Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sixers fall to Raptors in opener

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

Andrea Bargnani scored 20 points, including a big four-point play late in the fourth quarter, to lift Toronto over Philadelphia, 106-97, in the opener for both clubs at Air Canada Centre.

Down by 21 points, the Sixers bridged the third and fourth quarters with a 15-0 run to draw within six, 81-75, with just over 10 minutes left in the game. Philadelphia sharp-shooter Kyle Korver fueled the run with a pair of three-pointers.

Anthony Parker finally stopped the bleeding for Toronto with a three of his own with 9:59 left in the contest.

Philadelphia kept chipping away, however. Andre Iguodala's three from the left wing made it 88-87 with 5:25 on the clock.

But that was as close as the Sixers would get. Bargnani's four-point play, just over a minute later, snuffed the Sixers' momentum and made it 94-89 with 4:19 remaining.

Philadelphia could never get the big stop the rest of the way as the Raptors hung on for the win.

Chris Bosh added 16 points for the Raptors, who are the defending Atlantic Division champs and have won six of their past seven home openers. T.J. Ford chipped in with 14 points and 12 assists while Parker and Jose Calderon each had 13 points.

Iguodala finished with a game-high 23 points and seven rebounds for the Sixers, who finished last season with just 35 wins. Korver was 4-for-7 from three-point range and netted 20 points off the bench while Andre Miller had 15 points and six assists.

Reggie Evans, making his Sixers debut after being acquired in a trade with Denver, finished with a game-high 15 rebounds.

The Raptors held just a two-point edge after the opening 12 minutes.

But they closed the opening half on a 17-6 run to take control of the contest. Bosh was especially effective taking Samuel Dalembert on the blocks and then floating outside and sticking the jumper. The Toronto All-Star scored seven points in the run to help the Raptors take a 58-50 lead into the locker room.

Toronto then quickly opened things up in the third quarter with a 19-5 burst. Bargnani capped the spurt with an offensive rebound and lay-in to give the Raptors a more-than-comfortable 77-55 lead.

Expect little, and you’ll be pleased

By Jeff Glauser
The Phanatic Magazine

So, fellow Philly fans, here’s what we’re up against right now:

It’s too soon to tell if and how the Phillies will mutilate the offseason as they hunt for 2008’s answer to Adam Eaton.

It’s also too soon to tell if the Flyers are that drunken tease at the party making you think you’re going to get lucky later only to go home with another guy, or if they’re that hot girl you’ll actually score with.

Meanwhile, the Eagles season – at the halfway point – might literally be over with a loss this weekend to the hated Cowboys.

Which leaves us the Sixers…kind of by default.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2007 Autumn of Local Sports: Feel the excitement!

Not many people are drinking the Kool-Aid that Billy King and friends were trying to sell upon finishing last season - post-A.I., post-Webber, post-hope - at 17-9. The Sixers’ division improved markedly, as did the conference, while, at least on paper, they did not. Sure, chemistry is great – especially if you’re in high school and it comes right before study hall.

Regardless, for the first time in nearly a decade, it will be nearly impossible for this team to play below our expectations for them this year. Yet, how the season plays out will be quite telling for the long-term future of this squad. Therefore, I’ve come up with seven questions and six predictions for the season ahead (Get it? 7, 6? Tough crowd).

Such as:

- Will Mo Cheeks be allowed to see this rebuilding project to fruition?

- Will there even be a “fruition” with Reverse Midas Billy King running the show?

- Will Andre Iguadala take the necessary leap to the next level or remain at “almost” status, similar to past underachievers like Larry Hughes and Clarence Weatherspoon, et al?

- Is there even a leap left in Samuel Dalembert, or is this all we’re ever going to get?

- Is Andre Miller part of the future, or just trade bait waiting to happen?

- Could Lou Williams’s progression have some to do with Miller’s departure?

- Will they be in any position to attract a big-name free agent next summer, when oodles of dead money come off the books?

And now the predictions:

- Reggie Evans will make us forget all about Steven Hunter (Wait, you already have? Never mind.). Overall, the high-energy Evans will become a fan favorite and, if he plays even more than 20 minutes per game, he’ll average close to ten rebounds.

- This team will win around 30 games – and yet will be more fun to watch than the Iverson-and-four-spectators teams that won 40-45.

- Jason Smith will be the most impressive rookie. The still-green Thaddeus Young will be the least impressive. When Herbert Hill returns, he’ll be somewhere in the middle.

- Iguadala will fall a hair short of making the All-Star team, while lone attendee Kyle Korver will finally win the three-point contest.

- Division winners: Nets, Pistons, Magic in East. Mavericks, Nuggets, Suns in West. Conference Finals: Pistons over Bulls. Suns over Spurs.

- Champ: The Sun(s) will finally rise.

Lohse, Garcia file for free agency

Two more Phillies, pitchers Kyle Lohse and Freddy Garcia, were among 10 players filing for free agency Wednesday.

Here's the list:

Atlanta: Jones, Andruw (OF)

Baltimore: Patterson, Corey (OF)

Boston: Gagne, Eric (RP)

Chicago: Cubs Floyd, Cliff (OF); Trachsel, Steve (SP)

Colorado: Lopez, Rodrigo (SP); Torrealba, Yorvit (C)

Detroit: Tigers Rogers, Kenny (SP)

Florida: Kim, Byung-Hyun (P)

Kansas City Perez, Odalis A. (SP)

Los Angeles Dodgers Gonzalez, Luis E. (OF); Lieberthal, Mike (C); Martinez, Ramon E. (2B)

NY Mets Glavine, Tom (SP)

NY Yankees Villone, Ron (RP)

Philadelphia Garcia, Freddy Antonio (SP); Lohse, Kyle (SP)

San Diego Cameron, Michael (OF)

Seattle Weaver, Jeff C. (SP)

Texas Wilkerson, Brad (OF)

Magic ink ex-St. Joe's star to extension

-Courtesy of the Orlando Magic

Orlando, FL – The Orlando Magic have signed guard Jameer Nelson to a multi-year contract extension, General Manager Otis Smith announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed.

Jameer (Nelson) is a key part of our foundation,” said Smith. “He is a tremendous leader, both on and off the court, and he will continue to improve as we strive to reach our ultimate goal. We look forward to watching Jameer develop in a Magic uniform for many years to come.”

Nelson (6’, 190, 2/9/82) has played in 218 regular games during his NBA career, all with Orlando, averaging 11.9 ppg., 4.0 apg., 2.8 rpg. and 1.01 stlpg. in 26.3 minpg. He also appeared in four playoff games last season, averaging 14.3 ppg., 3.3 apg. and 3.0 rpg. in 32.3 minpg.

Originally selected with the 20th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by Denver, Nelson was acquired by the Magic on draft night (Jun. 24, 2004) in exchange for a future first round draft pick. Nelson was named to the 2004-05 NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

Nelson spent four seasons at Saint Joseph’s University, averaging 16.8 ppg., 5.7 apg., 4.6 rpg. and 2.05 stlpg. in 125 career games. He left as the school’s all-time leader in points (2,094), assists (713) and steals (256). Following his senior season (2003-04), Nelson was the consensus National Player of the Year, earning the Associated Press, Naismith, Rupp, Robertson and Chevrolet Player of the Year awards. He also shared the NABC top player award with Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor. In addition, Nelson was selected as a unanimous First Team All-America by the Associated Press, named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and captured the Francis Pomeroy Naismith Award, signifying the top player in the country 6-feet and under. Nelson had his jersey number 14 retired by the Hawks on April 23, 2004.

Flyers' Hatcher to undergo surgery

The Philadelphia Flyers announced Wednesday that veteran defenseman Derian Hatcher will have surgery on his left knee Thursday, and will miss 3-4 weeks.

The Flyers recalled 24-year old defenseman Nate Guenin from the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms to take Hatcher's roster spot.

This Week in College Football History

Courtesy of The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.


