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.

Eagles-Bengals predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Bengals predictions by our (cough) experts

With their playoff hopes waning, the Eagles (5-6) travel to Cincinnati for a matchup against the struggling Bengals (3-7-1).

The Birds have lost six of their last 8, including two straight. Cincinnati hasn't fared much better, going winless in its last four.

It's time for our (cough) expert predictions for the Week 13 matchup.

Reuben Frank (5-5)
Now that the Eagles' playoff hopes have dwindled down to about a 1-in-12 shot, we'll find out if Doug Pederson can keep this team motivated and sharp for the remaining third of the season. That's a lot of football left to go, and for a team that's lost six of its last eight and five straight on the road, it's not going to be easy. But I do believe the Eagles won't stop playing hard. The effort has been there all along. The Green Bay game got away from them at the end, but for the most part, the losses have been competitive, and the team hasn't shown any signs of quitting. 

Now when you look at the schedule, it's filled with winning teams, division leaders, Hall of Fame quarterbacks and teams coming off byes. Of their last nine opponents, only the Packers currently have a losing record at 5-6. But they have Aaron Rodgers. Which brings us to the Bengals. They're 3-7-1, they're missing their Pro Bowl wide receiver and their starting running back and they've won just two of their last 10 games -- one of them against the Browns. 

Final conclusion: This is a team the Eagles can beat. I see a big game for Wendell Smallwood against the NFL's fifth-worst rush defense and also a big performance from Kenjon Barner with his one weekly carry. The Eagles are 0-3-1 all-time in Cincinnati. But Bobby Hoying beat the Bengals in 1997, and if Bobby Hoying can beat 'em Carson Wentz can. I'm going Eagles 17, Bengals 16 and back to .500 with four games to go.

Eagles 17, Bengals 16

Dave Zangaro (3-8)
The Eagles managed to put up just 13 points against the Packers' swiss cheese defense, so it's hard to imagine they'll suddenly catch fire against a better defense on the road.  

The best chance the Eagles have on offense, is to run the ball early and often, but they're without their top running back Ryan Mathews. That means rookie Wendell Smallwood will become the lead back. 

Oh yeah, did we mention that the Eagles' best receiver, Jordan Matthews, is dealing with an ankle injury that kept him out of practice most of the week? Even if Matthews plays, he might be severely hampered by the ankle. 

No, the Bengals don't pack the same punch as the Packers, but they'll be at home and Andy Dalton is at least a decent quarterback, Jeremy Hill runs hard and Tyler Eifert is a very good tight end. 

The Eagles catch a break with A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard out, but I don't think that's going to be enough. 

Bengals 17, Eagles 15  

Derrick Gunn (4-7)
After their latest two game losing streak where do the Eagles go from here? In their last two outings the Birds have given up 26.5 point per game while scoring just 14 points per game. The offense has lacked big play capability, and the defense hasn't stopped opponents from making key plays (Green Bay was 10 of 14 on 3rd down). Now they take to the road to face a Cincinnati team that is worse off than they are. The Bengals were projected to be serious playoff contenders but have been pretenders with a 3-7-1 record.

To add insult to injury, the Bengals are playing without 40 percent of their offensive production. Their top wideout, A.J. Green, is out with a hamstring injury and RB Giovani Bernard, who's lost for the year with an ACL tear. The Bengals can't score but their defense has been improving over the last three games giving up an average of 18.6 points.

Jordan Matthews' ankle injury could handcuff the Birds' passing attack. Hopefully the defense can get to Dalton who's been sacked 32 times. I can't believe I'm saying this but just call it a hunch: I don't like the Birds in this situation. 

Bengals 16, Eagles 13

Ray Didinger (5-6)
The Cincinnati Bengals have won one game since Sept. 29 and it was against the Cleveland Browns which almost doesn't count. They are currently on an 0-3-1 slide and will miss the playoffs for the first time in six years. Their best receiver, A.J. Green, is hurt and running back Giovani Bernard is lost for the season. Quarterback Andy Dalton fumbled four times in last week's loss to Baltimore. In short, these are not fun times in Cincinnati.

