A Brief and Scattered Interview With Evan Turner: Settling the Backstreet Boys vs. N Sync Debate

A Brief and Scattered Interview With Evan Turner: Settling the Backstreet Boys vs. N Sync Debate

I got the chance to talk with Evan Turner for a few minutes last Friday
after the team's win against the Golden State Warriors. There was so
much to talk with the Sixers' second-year swingman about, from the
pressures of being the #2 overall pick, to his seemingly tumultuous
relationship with second-year coach Doug Collins, to his up-and-down
play over the course of the NBA season. Evan is perhaps the team's most
enigmatic player, and I hoped that getting to talk with the man would
help shed light on some of the burning questions Sixers fans have had
about our promising Sophomore since he was drafted in 2010.

Instead, though, I mostly talked with him about hip-hop and '90s
TRL. Oh well—can't win 'em all, and I heartily enjoyed my time spent
with the Extraterrestrial just the same.

Andrew: How much fun did you have playing in the [Rising Stars] game?

Evan Turner: It was cool. It was dope. We had fun. We won, that was even better.

Were you slighted that they kind of picked you towards the end there, in the draft?

I don't really pay attention to that stuff.

Which of the guys there did you have the most fun playing with?

[Indiana's] Paul George is always a good guy. I enjoy watching him play, great person.

Seems like you and [Sacramento center] DeMarcus [Cousins] had a little bit of chemistry there.

Yeah, you know, he runs the court, makes himself available, and when he's that type of threat, it's easy to pass to him.

What's the biggest difference in the team between this season and the last season, you think?

I just think we're just maturing. You know, we're learning to
close out games and everything, we're not blowing leads and stuff, I
think that's the key to our success.

What's the biggest difference for you personally?

Nothin'. Just one more year experience, and that's pretty much it.

Well, does it feel easier? Does it feel better?

It's cool. You know, we're winning, so everything's cool. That's pretty much all you can really take from it.

Do you ever wonder what it would be like on a team where maybe
there weren't so many guys that are playing the same sort of position as
you are?

It'd be different, but at the same time, wondering
and wishing and all that stuff doesn't matter. You still gotta face
reality and the real world, so…let's focus on trying to better myself
every day, and keep getting better and that's it. Develop.

It seems like you guys are a close bunch of guys. Was it hard for you when Marreese [Speights] got traded?

Yeah,
we actually liked Marreese, you know? But it's better for him, [The
Grizzlies'] situation with him, he's been playing well and stuff. But
you know, Mo is a great guy and a great person, and just having him
around was key.

I see you guys on Twitter a lot—I saw that you and Spence over the summer were having an argument between who was better, the Backstreet Boys or N Sync. Care to stick up for your guys a little bit?

Yeah, the Backstreet Boys? They just made album after album. Hits, you know. 'N Sync only had…what was it…it wasn't Celebrity, it was No Strings Attached. Which was amazing from front to back. And then Celebrity was just overrated. And then Backstreet Boys, they been going hard with Millennium, you know, Black and Blue and all that stuff, so they been on top for a while. They still make music today! They're like a white Boyz II Men.

Were you a big TRL fan back in the day?

Yeah, that
was crazy! Carson Daly and stuff? That was back when pop music was
crazy, you know what I'm saying? You had Christina, Britney, 98 Degrees,
all those people. Tom Green, at one time he went #1, with the Bum Bum
Song? That stuff was dope!

Have you seen any of those TRL specials they've had on [VH1] these days?

Naw, I haven't. I never, ever really watch TV.

It seems like you're more into rap now. If you had to choose last year between [Drake's] Take Care, [Jay-Z and Kanye West's] Watch the Throne and [Lil Wayne's] Carter IV, what would your choice be?

That's rough, man. Those are all three great rappers and great albums. It all depends on what you want, man. Take Care
was cool. You know, Drizzy's a great guy, and he raps about stuff you
can relate to, but Jay-Z and Kanye did their thing, you know what I'm
saying? It's hard to decide between those two.

Who are you listening to now?

I listen to everybody,
man. I listen to old school. I still pop in old school Jay, old school
Em, I listen to Common, Big Sean, Drake…

Do you take a side in the Common/Drake feud?

Naw, I don't do none of that. I just enjoy the music.

Did you guys give Thad any crap for that blown dunk the other day?

Naw, naw, we didn't…actually I had forgot about that, to tell you the truth.

It looked like 'Dre was really upset about that.

Yeah,
it was a great pass! But hey, you ain't gonna make 'em all, right? I
think Thad finishes a lot, so he can afford to miss one every now and
then. When we're winning!

Any goals personally, for the team, for the rest of the season?

We just wanna win the Atlantic division. I think that's key for the team.

You think you guys got that?

We got a lot more basketball. We just gotta keep worrying about defending home court, and that's it. 

Sixers burned by yet another point guard in loss to Celtics

Sixers burned by yet another point guard in loss to Celtics

The Sixers had been burned by point guards before. Many times, actually. 

Just a week ago, Kyrie Irving dropped 39 points in the Cavs' 112-108 win. Nineteen came in the decisive fourth quarter. 

On Saturday Isaiah Thomas did the same damage. The undersized All-Star tied his season-high with 37 points in the Celtics' comeback 107-106 victory (see instant replay).

“Isaiah’s an All-Star,” Jahlil Okafor said. “He showed us why tonight. He’s the head of their team and came up big for them like he usually does.” 

