Posted on: March 12, 2009 1:49 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2009 3:17 pm

All Philly Big 5 Team 2009

 For those of you that do not know, there is a traditional “conference” involving all the college basketball teams in the Philadelphia area.  This pseudo-conference is called the Big 5 and was created back in the 1950s.  The teams that make up the Big 5 rivalries are Villanova, Temple, St. Joe’s, LaSalle and Penn.  Three of the 5 are playing today in conference tournaments and LaSalle barely lost yesterday in the A-10 tournament.  Today we have Temple vs. St. Joe’s and will be the third match up this year between the two rivals.  In the Big East, Villanova will match up against Marquette.  With all this Big 5 action today, I’ve decided to pick my All Big 5 Team for the regular season.


Let’s face it, the Big 5 teams are guard heavy.  For this reason, other then starters I could not find any real second teamers for the big(ger) men listed.


At the two starting guard positions I am putting Dionte Christmas and Scottie Reynolds.  Christmas, with his senior leadership, has made a name for himself with scouts and collegiate basketball fans.  His signature game was against the, then number 8 ranked, Tennessee Volunteers.  Christmas put up 35 points, trumping any player on the court.  His 19.2 ppg and 6.1 rpg helped him land a spot as my starter.


I had an internal battle whether to put Rodney Green of La Salle above Scottie as my other starting guard.  Green had slightly better stats then Reynolds, but ultimately the intangibles and conference competition made my decision.  Call me Big East bias for seeing more of Scottie’s games but he always seems to hit the big shot when needed.  He set the tone for now 10th ranked (AP Poll) Villanova team in an extremely difficult Big East season that claims six of the top 25 ranked teams (AP Poll).  He played defense when he needed, hit key 3 pointers and foul shots at crucial parts of the game and was an overall clutch leader.  The leadership he has shown has been quite the tribute to a junior.  


While you are hammering me about my Villanova bias, I will get my Dante Cunningham pick out of the way.  However, I do not feel there is an argument here.  Scotties court leadership could only be matched by senior Dante Cunningham’s.  His 16.4 ppg and 7.3 rpg gave him a strong nod to start on my All Big 5 Team.  


Opposite of Cunningham in the forward position I am pushing a sophomore, LaVoy Allen of Temple.  In the four games against the top 3 A-10 games (Dayton, Xavier and Rhode Island (2)) Allen averaged 10 rebounds and 12.5 points.  He was one of the only bright spots in these key conference match-ups in which Temple went 1-3.  He is also one of the only true forwards to make a difference for his team, respectively.  Although he was streaky through the rest of the season, he played well enough to average 11.1 ppg and 8.6 rpg.


At center, the most obvious of all these picks is Amad Nevins of St. Joe’s.  St. Joe’s may not have won a game without the dominating presence of this six foot nine senior.  He dominated the boards, as well as the offensive and defensive side of the block.  Amad averaged 19.2 ppg, 11.7 rpg and clocked 56 rebounds in 31 games.  Amad Nevins is the clear cut starting center for the All Big 5 Team.


The second team I chose all guards as clear stand outs above other positions in the Big 5.  I also chose one player from each team simply by coincidence.  I also highlighted each players stand out stats as the reason for choosing them.


Rodney Green G (LaSalle, Junior)

17.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, 46.9 Shooting %


Tasheed Carr G (St. Joe’s, Senior)

13.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.4 APG, 40.3 Shooting %


Corey Fisher G (Villanova, Sophomore)

10.8 PPG in 24.3 MPG shooting 45.6%


Tyler Bernardi G (Penn, Sophomore)

13.7 PPG in 29.4 MPG


Ryan Brooks G (Temple, Junior)

10.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG




Posted on: March 2, 2009 10:56 am

A Fond Farewell…but it is time to move on.








We will all miss Brian Dawkins.  Since his 1996 debut with the Philadelphia Eagles, B-Dawk has embodied the pulse of Philadelphia.  The “undersized” safety played with heart and emotion, from the opening introductions until the final second ticked off the game clock.  His pre-game introduction, undoubtedly frenzied the stadium and every fan inside whether at the Vet of the Link.  His bone crushing hits were a mainstay and his annual charity golf tournament in the area raised money and awareness for the Burn Prevention Foundation in the Philadelphia Area.  The seven time Pro Bowler was a leader in the locker room and a pleasure to watch at press conferences.  Weapon X was no doubt a fan favorite and arguably the best Philadelphia Eagles in the history of a franchise that claim such defensive greats as Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Chuck Bednarick, Tom Brookshier, Bill Bergey, Andre Waters and Mike Golic.


We all love Dawkins, but it is time to move on.  All weekend, you could not turn of sports talk radio or even walk into your local Wawa, without hearing some drama queen ranting about how they cannot watch the Eagles ever again or are going out to get a #20 Broncos jersey.  


Let’s face it, this is nothing new.  The Eagles have a history of letting the greats (or future greats) walk (Reggie White, Clyde Simmons, Hugh Douglass).  When it comes to players in the secondary, however, they have been spot on with their decisions to not re-sign defensive backs.  After the 2003 season, the Eagles bid farewell to the CB tandem of Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent, leading the way for future two time Pro Bowler Lito Sheppard and the hard hitting Sheldon Brown.   Taylor and Vincent, when on the combine for 1 full season after leaving Philadelphia.  I do not believe this will happen with Dawkins and certainly do not wish upon him, but he’s 35 years old.  


