Monday, February 25, 2013

Props for Jay Wright

On Saturday, Villanova got a huge win against 17th-ranked Marquette. It was 'Nova's third win against top-20 competition this season, adding to their wins against #3 Syracuse and #5 Louisville. Add in their win against UConn and the Wildcats have 4 top-30 RPI wins. The win on Saturday inched Villanova a little bit closer to securing an NCAA tournament bid. And I am here to argue that this season's campaign is the best that coach Jay Wright has had on the Main Line.

That statement says a lot. Since Jay Wright took over on the Main Line, the Wildcats have made 7 NCAA tournament appearances and 3 NIT appearances. They've made a Final 4, an Elite 8, and two Sweet 16's. In 2005, they were a phantom traveling call on Allen Ray from reaching another Elite 8, and in 2006 they lost in the Elite 8, and an injury to Curtis Sumpter will leave that 'Nova squad forever in the "what might have been" category.

Coach Wright took over a mediocre program from former coach Steve Lappas and returned it to national prominence. Solid recruiting classes, perennial top-25 rankings, and trips to the NCAA tournament have become the norm at Villanova under Wright's guidance.

Last season they stumbled to a putrid 13-19 record. It was only the second time Villanova failed to record a winning record under Wright, and the only time during his tenure where they failed to qualify for any postseason basketball.

The season was a tough one for 'Nova fans to stomach, as they had gotten used to 20+ win seasons and NCAA tournament bids. It also opened the door for some of Wright's critics. Even the proprietor of this here site has been critical of Wright, citing that the coach has struggled at developing his usually stellar recruiting classes, although I certainly wouldn't classify the Rev a critic of Wright overall.

The disaster that was Villanova's 2011-2012 season had led to much-diminished expectations heading into this year. The Wildcats were picked by the Big East coaches to finish 12th in the conference this season (they currently sit tied for 7th at 9-6). You would be hard-pressed to find even the staunchest of 'Nova supporters and optimists claiming they expected the team to be anywhere near an NCAA tournament bid. Personally, at the beginning of the season I would have been satisfied with a .500 record and an NIT berth.

And yet here we are, in late February, and the Wildcats trending toward an invite to the Big Dance. They are 18-10 with three regular-season games remaining. They play Seton Hall tonight, who they should (and need to) beat. Knock on wood. Then they finish with tough games against two nationally ranked teams in Pitt and rival Georgetown.

It's still too early to try to figure out what the résumé will look like in two weeks' time. It could look about the same, or it could look drastically better or worse. But the fact that the Wildcats are squarely in the discussion and ultimately hold their fate in their own hands is a testament to the players and to the job coach Wright has done this season.

He's gotten his guys to play tough night in and night out. They've gutted out several wins. The biggest difference is that this year they are finding ways to win games that last year they would find a way to lose. I am equally surprised/excited/impressed with the season they have put together and where they stand with Selection Sunday drawing ever closer.

Perhaps even more importantly, the team seems to be in good hands going forward. Mouphtaou Yarou and Maurice Sutton are the only seniors on the team. Next season they will return the leadership and clutch play of James Bell, the steady play of an increasingly confident and comfortable JayVaughn Pinkston, and the hopefully improving play of already promising and impressive freshman Ryan Arcidiacono. Sophomore Darrun Hilliard has also surprised, showing flashes of offensive brilliance.

Regardless of how the rest of the season goes and what their ultimate fate concerning the NCAA tournament becomes, they have shown great improvement and growth from last year. They were coming off an abysmal season and into a season with low expectations. And they've been working with arguably the least amount of talent that they've had under Wright. So I just needed to give some props to coach, who is doing perhaps his best job since arriving on the Main Line, despite all the success he has already had there.

LeBron James Is Too Good

I was going to write about the Big 5 teams with NCAA Tournament hopes — La Salle, Villanova and Temple — all winning over the weekend, but I only watched the Nova game and don't have too much to say other than the Wildcats almost blew it because they stopped feeding Darrun Hilliard even though he was on fire.

Then I was debating writing about the Flyers or Sixers, but there's not too much I have to say at the moment.

