Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Winter Classic to have later start

Courtesy of the NHL

Pittsburgh The National Hockey League announced today the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will change the original 1 p.m. (ET) start time on New Year's  Day to 8 p.m. (ET).

The decision was based on the latest meteorological reports, which have advised an approaching front of potentially steady rain expected to fall through the afternoon and taper off by early evening, and after consultation with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals, national broadcast partners (NBC, CBC, RDS), the Pittsburgh Steelers, the National Hockey League Players' Association, and local officials.

We have been further advised that cooler and drier air conditions are expected in the evening with the passing of the front.  The NHL feels that it was important to make this announcement at this time so as to minimize the inconvenience to all parties associated with the event, especially its fans.

Sixers shut Iguodala down for 10 days

The Sixers have announced that swingman Andre Iguodala will miss the team's next five games due to Achilles tendinitis. His next on-court activity has been set for Jan. 10.

After being examined by Dr. Richard Ferkel from the Southern California Orthopedic Institute, a determination was made in conjunction with Sixers team doctor Dr. Jack McPhilemy of Main Line Health to allow for the additional time for Iguodala to rest the injury. 

Eagles sign McCray; cut Burgess

The Eagles have traded one veteran defensive end for another inking Bobby McCray and releasing Derrick Burgess.

A seven-year vet, McCray (6-6, 260) was originally a seventh-round draft choice of Jacksonville in 2004. He spent four seasons with the Jaguars (2004-07) and two with the New Orleans Saints (2008-09), and has compiled 29.5 career sacks in 93 games (37 starts). His best season came in 2006 when he led the Jaguars with a career-high 10 sacks. He also led the Saints with six in 2008.

McCray spent the 2010 preseason with New Orleans but was released on Set. 4 as part of the team’s final roster cut down. The 29-year-old McCray is a native of Miami, FL and played collegiately at Florida, where he was an All-SEC second-team selection as a senior after amassing 107 tackles and 14.5 sacks in his career.

Lakers and Sixers clash in Hollywood

The two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers kick off a three-game homestand tonight against a road-weary Philadelphia 76ers club.

The Lakers, who will also face Memphis and Detroit on their residency, snapped an uncharacteristic three-game losing streak on Wednesday in New Orleans thanks in large part to a minor change in the starting lineup.

Lamar Odom was replaced for the first time this season by Andrew Bynum but scored a game-high 24 points off the bench to lead Los Angeles to a 103-88 victory over the Hornets.

Kobe Bryant added 20 points, Bynum scored 18 and Pau Gasol notched a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who also got nine points and eight assists from veteran point guard Derek Fisher.

"Things we were running inside of our offense were run well," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "I wasn't so happy the second half. They got away from our end of the floor and played a little bit out of their own."

The Sixers, meanwhile, improved to 3-3 on a grueling, season-long eight-game trek in Phoenix on Wednesday when Jrue Holiday scored 25 points to go along with seven assists and rookie Evan Turner added a career-high 23 points in a reserve role, as Philadelphia topped the Suns, 123-110.

Andres Nocioni, starting in place of the injured Andre Iguodala, added a season-high 22 points and 12 rebounds. Spencer Hawes notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards for the Sixers.

Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, for Philadelphia.

Iguodala missed his second straight game while dealing with right Achilles tendinitis but reserve guard Lou Williams scored 10 points in his first game back after missing two games due to the birth of his daughter.

"Needless to say, that was incredibly gratifying," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "I'm not used to those kinds of games. At halftime, I told our coaches I felt like a car going downhill without brakes. The Suns are so good at playing that game and I was so concerned about us being able to play that way for 40 minutes. We got a handle on them a little bit in the second half."

Iguodala is expected to be a game-time decision tonight.

The Lakers have won six of their past seven against Philadelphia, including a 93-81 triumph in the City of Brotherly Love two weeks ago.

Pro wrestler sought in Collingswood bank robbery

Nicholas "Nick Gage" Wilson
Nicholas "Nick Gage" Wilson, an independent pro wrestler best known for his violent matches in the South Philadelphia-based Combat Zone Wrestling promotion, is being sought for allegedly robbing a PNC Bank branch in Collingswood, NJ, last week.

Wilson is being accused of  stealing $3,000 from the bank along Haddon Avenue at about 1:40 p.m. on Dec. 22 according to Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk and Collingswood Police Chief Richard Sarlo.

Wilson, a four-time CZW champion who is 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, allegedly handed the teller at the bank a note saying he would shoot her if she didn't hand over the cash.

"Combat Zone Wrestling, LLC has no direct knowledge of any alleged wrong doings by Nick Gage," the company said in a statement released on its website. "We firmly discourage any fans from emulating any of the actions alleged. We also hope that if these accusations are true that Nick will turn himself over to authorities."

Wilson's last known address was on Lakeshore Drive in Camden and authorities are asking the public for help in locating him. Anyone with information can call the Camden County Prosecutors Office at 856-225-8400.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Winter Classic show will go on, weather or not

Courtesy of ESPN

Pittsburgh, PA -- The ice is ready, but will there be hockey?

"We're going to play," NHL chief operating officer John Collins said Thursday at a news conference.

Weather forecasts for Saturday's Winter Classic at Heinz Field continue to be gloomy, calling for rain showers. Some forecasts Thursday lowered the probability of rain to 80 percent but other reports kept it at 100 percent.

Collins, the brains behind the Winter Classic, shrugged off the scary forecasts.

"Weather is part of the game's DNA," Collins said. "I mean, it's an outdoor game. Like the World Series, weather gets involved in it. We're going to play. We're planning to play at 1 o'clock. We've got maximum flexibility to do what needs [to be done] to get that game in on Saturday."

Should the game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals not be played Saturday, however, the league's Plan B is a game time of noon ET Sunday, still at Heinz Field.

But Collins made it clear every effort will be made to play it Saturday, even if it means playing through weather delays. They can play into the evening, if they have to.

"We'll gather as much information as we possibly can to make sure that we're taking into account the competitive integrity of the game and the safety of the players and obviously the convenience of the fans," Collins said.

Collins has studied weather reports for the city of Pittsburgh going back 30 years.

"I don't really want to be taken to task on this, but I'm not sure it's ever rained on New Year's in Pittsburgh," Collins said, smiling.

Hockey fans just have to adopt the mentality of baseball fans, Collins said. Weather may interrupt the game, but it'll eventually be completed. If it takes four or five hours, so be it.

"I think everybody associated with the game, from the broadcast partners to our corporate partners to our licensees and I think our fans, understand what they're getting into for this," Collins said.

The first Winter Classic in Buffalo was delayed for just a few minutes when Zambonis came out mid-period to resurface the ice in the midst of a snowfall.

This time, like baseball, it could be rain delays.

So be it.

"I can't see that we wouldn't be able to get this game in," Collins said.

Leighton to make long-awaited season-debut in Los Angeles; Timonen to gut it out

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton will make his season debut on Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings.

Head coach Peter Laviolette confirmed earlier in the day that Leighton will be playing for the first time since the heartbreaking loss in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Chicago on June 9.

During the preseason, Leighton began to experience discomfort in his lower back and numbness radiating down one leg, and saw limited action before being rested, then diagnosed with a herniated disc. The 29-year-old underwent back surgery in October that had kept him off the ice for almost two months.

Leighton has spent the balance of December with the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League, and has played to mixed results, given the fact that the former Philadelphia denizens sport the worst record in the AHL amidst roster and coaching upheavals.

He was 1-3-0 with a 2.78 goals-against average in four games, allowing 11 goals while stopping 106 shots.