Yes, the Eagles had the cap room to match or top the Denver Broncos $7.2 million guarantee for 2 years but the Eagles must see something in Quinten Demps and Quinten Mikell.  This year both had shown promise at the safety positions.  This year for Dawkins was one of the best we’ve seen from him, but there has been a decline in his production in previous seasons and he has lost a step in coverage.


Brain’s quote this weekend just goes to show what a classy guy he is:

"I've just got to thank them. For so many years, we obviously connected on a very deep basis," Dawkins said the day after he left his only NFL home for 13 seasons to sign with the Denver Broncos. "For so many years, they've allowed me to come into their living rooms, to laugh with them, to party with them, to celebrate with them, to cry with 'em through tough losses, to bleed with them. I just really appreciate the way they accepted me, a little safety from Clemson."


Don’t get me wrong, B-Dawk is and may always be my favorite Eagle of all-time.  He’s fun to watch and it is painful to see him walk.  I cannot question to Eagles for this non-move, though; the track record speaks for itself (with the exception of Reggie White).  Weapon X will be greatly missed and I wish him the best of luck in Denver.  The Eagles are slated to play Denver at home this year and I will no doubt do everything in my power to be at the game to give Dawkins his deserved appreciation.  Once that clock starts, I hope he is rendered utterly unproductive…I am an Eagles fan first and a Dawkins fan second!


Posted on: February 27, 2009 10:29 am

Philadelphia Phillies 2009: What to Watch for

Now that we are getting into the full swing of Spring Training, there are some interesting storylines of interest in the Phillies camp.


Of course there is the question of whether the Phils can repeat the World Series.  The last team to repeat (actually three-peat) a World Series Championship was 1998-2000 New York Yankees.  The last National League World Series Champions was the 1975-1976 Cincinnati Reds.  The team believes they can do something special and so does the city.


In order to repeat, Brad Lidge will have to have another stellar year.  An interesting part of this story is Lights Out’s consecutive save streak.  He currently stands at number 3 on the list (51).  If he can start out with 4 saves in 4 save oppurtunies he will pass the number 2 and former Phillie Tom Gordon (54).  If Brad has another year like last he would pass Eric Gagne’s record of 84 (a tall task).



A month ago, Chase Utley’s health would’ve been the biggest question for this team.  Utley have surgery on his right hip in November and was slated to be on the bench at least through the opening series against the Braves.  However, as of late, Utley has been making great progress.  He has been practicing with the team at Spring Training on the field and has even taken a few batting practices throughout the month.  From the looks of it, he will be very close to ready on April 5<sup>th</sup> (the season opener).



It will be interesting to see how the addition of Raul Ibanez and the subtraction of Pat Burrell will play out.  Ibanez adds another left-handed bat to an already lefty-heavy lineup.  However, Raul over his career is stronger against lefties then righties.  Lets compare both players’ 2008 season:

Ibanez 186 Hits, 23 HRs, 110 RBIs, .358 OBP, .293 BA
Burrell  134 Hits, 33 HRs,  86  RBIs, .367 OBP, .250 BA


On paper, Ibanez looks like an upgrade in all area besides power (OBP is slightly lower).  He played for a dismal Seattle and was still able to get 110 RBIs in a league that has arguably better pitching.  It is also a definite upgrade in the field.  The real question is whether he can duplicate the leadership and clutch moments Pat displayed last year?

The other Phillies addition is RHP Chan Ho Park.  He had a decent 2008 with 79 Ks in 95.1 IP and a .340 ERA as a Dodger and held the Phillies in 1.2 innings pitched in the NLCS.  He wants to compete for a starting role and I don’t mind seeing the competition between himself Eaton, Kendrick, Happ and Carrasco for the 5<sup>th</sup> starter.  They must’ve seen something they liked in the four games he appeared in. 


 Will the new contacts pay off?  The Phillies front office was not stingy this year.  Over the past couple offseasons the Phils big contract question was Ryan Howard’s arbitration.  This year they finally avoided arbitration, giving Howard a welll deserved 3 year, $54 million contract.  They also wrapped up Cole “Hollywood” Hamels with a 3 year, $20.5 million contract.  Two other starters received new deals when they signed “Average” Joe Blanton (1yr. $5.475 million) and gave “Gentleman” Jamie Moyer a 2 year deal ($13 million with incentives up to $7 million).  The contracts rolled out to the bullpen and the batter’s box, wrapping up five other components of the World Series team:  Jayson Werth “Every Penny” (2yr $10 million), Chad “Don’t Call me J.D.” Durbin (1yr $1.635 million), Ryan “The Bridge to Lidge” Madson (3yr $12 million), Shane “The Flying Hawaiian” Victorino (1yr $3.125 million), “Mr. Utility” Gregg Dobbs (2yr $2.5 million) and most recently Chris “The 33 year Old Rookie” Coste to a one year deal.  The Phillies are keeping their players happy and frankly saving money that would have been lost in arbitration.

 The previous section has made me realize how much Philadelphia LOVES nicknames. 


 To me there are a few other points of interest in the upcoming months:


Will there be a Defense vs. Offense battle for third base (Feliz vs. Dobbs)?
How many games will the 43,647 (CBP capacity) seats be completely filled this year?
How many fans will be selling their Red Sox and Mets tickets to out of towners?
Phillies Mets rivalry … bigger then Yankees Red Sox?
What is the over/under for legendary Phillies announcer Harry Kalis spouting the phrase, “Chase Utley, You are the Man!”  I’d say 22.5.



Above all it should be an interesting 2009 Season!




The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com