Nov. 12, 1994: Penn State clinches its first- ever Big Ten Conference championship with a nail- biting 35-31 comeback win over Illinois with a pair of 90-plus yard drives in the second half. The winning push, still known in University Park as "The Drive" takes up over seven minutes of time in the fourth quarter and results in the four-point triumph for 2006 Gold Medal co-recipient PSU head coach Joe Paterno.


Nov. 6, 1869: First college football game is played between Rutgers and Princeton in New Brunswick, N.J., and the future Scarlet Knights edge the future Tigers 6-4.

Nov. 7, 1925: Brown and Boston University attempt a "scripted" game where each team ran 40 plays (20 each) from scrimmage each quarter without a running clock. Brown prevails 42-6 in the Providence, R.I. tussle.

Nov. 8, 1958: Oklahoma Panhandle State standout RB Junior Wolf scores eight touchdowns (all rushing TDs) and 48 points in an 81-18 triumph over St. Mary of the Plains (Kan.).

Nov. 9, 1912: The lateral pass is used as an offensive weapon for the first time by head coach William F. Carney of Worcester Tech in a 14-13 Tech triumph over Amherst (Mass.).

Nov. 10, 2001: NC State head coach Chuck Amato upsets his former boss Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden 34-28 in Tallahassee. The loss marks Bowden's first-ever Homecoming loss in 25 seasons with the Seminoles and FSU's first ACC home defeat since joining the league in 1992.

Nov. 11, 1939: Texas Tech and Centenary (La.) play in a torrential downpour in Shreveport, La., resulting in an NCAA-record 77 punts (39 by Tech, 38 by the Gentlemen) and a scoreless tie. There are also 42 punts returned (another NCAA game mark), four blocked kicks, 67 punts on first down, and 22 consecutive first-down kicks by both teams during a skein in the third and fourth periods. Texas Tech runs a total of 12 offensive plays (10 rushes, two passes) for a net of negative one yard.

Reid brothers to be sentenced Thursday

Garrett Reid was taken into custody yet again Tuesday after failing a court issued drug test.

“His sentencing is Thursday, and we hope that the judge will listen to our arguments and will come up with sentence that will include a plan of treatment that will lead to rehabilitation,” defense lawyer Ross Weiss said. “We do have a plan that we will present to the court.”

Garrett's brother Britt, already in jail in an unrelated case after violating bail conditions, is also set to be sentenced on Thursday.

Sixers Hill out 4-6 weeks

Philadelphia 76ers rookie forward Herbert Hill underwent successful surgery on a torn meniscus in his left knee Tuesday and will miss the next 4-6 weeks.

Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure in Birmingham, Alabama. Sixers team physician Dr. Jack McPhilemy assisted.

A product of Providence College, Hill was originally drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 55th overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft, before being dealt to the Sixers in a draft night trade for Kyrylo Fesenko and future draft considerations.

Hill appeared in five preseason games, averaging 2.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.8 blocks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Romero, Afonseca, Brajas file for free agency

Phillies pitchers J.C. Romero and Antonio Alfonseca and catcher Rod Barajas were among 43 major league players who filed for free agency Tuesday.

Here's the complete list:

Clark, Tony (1B)

Woodward, Chris (SS)

Bako, Paul (C)

Clement, Matt (SP); Hinske, Eric (1B/OF); Kielty, Bobby (OF) Schilling, Curt (SP)

Chicago Cubs
Kendall, Jason (C)

Chicago White Sox
Erstad, Darin (OF); Myers, Mike (RP)

Milton, Eric R. (SP)

Gomez, Chris (INF); Lofton, Kenny (OF)

Dessens, Elmer (P)

Detroit Tigers
Perez, Neifi (SS)

Boone, Aaron J. (3B)

Jennings, Jason (SP)

Kansas City
Riske, David (RP); Sweeney Mike (1B)

Los Angeles Dodgers
Seanez, Rudy C. (RP); Wells, David (SP); Sweeney, Mark (1B)

Graffanino, Tony (INF); Jenkins, Geoffrey S. (OF)

White, Rondell (OF)

NY Mets
Alomar, Sandy (C); DiFelice, Michael (C); Sele, Aaron H. (RP)

NY Yankees
Molina, Jose (C)

Piazza, Mike (C/DH)

Alfonseca, Antonio (RP); Barajas, Rod (C); Romero, J.C. (RP)

Chacon, Shawn (P)

St. Louis
Branyan, Russ (3B)

San Diego
Brocail, Doug (RP); Blum, Geoff (2B)

San Francisco
Ortiz, Russ (SP)

Rhodes, Arthur (RP)

Tampa Bay
Paul, Josh (C)

Fasano, Sal (C)

Hairston Jr, Jerry (2B/OF); Sosa, Sammy (OF)

Batista, Tony (Leo.) (3B); Jimenez, D'Angelo (2B)

What's going on here?

By John Gottlieb
The Phanatic Magazine

Now on the night that the NBA season starts and we get to listen to umpteen trade rumors surrounding Kobe Bryant, I am about to utter these words in a sentence for the first time ever...THANK GOD BASEBALL IS OVER!

The offseason has never hit me like this one has. Over the last month I feel like I've lived three baseball seasons. Normally at this time I'm looking at free agents and I begin to get excited about the possibilities that will unfold before the calendar switches to 2008.

But that feeling isn't there this year. I've been a baseball fan for 25 years and as soon as the current campaign ends I'm ready for the next one to begin.

I'm not sure if it was the debacle that is now being labeled the Bronx Zoo II, which in the span of a month saw a third straight first-round playoff ouster, a ridiculous offer to Joe Torre that led to his departure, the passing over of Don Mattingly, Alex Rodriguez opting out of his contract during Game 4 of the World Series (which is a blessing for the Yanks), ending with Torre taking over the Dodgers and bringing Mattingly with him.

(Just an aside, but why couldn't that selfish piece of trash A-Rod show up to collect the Hank Aaron Award that he won because the fans voted for him? Hank Aaron was there.)

But it's not just about the Evil Empire. Throw on top of that one of the weakest free agent classes in baseball history, and a listless postseason that saw the Angels, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Rockies all get swept. The Yanks won one game, which was only good enough to prevent a sweep; the Indians had a 3-1 lead at home, and by the time the series was over no one was talking about Grady Sizemore or Travis Hafner. We all wanted to know about Paul Byrd and his little HGH problem; and the Mets and Padres both collapsed. And the fact the TBS did an atrocious job with their coverage just made the last three weeks torture.

AND FOR THE SECOND TIME IN FOUR YEARS THE RED SOX ARE THE WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS. And for anyone not paying attention they have now won eight straight Fall Classic games and that run doesn't seem to be coming to a close any time soon.

I need a break. I could always relaxing in the monotony of baseball. I don't need to be thrilled every five seconds; I don't even need to watch every inning of every game, but I'm drained.

If I ever see Dane Cook again it will be too soon. And I thought that I couldn't despise anyone more than Joe Buck in October.

Somebody wake me up when April rolls around.

Now I'm just thankful that I have a five-month break. I can spend that time rooting for someone to knock off the Patriots, A-Rod to get signed by the Giants before getting busted for using steroids by George Mitchell, the Jets to provide me with another 1-15 season, and for someone, anyone to stop this crazy streak that's encompassing the sports team of Boston.

Is the Race for the Chase over yet?

Eagles sign LB Kershaw to practice squad

The Philadelphia Eagles signed LB William Kershaw to the practice squad Tuesday.

Kershaw (6-3, 240) entered the league as a rookie free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2006. He spent the majority of his rookie season on the Chiefs practice squad before being promoted to their 53-man roster for the final regular season game and the NFC Wild Card game at Indianapolis, where he registered three special teams tackles. The 23-year-old Kershaw saw action in the Chiefs opening-day game at Houston this year before being released on September 19.

A native of Raeford, NC, Kershaw registered 204 tackles, 3 sacks and one interception during his collegiate career at Maryland.

Time for the "Bullies" To Run Wild Again

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Here we are again, the Flyers at another crossroads.