Last season, Leighton went 16-5-2 with a shutout and a 2.48 GAA over 27 games after being acquired by the Flyers off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes. He went on to guide the team to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1997 and posted an 8-3 mark with a 2.46 GAA in the playoffs.

The Flyers, who are trying to reverse the effects of a two-game losing skid in LA, got some more good news when defenseman Kimmo Timonen pronounced himself ready to play despite suffering some sort of hip injury during Tuesday's 6-2 loss in Vancouver.

Philly plays back-to-back in Southern California tonight and tomorrow in Anaheim, before returning to the Eastern Time Zone with games at Detroit and New Jersey next week to close out a five-game trip.

Eagles sign DT Clark

The Philadelphia Eagles have signed DT Jeremy Clark to a three-year deal.

Now in his second stint in Philadelphia, Clark (6-3, 295) was originally a rookie free agent signing of the Eagles in 2007 and spent that entire season on the practice squad. Since then he has spent time with the New York Giants (2008-09), Atlanta Falcons (2009), Arizona Cardinals (2010), and Dallas Cowboys (2010). Most recently, he was with the Washington Redskins but was released by the team on December 25. He has appeared in six career games (four with the Giants in 2008; two with the Cowboys in 2010), recording six tackles and a half sack.

A four-year starter at Alabama, Clark registered 85 tackles and 4.5 sacks in his career with the Crimson Tide. The 27-year-old is a native of Daphne, AL, and was an all-state selection at Daphne High School.

Flyers recall D Gustafsson

The Philadelphia Flyers have recalled defenseman Erik Gustafsson from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, on emergency conditions.

It's the first NHL call-up for Gustafsson, who will be available for tonight's game against the Los Angeles Kings.

Gustafsson, 22 (12-15-88), was signed by the Flyers as a free agent on March 3, 2010.  He currently leads both the Phantoms and all American Hockey League defensemen in scoring, having posted four goals and 22 assists for 26 points in 33 games.  He is tied for second among all AHL rookies in overall scoring, and his 22 assists lead all AHL rookies and rank seventh overall in the AHL.  Fourteen of his assists have come on the power play, which ranks him fourth in the AHL in that category.

A native of Kvissleby, Sweden, Gustafsson joined the Phantoms for five games last season following the end of a three-year career at Northern Michigan University.  He scored two goals and added five assists for seven points in those five games.  Over three seasons at Northern Michigan, Gustafsson posted seven goals and 86 assists for 93 points in 123 games.

Flyers' Shelley suspended for 2 games

The National Hockey League has suspended Flyers left wing Jody Shelley for two games as a result of an incident in Tuesday night’s game at Vancouver, according to Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren.

Shelley was assessed a match penalty for intent to injure at 12:29 of the third period.

As a result of the suspension, Shelley will miss Thursday’s game at Los Angeles and Friday’s game at Anaheim.  He is eligible to return on Sunday, Jan. 2 at Detroit.

Union's Okugo named to US U-20 Men's National team

Philadelphia Union’s Amobi Okugo has been named to the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team roster that will be training at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from January 2-13. Out of the 25-man roster, Okugo will be one of the six players to represent Major League Soccer at this camp.

Okugo’s last appearance with the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team was during the U-20 MNT camp in Sunrise, Fla. from December 12-19. The national squad left camp having defeated Canada twice.

Prior to December’s camp, Okugo participated of the Torneo de las Americas Tournament at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, November 21-29. The young midfielder started and played 90 minutes of the National Team losses to Colombia and Mexico, both of which came in PK’s.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Video: Andy Reid chides Les Bowen after Vikings loss

Sixers continue road trip in Phoenix

The Sixers' Andre Iguodala
The Phoenix Suns hope to halt a three-game skid when they open a stretch of five of six games at the US Airways Center by welcoming the road-weary Philadelphia 76ers to the desert.

Clippers rookie star Blake Griffin posted his 18th straight double-double with 28 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out on Sunday, as Los Angeles snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Suns with a 108-103 victory at Staples Center.

Mickael Pietrus netted a team-high 25 points for Phoenix, which has lost seven of its last nine contests overall. Steve Nash registered a double-double with 21 points and 15 assists, and Grant Hill poured in 19 points in defeat.

"They did a good job defensively against us," Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said about the Clippers. "They're getting better. We're just not getting quality play."

Phoenix, which is 7-6 at home on the year, hopes to get a boost tonight with the debut of Vince Carter. The former All-Star has missed all four games with a sore knee since being acquired by the Suns in a six-player trade with Orlando on Dec. 18

The Sixers, meanwhile, fell to 2-3 on their season-long eight-game trek Monday in Oakland when Dorell Wright led a balanced Golden State attack with 28 points, as the Warriors used precise long-distance shooting to beat Philadelphia, 110-95, at Oracle Arena.

Wright went 5-of-7 from three-point range, part of a 15-of-23 effort for the Warriors.

Jrue Holiday scored 23 to go with 11 assists for the Sixers, who were without swingman Andre Iguodala and sixth man Lou Williams. Iguodala sat out due to tendinitis in his right Achilles, an injury that caused him to miss several games earlier in the season, while Williams was excused to witness the birth of his daughter.

Jodie Meeks had 19 points and Elton Brand finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds in defeat. Spencer Hawes pulled down 12 rebounds.

Iguodala and Williams could both be back for tonight's contest.

The Suns swept the home-and-home series between the two clubs a year ago and have traditionally dominated the Sixers in Phoenix, winning 20 of the last 23 games in the series on their home floor.

Vikings stun Eagles

Vikings QB Joe Webb
Philadelphia - On any given Tuesday.

No that's not a sequel to the Al Pacino-Jamie Foxx snoozer, it describes what happened at Lincoln Financial Field tonight as the Minnesota Vikings waltzed in and stunned the playoff-bound Philadelphia Eagles, 24-14, with third-string quarterback Joe Webb at the controls.

Six months ago, tonight's Eagles-Vikings contest looked like a can't miss game but the 2010 Minnesota season quickly morphed into the living embodiment of Murphy's Law. Whether it was Brett Favre's sexting problem, Brad Childress' now legendary stubbornness or the Metrodome imploding just like the team's season, truly everything that could go wrong for the Vikings did and Minnesota had shown little fortitude in the face of all that adversity, checking out about three weeks ago.

Tonight, the Vikings limped into the Linc two days late thanks to the latest hurdle in their forgettable season, the City of Brotherly Love's 17th largest snowstorm that postponed the game for 48 hours. But, they strutted
out after Webb finished 17-of-26 for 195 yards and added another 31 rushing with a nine-yard TD in the NFL's first Tuesday game in 64 years.

"Just a great effort by our players. just battling through the things they had to battle through over the course of the week and showing the resiliency that has been a hallmark of this team," Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier said. "We have a lot of confidence in Joe Webb. You just know he has the ability to make plays but to do it with consistency against a great team is what you don't know. He showed great composure and tremendous poise in the pocket. he shows the intangibles you look for at that position."

Adrian Peterson ran for 118 yards and a score, Percy Harvin had seven receptions for 100 yards and the Vikings defense recorded six sacks, including two by Antoine Winfield, on Michael Vick.

"[The Eagles] are a great football team. I can't say enough about our players attitude and approach this week," Frazier added. "We have been through a lot and they deserve to be rewarded for their resiliency."

Vick suffered a quad contusion on the opening offensive play of the game and was largely ineffective, finishing 25-of-43 for 263 yards with a TD and an interception along with two fumbles as the Eagles lost out on a chance to garner a first round bye.

