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Temple Announces Football Schedule

For Temple’s 11 game football schedule, six of them will be at home, including two home games to open the season, against Villanova and Maryland.  The game against Nova will be the fourth annual Mayor’s Cup, with Temple leading the series 2-1.

The team’s first Big East game will come at home against South Florida, and the season will end with a Friday night game in the Big East against Syracuse.  The primetime game will be aired on either ESPN or ABC.

Temple's Head Coach Steve Addazio (Picture Source:Patrick Semansky/AP)

The schedule offers a lot of scores for Temple to settle, starting with the season opener.  Against crosstown rival Nova, the team can win the series of four Mayor’s Cup games.  The team can also get revenge on Penn St., who narrowly beat the team last year and now has a 29-game winning streak against the Owls.  And in the first Big East game of the season, the football team can make up for the upset of the basketball Team, which was upset by USF in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

After a seven-year absence from the Big East after getting kicked out, the Owls need a strong season to show that they belong back in the conference.

 

Plaxico Burress wants to play for the Eagles, and I say, stay away

Plaxico Burress is making headlines this week, after an interview he had on Tuesday with 97.5 The Fanatic.  He said he wants to be a member of the Eagles, stating “Nothing else would make me happier.”  Plax also said “Obviously, coming to Philadelphia and instituting myself to the offense it [has] just adds a unique dynamic to what’s already in place.”

This is true, as the 6-5 Burress has proven to be a big red zone target, with eight touchdowns for the New York Jets this past season, seven of which came within the twenty-yard line.  This was also his first season in three years after he pleaded guilty on criminal gun possession charges after he accidentally shot himself in a nightclub.

All Eagles fans know the story of Terrell Owens.  Granted, Plaxico never caused as many problems as Owens and no one anticipates him to tear apart a locker room, but he also has a history of being a bad teammate.

When Plaxico shot himself in that nightclub in 2008, the Giants were coming off their magical Super Bowl run, riding that momentum and carrying into the next season with a 10-1 record.  In Week 12, Plaxico was ruled out of the Giant’s game with a hamstring injury.  He then decided to go to a nightclub the Friday night before that weekend’s game, and apparently he was going to a place unsafe enough that he felt the need to carry a gun.

The Giants won their game that weekend against the Redskins, but lost three of their last four games of the regular season.  They then lost in the divisional round at home to the Donovan McNabb-led Eagles (which will most likely go down as the last playoff win of his career).

Is Plaxico Burress worth the headache? (Credit: AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)

Even before the incident that season, Plaxico had so many off the field problems that teammate Amani Toomer said it was “hard dealing with Burress this year.”  He was suspended a game for missing a team meeting, and fined in another incident for abusing an official.

Now with Burress out of prison and in desperate need of money, he needs to put his good teammate face on.  The fact is, he has one season under his belt after spending three years out of the league.  Yes, he had eight touchdowns last season, but three of those came in one game against the San Diego Chargers, who were ranked 27th out of 32 teams in red zone scoring defense.

Besides the touchdowns, Burress averaged 38 yards and just a little under 3 catches per game.  While we all love that image in our mind of Michael Vick throwing the jump ball to Burress inside the 10, the fact is the Eagles are predicable enough in the red zone.

With enough drama caused by wide receivers on the Eagles, past and present (DeSean Jackson causing the most problems recently), the Eagles don’t need to bring in a veteran that could bring a potential bad attitude.

Uncoincidentally, the Eagles were 29th in red zone defense last season.  The bottom line is, the Eagles need to focus their attention on defense just a tad bit more than their offense, because a “low-risk” move to sign Plaxico Burress could also turn into a disaster.

Sixers Commemorating Anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point night

On Friday night, it will mark the 50th anniversary of the historical basketball night, where Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962, when the Warriors won 169-147.   The record has stood ever since, with the closest player to breaking the record being Lower Merion native Kobe Bryant, who scored 81 points in a game in 2006.

To commemorate the game, the 76ers are having a promotion for their Friday night game against the Golden State Warriors, by giving away to every fan 2 inch squares of the court used that night.   The game was played in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and the Sixers located and purchased the court used that night.  The Sixers purchased thet court from Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, with part of it being donated to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  The rest will be on display at the Wells Fargo Center, along with their practice facility and the Hershey Sporst Arena.

“Wilt Chamberlain is without any doubt one of the most legendary individuals to ever play basketball,” 76ers co-ownerAdam Aron said in a statement. “We cannot stress enough how excited we are to have found the original court on which Wilt once soared.”

 

Flyers win, with little help from Bryzgalov

The Flyers had a dramatic last minute victory on Tuesday night, beating the Winnipeg Jets 5-4 for an Overtime victory.  Wayne Simmonds scored with 10 seconds left in regulation off a great pass from James van Riemsdyk to put the game into OT, and Jaromir Jagr scored with just 43.1 seconds left in the extra period to give the Fly Guys 2 points in the standings.