Defenseman Randy Jones has just been slapped with a two-game suspension for “ramming” Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron in the back and driving him face-first into the boards. Steve Downie is sitting for 20 games for one of the greatest flying checks in NHL history, and Jesse Boulerice rides the pine for 25 for acting out his displeasure for Ryan Kesler going after his head.

We’re down to a bunch of fleet-footed French-Canadians, timid Europeans who wear out the middle of the ice and a gaggle of North American boys who have yet to really get their jerseys sullied by the spoils of battle.

This just can’t be. The team doesn’t even have 10 fighting majors this season yet. I can’t believe what I’m seeing.

Kudos to the towering public relations machine of the NHL in Toronto. They’ve successfully fueled the fires and permitted every person with an axe to grind and fingers to type on a keyboard to fill chat rooms and column comment-spaces with vitriol against our beloved victims of a smear campaign.

Because it’s all just been an elaborate ruse. Millions of fans across North America have finally caught on to what only the inner-most of all inner-circles know: the Philadelphia Flyers are waging war with the rest of the league.

Sure, the organization wants you to think they’ve been unduly burdened by 30-plus years of the reputation for chaos and mayhem. They need you and the rest of the league to believe that they’ve finally bought into the new philosophy of speed and skill.

However, I say, what good is trying to live down that well-worn and oft-quoted reputation when the overwhelming evidence remains to the contrary?

This year’s new corporate slogan is “Back With A Vengeance.” So far, the Flyers have lived up to that without having been wronged first (which implies that one would be “back” with a “vengeance”), so what’s the harm in intentionally going for the scare tactics and taking further steps to instill fear in the opposition?

The actions of Downie, Boulerice and Jones have already convicted the hockey club in the court of public opinion, so why not stop the farce of trying to reverse that violent image and start making it work again?

A roll call in the effort should be easy. Riley Cote is already with the team. Let’s re-sign Todd Fedoruk who would be the only player in league history to play with a face made entirely out of steel. With the creative cap movement, Downie and Boulerice should be ready by March for a playoff run of pure malevolence.

Flyers alumni would also be key for the task. Billy Tibbetts can’t be far away. Brantt Myhres could throw down, too. Frank “The Animal” Bialowas lives in New Jersey. Dave Brown works here. Craig Berube suited up just two years ago. Rick Tocchet has gouged a few eyes in his time. Ryan McGill crushed a man’s cheekbone with one punch.

With apologies to the late Mayor Frank Rizzo, the Flyers should be the ones prowling around with a fury which will make Attila the Hun look like a you-know-what.

A message to the rest of the league – Danny Briere may appear to be the unassuming kid from rural Quebec, but he hides a demonic side the likes of which you’ve never seen. His nickname in the locker room is The Baby-Faced Assassin. Talk about his mother or his wife, and he’ll carve out your soul with a mere flick of the wrist.

After all, the colors of Halloween are orange and black, so why can’t the team revel in the spirit of the season and make it last all Winter long? Put Michael Myers in a Pelle mask and goalie pads and let the fun commence.

Do us all a favor, though. Keep winning while you go on your macabre appointed rounds, and it wouldn’t hurt to take down Scott Burnside while you’re at it.

Former 'Nova star Foye out with injured knee

The Minnesota Timberwolves announced that guard Randy Foye suffered a stress reaction of his left patella and willbe out indefinitely.

An MRI and a CT Scan on Monday revealed the injury.

Foye, a second-year guard from Villanova, earned NBA All-Rookie First Team honors in 2006-07.

The seventh overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, Foye averaged 10.1 points and2.8 assists in all 82 games for the 'Wolves last season.

Sixers pick up option Carney

The Philadelphia 76ers exercised the third-year option on the contract of forward Rodney Carney Tuesday.

Over his rookie campaign in 2006-07, Carney averaged 6.6 points and 1.9 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game.

In seven pre-season games this season, the Memphis product averaged 9.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in 24.0 minutes

Penn State - Temple to air on ESPNU

ESPNU will nationally televise Penn State’s contest at Temple on Saturday, November 10. Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m. ET at Lincoln Financial Field.

Penn State and Temple will be meeting for the second consecutive year and 36th time overall. The Nittany Lions lead the series, 32-3-1, winning 47-0 last year in Beaver Stadium. Penn State will be playing in Philadelphia for the first time since 1994. Temple (3-5) is led by second year coach Al Golden, who lettered for the Nittany Lions at tight end from 1989-91.

Temple brings a three-game winning streak into its Mid-American Conference game at Ohio on Friday before the contest with the Nittany Lions. The Owls were idle last week.

Rowand among 57 to file for free agency

Phillies center fielder Aaron Rowand was among 57 major league players who filed for free agency last Monday.

Pitchers Jon Lieber abd Jose Mesa and infielder Abraham Nunez were the other Phillies to file.

Here's the complete list courtesy of the MLBPA:

Arizona: Cirillo, Jeff (3B); Hernandez, Livan (SP); Wickman, Bob (RP)

Atlanta: Franco, Julio (1B); Mahay, Ron (RP)

Chicago Cubs: Wood, Kerry L. (RP)

Cleveland: Nixon, Trot (OF)

Colorado: Affeldt, Jeremy (RP); Julio, Jorge (RP)

Detroit: Casey, Sean T. (1B); Jones, Todd (RP)

Florid: Benitez, Armando (RP)

Houston: Ausmus, Brad C); Lamb, Mike (3B); Loretta, Mark D. (INF); Miller, Trever D. (RP); Moehler, Brian (RP); Palmeiro, Orlando (OF)

Kansas City: LaRue, Jason (C); Sanders, Reggie (OF)

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Colon, Bartolo (SP)

Milwaukee: Cordero, Francisco (RP); King, Ray (RP); Koskie, Corey L. (3B); Linebrink, Scott (RP); Miller, Damian (C)

Minnesota: Hunter, Torii K. (OF); Silva, Carlos (SP)

NY Mets: Anderson, Marlon (OF); Castillo, Luis A. (2B); Castro, Ramon Abraham (C); Easley, Damion (INF); Green, Shawn (OF); LoDuca, Paul (C)

NY Yankees: Mientkiewicz, Doug A. (1B); Posada, Jorge (C); Rivera, Mariano (RP); Rodriguez, Alex (3B); Vizcaino, Luis (RP)

Oakland: DaVanon, Jeff (OF); Stewart, Shannon H. (OF)

Philadelphia: Lieber, Jon (SP); Mesa, Jose (RP); Nunez, Abraham O. (3B); Rowand, Aaron (OF)

Pittsburgh: Armas Jr., Tony (SP)

St. Louis: Cairo, Miguel J. (INF); Eckstein, David (SS); Percival, Troy (RP); Wells, Kip (SP)

San Diego: Barrett, Michael P. (C); Bradley, Milton (OF)

San Francisco: Bonds, Barry (OF); Feliz, Pedro (3B)

Toronto: Kennedy, Joe (P); Stairs, Matt (OF)

Washington: Fick, Robert (1B)

Monday, October 29, 2007

College Football weekly news and notes

-Courtesy of the National Football Foundation

USC and Houston to Hold On- Campus Salutes

The University of Southern California and the University of Houston will hold On-Campus Salutes this weekend for their respective 2007 College Football Hall of Fame inductees, Richard Wood and Wilson Whitley.

On Saturday, Nov. 3, Richard Wood will be honored as the No. 19 Trojans face Oregon State at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. "Batman" is the only three-time All-America in the history of USC, and was a member of two USC National Championship teams, leading the Trojans to an impressive 31-3-2 record during his career. The game will be broadcast on ABC/ESPN.