"We're a much better football team than we displayed," Vick said. ""It starts with me. That interception and two costly fumbles, goes back to being disciplined. I've got to do a better job protecting the ball. That's my responsibility, and I didn't do it. That's what swung the momentum to the Vikings.''

"The more you watch tape the more you shake in your boots a bit," Frazier said of Vick. "We just felt we needed to attack him and the guys executed. Antonie Winfield was big. Our goal was to attack him and make him pause a bit."

In reality Vick's night could have been far worse. The Pro Bowler, who was hit 13 times, looked skittish all night and both former Eagle Lito Sheppard and Frank Walker both dropped rather easy interceptions, while DeSean Jackson prevented another by Jamarca Sanford.

""We have got to make sure when they blitz us we make plays," Eagles center Mike McGlynn added. "They came out blitzing and we just need to protect out quarterback. It wasn't our best game."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Strikeforce re-signs Nick Diaz

STRIKEFORCE World Welterweight Champion and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt Nick Diaz (23-7, 1 NC) has signed a new, multi-year agreement with the San Jose, Calif. based world championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion.

“I’m looking forward to continuing my career with STRIKEFORCE,” said the dynamic 27-year-old Diaz, a protégé of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master Cesar Gracie and resident of Stockton, Calif.  “When I first got here, there weren’t a lot of great 170 pound fighters for me to fight, but that’s definitely changed.  There’s a lot of really good fighters in the division now and I’m ready to fight anyone who thinks they can beat me.”

Of late, the 6-foot-1 Diaz has been unstoppable, winning his last eight matchups.  In his last effort, he settled a three-year old score with arch-nemesis K.J. Noons, out-striking Noons en route to a five-round unanimous decision at HP Pavilion in San Jose last Oct. 9. 

Five months prior to the victory over Noons, the no-nonsense Diaz, one of MMA’s most intriguing figures, ventured to Saitama, Japan, to face top-ranked rival Hayato “Mach” Sakurai in a DREAM promoted affair. To the surprise of many, the southpaw Diaz made quick work of Sakurai, submitting the Japanese fighter with an armbar at the 3:54 mark of the first round.

Diaz was crowned the first STRIKEFORCE MMA welterweight champion in history last Jan. 30 after he scored a thunderous first round (4:38) TKO on rising star Marius “The Whitemare” Zaromskis with an onslaught of punches at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla.  

Diaz’s next challenge and second title defense is set for Sat., Jan. 29 when he will square off with Brazilian powerhouse Evangelista Cyborg (18-13) in the main event of a stacked STRIKEFORCE fight card at HP Pavilion, live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).

Monday, December 27, 2010

Owls ranked 25th in latest AP Poll

The three-time defending Atlantic 10 Conference champion Temple Owls have returned to college basketball’s Top 25 after a four-week absence.    Temple is ranked No. 25 in the latest Associated Press poll released Monday, December 27.  The Owls had a streak of 16 consecutive weeks ranked among the nation’s Top 25 end with the release of the November 29 polls.

Temple, which is also second among others receiving votes in the latest ESPN/USA Today poll (12/27), has won six straight since dropping two of three games at the Old Spice Classic Thanksgiving weekend. Among those six wins is a 68-65 victory over Georgetown currently ninth in both polls. 

The Owls (9-2) next travel to No. 8 Villanova for a Thursday night Philadelphia Big 5 showdown.  The game will be televised live by ESPN2 and broadcast on 1210 AM WPHT.

Sixers' road trip continues in Oakland

The Philadelphia 76ers will resume the west coast portion of their season-long eight-game road trip tonight in Oakland when they take on Monta Ellis and the Golden State Warriors.

The Sixers improved to 2-2 on the lengthy trek in the Rocky Mountains on Sunday when Jodie Meeks hit a deep three with 47.1 seconds remaining to cap a strong fourth quarter, as Philadelphia topped the Denver Nuggets, 95-89.

Jrue Holiday finished with 22 points while Elton Brand notched a double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds. Meeks ended with 17 points for the Sixers, who snapped a two-game skid and will finish their trip with visits to Phoenix, the LA Lakers and New Orleans after tonight's game.

"Once again our defense gave us a chance," Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said. "We won this game today shooting under 40 percent from the floor, 3-of-14 from three, missing 12 free throws."

The Sixers earned the win despite toiling without sixth man Lou Williams, who is in Philadelphia to witness the birth of his daughter and will also miss tonight's contest.

The Warriors, meanwhile, won their second straight game on Christmas Day when Monta Ellis scored 39 points and David Lee added 21 to help Golden State rally for a 109-102 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

A layup from LaMarcus Aldridge expanded Portland's lead to 97-91 with just over five minutes left in that one, but the Warriors responded with a dominating 16-2 burst. Ellis had half of those points, as Golden State won its second in a row for the first time since November 8 and 10 against Toronto and New York.

Dorell Wright had 16 points and eight rebounds, and played a key role in Golden State's comeback. The Warriors won despite a 2-for-15 shooting performance from Stephen Curry, who was held to four points, but he did have a season-best 11 assists. Curry had missed the last six games with a sprained right ankle.

"Once we get our whole team back it's going to be different," Ellis said. "We just have to hold it down until we get some key players back. Steph came back, hopefully Andris (Biedrins) will come back [soon]. We're going to turn it around."

Biedrins is listed as questionable for tonight's contest but is more likely to return on Golden State's five-game road trip that begins after tonight's game.

The Sixers swept the home-and-home series between the two clubs a year ago with Holiday scoring 15 points and dishing out six assists in both meetings as a rookie.

Eagles - Cowboys moved back

The Week 17 St. Louis at Seattle game on Sunday, January 2 will be played at 8:20 PM ET on NBC, the Jacksonville at Houston and Tennessee at Indianapolis games will move to 4:15 PM ET on CBS and the Chicago at Green Bay, Dallas at Philadelphia and New York Giants at Washington games will move to 4:15 PM ET on FOX, the NFL announced today. 

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier talks about postponement

“I sense that the guys wanted information. They wanted to know what was going on, what was happening. Once that information was conveyed, it seemed as if they understood the situation. They knew exactly what we needed to do to stay focused on what we came up here to do, and that’s to get a win against the Eagles. I didn’t sense discouragement, I didn’t sense disappointment. I sensed relief in knowing (when and where) the game was going to be played.”

“One of the good things about the Minnesota Vikings is we have great people working within our organization. As I’ve tried to make decisions, I’ve been able to rely on a lot of competent people within our organization for support and advice. I haven’t had to make all decisions alone; I’ve had people giving me input who are sound in their responsibilities. It’s helped me to hopefully make the right decisions. We’ve got great people working for our organization and they’ve been a great support.”

“You’d like to be able to pick up the phone and ask someone, ‘Hey, how did you handle this when your roof collapsed?’ There aren’t very many, if any, that have experienced what we’ve experienced, or at the level that we’ve experienced it. Or dealing with some of the injuries; some situations we’ve had to face during this period. But I know for me, I’ve learned a lot through it. Things I think will help me in the future. I think we’ll look back at it one day and say ‘That’s one of the reasons we’re playing as well or doing as well as an organization as we are now because of that experience in 2010.’”

Eagles COO Don Smolenski on the postponement

On when the process of postponing the game began:
“When we left on Friday for Christmas eve, we were all kind of thinking that we had dodged a bullet. I walked my dog on Saturday morning, Christmas morning, at six o’clock. I got back at quarter of seven and looked at my phone. I had an email from [Eagles president] Joe Banner that said the storm has flipped. So I got about two hours there with the kids to open presents and from that point on I spent most of the day with our guys beginning our preparations.”