And finally, I was gonna write about how LeBron James is the best basketball player I have ever seen, at least as an adult, after his triple-double against the Sixers, but I've already sang the praises of LeBron James here and elsewhere that there's not much to add.

Basically, to start the third quarter, LeBron simply decided he'd had enough of the Sixers and took over completely, even without shooting much, as James' 16 points were well behind teammate Dwyane Wade's 33. So instead, I'm just gonna put up LeBron's highlights from Saturday and leave it at that, because LeBron James is too good.

Friday, February 22, 2013

It's Friday, Time to Dance (and the Flyers Are Assholes)

The Sixers are terrible. Like terrible terrible. They have very little in the way of talent without Andrew Bynum and Thaddeus Young outside of Jrue Holiday, and Doug Collins has completely botched any and all opportunities to develop young guys because he is an insane person.

But, at least Jrue Holiday is fun to watch, even if Damien Wilkins and the laughable front court are not. So here is Jrue and his fellow all-stars butchering popular songs down in Houston during all-star weekend.

Also, the Flyers are assholes. For real.

I get that last night's absolutely pathetic 5-2 drubbing against the Panthers was a trap game. The night before, the Flyers played in a wild, emotional game at Pittsburgh, edging the Penguins 6-5 in dramatic fashion. But guess what? This team can't afford to have any letdowns in this short season, not anymore. Not after starting abysmally and digging themselves a nice hole.

While the Flyers are only a point out of the eighth spot in the East right now, they also have played more games than any other team in the NHL (19), meaning they have less games to make up those points — a decided disadvantage.

I don't want to hear anymore about back-to-backs or travel fatigue or anything else. These slow starts are inexcusable, and the inconsistency is maddening. Sure, it hurts big time losing guys like Scott Hartnell and Matt Read, among others, but that doesn't excuse the absolutely pathetic lack of effort these guys start games with, and the completely embarrassing first period last night.

It's one thing to lose while playing hard. It's completely another thing to look like dogs out on the ice. The Flyers have been the latter more times than not this year, which is exactly why they are 8-10-1 and in 10th place in the East.

No more excuses left. There's not enough time for that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What in the World Is Up With the Big 5?

Anyone who knows anything about college basketball knows the importance, tradition and success of the Big 5. For Philadelphians, it's a source of pride, and heading down to the Palestra to see a Big 5 battle was a right of passage for decades — albeit one that's fading with the new arenas and money grabs for each of the respective schools.

The Big 5 is college basketball in a nutshell. The passion. The intensity. The pride. The hatred. The rivalries. The bragging rights. The camaraderie. It's all there within a few measly miles of each other — Tobacco Road times three (if you add in Drexel for the City Six, that is).

While the ultimate prize has been oh-so-elusive for the Big 5 teams — the last championship for the city came in 1985 when Rollie Massimino's Villanova Wildcats upset the Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown Hoyas — the Big 5 has produced some of the all-time great players, historic figures and winning schools.

The names are endless: John Chaney, Ed Pinckney, Aaron McKie, Eddie Jones, Kerry Kittles, Jameer Nelson, Delonte West, Guy Rodgers, Mark Macon, Paul Arizin, Lionel Simmons, Michael Brooks, Fran Dunphy, Tom Gola, Chuck Daly, Jack Ramsay — you could go on for days.

Beyond that, you have two of top 10 all-time winningest programs with Temple sixth behind the likes of Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse, and Penn sitting 10th. Which is all to say that the Big 5 has a rich history — one that is so rich that there has been at least one Big 5 representative in the NCAA Tournament for 35 straight years.

Well guess what? That streak is incredibly in peril this year. While ESPN Bracketologist (and St. Joe's man) Joe Lunardi does have La Salle and Villanova currently in the dance, they are by no means locks, and the likes of Temple and St. Joe's need something close to resembling a miracle to get themselves in. The Quakers have absolutely no shot.