Wilson Whitley, whose family will represent him during the on-field presentation on Sunday, Nov. 4 as the Cougars take on SMU, was named the Rotary Lombardi Award winner as the nation's top lineman in 1976. He also earned Southwest Conference Player of the Decade laurels for the 1970s despite only playing one year of his career in the conference. Whitley passed away in 1992. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

NFF News

Selected as the best and the brightest from the college gridiron, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced the 2007 National Scholar-Athlete winners, who will vie as the finalists for the Draddy Trophy, presented by HealthSouth. The 15 individuals are: Alex Brink - Washington State; John Carlson - Notre Dame; Nick Clark - Texas State; Brandon Cramer - Dayton; Dennis Dixon - Oregon; Michael Eubanks - Delta State (Miss.); Dallas Griffin - Texas; Mike Klinkenborg - Iowa; J Leman - Illinois; Brandon Renkart - Rutgers; Eric Safran - Mount Union (Ohio); Paul Smith - Tulsa; Jacob Tamme - Kentucky; Jake Weller - Illinois College; and Danny Woodhead - Chadron State (Neb.).

The NFF has inked a partnership with Schutt Sports, one of the nation's leading sports equipment innovators. The relationship makes Schutt Sports the official helmet and protective gear provider for the NFF as well as an official corporate partner of the organization.

BCS News
The third BCS Standings of 2007, released nationally by The National Football Foundation, was released on Sunday. The top seven teams - Ohio State, Boston College, LSU, Arizona State, Oregon, Oklahoma and West Virginia - remained in their same respective spots for the second straight week. Previously unranked Wisconsin (No. 21), Boise State (No. 22), Wake Forest (No. 24) and Clemson (No. 25) made way into the standings, while Kentucky (then-No. 14), South Carolina (then No. 16), Cal (then-No. 21) and Penn State (then-No. 25) dropped from the rankings.

The top five schools by all-time BCS appearance through the Oct. 28 standings are: Texas (64); Florida (63); Michigan (60); Oklahoma (55); and Virginia Tech (55). The most all-time appearances at No. 1 through yesterday's standings are: Oklahoma (18); USC (15); Ohio State (12); Florida State (7); and Miami, Fla. (7).

After last weekend's games, 36 teams are now bowl eligible, and 28 more teams are on the verge of postseason qualifications with five wins. The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl continues its extensive worldwide (via Web) and regional coverage of the "Road to the Fiesta Bowl" each Thursday from 5:05-5:30 p.m. (PDT/PST) on The Fan 1060 AM radio in Phoenix with hosts Mike Muraco, Dan Manucci and CBS Sportsline expert columnist Dennis Dodd... Kansas was named the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week after the Jayhawks' win at Texas A&M.

Two-Minute Drill

The San Diego State-BYU contest last Saturday was postponed due to the wildfires in the San Diego area. It will now be played on Dec. 1... Oregon State and Stanford fans contributed to Red Cross and relief funds for wildfire victims in Southern California at special donation tables in and around Reiser Stadium last Saturday... The 4th Annual National College Football Day will be celebrated nationally this Saturday, Nov. 3. Please visit for more information... Navy and Maryland have agreed to play again in 2010 in Baltimore... New Mexico and UTEP have extended their series through 2016... Last Saturday, the Nevada- Idaho contest celebrated Military Appreciation Day at Mackay Stadium in Reno. Discounted tickets were sold to all active and retired military personnel, and special pregame ceremonies honored U.S. service personnel... NC State and UAB have been added to the Black Coaches and Administrators' commended report cards' listings for fairness in interview practices before they hired head football coaches in 2007... Texas head coach Mack Brown celebrated his 100th win for the Longhorns in a victory over Big 12 rival Nebraska last Saturday... The Rutgers-USF bout on Oct. 18 had the sixth- highest Nielsen rating of any show on cable television from Oct. 15-21... Former NFL head coaches Dick Vermeil (San Jose State grad, former head coach at UCLA) and Mike White (former head coach at California and Illinois) have been selected to coach in the East-West Shrine All-Star Classic on Jan. 19, 2008 in Houston... Weber State beat Portland State 73-68, to set an NCAA all- division record for most points in a game... Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree grabbed his 99th reception of the season last weekend, setting an NCAA season record for receptions by a freshman and a Tech record for receptions in a season.

Navy dedicated the $21.6 million privately funded Thornton D. and Elizabeth S. Hooper Brigade Sports Complex over the weekend... Miami (Fla.) is promoting a massive farewell celebration for its games in the Orange Bowl with student-athlete reunions, nostalgic game programs and other festivities for the UM-Virginia game on Nov. 10... Kansas has sold out its Saturday game at Memorial Stadium against Nebraska as well as the Nov. 24 clash with Missouri at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium... Washington opened its UW Legends Center last Saturday adjacent to Husky Stadium with mementoes, rings, trophies, and the history of Husky football on display... Purdue has upgraded its stadium scoreboard and video messaging with a new Daktronics system.

Dr. Bill Proctor has been selected as interim director of athletics at Florida State, effective Jan. 1, 2008... Northern Illinois AD Dr. Jim Phillips has been named to the Division I-A Directors of Athletics Executive Committee.

Wisconsin will retired the number (33) of all- time FBS rushing leader Ron Dayne during ceremonies at its Nov. 10 tussle with Michigan... The NCAA has named longtime commissioner, athletics administrator and 2001 NFF Distinguished American Award winner Dr. James Frank as recipient of the prestigious Gerald Ford Award... Amherst (Mass.) dedicated the Professor James E. Ostendarp Bronze Plaque Memorial on campus to honor the school's winningest all-time football coach... Fifteen quarterfinalists have been selected for the 2007 Lott Trophy, named after standout defender 2002 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Ronnie Lott and based on character and on-field performance... Texas A&M hosted numerous patriotic activities around last week's contest with Kansas. On Friday, 41st U.S. President George W. Bush presented U.S. Defense Secretary and former Texas A&M president Dr. Robert M. Gates the 2007 George Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service. Aggies' linebacker Mark Dodge was presented the Pat Tillman Patriot Award, presented to college athletes who have military service, by the Military Order of the Purple Heart... North Texas honored its 1977 team that finished 10-1 under College Football Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry during its homecoming festivities last weekend.

The Football Writers Association of America has established voting timelines for its major 2007 awards. Final nominations will be received for the FWAA All-America team will be received through early November, and the association's All- America committee will vote on the defense on Nov. 11 and offense on Nov. 18 along with finalists for the Outland and Bronko Nagurski Trophies. The All-America committee also will determine the finalists for the 2007 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award and balloting will begin in early December. The Robinson Award will be announced on Jan. 4, 2008, in New Orleans at an event presented by the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The FWAA Freshman All-America team will be release from New Orleans shortly before the BCS Championship Game.

Bob Packard, 64, longtime head coach at Baldwin-Wallace (Ohio), died last Monday in Berea, Ohio. Packard was head coach at B-W for 21 years 1981-2001 after succeeding Dr. Lee Tressel, father of current Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.

Eagles cut McCoy

The Philadelphia Eagles released linebacker Matt McCoy Monday, a day after the former second-round pick was flagged for a silly personal foul penalty against the Minnesota Vikings.

To replace McCoy on the roster, the Birds promoted linebacker Akeem Jordan from the practice squad.

Signed as a rookie free agent following the 2007 draft, Jordan (6-1, 226) posted 299 tackles, 7 1/2 sacks, and six interceptions in 26 starts at James Madison University.

In 2006, he finished second in the Buck Buchanan voting (Division I-AA’s top defender) and earned Atlantic 10 Conference defensive player of the year honors.

Jordan was also a member of JMU’s national championship squad in 2004.

Reaction to Jones Suspension

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren and defenseman Randy Jones said the following regarding the NHL suspending Jones two games as a result of his hit on Boston's Patrice Bergeron on Saturday, October 27. The Flyers won the game, 2-1.

Randy Jones: "I am a little on the dissappointment side. I think Mr. Campbell is in a tough situation on making this decision in regards to the last couple incidents involving the Flyers. I think he saw my point of view where this was not intentional. This was just a freak accident which unfortunately resulted in an injury. I respect his decision and I have to deal with it, move on, and get back playing after I serve the two games."

Paul Holmgren: "Randy Jones was suspended by the National Hockey League for two games. I'm disappointed. I think it is a situation that we see, minus the injury to Patrice Bergeron, quite often because a) the intensity of the game; and b) the way offensive players try to spin away from the defensive players. Im dissappointed, but we will deal with it."

