Monday, May 31, 2010

CSN to re-air Halladay's perfecto

Comcast SportsNet will replay Roy Halladay's perfect game on Monday, May  31 at 8 p.m. On Saturday, Halladay become only the second pitcher in Phillies history and the 20th in MLB history to throw a perfect game.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Union win first road game in Houston

Houston, TX (May 29, 2010) – Philadelphia Union won their first road game in club history on Saturday night, topping the Houston Dynamo 3-2 on a second straight stoppage-time goal from rookie Danny Mwanga. After going into halftime up 1-0, Houston took the lead with two goals in a 10-minute span. The Union didn’t quit, leveling the score at 2-2 in the 69th minute before taking the lead in the waning moments.

While neither team created many chances in the first 30 minutes, Houston nearly struck first off of a Brad Davis free kick from a dangerous position to the left of the penalty area, but Eddie Robinson’s header was just wide.

The Union got on the board first in the 39th minute on a spectacular individual display by Shea Salinas, who made his first start of the season as a midfielder. Salinas won the ball from Bobby Boswell in the right corner and dribbled along the endline towards goal. When Pat Onstad came out, Salinas flicked the ball far post with his right foot into the left corner of the net for a 1-0 Union lead.

Houston struck back shortly after the break in the 52nd minute. Davis sent a curling free kick into the box from a dangerous position and World Cup snub Brian Ching rose up and headed it into the top of the net to tie the score at 1-1.

Chris Seitz momentarily kept the score level, stoning Danny Cruz's angled shot from 10 yards out to keep the score tied at 1-1.

The Dynamo took the lead in the 59th minute off another set piece following a Stefani Miglioranzi yellow card. Davis sent another perfectly placed ball far post and an onrushing Robinson powerfully headed the ball past Seitz for a 2-1 Houston lead.

The scoring continued in the second half, with Sebastien Le Toux tying it up at 2-2 in the 69th minute. Roger Torres chipped to Danny Mwanga in the box after a give-and-go and the rookie found Le Toux wide open at the top of the area. Le Toux picked his spot carefully and knocked a ball that deflected off a Houston defender into the left corner of the net.

With time running out, the Union took a 3-2 lead on a dramatic stoppage-time goal from Mwanga, his second in as many matches. Alejandro Moreno sent Le Toux down the right touchline and the Frenchman turned toward goal, running at Onstad and sliding a cross on the ground to Mwanga, who knocked the ball into the back of the net from seven yards out.

The win enables Philadelphia to build on the momentum created against Dallas. With two more away games ahead, including a match against the Chicago Fire next Saturday, the Union secured three much-needed points before they’ll open PPL Park on June 27th.
Scoring Summary:
PHI -- Shea Salinas 1 (Michael Orozco 1) 39

HOU -- Brian Ching 1 (Brad Davis 5) 52

HOU -- Eddie Robinson 1 (Brad Davis 6) 59

PHI -- Sebastien Le Toux 5 (Danny Mwanga 1, Roger Torres 3) 69

PHI -- Danny Mwanga 2 (Sebastien Le Toux 2) 93+
Philadelphia Union (2-5-1) -- Chris Seitz, Cristian Arrieta, Danny Califf, Michael Orozco, Jordan Harvey, Shea Salinas (Roger Torres 62), Fred (Danny Mwanga 54), Stefani Miglioranzi, Kyle Nakazawa, Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno
Substitutes Not Used:
Andrew Jacobson, Shavar Thomas, Jack McInerney, Amobi Okugo, Brad Knighton

Shots: 8; SOG: 3; Fouls: 10; Corner kicks: 7; Offsides: 5; Saves: 5
Houston Dynamo (5-5-1) -- Pat Onstad, Richard Mulrooney, Bobby Boswell, Eddie Robinson (Ryan Cochrane 76), Mike Chabala (Andrew Hainault 45), Danny Cruz, Brad Davis, Lovel Palmer, Brian Mullan, Dominic Oduro, Luis Landin (Brian Ching 46)
Substitutes Not Used:
Corey Ashe, Joseph Ngwenya, Cam Weaver, Tally Hall

Shots: 14; SOG: 8; Fouls: 14; Corner kicks: 4; Offsides: 2; Saves: 1
Misconduct Summary:
PHI -- Jordan Harvey (caution; Reckless Foul) 23

PHI -- Kyle Nakazawa (caution; Reckless Foul) 42

PHI -- Cristian Arrieta (caution; Tactical Foul) 51

PHI -- Stefani Miglioranzi (caution; Reckless Foul) 58

HOU -- Brian Mullan (caution; Reckless Foul) 79
Referee: Steven DePiero Referee's Assistants: Philippe Briere; Jason Cullum 4th Official: Jeff Gontarek Time of Game: 1:53 Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-88-degrees 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Video: Check out 3-year-old Flyers' fan Natalie

CSN Philly wagers with CSN Chicago

Comcast SportsNet networks in Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively the  home of the Stanley Cup-contenting Blackhawks and Flyers, have made a wager  to defend their hometown pride in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

If the Philadelphia Flyers are victors, Comcast SportsNet Chicago will  serve Deep Dish Pizzas from the world-famous Giordano’s to Comcast  SportsNet Philadelphia employees.  Should the Chicago Blackhawks win the  2010 Stanley Cup, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia will serve authentic  Philly Cheese Steaks from the award-winning Campos, to Comcast SportsNet  Chicago employees.

“The Flyers have blown us all away on their journey to the Stanley Cup  Final, and we look forward to enjoying some deep dish pizza from our  friends in the Windy City,” said Brian Monihan, Senior Vice President and  General Manager of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.

“As much as we’re sure our friends in Philly would love a free lunch on us,  we are definitely looking forward to a ‘Taste of Philadelphia’ in our  offices come next month,” quipped James J. Corno, President of Comcast 
SportsNet Chicago.

NBA talks Flyers-Blackhawks

NEW YORK – May 27, 2010 – The 2010 Stanley Cup Final begins this Saturday  at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports when the Chicago Blackhawks, champions of the  Western Conference, host the Philadelphia Flyers, champions of the Eastern  Conference, at United Center.

Mike “Doc” Emrick (play-by-play), who will call his 12th Stanley Cup Final,  Eddie Olczyk (analyst), and Pierre McGuire (inside-the-glass reporter) call  the action. McGuire will pull double duty, hosting NBC’s studio show  alongside analyst Mike Milbury and Olympic MVP and Buffalo Sabres goalie  Ryan Miller, who will serve as a guest analyst for Game 1. Analyst Jeremy  Roenick will join McGuire and Milbury for the remainder of the series  beginning with Game 2.

SCHEDULE: NBC Sports’ coverage of the Stanley Cup Final continues with Game  2 from United Center on Monday, May 31 at 8 p.m. ET. Games 3 and 4 will be  played at Philadelphia’s Wachovia Center and will air on VERSUS Wednesday,  June 2 and Friday, June 4, respectively. NBC Sports resumes coverage for 
Games 5-7, if necessary. Following is the Stanley Cup Final television  schedule (all times ET):

Game 1                Sat. May 29        NBC                   8 p.m.

Game 2                Mon. May 31      NBC                   8 p.m.

Game 3                Wed. June 2        VERSUS             8 p.m.

Game 4                Fri. June 4           VERSUS             8 p.m.

Game 5                Sun. June 6          NBC                   8 p.m.

Game 6                Wed. June 9        NBC                   8 p.m.

Game 7                Fri. June 11         NBC                   8 p.m.

VIEWERSHIP: NBC Sports is averaging 1.89 million viewers for its NHL  playoff coverage, the most for broadcast TV in the U.S. through three  rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2002 (2.31 million on ABC) and up  five percent over last year. Sunday’s game featuring the Blackhawks’  series-clinching win over the San Jose Sharks averaged 2.5 million viewers,  up 19 percent from last year’s comparable game (2.1 million).

STANLEY CUP HISTORY: The Blackhawks, the No. 2 seed in the Western  Conference, are making their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1992  when they were swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Chicago has not won the  Stanley Cup since 1961 and their 49 years without a title is the longest  active drought in the league.

The Flyers, the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, are back in the Final  for the first time since they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in 1997.  Philadelphia has not won the Stanley Cup championship since they were  repeat champs in 1974-75.

Both teams have lost their last five Final appearances. The Flyers are 2-5  all time in the Final, while Chicago is 3-7.

OLYMPIANS COMPETING FOR THE CUP: Ten players on the rosters of the  Blackhawks (six) and Flyers (four) competed in the 2010 Vancouver Winter  Olympic Games. Of the 10, five won gold for Canada, one claimed silver for  Team USA, one earned bronze for Finland, and two competed for bronze with  Slovakia but lost to Finland. One player competed for Latvia.


Blackhawks: Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook & Jonathan Toews

Flyers: Chris Pronger & Mike Richards


Blackhawks: Patrick Kane


Flyers: Kimmo Timonen


Blackhawks: Marian Hossa & Tomas Kopecky


Flyers: Oskars Bartulis

ON NBC SPORTS: Chicago is 4-2 on NBC Sports this season, including last  weekend’s series-clinching Game 4 win over San Jose. Philadelphia is 2-3 on  NBC Sports in 2010, including Saturday’s 3-0 win over Montreal in Game 4 of  their series, which gave the Flyers a three-games-to-one lead.


