Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Flyers bring back Leighton with two-year deal

Courtesy of

The Philadelphia Flyers have signed 6-3, 186-pound goaltender Michael Leighton to a two-year contract extension, according to club general manager Paul Holmgren.

"We are pleased to have Michael under contract for the next two seasons," said Holmgren. "Michael came to our team in December last year and played extremely well for us in the regular season and the playoffs. Michael is an athletic goalie who we feel is just coming into his own as an NHL goaltender and we look forward to Michael building on the level of play he established this past season."

Leighton, 29, compiled a 16-5-2 record to go along with a 2.48 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 27 appearances, including one shutout. He was acquired by the Flyers on waivers on Dec.15, 2009 from the Carolina Hurricanes and went unbeaten in regulation in his first 10 starts (Dec. 23, 2009 through Jan. 12, 2010), going 8-0-1 with a 2.16 GAA and .928 save percentage. He was named the NHL's 'Second Star' of the week ending Feb. 14 after going 4-0-0 with a 1.98 GAA and .925 save percentage and set a new career high for wins in a season

He missed the final 13 games of the regular season and first nine games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs due to an ankle injury. He made his NHL postseason debut after coming in relief of Brian Boucher in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Boston, and helped lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final, recording an 8-3 mark with a 2.46 GAA and .916 save percentage in 14 games. During the Eastern Conference Final vs. Montreal, he set an all-time Flyers playoff record by posting three shutouts in the series to help the Flyers capture their first Eastern Conference Championship since 1997.

"I'm very excited for the opportunity to come back to the Flyers organization for two more years," said Leighton. "It was my intention all along. This is what I wanted. I really enjoy playing here, my teammates, the organization and the fans are so passionate. I just think it is a good fit for me."

Prior to joining the Flyers this season, he appeared in seven games with the Hurricanes, where he posted a 1-4-0 record with a 4.28 GAA and .848 save percentage. Overall in 2009-10, Leighton posted a 17-9-2 record with a 2.83 GAA and .905 save percentage in 34 games.

In parts of six seasons in the NHL with Chicago (2002-03 to 2003-04), Nashville (2006-07), Carolina (2007-08 to 2009-10) and Philadelphia (2006-07, 2009-10), Leighton has compiled a 34-40-10-4 regular season record with four shutouts.

A native of Petrolia, Ontario, Leighton was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth round (165th overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.

Former Flyer Brind'Amour retires

by Jeff Kruczynski
Special to The Phanatic Magazine

Carolina Hurricanes center Rod Brind'Amour called it a career on Wednesday, announcing his retirement after a 20-plus- year NHL career.

Brind'Amour, who turns 40 in August, had one year left on the five-year contract he signed in 2006 after captaining Carolina to the franchise's only Stanley Cup title.

"I feel very fortunate to play as long as I have," said Brind'Amour, who had nine goals and 10 assists in 80 games last season.

His minus-29 rating was the second worst in the league. The Ottawa native will accept a position in Carolina's front office.

"For 10 years, Rod Brind'Amour has represented the best of Hurricanes hockey," said club president and general manager Jim Rutherford. "He helped the franchise reach two Stanley Cup Finals and led the team to its first championship. His work ethic set the bar for what is expected in our locker room, as did his professionalism and leadership. I look forward to working with Rod as he begins his next chapter in hockey."

Brind'Amour was dealt to Carolina from Philadelphia on January 23, 2000 in a trade that sent forward Keith Primeau to the Flyers. He registered 174 goals and 299 assists in 694 games with the Hurricanes.

Originally drafted ninth overall by St. Louis in the 1988 draft, Brind'Amour registered 452 goals and 732 assists in 1,484 career games. He added 51 goals and 111 points in 159 playoff contests.

Once one of the most talented two-way players, Brind'Amour captured back-to- back Frank J. Selke Trophies as the NHL's top defensive forward in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

Though best known as a Hurricane, Brind'Amour's single-season personal bests in goals, assists, points, plus-minus and penalty minutes all came during his tenure with Philadelphia (1991-2000). In addition, his lone All-Star selection occurred in 1992, his first year with the Flyers.

Union trade D Thomas to Kansas City

Philadelphia Union today announced the trade of Jamaican defender Shavar Thomas to the Kansas City Wizards. 

In exchange for Thomas, the Wizards sent Philadelphia two second round MLS SuperDraft selections, one in 2011 and one in 2012, as well as allocation money.  Thomas, 29, played for the Wizards from 2004-2006.

The Union acquired Thomas from Chivas USA through the MLS Expansion Draft held on November 25, 2009.  He made just one appearance with the Union, replacing Roger Torres in the 56th minute of Philadelphia's 2-1 loss at Toronto FC on April 15, 2010.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Union announce time change

Philadelphia Union today announced that the game against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, July 10th at PPL Park originally scheduled for 5:30 p.m. EST has been pushed back to 6:00 p.m. EST. This match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel.

