Monthly Archives: November 2016

Sixers Early Season Thoughts – Embiid

Stock – Very Very High

Buy or Sell? – BUY

Joel Embiid is a child in a grown man’s, nay, a superhero’s body. And it shows, for better and for worse.

You know how you’ll buy your 4 year old cousin a toy for Christmas and she’ll say something like, “I already got this present” and everyone will simultaneously laugh but also kinda worry that she might grow up and be a punk? That’s how I feel about Embiid.

He’s a breath of fresh air, a joy to be around, all those clichés, and I’m grateful. But there’s this bad feeling in my gut that the city will turn on him if he ever stops playing like an MVP. Even AI was hated for stretches of time despite all he did for this franchise.

AI is a different dude than Joel, but JoJo is starting to get a reputation around the league. Squeezing the refs for calls. Flexin on and-1’s. He seems like a real chirper, which you usually don’t expect to see from rookies. I thought the shellacking he took from Towns would have neutered him a little bit. Nope.

I’m not complaining. Personally, I’m all about a player speaking his mind, messing with other players and all that tomfoolery. It’s just basketball. Basketball is meant to be entertaining. I’m not sure I speak for the rest of the fanbase, however.

But Jeeeezus he’s an exciting player.

I could rave about Embiid as much as the next guy but I wouldn’t know where to start.

Among all centers, Joel is

  • 2nd in scoring (28.3 points per 36 minutes)
  • 2nd in free throws attempted per 36
  • Best in 3 point shooting
  • The best shot blocker (3.8 per 36). Next closest is Gobert, at 2.9
  • The most-used by his team

He’s also first in turnovers and 3rd in fouls per 36, but I’m just going to blindly chalk that up to him being a rookie who didn’t pick up a basketball until after I graduated high school. Burying the problems as if they don’t exist – that’s what Irish males do best.

I’m just happy he’s here. Joel Embiid is real and Joel Embiid is spectacular.

Written by Tyler Cloran

Image Source – MATT SLOCUM/AP

Penn State Is This Year’s College Football Cinderella Story

Let me preface this piece by getting a few things out of the way. I attended Penn State University. I graduated from there in May. I had football season tickets when I went to school there. I loved the time I spent there and wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. It’s one of those things where you can really only relate if you’ve attended the school or have someone close to you who has.

I am not a Penn State homer, a “cult member” or a diehard Paterno fan. In fact, the Paterno faction there is something that I still believe holds the university back from getting past the Jerry Sandusky fallout. I won’t defend Paterno or anyone involved with or had knowledge of what went on. Moreover, during my time at the school, I didn’t root for the football team. I had a strong dislike for the quarterback, Christian Hackenberg, who I thought was a selfish and stubborn player, plus, I wasn’t completely sold on coach James Franklin.

There are people who hate Penn State for a number of reasons, and I’m not here to try to sway anyone’s opinion of the school because it’s more than likely a lost cause. Frankly, I don’t care either. But I will say that whether you like them or not, what this football program has been able to do this year has been nothing short of astonishing.

If you haven’t heard, the Nittany Lions capped a magical season with a 45-12 drubbing of Michigan State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, capturing the Big Ten East title and setting up a date with West champ Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship this Saturday in Indianapolis. The winner of the game has a outside chance to get into the college football playoff.

That in itself is more than Penn State fans could have hoped for.

Coming off two 7-6 seasons, James Franklin entered 2016 on the hot seat — no matter if anyone surrounding the Penn State program might have said otherwise. At Penn State, winning is expected, and Franklin hadn’t done enough of it in his first two seasons in Happy Valley. But with the Sandusky scandal sanctions a thing of the past, the Nits could finally just focus on football.

Things didn’t start off great, and that might be and understatement. After handling Kent State in the first week of the season, the Lions lost a heartbreaker to Pitt after rallying from a 21-point deficit to lose 42-39 in the two schools’ first matchup since 2000. It wasn’t a good look for Franklin, who had promised to “dominate the state” in his introductory press conference in 2014. At that time, it was a rallying cry, but after being defeated by the rivals to the west, that statement looked to be rather foolish.

The next week, Franklin’s Lions beat Temple by just a touchdown. And while a win is a win, it was much closer than it should have been.

