Phillly March Madness: (2) Charles Barkley vs. (15) Pat Burrell

Phillly March Madness: (2) Charles Barkley vs. (15) Pat Burrell

Over the next few weeks at The700Level, we'll be posting poll       matchups as part of our Philly March Madness competition.                  Examine the       cases of the two fine Philadelphia       athletes     below,    and     cast     your  vote at  the bottom as  to      which you     think should    advance to         the next   round.  And      as always,   feel   free to explain    your     selection        and/or     debate the   choices    in the comments  section.


(2) Charles Barkley

Some players let their game do all the talking. That's never been  Charles Barkley's style. One of the most outspoken professional athletes  we've ever seen, Chuck is as demonstrative a figure as there is in  sports. Today, fans know him for his often hilarious color commentating  and other media appearances, but before he became must-see TV, he was  The Round Mound of Rebound. The 76ers selected Barkley fifth overall out  of Auburn in 1984, playing in 82 games and making the NBA's All-Rookie  team his first season. As uncommon a personality as he is, he was an  even more uncommon power forward. At 6'6", he was shorter than normal  for the position, and at 252 lbs., he didn't seem to be making up for it  with any sheer athletic ability. However, those limitations didn't stop  him from becoming one of the premiere rebounders in the league. In his  third season, Barkley led all players averaging 14.6 boards per game,  and made the first of 11 All Star games. He was a scorer as well,  averaging over 20 points per game in seven of eight seasons with the  Sixers. As great as he was, Chuck would not spend the entirety of his  prime in Philadelphia. The core that won an NBA Championship in 1983 was  gone, and Barkley's antics made him a ticking time bomb in some eyes. A  fight with Bill Laimbeer drew record fines in 1990, and in 1991, he  mistakenly spit on a young girl during a game, the loogie intended for a  heckler in the crowd. At season's end, Barkley was shipped to Phoenix  in a lopsided deal that brought Philly Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry, and  Andrew Lang. Sir Charles went on to win an MVP award and appear in the  Finals, then win gold medals in the '92 and '96 Olympics, while the  Sixers slipped into a period known to some as the Dark Ages. -Kulp



(15) Pat Burrell

Few professional athletes have experienced the Philadelphia fan roller  coaster quite like Pat Burrell. The first overall pick in the 1998 draft  out of Miami, expectations couldn't have been much higher for this  first baseman turned left fielder. Along with Scott Rolen, Burrell would  restore the Phillies to prominence... except that isn't exactly how it  turned out. Pat the Bat reached the Majors in 2000 to great  expectations, and by 2002 it appeared he would meet them, batting .282  with 37 home runs and a 116 RBIs during a career year. Everything looked  up for the young Burrell, but it would come crashing down the following  season. Struggling under the weight of being "the man," he hit an  abysmal .209 and drove in only 64 runs. Even though it was the only such  terrible season for The Machine, his image never quite recovered. From  '04 through '08, he would go on batting north of .250, usually belting  around 30 homers and close to 100 RBIs, but it wasn't until his final  season as a Phillie where appreciation truly began to set in. As a lame  duck in 2008, Burrell made it known he wanted to stay in Philadelphia,  but the front office didn't see him as part of the formula. Still, he  was an integral part of that World Championship team. After struggling  through much of the World Series, it was his long double that eventually  resulted in the clinching run coming across the plate. When it was all  said and done, he had finally reached the top after he led the Phillies  parade down Broad Street. -Kulp

    Who should advance to the next round?customer surveys

Results So Far:

East Bracket:

(1) Julius Erving (91.8%) over (16) Von Hayes (8.2%)
(8) Simon     Gagne (77.9%) over (9) Seth Joyner (22.1%)
(5) Eric Lindros (70.3%)     over (12) Eric Allen (29.7%)
(4) Randall Cunningham (77.6%) over   (13)   Shane Victorino (23.4%)
(11) Cole Hamels (82.1%) over (6) Mark     Recchi (17.9%)
(14) Tug McGraw (51.1%) over (3) Moses Malone   (48.9%)
(7)   Darren Daulton (74.0%) over (10) Andrew Toney (26.0%)
(2)   Chase   Utley (93.5%) over (15) Andre Waters (6.5%)