Flyers Prospect Camp opens on July 5

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they will open their summer prospect camp at The Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, on Monday, July 5. This year's prospect camp includes 35 players: Forwards (18), Defensemen (11) and Goaltenders (6), including many of the players that were selected in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

The following is a breakdown of the players who are scheduled to attend the conditioning camp:




2009-10 TEAM(S)



CHAPUT, Michael


Lewiston (QMJHL)

3rd round (89th overall) in 2010




Swift Current (WHL)



FLYNN, Brian


University of Maine (Hockey East)



GAL, Blake


Spokane (WHL)





Mercyhurst College (Atlantic Hockey)



HANSON, Gregor


Northern Michigan U. (CCHA)





Everett (WHL)/Adirondack (AHL)

Signed contract on Mar. 4, 2010




UMass-Lowell (HE)/Adirondack (AHL)

Signed contract on Mar. 17, 2010




Shawinigan (QMJHL)

6th round (153rd overall) in 2009




Gatineau (QMJHL)

4th round (119th overall) in 2010




New Hampshire (EJHL)





Barrie (OHL)

Signed contract on Mar. 4, 2010


RANFORD, Brendan


Kamloops (WHL)

7th round (209th overall) in 2010




London/Barrie (OHL)

6th round (178th overall) in 2008


ROWE, Andrew


Michigan State (CCHA)

Signed contract on May 6, 2010


SHEEN, Everett


Holy Cross (Atlantic Hockey)





Colorado College (WCHA)

Signed contract on Mar. 19, 2010




Windsor (OHL)

6th round (172nd overall) in 2009




2009-10 TEAM(S)



BANWELL, Michael


University of Maine (Hockey East)





Niagara University (CHA)





AIK U-20 (SWE Jr.)

7th round (206th overall) in 2010


BOURDON, Marc-Andre


Adirondack (AHL)

3rd round (67th overall) in 2008


DUDAS, Jesse


Bloomington (IHL)/Corpus Christi (CHL)





Northern Michigan (CCHA)/Adirondack (AHL)

Signed contract on Mar. 31, 2010


HILL, Jordan


Sarnia/Saginaw (OHL)/Manitoba (AHL)





Erie (OHL)

Signed contract on Sept. 21, 2009




St. Cloud State (WCHA)                  

7th round (196th overall) in 2009




Gunnery (Prep School - CT)

6th round (179th overall) in 2010




Adirondack (AHL)

2nd round (41st overall) in 2007




2009-10 TEAM(S)





Novokuznetsk (KHL)

Signed contract on May 6, 2010




Saskatoon (WHL)

3rd round (81st overall) in 2009




Notre Dame (CCHA)

7th round (182nd overall) in 2007




Northeastern (Hockey East)





Adirondack (AHL)/Moncton (QMJHL)

5th round (142nd overall) in 2009




Northern Michigan (CCHA)/ Adirondack (AHL)

Signed contract on May 6, 2010

The schedule for the camp is as follows:

                         On-Ice Practice

July 5 -                          Players Arrive & Off-Ice Fitness

July 6 -                                      Off-Ice Fitness Testing

July 7 -          9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.                          10:45
a.m. to noon

July 8 -                            Trial On The Isle (Stone Harbor, NJ)

July 9 -          9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.                          10:45
a.m. to noon      

July 10 -        9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.                          10:45
a.m. to noon

July 11 -        9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.                          10:45
a.m. to noon

July 12 -        NO Practice
9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

On Thursday, July 8, the Flyers will hold their annual conditioning event, Trial On The Isle, through the streets and waters of Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Players participating in the team's prospect camp will demonstrate their conditioning by competing in a triathlon, which includes cycling, kayaking and running.

This all-day event starts and finishes at the intersection of 96th Street and 2nd Avenue in Stone Harbor. Following the Trial on The Isle, the players will be available for autographs at the Harbor Bizarre from 1-3 pm and will later participate in a charity softball game at the 80th Street Field at 4 p.m. Fans are welcome at all
locations to watch the prospects and all proceeds benefit Flyers Charities, a division of the Comcast Spectacor Foundation with a donation going to Veterans Causes.

Sixers round out Orlando Summer League roster

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski today announced the team’s roster for the Orlando Pro Summer League (OPSL), held from July 5-9 at the RDV Sportsplex in Orlando, Fla.

Headlining the roster are the Sixers first round picks from the past three years: Marreese Speights (2008), Jrue Holiday (2009) and Evan Turner, the second overall pick from last Thursday’s draft.  Jodie Meeks, who joined the Sixers via trade back in February, will also play in the OPSL.

As a junior at Ohio State this past season, Turner averaged 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists en route to sweeping national player of the year honors.  He became the first Division I player to average at least 20 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists in a single season since Oscar Robertson did so in 1958-59 and 1959-60.

Despite being the youngest player in the NBA last season, Holiday started the final 41 games for the Sixers.  Over the last 16 games of the season, he averaged 12.0 points, 6.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.94 steals.

Speights was averaging 13.0 points on 60.5% shooting prior to suffering a sprained MCL in a game at Chicago back in mid-November.  He scored 20-plus points in three of the final six games and seven times overall last season after doing so once as a rookie in 2008-09.