A 49-19 thrashing by Michigan came next week at the Big House in Ann Arbor, a loss that showed just how far (at that time) the Lions were from being able to compete with the Big Ten’s best. Additionally, a 2-2 record had escalated the rumors that Franklin could be fired at the end of the season, rumors that were quickly shot down by Penn State AD Sandy Barbour.

What has happened since that game Michigan game on September 24 has been a renewed focus and complete transformation from the Nits.

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Sixers Early Season Thoughts – Covington

The Sixers are officially a normal-bad team baby!!!!

sixers-standings-11-29

This week I’ll throw out some random thoughts on a few players that I have some opinions scorching hot takes on. Some cogitations if you will.

Let’s start with the gentleman threatening to un-seat Okafor as the most controversial player on your 2016-17 76ers. The one and only Robert Covington.

Robert Covington

Stock – Very Low

Buy or Sell? – BUY

I’m firmly on team Covington and have been since he won us our first game in 2014 against the T-Wolves. I feel like if you saw him walking across the street and yelled “Yo Cov!” he’d jog over in incoming traffic, politely, throw you some genuine daps and give you the time of day.

I know he’s been shit on the offensive end for the most part. Can’t disagree with that. He’s had a brutal stretch from 3. And he’s always been one of the most incompetent wings off the dribble. Once he puts the ball on the floor he’s more likely to turn the ball over than not. It’s painful to watch sometimes, especially for people who have talked him up like yours truly.

Gahhhhhhh dammit Cov.

Listen, I’m pro-booing. This is a beautifully unforgiving city. Booing is a part of our DNA, and we should embrace it. But a city that boos a guy like Covington is not a city I want to live in.

Boo the guys that don’t sacrifice their body on defense. Boo the guys that don’t hustle for loose balls. The guys that don’t seem to care enough to try. Guys like Ricky Waters, Jonathan Papelbon, and uhhhhhh, Jahlil Okafor….

Robert Covington is an AWESOME off-ball defender. You can tell because I used all capital letters. He’s one of the best in the league maybe.

I think he’s second in deflections*, trailing only MF Kawhi Leonard. At the very least, that number alone shows the effort he gives on defense.

*I tried confirming that stat but you need to subscribe to some website to see it. I appreciate all the work the basketball nerds do but I’m not giving them my hard-earned money in order to read it. Keep pumping out those spreadsheets though. Don’t let the Charles Barkley’s of the world get you down.

Covington is 7th in the entire NBA in steals and 5th in Steal %. And that’s not nothing. His defense disrupts the flow of the opponent’s offense and leads to easy transition points on the other end.

I know wing defense isn’t as sexy as made threes, but it’s definitely impactful, and it’s why Brown leaves him on the court even while he’s throwing the ball at people’s feet and missing wide open shots.

Which he hasn’t really done until this season, which leads me to hope this is just a shooting slump. Via Sixers nerd Derek Bodner:

Player 3PT% When Open
Covington (2014) 44.8%
Covington (2015) 42.7%
Wes Matthews 41.9%
Evan Fournier 45.2%
Klay Thompson 45.2%
Gordon Hayward 40%
Danny Green 35.8%
Kyle Korver 36.8%

The past two seasons, he was a better open shooter than Kyle Korver man. All he needs is a guy to actually get him some open threes, and I have a feeling that guy is coming sooner rather than later.

He’s a 6’9 forward that can (usually) shoot threes, rebound and force steals. He defends positions 2-4 really well. That’s rare. With high usage offensive players around him (AKA Joel and Ben), Covington will thrive. I’m telling you. Don’t give up on this guy.

Go Sixers.

Written by Tyler Cloran

Image Source: Bill Streicher – USA Today Sports

NCAA Tournament Bracketology

It’s only November, but it’s always fun to look at a bracket even though we all know these will not be the final results. If you know Joe Lunardi, he is usually a master at these. But I disagree about some of his early projections, so I laid out what I think we could see from the tournament this year. If you want to start giving me trash, you can always reply.