Q: What was Mr. Campbell's reasoning behind the suspension?

PH: "In fairness to [Campbell], I do think he had a hard time making this decision. I think the reason was because Randy was just a little too aggressive on the player, in his viewpoint, on a player who was in a vulnerable position."

Q: How did Randy take it?

PH: "He took it in stride. He is a good kid. He's felt bad since the incident happened. Now there is some closure on this and he can get through our next two games and be back in the lineup. I don't think this will have any long term effect on Randy."

NHL Suspends Jones for Two Games

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Randy Jones was suspended two games without pay by the NHL on Monday for a hit on Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron.

Bergeron was taken off the ice on a stretcher in the first period of Saturday's 2-1 loss against Philadelphia.

With 3:53 left in the period, Bergeron was playing the puck along the end boards when he was elbowed in the back of the head and sent face-first into the glass by Jones.

Bergeron was knocked unconscious from the hit and lay prone on his back. He was immobilized, then taken to nearby Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion and a broken nose. X-Rays and a CT scan revealed no additional damage to the head or neck.

Jones was assessed a five-minute major for boarding as well as a game misconduct for the hit.

"While it is my determination that Jones did not intend to injure his opponent, he did deliver a hard check to a player who was in a vulnerable position," said league disciplinarian Colin Campbell. "There have been suggestions by some that this hit was comparable to incidents earlier this season where players received significant game suspensions for blows to the head. These comparisons and suggestions are wrong."

Campbell referred to comparisons between this incident and a pair of others involving the Flyers this season. Forward Steve Downie was given a 20-game suspension for an illegal hit on Ottawa's Dean McAmmond in the preseason which left McAmmond with a concussion. Then, on October 12, forward Jesse Boulerice was hit with a 25-game ban for cross-checking Vancouver's Ryan Kesler in the face two days earlier.

Jones will forfeit $5,614.98 in salary, which automatically goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

The 26-year-old will miss Thursday's game in Montreal and Friday's game in Washington, and will be eligible to play again for the Flyers contest November 5 against the New York Rangers.

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The curse of a new millennium

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

Numbers have never been so hollow.

Those who worship at the altar of Bill James swear by Major League Baseball’s best regular season player, Alex Rodriguez.

And I really can't argue with that assessment -- The halfwits who spend every waking moment tooling around their fantasy teams are a lot like A-Rod, save the talent, money, looks and concubines.

They say his statistics warrant his elevated reputation -- and by that narrow definition they are right.

You see baseball has become a game all about regular season statistics for those who follow it.

In New York, things are a little different, however. The 162-game schedule is just a glorified exhibition for George Steinbrenner's Yankees. Thirteen consecutive trips to the postseason make October baseball a given in the Bronx.

And now, Alex Rodriguez has helped make losing in October a given in the Bronx. A notorious "Me" guy -- Rodriguez just hasn't figured out that All Star appearances, MVP awards, Gold Gloves -- even division titles mean little to the Yankees.

It's World Series or bust for the Bombers and just like the previous two seasons, "the game's most talented player" failed to help get the Yankees past the first round against an inferior opponent.

You want numbers? Try these on for size. In his last three trips to the postseason, Rodriguez was 7-for-44 with one home run, one double and one run batted in. That homer and RBI came this year in a four-game setback to Cleveland.

And, his followers can add one more statistic to Rodriguez’s bloated resume -- ego.

What kind of self-important clod chooses to announce the decision to opt out of a contract with the World Series going on?

According to the New York Daily News, both Hank and Hal Steinbrenner placed calls to A-Rod to express their desire to have him return to the team.

Baseball’s most classless act failed to return the calls.

"It's clear he didn't want to be a Yankee," Hank Steinbrenner told the newspaper. "He doesn't understand the privilege of being a Yankee on a team where the owners are willing to pay $200 million to put a winning product on the field.

"I don't want anybody on my team that doesn't want to be a Yankee."

To his credit, Rodriguez defined his belief -- money simply means more than championships .So A-Rod will move on and try to destroy a fourth franchise from within.

My best bet is Boston .

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and A-Rod’s agent, Scott Boras, have had a cozy relationship for years. Moreover, Epstein is a numbers guy.

It's almost hard to believe this Red Sox group was once labeled lovable losers. A "cursed" team that went 86 years without a championship. Now, the once moribund franchise doomed to always finish second to the storied Yankees is the gold standard of Major League Baseball, loaded with young talent for a potential dynasty run.

Only A-Rod could screw that up.

And that will be his legacy.

To their credit, the Boston faithful at Coors Field last night issued a preemptive strike. They reportedly gathered behind the dugout and gave Epstein a strict edict by chanting.... “Don’t Sign A-Rod!”

After all, they don’t want another curse.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Claxton named All-Big Ten

Penn State senior forward Geary Claxton (West Haven, Conn.) was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team for the second straight season at the conference’s annual Basketball Media Day. Claxton and fifth-year Nittany Lion head coach Ed DeChellis joined other conference team representatives in meeting with approximately 200 members of the media Sunday in Chicago, Ill.

The Big Ten’s top returning rebounder (8.0 rpg) and second leading scorer (16.3 ppg), Claxton is the first Nittany Lion player to be named to the preseason all-conference team twice by Big Ten media voters and collected just the third Nittany Lion selection since Penn State joined the conference in 1992-93. Guard Joe Crispin, the Nittany Lions second all-time leading scorer, was also selected prior to the 2000-01 season.

“I’m really just excited for the team to have a great year,” Claxton said in Chicago. “This is it for me. This is my last go around, so I just really want do whatever I can to get the program as much success as I can and help make it as strong as I can before I leave.”

The 6-5, 220-pound Claxton was joined on the preseason team by Michigan State senior guard Drew Neitzel, Illinois senior center Shaun Pruitt, Indiana senior forward D.J. White and Ohio State senior guard Jamar Butler. Neitzel, the Big Ten’s top returning scorer (18.1 ppg), was selected the Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year. Michigan State was selected as the preseason Big Ten favorite followed by Indiana and defending Big Ten Champion Ohio State.

Claxton has also earned first team preseason All-Big Ten recognition from the Sporting News, Lindy’s and USA Today. A second team All-Big Ten pick by the media and third team by the coaches last season, Claxton enters his senior campaign with 1,262 career points (12th all-time at PSU) and 621 rebounds and is on pace to finish his career ranked among the top three all-time at Penn State in both categories. He leads active Big Ten players with 17 career double-doubles and can join All-American Jesse Arnelle as just the second player to lead the Nittany Lions in scoring in four seasons.

Sixers' Hill to undergo surgery

Sixers rookie forward Herbert Hill suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee and will travel to Birmingham, Alabama to undergo surgery preformed by Dr. James Andrews Tuesday. Team Physician Dr. Jack McPhilemy will assist in the procedure.

A product of Providence College, Hill was originally drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 55th overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft, before being dealt to the Sixers in a draft night trade for Kyrylo Fesenko and future draft considerations.

Hill appeared in five preseason games, averaging 2.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.8 blocks.

Eagles - Vikings inactives

Eagles - 3rd QB Kevin Kolb, S Brian Dawkins, RB Tony Hunt, LB Pago Togafau, G Max Gilles-Jean, DT Kimo von Oelhoffen, G Scott Young, DE Victor Abiamiri

Vikings - 3rd QB Tarvaris Jackson, S Dwight Smith, DB Ronyell Whitaker, TE Garrett Mills, LB Vinny Ciurciu, T Chase Johnson, DE Erasmus James, WR Aundrae Allison

No. 1 Ohio State routs Penn State

By Eric Redner
The Phanatic Magazine

Todd Boeckman threw three touchdowns as top-ranked Ohio State crushed 24th-ranked Penn State, 37-17, at Beaver Stadium.

Boeckman went 19-for-26 with 253 yards and an interception while Chris Wells had 25 carries for 133 yards for the Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten), who have 19 straight conference games and have tied the Big Ten record previously set by Michigan between 1990-92.