1                      Office Trailer

2                      Net Cams

4                      Production Trucks

5                      Commentators

12                    Number of Finals called by Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, 
including 2010

24                    Cameras

35                    Pounds (weight of Stanley Cup)

81                    On-Site Personnel

15,840             Feet of Cable (approx)

NBCSPORTS.COM: “Star-cam” continues for the Stanley Cup Final. “Star-cam”  tracks a player(s) from both teams throughout each of their shifts.  Following the game, will present bonus material, including  “Star-cam” and “Net-cam” and bonus analysis from NBC Sports commentators.

CONFERENCE CALL: The NHL today conducted a media conference call with,  among others, Emrick, McGuire and Milbury to preview the Final. Highlights  follow:

MCGUIRE ON THE MATCHUP: “This is going to be a whole lot of nasty…It’s  going to be great hockey. It’s everything you want. You’ve got two sizzling  cauldrons here in Chicago and back in Philadelphia. It’s going to be a ton  of fun to watch.”

MILBURY ON THE MATCHUP: “(Chicago is) a quick, puck-moving group in  contrast with a bigger, stronger Philadelphia group. They match up pretty  well. It’s going to be a longer series, more than people realize.”

EMRICK ON PHILADELPHIA: “The fact that they could rally and still be able  to have some skin left on their teeth by the time they got through the last  game is a real achievement.”

EMRICK ON CHICAGO’S ORGANIZATION: “This team is very progressive in terms  of getting out there, showing the quality products that it has…When you  start winning games and start having 100-point seasons like they have in  the past two years, that shows they are really tremendous.”


MILBURY ON CHICAGO: “The one fact that’s in the favor of Chicago is their  team speed. It was outstanding throughout the playoffs.”

MCGUIRE ON PHILADELPHIA’S DANNY BRIERE: “This playoff season, he’s been  phenomenal. He’s been a major reason why  a lot like Mike Richards  they’ve  been able to survive.”

MCGUIRE: “Jonathan Toews is a no-nonsense kind of leader.”

EMRICK ON TOEWS: “There’s no panic in his game whatsoever. He’s a terrific  player.”

MCGUIRE ON DEFENSE: “A big part of what allowed these goalies to prosper is  the fact that both these teams have unbelievable defensemen in front of  them.”

Local Flyers coverage for Stanley Cup

Local stations are jumping on the Flyers bandwagon hard as the Stanley Cup Finals approach.

Comcast SportsNet will air the specials The Ultimate Goal and Behind Enemy Lines. The Ultimate Goal will feature Bill Clement, Al Morganti, Steve Coates,  Rick Tocchet and John Boruk.

Behind Enemy Lines will utilize CSN Chicagos resources for insight into the  Blackhawks.

CBS3 will air Flying to the Cup  Friday at 7:30 then on CWPhilly at 10:30  p.m.  Beasley Reece hosts.  Flyers alumni players will provide commentary.

NBC10, which will be airing Games 1, 2, and 5, 6, and 7 (if necessary) of  the Stanley Cup Finals will air the special Flyered Up for The Cup,  Saturday at 7 p.m. Vai Sikahema, John Clark, and Tim Furlong will travel to Chicago for the   big game between the Flyers and Blackhawks.

Fox29s John Anderson will travel to Chicago to cover the away games.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blackhawks know the road to redemption doesn't stop here

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

If you want to pinpoint a day where it all came crashing down for the Chicago Blackhawks, August 16, 1996 is a pretty good place to start.

If you want to pinpoint a day where it all started to come together for the Chicago Blackhawks, June 22, 2007 is as good as any.

In between, one of the eminent Original Six franchises suffered through more than a decade buried beneath the dirt that lies beneath the hockey wilderness, if you can believe that.

The significance of the two dates in question are pivot points for the club. The first is the day Jeremy Roenick was dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes for Alex Zhamnov, Craig Mills and a first-round draft pick. The other is the day the ‘Hawks took Buffalo native and forward Patrick Kane with the first-overall pick in that year’s draft.

In between, the ledger reads like a nightmare. Eight years out of 10 they missed the playoffs and didn’t advance past round one when they did. Only once (2001-02) did the team finish above .500. There were two last-place finishes in the bunch, and could have been more if they weren’t propped up by expansion Columbus and Nashville.

The only comparable stretch in team annals occurred between 1944 and 1958, the true dark ages, when Chicago missed the playoffs 12 times and wound up in the six-team NHL basement on nine occasions.

Eight men took the head-coaching reins and none lasted longer than the three years Brent Sutter had to suffer through. Reto Von Arx donned the Indian head, as did Jean-Yves Leroux, Boris Mironov, Vladimir Chebaturkin, Kyle Calder, Igor Korolev and the immortal Steve Passmore.

And still, as the legend goes, all home games at the United Center continued to be blacked out per orders of cantankerous then-owner William “Dollar Bill” Wirtz because he believed broadcasting them would hurt home attendance.

However, Wirtz is now dead and the team is run by his son W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz, the management has embraced heroes of the past like Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, and most importantly, the Blackhawks have run off three straight winning seasons for the first time since reeling off seven in a row from 1989-96.

Just this past season, Chicago obliterated its own record book, winning a franchise-record 52 games (three more than the previous mark set in 1971 and 1991) and amassing 112 points (five more than the old record of 107 first done in 1971and ‘72). One season after reaching the Western Conference Finals, the Blackhawks are competing for the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1992.

That year, under Iron Mike Keenan, the ‘Hawks won 11 straight games through three series only to be dumped in a four-game sweep by defending-champion Pittsburgh.

What Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell, Dustin Byfuglien and Antti Niemi are up against now is no small feat: they are in charge of not only returning the Blackhawks to respectability by being part of a consistent winner, they are also now burdened with ending an NHL-longest 49-year championship drought.

It is something that the following lights in franchise lore could not accomplish: Dennis Hull, Pat Stapleton, Wayne “Chico” Maki, Tony Esposito, Jim Pappin, Doug Wilson, Steve Larmer, Denis Savard, Ed Belfour, and Roenick.

If the desired result is attained, unbelievably, the names two paragraphs above will join such Hall-of-Famers as Hull, Mikita, Glenn Hall and Pierre Pilote, with the solid Ken Wharram and Eric Nesterenko providing support – who only lifted the ultimate prize once.

Even if the Cup is not paraded in Grant Park roughly two weeks from now, the recent brief surge of success should serve as a wake-up call to America’s Second City that hockey is back on the rise.

What’s always paired with the joy of renaissance, though, is the burden of expectation – from the front office and the fans – that the wins and banners and titles will keep on coming.

Even more so than the impending best-of-seven series, what looms on the horizon for the players donning the red and black will be the spectre of gearing up for several more seasons like the ones that have preceded it.

In each of the last five campaigns that followed a Blackhawks appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, the club has not returned to the final round. Only in 1962, the year after the last victory, did the ‘Hawks survive long enough in the postseason to make a return trip to the title round.

Since 1961, Chicago’s legacy of “winning” has been mired in the “good, but not good enough” pile. Twice, in 1971 and 1973, they fell to powerhouse Montreal Canadiens teams in the Finals. Semifinal defeats followed in 1974 and 1975.

Between 1982 and 1995, they reached the Campbell/Western Conference Finals seven times. In ’82, a below-.500 team lost to the slightly less below-.500 Vancouver Canucks. In ’83, ’85 and ’90 it was the dynastic high-octane Edmonton Oilers that spoiled their hopes. Calgary did the deed in 1989 and rival Detroit halted the run in the shortened ’95 course.

It can be a crushing set of circumstances for a team riding the wave of youth. Kane and team captain Toews are both 21. Defenseman Nik Hjalmarsson is 22 and center Dave Bolland is 23. Forwards Troy Brouwer and previous Cup winner Andrew Ladd are 24, as is playoff hero Dustin Byfuglien.

They have nothing but time ahead of them. It is in their best interest to keep the good karma flowing by doing their best on every single shift to represent the rebirth of the logo and to attract the attention of this proud and hungry city.

Years from now, if you want to pinpoint a day where it all began again for the Chicago Blackhawks, May 23, 2010 will be a pretty good one to look back on. A date in early June would be even better.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Eagles release P Brooks

The Philadelphia Eagles have released punter Durant Brooks.

Brooks, the winner of the Ray Guy Award for the nation's top punter in 2007, was signed by Philadelphia in February to compete with incumbent Sav Rocca. A sixth-round pick of the Redskins in 2008, the Georgia Tech product posted a 39.6 yards-per-punt average in six games for Washington in 2008.

"Tradition" be damned, Flyers appreciate their accomplishment

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Flyers captain Mike Richards shocked the hockey world at roughly 9:45 PM last night.

Four wins away from a Stanley Cup, he dared to handle the Prince of Wales Trophy which is awarded to the winner of the Eastern Conference – even though convention dictates that he ignore it and wait to touch hockey’s ultimate prize.

Not only did he touch that trophy, he carried it off the ice and all the way into the locker room and passed it around so that his teammates could take pictures.


After all, Chicago’s captain Jonathan Toews – whose team hadn’t made the Stanley Cup Finals since 1992 and is seeking its first title since 1961 -- declined to touch the Campbell Bowl after Sunday’s series-clinching victory, so who is Mike Richards that he should offend the hockey gods?

At least according to one intrepid beat writer at one of Philadelphia’s esteemed major news outlets, for “decades” the tradition has been to brush aside the conference championship silver for a shot to embrace the Stanley Cup.

Except, it’s totally and completely false.

