Kate Fagan Has an Idea or Two as to Why the Sixers Are Struggling Down the Stretch Updated with Collins' Reported Response

Kate Fagan Has an Idea or Two as to Why the Sixers Are Struggling Down the Stretch Updated with Collins' Reported Response

We can't say we weren't warned about this. But Doug was back, and he was excited, and he was sweating profusely and the Sixers were winning -- so it didn't make much sense to worry that exactly what turned the team around could one day put it back in the tank.
Doug Collins has a history of turning around young, disoriented rosters and making them play better almost right away. But he quickly wears out his welcome by over-coaching, over-pushing and being over-demanding as the players begin to mature and no longer need his constant guidance nor, for that matter, approval.
You've heard some variation of that before, right? Well, Kate Fagan has put it in more specific terms and is offering it, amongst others reasons, as an explanation for why the bottom appears to be falling out from beneath this Sixers team.
With Kate having moved on from the local media holdings to the WWL, she still offers thoughts about the Sixers on her personal blog, where she wrote this explanation of what's happening between Doug and his players:

"The Sixers have been struggling with [Collins' style as described above] for at least a month, if not longer. This has led to heated interactions, sometimes even in the middle of games. On more than one occasion, players have let Collins know — during a game — that they’re sick of the relentless nitpicking. This incessant nagging (or even the perception of it) leads to fractured relationships. The Sixers have reached the point where, at least some of them, have addressed this issue with Collins. Has it reached the point of tuning him out? At times.

Fagan goes on to note how Doug has attempted to cede more autonomy to the players at certain moments, but can quickly return to harping on "every play, every cut, and every missed screen" even just a day later.
A concern also exists in her mind over the face of the franchise, and how there's, you know, like six of them. Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand. Three of these guys are fresh, young, marketable faces. The other three are veterans who have in many cases expended their good will (especially that the-fans-condone-murder-Lou-Williams-can't-guard-anybody guy).
Once more from Fagan:

"When the new ownership took over, they made it clear that Jrue Holiday (and to some extent Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young) was the new face of the franchise. Where did that leave Iguodala and Brand? It left them knowing the franchise was heading in the other direction, but still they remained the two highest-paid players on the team."

I've been of the opinion that trading Iguodala and or amnestying Brand or anything of the sort isn't an immediate necessity unless the franchise is willing to either sit on that cap space, or is making those moves because they have a specific player or players in mind to bring in and need to clear the room to make it happen. Otherwise, it's just fan appeasement that could only lead to further appeasement when the team blows the newly created space on a Chris Webber-Glenn Robinson-or-(sorry, big guy)-Elton Brand type.
But Fagan thinks it's enough of an issue that it's pulling the locker room in two very separate and equally unsuccessful directions.
Moving back to Doug for a minute, outside of Stan Hochman's random, ominous, almost-omissions, we still haven't gotten much of an answer for what's going on between the coach and Turner. Though, if you look at the way Evan succeeds on the basketball floor, and if you've been around him a bit, heard him speak or even just followed him on Twitter, it's easy to see him as the type who would appreciate the freedom to just be himself in whatever it is he's doing at that moment.
Don't get me wrong: I really like Doug Collins and I think he is one hell of a basketball coach. But the more I watch him, and the more I read takes like Fagan's, the more it's hard not to think Doug isn't better suited for a role at the college level -- where the guys are, for the most part, just more willing to be picked apart, regardless of how overbearing a coach may or may not be.
So Kate's calling it a clash between the players and the coach and the players and the other players. Funny, we were just ready to blame the roster and its inability to get to the foul line.
Update:Howard Eskin was, for some reason, at Sixers practice today, and heard coach Collins talk about the former beat writer's take on his team. Though we weren't there to vouch, Doug seems none too pleased: #embedly_twitter_78537553{background:url(http://a0.twimg.com/profile_background_images/390592333/howard2.JPG) #336666; padding:20px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 0px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .embedly_tweet_content{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:0px;height:40px; padding-bottom: 12px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p span.metadata span.author{line-height:15px;color:#999;font-size:14px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p span.metadata span.author a{line-height:15px;font-size:20px;vertical-align:middle} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p span.metadata span.author img{float:left;margin:0 10px 0 0px;width:48px;height:48px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p a {color: #0084B4; text-decoration:none;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 p a:hover{text-decoration:underline} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .embedly_timestamp{font-size:13px;display:inline-block;margin-top: 5px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .components-above span.embedly_timestamp{font-size:10px;margin-top: 1px;line-height:12px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 a {color: #0084B4; text-decoration:none;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 a:hover{text-decoration:underline} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-screen-name {font-size: 14px; font-weight: bold;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-full-name {padding-left: 4px; color: #999; font-size: 12px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-actions{margin-left: 10px;font-size:13px;display:inline-block;width:250px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .components-above span.tweet-actions{font-size:10px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .controls{line-height:12px!important} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-actions a {margin-left:5px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-actions a b{font-weight:normal} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .components-above span.tweet-actions a b{vertical-align:baseline;line-height:12px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .components-above .tweet-text{font-size:13px;vertical-align:baseline} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-image {float: left; width: 40px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-user-block-image {float: left; width: 48px; height: 48px} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-row {margin-left: 40px; margin-top: 3px;line-height: 17px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .tweet-user-block {margin-left: -40px;} #embedly_twitter_78537553 .stream-item {padding-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 12p
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@howardeskin
Howard Eskin Sixers Coach Doug Collins criticises former Sixers beat writer @katefagen3 for writing on personal blog sez losing team. Collins sez show up
Apr 06 via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