South

1: Duke

16: Vermont/Lamar

8: Cincinnati

9: Texas A&M

5: USC

12: Yale

4: Creighton

13: Arkansas State

6: Michigan State

11: UCF/Texas

3: St. Mary’s

14: Florida Gulf Coast

7: Butler

10: Temple

2: North Carolina

15: Texas Southern

Midwest

1: Kentucky

16: North Carolina Central/Bucknell

8: N.C. State

9: Michigan

5: Louisville

12: Valparaiso

4: Arizona

13: Monmouth

6: Baylor

11: Memphis

3: Wisconsin

14: Akron

7: Florida

10: Iowa

2: Villanova

15: Tennessee State

West

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Angry Andy: Packers Manhandle Eagles

Waking up this morning, it felt like Monday all over again. After a brutal loss at home, the place where the Eagles actually have been showing up, many of us hopeful fans have finally accepted the growing pains this team is going through. This week I am going to highlight the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the loss, and how this team should move forward in the future.

The Good  

The two highlights of this game to me were Carson Wentz and the special teams. I have refrained from talking about Wentz in previous articles, because I didn’t want to unfairly label him without seeing both good and bad games. It was clear tonight that Wentz really does have great upside. His ability to scramble under pressure and make plays out of nothing reassured me that he is a legitimate rushing threat. On that opening drive he was confident, and took what the defense was giving him. It is on drives like these that you can see the potential this offense could have if Wentz was surrounded with competent receivers and healthy offensive linemen.

The special teams underperformed to their usual standards this week, but I must note how pivotal this week’s signings of Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos and Chris Maragos are. All of these players have central roles in the inter-working of our solid special teams unit, and will be fixtures hopefully for years to come. Caleb Sturgis has been extremely consistent this season and he is an underrated part of this team.

The Bad

Whether you like it or not, this team is young and prone to mistakes. For the second week in a row, careless plays by Eagles offensive skill players have negated substantial gains and cost the team drives. Wentz’s interception was an awful throw that killed that drive, and reminded us that he is still a rookie learning this system. Dorial Green Beckham had a promising beginning that was marred by the offensive pass interference call late in the game. Time and time again this team shoots itself in the foot on offense, and it is starting to sound like a broken record.

The Ugly

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Eagles-Packers Preview

Ok, Week 12. Monday Night Football under the lights at the Linc, the Birds in black and in desperate need of a win. This Green Bay team coming in simply isn’t the one we’ve been accustomed to see play in the past few years, but they’ve still got a pretty damn good quarterback in Aaron Rodgers who has the ability to win games by himself. The Birds are hurting right now, and while they’re certainly not out of the playoff hunt, their postseason chances would take a real hit if they aren’t able to pull this out against an inferior Packers squad. Last week’s loss showed just how far away this Eagles team is from the NFC’s elite. Now the real test comes in how they respond to that stomping. Here we go:

Who: Packers (4-6) at Eagles (5-5)

When: 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Weather: 46 degrees. 5 mph winds.

Last Meeting: November 16, 2014, Packers won 53-20 at Lambeau Field.

What You Need To Know: Like the Eagles, this Packers team is coming off a loss in which they got their ass handed to them — a 42-24 thrashing at the hands of the Washington Redskins. At 4-6, their fourth straight loss put them in third place in the NFC North. It was an embarrassing game for a Packers franchise that has made the playoffs in each of the last seven seasons. They simply haven’t been able to put the whole package together, and, for the first time since he was hired in 2006, coach Mike McCarthy is on the hot seat. There’s still time to salvage the season, but only if they start with a win in Philly.

Much of gossip in the NFL this year has surrounded around how Rodgers’ play has regressed. That may be true in some aspects, but the guy is still putting up impressive numbers. Rodgers ranks 10th in the league in passing yards (2,761), while his 25 touchdowns are second most in the NFL. He’s also run the ball 40 times for a remarkable 259 yards and three touchdowns. Basically, he’s been Mr. Everything for this team, and is the biggest reason they can’t be completely ruled out from making the playoffs.

Behind Rodgers, the Packers passing offense is 10th best in football, and are averaging the 10th most points per game at 24.7. As a whole, the offense is averaging 362.7 yards per contest — 13th most in the NFL.