This came after a questionable fourth goal was let up by goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who allowed four goals on just 26 shots.  “It was a stupid mistake,” Bryzgalov said. “I start catching the puck, but it was miscalculated between the puck and my glove. It hit the edge of the glove and go in. I’m kind of sick and tired of these mistakes.”

The Flyers had 50 shots on goal, converting five into the net after a great effort by Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec.  “We were just resilient tonight,” said Simmonds, who scored his 22nd goal of the season, already a career-high.  The Flyers need to keep up their resilient play to stay in the Eastern Conference hunt, at least enough to have a chance home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

This has been a common picture for new Flyers goalie Ilya Brygalov so far this season. Picture Credit: AP

But, it all starts and ends with 51 million-dollar man Ilya Brygalov.  “If I can play at the level I can and we have success, nobody will care what was in the past,” Ilya said on Wednesday.  Danny Briere backed his goalie up, saying, “People are quick to report how Bryz has struggled, but they forget how he’s had good stretches.”

The Flyers season rests on Bryz’s shoulders, and let’s hope the goalie figures out what he has to do in order for the team to make another serious Stanley Cup run this season.

Owls win 7th straight, stay atop Atlantic 10

The Temple Owls came back from a 14 point deficit in the second half to beat George Washington at home Wednesday night, 79-72.  George Washington led 67-57 with 5:09 remaining before Temple went on an 18-2 run and never looked back.  The team was once again led by Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt, who scored 25 points and 22 points, respectively, as the Owls won their seventh game in a row, improving to 8-1 at home this season.

This continues the recent strong play from the Owls, who have recently found a groove after struggling with consistency following their upset win over 5th ranked Duke.

This is a team with balance on offense mainly in part because of their strong guard play, with seniors Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez averaging 18.3 and 11.2 points per game, respectively, and junior guard Khalif Wyatt averaging 16.6 points.  Each player has had to pick up the scoring slack with the departure of Lavoy Allen, who is enjoying success with the Philadelphia 76ers.  Last season, Temple ranked 36th in the nation in defense, but right now stand at 210th in points allowed per game.

The three starting guards also each chip in two three-pointers a game, with Temple ranking 11th in the nation in three- point shooting percentage.  Moore and Wyatt are the top two scorers in the Atlantic 10 Conference.  Also starting on the team are senior center Micheal Eric, who just came back from a 13 game absence at the end of January, and junior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, who’s defense and rebounding has been instrumental in the team’s success.  Coming off the bench are guards Aaron Brown, T.J. DiLeo, and Will Cummings, and forward Anthony Lee, who played well in place of Eric.

Ramone Moore leads the A10 in scoring. Picture source AP

The Owls now lead the A10 by a half-game over three teams, and look to keep that lead going into the weekend.  One of those three teams is Xavier, who are coming to Philadelphia Saturday night for a 9:00 primetime game on EPSN2.  The game on Saturday will be a white out game, with the first 8,000 fans receiving a white “I BELIEVE” t-shirt.

Xavier is arguably Temple’s toughest opponent since that Duke upset at the Wells Fargo Center and are led by star guard Tu Holloway, a Third-Team All-American last season.  Holloway was considered one of the favorites for National Player of the Year this year, and Xavier ran off to an 8-0 start that put them at number 8 in the country.  But in their eighth win against Cincinnati, the two teams engaged in an on court brawl that resulted in four Xavier players getting suspended, including a one game suspension for Holloway.  Since the incident, Xavier is just 8-8 and has fallen out of the top 25.

Xavier still represents a tough test, however, as they’ve won 7 of 10 and stand in Temple’s way of winning the A10 regular season title.  With a win over Xavier, not only will Temple have a better grasp on the conference, but they will also most likely break the top 25 for the first time this season.  In Monday’s AP Poll Temple received 41 votes, which put them at 29th in the nation.

A strong finish in the Conference starting with a win over Xavier combined with Temple’s 19th ranking in the RPI will put Temple in a great position to go far in March.  This is a team to look out for the NCAA Tournament as they start three seniors and two juniors.  The team has experience and knows what it takes to win, with four tournaments berths the past four years, including a heartbreak loss last season against San Diego St. in double-overtime that would have put the team in the Sweet Sixteen.

It all starts with finishing the season strong, beginning with beating the Xavier Musketeers.  “The Xavier game is going to be a great atmosphere,” Moore said. “The crowd is going to be into it and it’s a TV game. We have to come out prepared.”

Let’s hope the win streak continues.