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@howardeskin
Howard Eskin Collins sez @katefagan3 sez she got nothing to support her comments. She doesn't even cover nba.
Apr 06 via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

It's now officially a he-said-she-said, even if not in that order.

Provorov, Schenn shine in Flyers' last scrimmage before preseason

Provorov, Schenn shine in Flyers' last scrimmage before preseason

VOORHEES, N.J. – Five games.

That’s what the Flyers are facing this coming week, which is why coach Dave Hakstol had his players involved in a full scrimmage Sunday morning at Skate Zone.

“I like it better than practicing,” offered Michael Raffl. “A little more action. A little physical and it gets you in game shape. I enjoyed it.”

The Flyers have two split-squad games on Monday – one in New Jersey against the Devils and other in Brookyln against the Islanders.

The scrimmage was up-tempo. So much so, Raffl and defenseman Will O’Neill were involved in a dangerous collision in the left corner that could have been disastrous with both players getting up slowly, but uninjured, on a puck chase.

“I don’t know, I was coming in hard,” Raffl said. “At first, I thought about playing the body and then I didn’t want to. So I was mixed in-between trying to slow down and there was a lot of contact as I fell into the boards. I felt fine afterwards.”

Raffl hit his neck awkwardly and was lucky to be uninjured. O’Neill took the hit.

“I went into the wall and knew he was coming and tried to be strong on my feet,” said O’Neill, a free agent signed over the summer. “Contact play in a bad area. Tough part of the ice.”

Hakstol held his breath there.

“It could have turned out differently,” he said. “It was kinda awkward play. You’re always happy to see him pop up and come out for another shift right after that.”

Raffl’s gray team won the scrimmage, 2-1, with rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov setting up a play that resulted in Brayden Schenn’s game-winning goal from Wayne Simmonds.

“Good tempo, competitiveness … kind like the first few days where tempo and work levels were good,” Hakstol said of the scrimmage. “It tends to be a little scrambly in those first scrimmages.”

Jordan Weal centered the top line with Schenn on the left. Hakstol has Schenn on the left right now to get him used to playing there again. Once Claude Giroux returns from the World Cup of Hockey, the top line of Schenn-Giroux-Simmonds will be reunited.

“I made the play up there to Simmer and a nice pass by Provy to me and then Simmer back door to Schenn,” Weal said of the game-winning goal. “It felt good ... I’ve played just one game in nine months.