On the process of coming to the determination that the game would be moved:
“It mostly started yesterday with mobilizing [director of facility management] Jason Miller, [director of grounds] Tony Leonard and [director of event operations] Leonard Bonacci—the three guys who are in charge of running our building day to day. Talking to our partners, talking to our weather services, talking to meteorologists. It continued all the way into last night. We were in touch with the league, sharing information with the league. We were in touch with the city, sharing information with the city back and forth. We went to bed last night and said, ‘You know what, we’ll just check.’ We got on the phone this morning and that’s kind of when the conversation began.”

On whether the decision was mostly about the safety of fans and workers:
“I think the number one issue, absolutely, all along, was public safety and the safety of fans, workers, venders, suppliers, really everybody. In addition to 70,000 people, there are 3,000 workers. Trying to have people come down in the conditions that are out there now and what they’re calling blizzard-like, blowing winds, white-out conditions, 50 mile-per-hour winds. That just wasn’t safe. The discussions with the league were all about public safety. That was paramount. That, I think, in the end really was what drove the decision.”

On how influential NBC was in the decision to play the game on Tuesday:
“That’s probably a question for the league. Our conversations were really just with the league officials. It’s in the league’s hands and the league has those types of conversations. From our end, we just sort of give them an update on what’s happening here in our market with the building and with the city and the conditions. We kind of are separated from that.”

On whether his previous experience with bad weather affecting games has helped during this process:
“It seems like we never get small ones, we only get big ones. We had the 17 inches, we had 23 inches last year before the San Francisco game. With this one, the timing was such that it was much different than those. I think some concern about what the conditions might be like tomorrow in the region, I think that also weighed into the decision of whether or not to go tomorrow night or Tuesday night.”

On whether having an extra 24 hours to play the game is a good thing:
“To be honest with you, once the decision was made, it allowed us to really move forward with our plans, a firm plan. We already had 400 laborers in the stadium this morning ready to go. We let some of those guys go. We kept some operators on hand. We’re going to tackle it through the night with parking lots, ramps, sidewalks, concourses, head house plaza and the field. The goal, hopefully, is to just stay on top of that and then we’ll be able to bring labor in. Our work crews [will spend the day tomorrow with] American Winter Services and then we can assess and then revisit and see what we need to tackle on Tuesday morning.”

On the stadium’s field over the next two home games:
“The field is tarped and Tony [Leonard] will keep it clean all night. I think, in his mind, he wants to be able to try and get those tarps off as quickly as he can tomorrow to allow time for, hopefully, the calm that comes after the storm to dry the field out a little bit. The playing field itself will be in great shape and hopefully the weather conditions will be much different on Tuesday night and may make for a fun evening in Philadelphia.”

On whether he has any concerns with two games in five days regarding the stadium:
“That certainly was a part of the conversations. I guess it’s not unprecedented with the Sunday to Thursday turnaround with the games on Thursday late in the season. That was really secondary to fan safety and public safety.”

Andy Reid on the postponement

What challenges does the postponement present for you, your staff and your team?

“Listen, really, nothing. We’re OK with it. We’re organized and prepared for this, and we completely support what the league did from a safety standpoint for everybody. We got the guys out of the hotel and home, and they’ll come back for a walk through tomorrow and then to the hotel, and it will be just like a Saturday night before a Sunday game, just a normal Saturday night - Sunday schedule.”

How tough will it be facing Dallas next week on a short week with so much potentially at stake?

“I don’t think it’s a problem. I think we’ll be all right. We’ve had Monday games, Sunday night games, we had a Thursday game, so we’ve been through a lot of this already, and that will help us. We’ll be fine.”

What will the schedule be next week?

“We’ll be off Wednesday, then we’ll come back Thursday and do a little more (than a normal Thursday), then we’ll have a normal Friday, bring them to the hotel Saturday, and go Sunday.”

Vikings players react to game being pushed back

Jared Allen: “What else can you say? Just add this to the list for the 2010 season. But you know what, we have to remain together as a team and keep a positive mind frame. It’s important to be a professional and be ready to play on Tuesday night.” 
Heath Farwell: “We’re just going to roll with it; that’s what we have to do. We’ve had a lot of adversity this year and this is another example of it. We are professionals and we have to adapt to what’s given to us.”
Chad Greenway: “It’s just another interesting twist to our season. It’s been tough to deal with all the distractions and this just adds to it. We’ll be staying here for a couple nights, so we’ll treat it like a (college) bowl game. In a bowl game you’re typically there for about a week and we’ll be here for about three days. But it has that feel. Everybody is here together; we’ll be hanging out. I’ll probably go get a cheese steak tonight and just hang out.
“At this point, there is so much time. We have to take some time just to relax, watch a couple movies and hang out. When it comes down to it, tomorrow we’ll get back into our game planning. We’ll watch some more film and keep interested in what’s going on instead of getting lost in the craziness.”
Percy Harvin: “Football is football, no matter what day you play it. They’re accommodating us very well at the hotel. We get to wash our clothes, there are movies to watch and we can eat. It’s just like being at home; we’ve just got to stay here, relax and then be ready when it’s time to play.”
Ryan Longwell: “It’s tough, especially in a season that you didn’t think any more curveballs could happen. This is a rough one being away from our families during Christmas and being stuck in Philly. At the same time you realize that you’ve got to reconfigure the mind for Tuesday night and show up ready to play.
Adrian Peterson: “Hey, at least it’s another couple of days to heal. We just have to handle this like we have everything else that has gone on this season. Coach Frazier told us to continue to stick together, to stay focused, and that’s what we’ll do. This is just another bump in the road.”
Visanthe Shiancoe: “As a professional athlete, as coach (Leslie Frazier) said, you can only control your attitude and your approach to it. So we have to have a positive approach to it. We get a little extra time to rest, a little extra time to be in the playbook and we’re still going to be on a national stage. We still have a chance to showcase the Vikings. We need to stay ready, no matter the circumstances.”
Joe Webb: “It’s another situation you can’t control. The only thing we can control is keeping our focus and staying composed. We need to fight through this adversity. It’s important to not check out mentally and stay in the playbook studying so we are prepared for the game.”

Eagles postponement causes another hiccup

With the Philadelphia Eagles vs Minnesota Vikings game rescheduled to Tuesday, December 28 at 8 p.m., Comcast-Spectacor is cancelling the 7 p.m. performance of Disney on Ice presents Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3 at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday, December 28 (only). Patrons holding tickets for the 7 p.m. performance of Disney on Ice on December 28 can exchange them for any of the remaining performances of Disney on Ice appearing at Wells Fargo Center through Sunday, January 2.

Disney on Ice presents Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3 will be performing at Wells Fargo Center on Monday, December 27 at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Tuesday, December 28 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; Wednesday, December 29 at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Thursday, December 30 at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Friday, December 31 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; Saturday, January 1 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. and Sunday, January 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Ticket exchanges can be made at the Wells Fargo Center box office anytime during business hours. Customers are encouraged to arrive at least one hour prior to the start time to exchange their tickets. Tickets for Disney on Ice are available at, by phone at 1-800-298-4200 or in person at the Wells Fargo Center box office.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Eagles sign CB Lawson

The Philadelphia Eagles have signed CB Gerard Lawson to a three-year deal.

Originally a rookie free agent signing of Cleveland in 2008, Lawson (5-10, 195) played in 20 career games with the Browns from 2008-09. He played mostly on special teams, notching five special teams tackles.