For the month of April, Meeks averaged 13.5 points on 56.5% shooting from the floor and 50.0% shooting from 3-point range in just 23.0 minutes per game.  He averaged a team-high 19.0 ppg for Milwaukee at the 2009 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Sixers 2010 Orlando Pro Summer League Roster

Yrs. Pro
D-League Exp.
Ryan Brooks

Ndudi Ebi
Westbury Christian HS (TX)
05-06, 06-07
Mike Green

DeVon Hardin
Jrue Holiday

Jason Love

Jodie Meeks

Obi Muonelo
Oklahoma State

Trent Plaisted
Brigham Young

Cedric Simmons
North Carolina State
07-08, 09-10
Marreese Speights

Evan Turner
Ohio State

The Sixers will depart for Orlando on Thursday, July 1st and will conduct a three-day mini-camp leading up to their first game on Monday, July 5.  Below is the camp schedule:

The Orlando Pro Summer League is comprised of eight teams (Boston, Charlotte, Indiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia and Utah) who will play five games apiece.  Below is the Sixers schedule for the OPSL:

Sixers 2010 OPSL Schedule (RDV Sportsplex: 8701 Maitland Summit Blvd, Orlando)
Mon, July 5       7 p.m.         New Jersey
Tue, July 6        5 p.m.         Boston
Wed, July 7       3 p.m.         Oklahoma City
Thu, July 8        7 p.m.         Charlotte
Fri, July 9          10 a.m.       Utah

Empire State of Mind? Not LeBron

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA - Time for a confession.

I'm a card-carrying member of "The Evil Empire." Reggie Jackson brought me over to the dark side in the late 1970s, and I never left.

Even when the New York Yankees were playing in front of 20,000 a night in the Bronx while trotting out names like Tim Leary, Tom Brookens and Alvaro Espinoza, I stayed steadfast. I must admit I was as giddy as a schoolgirl when the team captured World Series No. 27 at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies
last October.

The point of this little admission?

I understand the arrogance of the New York fan.

The "Big Apple" is the greatest city in the world and Sinatra was right, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. However, that doesn't mean everyone in the world wants to deal with 8 million people with Type-A personalities on a daily basis.

New Yorkers just don't understand why someone would prefer the laid back culture on the left coast, the family friendly suburbs of the Midwest or the party atmosphere in South Beach. To them, Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" is on a never-ending loop, Gotham is the center of the universe and anyone that says
otherwise is a country bumpkin and not worthy of the liberal elite.

That's why so many Knicks fans were on board when their beloved team tanked two full seasons as they kept their eyes on the real prize -- the 2010 free agency period and LeBron Jones.

Every time James would wear a Yankees cap, the basketball fans in NYC flashed that cocky smile, knowing their city was the only one that could possibly give the game's biggest star everything he wanted.

Problem is, they were wrong and as the big day approaches, it seems less and less likely that LeBron will choose New York.

Already knocked for not leading the Cavaliers to a championship, it looks like James is seriously reconsidering the merits of defecting to a far less talented team that spent two years gutting its roster to acquire him.

In fact, the rumors around James, which have sped up to a breakneck pace as July 1 approaches, have been highlighted by the absence of the Knicks.

ESPN reported that a scale-downed version of the much-ballyhooed "free-agent summit" that was originally scheduled earlier this offseason has indeed taken place, with Dwyane Wade trying to convince his buddies, James and Chris Bosh, to join him in Miami as the so-called 'Holy Trinity' with Pat Riley as coach.

James was reportedly intrigued with forming a star-studded trio but refused to commit to leaving his hometown Cavs, and still finds the Chicago situation, where he would be playing with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and at least one other big time free agent, appealing.

I'm not saying New York is out of it but James has taken full advantage of the NBA marketing machine and is already the biggest sports star in the world.

He simply doesn't need New York.

What he needs is competent teammates that can help him fulfill a basketball legacy that is currently lacking a championship.

I still expect the Knicks to roll out a New York-centric recruiting pitch heavy on movie and recording stars to not only woo LeBron, but also Bosh and the rest of the free agent class, when the team officially begins shopping just after midnight on Thursday.

Problem is, when the object of your affections is a bigger star than all the standbys you have waiting to tell him how great New York is, how much of an effect could it possibly have?

Most average New Yorkers are caught up in their own little world and will likely be blindsided when James finally makes his decision, oblivious to the fact that other cities were even in play.

To them, I can only say enjoy Joe Johnson.

NBA Draft 2010: Top undrafted players

By John McMullen

New York, NY  - Back when I used to cover the NFL Draft, the seventh round was almost like a four-letter word to the various agents around the league.

The odds of making a club when taken in the final round are slim, so most representatives wanted their client to be passed over so they could sit back, survey things and cherry-pick the most desirable landing spot.

An agent for a borderline NBA player will tell you the same thing -- that once a certain number passes, not getting drafted is a better option since you can pick and choose where to go.

If you are a monster on the glass, look for a team that needs rebounding. If you can shoot the ball, explore teams that need help from the perimeter. If your calling card is defense, give Gregg Popovich or Larry Brown a call.

That said, for aspiring professional players, the draft is akin to Christmas Day. They all know being picked guarantees virtually nothing, but it's an ego thing and a great story to tell the grandchildren.

To a man, every player with whom I've ever dealt channels Cheap Trick, and wants to be wanted. They all would rather be selected, even if it plays against their long-term chances of actually making a roster.

This year was certainly no different and a host of solid, draft-eligible players failed to get the phone call they desperately wanted Thursday night.

Here's my list of the best players that didn't have David Stern and Adam Silver scurrying for the pronunciation guide:

1. - Art Parakhouski - Center (Radford) - The 6-foot-11 Belarus native certainly has the size to play the pivot in the NBA and he is a fundamentally- sound player, but the small school setting and the lack of a larger upside kept him off the draft board.