“I’m just trying to get a feel for being on the right side of pucks. It’s not going to come in the first game.”

Weal was impressed with Provorov.

“He’s a really good player,” he said. “You can see it in his skating, his passing. He’s got a lot of confidence. He tore up the WHL and that’s a great league. It’s going to be exciting to see him moving forward.”

Hakstol rated Provorov as “solid and efficient” in the scrimmage.

Loose pucks
Steve Mason worked with Carter Hart in goal … Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz worked for the black team. Mason didn’t give up a goal. “We have eight exhibitions on the schedule and I will get into three or four of those,” he said. “By the time those wrap up, I’ll be where I want to be. Right now, I am feeling great which is a good start.” … Hakstol said Mason won’t play on Monday … Rookie forward Travis Konecny sat the scrimmage out (maintenance day). He said he was given a day off, but Konecny was receiving treatment by the medical staff on Saturday. “I see the trainer every day, I’m fine,” he said. Konecny should play in one of the split-squad games on Monday … Greg Carey had the other goal for the gray squad; Nicolas (cq) Aube-Kubel had the lone goal for the black squad … The defense rotated for both teams. Provorov was with Philippe Myers much of the game … Jakub Voracek practiced on his own. He won’t see action in the first three games and neither will Shayne Gostisbehere because of the World Cup, Hakstol said ... The scrimmage consisted of  two, 25-minute periods with a running clock. Sounds like the Public League, no?

Alec Asher's two-seamer shines in another effective outing

Alec Asher's two-seamer shines in another effective outing

NEW YORK -- Alec Asher’s two-seamer was nearly perfect against the Mets on Saturday night — even if the pitching line was attached to his name was decidedly less so.

The rookie exited after five innings with four unearned runs attached to his name — two Phillies’ throwing errors on playable ground balls will do that — but lowered his ERA to 1.66 in a 10-8 victory that was far, far closer than it needed to be.

Lost in the shuffle of the Phillies bullpen’s attempt at self-immolation was just how effective Asher’s newly-developed two-seam fastball was in the early innings against the Mets’ full lineup. The relatively slow pitch — it was sitting around 90 MPH Saturday — generated six popouts during his perfect first trip through the batting order.

“Being able to throw a pitch that’s not straight works wonders,” Asher said. “Last year, I didn’t really have success throwing the four-seam, so just adding that little bit of movement misses barrels, [generates] mishits and gave me a lot of ground balls and weak contact, which is all I can ask for.”

Opponents are batting just .182 off Asher’s two-seamer in his four starts this year, according to data from Fangraphs.com, a complete 180 from his disastrous September call-up in 2015.

In his first major league starts, Asher struggled to establish a mound presence with a four-seamer that nearly touched 95 MPH. Opponents batted .250 and got seven extra-base hits off the four seamer as Asher finished 2015 with an ugly 9.31 ERA.

The Phillies challenged Asher to generative more movement on the pitch and he returned in Spring Training with an entirely new repertoire.

So far, the effort has paid off.

“It’s outstanding. It’s been a real good pitch for him and his changeup,” manager Pete Mackanin said of Asher’s two-seamer. “He didn’t have either pitch last year, and for him to come up with it over the course of the winter and throw those pitches so effectively is huge.”

Asher relied on the changeup to escape the fifth inning — the only high-stress situation he faced all evening.

With four runs already in, a fifth runner poised on third base and a Citi Field crowd beside itself in hopes of a miracle comeback, Asher got pinch-hitter James Loney to top a low changeup out of the zone down the first base line that Tommy Joseph stopped with a dive.

“[I wanted] just to slow the game down and take it pitch by pitch,” Asher said.

Even if Saturday wound up being perhaps a bit more frantic than he would have liked to be, Asher has developed a formula for future success as he prepares for his final start of the season next Friday — also against the Mets — and 2017.

“Just establishing the fastball, commanding both sides of the plate and changing speeds,” he said.

His two-run single in the first inning on Saturday night — his first two career RBIs and, ultimately, the winning margin — was a bonus.

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