The team with the best case right now, believe it or not, is La Salle. The Explorers have the best record of all the Big 5 teams, sitting at 18-6 overall and tied with Butler at 8-3 for third in the improved Atlantic 10 — thanks to the additions of VCU and Butler. And La Salle has built a strong case thanks to defeating the newest A-10 teams, knocking off then No. 9 Butler at home and following it up immediately by defeating VCU on the road. The problem is La Salle has absolutely zero good out-of-conference wins. The only real tough opponent they played outside the A-10 is Miami, who crushed them — just as they have damn near everyone, Duke and North Carolina included. Adding to that lack of a definitive out-of-conference victory, the Explorers also somehow suffered embarrassing defeats to Central Connecticut State and Bucknell, not to mention losses to Charlotte and UMass.

So while the Explorers have a god shot to get in, they cannot afford to slip up down the stretch. That's no easy task with a difficult game against Big 5 and conference foe Temple Thursday, not to mention two more road games to close out the regular season — the last one coming against a 19-5 Saint Louis squad that trails only VCU in the conference standings.

Without question, Villanova is the other team that has the best shot at the tourney. Their 17-10 record is boosted by one hell of a week in which the Wildcats knocked off then No. 5 Louisville and then No. 3 Syracuse in the span of a few days. But will those wins alone be enough, particularly given the tough remaining schedule for Nova? The Cats close out the season by hosting No. 17 Marquette Saturday, followed by back-to-back road games against Seton Hall and No. 20 Pittsburgh, then home again to host No. 11 Georgetown in the season finale. Villanova could easily lose all of those games, in which case you can kiss the NCAA tournament goodbye barring an unforeseen run in the Big East Tournament.

And again complicating matters, Nova has had some major hiccups along the way. They lost three in a row to Alabama, Columbia and La Salle. I repeat, they lost to Columbia. They also had another three-game losing streak, dropping games at Syracuse, against Pitt and at Providence. In fact, Nova lost both games against the Friars, a team that is just 14-11 on the season and 6-7 in the conference.

Hell, it looked like the Wildcats might completely blow up their tourney chances last night, when they came out and played horrifically uninspired basketball in the first half against Rutgers before righting the ship in the second half. Again, Nova is already a bubble team as is — far from a lock, and in more danger than even La Salle at this point.

Then there is the curious case of Temple.

The Owls have basically been the class of the A-10 since Fran Dunphy succeeded fellow Big 5 legend John Chaney — and as we all know the Owls were also dominant during much of Chaney's tenure. This year, while the team definitely lost key contributors, there was no reason to think they wouldn't be a tournament team yet again. Only right now, they are on the outside looking in, on the wrong side of the bubble.

It's been a baffling year for the Owls, just as it has been for the entire Big 5. Somehow, a team that started 8-1 with its only loss coming at then-No. 2 Duke lost at home by 10 points to something called Canisius. It made no sense, particularly considering immediately after that inexplicable, embarrassing loss, Temple went up and topped No. 3 Syracuse and looked every big like a legit NCAA tournament threat. Then the Owls traveled to Lawrence and damn near upset then-No. 6 Kansas, and everyone thought Temple was going to be a handful come tournament time. Then they lost a tough one at Xavier, hardly an embarrassing defeat, but it was precursor of struggles to come.

Temple lost to St. Bonaventure, then lost by double digits to Butler and dropped games to St. Joe's and Duquesne. Not good. Even the victory over UMass over the weekend took everything the Owls had. As Fran Dunphy said, this team simply was overrated. Now Temple sits at 17-8 overall and 6-5 in the conference. It very well may take another run to the A-10 Tournament title for the Owls to keep their tournament streak alive.

As for St. Joe's and Penn, the hopes of a tournament birth are all but gone. In fact, the Quakers have absolutely not shot with their dismal 6-18 record. There will be no dancing for the Palestra inhabitants this year. As for the Hawks, it's going to be an uphill battle that quite frankly won't happen.

St. Joe's is 14-10 overall and 5-6 in A-10 play. And while they did beat Notre Dame, Xavier and Temple, the Hawks have also lost to Fairfield, St. Bonaventure, Dayton and UMass, not to mention dropping games to bubble teams Villanova and La Salle.