After being released by the Browns before the start of the 2010 regular season, Lawson signed with the Hartford Colonials of the UFL and went on to record 23 kickoff returns for 483 yards (21.0 average). He also had one interception, which he returned 41 yards for a touchdown.

A four-year letterman at Oregon State, Lawson recorded 68 career tackles, two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and two pass breakups. He also averaged 23.3 yards on 62 kickoff returns with one touchdown, while blocking one punt on special teams. His 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Hawaii in 2006 was the longest such return in school history.

The 25-year-old Lawson is a native of Las Vegas, NV, and attended Palo Verde High School.

Thursday, December 23, 2010



2011- present                         Temple University, Head Coach

2005-10                                    University of Florida

        2010                                   Associate Head Coach / Offensive Coordinator / Offensive Line

        2009                                   Assistant Head Coach / Offensive Coordinator / Offensive Line

        2008                                   Assistant Head Coach, Offense / Offensive Line

        2007                                   Offensive Line

        2006                                   Offensive Line / Tackles / Tight Ends

        2005                                   Tight Ends

2002-04                                    Indiana University

        2004                                   Offensive Coordinator / Offensive Line

        2002-03                            Offensive Line

1999-2001                                University of Notre Dame

        1999-2001                        Offensive Line / Tight Ends/Special Teams

1995-98                                    Syracuse University

        1997-98                            Offensive Line

        1995-96                            Assistant Offensive Line / Tight Ends

1988-94                                    Cheshire (Conn.) High School, Head Coach

1985-87                                    Western Connecticut State University

        1985-87                            Offensive Line / Recruiting Coordinator

        1996:                                 Gator
        1996:                                 Liberty
        1997:                                 Fiesta
        1999:                                 Orange
        2002:                                 Fiesta
        2006:                                 Outback
        2007:                                 BCS National Championship
        2008:                                 Capital One
        2009:                                 BCS National Championship
        2010:                                 Sugar

        2011:                                 Outback


1978-81                                    Central Connecticut State University

                                                    Four-year starter

                                                    Addazio earned tryouts with the NFL's New England Patriots,

                                                    USFL's Jacksonville Bulls, and CFL's Ottawa Roughriders.


Birthdate: June 1, 1959

Hometown: Farmington, Conn.

Education: 1981 - Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education from Central Connecticut State University; 1985 - Master's Degree in Physical Education from Central Connecticut State University
Family: Married to the former Kathy Donoghue. They have three children: Nicole (23), Jessica (20), and Louie (17).



C MAURKICE POUNCEY - A consensus 2009 All-American and recipient of the Rimington Trophy, presented to the nation's best center. Played in 41 games with 38 career starts.
LT PHIL TRAUTWEIN - A 2007 & 2008 All-SEC selection and 2008 Sports Illustrated second-team All-American. Played in 46 games with 29 starts as a Gator and was a 2008 team captain.
OT RANDY HAND - Named to the 2005 AP and Coaches' Second Team All-SEC team. Played in 47 games with 41 starts, including the last 34 games of his college career.

LT ENOCH DeMAR - Three-time All-Big Ten selection who started in the 2002 Hula Bowl. Also served as co-captain for the Hoosiers and earned Academic All-Big Ten four times.
WR COURTNEY ROBY - Indiana's all-time career leader in receptions (170) and receiving yards (2,524). Was an All-Big Ten second-team choice in 2004. Led the Hoosiers in receiving three-straight seasons. Selected in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans.

TE JABARI HOLLOWAY - Rated third nationally among tight ends in 2000 preseason rankings by both The Sporting News and Lindy's. Named to 2000 preseason All-Independent teams by The Sporting News and Football News. Combined with Dan O'Leary to provide Notre Dame with solid pairing at the tight end position. Listed as first-team preseason All-America tight end for '99 by Lindy's - and was rated seventh nationally among tight ends in '99 preseason position evaluations by The Sporting News. Selected to play in 2001 Delchamps Senior Bowl All-Star Game.
TE DAN O'LEARY - Led all 2000 Notre Dame receivers in playing time and caught 10 passes for 87 yards and one touchdown. Developed into a consistently solid blocker to go along with his impressive receiving skills.


OG SCOTT KIERNAN - First-team All-Big East offensive guard.
TE ROLAND WILLIAMS - Started every game as a senior for the Orange in 2000, catching eight passes for 132 yards (16.5 avg.) and one touchdown. Played on Syracuse's special teams. Williams recorded a career-high 13 catches for 140 yards (10.8 avg.) and five touchdowns.

TE Kaseem Sinceno (FA) - Syracuse '98 - Philadelphia Eagles
TE Roland Williams (4th) - Syracuse '98 - St. Louis Rams
OL Scott Kiernan (FA) - Syracuse '99 - New York Giants
OT Mark Baniewicz (7th) - Syracuse '00 - Jacksonville Jaguars
TE Jabari Holloway (4th) - Notre Dame '01- New England Patriots
TE Dan O'Leary (6th) - Notre Dame '01 - Buffalo Bills
OG P.J. Alexander (FA) - Syracuse '02 - Denver Broncos
TE John Owens (5th) - Notre Dame '02 - Detroit Lions
OG Kurt Vollers (FA) - Notre Dame '02 - Indianapolis Colts
OT Jordan Black (5th) - Notre Dame '03 - Kansas City Chiefs
OT Brennan Curtin (6th) - Notre Dame '03 - Green Bay Packers
C Jeff Faine (1st) - Notre Dame '03 - Cleveland Browns
OT Enoch DeMar (FA) - Indiana '03 - Cleveland Browns
OG Sean Mahan (5th) - Notre Dame '03 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
OT Jim Molinaro (7th) - Notre Dame '04 - Washington Redskins
WR Courtney Roby (3rd) - Indiana '05 - Tennessee Titans
OT Randy Hand (FA) - Florida '06 - New England Patriots
OT Isaac Sowells (4th) - Indiana '06 - Cleveland Browns
OT Tavares Washington (FA) - Florida '06 - San Francisco 49ers
C Drew Miller (FA) - Florida '08 - Jacksonville Jaguars
OT Carlton Medder (FA) - Florida '08 - Arizona Cardinals

QB Tim Tebow (1st)  - Florida ’09 - Denver Broncos

C Maurkice Pouncey (1st) - Florida ‘09 - Pittsburgh Steelers

OT Phil Trautwein (FA) - Florida '09 - St. Louis Rams
OT Jason Watkins (FA) - Florida '09 - Houston Texans


“I'm happy for Steve Addazio and his family. Steve has been extremely loyal to me and the University of Florida, and I will be forever thankful for his unwavering commitment.  His energy and passion have been well documented and he is a tremendous recruiter and motivator. He is well respected by his peers and his players and I wish him nothing but the best.”

– Urban Meyer, former Florida Head Coach

“Steve has been a big part of our success the last six years at the University of Florida. Everyone that knows Steve knows what a loyal and passionate coach he is. He cares deeply about the players he coaches, and he was a great motivator in the locker room. He has the ability to relate to players, but still maintains their respect. He was one of our top recruiters and his ties to the Northeast will be a good fit for Temple. More than anything, Coach Addazio is a good man with a good family. We wish him the best of luck.”

–  Jeremy Foley, Florida Director of Athletics

“He knows how to lead a team and get a team going. We love Coach Addazio to death.”

– Maurkice Pouncey, former Florida center and current Pittsburgh Steelers’ center

“Without a doubt, Steve Addazio is one of the most talented coaches I’ve ever been around. 

I can’t imagine a better fit in the country for Temple University and the city of Philadelphia than Steve Addazio. He is a star.”