2. - Matt Bouldin - Combo Guard (Gonzaga) - I thought the versatile Bouldin should have been a mid second-round pick but his shaggy hair must have scared off some NBA execs. Bouldin's agent, Stu Lash, has confirmed the combo guard agreed to a free-agent contract with Chicago and will join the Bulls' summer league team.

3. - Samardo Samuels - Power Forward (Louisville) - The Cardinals' big man was once the top prospect in the entire nation coming out of high school, but his lack of height (6-foot-8) and all-important wingspan clearly scared off most NBA teams.

4. - Mikhail Torrance - Point Guard (Alabama) - At 6-foot-5 with athleticism, Torrance could be a top-tier defensive guard relatively early in his career, but a minor heart issue forced teams to beg off.

5. - Jon Scheyer - Combo Guard (Duke) - A 6-foot-6 player with impressive range on his jumper and a high basketball IQ. Exactly what is the difference between this guy and J.J. Redick?

6. - Denis Clemente - Shooting Guard (Kansas State) - Clemente is a pure shooter with a very impressive NCAA Tournament performance on his resume. I guess size (Clemente is only 6-foot) did him in.

7. - Charles Garcia - Power Forward (Seattle) - I saw Garcia appearing in the first round on some mock drafts midway through the college season but he steadily fell from there. My guess is most personnel people didn't think Garcia has the strength to handle your average NBA power forward on the blocks.

8. - Sherron Collins - Point Guard (Kansas) - Cole Aldrich got quite a few laughs when he compared Sherron Collins to Chris Paul after he got drafted. That's quite a stretch but Collins was a really good quarterback on a really good college team. A lack of height and poor conditioning did Collins in but he did garner a summer league invite from Charlotte.

9. - Brian Zoubek - Center (Duke) - I've got to give a shout-out to a fellow Haddonfield, NJ native. Zoubek has the size and basketball IQ to at least be a Joel Pryzbilla-like defender and rebounder.

10. - Scottie Reynolds - Combo Guard (Villanova) - A poor final NCAA tourney overshadowed four years of solid play by the undersized Villanova guard.

Inside the NBA Draft: CBA is league's biggest problem

By John McMullen

New York, NY - Television productions tend to embellish on a fairly regular basis so I must confess snickering a little bit when I overheard the Worldwide Leader call the 2010 NBA Draft historic from my perch above its set at Madison Square Garden.

Of course, I suppose five Kentucky players being selected in the first round of the draft, and the fact that the first senior wasn't taken until No. 23, the longest wait ever for four-year players, did have some scurrying for the record books.

Heck, even the venue itself gets the juices flowing. When you reach the escalator at Penn Station and slowly make the climb up to the Garden, you can't help thinking about Willis Reed limping onto the floor, Bernard King dropping 60, Spike Lee jawing with Reggie Miller or in my case Ivan Koloff pinning Bruno Sammartino.

That said, this draft was all about history to me for a different reason. It was the first time a number of teams flat out ignored the young talent available in order to clear salary cap space for the most high-profile free agent class ever, featuring the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson.

The Chicago Bulls gave away an excellent player, Kirk Hinrich, for nothing. The hometown Knicks, perhaps spooked by Chicago's move, refused to trade up into the first round despite liking a number of players, and the Miami Heat virtually cleared the decks, making room for two high-profile free agents to join Wade in South Beach.

The Chicago Bulls gave away an excellent player, Kirk Hinrich, for nothing.
It was almost surreal watching NBA teams hang their entire futures on the recruiting process. It was like the stench of AAU basketball had invaded MSG and took over The Association.

It's been a problem for years but the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players is now officially ruining the game for the fans. When salary cap slots become more meaningful than the human beings sporting your favorite team's colors -- something is wrong.

For years I've decried the conventional wisdom that says the salary cap makes it impossible to make significant personnel moves in the NBA. I used to think that was the philosophy of the weak, the GM's that have no imagination or foresight. Winners tend to be winners for a reason I always thought.

I've also always prided myself on being open-minded and when everyone takes the opposite view of your own -- it's time to revisit your thesis.

You can bet all 30 teams would like to be joining the "King James" sweepstakes that are set to kick off in a week but only the ones with the foresight to clean out the closest are in.

Much like our government, the NBA is rewarding bad behavior.

One of my pet peeves in the real world is the estate or death tax. If you make a lot of money in your life and do the right thing by saving and providing for your kids, the government will swoop in after you pass and take 50 percent of the money you were already taxed on when you were living, essentially stealing from your family. If you are a horrible person, go to Vegas and blow that same money on craps, booze and blow, the government will never see a dime.

That is the very definition of rewarding bad behavior.

In the NBA, teams routinely tank seasons or jettison competent pieces to the puzzle, and are given high draft picks or the siren's song that is cap relief.

Perhaps it's pie-in-the-sky stuff but wouldn't be nice to see a league where everyone is trying to compete at a high level?


1. - Washington Wizards - John Wall (Kentucky), Point Guard (6-3, 195) - Wall, the first ever No.1 overall pick out of Kentucky, is the one can't miss prospect in the draft. He 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 quicker version of Derrick Rose.