I don’t exactly know when that superstition took hold, but it appeared to begin sometime around the lockout-shortened 1995 season.

I know Joe Sakic was smart enough to lift the Campbell Bowl for Colorado, and Mark Messier sure as hell celebrated when the Rangers (Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!) won in 1994. Dave Poulin triumphantly lifted the silver both times the Flyers won it in the mid-1980’s, once here and once in Montreal despite broken ribs. Wayne Gretzky never showed so much disrespect the five times he was on the receiving end.

But I do remember that in 1997, 13 years ago today, in fact, Eric Lindros chose to distance himself from the Prince of Wales Trophy after a Game 5 decision over the Blueshirts as if it contained the formula for career-ending concussions.

What happened after that – a four-game sweep at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings – sparked a furor that remains to this day in this city over whether or not it’s appropriate to disparage your accomplishment in favor of something which is not a guarantee.

Regardless of the opinions of fans, broadcasters or hockey experts across North America, the decision to shun the conference title hardware has been ingrained into this generation of hockey players. Year after year, there’s always one unlucky schmuck who thinks he’s not building up negative karma for his team by giving the thousand-yard stare to the conference trophy.

In all seriousness, howcome nobody’s ever asked Lindros, Dale Hunter, Michael Peca, Mike Modano, Scott Stevens, Ron Francis, Steve Rucchin, Jarome Iginla, Jason Smith, Daniel Alfredsson and Sidney Crosby why they did it, or how they felt about doing it after losing in the Cup Finals?

As much as Flyers fandom needs to hate on Crosby, though, he pretty much ended the hex last season. He raised the odd, cylindrical, round-based trophy after a win over Carolina and then went on to win the Cup.

If I can step out of professionalism for a minute here, I sincerely hope that when Richards absconded with the silver last night, he took some time to wipe that Penguin stink and stain off, and put some considerably more fragrant orange and black smudges on it.

Richards even admitted he had designs on hoisting the trophy in the post-game interviews, saying the club hadn’t done much by conventional means throughout the playoffs, so he might as well have bucked “tradition” then.  The fact that there wasn’t much of a discussion on what to do is even more encouraging.

I have personally despised this relatively new addendum to the amorphous hockey “code” ever since it took root, and expressed my views in no uncertain and often vulgar terms that hockey players are better served by gaining favor with the gods by purposefully celebrating their fortune.

Richards has scored some extra points in my book for his efforts to return to what can pass for a  saner version of hockey logic. It’ll only be worth anything if the hockey gods look upon his act with favor about two weeks from now.

The Flyers have continually shocked their little universe, ever since they gained a playoff berth on the last day of the regular season in a shootout victory.

A seven-seed isn’t even supposed to win a round. A team down 0-3 can’t win a series. You can’t pitch three shutouts against a team that beat the President’s Trophy winner and the defending champions on the road in a pair of Game 7s.

Tradition” be damned.

Vomit Guy pleads guilty

A 21-year-old New Jersey man has plead guilty to charges he intentionally vomited on a man and his 11-year-old daughter at a Phillies game on April 14.

Matthew Clemmens of Cherry Hill entered the guilty plea during an arraignment hearing on Tuesday.

Clemmens reportedly began harassing Michael Vangelo, an off-duty police officer from Easton, and his daughters during the game and eventually stuck his fingers down his throat and vomited on Vangelo and his younger daughter.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Flyers dispatch Habs, gain Stanley Cup Finals

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Jeff Carter notched a pair of goals and Mike Richards picked up a goal and two assists, as the Philadelphia Flyers dispatched the Montreal Canadiens by a 4-2 count in the deciding Game 5 of this Eastern Conference final.

Arron Asham also tallied for the seventh-seeded Flyers, who head to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1997 and did it in a more impressive manner and in a tougher fashion than the last time.

Philadelphia reached the Cup Finals that season by rolling past Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Rangers in 15 total games only to be swept by Detroit -- which ended a then NHL-longest 42-year title drought.

This time around, it was a five-game victory over New Jersey in the conference quarterfinals followed by an improbable seven-game semifinal win against Boston which saw Philly become the first team in 35 years to rally from an 0-3 series deficit.

A victory over eighth-seeded Montreal was secured in large part by holding the Habs to a total of seven goals in five games, including three shutouts by Michael Leighton.

Leighton stopped 25-of-27 shots for the victory, running his record this postseason to 6-1.

Now, Chicago stands in the way. The Blackhawks, who eliminated the Sharks with a Game 4 victory on Sunday in the Western final, haven't taken home the championship since 1961, the longest drought in the league. The Flyers have not won since the second of back-to-back triumphs in 1975.

The quest for the Cup begins at the United Center in Chicago on Saturday.

Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez lit the lamp for the Canadiens, who managed to topple top-ranked Washington and defending Cup champion Pittsburgh in seven- game triumphs before bowing in their first conference finals since winning it all in 1993.

Jaroslav Halak allowed three goals on 25 shots for Montreal, which had won all five of its previous elimination games before Monday's season-ending defeat.

With the setback, it marks the first time since the club joined the NHL that it failed to win a Stanley Cup at least once in a decade.

Philly moved ahead to stay at 3:07 of the second, when a failed Canadiens clear made its way to Matt Carle's stick on the left side. His pass was to Asham alone in front, and the gritty winger used a backhand-to-forehand move and beat Halak high to the short side.

Only 1:24 later, the Flyers cycled the puck along the left wing, with Kimmo Timonen finding Richards behind the net. His quick feed at the top of the crease was one-timed home by Carter for a 3-1 game.

The Flyers had a 5-on-3 power play for 48 seconds later in the period but failed to add to their lead. Nonetheless, the home team carried that two-goal advantage into the final 20 minutes.

Gomez cut Montreal's deficit to 3-2 at the 6:53 mark of the third period, when he followed up an errant PK Subban clear in the slot and lifted a shot under the crossbar.

Montreal was awarded a four-minute power play with 10:48 remaining when Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger's stick drew blood on Subban, but the visitors failed to score then had the final 1:23 wiped out due to taking a penalty.

Leighton averted disaster with 3 1/2 minutes remaining, as he was quick to stop a puck that caromed off the back boards and right into his crease for Tomas Plekanec.

Due to constant forechecking pressure, Halak was not able to head to the bench for an extra skater until well inside the final minute. Carter then locked up the game and the series on an empty-netter with 23 seconds to play.

Gionta opened the scoring just 59 seconds in when he slipped a shot between Leighton's legs from the right circle, but the Flyers evened the score on a Montreal power play at the 4:25 mark thanks to a virtuoso performance by the team captain.

Claude Giroux's clear from his own end touched down in the neutral zone, and Richards chased the puck into the Habs' end and collided with Halak. The disc was worked loose after the impact, then Richards got up, squared himself to the net, and scored into the open cage on the backhand.

NOTES: The Flyers improved to 19-2 all-time when leading a series 3-1...Philadelphia reached the NHL's final round for the eighth time in its history (1974-76, 1980, 1985, 1987, 1997, 2010)...Philly moved to 7-1 at home during this postseason...Gomez had not scored since Game 1 against Washington...Plekanec hadn't tallied since Game 6 against Washington...Richards leads the Flyers with 21 points (6G, 15A)...Habs forward Mike Cammalleri, who didn't record a point in the tilt, led his club with 13 goals and 19 points in 19 games...The Flyers and Blackhawks haven't met in the postseason since 1971, when Chicago won four games to none.

Matrix Fights returns to South Philly

Philadelphia, PA - Matrix Fights formally announced Monday that its second ever event is now scheduled for the legendary "The Arena" in Philadelphia, PA on Friday, June 11.

Coming off a sellout crowd in its debut event this past February, the promotion will look to continue to build on its reputation as one of the fastest growing promotions in the United States by featuring the East Coast return of UFC veteran Jay Silva as he takes on blue chip prospect Tim Williams in a middleweight contest.

Silva now resides in Huntington Beach, California but began his amateur mixed martial arts career in New Jersey. A bouncer at several popular New York City nightclubs, Silva accumulated a large fan base and emerged as an underground legend.

The Brazilian-born fighter transitioned from being an underground legend to a mainstream figure after building a respectable 5-1 record as a pro and landing a multi-fight contract with the UFC in 2009. Despite having gone 0-2 during his brief stint with the UFC, Silva made a name for himself by going the distance
with middleweight standouts Chris Leben and C.B. Dollaway.

"Silva's evolution from an East Coast-based amateur to a UFC-caliber middleweight has been nothing short of remarkable," said Matrix Fights President Jimmy Binns Jr. "Jay was already a beloved figure on the New
Jersey MMA scene before going to the UFC. But he's more popular than ever since making it to the big show. We're happy that we're going to give fans in the Tri-State area their first chance to see Jay since making it to the UFC."

Silva, who is drawing interest from several major promotions, could be just one big win away from returning to the big show. Standing in his way is one of the fastest rising middleweight prospects in all of MMA, Tim Williams.

Despite elite-level jiu-jitsu credentials, Williams' emergence as one of the top unsigned prospects in MMA had been considered improbable. Several years ago the Maryland native nearly lost his life in an auto accident that has left permanent scarring to portions of his face. Then, just last year, Williams was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm and his promising career was thought to be at a premature

Through all of his life-threatening battles, Williams has persevered and has achieved excellence in the cage; first as an amateur compiling a perfect 6-0 record and now as a pro, having gone 3-0 with three first round submissions.