– Bob Davie, College football analyst for ESPN and ABC

“Steve is a great football coach. He’s a great motivator. Players really respond to him. He has a great relationship with his players, and he gets his players to play hard for him. He’s very passionate about what he does, and those are all the things you look for in a coach.”

– Dan Mullen, Mississippi State Head Coach

“One of the best men you will ever meet. Steve is a great person.”

– Teryl Austin, Florida Defensive Coordinator / Cornerbacks Coach

“Steve Addazio helped the Gators weather the greatest of storms and landed several of the top prospects in what is the best recruiting class on paper over the past five recruiting cycles. For this, he is the 2010 national recruiter of the year.”

– J.C. Shurburtt,

“If you took that same poll among the players, their parents and his fellow coaches, Addazio would be the most popular in a landslide. Addazio’s loyalty, sincerity, and frankness are admirable, but his inner toughness has been his most valuable commodity.”

– Buddy Martin, Gator Country

Addazio officially named head coach at Temple

PHILADELPHIA - Steve Addazio.  who helped the University of Florida win two BCS National Championships (2006, 2008) in the last five years, has been named Temple University's 25th head football coach.   He most recently served as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator for the Gators during the 2010 season.

The Farmington, Conn., native has quarter-century of coaching experience and 11 postseason bowl games, including six BCS games in the last 15 years, on his resume.  He is expected to coach in the Outback Bowl as Florida takes on Penn State on Jan. 1.

“This is truly a great day for Temple Football as Steve Addazio is the perfect coach to take the program to the next level,” Temple University Director of Athletics Bill Bradshaw said.  “Steve brings a wealth of experience with some of the nation’s best programs.  As one of the top recruiters in the country, Steve will be able to bring talented players to Temple, and with his vision and passion for the game, he will be able to lead them to success on the field.

“That success will also translate to the classroom, as Steve truly understands the mission of Temple University in putting the ‘student’ first in student-athlete.”   

“It’s great to be back in the Northeast. I’d like to thank Bill Bradshaw and Dr. Ann Weaver Hart for giving me the opportunity to be here,” Addazio said. “I am honored. I am humbled to be standing here as the head football coach at Temple University. I will give everything I have to make Philadelphia and the University community proud.”  

The 51-year old Addazio spent the past six seasons at the University of Florida under head coach Urban Meyer, serving as associate head coach and offensive coordinator in 2010.

He took over the reins of the offense in 2009 and finished the season ranked first in the SEC in total offense and second in rushing offense, passing offense and scoring offense. UF finished in the Top 10 nationally in passing efficiency (1st), total offense (6th), rushing offense (10th) and scoring offense (10th).

The Gators were the only team in the nation in 2009 to rush for over 3,000 yards and pass for more than 3,000 yards. UF was one of seven teams in the nation to have at least 25 rushing touchdowns and 25 passing touchdowns on the season. Florida averaged 5.6 yards per rush in 2009, the third-best average in the nation. The offense totaled 3,105 rushing yards (6th in the nation) and 30 rushing touchdowns (11th in the nation).

Center Maurkice Pouncey was named a first-team All-American in 2009 and became the first Rimington Trophy winner in Florida’s school history.

Addazio coached one of the most prominent offensive lines in UF history in 2008 that allowed Florida to rush for 3,236 yards, averaging a school-record 5.9 yards per carry, improving from a 5.3 average in 2007. The offensive line allowed the Gators to pass for 33 touchdowns and run for 42 touchdowns in 2008, as Heisman Trophy quarterback Tim Tebow passed Emmitt Smith for first-place all-time in rushing touchdowns. The 2008 offensive line only allowed 16 sacks during the season and contributed to one of the most balanced teams in school history that ranked fourth in both scoring offense and defense.

In 2007, he coached an offensive line that blocked for an offense that rushed for 2,602 yards, for an average of 5.3 yards per carry, a jump from the 2006 average of 4.7 yards, and also helped the offense to run for 39 touchdowns. The OL allowed just 13 sacks in 2007, a drop of 10 sacks from 2006.

Addazio worked with the offensive line, which allowed only 23 sacks and gave up one or less in a game seven times in 2006 after the group allowed 35 sacks in 2005. The unit also paved the way for the UF run game that increased from 3.9 yards per carry and 146.8 yards per game in 2005 to 4.7 yards per carry and 160.0 yards per game in 2006.

Addazio went to Indiana (2002-04) after spending the previous three seasons at the University of Notre Dame, where he served as the offensive line, tight ends and special teams' coach between 1999-2001.

Prior to his tenure at Notre Dame, Addazio served on the staff at Syracuse University for four seasons (1995-98). The Orange won three consecutive Big East crowns during Addazio's four seasons and appeared in four bowl games.

Prior to Addazio's Division I collegiate coaching career, he served as one of the nation's top high school coaches at Cheshire High School in Cheshire, Conn. He placed over 20 student-athletes in Division I-A, I-AA, II, and III programs in his seven years. His teams were nationally ranked in both 1992 and 1994. During one stretch, his team won 34 consecutive games, the second-longest string in the nation. His teams also won three state titles in a row.

Addazio began his coaching career at Western Connecticut State University, where he served as an assistant coach under Paul Pasqualoni from 1984-87. The Colonials claimed the New England Football Conference title in 1985 and advanced to the NCAA Division III playoffs for the first time in school history.

Addazio inherits a Temple team that posted an 8-4 record in 2010, including a win over Big East champion Connecticut. It marked the first time in school history Temple had back-to-back bowl eligibility seasons. The Owls also won the 2010 Mayor’s Cup, winning its first overtime game in school history.   Eleven Owls earned All-MAC honors, including a school record eight first-team All-MAC honorees for the second consecutive season.

Temple returns 14 starters, including five All-MAC honorees, for the 2011 season.

Eagles re-sign TE Ingram to practice squad

The Philadelphia Eagles today announced they have re-signed TE Cornelius Ingram to the practice squad.

Ingram previously spent weeks 10-14 on the team’s practice squad, but was released on 12/16. Originally a 5th round draft choice of the Eagles in 2009, Ingram (6-4, 250) spent his rookie season on the Injured Reserve list with a knee injury. He remained with the team through the 2010 preseason but was released as part of the team’s final roster cut down.

A versatile athlete, Ingram came into college as a 204-pound quarterback in 2004, while also playing shooting guard and small forward for the Florida basketball team. He made the switch to tight end during his junior season and went on to record 64 catches for 888 yards and 8 touchdowns in his career.

The 25-year-old Ingram attended Hawthorne High School in Hawthorne, FL, where he was a two-time all-state selection in both football and basketball, throwing for more than 1,400 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior and finishing as one of six finalists for Florida’s Mr. Basketball award.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Temple picks Addazio as new coach

Temple University has scheduled a Thursday morning press conference to name former Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio as its next head football coach.

Addazio will replace the departed Al Golden, who left the school earlier this month to take the head coaching job at Miami-Florida. The 51-year-old Addazio was part of Urban Meyer's staff in Florida in different capacities since Meyer joined the Gators in 2005.

Addazio coached Florida's offensive line and tight ends before being elevated to assistant head coach and then offensive coordinator in 2009. He's also coached at Indiana, Notre Dame and Syracuse.

Video: Brian Billick talks cheating in the NFL

<a href="" target="_new" title="">NFL Debate: Breaking the Rules?</a>

Union sign homegrown Pfeffer

Philadelphia Union today officially announced the signing of midfielder Zach Pfeffer to a professional contract as the club’s first Homegrown Player.