2. - Philadelphia 76ers - Evan Turner (Ohio State), Combo Guard (6-7, 215) - The Sixers stayed put and took the most NBA-ready player in the draft, a virtually mistake-proof pick in Turner, the college player of the year. Turner has a tremendous feel for the game and is an extremely efficient offensive player in the mold of Portland's Brandon Roy. His mid-range jumper is something rarely seen these days and he can handle the ball with either hand. Turner should team with Jrue Holiday to give the Sixers a top-tier backcourt for the next decade or so.

3. - New Jersey Nets - Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech), Power Forward (6-9, 245) - The Nets had the real decision in the draft and went with Favors, the logical pick. DeMarcus Cousins may have the bigger upside but New Jersey already has an All-Star type center in Brook Lopez so they went with Favors, a prototypical four in the mold of Kenyon Martin.

4. - Minnesota Timberwolves - Wesley Johnson (Syracuse), Small Forward (6-7, 205) - Despite his annoying bloviating and his comically inept criticism of Favors, Wolves basketball chief David Kahn got his man in Johnson, a silky- smooth small forward with a big wingspan and a nice jumper.

5. - Sacramento Kings - DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky), Center (6-11, 280) - Last year Sacramento fell from No. 1 to four in the lottery and lucked out by snaring Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, a player that is now the cornerstone of the franchise. The Kings reportedly asked Evans his opinion on who the pick should be this season and Tyreke wasn't shy about professing his desire to play with Cousins, a talented big with a questionable work ethic. Cousins' eventual upside will likely be determined by his waistband.

6. - Golden State Warriors - Ekpe Udoh (Baylor), Power Forward (6-10, 235) - Udoh shot up the board in the final days leading up to the draft but strikes me as a reach by a troubled franchise, lacking leadership. Of course, any player with a defensive mindset is welcome in Oakland. 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.

7. - Detroit Pistons - Greg Monroe (Georgetown), Power Forward/Center (6-10, 245) - Since Ben Wallace and Kwame Brown were the big men in the Motor City last year, Detroit needed a center and choice the more-skilled Monroe over a traditional pivot like Cole Aldrich. Monroe, a lefty with the skills of a much smaller player, must prove he has the toughness to excel on the boards and at the defensive end.

8. - Los Angeles Clippers - Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest), Combo Forward (6-8, 220) - Since the Clippers have All-Star Chris Kaman in the pivot and will have Blake Griffin coming back next year at the four, they really wanted a small forward to round out the front line and lucked out when Aminu, a player with elite physical tools and a nice upside, fell.

9. - Utah Jazz - Gordon Hayward (Butler), Small Forward (6-8, 210) - Utah could have used a big man to replace Carlos Boozer but he Jazz get a replacement for Kyle Korver by taking Hayward, a weak-side shooter with a high basketball IQ that can take advantage of double-teams by sticking the three.

10. - Indiana Pacers - Paul George (Fresno State), Combo Forward (6-8, 210) - Weirdest pick in the draft. Was sure there was a trade coming when I saw the Pacers took George, a rangy guy that can handle the ball very well for a wing player and run the floor. Indiana needs a point guard badly and were reportedly shopping this pick with the intent of landing Jonny Flynn, Ty Lawson or Nick Collison. Meanwhile, George projects at the same position as the Pacers best player -- Danny Granger.

11. - New Orleans Hornets - Cole Aldrich (Kansas), Center (6-11, 250) - The Hornets took Aldrich in order to trade him and Morris Peterson for picks 21 and 26, which ended up being Iowa State power forward Craig Brackins and Washington small forward Quincy Pondexter. Aldrich is a legitimate center with top-tier rebounding and defensive skills that will help the Thunder compete with the Lakers out West.

12. - Memphis Grizzlies - Xavier Henry (Kansas), Shooting Guard (6-6, 220) - Henry, the Kansas freshman, is a physical specimen that is tailor-made for the NBA game and gives the Grizzlies some insurance for Rudy Gay. If Gay stays on Beale Street, Henry will provide a nice punch off the bench, while he could develop into a starter if Gay departs.

13. - Toronto Raptors - Ed Davis (North Carolina), Power Forward (6-9, 225) - The Raptors figure to lose Chris Bosh in the offseason so they needed a big and Davis fits the bill. He's raw but athletic. A little added strength and attention to the mid-range game wouldn't be a bag thing for Davis.

14. - Houston Rockets - Patrick Patterson (Kentucky), Combo Forward (6-8, 235) - Patterson seems like a good choice here. The Kentucky junior has the ability to move between the three and four, meaning he can play with Yao Ming and Luis Scola and provide some insurance up front in case the injury bug continues to haunt the Rockets.

15. - Milwaukee Bucks - Larry Sanders (VCU), Power Forward (6-10, 235) - I had heard Sanders got a guarantee from the Bucks that he would be selected here if available. The Bucks added an impressive quarterback last year in Brandon Jennings, and Sanders is the type of athlete that will fit right into what the team is trying to accomplish. Scott Skiles seems to be enamored with his length and ability to help on the defensive end and the boards.

16. - Minnesota Timberwolves - Luke Babbitt (Nevada), Combo Forward (6-8, 220) - In one of the more questionable decisions ever made in the NBA, the Blazers fired GM Kevin Pritchard but told him he would be in charge of the draft on his last day. Pritchard made a deal here as Minnesota takes Babbitt and trades him, along with Ryan Gomes, for Martell Webster. Babbitt, the WAC Player of the Year, is a great athlete but I'm not sure he fits with the Blazers.