"I am not sure if you are going to find a more inspirational fighter in MMA than Timmy Williams," remarked Matrix Fights promoter Phil Migliarese. "Because of the things Tim has experienced in his life outside of the cage, it has made him fearless inside of it. Usually, you don't see a 3-0 prospect accepting a fight against someone as experienced and dangerous as Jay Silva. But anything that Tim might experience in the cage is secondary to what he has endured outside of it."

These days fighters with less than five fights rarely show up on the radars of major national MMA organizations such as the UFC, Strikeforce, and the Bellator Fighting Championships. However, an upset victory for Williams could expedite his ascension through the ranks and land him on a big show sooner rather than later.

"Matt Makowski vs. LeVon Maynard was a tremendous main event for our first show," began Binns. "However, I think being able to bring Jay and Tim together sends a message to our fans that we're going to deliver a show that at worst is as good as the first and potentially even better. Both Jay and Tim
will have a lot at stake on June 11 and the victor is going to walk away with more than just their win bonus."

In addition to Silva vs. Williams, Matrix Fights II will also feature Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Tim Carpenter competing for the first-time ever in his native Philadelphia. Carpenter, who trains at Balance Studios and is one of the best unsigned light heavyweights in the world will put his unblemished 5-0 record on the line against New York native Guybson Sa. Sa has just one pro fight on his resume but it was a memorable victory. Facing the vastly more experienced Ryan Contaldi, who was 5-2 at the time, Sa defeated the more
experienced fighter in less than two minutes after executing a triangle choke.

Matrix Fights II will feature five pro fights and seven amateur contests with additional bouts set to be announced in the coming weeks. For ticket on-sale information as well as updates to the fight card, please visit

Brownout in Cleveland

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA - This is hardly the first time a superstar has been placated.

Despite already owning an NBA championship, Paul Westhead was fired early in his third season as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers back in the early 1980s after Magic Johnson spoke out about the team's fractured locker room. Pat Riley succeeded Westhead and Magic's Lakers went on to win four more NBA titles.

Fast-forward to the present. You knew someone was going to have to pay for the sins of underachieving in Cleveland. Did you really think it was going to be LeBron James?

Armed with the two-time reigning MVP, Mike Brown's Cavs were expected to win the franchise's first championship at some time over the past two seasons. The club won 66 and 61 regular-season games, respectively, over those years but were ousted by Orlando in the conference finals last spring and suffered a humbling second-round loss to Boston in this year's postseason.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the Cavaliers' playoff hiccups was the fact that they had home-court advantage in both setbacks.

Winning year after year in the NBA is just not feasible. Losing in Game 7 to a Larry Bird-led Celtics team in Beantown was certainly no shame. Falling to a Magic-fueled Lakers club at the old Forum in Inglewood was almost expected. But, losing with home-court advantage is something the ghosts LeBron is chasing just don't do.

Kobe Bryant's Lakers are a gaudy 24-1 in playoff series when the pivotal game was scheduled for LA and they are about to improve on the mark over the next week or so. Those who point to Kobe having Shaquille O'Neal for the majority of that time should understand things have only improved since Shaq left Hollywood.

The Lakers were 15-1 with home-court advantage when Bryant and Shaq were together with the Lakers, the only loss being in the finals to Detroit in 2004. Since O'Neal's exit, Kobe's teams are 9-0 with home-court and are about to make it a perfect 10 as Bryant attempts to wins his fifth NBA championship

Michael Jordan was even better. Give M.J. the hammer and he never, ever failed to perform. Jordan's teams were an astonishing 23-0 when they had home-court advantage.

With James' impending free agency looming, removing Brown, a former Coach of the Year, is another attempt to entice the King to remain with the organization by increasing his already-sizeable power base.
Many in Cleveland have reported that James has already vetoed a handful of trades general manager Danny Ferry has wanted to pursue.

Meanwhile, rumors continue to swirl that James would like to go to an organization as a package deal with his hand-picked mentor, Kentucky coach John Calipari.

"After a long and deep analysis of all of the factors that led to the disappointing early ends to our playoff runs over the past two seasons, we concluded that it was time for the Cavaliers to move in a different direction," Cleveland majority owner Dan Gilbert said when announcing the firing of Brown.

He might as well have said -- "LeBron, who do you want to coach your team?"

For whatever reason, people like to make excuses for James. They point to the balky elbow he carried into this year's postseason. They downgrade his supposed shaky supporting cast. They talk about the numerous off-court distractions that follow him around.

Now, you can another to the ever-growing laundry list -- poor LeBron suffered at the hands of a "pedestrian" coach.

"The expectations of this organization are very high and, although change always carries an element of risk, there are times when that risk must be taken in an attempt to break through to new, higher levels of accomplishment," Gilbert said. "This is one of those times."

Change can be good or bad. Its only guarantee is that it is inevitable and James should understand every time an excuse is removed from the equation that is his career, the noose tightens around him.

Sooner or later, the fingers will stop pointing at others and start pointing at James himself, whether he is playing in Cleveland, New York or Chicago.

Phils DFA Hoover

The Phillies have designated catcher Paul Hoover for assignment to make room for Brian Schneider, who will be activated from the DL before tomorrow's game with the New York Mets.

Hoover, 34, appeared in six games for the Phillies this year. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Blackhawks advance to Cup Finals, await Flyers?

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg scored late in the third period as the Chicago Blackhawks reached the championship round for the first time since 1992 after rallying from a two-goal deficit to post a 4-2 decision over the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

Brent Seabrook and Dave Bolland also tallied for the Blackhawks, who completed the four-game sweep in dramatic fashion and await their opponent in the Stanley Cup Finals. Philadelphia can lock up a berth in the title round with a win on Monday, as it holds a 3-1 series lead over Montreal.

Antti Niemi shook off some early rust and stopped 16-of-18 shots for Chicago, which holds the NHL's longest current Cup drought, having come up short every season since a 1961 win over Detroit.

Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau lit the lamp for the Sharks, who suffered another in a long line of disappointing playoff setbacks.

San Jose, which has reached the 100-point plateau in each of the last four seasons, overhauled its roster in the wake of a shocking first-round loss to Anaheim a year ago. Despite once again being a favorite to contend for the Cup and reaching its first conference finals since 2004, the Sharks failed to win even one game in the series.

Evgeni Nabokov allowed three goals on 26 shots in defeat.

After failing on two prior power-play chances in the first half of the third period, Chicago took its first lead of the game with 5:55 remaining in regulation while on the advantage.

Jonathan Toews controlled the puck along the right wing, then dished in behind the Sharks net for Patrick Kane. His centering feed from the left boards along the goal line was one-timed home by Byfuglien from the top of the crease for a 3-2 contest.

San Jose buzzed around Niemi and several Blackhawk chances fell by the wayside in the ensuing minutes.
The visitors pulled Nabokov for an extra attacker with 1:20 remaining, but Versteeg backhanded an insurance tally into the empty net from center ice with 42 seconds to play.

San Jose opened the scoring at the 11:08 mark of the first period, when Joe Thornton's try from the outer edge of the left circle was blocked, but Couture followed up and beat Niemi before he could react.

The Sharks led 2-0 on a Blackhawks power play at 7:35 of the second period, as Marleau one-timed a feed from Marc-Edouard Vlasic at the right circle. The play was made possible when an errant clear hit Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith in the face, causing the blueliner to fall behind as San Jose broke out on an odd-man rush.

Chicago halved its deficit at 13:15 on an odd series of events. Several 'Hawks crowded the crease and a loose puck that slid under Nabokov appeared to have been swept out by a San Jose stick before crossing the goal line.

The ruling on the ice was no goal, but a lengthy review overturned the decision, revealing that the puck had fully crossed the goal line for a brief second. Seabrook was credited with the tally although Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle appeared to knock the puck into his own net.

Bolland then tied the game with 1:22 left in the second, when he snuck around the Sharks' net, turned along the goal line and slipped a shot over a diving Nabokov.

NOTES: Byfuglien recorded three of the four game-winning goals in the series, including Friday's overtime winner. He leads the Blackhawks with eight goals in these playoffs...Chicago has appeared in four other Stanley Cup Finals between 1961-92 (1962, 1965, 1971, 1973)...The Blackhawks hadn't swept a postseason series since taking the 1996 Western quarterfinals over Calgary in four games...The Sharks had not been swept since a 1995 Western semifinal against Detroit...Toews upped his NHL-leading postseason point total to 26 (7G, 19 A)...Sharks center Joe Thornton, who finished the game minus-two with one shot on goal, ended the playoffs with three goals and 12 points and a minus-11 rating...San Jose winger Joe Pavelski collected one assist and led the Sharks with 17 points (9G, 8A) in 15 games.

ROH HDNet TV Taping results from South Philly

ROH TV tapings 5-21 Philadelphia
By Brian Streleckis,

I noticed at this show that they have a new shirt for Kevin Steen. It depicts the severed, zombified head of El Generico set on a folding chair. Happy Nightmares, Kids!


1. Adam Cole defeated “Brutal” Bob Evans.

2. Bobby Dempsey & Lance Bravado & ??? defeated Mr. Ernesto Osiris & Bruno Marciano & ???

3. Shima Xion defeated Andy Ridge. Highlight of this portion of the night.

Main Show:

- All of the wrestlers and crew surrounded the ring for a 10-Bell Salute and a moment of silence for Brad Mackie, the show’s lighting director who recently passed away.