Mike Vick voted most disliked Athlete

In the uneventful post of the week, Eagles Quarterback Michael Vick has been voted America’s most disliked Athlete, according to a poll released on Wednesday by Forbes.

Vick is still dealing with plenty of hatred after he served 19 months in prison for his dogfighting ring conviction.

If anything, it is a welcome hate to a team with too much press.

The previous offseason, Eagles had to deal with the press constantly asking them about a “Dream Team” because of something a should-have-been-little-used-back-up said.  Vince Young signed a one-year contract with the team and is not expected to re-sign.

Mike Vick will be key to the Birds' 2012 season. Picture Source AP

Maybe the underdog team that no one likes is a better route to take.  This Eagles team still has plenty of talent coming back next season, and most of the pressure lies on Mike Vick’s shoulders for the team to succeed.  Vick signed a six-year, $100 million dollar contract last August and will be surely tired of people calling his contract a bust.  Last season Vick struggled, missing three games and parts of a fourth as he battled injuries all year.

This is the same Eagles team that beat the Super Bowl-winning Giants with that backup QB Vince Young in the Meadowlands, but let’s hope that team management finally gets their stuff together.  If not, hopefully it will signal the end of the Jeffrey Lurie-Andy Reid marriage, as I’m sure plenty of fans were ready for that this offseason.

Phillies sign Chad Qualls, offseason of irrelevance continues

The Philadelphia Phillies signed right-hander Chad Qualls to a one-year, $1.15 million contract on Tuesday, five days after former closer and setup man Brad Lidge signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Washington Nationals.  This came after the Phillies reportedly gave Lidge a lowball offer, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  While Lidge has proven to be successful in Citizens Bank Park, Qualls had a 5.05 era away from Petco Park last season, and a 7.32 era in 59 innings in 2010.

The Qualls signing marks another stubborn, insignificant move made by General Manager Ruben Amaro, whose team did not make many moves to improve from their 2011 campaign.  The Phillies made their biggest move of the offseason signing Jonathan Papelbon, the former Red Sox closer who has made four all-star teams in six seasons with Boston.

Jonathan Papelbon signed a four year, $50 million contract on November 11, which came a few days after the highly documented talks with Ryan Madson failed.  Madson’s agent Scott Boras reported that the Phils and Madson had agreed to a four year, $44 million contract, but Amaro grew stubborn that the agent wanted this much money for his client and jumped to set the closer market with Papelbon.  Madson did not sign a contract until January 20that is only paying him $6 million in 2012.  The deal includes a second year option with a $2.5 million buyout, essentially making it an $8.5 million contract.

The Phils made their biggest splash with Jonathan Papelbon, who signed a $50 million contract. Picture from Associated Press

Most of the moves the Phillies made besides signing Papelbon were re-signing players, most notable Jimmy Rollins, who signed a three year deal for $33 million.  Rollins was on the open market for over a month, but found few suitors and shortened his five year deal request.

Cole Hamels re-signed to avoid arbitration at $15 million.  Also avoiding arbitration were Hunter Pence and Kyle Kendrick, who were signed for $10.4 and $3.585 million, respectively.

The Phillies added for other free agents, utilityman Ty Wigginton, outfielder Laynce Nix, lefty Dontrelle Willis, and former-Phillie Jim Thome.  The player who will most likely make the most impact is Ty Wigginton, who can play both corner outfield spots, and third, second, and first base.

So after the Phillies were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 2011, where they scored zero runs in their final loss of the season, why have no moves been made to improve the offense?  Ruben Amaro and the Phillies brass are apparently satisfied with Placido Polanco at third base, who at one point in the season went 115 at bats without an extra base-hit, good for one-fourth of his at bats in the season.

There were rumors swirling that the Phillies would sign Aramis Ramirez at third base if they were unable to re-sign Rollins.  Amaro is apparently wasn’t willing to spend that kind of money on both players, but was willing to give Papelbon $50 million because he was impatient with Ryan Madson.  The second best closer on the free agent market, Heath Bell, signed for three years $27 million with the Marlins.

If the Phillies had not signed Papelbon, the money saved could have easily been enough to sign Ramirez, which would have made them instant favorites to win the World Series.  Now the question remains going into 2012, will the offense produce enough to win in the playoffs?  The past two seasons this has not been the case, as they have been ousted by the eventual World Series winning San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.  Instead of addressing the obvious problems on offense, Amaro “upgrades” at closer for a steep price that will continue to cripple this team in the future.

Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino will both be free agents after the 2012 season, and Hunter Pence will be on the open market after 2013.  The team has Halladay, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Lee, and now Papelbon locked up for most of their team’s salary cap for the next five seasons.  With none of these players under 30, the window for the team to get that next World Series is closing.