Coming off a 20-win season last year, the Hawks were supposed to take a step forward and become a tournament team in 2013. Instead, they have regressed, failing to live up to any sort of expectations. As a result, the Hawks have to win out to even get consideration, and probably need a very, very deep — as in winning it all — A-10 tournament run to actually get in. The outlook is not good.

And if you go ahead and add in Drexel, another team that many thought could be the best in the city this year, playing horrid basketball and sitting at 11-15, there are no surefire NCAA Tournament locks for any Philadelphia team.

It's as if not a single team in the city can figure out who exactly it is. Every one of them has been up and down, at times looking impressive only to slip up or get embarrassed by seemingly inferior competition. And it very well could cost the Big 5 and Philadelphia their dancing shoes for the first time in a long, long while.

Friday, February 15, 2013

It's Friday, Time to Dance

So spring training is in full swing as the weather actually feels like spring here in Philadelphia today. Seriously, it's 60 degrees out and sunny with nearly no clouds in the sky. It's almost unnerving to be honest. The weather is supposed to be all gray and depressing and cold and miserable. I'm severely thrown off.

Anyway, back to spring training. It's baseball time, with opening day less than two months away and pitchers and catchers and the all the rest reporting for duty down south. With that in mind, here is new Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer possibly dissing Miguel Montero via the time-honored tradition of terrible rapping.

Enjoy NBA all-star weekend everyone.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Philadelphia 4: Coaches in the City of Brotherly Love

A funny thing happened to me over the past two years. You see, like a lot of Philadelphia sports fans, particularly Eagles fans, I was of the belief Andy Reid should be fired. I had this belief as far back as 2003, when the Eagles lost their third straight NFC Championship game, getting embarrassed by the Carolina Panthers one year after closing out the Vet in the most appropriate way possible — by getting Joe Jurevicius'd and Ronde Barber'd out of participating in the Super Bowl.

I was at that game. After the first drive, it sucked. Also fuck Warren Sapp.

But back to the last two years. You see, over the last two years, even as the Eagles stumbled and bumbled their way to mediocrity and worse, Andy Reid went from the top of the list all the way down the bottom of Philadelphia professional sports coaches as far as drawing my ire is concerned. In fact, it got to the point where I was having an easier time pulling for Andy Reid and appreciating all he's done. That is not to say I thought Andy Reid deserved to be retained as Eagles coach. He was fired, and rightfully so — honestly probably too late. But for all his faults, at least we knew what they were and he was called out on them. We could all see what was wrong with Reid and his teams as the wins began to come less and less, to the point where you didn't have to argue with anyone over his shortcomings.

That leads me to this post right here. With Andy gone, there is no coach that is universally criticized by his supporters and detractors alike any longer in Philadelphia. The closest thing right now is probably the debate of the hire of Reid's replacement, former Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly.

Personally, I'm a fan of the Kelly hire. It's different. It's creative. And it's forward-thinking. I'm willing to give him a shot. But there's not much to argue over yet, seeing as he's never coached a down of football at the NFL level — and his success out west has been pretty much praised across the board. We're in wait and see mode with Kelly, as far as I'm concerned.

That leaves the other three coaches, the men who are at the helm of the Sixers, Flyers and Phillies. So let's take a look at them all, and present all the issues I have with each.

Doug Collins

I love Doug Collins the NBA analyst. I really like what I know of Doug Collins the person. And I very much like that Doug Collins was an all-star player for the Philadelphia 76ers before I was a born and that he really seems to love the city I call home.

I do not, however, like Doug Collins the basketball coach. I just don't. And I really wasn't all that enthused when the Sixers signed him to a four-year contract — especially since he's never lasted more than three years at any of his previous stops. These were my exact words when he was hired:

I have no idea if this hire is a good thing or a bad thing. It certainly isn't an exciting one. And it's actually kind of sad, because Doug is an awesome analyst. TNT will surely miss him.

Truthfully, things have never gotten better, even with the Sixers making the playoffs and even winning a series last year. All of Collins' hallmark deficiencies have cropped up during his tenure as the head coach of the team that drafted him No. 1 overall: his reluctance to trust young players, his love affair with veterans who cannot play, his lack of progressive vision … the list goes on.