17. - Chicago Bulls - Kevin Seraphin (France), Center/Power Forward (6-10, 255) - Seraphin was taken for the Wizards in the Hinrich deal that won't be announced until July 8. The only European player taken in the first round, Seraphin is very raw and may be stashed overseas by Washington for a year or two, although he does have a very reasonable buyout.

18. - Oklahoma City Thunder - Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky), Combo Guard (6-0, 195) - The Thunder got this pick from Miami on Wednesday and worked a deal with the Clippers by trading Bledsoe for a future No. 1. A shrewd deal by Sam Presti considering how often the Clips are in the lottery. Bledsoe, while not quite ready, can play both guard positions and has a solid upside. He should start as Baron Davis' caddy and eventually become his heir apparent.

19. - Boston Celtics - Avery Bradley (Texas), Shooting Guard (6-2, 175) - Danny Ainge made good on picking Bradley. Since Ray Allen may move on in the offseason, the C's felt it was prudent to take a flyer on Bradley, an undersized freshman that is a pure shooter and scorer.

20. - San Antonio Spurs - James Anderson (Oklahoma State), Shooting Guard (6-6, 195) - Anderson is slight but tough and could be the best pure shooter in this year's draft. 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 Anderson is a nice value pick.

21. - Oklahoma City Thunder - Craig Brackins (Iowa State), Power Forward (6-10, 230) - Brackins will head to New Orleans in the Aldrich deal and provide a big body to compliment David West.

22. - Portland Trail Blazers - Elliott Williams (Memphis), Shooting Guard (6-4, 180) - Chad Buchanan, the Blazers' director of college scouting, recently said there would likely be "two really solid catch-and-shoot guys" that could help the team at 22 and Williams, a versatile southpaw guard with upper-echelon athleticism, was obviously a player he was targeting.

23. - Minnesota Timberwolves - Trevor Booker (Clemson), Power Forward (6-7, 240) - The first senior taken was Booker, a guy I had rated as a second rounder. The Wolves quickly traded the rights to Booker and the 56th pick, Hamady N'diaye, for the 30th pick, Lazar Hayward, and the 35th pick, Nemanja Bjelica. Booker is undersized for the four spot and not athletic enough to play the three.

24. - Atlanta Hawks - Damion James (Texas), Small Forward (6-7, 230) - The Hawks take another senior in James but move him to New Jersey for Jordan Crawford, the 27th pick, and Tibor Pliess. James excels in transition and is an exceptional rebounder and defender for his size.

25. - Memphis Grizzlies - Dominique Jones (South Florida), Shooting Guard (6-4, 215) - The Grizzlies take Jones. a powerfully-built combo guard with a nice offensive game, and sell him to Dallas for cash. Jones may be the best finisher in the draft outside of Wall and the Mavs need players that can excel at the rim.

26. - Oklahoma City Thunder - Quincy Pondexter (Washington), Small Forward (6-7, 220) - The slight Pondexter also moves to the Big Easy in the Aldrich trade. A heady offensive player, Pondexter should excel playing with Chris Paul.

27. - New Jersey Nets - Jordan Crawford (Xavier), Shooting Guard (6-4, 195) - Crawford moves to Atlanta, along with Tibor Pliess, for Damion James. With Joe Johnson likely moving on, this is the player the Hawks wanted although expecting Crawford to replace an All-Star is unrealistic.

28. - Memphis Grizzlies - Greivis Vasquez (Maryland), Combo Guard (6-5, 195) - Nice energy player that lacks great speed and top-tier athleticism. That said, Vasquez is a nice player to have coming off your bench.

29. - Orlando Magic - Daniel Orton (Kentucky), Power Forward (6-10, 255) - Most thought Orton was a lottery pick and he nearly slid all the way out of the first round due to concerns over his work ethic. He still has a significant upside, however, with impressive length, although his offensive game needs a lot of work despite a very soft touch that is rare among young bigs today.

30. - Washington Wizards - Lazar Hayward (Marquette), Small Forward (6-6, 225) - Most mock draft had Hayward going mid-to-late second round, but Minnesota likes his offensive upside and was willing to work a deal to get him.

Utley, Polanco both headed to DL

The Philadelphia Phillies are expected to place second baseman Chase Utley and third baseman Placido Polanco on the disabled list later Tuesday, a source told's Jerry Crasnick.

Utley has a thumb injury and Polanco is atruggling with an elbow injury.

Eagles claim S Johnson

The Philadelphia Eagles claimed safety Brett Johnson off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.

The 6-1, 194-pound defender was signed as a rookie free agent from California by the Bills following the 2010 draft but was released on June 25. A two-year starter at free safety, the 23-year-old Johnson finished his collegiate career with 107 tackles along with three interceptions. In 2009, Johnson recorded a career-high 52 tackles to lead all Bears defensive backs. The Henderson, NV, native was a college teammate of Eagles WR DeSean Jackson at Cal.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Villanova's Reynolds to join Suns' Summer League team

Former Villanova star guard Scottie Reynolds is set to play for the Phoenix Suns summer league team in Las Vegas next month.