"It was great coming here and getting a win," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. "Penn State is a good football team. This is a hard place to play and a hard place to prepare to play in. They came out of the gate and made it tough on us. Our kids hung in there. We did a good job of controlling the tempo of the game with our offense."

Ohio State controlled the ball for 37 minutes and 52 seconds and racked up 200 yards on the ground.

Rodney Kinlaw had 14 carries for 81 yards and a score while Anthony Morelli went 12-for-21 with 111 yards and a costly interception that was returned for a touchdown for the Nittany Lions (6-3, 3-3), who were riding a three-game winning streak coming into the game.

"We couldn't stop them," said Penn State coach Joe Paterno. "That's a good football team. They played really well. I thought at halftime, we had a shot at it because they were kicking off to us. But, we couldn't make it happen."

The Buckeyes started the game with the ball and drove to the PSU 33, but the drive stalled there and the team settled for a 50-yard field goal from Ryan Pretorius with the wind at his back.

The Lions had an answer on their next possession. On 3rd-and-2, Kinlaw followed his lead blocker up the middle for a 21-yard gain. On the next play, Morelli used the play action and found Andrew Quarless wide open for a 30-yard play to set up 1st-and-goal. Three plays later, Kinlaw went untouched into the end zone from two yards out for a 7-3 lead with 8:25 left in the first quarter.

Ohio State, though, responded with a pair of touchdowns to take a 17-7 lead.

After getting the ball back, on a 1st-and-10 play Boeckman found Ray Small wide open near the Lions' 20 and the receiver hauled in the ball and took it to the eight-yard line on a 60-yard play. Two plays later, Boeckman hit Brian Robiskie near the right pylon for a nine-yard score with 4:59 left in the first.

After stopping the Lions on the ensuing possession, the Buckeyes got the ball back and made it a 10-point game as a 15-play, 91-yard drive that ate up over six minutes was capped off when Boeckman used the play action to the right, and connected Brian Hartline in the left flat. He made a defender miss on his way into the end zone from 16 yards out.

The Lions started the second half with the ball, but stalled at midfield and had to punt it away.

Ohio State then went on a 13-play, 87-yard drive that was capped off as Jake Ballard made a leaping catch in the right side of the end zone for a 15-yard score and a 24-7 lead with 6:10 left in the third.

Penn State cut into its deficit on its next touch as Kevin Kelly hit a 27-yard field goal with 1:27 left in the third.

However, the Buckeyes scored the next 13 points to put the game away.

A drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters, Ohio State took a 17-point lead as Pretorius booted a 37-yard field goal.

On the first play of Penn State's next possession, Morelli lofted a blind pass that Malcolm Jenkins easily picked off and raced untouched into the end zone for a 34-10 lead with 9:36 to play.

Pretorius' 35-yard field goal with 3:30 to play gave the Buckeyes a 37-10 advantage.

Penn State got a bit of life as A.J. Wallace returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, but it was with 3:16 to play and that was as close as it got.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Join us on the radio

Join The Phanatic Magazine's John Gottlieb and John McMullen Saturday at 7:00 p.m. (et) for another edition of Johns on Sports, coming to you live from WTBQ 1110 AM. After a knockdown battle last week regarding Joe Torre we are thinking about renaming the show to Gottlieb is always right. But we get back on track this week as the Iron Horse of sports radio, McMullen, is around for his second straight week. We'll get into the joke known as the World Series, the Giants in London, and the opening of The Rock in Newark. That and so much more tonight on Johns on Sports. You can join the program by logging on to, calling in at (845) 651-1110, or writing an e-mail to

Get ready for opener with Sixers week

Philadelphia, Pa. – Oct. 26, 2007 – In the days leading up to Philadelphia 76ers home opener at the Wachovia Center on Saturday, Nov. 3 against the New Jersey Nets, the team will embark on its third annual “Sixers Week,” which is a series of events designed to reach out to fans throughout the city and get them ready for the start of the season.

Sixers opening night will feature a spectacular pre-game show, a new team intro video, the 2007-08 debut of the Sixers Dancers and new in-game entertainment elements.

To get ready for “Sixers Week,” landmarks throughout Philadelphia will be showing their support for the team, which includes the PECO building running Sixers messages and the Cira Centre displaying the 76ers logo on Monday, Oct. 29 and Tuesday, Oct. 30.

The following events will be held during “Sixers Week,” beginning on Monday, Oct. 29 and running right up until the Sixers home-opener on Saturday, Nov. 3 against the Nets.

Monday, Oct. 29 – “Random Acts of Kindness”

At 3:00 p.m., Sixers players, coaches, and staff will participate in “Random Acts of Kindness” at various locations throughout Philadelphia

Location #1: Local High School, Philadelphia, PA

- Players and coaches will give the teachers wrapped gifts with a voucher for two tickets to the home opener, to show their dedication in helping students achieve academic excellence.

Location #2: McDonald’s- 1891 South State Road, Upper Darby, PA

- Players will be behind the counter, helping with food and drink prep while greeting customers.

- From 3:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., there will coupons for free large sandwiches given to all fans while supplies last.

- At the conclusion of the event, a donation will be made on behalf of the team to Ronald McDonald House Charities®.

Location #3: ACME - 121 City Ave, Bala Cynwyd, PA

- Players and coaches will act as customer service representatives and baggers in the store.

- They will also hand out ACME gift cards to fans to use towards their purchases.

Tuesday, Oct. 30 – T-Shirt Tour

During lunchtime, Hip-Hop & the Hare Raisers, Sixers Dancers and staff will ride on a double-decker tour bus and travel from the Wachovia Center through the streets of Central Philadelphia, giving away free 76ers T-shirts. Each T-shirt will have a special ticket offer attached good for the home opener on Nov. 3.

Wednesday, Oct. 31 – Hat Stop and “Voooing Party”

At 11:30 a.m., Hip-Hop & the Hare Raisers, Sixers Dancers and staff will give out Sixers caps to all vendors in the Reading Terminal (11th and Filbert) so they can display their Sixers pride!

At 6:00 p.m., Sixers fans will be invited to watch the team’s season opener on Comcast SportsNet against the Toronto Raptors at Chickie’s & Pete’s (1526 Packer Avenue) on Halloween night for a “Voooing Party.” Fans can participate in costume contests, bobbing for apples and carrots, face painting, scariest scream and laugh contests, all for the chance earn great Sixers and Comcast SportsNet prizes. All fans in attendance will also have the chance to win tickets to the home opener on Nov. 3.

Thursday, Nov. 1 – Pep Rally and “Cap the Cabbies”

At 12:00 p.m., the team will hold a pep rally at Liberty Place (16th & Chestnut). Kathy Romano, Sixers in-arena host, will emcee the event, which will also feature appearances by Hip-Hop & the Hare Raisers, Sixers Dancers, and a live band set to perform inside Liberty Place Mall. Additionally, fans in attendance will have the opportunity to win tickets to the home-opener on Nov. 3.

At 5:00 p.m., Hip-Hop and Sixers staff will go to various cab and SEPTA depots around Philadelphia to deliver “Caps for Cabbies,” so they can display their 76ers pride and the city will be constantly reminded that the Sixers season kicks off at the Wachovia Center on Nov. 3.

Friday, Nov. 2 – Home Opener Eve Party

The Sixers will continue the week’s activities at 7:30 p.m. with a second viewing party, this time at Dave & Buster’s (325 N. Columbus Blvd.). Sixers fans will be invited to watch the team’s second game of the 2007-08 season against the Chicago Bulls, which will air on CN8. Sixers Ambassador of Basketball World B. Free, Hip-Hop & the Hare Raisers, Sixers Dancers and staff will also give fans a chance to win tickets to the home opener on Nov. 3.

Saturday, Nov. 3 – Sixers Home Opener vs. New Jersey

Sixers opening night will feature a spectacular pre-game show, a new team intro video, the 2007-08 debut of the Sixers Dancers and new in-game entertainment elements.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Gagne to Miss Saturday's Game

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren on Friday updated the condition of left wing Simon Gagne:

"Simon Gagne did not pass his baseline testing that was administered this afternoon in Boston. Therefore, he will be unable to play tomorrow [against Boston] and he will be considered day-to-day. [Flyers athletic trainer] Jim McCrossin administered the test and his score was lower in the one parameter of the testing [so] he did not pass."