I hated the way he handled Jrue Holiday with Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams around, rarely trusting his young point guard with the ball until this season, with Andre and Lou finally gone. I hated the way he yo-yoed with Evan Turner and stunted Jrue's progression. I really, really hated the way he toyed with Nik Vucevic and Lavoy Allen before completely ignoring them because the soft and laughable Spencer Hawes was back.

Don't get me wrong, I give Collins credit where credit is due and even defended him at times.

But any progress the franchise has made the past two seasons has been far too short-sighted, to the point where you could argue it hasn't been progress at all. Players have struggled with what their roles are. Blind loyalty has set young players back. Not demanding his team gets the ball to hot players has cost the Sixers games. His complaints have given his players excuses. And his love affair with D-League talents Royal Ivey and Damien Wilkins have put more talented players such as Dorrell Wright (albeit an underperforming better talent) out in the cold.

Simply put, there is a reason Doug Collins has never lasted more than three years at one spot, and it's because he quite frankly isn't that great of an NBA coach. Don't get me wrong, he's a fine hire as a short-term stopgap, which is what he should be here in Philadelphia. But he's not the type of guy who is going to help a team mold into a contender. He left the Bulls, and shortly after they became a dynasty. He left the Pistons, and not too long after they became a mainstay under Rick Carlisle and then champion under Larry Brown. He left the Wizards, and they became a regular playoff team after.

I think this should be Doug's final season in Philadelphia as well, because the team needs someone with more vision and passion for the future. He's done wonders this season with Jrue Holiday, but it makes you wonder if this day could have arrived sooner had he entrusted him with the direction of the team earlier. The rest of the roster is stagnate and not getting any better under Collins. Evan Turner is a lost puppy most of the time, probably due to a combination of his own shortcomings and his power struggle with Collins. My fear is the Sixers will let him stick around one more season based of last year's playoff victory and this season's lost promise sans Andrew Bynum and now missing Thaddeus Young, the only other player outside of Holiday really worth a damn.

Truth be told, you don't hear the uproar about Collins outside the real intent observers — The700Levels and Liberty Ballers of the world — but you should. The Sixers have been stuck in neutral ever since Larry Brown jumped ship, and they haven't really moved out of that under Collins at all. Outside of Holiday, there's not much to be optimistic of, and that includes Doug Collins.

Peter Laviolette

Conversely, when the Flyers fired John Stevens and replaced him with Peter Laviolette, I couldn't have been more ecstatic. Admittedly, that was partly because I did not like John Stevens as a head coach whatsoever. But it was also because Laviolette was a good coach in Carolina who won a Cup, and he had the type of fire I like to see out of my coaches, especially hockey coaches. There was just something about Lavvy that drew me in, just like it drew in every Philadelphia fan.

When his team showed up flat, he laid into them. He wasn't afraid to challenge his guys yet still get the most out of them. And he's a veritable Philadelphia quote machine.

And of course, he helped get the Flyers to within two wins of hoisting their first Stanley Cup since the 1970s, thanks in no small part to his legendary timeout.

However, even with all the success and fire of Laviolette, he has his flaws. Like Collins' handling of Holiday and Turner, I didn't really like the way Laviolette held the oft-injured James van Riemsdyk back in the postseason two years ago when he was the best Flyer on the ice, one of several baffling decisions he made that postseason.

Then last season, after the Flyers retooled their team, they had a penchant for starting slow — an issue that lasted all season and cost them dearly in the playoffs, and a habit that has continued at the start of this season. It was an issue that he never corrected, which is the job of the coach no matter how much the players must execute. Further, this team has been one of the most undisciplined in hockey for years, they've had egregious defensive breakdowns on an almost nightly basis and the power play, save for the time spent with Chris Pronger manning the point, has been maddeningly inconsistent. These are all issues that are recurring themes under Lavioliette, recurring themes that never seem to get corrected.

