Boo You Huskies: Sixers Creamed By Wolves at Home

Boo You Huskies: Sixers Creamed By Wolves at Home

So that happened. Of all the many remarkable things about this 105-88
Sixers loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the most remarkable might be
this: Starting Minny frontcourt Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic scored a
combined 12 points. If you saw "Wolves 105, Sixers 88" in a box score in
your local paper, you'd probably think "OK, that makes sense—Love and
Pekovic must've eaten the Sixers alive inside, since Philly has
virtually no frontcourt." But no, just 12 points—and only 15 rebounds
combined too, so it's not like they offensive-boarded the Sixers to
death either. How the hell do the Sixers lose by 17 to the Wolves—who,
by the way, are still missing about half their roster to injury—when
their primary advantage goes almost totally unabused?

Well,
hitting 13 threes helps. Though Love and Pekovic didn't score or board
to their standards, that's not to say they weren't essential to the
Wolves' attack—they set some massive screens with their big bodies that
the Sixers' backcourt, particularly Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, found
absolutely impossible to navigate around, springing their guards for
some inconceivably open looks from beyond and elsewhere. (Not that Jrue
and ET necessarily did their best to get around them, either.) Suddenly,
the likes of Josh Howard, Malcolm Lee and Derrick Williams were
lighting it up—seven Wolves scored in double figures, and again, neither
were Love or Pekovic, their two leading scorers per game.

And
as the Wolves bombed away from three, the Sixers found themselves unable
to answer in a similar fashion. The sixth-best three-point-shooting
team in the league went 5-20 from three tonight, with the team's
arguable two best deep threats, Jrue and Jason Richardson, combining to
go 0-7. (Remarkably, Evan's hot three-point shooting continued tonight,
with the Extraterrestrial going 2-4 from deep.) Add to that a miserable
13-23 performance at the free-throw line, and the Sixers never had a
shot to keep up with the Wolves on offense, as their defense kept being
gashed for uncontested jumpers.

Now, to a certain extent, the
Wolves were just white-hot, and got a little lucky tonight—they entered
the game the worst three-point-shooting team in the league, so even with
a shambolic Sixers defensive effort, they probably wouldn't make that
many threes most nights. (One from Josh Howard that bounced off and in
after the Sixers opened the third with a quick four points was
particularly back-breaking.) But the lack of fight from the Sixers to
contend on defense, especially in the first half as the game quickly
slipped away from them, has to be seen as disturbing, and certainly
Coach Collins thought so, forgoing his traditional opening remarks at
his post-game conference and expressing frustration and confusion at the
team's lack of effort.

Looking for positives, the team's
starting lineup again scored fairly well, with four of five in double
figures, and Evan Turner leading the way with 19, though he needed 20
shots to do it. You could see Evan's jumper slipping away over the
course of this game, and his confidence along with it, looking
frustrated after just missing a couple good looks and badly missing a
couple free throws—never a good sign with Evan, who has been relatively
steady from the stripe this season. Both Evan and Jrue were guilty of
offensive stagnation tonight, and Malik and Zumoff were killing them for
taking too many quick jumpers in the half-court, without allowing for
any kind of play to develop. (Jrue ended with just 13 on as many shots,
though he did have nine assists.)

But it wasn't really the
starting lineup that killed them in this game, at least not on offense.
The bench was absolutely miserable, being outscored by Minny's reserves
57-22. As much as the Sixers could use the development of a young backup
point guard, Maalik Wayns has just been awful on both sides of the ball
in limited minutes this season, ending tonight with two points on 1-6
shooting. Spencer Hawes was nearly as bad, filling out the box score a
little in garbage time but failing to really contribute anything of
substance with the game actually on. Is this really the same guy who was
our best offensive player the first week or two of the season? How
could he possibly suck this badly now? Anyway, you'd neverthink the team
would miss Nick Young so badly, but somebody has to score off this bench.

Next
up, we have a home-and-home in back-to-back nights with the Celtics. At
10-8, the sky is hardly falling for the Sixers, but with two losses in a
row and the schedule only getting harder from here, Philly really needs
to win one of those two games against Boston to keep their head above
water. Otherwise, we might be heading for lottery balls sooner than
you'd think.

Stay or Go Part 8: Ryan Mathews to Steven Means

Stay or Go Part 8: Ryan Mathews to Steven Means

In the eighth of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — Part 8 is Mathews to Means.

Ryan Mathews
Cap hit: $5M

Roob: The Eagles have to get better, younger, faster, healthier, more durable and more reliable at running back. I love the way Mathews runs when he’s healthy. The guy runs hard and he runs physical and he runs aggressive. Then he always gets hurt. Mathews actually has the third-highest per-carry average among running backs in Eagles history, but they just can’t rely on him anymore. How can you count on a running back who misses significant time every year? Time to move on. Factor in the cap savings — $4 million if the Eagles release him — and it’s a no-brainer.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The Eagles can save $4 million in cap room to cut the running back who needed serious neck surgery after his season was ended in the Giants game. Mathews played pretty well in his two seasons with the Eagles, but, as has been the case during his career, health was an issue. And now he’s 29 and will turn 30 early into next season. Time to move on. 

