Dr. J Has High Hopes for 2011-12 Sixers After Home Opening Victory

Dr. J Has High Hopes for 2011-12 Sixers After Home Opening Victory

Philadelphia is a town that loves to talk about the legendary teams from years past that helped turn our city into the sports-crazed town it is today. The Broad Street Bullies are almost mythical deities at this point. The '93 Phils were the most lovable bunch of dirtballs I've ever cheered for. Buddy Ryan's Eagles are revered like no other team that won so little when it truly mattered. The Allen Iverson-led Eastern Conference Championship team brought an entire city together more so than any in my lifetime.

The new Sixers ownership wasn't kidding with their new tagline -- at least the "Proud" portion of it -- as they showcased their historical greatness in a way never seen at the Wells Fargo Center.

The organization made a big deal about revamping their entire pregame production, including player intros. The Sixers' players that got the loudest ovations for their home opener on Friday night were youngsters Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. Well, that's if you don't count the legends in the building. Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and later Andrew Toney were treated to tremendous applause from the near-sellout crowd of 19,408 at the Wells Fargo Center.

After Bernie Parent, Eric Lindros, Bobby Clarke, and a gaggle of other Flyers legends got tremendous standing O's at the Winter Classic Alumni Game just a few days ago, us Philly sports fans are getting spoiled a bit in terms of getting to cheer our heroes long after their playing days have ended.

The Doc didn't just take in the 96-73 Sixers victory over the lowly Detroit Pistons, he also shared his thoughts on the current iteration of the 76ers, touting them as a team that can really benefit from flying under the radar. Erving said that the fact that they don't have to deal with the hype of teams like the Heat or Lakers, that it can really afford them the luxury of focusing solely on their game.

"Forget about the hype," Julius said. "Just win."

The Doctor also talked about the shortened season and how the condensed schedule will benefit teams with a lot of youth like the Sixers.

"Aside from Elton, they're a bunch of babies out there," Erving said, in a positive way. "They can play back-to-back-to-backs" and not be as exhausted as older teams.

Where did the Doc think this Sixers team could finish this season? Try third in the East.

It wasn't simply about a night for the old legends to come in and see what the kids today play like while the fans are wowed by their being in the building, however. The presence of greatness was not lost on the current Sixers' squad.

"To see some of my old teammates back, it was great to see them be here tonight," Doug Collins said. "For our guys to have a chance to be around greatness, for our fans to recognize those guys. I was so happy Andrew Toney was here. Trying to get him back in the mix. It was a proud night for our franchise. I know the game wasn't pretty. They're not all going to be pretty, but at the end of the day we were able to find a way to win."

Elton Brand, the elder statesman of the team, realizes this isn't the type of thing that happens frequently, "It's a special feeling when you see Dr. J at the game, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney. It was a great feeling to see those guys come back. They haven't been around much at all, at least while I've been here."

Evan Turner, who finished the night with 8 points and 8 boards off the bench, summed the night up pretty nicely.

"It was cool for them to take the time to come to the game. We want to give them a reason to come back," Turner said.

Tonight's Lineup: After hitting 6th Friday, Odubel Herrera moves up to 2-hole

Tonight's Lineup: After hitting 6th Friday, Odubel Herrera moves up to 2-hole

After watching his club get smacked around in a 9-4 loss to the Mets on Friday, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has tinkered with his lineup for Saturday's game at Citi Field.

Odubel Herrera moves up to the two-hole after hitting sixth Friday, while Aaron Altherr goes from second to third and Jimmy Paredes gets the start in left and bats seventh. Ryan Howard starts again at first base and bats fifth.

Herrera, who has been struggling since the All-Star break with a .257 average, has lost his leadoff spot to Cesar Hernandez but is starting to find his swing again.

In the last seven days, Herrera is 5 for 17 with a double and a run scored. In August, the centerfielder is hitting .288 two homers and five RBIs.

Altherr, who played left field Friday, moves over to right field and Peter Bourjos gets the night off. Altherr is hitting .255 with four home runs and 19 RBIs on the season.

Here is the full Phillies lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Aaron Altherr, RF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Jimmy Paredes, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P

For more on tonight's's game, check out Steven Tydings' game notes.

Jake Metz, Soul credit strong 4th-quarter defensive effort for championship win

Jake Metz, Soul credit strong 4th-quarter defensive effort for championship win

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Despite the Soul leading by three touchdowns early in ArenaBowl XXIX, there was little cheering from the their bench.