Most Flyers fans won't want to hear this because they like Laviolette — hell, I like him too — but it's reminiscent of Andy Reid and his continued failures with clock management, use of timeouts and lack of in-game adjustments. Laviolette definitely has that "Philadelphia attitude" that the fans love so much, but he also has glaring blind spots as a coach. There's no reason this team should come out flat as often as it does, no reason they can't play more disciplined hockey and stay out of the box, no reason they can't play more responsibly defensively. Yet they never do. Add on top of that the mostly inept work in the face-off circle under his tenure — though admittedly they have been better in that regard of late — and it always seems to be the same issues, issues the coach has to correct. Frankly, I'm getting tired of waiting around.

It's difficult for me, because I actually love Laviolette's passion and it's clear he's a good coach. He won a Cup, took the Flyers to one of their own, and the team has had success. But it won't get the Flyers over the hump, especially with some key players who propelled them to that Eastern Conference Championship — Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Chris Pronger, Simon Gagne, Matt Carle — gone, unless Laviolette can prove he can correct these recurring mistakes. As we saw with Reid, that's easier said than done. And if it doesn't happen soon, I'm not sure it ever will.

Charlie Manuel

I'll keep this short with Manuel because, frankly — even though he has his own glaring flaws — it's hard to go too hard on Charlie. After all, he is the skipper who helped the Phillies become World Fucking Champions, and the Phillies have had unprecedented success under Charlie. All those NL East titles, playoff appearances, two World Series stints and a World Championship. It's hard to be too mad at Manuel, even after last season when the Phillies failed to make the playoffs. Hard to blame Charlie for the major injuries to Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay, among others, that derailed the season.

I will say, however, that as we all know, Manuel makes some completely baffling moves. They are too long to even attempt to list. His insistence on never using his closer outside of a closing role (or at least until the 9th inning) has cost the Phillies countless games. His and his front office's lack of patience with Domonic Brown has left us all wondering what in the hell Brown is or can become. He has repeatedly wrote line-up cards that don't make sense, took a while to get the hang of the double switch and hasn't exactly always handled pitchers well. His flaws are only going to get more glaring as the roster ages, the way people focused on those shortcomings before 2007/08.

But, the players still do love playing for Charlie, and they've won a shitload of games under him. In fact, he's steered the most successful run Philadelphia Phillies history. After all, this franchise is the losingest franchise in North American sports history, but under Manuel, the Phillies have been consistent winners — something that seemed unfathomable to me as a child.

Truthfully, with the players he's had, it's hard to blame Manuel for the playoff woes of 2010 and 2011, when the team simply couldn't hit, not mention the unforeseen egg laid by Cliff Lee. And in 2009, they were beat by a better New York Yankees squad, and things may have been different had Cole Hamels not been experiencing an NLCS and World Series MVP hangover from 2008.

Still, Manuel definitely gives you some head scratchers, and with the team lacking more power than it ever has, fielding the shakiest defense in his tenure and needing to win games in more diverse ways, Manuel is going to have to do things that go against his nature, or the Phillies will struggle to keep pace with the Nationals, Braves and the rest of the National League whether they're healthy or not. So the spotlight is only going to hotter on Manuel's seat in the dugout. I have a feeling he doesn't' mind, but does that mean the Phillies will win? We're about to find out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chris Paul Is a Joy to Watch

At this point, everyone knows where I stand on Chris Paul. Like most NBA fans, I know he is clearly the best point guard in basketball and easily one of the best I have ever seen take the hardwood.

Last night, I got to see Paul's brilliance firsthand, as I headed down to the Wells Fargo Center with silver fox to watch the Sixers host the far superior Los Angeles Clippers.

Simply put, Paul put forth a virtuoso performance. In just 24 minutes of action, Paul posted an insanely easy double-double, scoring 21 points and dishing out 11 assists while also notching 5 steals, shooting 9-11 from the field and turning the ball over just once. But even more impressive than his stat line was the absolute control he had over the game from the opening tip until he was rested for good in the fourth quarter.

Paul was just abusing fellow all-star point guard Jrue Holiday, pick and rolling him to death and creating obscenely easy shots for his teammates or himself. If that sounds like hyperbole, it's not. Proof? Beyond Paul shooting an insane 9-11 himself, the Clips shot 58.7 percent from the floor on the night as a team, and it was up near the 62 percent mark before Paul sat for good.