1. Christopher Daniels defeated Mike Sydal with the Best Moonsault Ever. Mike is indeed the brother of former ROH star/current WWE star Matt Sydal/Evan Bourne, coincidentally a former partner of Daniels. For entrance music, Daniels is using the “Disposable Teens” cover he used in TNA during his high points in the company (2005-2006). Mike is still a little wet behind the ears, but the match was serviceable. Kyle Durden came in to interview Daniels, but Daniels took the mic from him to cut his own promo, saying how he came back to Ring of Honor to claim the title of “Best in the World,” and he wanted to put Davey Richards and the rest of the roster on notice. He was bleeding from the nose a little from the match, and he tied that into his promo by saying this is why he came back.

- Austin Aries came out for the next segment, dressed for success and sporting a Sherlock Holmes-style pipe. He mentioned he tried to apologize to Delirious for injuring his throat, but he got attacked for it. He said that Austin Aries the wrestler is gone (though he did wrestle later), but Austin Aries, Manager Supreme, has arrived. He said now that Jim Cornette has granted him his manager’s license, he’s going to beat Cornette at his own game and become The Greatest Man…ager That Ever Lived. He then introduced his proteges Kenny King & Rhett Titus, now officially using the team name “The All-Night Express” and even sporting matching trunks.

2. The All-Night Express (w/ Austin Aries) defeated Jerry Lynn & Delirious (w/ Daizee Haze) when King & Titus gave Lynn a Demolition Decapitation kneedrop. This will be a TV main event. Delirious was a lot more serious tonight and wasn’t doing his usual antics, and when he first tagged into the match, he went straight for Aries at ringside. Good match that included the heels getting heat by working over Delirious’ throat. Delirious took himself out of the match at the end when Aries grabbed Daizee and Delirious did a splash onto him to the floor to save her.

- Next came the official contract signing for the World Title Match between Tyler Black and Davey Richards at Death Before Dishonor VIII in Toronto next month (the next internet PPV). This segment will be airing the week of that show, as Jim Cornette himself said the match would take place “this Saturday night.” They set up a table with a black cloth and three chairs for Black, Richards, and Cornette in between them. Cornette came out and introduced the wrestlers, and Richards came out with Eddie Edwards and Shane Hagadorn. Richards signed it and made a statement, acknowledging the fans getting behind him as being the “Best in the World” and proving so by winning the title. Black signed and said to hold the title means he is the best guy going. Definitely seemed to be more of a Davey-friendly crowd. Richards went so far as to tell Edwards and Hagadorn to stay in the back that night so he can wrestle (and potentially beat) Black one-on-one. Then Daniels came back out and said he would issue a challenge to both the winner and the loser of this title match, as they both have something he desires: the admiration of the wrestling public and the ROH World Title. So this was indeed a lot more civil than your usual contract signing, with no table spots or scuffles. Daniels, Black, and Richards all left to their individual music.

3. Rasche Brown defeated Ricky Reyes with his burning hammer. Definitely not a squash, as Reyes worked over Brown’s leg heavily before losing. Afterward, Erick Stevens came out and brawled with Brown.

4. Eddie Edwards defeated Nick Westgate in a 10-Minute Hunt by ref stoppage via stomps to the head while applying the half crab. Edwards explained the rules of the Hunt: if someone can last 10 minutes with him or beat him in 10 minutes or less, he’ll get a shot at his ROH World TV Title at a later date. It really is that simple. Edwards chatted with his smaller no-name opponent before largely decimating him.

5. Sara Del Rey (w/ Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, and Shane Hagadorn) defeated a woman hailing from Denver with a piledriver. I’m sorry I couldn’t quite catch the other woman’s name, as she was pretty decent and the match was pretty competitive. Silly finish as Claudio and Hero distracted the ref while Hagadorn grabbed the other woman’s ankle to prevent a move. Del Rey, one of the top females in wrestling, honestly needed the help of three guys to win?

6. Steve Corino defeated Colt Cabana by DQ. Most of this was outside the ring than inside, including teases of a table being used. At the end of the match, Cabana set up two tables on the floor longways, with Corino at the opposite end with a chair next to his head, and he slid another chair across right into him. Colt was disqualified during this spot when ref Paul Turner prevented him from doing this and got tossed to the floor for his troubles. Corino came up bleeding from the spot.
- Back in the ring post-match, Cabana then attempted to powerbomb Corino into a table set up in the corner, but a pre-teen kid who I believe was Corino’s son Colby ran out to ringside to distract him. This led to Kevin Steen running in for the attack as security dragged Colby away. Steen then attempted a corner splash on Cabana through the table, but the table didn’t have a lot of give and only cracked after a second try. Then El Generico ran out to his awesome new music for the save, and this portion of the segment was very hot. Generico attempted the turnbuckle brainbuster on Steen, but both he and Corino bailed as Generico and Cabana stared them down from the ring.

- Intermission.

7. Josh Raymond & Christian Able (without Truth Martini and the House of Truth moniker) defeated Up in Smoke (Cheech & Cloudy) with a wheelbarrow bulldog-like doubleteam move. Pretty solid match with a good amount of time to it. Just like at the last set of tapings, the House of Truth sans Truth and just the House is a perfectly fine act.

8. Kevin Steen (w/ Steve Corino) defeated Bobby Shields with the crossface. Of all of the sillier aspects tonight, this was my favorite. Steen came to ring with his own mic, interrupting Bobby Cruise and saying he’s tired of the regular commentary team badmouthing him and Corino for their actions. So he gave their absent selves the match off and appointed himself and Corino to do commentary during the match over the live mics; Corino at ringside and Steen during the match. I loved it when Jerry Lawler did it in a couple squash matches in the mid-90s, and I loved it here. Extended squash, with Steen explaining he invented the crossface in 1984 as he put it on.

- In what looked to be Erick Stevens vs. Necro Butcher at first, Necro came out in street clothes (including sneakers) carrying a gym bag. He said he spent a lot of time in a Dayton hospital for injuries he suffered, plus he didn’t have insurance. He regretfully said he wasn’t medically cleared to wrestle as Stevens mocked being sad about it, and then Necro went to the back as his replacement came out.

9. Grizzly Redwood defeated Erick Stevens (w/ Prince Nana & Ernesto Osiris) with an O’Connor Roll. You read that right. Stevens pulled Grizzly’s shoulders off the mat on two pin attempts, then Grizzly surprised him while he was consulting with Nana. The rest of the match was Grizzly getting beaten down with a few hope spots in between. Big pop for the win, but then the heels immediately beat the piss out of him.

- Rasche Brown ran in for the save, taking down Stevens with a chokeslam and about to put a hurtin’ on Nana, but he was subdued with a kick to the groin by Stevens and had his hands tied (weakly) with tape in the corner. Then the stupidest moment of the night happened: Necro Butcher, who has been feuding with the Embassy for the past year, was introduced as the new Crown Jewel of the Embassy. He came out to Jimmy Rave’s old music while wearing Jimmy Rave’s old robe over a suit (but barefoot). He broke a pine board over Brown’s head, then he gave (or attempted to give… fuzzy memory) Grizzly the sidewalk slam onto two chairs. I just thought this turn was so dumb. Even if they explain it as Nana willing to pay for Necro’s medical expenses, it’s still a shitty twist in a shitty feud.

10. Non-Title Match: The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli w/ Shane Hagadorn & Sara Del Rey) defeated the Dark City Fight Club (Kory Chavis & Jon Davis) by DQ. Pretty good match, but I was expecting something better. The DCFC survived Hero’s strikes, but just as Hero was preparing to use his loaded elbow pad, the Briscoes ran in and jumped him for the DQ. They then brawled with the Kings and a little with the DCFC, and they pretty much laid out all of the ringside attendants that attempted to stop them.

11. Daizee Haze defeated Jamilia Craft with a heart punch followed by a tiger suplex. Nice little match. The crowd was pretty quiet for this but pretty respectful. Craft is an ROH student who’s looked good for how little she’s worked, plus she’s billed from Philadelphia.

- The next two matches will main event two episodes.

12. Austin Aries & The All-Night Express vs. Tyler Black & Jerry Lynn & Delirious ended in a No Contest. The match was quite good, but the end of it sucked. Lynn and Delirious did these top rope dives to King and Aries respectably on the floor, and ref Paul Turner called for the bell, presumably because of all of the general chaos and the wrestlers wiping themselves out. Black attempted a dive of his own, even tossing Turner to the floor when he tried to stop him. Then Kevin Steen ran in, stopped him himself, and laid him out with a package piledriver. He then left through the crowd. Not an outright spoiler of Black retaining the title against Richards, but either way, it looks like Black will be feuding with Steen next.

13. The American Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards w/ Shane Hagadorn) defeated Christopher Daniels & Roderick Strong after Richards gave Daniels a release German suplex off the top rope. Best match of the night. Lots of good stuff with no bullshit finish. A good series of exchanges between Strong and Richards as expected, as well as one towards the end between Daniels and Richards. This definitely closed the night on a high note. 

ROH TV tapings 5-22 Philadelphia
By Brian Streleckis,

1. Shiima Xion defeated John Kermon (w/ Agent Sly Stetson).

2. Rayna Von Tash & Taeler defeated Roxie Cotton & Latasha (w/ Paul Dimension). For some reason, Austin Aries sat at ringside by the timekeeper’s table during this whole

match. Then he went to the back again when it was over.