"It's fantastic," Suns director of player personnel Todd Quinter told the Arizona Republic. "He had a great chance of going in the draft. We were really fortunate he wanted to play for our summer team. He plays with a lot of heart. He might not be a traditional point guard but he's a scorer and can distribute. He can be really good at our pace. He wants to be in the NBA badly."

Unio top Sounders in PPL Park opener

-Courtesy of

Chester, Pa (June 27, 2010) – A historic night at PPL Park became even more memorable after Philadelphia Union earned a decisive comeback victory over Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday night. Sebastien Le Toux, Fred and Danny Mwanga netted second half tallies to erase a 1-0 halftime deficit and Chris Seitz's penalty kick save propelled the Union to in front of an electric home crowd.

“I knew it was going to be a very good game," said Mwanga, who scored his fourth goal of the season on Sunday. "Especially because we were going to be in front of our fans so it was extra motivation for all of us just being able to do that for them, to win that game for them for the first time in our new stadium, it was just the best feeling ever.”

The Union came out behind the intensity of the hometown fans and dominated possession for the first 25 minutes, but scoring chances for both sides were scarce.

The first real opportunity came in the 26th minute, when Le Toux worked a give-and-go with Alejandro Moreno at the top of the area before taking two touches and unleashing a low strike on net from 22 yards out. Kasey Keller was up to the task however, diving to his right to gather the tricky shot despite being shielded.

The Union came close again in the 33rd minute when Fred found Mwanga hovering outside the box. Mwanga one-touched a bending ball to Keller’s left, but the attempt narrowly missed the post.

Seattle’s first real chance came in the 38th minute when Freddie Ljundberg sent a dangerous cross from the right to the edge of the six-yard box, but goalkeeper Chris Seitz was able to get a touch and clear danger right before Seattle could head home the service.

Seattle would strike first before the half, with Pat Noonan netting the first goal in PPL Park history. Steve Zakuani cut into the middle of the field from the left touchline, sliding a pass to Fredy Montero at the top of the area. Montero reached for the ball with his right foot, managing to get just enough of a touch to re-direct the ball and split two Union defenders, leaving Noonan all alone to find the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Philadelphia would nearly equalize after the break on a Roger Torres corner, but a bouncing ball in the box narrowly missed crossing the goal line before the play was whistled dead as a result of an offside call.
The equalizer came in the 55th minute on a Le Toux penalty kick after Moreno was taken down in the box. Philadelphia’s leading scorer stepped up to the spot and hammered the ball into the upper right corner to even the score at 1-1 as Keller dove in the opposite direction.

Seattle has a golden opportunity to turn the momentum right back around in the 60th minute off a penalty kick of their own, but Noonan’s attempt was stopped by an enormous diving save by Seitz, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
Philadelphia would continue to control possession and pepper Keller with shots following their first goal, but blasts from Fred and Moreno couldn’t find their way past the former U.S. National Team goalkeeper.

The Union would find their go-ahead goal in the 79th minute. After a Le Toux cross managed to avoid a crowd of players from both clubs, Fred banged it home at the far post to put Philadelphia up 2-1.

The home side would gain a two goal advantage just minutes later, when Le Toux’s cross found Mwanga, who fired on net and then followed up his own rebound with a tap-in goal to give the Union a 3-1 lead.

The match would ends minutes later, leading to an eruption by the home faithful. PPL Park proved to make all the difference for the Union, with a powerful home field advantage fueling Philadelphia to a thrilling win.

"We knew what to do in the second half," said manager Peter Nowak after the match. "(We knew) how to play our game and the confidence of the whole group. They made themselves better and that is a very special feeling for the coaching staff knowing that these guys are hungry for success.

"This is just the first step. We know the feeling after we won (against) D.C. United and then what happened after that. It’s the balance between having an emotional breakdown or being too high with your feelings after the win. For me, I will let them celebrate today because it was a very special moment but tomorrow we go back to work.”

Scoring Summary: 
SEA – Pat Noonan 1 (Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani) 44’
PHI – Sebastien Le Toux 6 (Unassisted) 55’
PHI – Fred 1 (Sebastien Le Toux) 60’
PHI – Danny Mwanga 4 (Unassisted) 84’
Misconduct Summary:
SEA -- Patrick Ianni (caution; Reckless Tackle) 20 
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, Leo Gonzalez, Jeff Parke, Tyrone Marshall, James Riley, Steve Zakuani (Nate Jaqua 72), Patrick Ianni, Peter Vagenas (Mike Seamon 66), Fredy Montero, Freddie Ljungberg, Pat Noonan (Roger Levesque 80). 
Substitutes Not Used: Nathan Sturgis, Tyson Wahl, Sanna Nyassi, Terry Boss. 
Philadelphia Union -- Chris Seitz, Shea Salinas, Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Cristian Arrieta, Stefani Miglioranzi, Roger Torres (Andrew Jacobson 63), Fred (Amobi Okugo 81), Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga (Nick Zimmerman 87), Alejandro Moreno. 
Substitutes Not Used: Shavar Thomas, Jack McInerney, Toni Stahl, Brad Knighton. 
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee's Assistants: C.J. Morgante; Craig Lowry
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda
Time of Game: 1:52

Werdum shocks Fedor

SAN JOSE,  Calif. (June 27, 2010) –  Two-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Fabricio Werdum (14-4)
registered the most spectacular upset in MMA history with a 1:09, first-round  submission (triangle choke) over the world’s No. 1 heavyweight and  pound-for-pound fighter, Fedor Emelianenko (31-2) before
12,649 Saturday at HP  Pavilion.

