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.

College hoops wrap: Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue

College hoops wrap: Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue

Villanova headlined Philly college basketball action today with a 78-68 win over Providence, led by Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins (see full recap). The win is dampened with the news that Phil Booth is increasingly unlikely to return this season as he still deals with knee discomfort (see story).

Here's a snapshot from the rest of area hoops today.

Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The way it played this week, No. 21 Purdue is acting like a team that is determined to be in the race for the Big Ten championship all the way to the end of the regular season.

Caleb Swanigan had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Purdue built an 18-point halftime lead and coasted to a 77-52 victory over Penn State on Saturday, four days after shooting 60.4 percent in a 91-68 victory against Illinois.

Against Penn State, the Boilermakers (16-4, 5-2) got 13 points from freshman guard Carsen Edwards and 10 each from Dakota Mathias and Vince Edwards.

"I would just say we were coming out ready to play," said Vince Edwards, who added seven rebounds and three assists. "Our goal is to win the Big Ten. Our focus is to take care of business."

Josh Reaves led Penn State (11-9, 3-4) with 12 points. The Nittany Lions made only 20 of 64 field goal attempts (31.3 percent) and were outrebounded 39-30. Purdue shot 56.6 percent (30 of 53) (see full recap).

Drexel drops road game at CAA-leading UNC Wilmington
WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Devontae Cacok scored 12 points and set a Colonial Athletic Association record with 24 rebounds, helping UNC Wilmington stay perfect in conference with an 87-74 win over Drexel on Saturday.

Cacok, whose previous career-high rebounding was 16, broke the school record (21) and conference record (22) late in the second half as the Seahawks cruised to their ninth straight home win, tying the best mark in program history.

UNC Wilmington (19-2, 8-0) led 53-51 with 15:01 left before four players combined to rattle off 12 straight points. Cacok capped the run with one of his 11 offensive rebounds and a dunk to give the Seahawks a 65-51 lead with 11:23 remaining.

UNC Wilmington is off to its best start ever and has won 24 of its last 26 conference games, including 12 straight. Chris Flemmings led the Seahawks with 17 points.

Sammy Mojica had 15 points and Rodney Williams added 14 for Drexel (7-13, 1-6), which has lost seven of eight (see full recap).

Delaware swept in season series with Towson
NEWARK, Del. -- Mike Morsell and Arnaud William Adala Moto pulled down a dozen boards as Towson won its fourth straight and a season sweep of Delaware with a 75-58 win on Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers are fresh off a win over Hofstra that saw them erase a 16-point first-half deficit, and momentum carried over when they built a 17-point lead at halftime.

Alex Thomas and John Davis added 13 and 12 points, respectively, but Towson saw its streak of three-straight games shooting better than 50 percent end. The Tigers hit 26 of 55 shots from the floor (47.3 percent), including 6 of 15 from deep.

Delaware snapped a six-game losing streak Thursday with a win over Northeastern. Ryan Daly scored 21 points for Delaware and became the first freshman in school history to post six 20-plus efforts in a season. He reached double-digits for the 12th time in 13 games (see full recap).