Midwest Bracket:

(1) Mark Howe (60.2%) over (16) David Akers (39.8%)
(9) Rod     Brind'Amour (73.6%) over (8) Rick Tocchet (26.4%)
(5) Brian Westbrook    (93.3%) over (12) Jayson Werth (6.7%)
(4) Mike Richards (85.1%)   over  (13) Trent Cole (14.9%)
(6) John LeClair (89.2%) over (11)   Clyde  Simmons (10.8%)
(3) Jimmy Rollins (75.8%) over (14) John Kruk   (24.2%)
(7) Lenny Dykstra (51.9%) over (10) Dave Poulin (48.1%)
(2) Allen Iverson (83.1%) over (15) Jeremiah Trotter (16.9%)

West Bracket:

(1) Mike Schmidt (96.9%) over (16) Keith Byars (3.1%)
(9) Wilbert Montgomery (59.4%) over (8) Jeff Carter (40.6%)
(5) Ron Jaworski (83.5%) over (12) Bobby Abreu (16.5%)
(4) Ron Hextall (94.1%) over (13) Andre Iguodala (5.9%)
(6) Mike Quick (59.8%) over (11) Hugh Douglas (40.2%)
(3) Brian Dawkins (98.3%) over (14) Scott Rolen (1.7%)
(7) Maurice Cheeks (51.9%) over (10) Eric Desjardins (48.1%)
(15) Carlos Ruiz (58.9%) over (2) Tim Kerr (41.1%)

South Bracket:

(1) Reggie White (97.1%) over (16) Hersey Hawkins (2.9%)
(9) Troy Vincent (51.8%) over (8) Curt Schilling (48.2%)
(5) Pete Rose (85.2%) over (12) Peter Zezel (14.8%)
(4) Ryan Howard (86.3%) over (13) Jon Runyan (13.7%)
(6) Pelle Lindbergh (51.0%) over (11) Keith Primeau (49%)
(3) Donovan McNabb (84.5%) over (14) Bobby Jones (15.5%)

Cody Asche: 'I'm close' to being ready to rejoin Phillies

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Cody Asche: 'I'm close' to being ready to rejoin Phillies

READING, Pa. — The stat sheet says one thing, Cody Asche another.

“I’m close,” the Phillies’ once (and possibly future) leftfielder said after going hitless in four at-bats in a rehab assignment game for Double A Reading on Thursday morning. “I’m close, for sure.”

Asche, recovering from a strained left oblique muscle, is just 2 for 16 in four games at Reading, after going 3 for 18 in five games at Single A Clearwater.

But not to worry, he said. There are just “a couple little things” he needs to shore up at the plate, things that have led to “not-so-favorable results,” before he is ready to return to the major leagues.

“But I’m confident,” he said. “They’re easy fixes.”

Asche, a little over a month away from his 26th birthday, said he feels healthy, that he just needs to get his timing back, just needs to face more “good quality pitching.”

Where he will get that opportunity is a matter of conjecture. Immediately after beating Erie, 7-4, in Thursday’s matinee, Reading headed to New Hampshire to begin a road trip. Asche was not expected to accompany the Fightin Phils. Meanwhile, Triple A Lehigh Valley begins a homestand Friday.

“I think the plan right now is maybe go up to Lehigh [Friday], but that’s still in the air,” Asche said, adding that he still must consult trainer Scott Sheridan, as well as his rehab coordinator, before a decision is finalized.

It’s not clear if the organization also believes Asche is close to returning to the big leagues. Manager Dusty Wathan was not available for comment after Thursday’s game.

Wathan did address Asche’s situation after he played his first game at Reading on Sunday.

“It’s like his spring training,” the manager told reporters. “He’s trying to get himself back, get himself comfortable in left field, get himself comfortable at the plate and back into baseball shape.”

Asche, the Phillies’ fourth-round pick in 2011, hit .252 with 10 homers and 46 RBIs in 121 games at third base in 2014. Last year he began the season at that position before making the transition to left, in the wake of Maikel Franco’s emergence. But when Franco broke a wrist late in the year, Asche returned to his natural position.

Overall he hit .245 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 129 games. Five of his homers came in his last 18 games.

“I came in to spring training as confident as anybody in myself, and building on last year and going forward this year,” he said.