3. The All-Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus w/ Austin Aries) defeated Lance & Harlem Bravado with their finisher. I expect this to make television given who’s involved. A little competitive, but there was no question who was winning this. Surprisingly, this was the last we’d see of Aries tonight, so a much lighter night for him than usual.

Main Show:

1. Christopher Daniels defeated Bobby Shields with the Best Moonsault Ever. Total squash, and then Daniels cut virtually the same promo he did the previous night afterward.

2. Non-Title Match: El Generico defeated Tyler Black by DQ (though the decision wasn’t announced). This will be a television main event and it was really good. Back-and-forth with a good build and a hot crowd behind it.. Towards the end, Black gave Generico a top rope double stomp while Generico was in the Tree of Woe (a la Low Ki). Shortly after this, Generico answered this with a coast to coast dropkick. Everyone seemed ready for a finish soon, and Generico was readying his Yakuza kick, but Kevin Steen ran out, tripped him from the outside, and pulled him crotch first into the ring post. As he got in the ring, Black gave him a superkick. Then, out of the crowd and right past me, Davey Richards snuck into the ring and clocked Black with the title belt. He gloated over Black a bit as Steen and Generico fought to the back. As usual, I would have preferred a clean finish, but this post-match stuff was good.

3. Sara Del Rey (w/ Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, and Shane Hagadorn) defeated Jamilia Craft with a piledriver. Brief squash. Kyle Durden came in afterward to ask Del Rey

about the match, and Del Rey stated she wants better competition than what she’s been getting.

4. Necro Butcher (w/ Prince Nana & Mr. Ernesto Osiris) won a squash with a chokeslam/shitty Tiger Driver combo onto a chair. Nana cut a brief promo about how he’s a caring man and is willing to forgive and forget (probably an extension of a backstage promo). Necro wrestled in usual attire, but he came to the ring sporting the Jimmy Rave robe, sunglasses, and a nice watch.

5. Eddie Edwards defeated Andy Ridge in a 10-Minute Hunt with the half crab. A little bit of offense from Right Leg, but it was all for naught.

- Kyle Durden at ringside did an interview with the father of the Briscoes, seated in the front row. I think I remember seeing him on old ROH DVDs from the early days, so I’m not sure if it was really Poppa Briscoe, but he certainly talked like them. He’s of course proud of his boys and said they’ll become 7-time World Tag Team Champions in Toronto.

6. Jay & Mark Briscoe won a squash with the Jay Driller.

- The Kings of Wrestling and Shane Hagadorn came out after the Briscoes had left, and Hero cut a promo on Poppa Briscoe. He insulted him strong enough to make him hop the rail and slap him, but then Hero knocked him out with an elbow. Jay & Mark chased the Kings away and tended to their father.

- Jim Cornette came out for the next segment. Not sure if this was for TV or if he was just staying consistent for the story’s sake, be he acted concerned about what just happened and said the Kings of Wrestling would be fined for what they did. Then he introduced Roderick Strong, saying he requested some interview time. Strong complained about the outcomes of his two recent matches for the World Title, and he said he was tired of being lied to and screwed over. He then told Cornette that he only wanted one thing now, and that’s the truth. Cue the television introduction of Truth Martini, who came to the ring carrying his “Book of Truth” and accompanied by the House of Truth (Josh Raymond & Christian Able). Long story short, Strong has joined the House of Truth, hiring the services of Martini as his “life intervention coach” because Truth has agreed with all of Strong’s grievances and issues. He cut a lengthy promo full of new age jargon (as Cornette may have put it) that might play better on TV than it did live. Steve and I have given Truth Martini a lot of shit for his over-the-top antics on DVD shows, but here he was a lot more subdued and dialed down. I’m initially down on this, but seeing it played it out here, I’ll give this new alliance some time.

7. Up In Smoke (Cheech & Cloudy) defeated the Set (J-Sinn & Lance Lude) with the Tidal Wave (a version of the Quebecers’ old finisher). Decent match with a good amount of time to it.

8. Rasche Brown defeated Erick Stevens (w/ Prince Nana & Mr. Ernesto Osiris) by DQ. Decent match with a lot of big man exchanges, but then Necro Butcher ran in to end it. Necro and Stevens had the upper hand until the Dark City Fight Club ran in for the save. So those two have turned babyface and have aligned themselves with Skullkrusher. Maybe the best new alliance made all weekend.

- Intermission.

9. The House of Truth (Josh Raymond & Christian Able w/ Truth Martini) defeated Ricky Reyes & Jason Chambers with their wheelbarrow bulldog finisher. Semi-squash with Reyes getting some kicks in, but just kind of a showcase for the established team. No over-the-top bullshit from Truth Martini as I’m used to from him.

10. Jay & Mark Briscoe defeated the Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli w/ Shane Hagadorn) in a non-title Gauntlet Match when they gave Castagnoli the Doomsday Device. Hagadorn introduced this Gauntlet Match by saying he’s chosen three strong and powerful teams to test the skills of Hero & Claudio. Of course, they were all jobber teams. The first team was two guys I didn’t recognize who got a little bit of offense, but they fell to a series of doubleteam moves ending with one of Hero’s elbows. The second team had guys I recognized from last night, Adam Cole & Nick Westgate. Again, a little bit of offense, but they were beaten quicker than the first team was when the Kings gave Westgate the KRS-1. The third team was a pair of ninjas, but as Hero & Claudio turned their backs to them while laughing, the ninjas unmasked and revealed themselves as the Briscoes. They caught the Kings by surprise and made pretty quick work of them because of it. Fun segment, and then Jay said they don’t care about the tag titles anymore because “this shit just got personal.”

11. The Dark City Fight Club (Kory Chavis & Jon Davis) defeated the American Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards w/ Shane Hagadorn) by DQ. Good match, with the Wolves hitting stereo suicide dives at one point and just looking awesome in general. It was a shame to see it end with Necro & Stevens running in to attack the DCFC. Rasche Brown ran in for the save, returning the favor, and they brawled around the ring as other guys tried to break it up and failed. The babyfaces tried cutting a promo on them from the ring, but then the Embassy came in and brawled with them some more.

- The last two matches will main event two episodes.

12. Kevin Steen & Steve Corino defeated El Generico & Colt Cabana in an Anything Goes Match when Corino gave Cabana what looked like a Northern Lights Bomb off the top onto a table. It started with lots of brawling at ringside and into the crowd, then they took it into the ring with tables and chairs in tow. Some big moves, some of which were blocked from my view by a table set up in the corner. Plenty of weaponry used, albeit fairly safely (Corino put his hand up as Cabana hit him with a chair), and there wasn’t any blood either. Again, the tables wouldn’t give all that much, but at least the one used at the end gave in at the legs. Another big move saw Corino superplex Generico onto a spare guard rail from under the ring set up on four chairs, but Cabana broke that up. Steen and Generico fought to the back toward the end as Cabana and Corino were fighting on the top. This was a hell of a match honestly, and the crowd loved it. Tough act for the last match to follow.

13. Roderick Strong (w/ Truth Martini) defeated Christopher Daniels with the flying Yakuza kick. I think this match stemmed from the tag match Daniels & Strong had against the Wolves last night, as Strong had some words for Daniels after he took the loss in that match and had some words for him before this match as well. It took a while for the fans to get into it, but it was really quite good as expected. All Truth Martini did was distract Daniels a little outside by reading from his Book of Truth to him, then a little later he hit him with the book behind the ref’s back after Strong Tully’d Daniels into the ropes. This led into the finish. Good stuff all around.

ROH returns to Philadelphia to tape more episodes on July 16th & 17th. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stefanski finally gets it right with Collins

It happened a year after it should have and it cost the Sixers dearly in the crowded, very competitive Philadelphia sports market, but the team finally made the hire it should of when they named Doug Collins head coach on Friday.

Collins wanted the gig last year when Sixers basketball chief Ed Stefanski made the biggest mistake of his life by hiring his friend from New Jersey, Eddie Jordan.

Last offseason, Stefanski went through a vetting process that can only be described as a public relations campaign, designed to fend off the notoriously tough Philadelphia media.

Jordan was the lead assistant with the Nets for four seasons when Stefanski was an executive with that organization. The Nets went to the Finals twice during that time, in 2002 and '03, and it was no secret in NBA circles how much Stefanski liked Jordan.

Big names who had an intent on returning to the NBA's coaching ranks like Collins, Jeff Van Gundy and Avery Johnson all showed interest in the Sixers' position but were never interviewed.

In Stefanski's defense, timing is everything. Comcast-Spectacor big shots Ed Snider, one of the most overrated owners in all of sports, and Peter Luukko probably would not have opened up the checkbook last year for another big name coach in the City of Brotherly Love.

The thought process there was simple. The Sixers will be paying more ex- coaches than players at some point. Since Larry Brown fled the organization in 2003, Randy Ayers, Chris Ford, Jim O'Brien, Maurice Cheeks, Tony DiLeo and Jordan have all roamed the sidelines in Philly. No truth to the rumors Comcast is still cutting checks to Doug Moe and Alex Hannum, however

A "big ticket item" was something Stefanski was not prepared to fight for last year so he settled on candidates that would make his friend and his extensive NBA coaching experience look good.

Assistants Tom Thibodeau and Dwane Casey were brought in for interviews as were Ford, who still works for the Sixers as a scout, and Villanova mentor Jay Wright.