Fedor,  a six-footer, had Werdum in trouble in the opening moments after dropping him  with a right uppercut that was followed with several more punches. But,  from his back, Werdum, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and member of Brazil’s vaunted  Chute Boxe fight squad, got Fedor into a combination triangle- and arm-choke.  Within seconds, the fight was over. The famed Fedor had tapped  out.

“I am  so very, very happy,’’ the six-foot-four Werdum said. “He is such a strong  man.  He is a great fighter. I would  be glad to fight him again.’’
It was  the first “legitimate’’ defeat in Fedor’s legendary career. His other loss,  while official, came as a result of a disputed doctor stoppage due to a cut he  sustained seconds into a matchup with Japan’s Tsuyoshi
Kosaka on Dec. 22, 2000. 

“One that doesn’t fall doesn’t stand up. I was concentrating on the strikes and made  a mistake,’’ Fedor said. “I will have to go back and analyze what  happened.’’

Saturday  marked the first time in MMA history, the No. 1 male and female fighters in the world fought in the same cage on the same night.

While  Fedor failed in a stunning shocker, the top women’s fighter, Cris Cyborg (10-1) of Curitibia, Brazil, was her usual  brutal self as she retained the STRIKEFORCE Women’s World Middleweight (145  pounds) title with a dominant second-round (2:27) knockout (strikes) over game,  determined challenger, Jan Finney  (8-8) of Springfield, Ohio, in one of the featured fights on  SHOWTIME.

In  other televised fights, former STRIKEFORCE middleweight champion and hometown  favorite, southpaw Cung Le (17-3) of  San Jose, convincingly stopped Scott  “Hands Of Steel’’ Smith (18-7) of Elk Grove, Calif., at 1:46 in the second  round; and popular, local fan favorite and  former STRIKEFORCE
world lightweight belt-holder Josh “The Punk’’ Thomson (17-3), of San  Jose, turned back a determined bid of Pat “Bam Bam’’ Healy (23-16) of  Portland, Ore., to  score a  hard-fought, third-round submission. A tight, even fight ended via rear-naked  choke at 4:27. 

In an emotional  moment midway through the telecast, MMA pioneer and San Jose’s original favorite  MMA son, Frank “The Legend’’ Shamrock, made one  last walk down the ramp, in a suit, no less, and into the cage where he formally  announced his retirement.

As the respectful  fans stood and listened in appreciation, Shamrock, who is an expert analyst for  SHOWTIME MMA telecasts, took the microphone, surrounded by family, promoters and  executives, and said: “I’m 37. My time has come. Tonight, I announce my  retirement. Tonight, I enter the cage for the
last time as a fighter. I want to  thank the people, my friend and an honest promoter, Scott Coker, for always keeping his  word. In 2006, I threw one punch and STRIKEFORCE was born. Again, I want to  thank all the people, the HP Pavilion and my family who put up with my craziness  that was MMA. You, the
fans were there when I won, and when I lost, and it was  an honor for me to bleed and to break bones and entertain  you.’’

Shamrock then slowly  bowed to each side of the cage, precipitating one final roar of cheers from  those in attendance.

By  defeating Fedor, Werdum’s record now against the Emelianenko’s is 2-0. On Nov. 26, 2006, Werdum submitted Fedor’s brother, Aleksander, via arm triangle choke at  3:24 in the first round in Rotterdam, Holland.  Werdum  may also have earned an immediate shot at STRIKEFORCE heavyweight world  champion, Alistair “The Demolition Man”  Overeem, whom he’s already defeated once. “I am ready to fight anybody,’’  Werdum said.

Cyborg, who had a  meaningless point deducted for hitting behind the head in the opening round,  praised Finney, who went down several times, but felt the fight could have been  halted earlier. 

“I was really  surprised the fight wasn’t stopped in the first round,’’ said Cyborg after her  10th consecutive victory. “I know she was trying hard, but I could  tell I was hurting her, especially when she was down and
covering up like she  was. But it is my job to keep fighting until the fight is  over.’’

Cyborg  was crowned the first STRIKEFORCE women’s champion in history on Aug. 15, 2009,  after she stopped Gina Carano in the  first round at HP Pavilion. Finney fought as hard  as anyone could expect and, true to her word, kept firing back. 

“I think this, being  a world title fight, could have gone on a little longer,’’ she said. “If I was  really hurt, I would have tapped.’’

Southpaw Le, who had  dominated Smith before getting stopped last Dec. 19, left little to doubt this  time around. A spinning leg kick to the body dropped Smith and after a  succession of punches, the referee stepped in.

Afterward, an ecstatic Le  back-flipped out. “I want to thank  Scott Coker and SHOWTIME. I know what happened last time and was determined not  to have it happen again. I knew I was in shape. I was pushed really hard during  training. I was totally focused. I didn’t eat pizza. I didn’t eat chocolate for  six or seven weeks.

“If Scott Coker wants  a rubber match, that would be fine with me. Last time was Scott (Smith’s) night.  This was my night. I am the one standing.’’

Philly Mag looks at WIP vs 97.5

You can read Richard Rys' interesting piece by banging the link...