That would seem to bode well for the Eagles but there is that pesky matter of playing on the road (where they have lost five in a row) and the fact they are coming off their worst performance of the season, Monday's home loss to the Packers. The Eagles have scored just 28 points in their last two games while the Bengals have scored 26 so don't look for a lot of offense on Sunday. This could come down to the kickers and if so Caleb Sturgis is a lot better than Mike Nugent who has missed four of his last eight extra-point attempts.
 
Eagles 19, Bengals 13

Andrew Kulp (6-5)
Records aside, these are similar teams right now. The offenses lack weapons, the defenses are OK but flawed and the only way either team can win is ugly.

And ugly this game will likely be. The game comes down to kicks, a battle Caleb Sturgis can win against a struggling Mike Nugent. Bonus prediction: Eagles fans get plenty of chores and projects done around the house during this snoozer.

Eagles 13, Bengals 9

Corey Seidman (5-6)
The over/under is just 42 and I'm not expecting a whole lot of points. 

The Eagles are reeling, the Bengals are reeling, but when it comes down to it the Eagles enter this game healthier and should be able to keep Cincy's offense in check. 

Eifert is the Bengals' most dangerous weapon at the moment and the Eagles have been pretty good defending the seam with Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham and the safeties.

Eagles 20, Bengals 16

Andy Schwartz (5-6)
Just when I thought I had this team figured out, just when I’d evened my record at .500, the Eagles laid an egg.

They did so against a Packers team that had lost four straight. I should have seen it coming. Aaron Rodgers wasn’t going to let the Packers lose five in a row. The Eagles’ defense, despite having played well at home, was at his mercy. 

Now the Birds face another reeling team. Cincy hasn’t won in more than a month. The Bengals have lost three straight after tying the Redskins. 

But the Bengals don’t have Aaron Rodgers. They don’t have A.J. Green or Giovani Bernard either. And they’re not the Packers. They’re the Bengals.

After last week, it’s easy to pick the Eagles to lose. After last week, you wonder if the Eagles will win again this season. 

But the Eagles haven’t lost three straight all year. The pass rush wakes up, the special teams makes a big play, and that helps the offense score three touchdowns.

Eagles 24, Bengals 18

Temple holds off late Penn charge for fifth straight win

usa-temple-penn-cbb.jpg
USA Today Images

Temple holds off late Penn charge for fifth straight win

BOX SCORE

For the last decade, Temple has never lost to Penn in men’s basketball.

That streak nearly came to an end Saturday at the Liacouras Center.

After trailing by as many 17 and by 11 midway through the second half, the Quakers pulled within two before the Owls scored the final six points of the game to survive Penn's upset bid with an exciting 70-62 victory.

Shizz Alston Jr. led the way with 14 points while Obi Enechionyia and Alani Moore II had 12 point apiece for the Owls (6-2), who have now won five straight. 

Ernest Aflakpui added 11 points and 11 rebounds for Temple, which improved to 3-0 in the Big 5 with a date against soon-to-be-No. 1 Villanova looming in 10 days for the city series title. The Owls have won 10 straight against the Quakers.

Senior Matt Howard scored 19 points and freshman AJ Brodeur had 17 for the Quakers (2-4), who dropped their third straight and fell to 0-2 in the Big 5. 

Trailing 46-37 midway through the second half, Penn reeled of a 10-3 run to pull within 50-46. The Quakers got within four twice more but Enechionyia followed with a jumper and an alley-oop slam to push Temple back ahead 58-50 with five minutes left.

After Brodeur blocked an Enechionyia shot and hit a layup to slice Temple’s lead to 64-62 with 1:12 left, the Owls didn’t let the Quakers score again to continue their mastery of their city rival.

Enechionyia, who came into the contest averaging 21 points per game, missed all nine of his shot attempts in the first half but the Owls still controlled things early, jumping out to a 14-2 advantage and taking a 31-22 lead into halftime.

The Quakers shot just 29.2 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from 3-point range in the first half while committing eight turnovers. 

The game was played in front of a relatively small crowd with much of Temple’s attention focused on Annapolis, where the Owls beat Navy for the AAC football championship. 

More to come …