatting when this week?

MondayLysowski
Tuesday: Kaboly 
Wednesday: Snyder 
Thursday: DK
Friday: Gajtka 
Saturday: Dopirak 
Sunday: Yohe 

37 Comments

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37 comments on "Monday Planner: Sketching out the week ahead"

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Cecelio Guante
Cecelio Guante

Shame about the loss of the WVU coverage. I looked for Matt Welch’s stories every day here, and really got a kick out of his stuff. I’m not about to tell you how to run your business. But I loved the WVU coverage. I’ll stick with you for the Pirates season and hope for the same kick-ass coverage I’ve come to expect from you folks.

jgjgjg23
jgjgjg23

DK, I’m new to the site with this being my first post/comment. How did your Olympic coverage stack up? It could not have been a cheap endeavor to cover. Did you make money? Did you get the page views you wanted/projected?

Dejan Kovacevic

Yep. Readers will recall the entire venture was sponsored by our friends at Hertz. And the page views were above what I’d expected, though they were certainly helped by three of our Pittsburgh women athletes winning gold. You can see the views for yourself on our Olympics page:

https://www.dkpittsburghsports.com/category/olympics-rio/

Yinzer_in_GA
Yinzer_in_GA

The decision to drop WVU right now is what doesn’t make sense to me. Everyone fills out a bracket and follows March Madness. WVU is the only regional team in it this year and fills a void. It seems to me to be a golden business opportunity to increase traffic to WVU given the event they’re playing in is the biggest thing in the country at the moment. Going to Buffalo seems like low hanging fruit (driving distance, cheap) and guaranteed clicks at this otherwise fairly slow time of the year. The timing doesn’t make sense. Gotta spend money to make money and dropping coverage during the biggest sports event of the year for WVU just doesn’t add up

If they make the Final Four or championship, will you cover them then? Where’s the line?

Matt is legit. Loved his football coverage. Too bad.

Dejan Kovacevic

A school’s success/failure has no impact on this. It’s about revenue, plain and simple. If West Virginia wins the entire NCAA championship, and we cover the Final Four weekend at a loss — which is what would happen — what’s the benefit?

DK219
DK219

Financial flexibility.

Yinzer_in_GA
Yinzer_in_GA

That flies in the face of what you’ve previously stated. You’ve said before that your biggest traffic and sign ups were after big Steelers and Pens wins. So why not try to take an opportunity and do the same with WVU since they’re the only game in town for March Madness (bigger than any other WVU event for the year)? The logic still doesn’t make sense.

The biggest Duquesne story was the team bus getting stuck in the snow. I find it hard to believe that Robert Morris, Duquesne and the Riverhounds turn profits. You already said the Pirates don’t. If you want to grow, things like this are it.

Look, you’ve lead everyone to believe that the site was doing very well. Maybe you’re more hard up for cash flow then we think you are. All I’m saying is that the timing still makes no sense.

Dejan Kovacevic

If you want to get nasty about it, there isn’t much conversation to be had. As I wrote above, the overall spending doesn’t change by a penny. It’ll just go to beats that turn a profit. All of them do that except for Pirates, whether you choose to believe that or not.

Winning makes a difference on the major beats because there’s interest there. Nothing that’s happened with West Virginia has made a dent at any point. We have no reason to believe basketball would have made any difference.

This isn’t an attack on your favorite school. It’s just cold facts.

Yinzer_in_GA
Yinzer_in_GA

I have no idea how I’m being nasty. I’m just disagreeing with your logic.

My point is simple, it just seems like a very strange time to drop WVU coverage with their team being the only one in the biggest basketball tournament in the land. Why now? It’s been known for some time that they were going to be the only ones in the tournament so I have no idea how I’m out of line for thinking that’s a bit odd. This announcement could’ve been made a long time ago.

Of course I can read about their run someplace else. It’s less about it being my favorite school and more about the fact that I loved Matt’s coverage. I know he’s a West Virginia guy and I’m sure he loved it.

Dejan Kovacevic

To try it again, it’s not about timing, nor love for the topic, nor whether or not the school wins or loses. It’s about moving the money where it can be spent in a way that better aligns with what our own readers tell us. In the old days, you had to guess what interested your readers. Or take mail surveys. Or do focus groups. Now, it’s right there in front of everyone.

Nothing else to this. Really.

Yinzer_in_GA
Yinzer_in_GA

Understood. But a teams readership will never increase if the biggest event of the year for the school isn’t covered. Folks just won’t magically show up as you know.

Was this decision made a long time ago and just announced now? You have to admit with them in the sweet sixteen and dropping coverage seems odd because it’s an opportunity to drive page views. Perhaps it was just bad timing. Penn State followers would’ve found it weird if you didn’t cover their biggest event which was the bowl game. Timing of the announcement is really the crux of the issue.

If you have to cut it out obviously you have to do what you gotta do. Maybe just a clean break after the football season would’ve been better.

Jeff Fels
Jeff Fels

West Virginia and Penn State are teams of regional interest not necessarily Pittsburgh sports. Obviously the readership has spoken in the amount of interest and West Virginia simply isn’t a draw. I hope Penn State remains profitable because I love the coverage, but if for some reason it didn’t I would understand. The Pirates are going to get coverage regardless because they are a pro sports team in the city. They lose money because its an expensive beat with 81 games on the road. But you can’t really be a Pittsburgh sports site and not cover the MLB team. The small schools in the city get coverage because they are….In the city. Dudes gotta put the resources where they give us and his business the best bang for the buck.