Let’s not forget that the Packers have two very good receivers in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. The 31-year-old Nelson has been steady once again for the Pack, catching 53 balls this season for 663 yards and 9 TDs —second most in football behind Antonio Brown’s 10 scores. Fellow receiver Devante Adams has burst on the scene to become Rodgers’ second favorite target, having six touchdowns of his own.

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Stolie The Goalie Wins His First

Last night we were able to get a glimpse of perhaps, the future goalie of this franchise. I thought it went well. Right off the bat, you can tell this guy is so damn big and has the size thing going for him. He’s 6’6 which is pretty big for any athlete, and the tallest goalie to ever wear the orange and black. He’s already got a ballin nickname in “Stolie The Goalie” so all we can do is hope this guy’s the one.

Stolie stopped 29/32 last night and looked pretty good doing it. Unlike Mason, he was able to get some goal support as we managed to put up 5 on Calgary. On one goal he was certainly out of position a little, and he could have done more to stop the other two, but overall I thought he showed enough to play another game here if needed until Neuvirth comes back from his injury.

He’s only 22 and seems to be right on schedule. If Mason and Neuvy didn’t play so well last year, he probably would have been up for a test then. The best thing for him is to just play as much as possible, so unless he starts to really amaze people in Philly, it’s probably best he goes back down to the minors. This guy really reminds me a lot of Ben Bishop in Tampa Bay.

In the meantime the Flyers will continue to hover around the wild card spot until the the next half of the season, so don’t sweat anything too much. This team is just going through the motions. They aren’t going to catch any of the three teams in the Metropolitan, and our only hope is to get one of those wild card spots again. I’m just going to enjoy this team and this Stolie smile for what it is right now, and you should too.

stolie-first-win-2

Go Flyers baby.

Written by Mike Cloran

Image Sources: NHL Public Relations and Philadelphia Flyers

Keep Restricting Embiid’s Minutes

After only listening to sports radio for maybe a half an hour, I was already infuriated with every impatient 50 year old dude barking how we need to do away with Embiid’s minute restriction. No! Jesus guys chill out. I get it. He looks really good. He’s healthy, he wants those minutes, and you old heads are sick of these millennials telling you to trust a process. He has every reason to be frustrated and so do we. We waited forever to see this guy, and now it seems like these team doctors are just holding him back for no reason.

I really don’t care and completely agree with it. I mean, when I’m watching Joel diving on the floor after Kyrie Irving, I feel like it’s only a matter of time before this guy gets hurt again. It seems like he’s just trying to do way too much with everything and make up for years of missed play. I love everything about the guys game, but I’m not convinced unleashing this dude is the smartest idea. This is like his 5th year playing sports, and playing in the NBA is the most physically demanding thing Embiid has ever done.

Greg Oden came off of injury in 2007 and was given the full minutes very quickly. The guy had a 24 point, 15 rebound night and everyone felt like it was fine to thrust him full throttle in the NBA. Greg Oden blew his knees out and now sits depressed somewhere calling himself “the biggest bust in the NBA.” I really don’t think there’s that much different with Embiid and Oden. Both are gigantic and have had similar injury problems.

So yeah, I really don’t think playing this dude 36 minutes for 82 games is smart just yet. It sounds completely soft to sit him these back to backs and restrict his playing time, but it’s really going to keep this guy fresh for the long run and decreases the chances of hurting something. We’ve done everything right with Joel so far. We haven’t rushed him, and we are easing this guy into the bigs this year. He’s hungry as shit, calling Richard Jefferson a bitch and getting his 3 point stats compared to Steph Curry. What we are doing is working guys. Yeah, those 36 minute projected stats are really nice to look at, but cmon I want this dude going balls to walls when it actually matters. Are you going to tell me that winning 28 games compared to 23 games means so much to you? I just don’t get why people love bitching about this “organization.” All of these fans feel this sense of entitlement to watch this guy on their screens at every minute of every game. Even though this guy already has a scary injury history and can’t afford another big one, we feel that we are owed something with Joel.

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Stop Making Excuses For The Eagles

Plain and simple, the Eagles got their asses handed to them Sunday. I know the score was 26-15, but the Seahawks were and are on a completely different level than this Birds’ team.