Gagne was injured in the Flyers' 4-3 loss to Florida on Wednesday night. He missed Thursday's 5-2 loss in Tampa Bay with dizziness.

The Flyers face the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon at the TD Banknorth Garden (4:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, 610 WIP).

Wings to play in 2008 after all; labor peace in NLL

The National Lacrosse League has announced the reaching of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Professional Lacrosse Player's Association. The agreement is a seven-year term that begins in 2008 and run through the 2014 season. The agreement marks the longest labor deal in the 22-year history of professional indoor lacrosse. The league's previous three-year agreement with the PLPA expired following the 2007 season.

"Reaching a long-term collective bargaining agreement with the players was our number one priority in this process", said NLL Commissioner Jim Jennings. "We've been building positive growth in the league over the past few years. Securing long-term labor peace puts us in a position to take our league to the next level."

The agreement also means that professional indoor lacrosse will be played in 2008. When a new CBA had not reached by the league's deadline last week, the 2008 season was canceled. A new schedule for the 2008 National Lacrosse League season is expected to be announced next week.

St. Joe's Nivins named to Naismith watch list

ATLANTA, Ga. – Junior forward/center Ahmad Nivins of Saint Joseph’s is among 33 players named to the Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List, as announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

Nivins ranked sixth in the Conference in scoring (16.6 ppg.) and fourth in rebounding (7.6 rpg.) and garnered first-team All-A-10 honors a year ago. The 6-9 forward/center scored at least 20 points seven times last season and added six double-double performances.

2008 NFL Mock Draft version 1.0

-Courtesy of Frank Coyle -

1 St. Louis Glenn Dorsey DT LSU
2 Miami Andre' Woodson QB Kentucky
3 Atlanta Brian Brohm QB Louisville
4 NY Jets * Darren McFadden RB Arkansas
5 Buffalo Jake Long OT Michigan
6 Minnesota Chris Long DE Virginia
7 Oakland * Michael Oher OT Mississippi
8 New Orleans Sedrick Ellis DT Southern Cal
9 Arizona * Kenny Phillips FS Miami
10 Houston * Ryan Clady OT Boise St.
11 New Eng (San Fran) * Malcolm Jenkins CB Ohio St.
12 Philadelphia Early Doucet WR LSU
13 Cincinnati * Steve Slaton RB West Virginia
14 Tennessee Antoine Cason CB Arizona
15 Chicago Keith Rivers LB Southern Cal
16 Dallas (Cleve) Frank Okam DT Texas
17 Detroit * Tyson Jackson DE LSU
18 Washington * Calais Campbell DE Miami
19 Baltimore * Reggie Smith CB Oklahoma
20 Kansas City Gosder Cherilus OT Boston College
21 Jacksonville Dan Connor LB Penn St
22 Carolina * DeSean Jackson WR California
23 San Diego Adarius Bowman WR Oklahoma St
24 Denver * Derrick Harvey DE Florida
25 Tampa Bay Sam Baker OT Southern Cal
26 Seattle Lawrence Jackson DE Southern Cal
27 New York Giants * Justin King CB Penn St.
28 Green Bay * Vernon Gholston DE Ohio St.
29 Pittsburgh * James Laurinaitis LB Ohio St
30 San Fran (Indy) * Mario Manningham WR Michigan
31 Dallas * Alex Boone OT Ohio St.
32 New England Pick forfeited

Fantasy Football Rush: Week 8

By Michael Rushton
The Phanatic Magazine

What happened to the running back?

For the past several years, the position dominated fantasy football. If you didn't have two solid, starting backs, a fantasy championship was a hard thing to secure. Sure, it could be done, but without the comfort of knowing that at least one of your RBs was sure to find the end zone, you were sweating until Tuesday morning.

Enter 2007. According to ESPN's fantasy player rankings, the top three point-getters are Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Randy Moss. In fact, nine of their top 12 players are either quarterbacks or wide receivers. Six of those are QBs.

The backs that do crack the top 12: the now-injured Ronnie Brown, LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson occupy spots four, five and six respectively.

Are we now heading into the age of the quarterback, as teams begin to use a two-back system and exploit weak cover schemes. Only time will tell, but as of now, the gun-slingers rule.

Now, on to our Week 8 outlook.

Good Starts

QB - Jon Kitna, Lions: He gets a Bears defense that is a shell of its former self. Injury, and I guess age, are starting to catch up to that unit, though Kevin Jones and Tatum Bell won't get much room to run, meaning Kitna will exploit the Bears wounded secondary.

QB - Donovan McNabb, Eagles: Plays the Vikings this weekend, a club that excels at stopping the run. Instead, as The Phanatic's John McMullen predicts, Minnesota's secondary will make McNabb look like the McNabb of old.

QB - Vinny Testaverde, Panthers: Why is he a good start? Because Indy should build such a big lead that Carolina will have no choice but to air it out. Testaverde will start slow and then should accumulate some big garbage numbers.

RB - LenDale White/Chris Henry, Titans: Oakland is horrible against the run, and with Vince Young coming back from a quad injury, Tennessee will try to control the game on the ground. White went over 100 yards for the first time in his career last week, and Henry scored his first career TD replacing a still-injured Chris Brown.

RB - Adrian Peterson, Vikings: We all know the Eagles can't stop the run, and Minnesota should know that by now as well. Look for Peterson, and probably Chester Taylor, rack up yards versus the Birds.

RB - Jason Wright, Browns: Jamal Lewis is still hurt and Wright is facing a winless Ram club that will be without Leonard Little.

WR - Roy Williams, Lions: Williams hasn't been involved heavily in the passing game for the past few weeks, and Detroit will need to change that against the Bears.

WR - Kevin Curtis, Eagles: See McNabb above

WR - Lee Evans, Bills: Is starting to put up numbers after a slow start to the season.

TE - Greg Olsen, Bears: Has been lining up outside of the line and is becoming a go-to target for Brian Griese.

Bad Starts

QB - Vince Young, Titans: Is coming off a quad injury that will limit his ability to make big plays.

QB - Brett Favre, Packers: Champ Bailey is back for Denver, spelling interception city for Favre.

RB - Frank Gore, 49ers: Gore is on injury watch, as he suffered a minor ankle injury last week. That might cause San Francisco to use him a little less this Sunday.

RB - LaMont Jordan, Raiders: Faces one of the best run defenses in Tennessee this weekend.

WR - Devery Henderson, Saints: Has had trouble holding onto the ball this year, and faces a 49ers secondary that has two Pro Bowl corners in Walt Harris and Nate Clements.

WR - Any of Jacksonville's wide outs: Quinn Gray will be at QB. The Jaguars will run the ball. Nuff said.

Email Michael Rushton at with all fantasy questions.

NBA GM's pick Spurs to repeat

-Courtesy of the National Basketball Association

NEW YORK, Oct. 24, 2007 – For the fourth consecutive year NBA general managers predict the San Antonio Spurs will win The Finals in 2008, which would be their fifth NBA title in 10 years, according to respondents of the Sixth Annual GM Survey.

The exclusive survey, providing fans with an inside look into the minds of NBA decision-makers on the season, revealed that 37 percent of GMs believe the Spurs will win The Finals. The Phoenix Suns received 26 percent of the GMs vote and the Dallas Mavericks received 15 percent. In last year’s survey, 43 percent of GMs selected the Spurs to win the Finals.

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (30 percent) was selected by GMs for the second consecutive year to win the regular season MVP Award. The Spurs’ Tim Duncan received 22 percent of the vote and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant received 19 percent. Despite winning the 2006-07 NBA MVP Award, the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki (0 percent) did not receive any GM votes to win the award again this season.