The 15-year-old, who recently returned from a two-week training with German Bundesliga TSG Hoffenheim, was a member of the Philadelphia Union’s U-17 squad that competed in the MLS U-17 SUM Cup in Houston, Texas, in July.  Per Major League Soccer and club policy, terms of the deal will not be disclosed.

Pfeffer becomes the first player to join the 2010 expansion team from the MLS Homegrown Player initiative, a program started in 2006 designed to provide increased opportunities for local players. Each MLS team may sign players from their respective youth development programs without subjecting those players to the MLS SuperDraft.  Born January 6, 1995, Pfeffer is the fourth youngest player ever to sign an MLS contract, behind Freddy Adu, Fuad Ibrahim and recently signed New England Revolution Homegrown Player Diego Fagundez.

Pfeffer has represented the United States at all levels of the U.S. youth system, attending all the events organized by the National Team at the Under-14 and Under-15 levels.  Prior to training with the Union, the young midfielder was a member of the U-15/U-16 USSF FC Delco Academy, as well as the Upper Dublin, Cheltenham, YMS, and Montgomery United youth clubs.

Eagles' Allen has surgery

Eagles rookie safety Nate Allen underwent successful surgery on Tuesday to repair his ruptured right patella tendon.

The surgery was performed by team physician Peter DeLuca of the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia.

Allen was injured in last Sunday’s game in New York and was placed on the Injured Reserve list earlier Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Latest TWA card coming to Flyers SkateZone in Voorhees on Jan. 30

The web Richmond weaves; staying power of upset darlings

By Jared Trexler

Philadelphia, PA - Chris Mooney's personality is apparent in the game's critical nuances.

The Richmond head coach is detailed, diagramming his team's offensive set and structure with a precision that dots each "O" and "X." He is a proponent of spacing achieved through movement, emphasizing cutting, weaving, circling to positions on the floor that stretch a defense's ability to help and recover.

Mooney's offensive tenants were written on a stone tablet during his successful playing career for Pete Carril at Princeton, where he excelled in the famously- dubbed "Princeton" offense revolving around passing into the high post and backdoor cuts off the wings. Mooney was a four-year starter and ranks 20th on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,071 points.

His coaching career began at Lansdale Catholic in the Philadelphia suburbs, the same starting point of former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Jim Lynam. He then ventured to Beaver College (now called Arcadia University) in Glenside, Pennsylvania, where he was the head coach from 1997-2000.

His attention to detail caught the eye of another former Princeton player, Joe Scott, who hired Mooney as his assistant at Air Force prior to the 2000 season. He spent four seasons next to Scott before moving over to the head chair when Scott left to become the head coach at his alma mater. Mooney incorporated the core offensive principles of practicality and patience at the Academy, leading the Falcons to their second-best record in school history at 18-12.

The resume that led Mooney to his ultimate destination is not what makes Richmond what it is today, a team that doesn't beat itself, instead coaxing its opponents into its web and attacking as their caught flat-footed and out of position. Yet, his core values came from Carril and Scott, shaping his coaching virtues, and the Spiders into not just an Atlantic-10 power, but a team to keep a watchful eye on nationally as the season progresses.

After two transitional campaigns needed to bring in HIS players to run HIS system, Mooney went to a pair of College Basketball Invitationals before last season's 26-9 breakthrough that included victories over Florida, Mississippi State, Missouri and Xavier. The carpet ride ended against St. Mary's in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but the expectations set forth by Mooney formed a collective message of growth and greatness.

Don't settle. Great things happen to those who strive to be great.

The Spiders have a history of wearing glass slippers, holding the distinction of the only team to win NCAA Tournament games as a 12, 13, 14 and 15 seed. However, Mooney's program-building far exceeds the goal of Cinderella, rather focusing on putting the time in to become the prince.

The 2010 Spiders are led by Conference Player of the Year candidate Kevin Anderson, who has a real chance to be the program's second leading scorer by season's end. The undersized Anderson is Mooney's prototype, physically strong with an even stronger will. He gets his points, averaging 16.6 per game, and scores in bunches when the moment calls, case in point his 28-point bonanza in a signature late November victory over Purdue. Standing just 6-foot tall, he averages just over three rebounds per game and his unselfishness is apparent with his rapid ascent up the program's assists chart (currently holding steady at seventh).

Anderson has the rare combination of shooting smarts and an assassin-like stroke. He rarely forces shots, resulting in an impressive 48.5 percent field- goal percentage. He shoots a nearly identical percentage, 47.6 percent, from long distance, making him difficult to defend.

While the Spiders are Anderson's team, they aren't just Anderson, working in his four-year teammate Justin Harper, the perfect complement on the interior with 14 points and a team-best six rebounds per contest. The future is also bright with sophomore guard Darien Brothers learning alongside Anderson and adding productivity with 9.5 points per game, including 11 in the victory over the Boilermakers.

The team statistics point directly at Mooney's basketball principles. His team is offensively efficient (ninth nationally in field goal percentage at 50.3 percent) and unselfish (44th nationally with 15.8 assists per game). The Spiders aren't worried about scoring a lot of points because they rarely incorporate a transition offense, averaging 71.9 points per game (good for 134th in the nation). Richmond also releases its guards to avoid quick baskets in the opposite direction, leading to just 34.1 rebounds per contest, placing them near the bottom at 246th in that statistic.

On the defensive end, the Spiders hold opponents to just 59.8 points per game and 38.6 percent shooting, including an air-tight 26.8 percent from three- point range. The Spiders don't cause many turnovers because of Mooney's Princeton-oriented "man-you-ball" philosophy based on staying in front of the ball instead of attacking the player with it and jumping into passing lanes. Putting a hand in the face and slowing down tempo works, and these Spiders are implementing that philosophy to near perfection.

There have been some slip-ups like allowing a surprising 81 points to Iona in a four-point defeat, shooting just one foul shot in a seven-point setback to Old Dominion and laying a collective egg over this past weekend against Georgia Tech. Yet, the signature victories the tournament selection committee looks for when combing through teams' resumes are very apparent even at such an early juncture. Beating Purdue at a neutral site, winning across the country at Arizona State and pulling off a commanding 12-point victory over Virginia Commonwealth (which has already beaten UCLA and Wake Forest) all give the Spiders an edge up on the competition.

Mooney's work ethic, instilled first in his playing days under Carril, also place the Spiders at a competitive advantage each night. He is a perfectionist, anal about angles and precision on offense and simplistic, yet principled details on defense.

Who can argue with the results, and if they continue, Richmond may in fact achieve its goal. There may be no strike of midnight for these Spiders. They have the staying power to become the Atlantic 10's prince.


In a thin week for marquee matchups, most teams either loaded up with tutoring sessions for final exams or check-cashing smaller schools to fill up the schedule. A handful of those teams pulled shockers this week. Who are they? And do they have staying power?

Oakland Golden Grizzlies: Oakland is no stranger to recent postseason tournament play, defeating Alabama A&M in a 2005 play-in game before turning into North Carolina's first-round sacrificial lamb. The Golden Grizzlies also played in the 2009 Tournament, downing Kent State in the first round before losing to Bradley. Oakland plays in the Summit League with an arena that seats just over 4,000, but it scheduled ambitiously in the early-season with what head coach Greg Kampe is calling one of his better teams. The Golden Grizzlies played Purdue tough into the second half before succumbing, 82-67, and held a four-point halftime advantage at Illinois before witnessing a Demetri McCamey show in the second half. They fell one point short against Michigan State before finally getting their season-defining victory at Tennessee, which had just won at Pittsburgh three days earlier.