He was quite literally toying with the Sixers for all 24-plus minutes he was out there. He honestly looked like the best sixth grader in elementary school playing against the 3rd graders. He was so much better than everyone out there that he made it look effortless, almost as if he was letting off a bit because he felt so damn sorry for the pathetic saps he was abusing.

For all the strides he's made this year, Jrue Holiday still is lacking defensively despite his physical talents that you would think should translate well on defense. And Paul exposed that clearly last night, using screens by his bigs to shed Holiday and force the defense's hand.

Of course, Jrue had no help himself, as the Sixers quite literally put forth one of the most lackadaisical and quite frankly pathetic performances I've seen in years. It didn't look like anyone out there was even trying besides Nick Young, who scored a game-high 29 points. Without Young dropping some buckets, the Sixers could have easily lost by 50 instead of the eventual 17 the final score indicated (107-90). It was almost embarrassing to watch — not getting blown out by the Clippers, a legitimately great team, but looking like no one even gave a damn at all.

As a result, the game eventually turned into a dunk fest, with Blake Griffin doing what Blake Griffin does and DeAndre Jordan trying to keep pace. Dunks all over the place.

Really, it shouldn't be surprising given that the Sixers have quite possibly the worst interior in the NBA. Spencer Hawes is a 7-foot shooting guard who isn't a very good shooter. Lavoy Allen is a backup, 8th-11th man who somehow starts. Arnett Moultrie is a rookie who is only now getting his shot because Doug Collins is an insane person. Kwame Brown is evidentially dead, and Andrew Bynum has been dead all season.

From top to bottom, the Clippers outclass the Sixers in every regard. I mean, when the starters were announced, you could argue the Clippers have a better player at every spot except shooting guard, where Willie Green is slightly inferior to Nick Young. But Green's backup, Jamal Crawford, is clearly better than Nick Young, so there's that.

This was a game of the haves and have-nots, sure. I mean, at one point with the game near its merciful end, the Sixers had a lineup out there that consisted of Damien Wilkins, Royal Ivey, Dorell Wright, Jeremy Pargo and Moultrie, which resembles a D-League squad much more than an NBA roster, while the Clippers are one of the most talented and deep teams in the league, with backups who would most definitely start on a team like the Sixers.

But it was also a game of a team that clearly is lost without Thaddeus Young and still awaiting the promise of Andrew Bynum, which may never come. And it's a team that has a coach who simply does not know what to do, or simply refuses to make changes. It's evident in the way that Collins didn't go to his scrubs earlier even though the starters and regular rotation guys looked like they didn't given even a little bit of a shit by the midway point of the second quarter.

It was ugly. It was embarrassing. And it was painful, at least on the Sixers side.

But watching Chris Paul run an NBA team is a joy, and last night, he was toying with the hapless Sixers, putting up one of the most effortless double-doubles I've ever seen. It was a beautiful thing to watch as a fan of the game, no matter how damaging it was as a Sxiers fan.

I sure hope Jrue Holiday was paying attention.

Friday, February 8, 2013

It's Friday, Time to Dance

I've been very critical of Zac Rinaldo during his tenure here with the Philadelphia Flyers. But I have to admit, Rinaldo played a lot better hockey down the stretch and last season and even carried it over to the playoffs skating with Sean Couturier and Max Talbot, and this season I have been tremendously impressed with the second-year winger whom I absolutely loathed last year.

The past couple of weeks, Rinaldo has really stood, first when he stuck up for his teammate Wayne Simmonds after he was concussed by an elbow from Washington's John Erskine, absolutely demolishing Matt Hendricks on the next shift.

Then, a few nights ago he literally knocked out B.J. Crombeen.

Rinaldo is not messing around, knocking people out left and right. So you know, LL Cool J time.

Also, Tom Sestito. Seriously. I had no idea he had it in him.

Friday, February 1, 2013

It's Friday, Time to Dance

In honor of Ed's post today over at The Sports Fan Journal discussing former University of Miami teammates Ed Reed and Frank Gore going head to head in the Super Bowl Sunday, here is a song about those 2001 Miami Hurricanes by No Good, with some highlights to boot.

Enjoy the Super Bowl, everyone.