Yinzer_in_GA
Yinzer_in_GA

To each their own but that’s a zero growth strategy in my opinion. Pittsburgh is too small of a market for that. Times are good for a venture like this because the Steelers and Pens are playing great. It’s great in the short term. However, if they go south so does everything else. The only way to protect against this is to diversify coverage.

He’s done a great job so far, but the measure of a business is tested in tough times, not good ones.

Dejan Kovacevic

How does the venture grow by sinking money into a beat that isn’t producing revenue?

You’re starting to struggle here, Justin. I get that you’re upset. But when you’re reaching for reasons that have nothing to do with anything, I’m beginning to think you’ll actually appreciate how we got here.

Dejan Kovacevic

This is pretty much it, Jeff. You nailed it top to bottom, with one small exception: The Pirates could do a lot better for us in both readership and sponsorship than what we’ve had so far. It isn’t just about baseball being expensive, though it is.

And Penn State has been a real winner for us. One of the best surprises of the endeavor, to be honest. If anything, we’ll only ADD to Penn State.

mike.shigley
mike.shigley

Sketches are interesting, but Audrey looks too much like a late 50s/early 60s juvenile lead.

Marc
Marc

Whatever happened to the all-sport notebooks?

Dejan Kovacevic

?

ziv34
ziv34

Removing WVU and all coverage from the site effective immediately seems a bit drastic. Especially after the terrific article about The Rifle team and seemingly ghosting most of Matt’s work.

Dejan Kovacevic

Matt’s work will speak for itself. He’s a pro.

irwinflectcheer
irwinflectcheer

but dk likes us.

pierre.wheaton
pierre.wheaton

Having seen the latest Riverhounds new kit and branding, it’s safe to say that ‘River’ has been tossed into…uh, the river.

Matt Gajtka

Absolutely. That started last year

pierre.wheaton
pierre.wheaton

That it did, but the last year’s shirts still had ‘Riverhounds’ under the logo. All it says now is just ‘Hounds’. That pretty much tells me that the transition is complete. So ironic that for all the years the team played in places nowhere near any river, that they had the name Riverhounds, and now that they play on a pitch alongside the Mon, they eventually shorten the name to just Hounds. Maybe the name change will help break the funk that’hovered over this team last season. COYH!

Matt Gajtka

Haha worth a shot. Sad I’ll miss a couple of broadcast opportunities for their opening games but I’ll have to catch up later

pierre.wheaton
pierre.wheaton

And no third jersey this season. Just gold for home and blue on the road.

Dejan Kovacevic

Just a quick note here since it’ll probably come up: I’ll have a full entry on the site tomorrow explaining that our West Virginia coverage has gone on hiatus.

The short version: It’s been a massive money drain. If that were to change, most likely in the form of a major sponsor for West Virginia coverage, we’d resume right away. We’ll see. The only other beat on which we’ve lost money is the Pirates, but they’re an absolute must to cover. West Virginia isn’t in the same category.

We won’t cut overall spending. No need. We’ll reapply it to beats that are profitable: Steelers, Penguins and the other colleges.

This sucks, I know. But we tried. We sunk $50,000-plus into West Virginia in 2016 alone. That’s a ton for a startup. It didn’t work.

gadelle
gadelle

Like the rest of the Mountaineer Nation that is from Pittsburgh, I was one of the ones trying to promote the site to gain WVU readership, however the one thing that I was coming up again all the time was that my friends had to be members of the site to read the articles even if I shared them on Facebook or Twitter. My main draw to the site besides the Pens was the WVU coverage, and I was honestly bummed when I found out that there would be no basketball coverage at all, but I intend to stick simply because I appreciate the Pens coverage – the only difference to me is that I would have done it on a yearly level, and not gone lunatic like I did so I did not have to worry about paying every year.

Jar7758
Jar7758

Increase the bucco readership folks

pieratz
pieratz

They drop that coverage too and they’ll have to change the name to DK (some) Pittsburgh Sports

Dejan Kovacevic

You mean as opposed to DOUBLING our Pirates coverage, as we’re doing this spring and summer?

irwinflectcheer
irwinflectcheer

I’m calling bs on 50k in wvu coverage. the rivals membership is only $10/month.

Korea Steeler
Korea Steeler

Well, I’m glad you tried. Sorry no WV sponsors came forward.

Tomhall15001
Tomhall15001

I know you’ve covered this before. How do you gauge when certain coverage is losing money. Strictly by how many page views on the articles/reports and game recaps? Is it that simple? Does an article need 100, 250 or 1,000 page views to deem it profitable?

Dejan Kovacevic

It’s not any one thing. We’d like to see readership average around 1,000 per article. That’s just as a gauge for how many of our existing readers are utilizing the coverage. The sponsorship is obviously a lot easier to track.

Jar7758
Jar7758

Grass roots campaign for bucco readership to reach 1k per article. DK- the reason I’m here is because of your bucco writing with the PG and Trib.

#MakeTheBuccoBeatprofitableAgain

Dejan Kovacevic

That’s much appreciated.

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