Verdict: GOES

Jordan Matthews
Cap hit: $1.57M

Roob: Matthews is going into Year 4 and I’d still like to see him make a jump and become a 1,200-yard type of receiver. Maybe it will happen with another year under his belt with Carson Wentz. Matthews has the 11th-most catches in NFL history by a player in his first three seasons — 225, or 75 per year — but his 2,673 yards are 50th most. Matthews is as hard a worker and as committed a player as you’ll see. He'll get the most out of his ability. I’d just like to see him take his game up one more level, and I think he will.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It’s a shame the Eagles don’t have any legitimate threats at their outside receiver positions, because if they did, so much of the burden wouldn’t fall on Matthews. No, he’s not a great receiver, but he’s a very good one who has been solid in his first three years in the league. In his first three seasons, Matthews has 225 catches for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns. There have been just 10 receivers in the league to put up those numbers or better: Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins, Emmanuel Sanders, Doug Baldwin, Mike Evans, Randall Cobb and Brandon Marshall. Matthews isn’t going anywhere and it’s time to think about an extension. 

Verdict: STAYS

Alex McCalister
Cap hit: $557K

Roob: McCalister, a seventh-round defensive end, spent the year on injured reserve but considering the Eagles’ lack of pass-rush potency, he’ll definitely get a look this summer. McCalister had 17½ sacks at Florida, so he’s got that going for him. Still a long shot.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: This is tough because McCalister was a seventh-round draft pick who was placed on IR with a injury that didn’t appear to be serious. The last year was a redshirt season for the defensive end who has some pass-rush ability but needed to work on packing more muscle onto his frame. Haven’t seen enough to think he sticks. 

Verdict: GOES

Leodis McKelvin
Cap hit: $3.45M

Roob: The Eagles have to do better than McKelvin. He made a few plays, gave up a lot more, and as far as I’m concerned, the Eagles should hang onto Jalen Mills and get rid of all their other corners. Not to mention the $3.2 million in cap savings the Eagles would gain if McKelvin is released. See ya.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The Eagles can save $3.2 million by cutting McKelvin, which will probably happen. If it doesn’t, it’ll be because the Eagles think his lingering hamstring issue played a big role in his play and because defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz goes to bat for him. Ultimately, I think McKelvin’s days in Philly are over. 

Verdict: GOES

Rodney McLeod
Cap hit: $5.6M

Roob: McLeod played really well most of the season, tailed off the last few weeks, and goes into next year a question mark because of that inconsistency. When he’s right, McLeod is a sure tackler, willing run supporter, big hitter and capable in coverage. But those last few weeks raised some eyebrows. There were times you just wondered what he was doing out there. If the Eagles can have the first-10-games McLeod for a full season, they’re fine. But he has to be consistent. He’ll be here through 2017 but after that is anybody’s guess. Another mixed year will likely spell the end here for McLeod.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: There were a few plays that showed questionable effort from McLeod this season, which was shocking based on his past. He was an undrafted rookie who worked his way into the league and into a contract with the Eagles. This ended up being a pretty good signing; he had a nice season. He’s under contract through 2020 and the Eagles hope he hasn’t yet fulfilled his potential. He and Malcolm Jenkins should only get better after more time playing together. 

Verdict: STAYS

Steven Means
Cap hit: $690K

Roob: Means, a veteran journeyman defensive end, played only 36 snaps all year. He did pick up one sack against the Vikings, but as far as his future? Most likely, he won’t be back.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Means did everything in his power last training camp to make the 2016 roster. He flashed every day and in the preseason games. But in 2016, he didn’t get to play very much and was clearly buried on the depth chart behind Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Marcus Smith. The Eagles need to upgrade at the defensive end spot, which might be bad news for Means if more bodies come in. But for now, he's a good depth piece. 

Verdict: STAYS

Temple names Keith Gaither wide receivers coach

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USA Today inage

Temple names Keith Gaither wide receivers coach

Temple head coach Geoff Collins on Monday added two new members to his coaching staff.

Keith Gaither will take over as the wide receivers’ coach and Kyle Lane is the new video coordinator. 

Gaither comes to Temple with 21 years of coaching experience. He spent last season as Army's wide receivers coach. Prior to that, he spent time with Tusculum College (1998-99), Thomasville City Schools (2000-04), Winston-Salem State (2005-08), Elon (2009-10) and Ball State (2010-14).

Gaither spent his collegiate career at Elon, where he was a four-year starter and voted all-region at defensive end before graduating in 1997. Collins originally had retained Frisman Jackson from the 2016 staff, but Jackson was hired by the Tennessee Titans. 

Lane is a Temple alum who spent time with Kansas during the 2016 season as its assistant video coordinator.