Locally, Wright was the big story because of his success on the Main Line but his "interview" was another publicity stunt. While few doubt Wright has NBA aspirations, the 'Nova mentor only took the Sixers interview as a courtesy to Stefanski, his personal friend.

In the end, Stefanski finally pulled the trigger, naming his old bobo the Sixers head coach and giving him a three-year deal.

The results were disastrous.

If you weren't subjected to it, Sixers' basketball was virtually unwatchable this past season. A notorious "system guy," Jordan brought his "Princeton offense" to Philly, with no intention of tweaking anything for anybody.

To play the Princeton, you need passers and shooters. Gilbert Arenas, who excelled in the offense in Washington, once said: "Athletes don't work in that offense, to be honest."

Of course, the Sixers had one upper-echelon shooter, Jason Kapono, and a host of superlative athletes in Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, Rodney Carney and Jrue Holiday.

But, instead of playing transition basketball, Jordan kept hammering the square peg into the round hole until he lost his locker room by Christmas.

Some might call that an indictment of guys like Iguodala, Young, Samuel Dalembert and Elton Brand, who all took a huge step back under Jordan and seemed to bail on their coach. I'll call it an indictment of a mentor who didn't have the IQ to figure out his players are better suited for something else.

To me, great coaches in any sport always add talent that fits into what they want to accomplish (the system), while maximizing the strengths of their current players and masking as many of the deficiencies as possible.

Coaches like Doug Collins.

Stefanski probably should have joined Jordan on the unemployment line for hiring him but Snider and Luukko gave him one more chance. This time with the leash pulled tight and DiLeo, the team's assistant general manager, and consultant Gene Shue watching over his shoulder, Stefanski made the prudent decision.

"We are excited to hire a head coach with the level of experience, knowledge and passion for the game that Doug Collins has," Stefanski said. "He has been around basketball his entire life, has experienced success at every step throughout his career and we are confident in his ability to lead our team."

Collins, a former No. 1 overall pick by the Sixers in the 1973 NBA Draft, is a disciplinarian that preaches defense and is a stickler for execution in the half-court set.

While younger fans may know him as the brilliant analyst from TNT, the 58- year-old mentor has compiled a regular season record of 332-287 in eight seasons as a coach with Chicago, Detroit and Washington, highlighted by Michael Jordan's first trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1989.

It was Collins not Phil Jackson that build the foundations of the Bulls' dynasty. He took Chicago to the playoffs in his first season and guided the club to 50 wins in 1987-88, marking the franchise's first 50-win season since 1973-74. In his third and final season in the Windy City, the Bulls advanced to the East finals.

In his first season as head coach of the Pistons in 1995-96, Collins inherited a Detroit team that had won 28 games the previous season and engineered an 18- game improvement along with a playoff appearance. The Pistons won 54 games the following season (1996-97).

Collins last coaching stint came with Washington during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons where he was reunited with Jordan. In 2001-02, Collins once again improved his team's win total by 18 games from the previous season and the season after he left, the Wizards won just 25 games.

In addition to Jordan, Collins helped with the development of several other future All-Stars who were in the early stages of their careers, including Scottie Pippen, Grant Hill, former-Sixer Theo Ratliff, Allan Houston and Rip Hamilton.

You can expect Iguodala and Holiday to turn into dogged on-ball defenders on a consistent basis under Collins. Meanwhile, when he arrives at training camp and sees a bunch of thoroughbreds that can't shoot the basketball -- trust me -- Collins will start running.

He will also inherit a new, very talented toy since the Sixers made the unlikely leap from six to No. 2 in the recent NBA Draft Lottery. The odds of Philadelphia making that jump was just 6.03 percent and it gives the moribund franchise a chance to take the National Player of the Year, Ohio State star Evan Turner.

"The past week has provided us with a series of events that we believe will be a turning point for the Philadelphia 76ers," Snider said. "Doug Collins is a coach that can make an immediate impact. He has all the attributes that we are looking for in a new head coach and we are happy to welcome him back into the Sixers family."

Left to his own devices I could see Stefanski passing on the sure thing in Turner for a speculative stock like DeMarcus Cousins, but Collins will quickly garner the ear of Snider and Luukko, forcing Stefanski to make the right decision again.

Who knows, if Stefanski keeps letting the competent basketball people make the decisions -- he might even keep his own job for the long haul.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sixers officially hire Collins

Philadelphia, PA - (The Phanatic Magazine) - The Philadelphia 76ers made it official and named Doug Collins as the team's next head coach on Friday.

"We are excited to hire a head coach with the level of experience, knowledge and passion for the game that Doug Collins has," said Sixers president Ed Stefanski. "He has been around basketball his entire life, has experienced success at every step throughout his career and we are confident in his ability to lead our team."

Since his last coaching stint with the Washington Wizards in 2002-03, the 58-year-old Collins has served as an analyst for the NBA on TNT.  In eight seasons of coaching, Collins compiled a regular season record of 332-287 (.536) and reached the playoffs five times, highlighted by a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals with Chicago in 1989.

Following a standout career at Illinois State, Collins was selected by the Sixers with the first overall pick in the 1973 NBA Draft.  He spent all eight of his seasons with Philadelphia, averaging 17.9 points, 3.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.25 steals in 415 games played while shooting 50.1% from the floor and 83.3% from the line.  For his career, the four-time All-Star had more steals (518) than turnovers (485).

By Collins' fourth season with the team in 1976-77, Philadelphia advanced to the NBA Finals.  During that postseason, Collins averaged 22.4 points per game, second only on the team to Julius Erving's 27.3 ppg.

After injuries forced him to retire during the 1980-81 season, Collins took an assistant coaching job at The University of Pennsylvania under Bob Weinhauer and followed Weinhauer to Arizona State.  Collins' NBA coaching career began when he was named head coach of the Chicago Bulls on May 23, 1986.

Collins took the Bulls to the playoffs in his first season and guided them to 50 wins in 1987-88, marking the franchise's first 50-win season since 1973-74.  In his third and final season with the Bulls in 1988-89, Chicago advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.

In his first season as head coach of the Pistons in 1995-96, Collins inherited a Detroit team that had won 28 games the previous season and engineered an 18-game improvement along with a playoff appearance.  Detroit gave up just 92.9 points per game in 1995-96, nearly 13 points fewer than it allowed the season before Collins arrived.

Detroit won 54 games the following season (1996-97) with Collins at the helm, which is tied for the fifth-highest win total for a single season in franchise history. In the first three and a half seasons following Collins' departure, the team had a winning percentage of .474.

Collins last coaching stint came with Washington during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons where he was reunited with Michael Jordan, who Collins coached during his time with the Bulls.  In 2001-02, Collins once again improved his team's win total by 18 games from the previous season.  The Wizards posted a winning percentage of .451 in two years under Collins after having a winning percentage of .308 the three seasons prior.  The season after he left, Washington won just 25 games.

In addition to Jordan, Collins helped with the development of several other future All-Stars who were in the early stages of their careers, including Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Grant Hill, Theo Ratliff and Allan Houston, as well as Lindsey Hunter and Richard Hamilton.

Collins has been just as successful in broadcasting as he was as a player and coach.  He is widely regarded as one of the best analysts in basketball, as evidenced by his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame's Media Wing in September, 2009.  Additionally, he has earned four Emmy® Award nominations and two Cable ACE Awards during his time with NBC and TNT.

"Doug Collins is a terrific motivator, teacher, and manager," said Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko. "We believe he is the right coach for the Philadelphia 76ers and the one who will lead us back onto the right track."

Earlier this week, the Sixers were awarded the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, which will be held on Thursday, June 24 at The WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

"The past week has provided us with a series of events that we believe will be a turning point for the Philadelphia 76ers," said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider. "Doug Collins is a coach that can make an immediate impact. He has all the attributes that we are looking for in a new head coach and we are happy to welcome him back into the Sixers family."

Collins is the guy

The Sixers will name Doug Collins as the team's next head coach on Friday after agreeing to terms on a contract.

According to several sources, Collins will be introduced as early as Monday. A report from the Philadelphia Daily News says the deal is for four years, although financial terms were not disclosed.

The 58-year-old Collins, currently an analyst for TNT, coached the Bulls (1986-89), Detroit Pistons (1995-98) and Washington Wizards (2001-03) and has a career mark of 332-287. His teams have been to the playoffs five times, going as far as the conference finals with the Bulls in the 1988-89 season. He was then replaced by his assistant, Phil Jackson.

Collins spent his entire NBA playing career with the 76ers (1973-81) and averaged 17.9 points a game. He was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1973.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Great Wall of Washington: NBA Mock Draft v. 1.0

By John McMullen

The NBA Draft Lottery would be a lot of fun if it wasn't so much work.

It's like the NBA's version of a cotillion. Everyone gets dressed in their Sunday best for a catered affair at the NBA Entertainment Studios in Secaucus, NJ.

The only disappointment to me was that the catering crew in no way resembled the cast of Starz' brilliant show, Party Down. If the NBA is looking for a way to improve things for next year, an Adam Scott or Lizy Caplan cameo might put the event over the top.

That said, it's a great place for scribes like yours truly to get some face time with the various NBA big-wigs in attendance. One minute you might be saying hello to the commish himself, David Stern, and the next Larry Legend comes walking by.

A number of teams in the lottery also bring current players. This year I got a few minutes with Indiana All-Star Danny Granger as well as a rising young talent in Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday.