For the first time in the survey’s history, the Miami Heat’s Shaquille O’Neal (7 percent) did not receive the most votes as the best center in the league, as the Spurs’ Duncan (48 percent) and Houston Rockets’ Yao Ming (33 percent) finished with more votes. Duncan (48 percent) was also picked by GMs as the best power forward in the NBA, finishing ahead of the Boston Celtics’ Kevin Garnett (26 percent). The Suns’ Steve Nash (85 percent) was viewed by GMs as the best point guard, the Lakers’ Bryant (93 percent) was selected as the best shooting guard and the Cavaliers’ James (74 percent) finished as the best small forward.

Only Bryant and Duncan have been selected by GMs as the best at their position all six years of the GM Survey.

After finishing the 2006-07 NBA season at 24-58, and acquiring All-Stars Garnett and Ray Allen during the off-season, 78 percent of GMs believe the Boston Celtics will be the most improved team. The Celtics and Detroit Pistons each received 26 percent of votes to win the Eastern Conference.

For the sixth consecutive year, Bryant (89 percent) was also selected by GMs as the player they want taking a shot with the game on the line. Nowitzki (74 percent) was viewed as the top international player and James (59 percent) as the top player GMs would sign to start an NBA franchise.

Additional 2007-08 GM Survey Results Include:
Spurs’ Greg Popovich - best head coach in the NBA (73 percent)
SuperSonics’ Kevin Durant - winning the Rookie of the Year Award (93 percent)
Celtics’ Kevin Garnett - acquisition that will make the biggest impact this season (96 percent)
Spurs’ Bruce Bowen - best defensive player (39 percent)
Bulls’ Luol Deng/Timberwolves’ Al Jefferson - most likely to have breakout season (each 15 percent)
Raptors’ Andrea Bargnani – international player most likely to have breakout season (26 percent)
Pistons’ Richard Hamilton - best moving without the ball (73 percent)
Nuggets’ Allen Iverson - fastest player with the ball (22 percent)
Suns - most fun team to watch (73 percent)
Jazz - best home-court advantage (35 percent)

Holmgren updates Gagne's status

(Tampa, FL) – Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren updated the status of left wing Simon Gagne prior to the Flyers-Tampa Bay Lightning game at the St. Pete Times Forum on Thursday night.

Gagne did not play in the game on Thursday but is possible for Saturday afternoon’s game in Boston, according to Holmgren.

Q: What is the update on Simon?
PH: “He’s feeling much better today. He’s going to be evaluated between periods of the game tonight. We should know the results of that by either later tonight or tomorrow. He’s a possibility to be able to play on Saturday.”

Q: Did he go through the neurological testing yet?
PH: “No. [Flyers athletic trainer] Jimmy McCrossin is actually going to do it via a computer program that he has.”

Q: Did he have any symptoms today?
PH: “No, he felt great. He feels good today and once we administer the test to him we’ll have a better idea.”

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Byars to Germany

Recently waived Sixers swingman Derrick Byars in expected to sign with a team based in Cologne, Germany.

What Nits have to do Saturday night...

By Jared Trexler
The Phanatic Magazine

In a long distinguished list of sporting events to see before you die, a prime time tilt in Happy Valley must be near the top. Granted, any Saturday at Penn State is chalk full of loyal Lions -- 110,000-plus to be exact -- but there is just something about the national TV, under-the-lights, "White Out" atmosphere that brings the best out of college football.

Just this week, in preparation for his Buckeyes' upcoming night game in Beaver Stadium, Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins revealed he could barely hear when his club last played under the lights in State College (2005). Penn State won that game, 17-10, and a Troy Smith-led offense never gained traction against a hard-charging defense.

This installment of the rivalry has plenty of subtext. Believe it or not, Ohio State is the first top-ranked club to play in Beaver Stadium since 1989. The Buckeyes truly haven't been tested (unless you count games at Purdue and versus Michigan State), and many pigskin prognosticators are skeptical of Ohio State's claim to the top national spot. Penn State is playing its third game without running back Austin Scott, and its offense has looked much better with a more balanced offering and Evan Royster's insertion into the backfield mix.

What do the Nittany Lions have to accomplish to come out on top? Here are The Phanatic Magazine's Top 5 keys to victory.

1. Establish balance early. Easier said than done against an Ohio State defense that is yielding just over a touchdown per game and tops the Big Ten in every major defensive category. However, Penn State needs to come out with the same game plan implemented against Wisconsin and Indiana -- and not the turn-back-the-clock variety we saw at Michigan. Predictability is Penn State's worst nightmare, so The Phanatic Magazine surmises Anthony Morelli must come out throwing on first down, the offensive line must work downhill with quick passes and delayed draws negating a strong upfield rush, and Royster must see plenty of early action to pound a Buckeye defense that hasn't been physically tested all season. The Nittany Lions can't win this game in the first quarter -- nor with their crowd and defense can they likely lose it -- but offensive balance is a huge key early in the game, even if it doesn't equate to points.

2. Stop the Buckeyes ground game. The strength of Penn State's defense (front seven) needs to dictate tempo and play on the opposition's side of the field. Injuries have saddled the four down linemen in recent weeks (season-ending injuries to Jerome Hayes and Jared Odrick), but Maurice Evans is quickly growing into a game-changing pass rusher and the linebacker crew to still strong. Ohio State's passing game is predicated on Chris Wells' success between the tackles. Todd Boeckman loves the play-action pass, and his receivers excel on vertical routes. If Penn State's front seven can stop Wells and company -- 1)it will negate Ohio State's play-action vertical game and 2)it will keep safety Tony Davis in the deep middle instead of up near the line of scrimmage.

3. Play between the hashmarks on defense. If last week's victory over Indiana told us anything, it is that Penn State's defense is at its best between the outside edges. When the Lions lose contain or are spread wide, the unit struggles to stop stretches and tosses, as well as the tight end/slot receiver game in the middle of the field. Sean Lee, Dan Conor and Navarro Bowman are all sound tacklers with great game instincts, but the trio as a whole doesn't have blazing speed and freakish athletic ability (Bowman is still evolving as a player, so evaluating his athletic ability as it pertains to the field of play is still relatively unquantifiable). The Nittany Lions defense plays well with a strong upfield push from inside and well-maintained outside lanes that funnel all activity towards the middle of the field. Keeping Wells inside and forcing any reverses or gadget plays back to the defense's strength (inside linebacker and safety) will help keep the Buckeyes off the scoreboard.

4. The real Derrick Williams stands up. I had a perfect vantage point of Williams' TD run from the shotgun formation in Penn State's 2005 victory. He outran now-NFL star A.J. Hawk to the corner even though the linebacker had the proper angle. As Williams and the Penn State faithful celebrated, Hawk looked back at the coaching staff and threw his hands in the air, basically telling the Sweater Vest "He didn't look that fast on film." The nation's top recruit when he entered Penn State in 2005, Williams has never shown the same game-changing speed since breaking his hand several games after the Ohio State victory against Michigan. Since hands have little to do with speed, one has to guess Williams still plays tentative. That is if you are giving the highly-touted wide receiver the benefit of the doubt. If not, perhaps you feel Williams is a bust, another in a long line of high school stars who just didn't adjust, didn't meet expectations for whatever reason at the next level. Penn State needs at least one -- just one -- game-changing play from Williams Saturday night.

5. Mistake-free football. Morelli has been plagued by mistakes in big football games throughout his two-year stay as starter in Happy Valley. Perhaps that is why the signal-caller is 0-3 against Michigan and Ohio State. However, Morelli has looked more comfortable and precise over the last two weeks as the Penn State offense became less predictable. He still tends to eat the football at times instead of chucking it into Row 20, but he has rarely forced throws and has made his way through progressions much quicker. One of Penn State's strengths is at wide receiver, and Morelli needs to use those weapons to his advantage against the Buckeyes. A line similar to that from last season's Outback Bowl against Tennessee (180 passing, 1 TD, 0 INT) will keep Penn State in the game until the clock strikes zero.
Jared Trexler is the author of the upcoming book "Penn State Football: An Interactive Guide to the World of Sports" The book will be released by Savas Beatie in August 2008.