ARE THEY FOR REAL? As real as the best team in the Summit League can be. The Golden Grizzlies, with a one- or two-loss conference slate, could be working themselves into 13-seed territory and a dangerous first-round opponent. They go through scoring lapses, but unlike other smaller schools, have the athletes to match any power-conference clubs, evidenced by their performance against the Big Ten and Tennessee.

Drexel Dragons: "Bruiser" is an apt first name for Dragons head coach Bruiser Flint, because the Dragons have spent their fist eight games pounding the competition. Drexel averages 43.9 rebounds per game on the season -- good for fourth nationally -- and outrebounded Louisville, 45-25, in a 52-46 victory at the KFC Yum! Center. The victory turned heads across the country, as the Dragons were far down the conference's preseason pecking order, behind more experienced names like Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion and George Mason. Guard Chris Fouch is averaging just under 20 points per game, and Drexel presents three double-digit scorers.

ARE THEY FOR REAL? Likely not, unless you count NIT material. The Dragons have some disconcerting periphery numbers: 216th nationally in points per game, 215th in assists and 150th in field goal percentage. The victory at Louisville also included some stark outliers. Gerald Cobbs scored 20 points after netting just three against Rider three days earlier, and a Louisville team that shoots 45.2 percent as a team managed to make only 31.9 percent of its shots against the Dragons and just 12-of-25 free throws. The Dragons have trouble scoring and their large rebounding numbers have mostly come against inferior teams.

Illinois-Chicago Flames: The Flames sent a crescendo through the nation on Saturday with a shocking 57-54 victory over Illinois. They clamped down on McCamey, forcing him into a 4-of-11 shooting night and limiting the Illini to 32.7 percent shooting overall. The win snapped a four-game losing streak and sent the Flames out west (they play at Oregon State on Wednesday) on a high note.

ARE THEY FOR REAL? Talk about a wolf in sheep's clothing. The four-game losing streak wasn't murderers row: Valparaiso, Akron, Illinois State and Northern Illinois. Illinois-Chicago also lost to Pittsburgh by 43 and the College of Charleston by 12. In limited defense, each of its other five losses came by 10 points or less. The Flames' main issue is putting the basketball through the hoop, as they sit 289th in points per game and 238th in field goal percentage. It will take a lot of work and victories in close games to push the Flames into consideration for any postseason invite.


1. Duke (10-0): The real news will come with an official timetable regarding Irving. Until then, two non-descript games before the New Year.

2. Ohio State (10-0): Impressive waxing of South Carolina. Even more impressive? Jared Sullinger's 30 points, 19 rebounds and full ownership of the interior.

3. Kansas (10-0): Talk about a debut. Josh Selby's game-winning three-pointer in a harder-than-expected 70-68 victory over Southern California not only showcased the freshman's tremendous talent but his calmness under pressure and his desire to strive in such situations. He scored 21 points and got the ultimate compliment from head coach Bill Self after the win. "He has a lot of Sherron Collins in him." Quite the comparison for a kid who has played just one game.

4. Connecticut (8-0): The nearly two-week respite must have done wonders for Kemba Walker's legs...and maybe even his back. The guard has carried one of the nation's surprise teams.

5. Syracuse (11-0): I have been tough on the Orange, some may even say nitpicking to find flaws in their fast start. The fact remains they are 11-0, have a statement win over Michigan State and have been scoring more lately, following the victory over the Spartans with 100 points against Colgate and 83 in a win over Iona.

6. Pittsburgh (11-1): Carnage above them moves the Panthers up despite just an expected trouncing of Maryland Eastern Shore over the week.

7. San Diego State (12-0): I even thought about putting the Aztecs above the Panthers. San Diego State thumped a UC Santa Barbara team coming off the high of upsetting UNLV. The Aztecs are efficient (seventh nationally in field goal percentage) and tough, taking after their tournament-tested head coach, Steve Fisher. This team is for real.

8. Villanova (9-1): Wildcats next true tussle is December 30 against Temple. A good sign in the 78-59 victory over Delaware was Corey Fisher's 7-of-13 stat line as he slowly comes out of his early-season shooting slump. 

9. Missouri (10-1): The fast and the furious take its track-meet style to Kansas City as its opponent, Illinois, limps in off this past weekend's embarrassment. What should you look for? If Illinois runs with the Tigers, are they attacking the rim or settling for jump shots? If it is the latter, it will be a long night for Bruce Weber's Illini.

10. Georgetown (10-1): This makes six Big East teams in my top 10. Georgetown now faces identity-finding two-game road trip to Memphis and Notre Dame in conference opener.

11. Tennessee (7-2): The Volunteers slide following losses to Oakland and Charlotte, but not as far as one would expect. Their signature victories (Villanova and Pitt) outweigh those of the teams below them.

12. Kansas State (9-2): Talk about building a brick house. The Wildcats threw up clunker after clunker, making just 27 percent of their shots in a dismal offensive performance against Florida. Maybe Jacob Pullen really does miss playing off the ball when he had Denis Clemente alongside him in the backcourt last season. Pullen is shooting just 40 percent from the floor, which does not make this team a viable Final Four contender unless that number improves.

13. Kentucky (8-2): How a young team responds to adversity tells a lot about its potential. After the disappointing loss at North Carolina, Kentucky has rattled off three straight wins, including two against the likes of Notre Dame and Indiana.

14. Michigan State (8-3): The bizarre circumstances involving the one-game suspension handed down to head coach Tom Izzo was more of a story than the 39- point thumping of Prairie View.

15. Central Florida (10-0): I still think BYU and Richmond have more mid-major staying power and power-conference clubs like Baylor, Purdue and Texas have more long-term potential, but for the second time this season I feel compelled to include the Golden Knights, who have whipped up on the state of Florida, downing the Gators to go along with South Florida out of the Big East and now Miami out of the ACC. Marcus Jordan paces a team that shots better than 51 percent from the floor.


Enjoy the holidays with friends and family! We kick into high gear come the first of a new year.

Eagles promote S Wall and DT Owens from practice squad

The Philadelphia Eagles have promoted safety Jamar Wall and defensive tackle Jeff Owens from the practice squad to the active roster. To make room on the 53-man roster, they have placed S Nate Allen on the Injured Reserve list (knee) and waived TE Garrett Mills. The team also re-signed S Jamar Adams to the practice squad.

Wall (5-10, 202) has spent the last 11 weeks on the Eagles practice squad. Originally a sixth-round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys in 2010, Wall was released prior to the start of the season, but was claimed by the Houston Texans on 9/5/10 and played in the season opener, logging one special teams tackle. He was released on 9/29/10 and signed to the Eagles practice squad the following day. A native of Plainview, TX, the 22-year-old Wall played collegiately at Texas Tech, where he registered 186 tackles, nine interceptions, 34 pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 50 games (38 starts). He earned second-team All-Big 12 Conference honors following the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

Owens (6-1, 304) was originally a seventh-round draft choice of the Eagles in 2010 and has spent the entire season on the team’s practice squad. Owens played collegiately at Georgia, where he was a defensive co-captain and started in 37 of 52 games and recorded 102 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss and four quarterback hurries. He was one of just 11 players in the NCAA FBS ranks to receive 2009 Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team accolades.

Adams (6-2, 212) spent one week on the Eagles practice squad after signing with the team on 9/22/10. He joined the league in 2008 as an undrafted free agent with the Seattle Seahawks, where he spent most of the 2008 and 2009 seasons on their practice squad, but also was promoted to the active roster twice, playing in seven career games and posting four special teams tackles.  The 24-year-old Adams played collegiately at Michigan, where he started 34 games and contributed 172 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors following his senior season.