But, the NBA Draft Lottery also means something else -- the annual exercise of futility that is known as the mock draft.

I was far too busy in Secaucus on Tuesday cozying up to the amazing spread to give the actual draft much thought, but a thrilling Wednesday night watching SAO Little League baseball gave me plenty of time to map things out.

Each draft has tiers, and this one is no different. Kentucky point guard John Wall and Ohio State swingman Evan Turner are the head and shoulders of this year's class.

The second grouping consists of three solid prospects, forwards Derrick Favors of Georgia Tech and Wesley Johnson of Syracuse, along with Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins.

Wall and Turner figure as no-brainers to go one-two, and then the fun starts as New Jersey and new owner Mikhail Prokhorov make the first real decision at No. 3.

So here we go -- The Sports Network's 2010 NBA Mock Draft, version 1.0:

1. - Washington Wizards - John Wall (Kentucky), Point Guard - Wall combines rare speed with the ball, along with the size and athleticism to be an elite player very early in his career. He needs to improve his jumper but could be a more-skilled Rajon Rondo.
Think: Rondo.

2. - Philadelphia 76ers - Evan Turner (Ohio State), Combo Guard - The Sixers jumped up from six to No. 2 in the lottery and lucked out with a virtually mistake-proof pick. Turner, the college player of the year, has a tremendous feel for the game and is an extremely efficient offensive player. He should team with Holiday to give the Sixers a top-tier backcourt for the next decade. I could see Ed Stefanski trading out for Cousins but let's assume soon- to-be new coach Doug Collins talks the embattled Sixers' basketball chief off the ledge.
Think: Brandon Roy

3. - New Jersey Nets - Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech), Power Forward - The Nets will have the first real decision in the draft. I think Cousins is the third- best player and has a bigger upside than either Favors or Johnson but New Jersey already has an All-Star type center in Brook Lopez so look for them to go with Favors, a prototypical four in the mold of Kenyon Martin.
Think: Martin

4. - Minnesota Timberwolves - DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky), Center - The Wolves' annual hard luck in the lottery continued, as the team fell from the second spot to No. 4 and will have to make a decision between Cousins and Johnson. Both positions are needs, but it's always harder to find the competent big man and that is Cousins.
Think: Shawn Kemp

5. - Sacramento Kings - Wesley Johnson (Syracuse), Small Forward - Last year Sacramento fell from No. 1 to four in the lottery and managed to snare Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans. This year, they fell from three to five and will settle for Johnson, a silky-smooth small forward with a big wingspan and a nice jumper.
Think: Alex English

6. - Golden State Warriors - Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest), Combo Forward - Since there is a significant drop after the top five players, Golden State was the biggest loser in the lottery, falling from four to six. Aminu has elite physical tools and a nice upside but he's raw and needs to add strength.
Think: Marvin Williams

7. - Detroit Pistons - Cole Aldrich (Kansas), Center - Since Ben Wallace and Kwame Brown were the big men in the Motor City last year, you have to think Joe Dumars goes with Aldrich, a legitimate center with top-tier rebounding and defensive skills. He is limited offensively, however.
Think: Joel Przybilla.

8. - Los Angeles Clippers - Patrick Patterson (Kentucky), Power Forward - The next grouping of players features more than a few power forwards and centers. Since the Clippers have Chris Kaman in the pivot and will have Blake Griffin coming back next year at the four, Patterson seems like a good choice. The Kentucky junior has the ability to move between the three and four, meaning he can play with Griffin and provide insurance at the same time.
Think: Antonio Davis

9. - Utah Jazz - Greg Monroe (Georgetown), Power Forward/Center - The rich get richer, as Utah uses the New York Knicks' pick to select the Hoyas big man as insurance for the injured Mehmet Okur and free agent power forward Carlos Boozer. The 6-foot-10 Monroe is a lefty with the skills of a much smaller player.
Think: Lamar Odom

10. - Indiana Pacers - Ed Davis (North Carolina), Power Forward - Granger represented the Pacers at the lottery and bowed his head in disgust when the team stayed at No. 10. Getting Granger a long, athletic running mate that can rebound like Davis might make up for some of that disappointment.
Think: Dale Davis

11. - New Orleans Hornets - Ekpe Udoh (Baylor), Power Forward - Udoh has the wingspan of a 7-foot-4 player and should develop into an elite shot-blocker early in his career as well as an exceptional offensive rebounder, two attributes the Hornets desperately need.
Think: Theo Ratliff

12. - Memphis Grizzlies - Donatas Motiejunas (Benetton Treviso), Power Forward/Center - The top international player in this year's draft, Motiejunas is your typical European finesse big man with outstanding offensive skills facing the basket. He should be able to complement Marc Gasol on Beale Street rather early in his career.
Think: Mehmet Okur

13. - Toronto Raptors - Daniel Orton (Kentucky), Power Forward - The Raptors figure to lose Chris Bosh in the offseason so they will need a big man and Orton has a significant upside. He's already got the NBA body and has impressive length but his offensive game needs a lot of work despite a very soft touch that is rare among young bigs today.
Think: Marreese Speights

14. - Houston Rockets - Hassan Whiteside (Marshall), Center - Houston has the final lottery pick and takes some insurance for the oft-injured Yao Ming. Whiteside is coming out after his freshman season so he needs some seasoning but will be an imposing physical presence once he grows into his body.
Think: Kwame Brown

15. - Milwaukee Bucks - Xavier Henry (Kansas), Shooting Guard - The Bucks added an impressive quarterback last year in Brandon Jennings and now get his running mate to replace the injured Michael Redd and free agent-to-be John Salmons. Henry, the Kansas freshman, is a physical specimen and is tailor-made for the NBA game.
Think: Dahntay Jones

16. - Minnesota Timberwolves - James Anderson (Oklahoma State), Shooting Guard - Anderson is slight but tough and could be the best shooter in this year's draft, making him a nice complement to Jonny Flynn in the Twin Cities.
Think: Stephen Curry

17. - Chicago Bulls - Damion James (Texas), Small Forward - The Bulls want to win now and may make the big push for LeBron James. I see them going the "best available" route and that might be James, the rare senior that figures as a first-round pick. James excels in transition and is an exceptional rebounder for his size.
Think: Derek Smith

18. - Miami Heat - Gordon Hayward (Butler), Small Forward - Dwyane Wade is the first order of business in South Beach. If Miami gets its superstar back, they could use a weak-side shooter like Hayward to take advantage of the double- teams Wade often gets.
Think: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

19. - Boston Celtics - Avery Bradley (Texas), Shooting Guard - This is a pretty high pick for a team making a serious run at the NBA title. Since Ray Allen will likely move on in the offseason, the C's can take a flyer on Bradley, an undersized freshman that is a pure shooter and scorer.
Think: Jeff Hornacek

20. - San Antonio Spurs - Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky), Combo Guard - The tread is wearing thin on both Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. George Hill could be a difference-maker down the line but the Spurs could use another active body in the backcourt and Bledsoe, while not quite ready, can play both positions and has a solid upside.
Think: Rafer Alston

21. - Oklahoma City Thunder - Larry Sanders (VCU), Power Forward - The Thunder are very skilled on the wings and in the backcourt so they will be looking for another big body. Sanders has the length to be a help on the defensive end and the boards.
Think: Marcus Camby

22. - Portland Trail Blazers - Stanley Robinson (UConn), Combo Forward - Robinson is the type of athlete that will fit right in to what the Blazers are trying to accomplish. He can run the floor and finish, but lacks a top-tier jumper.
Think: Shawn Marion

23. - Minnesota Timberwolves - Paul George (Fresno State), Combo Forward - George is a rangy guy that can handle the ball very well for a wing player and run the floor. Anybody who can put the ball in the basket should be considered by the Wolves.
Think: Trevor Ariza

24. - Atlanta Hawks - Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech), Power Forward - Lawal, a big guy with great length that can play minutes at both center and power forward, stays in Dixie.
Think: Joakim Noah

25. - Memphis Grizzlies - Luke Babbitt (Nevada), Strong Forward - Babbitt is not going to be a star at the NBA level but his energy level will be a great fit for a young team like Memphis.
Think: A more-skilled Louis Amundson.

26. - Oklahoma City Thunder - Armon Johnson (Nevada), Point Guard - Johnson has good size for a point guard and is a lefty, which tends to create problems for opposing defenses. Should be a nice 10-15 minute guy to give Russell Westbrook a blow.
Think: A bigger Damon Stoudamire

27. - New Jersey Nets - Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati), Shooting Guard - A tough, athletic freshman with an NBA-ready body. His power and quickness could cause a lot of trouble on the blocks in a few years.
Think: Aaron McKie

28. - Memphis Grizzlies - Solomon Alabi (Florida State), Center - The Grizzlies probably don't want to pay three No. 1 picks so they will likely move at some point but if they stick why not take the raw Nigerian big man with a defensive upside?
Think: Dikembe Mutombo

29. - Orlando Magic - Devin Ebanks (West Virginia), Small Forward - Normally, I would expect the Magic to take a European player and leave him overseas but a poor performance against Boston means they will take a talent. Ebanks is an active wing player that can get after people defensively and has a nice touch around the basket.
Think: Tony Allen

30. - Washington Wizards - Dominique Jones (South Florida), Shooting Guard - The Wizards finish the first round by getting Wall a running mate in Jones. a powerfully-built combo guard with a nice offensive game.
Think: Vinnie Johnson