But he injured his oblique (which is near the rib cage) while swinging a bat on the eve of spring drills. Then he rehabbed, returned and promptly reaggravated the injury while swinging through a pitch the final week of camp.

It only hurt when he did … well, everything.

“Imagine everything you do during the day, you feel pain in your abdomen,” he said. “Just small things, like sneezing and coughing, are uncomfortable. Getting in and out of cars.”

Nor was his anguish merely physical.

“We’d be here all day if I tried to explain how frustrating it is,” he said. “It’s been a long process. It’s been tiring. It’s been stressful. A lot of sleepless nights during it, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I can see it. I know I’m close. It’s just a matter of time, from here on out. Once it clicks, it will click, and I’ll be ready to go.”

Asche began swinging a bat on May 1, and started his rehab assignment at Clearwater on May 13. He made the move to Reading nine days later.

“I’m kind of over the frustration part,” he said. “I had eight weeks to be frustrated while I was rehabbing. Right now I’m just solely focused on playing baseball, and preparing myself to go up there and compete when it’s my time.”

The Phillies could use him, to add punch to the anemic corner outfield spots. And he believes he can help. 

“There’s still plenty of time,” he said. “We’ve still got a long season left. It’s not even June yet. I’ve got plenty of time to leave my mark on this year.”

Report: Rockets to hire Sixers associate coach Mike D'Antoni

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Report: Rockets to hire Sixers associate coach Mike D'Antoni

The Sixers are losing a top assistant coach just five months after he joined the team. 

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo's The Vertical, the Houston Rockets are finalizing a deal to hire Mike D'Antoni as their head coach. According to Wojnarowski, the deal is for four years, with a team option in the final year.  

D'Antoni had been a Sixers associate coach since last December, when the team hired him after starting the season with a 1-26 record. 

While he took a supporting role in Philadelphia, D'Antoni has 12 years of NBA head coaching experience with the Nuggets, Suns (where he worked with Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo and special advisor Jerry Colangelo) and, most recently, the Lakers. The 2013-14 Lakers went 27-55 under D'Antoni. 

D’Antoni is 455-426 as a head coach. He won the 2004-05 NBA Coach of the Year Award with the Suns. He also was an assistant coach for gold-winning Team USA men’s national teams.

Rockets interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff withdrew himself from consideration for the job earlier this month, and D’Antoni has been considered a top candidate for the position. The Rockets have had four coaches in the past 10 seasons, including Jeff Van Gundy, Rick Adelman, Kevin McHale and Bickerstaff.

The Rockets finished eighth in the Western Conference this season with a 41-41 record. They were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Warriors, 4-1. 

Earlier in the week, Wojnarowski reported P.J. Carlesimo could take D'Antoni's place. 

Carlesimo, 66, and Sixers head coach Brett Brown were both assistant coaches under Gregg Popovich with the Spurs from 2002-07. Carlesimo also has previous head coaching experience with the Blazers, Warriors and Sonics/Thunder. 

CSNPhilly.com's Dave Zangaro contributed to this story.

Markieff Morris detained at Philadelphia International Airport

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USA Today Images

Markieff Morris detained at Philadelphia International Airport

Former Prep Charter and current Washington Wizards star Markieff Morris was detained at Philadelphia International Airport Thursday, according to law enforcement officials.

Morris, who was with a party that included his mother, checked a bag for an international trip when “a suspicious item” was found in his suitcase, according to law enforcement.

A secondary search of his bag revealed what law enforcement officials called “suspected marijuana.” Terminal A at Philadelphia International is overseen by Tinicum Township Police in Delaware County, not by the Philadelphia Police Department. Philadelphia airport security notified Tinicum Township Police. Morris was then taken to the Tinicum Township Police precinct for questioning. He was later released on his own recognizance.

A Tinicum Township police spokesman said the investigation is ongoing.

Morris, a Philadelphia native, is in his first full season with the Wizards, who acquired him from the Phoenix Suns in February. The Suns drafted him out of Kansas with the 13th overall pick in 2011. Morris' twin brother Marcus was drafted one pick later by the Houston Rockets before being dealt to Phoenix, where played with his brother for a little more than two seasons. Marcus now plays for the Detroit Pistons.