Phils Look to Keep Separation Against the Suddenly Hot Braves

Phils Look to Keep Separation Against the Suddenly Hot Braves

Going into the 2011 season, the Braves were expected to be the Phils' primary competition for NL East supremacy, with a good number of prognosticators even predicting them to take the division. While it's still far too early to consider claiming a pre-emptive victory over such haters, there's no doubt that the Braves' start has not been what most have expected, nor what they themselves were likely hoping for for the season's first month-plus. Though they've improved things recently, with a five-game winning streak putting them back over .500, the Braves still sit at third in the division at 18-15, four and a half games behind the first-place Phils.

Not that there would ever be a good time to lose to the Braves, but now would be an especially good time for the Phillies to keep the gap between the two teams a sizable one as Atlanta travels up north for a weekend set in the City of Brotherly Love. The Phils are coming off possibly their most productive series of the season, as they swept the then-.500 Nationals, demonstrating their prowess on both sides of the ball as Cole Hamels, Vance Worley and Roy Halladay all picked up Ws with their quality starts, and the Phils' bats pushed seven runs across the plate in each of the last two games. Not an outright domination, perhaps, but three decisive victories against a team that's a little better than we thought they'd be, and that's nothing to sneeze at.

Tonight, Cliff Lee takes the hill against the Braves' Derek Lowe, the latter of whom will be making his second start since his much-publicized DUI arrest (he gave up four runs on six hits in five innings against St. Louis last Sunday.) Our boy Cliff has started off the season on mildly shaky ground, but he's coming off a good start on Sunday against the Mets (seven innings, one earned), albeit one that was wasted by an offensive power outage that saw the team score one man in 14 innings of gamete.

7:05 first pitch from CBP. How about the series that Raul Ibanez had against the Nats, by the way, with his combined eight base hits after suffering through the biggest dry spell of his career? ""He's got a shorter swing, quicker bat, he's staying on the ball, being selective," said Charlie Manuel of Raul's recent hot streak. "The biggest thing is he's getting hits." Yeah, no s---, Charlie.

Temple Men’s Basketball adds two players to 2016-17 roster

Temple Men’s Basketball adds two players to 2016-17 roster

Temple men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy announced that the team has added two players to its 2016-17 roster. 

The Owls will announce the two new transfers, junior’s Isaiah Lewis and Steve Leonard, Thursday night at the Liacouras Center at the team’s Cherry and White Night. 

Lewis comes to Temple after playing for Casper College in Wyoming last season, where he averaged 5.5 points and 2.2 assists per game. Before his stint at Casper College, the 6-4 guard also played at Lee Junior College in Texas, and averaged 10.0 points and 4.7 assists per game.

Leonard, a 6-6 guard from Collegeville, Pa., played two seasons at Ursinus College. He averaged 5.6 points over 43 games during his career at Ursinus. 

Brett Brown: Sixers' Nik Stauskas set for 'breakout year'

Brett Brown: Sixers' Nik Stauskas set for 'breakout year'

CAMDEN, N.J. — The irony of Nik Stauskas’ reputation as a three-point shooter is that he doesn’t view himself that way.

Stauskas was drafted eighth overall by the Kings in 2014 after shooting 44.1 percent from three over two years at Michigan. But that’s not how he envisioned himself being in the pros.

“It’s crazy,” Stauskas said after practice Thursday. “I know I was a great shooter coming out of Michigan, but I don’t consider myself a shooter. I consider myself a gamer. I don’t think I’m an effective NBA player when I just stand and spot up and shoot threes. That’s really not my game.”

Stauskas has struggled to find offensive consistency in the NBA. The third-year two-guard averaged 32.4 percent from long range in his first two seasons. He wasn’t reliable as a knockdown shooter and bounced in and out of the starting lineup last season.

Rather than being a finesse player, Brett Brown encouraged Stauskas to get aggressive. Brown wanted to a see an edge from Stauskas and not hold back at the basket.

Stauskas displayed that side to his game on opening night against the Thunder. In 23 minutes off the bench, he scored 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting. His only miss came on a three-point attempt. His 83.3 shooting percentage was a single-game career high.

“He was cocky,” Brown said. “He was in attack mode. He was not afraid to put it to the floor and get to the rim. I feel like he’s got a real chance to have a breakout year. We need him to have a breakout year.”

The Sixers picked up the options on Stauskas, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor on Thursday.

“I think the statement the club made on his contract lets him probably have a little bit more comfort on what we think of him,” Brown said. “I was really happy with his swagger last night.”

Stauskas is figuring out his role on the Sixers this season. It is one that can change often given injuries. A key to being successful, whether he is on the perimeter or at the rim, is feeling confident and in a rhythm on the floor.

“I had fun out there,” Stauskas said. “More than anything, I think yesterday was the first time in a while that I’ve really enjoyed myself out there and had a smile on my face.”