Saturday, November 17, 2007

Philadelphia Quick Hits

I’ll get back into the blogging game with this relatively cheap entry. If I like how it goes, maybe I’ll turn this into a regular feature- as regular as I can get, anyway.


They’ll take on the winless Dolphins on Sunday. However, they could be without Brian Westbrook, who hurt his knee lifting weights on Wednesday. Against the Dolphins, he could afford a week off, but it’s still something to keep an eye on. It’s going to be interesting to see if he does suit up but the Eagles aren’t confident in his health. Will they activate both Buckhalter and Hunt? I wouldn’t count on it.

Jim Johnson basically said this week that Juqua Thomas is the new starter at LDE, and Kearse is losing his snaps to Thomas and second rounder Victor Abiamiri. It’s about time. Kearse has lost his explosiveness, and he plays like he knows it. He doesn’t use his athleticism to rush the passer anymore, and he tries to use a bull rush to generate pressure. It’s not a very effective move for someone who lost a lot of weight.

The Eagles are struggling, but they could still have a number of Pro Bowlers. Donovan McNabb and Kevin Curtis are surprisingly close; Brian Westbrook is a lock if he remains healthy; Andrews or Runyan could get a spot; both of the starting Defensive Tackles, Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson, are playing great and have been the key to improving the defense.


They’re clearly committed to blocking shots, which is very admirable. However, at some point, they need to start playing more soundly in their own zone. They aren’t very aggressive on the back check and they make sloppy passes resulting in turnovers. Martin Biron has been playing great so far, but I’m not sure how long he can keep up with his team constantly being out shot.

Simon Gagne continues to be out of the lineup. Getting Scottie Upshall back was a nice boost because he’s an athletic skater who can score goals. If this team can manage to stay the least bit healthy for a little bit, it will be a first.

I wasn’t so sure that Steve Downie would join the Flyers when his suspension ended, but now I think it’s possible. Ben Eager isn’t showing any offensive ability at all, and the failed 3 on 1 breakaway attempt last night was a huge turning point. Riley Cote hasn’t added much himself. You want a tough guy on the team, but shouldn’t they contribute something else?


They just completed a great comeback against Portland, and not many people were in South Philadelphia to see it. After being outplayed for the entire first half and leaving Sixers fans groaning, they dominated the fourth quarter to pull out the win. They’ve struggled early this season, but like past years, I don’t think we’ll see them tank or stop playing hard.

Believe it or not, young players helped fuel the comeback against the Trailblazers. Thaddeus Young saw significant action for really the first time all season. Jason Smith continued to play a key role in a rotation down low, and Lou Williams provided a scoring spark. It’s time for these guys to start playing a lot of minutes. Their athleticism improves the entire team on the floor.

I don’t know what’s wrong with Andre Miller, but he’s not playing as well as we saw last year. He’s been a very good PG during his career, but this year, Miller has played a different game. He’s taking more shots and not being the distributor he has been his entire career. He’s hurting any trade value he had prior to the season.


Reports say that they have about 10-15 million dollars left in the budget to spend. At some point in the coming days, I’m going to take another look at the numbers and confirm the total.

Pat Gillick says the rest of the resources available will be spent on pitching, but as we’ve seen in his tenure, he doesn’t do what he says, and in fact, he often does the opposite. He names Brett Myers the closer, and trades for Brad Lidge the next day. Fans think the rotation is set when he signs Adam Eaton, and they trade for Freddy Garcia. Don’t take his word too seriously.

I like Shawn Green as a platoon player with Jayson Werth. He’s a very good option against righties, so a straight platoon would help both players. Green can no longer hit lefties, so that could create some matchup problems late, but they need another guy in RF.

City Six

I learned that “City Six” is the proper way to talk about Philly college hoops, and not “Big Five Plus One.” We’ll start with the one in the major conference in Villanova. They lost Curtis Sumpter, which means their front court is weaker than it usually is. Scottie Reynolds is a great player, but other guys are going to have to step up. Verdict: about the same as last year. They should get into the tournament and lose early again.

Drexel was the underdog story of the year in the city, but they lost a lot. Mejias, Mason and Crawford were some key losses, but they do get their best player back in Frank Elegar. Bruiser Flint is a great coach, and if he can get his guys to keep working hard, they could make some noise in the CAA again. Verdict: probably worse than last year. They’re inexperienced.

La Salle struggled last season after losing Stephen Smith, and I expect the same from them this year. I really don’t know that much about them, so I’m not going to pretend that I do.

St Joe’s played well in front of the nation earlier this week against Syracuse. They’re pretty young, but they could develop into one of the better teams in the A10. Pat Calathes has been around through the rebuilding since the Elite Eight run, and he could lead this otherwise inexperienced team. Verdict: they should improve on last year.

Temple is another young team looking to get better in the A10, but they’ve struggled early on this year. They’ve blown a couple of big leads and didn’t wrap up games when they should have. However, when push comes to shove, Fran Dunphy is a good coach and will get these guys ready to play more often than not. Dionte Christmas is just one player looking to continue to revive Temple basketball. Verdict: they should improve on last year.

Penn is another team I don’t know much about. I do know they lost their two best players from last year, and their dynasty of sorts in the Ivy League could be in danger.


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