Given the volatility that is Arena League football and the frequency from which teams can strike, the approach remained resolute and determined. Defensive tackle Jake Metz kept the mindset of a scoreless game and could not stop hearing words coming from Ron Jaworski, a highly vocal partner in the Soul’s ownership.

“He kept yelling that offense gets headlines but defense wins championships,” said Metz, who currently lives in Schwenksville, Montgomery County, and went to Shippensburg University. “That resounded with me, and brought the championship.”

Metz and his defensive teammates then went out and shut down a highly hazardous and explosive Arizona Rattlers offensive unit en route to a 56-42 win (see story). Led by quarter Nick Davila, the only three-time MVP in Arena Football League history, the Rattlers could manage only seven points in a critical fourth quarter.

At the same time, Metz recovered a fumble by Davila with the Soul holding a slim six-point margin with just under six minutes to play. That turnover was the key point in the Soul’s eventual win, and cemented the role of the defense as a shut-down unit.

On the subsequent possession, Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh connected with Shaun Kauleinamoku on a 30-yard scoring strike. That created a 14-point comfort zone and the final margin of victory.

“These players deserve this championship,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said. “This is a first class organization and ownership gives the players a first-class experience. That way, we can attract great players, and with great players comes success.”

In capturing the league title Friday night, the victory was the second in franchise history. In 2008, the Soul and Phillies each won championships, and that was the last time a professional team captured a title in Philadelphia.

Metz remembers the Phillies' win over the Rays, and pointed out, “I went to those games as a kid.” That championship stuck with the 6-foot-6, 265 pounder, and helped to forge a championship mentality.

Early in the fourth quarter, Arizona caught the Soul at 42-42. From that point, Raudabaugh directed two scoring drives, and along with Metz’s important fumble recovery, carried the Soul to the title.

“It’s all about how you respond,” said Raudabaugh, who finished with 20 for 36 for 278 yards and six touchdowns. “Granted, they have a very explosive team, but we were never out it. They did come back, but we had an answer for them.”

The answer was a strong defense which Dolezel indicated was playing at their peak just prior to the title game.

Defensive back Tracy Belton, the AFL defensive player of the year and DB Dwayne Hollis, whose fumble recovery for a touchdown early in the game was another key defensive play, clearly showed how a defense can carry a team to a league title. That was the effort the Soul brought together in an environment as unpredictable as the Arena Football League.

NFL Notes: Romo has broken bone in back; Kaepernick protests anthem

NFL Notes: Romo has broken bone in back; Kaepernick protests anthem

FRISCO, Texas -- Tony Romo is out with yet another back injury and it's unknown when he will return, although Dallas coach Jason Garrett says he expects his star quarterback to play this season.

Garrett said Saturday that Romo sustained a broken bone in his back when he was hit from behind by Seattle's Cliff Avrill and slid awkwardly on the third play of a preseason game.

Romo tried to get back into Thursday's game and said afterward that he was OK. But Garrett said the 36-year-old woke up Friday with stiffness, and an MRI revealed Romo's fourth back injury in less than four years. The injury will not require surgery.

Garrett wouldn't rule out Romo for the regular-season opener Sept. 11 against the New York Giants. Rookie Dak Prescott, a fourth-round pick who has had a strong preseason, is the presumed starter, although Garrett wouldn't acknowledge that either (see full story).

49ers: Kaepernick refuses to stand for anthem in protest
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is refusing to stand for the national anthem before games because he believes the United States oppresses African Americans and other minorities.

Kaepernick sat on the team's bench Friday night during the anthem before the Niners played host to the Green Bay Packers in an exhibition game. He later explained his reasoning in an interview with NFL Media .

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Saturday that "players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem."

The 49ers issued a statement after Pro Football Talk initially reported on Kaepernick's stand, saying that Americans have the right to protest or support the anthem (see full story).

Falcons: Free agent S Dashon Goldson works out with team
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons have given a workout to veteran free-agent safety Dashon Goldson, the former Redskins starter.

The Falcons will be without rookie safety Keanu Neal, the projected starter, for at least the first two regular-season games with a right knee injury.

Coach Dan Quinn said Saturday that backup Kemal Ishmael would fill in for Neal as the starting strong safety even if the team signs Goldson, 31. General manager Thomas Dimitroff says Goldson also has interest from other teams.

The Falcons cut nine players, including backup quarterback Sean Renfree, to reach the roster limit of 75 players on Saturday (see full story).