A miraculous 3-0 start to this season led by Carson Wentz gave fans belief that meaningful football could make its return to Philadelphia much sooner than anticipated. Yet here we are in late November as the currently sits at 5-5, and finds itself in last place in the uber-competitive NFC East. Fans were quick to get on their high horse after the win against a Falcons team that played one of their worst games all season and has been known to collapse in the second half. But the fact is that the Birds are 0-3 in the division and would need to realistically win four of their last six games to have any shot at the playoffs.

And it seems all I’ve heard in these past few weeks is how this team should have a better record than they do, how the referees have screwed them and how our expectations should be tempered with a rookie quarterback and head coach. Keep in mind that all of these claims come from the same Eagles fans who brown nose the front office and rarely admit that the Eagles are what their record says they are — an average football team.

Let’s be clear about one thing. The officiating in the NFL has sucked this year ACROSS THE BOARD. Fans will point out how the Eagles have gotten robbed by the officials in more than a few ways this season, most notably in the Lions game and Cowboys games — which may be fair. Without a doubt, there have been missed calls and unnecessary flags. But if I hear one more person bitch about how this team should be 7-3 or 8-2 or 10-0 because the refs have screwed them over I may just jump off the Ben Franklin.

The officiating has sucked, but it has sucked for EVERY NFL team. A huge reason the league’s ratings suck are because of the horrendous job the zebras have done all year. Let’s not act like they’re discriminating solely on the Birds. The Eagles have done a lot of shooting themselves in the foot too.

How about the self-inflicted penalties this team screw themselves with every single week? They’re the fifth most penalized team in the NFL, having given up 665 yards on 83 penalties. Anyone want to talk about that?

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Angry Andy: Eagles Get Whooped By Seahawks

So the Eagles just came off arguably their biggest win of the season, with the defense containing Matt Ryan and the rushing attack tearing it up. All the momentum was in our favor, right? Sorry Eagles fans, our Birds “dropped the ball” this week.

I think that the phrase that would best describe the team at this point in time would be “I am not angry, I’m just disappointed.” In case you didn’t know, the Seattle Seahawks, especially their defense, are extremely good. We have not beaten them since 2008 and over the course of history have been handed several crushing losses to them. I remember the game in 2007 when  Seahawks starting linebacker Lofa Tatupu had 3 interceptions off of noodle arm A.J. Feeley. Loafa, Lufa, however it’s spelled was a force to be reckoned with until knee injuries ended his career. This year’s Seahawks linebacking core has been arguably the best in the league with outstanding coached players including K.J Wright, Bobby Wagner, and former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith who now plays for the Raiders. Do you want to take a guess at who the current Linebacker Coach is for the Seattle Seahawks? That’s right. Lofa Tatupu. #Analysis

Okay now we get to the juicy part, the good guys. Through ten weeks we are 5-5, just average. We came into this game not necessarily needing a win, but felt confident that we could compete. We were manhandled. Fletcher Cox was nonexistent. Excuse me? Their O-Line consists of two backups, some free agent signings, and a few walk-ons. WALK-ONS. All week we have been comparing this defense to Seattle’s and our front line wasn’t making much noise. In their defense, Russell Wilson looked as healthy as he has all season, but those guys up front needed to set the tone, and he had too much time to make plays. It was this week that we once again saw how much of a liability the cornerback position is. Jaylen Watkins, someone who shouldn’t be allowed within 50 yards of the stadium next week, played awful all game. Wendell Smallwood seemed to make more tackles on special teams than these guys did on defense. Malcolm Jenkins didn’t even look like his normal self. The team was rattled and it was evident.

Nothing however, is more infuriating than this offense. The only thing potentially more insufferable would be my Twitter followers having to listen to me trash the offense repeatedly. Sorry guys. The one thing that seemed to be going for us last week was the rushing attack, and that was decimated by something scarier than the Seattle defense, injuries. We’ve caught the bug, and it’s ugly. Ryan Mathews left with a knee injury, something that his plagued him his whole career. By themselves, the Eagles could probably scrape by with Sproles, Smallwood, and Barner. When Sproles got hurt, we were forced to focus on the absolute worst part of our team, the receiving core.

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