The pressure will be on GM Amaro in 2012, as the Phils have had little playoff success under his reins. Picture from AP

The most likely scenario to happen will be the Phillies trying to make another big deal at the deadline to improve their offense, which they have the past two seasons with Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence.  This year, however, they don’t have Ed Wade giftwrapping the other side of the deal.

Bottom line, the Phillies would much rather settle scores with players and agents then go out and be aggressive and make the moves necessary to ensure they are the best team.  Let’s hope the offense can magically come to life in 2011, or this team will again be in trouble come October.

Sixers drop just 2nd home game of season, yet no one seems to notice

In just their second home loss of the season, the Philadelphia 76ers fall to the New Jersey Nets 97-90 in overtime.  While the Nets are one of the worst teams in the conference, the 76ers are still 12-6, good enough for the best record in the Atlantic Division by four games.  The attendance in tonight’s game was actually 13,000, up from the 10,000 figure from Monday but still nowhere near the 20,444 capacity.

Why is no one going to these games?  So far in this lockout shortened season, the Sixers are 8-2 in home games but only have an average attendance of 14,147, which ranks 27out of 30 teams in the NBA. Coming into tonight’s game, the Sixers ranked 3rd in the NBA in team scoring, and 2nd in defense.  Their point differential is 11.9 points, best in the NBA.

But the 76ers have no true “superstar” on the team.  That is why 76ers roster is loaded with balance, as they have seven different players averaging more than 10 points a game.   The Sixers have been lacking that superstar since the trade of Allen Iverson, and attendance has plummeted since.

The Sixers have been hard-pressed to match the success of the 2001 Iverson-led team

They have not ranked higher than 23rd in the NBA in attendance since that December 19, 2006 trade, and the team has struggled to reach success since.  They have reached the playoffs three times since the trade, but have not advanced past the first round.

Most notably was their playoff run last year, when they team overcame 3-13 start to finish 41-41, good enough for the 7th seed in the East but leaving the team unprepared for their first round matchup with the second seeded Miami Heat.  The Heat beat the Sixers in 5 games, and eventually went all the way to the NBA finals before falling to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Sixers have had great success in the past with their superstar, Allen Iverson, with the team making most of their runs behind the play of Iverson, and leadership of Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown.  From 2001-2004, the Sixers were in the top 5 every season in attendance, and the team made it to the NBA Finals in 2001, their first appearance since the 1983 Championship team.

Now the team is looking to start their own formula with a balanced team that plays great defense behind new coach Doug Collins, who helped the young squad improve from 27 wins in 2009-10 to 41 wins last year.

The team has had some good fortune in the past two years,  starting with the 2010 draft lottery where they landed the second overall pick, which was only a six percent chance of happening.  The team drafted Evan Turner, and hired Doug Collins two days later.

Turner has shown marked improvement in his second season with his points, rebounds, and assists averages increasing.  Under the leadership of Collins the younger Sixers have continued their play from the end of the season, as they currently stand as the fourth best team in the East.  The average age of the team is just 26 years old, but taking into account playing time the Sixers are the fourth youngest team in the NBA, as noted by hoopism.com.

Now the problem lies in keeping the record intact, and getting the city’s interest.  The 76ers are by and large the fourth most popular sports team in town, behind the Pennant-Winning Phillies, the always Cup-Challenging Flyers, and the Wait-Till-Next-Year Eagles.  With the Phillies being the only team winning a championship in the past 25 years and them seemingly turning the town Red in the process, it goes to show that the city can be won over.

The new 76er's ownership is allowing fans to vote on the new mascot

The Sixers have a new ownership in place that wants to win and is making it a point to listen to their fans (As noted by their Vote for their next 76ers Mascot campaign).  If the new ownership excitement and young talent come together to band more and more Sixers wins, fans will have to start coming to games.  The more support team gets and more wins in the Eastern Conference, the more likely this team will make a deep run into the playoffs.

The team is currently in the midst of a 7 game home stand, which concludes against the Orlando Magic, the Chicago Bulls, and the Miami Heat, who stand 1-3 in the Eastern Conference standings.   Winning two of these games will go a long way to winning over the tough Philadelphia crowd, and will show this young team can play with anyone.

“We have an atmosphere that’s been created, a winning atmosphere,” Starting Center Spencer Hawes said.

Let’s hope this atmosphere spreads throughout all of Philly.

Welcome to my blog

Welcome to my sports blog, and thanks for visiting.
I am a senior at Temple University, and avid sports fan. I made this blog as an update for all Philly Sports, and to give awareness to the pressing sports issues. I will cover the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers in professional sports, while mostly covering Temple in the college sports world.

Check back weekly and I will write a piece on some of the important topics that all Philly Sports fans need to be in the know about.