Thomas made his impact in spurts. During the Celtics' 9-0 second quarter run, he scored six of those points. In the fourth quarter, in which the game was decided, he dropped 12 straight Celtics points. Thomas finished the night 11 for 19 for the field and only 2 of 3 from three. 

The most telling stat was at the free throw line. Thomas shot 13 for 15 after attacking and drawing fouls, a point of emphasis by head coach Brad Stevens for the second half. 

Thomas scored 15 points in the first half. He noticed a change in the Sixers defense in the second and capitalized on it. The Celtics ability to stretch the floor with their three-point shooting bigs also created opportunities for Thomas to get to the rim. 

“In the second half they sat back a little bit and they were switching a lot,” Thomas explained, also noting, “We wanted to put Okafor in a pick-and-roll. He sits far back. I just wanted to attack him downhill. It’s hard for bigs to move those bigs legs they’ve got. So I just tried to stay in attack mode and I saw we were in the bonus.”

The Sixers have had problems defending the one spot all season. Isaiah Thomas is the fifth starting point guard to score 30 points or more against them. He joins Russell Westbrook (32), Jeff Teague (30 in overtime), James Harden (33) and Irving. Another five (Kemba Walker, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry) have scored 20 or more points. 

The oneness of these high-scoring point guards doesn’t fall solely on the Sixers backcourt, where Sergio Rodriguez has been assuming the starting role in place of the oft-injured Jerryd Bayless. These opponents have been doing their work inside the arc. Of the five who have scored 30, only two (Harden and Irving) attempted more than three treys. 

“We’re all working hard trying to stop them, but it’s easier said than done,” Okafor said. 

The next point guard the Sixers will face is Emmanuel Mudiay when they take on the Nuggets Monday. Last season Mudiay hit the game-winning, buzzer-beating three in Denver. 

Instant Replay: No. 7 Penn State 38, No. 6 Wisconsin 31

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USA Today Images

Instant Replay: No. 7 Penn State 38, No. 6 Wisconsin 31

BOX SCORE

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State got bullied a bit Saturday, but never gave up its lunch money. 

It spent the second half taking control of the schoolyard.

After getting pushed around for much of Saturday night’s first half, the Nittany Lions were anything but punchy after the break. Penn State (No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings) got its high-powered offense into gear in the second and roared back for the school’s first victory in the Big Ten Championship game, 38-31, over No. 6 Wisconsin.

The Nittany Lions (11-2) are bound for the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 2009 season and are outright conference champions for the first time in 22 years.  

Penn State trailed by three touchdowns midway through the second quarter but allowed just three points the rest of the night. Quarterback Trace McSorley threw for 384 yards and a title-game record four touchdowns to spark a comeback that saw the Nittany Lions outscore the Badgers 24-3 in the second half. McSorley was named Big Ten Championship game MVP.

Wisconsin missed a 48-yard field goal early in the second half and Penn State needed just 11 seconds to take advantage. McSorley (22 for 31) hit Saeed Blacknall with a 70-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to a touchdown. Saquon Barkley tied it at 28 later in the third with a 1-yard scoring run.

Blacknall ended the night with six catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns while DaeSean Hamilton had eight grabs for 118. 

Wisconsin retook the lead with a short field goal in the final seconds of the third quarter but Penn State went ahead for good on the ensuing drive, which ended with McSorley’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Barkley.

Tyler Davis added a 24-yard field goal later in the fourth and the Penn State defense sealed the victory when Grant Haley stuffed Wisconsin’s Corey Clement on fourth-and-1 with 1:01 to play.

The Nittany Lions fumbled the ball away twice in the opening half — one was returned for a short Badgers touchdown — but only trailed 28-14 at intermission after McSorley hit Blacknall for a 40-yard touchdown with under a minute to play in the half. 

Mike Gesicki caught McSorley’s first scoring pass, a 33-yarder, late in the first quarter.

Clement finished with 164 yards and a touchdown on the ground for the Badgers (10-3), who also got scoring runs from Bradrick Shaw and Dare Ogunbowale. Bart Houston was 16 for 21 for 174 yards. 

Smelling the roses?
Penn State is likely off to Pasadena for the fourth time in school history and is seeking to reach .500 in college football’s longest running postseason game. The Nittany Lions defeated Oregon 38-20 in the 1995 game but fell to Southern California in their other two trips, in 2009 and 1923.

It appears the Trojans might be their opponents once more; No. 4 Washington won the Pac-12 championship Friday night but appears headed for the playoff. The Rose Bowl gets its choice of Pac-12 runner-up Colorado (10-3) or 9-3 USC.

There is a chance Penn State could be selected to the College Football Playoff, but No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Washington all won this weekend, while No. 2 Ohio State was idle. The playoff will be announced at noon on Sunday.

He’s fine
Sophomore running back running back Saquon Barkley showed no ill effects of a right foot injury suffered during a Nov. 26 win over Michigan State. He added the go-ahead touchdown — and another mention in Penn State’s record book — for good measure.

Barkley, who left in the third quarter of Nittany Lions’ penultimate victory, hauled in a touchdown pass from McSorley in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to give Penn State the lead for good. He had a short scoring run earlier in the period.

Barkley broke Evan Royster’s sophomore rushing record with a 19-carry, 83-yard night to push his season total to 1,302 yards. He set the mark for Penn State freshman (1,076) last fall.

Nice run
Wisconsin’s Andrew Endicott’s 23-yard field goal late in the third quarter snapped a shutout streak that had seen Penn State outscore its opponents 82-0 in the second halves of games. The last scoring play before Endicott’s boot came in the second half of a 45-31 win over Indiana on Nov. 12.