These Guys: Sixers-Celtics for First Time in '11-'12

These Guys: Sixers-Celtics for First Time in '11-'12

We thought it was safe—well, borderline safe—to bury the Celtics earlier
in the season when discussing the Atlantic Division race. The C's were
5-9 through 14 games while the Sixers were 10-4, and the C's were 15-17
through 32 games while the Sixers were 20-12. But now the Celtics have
won five in a row while the Sixers have lost eight of their last ten
(yikes!), meaning that now the two teams are separated by just a game in
the Eastern Conference standings. Yup—if the C's beat the Sixers
tonight, they'll be tied on top of the Atlantic for the first time since
the second week of the season. Spooky.

Reports have it that Nik Vucevic and Evan Turner will be starting for
the Sixers again tonight, as they did in Milwaukee. [UPDATE: Thad Young is sick and will not play this evening, so Coach Collins said he will start Tony Battie to face KG and bring Nik off the bench] To say that the
experiment was not a resounding success on Monday would be a definite
understatement—the two went a combined 4-20 from the field for eight
points in a combined 49 minutes. Howard Eskin
reports that Turner, whose 32 minutes and 1-12 shooting night accounted
for most of that inefficiency, is now going to be a starter for the
remainder of the season—an oddly timed decision if true, considering not
just his lousy Tuesday performance but mysterious concurrent reports from Stan Hochman of the Daily News about "an explanation for Turner’s inconsistent play" which "one of these
days, the team, with Turner’s permission, will reveal...and then the
criticism will back off." Yeah, that's not weird or intriguing or anything.

Both Turner and Coach Collins addressed the mysterious reports before tonight's game, shooting them down entirely.

The Sixers have somehow avoided facing off against the Celtics thusfar
this season, but the two squads will of course meet four times before
seasons' end, and with the gap between the two not being as great as we
may have previously believed, the Ballers' performance in those four
games may end up deciding which of the two teams wins the Atlantic and
guaranteed home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The
C's have won the division easily in every season since Kevin Garnett
joined the team in 2008, and even though their team is older and much
thinner this year than in seasons past—especially up front—they still
have the Big Three and Rajon Rondo, who have proven over their five-game
winning streak to still be deadly when firing on all cylinders as a
foursome. (New add-on Brandon Bass, jump-shooting power forward, is
pretty good too.)

7:00 tip from the WFC. To win this one, we're gonna need a big
rebounding effort up front and some major defensive scrambling against
the prolific and ball-sharing C's—not to mention some much-overdue
late-game offensive production. “We shot 13 for 49 from the floor in the
second half," Coach Collins pointed out about Tuesday's performance in
Milwaukee. “I
mean, come on. Who are you going to beat?” Not many teams, and certainly
not the reigning Atlantic champ Celtics. Gotta beat the man to be the
man, ya know.

Baylor introduces Matt Rhule as head coach with campus celebration

Baylor introduces Matt Rhule as head coach with campus celebration

WACO, Texas -- Matt Rhule views his new job at Baylor as a calling, and with the passion of a pastor delivered a message of moving forward with the Bears.

The son of a minister and football coach, Rhule was formally introduced Wednesday as coach at the world's largest private Baptist university, and a Big 12 Conference program that has dealt with the fallout of a scandal.

"When the call came to come here, we came," Rhule said, talking for more than 15 minutes after being introduced to a crowd about 2,000 Baylor supporters. "And we came because we have one purpose ... to develop and work with these young people. I'm here to coach football, and I'm here to be the best partner that I can for Baylor."

The 41-year-old Rhule got a seven-year contract from Baylor after back-to-back 10-win seasons at Temple, where he spent 10 of the past 11 seasons. On the same day he was introduced in Waco, Rhule ran full-page ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer thanking Temple University, Owls fans and the city of Philadelphia.

His immediate task at Baylor is to start recruiting since the Bears, already with a depleted roster, have only one player verbally committed for signing day in February. There are only days before a quiet period in recruiting starts Monday.

"Kids are reaching out left and right, they want to come to Baylor," Rhule said after the formal introduction. "They just needed some answers first."

After a search with many rumored candidates, athletic director Mack Rhoades said Rhule, who the AD knew from his days at Houston and in the same conference with Temple, was the "only person we offered the job to."

Rhoades, who became Baylor's AD in August, said he texted Rhule after Temple beat Navy last weekend to congratulate him on winning the American Athletic Conference title. They later met, and Rhoades said it took only about 30 minutes before he knew in his gut, his heart and his mind that he had found the Bears new coach.

"This is a strong leader," Rhoades said. "This is somebody with great vision who's going to demand excellence, demand accountability. I love the toughness. So it was all of those things wrapped up."

Acting head coach Jim Grobe got a standing ovation when he was introduced.

Grobe and his staff, assistants retained from former coach Art Briles' staff, will coach the Bears (6-6) when they take on Boise State in the Cactus Bowl on Dec. 27, the same day Temple plays Wake Forest in the Military Bowl.

Rhule becomes the full-time replacement for two-time Big 12 champion coach Briles, who was dismissed after a scathing report over the university's handling of sexual assault complaints, including some against football players.

An investigation by the Pepper Hamilton law firm determined that the school mishandled assault claims for years. The firm's report in May led to the immediate suspension of Briles, who had eight years left on his contract and reached an undisclosed settlement with the school a month later.

A former Penn State linebacker (1994-97) under Joe Paterno, Rhule said the possibility of NCAA sanctions for Baylor weren't even an issue for him.

"Just having lived through that at my alma mater, you never know what has to happen, what's going to happen," Rhule said. "I think I just trust our leadership and say, whatever happens, these kids need a good coach. I think I can be that coach for them."

Rhule, a professed Christian, was wearing a newly purchased green tie for the introduction that Baylor called a campus celebration.

The football team sat in section near the raised podium where Rhule spoke.

As for putting together a coaching staff, Rhule said he had about 480 text messages within two hours after his hiring had been announced. He said he hadn't had a chance to meet yet with the current Baylor assistants, and didn't rule out the possibility of some being retained.

NCAA president Mark Emmert 'pleased' to see Penn State thriving again

ap-psu-team-celebrate.jpg
Associated Press

NCAA president Mark Emmert 'pleased' to see Penn State thriving again

NEW YORK -- NCAA President Mark Emmert says he is pleased to see how well Penn State's football team has bounced back from the sanctions the program received in 2012 after the Sandusky scandal.

No. 5 Penn State (11-2) is having its best season since Jerry Sandusky, a longtime assistant of late Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno, was arrested in 2011 for sexually abusing boys. The Nittany Lions won their last nine games and the Big Ten title.

"I think it's terrific," said Emmert, who spoke at an intercollegiate athletics forum sponsored by Learfield Communications on Wednesday in Manhattan.

"I think what Penn State went through is an awful situation and it's still playing out sadly. But the football program is still Penn State and they showed it and they did really well. The university has done an amazing job to put in place all of the things their board wanted and our board wanted."

The NCAA went outside its usual process to sanction Penn State in 2012. The school was hit with massive scholarship limitations and a four-year bowl ban, along with fines. The school also agreed to enact dozens of reforms recommended in a report by former FBI director Louis Freeh on the scandal.

The original scholarship and postseason penalties were eventually rolled back. Emmert said he was pleased the roll back helped Penn State recover more quickly, and that NCAA sanctions are not meant to cripple an athletic program.

"I've always said and always believed that Penn State first and foremost is a great university ... and secondly it's got wonderful sports traditions. How could you not be pleased that they're playing good football again? That's very good stuff," he said.

Emmert covered numerous topics in a 30-minute question-and-answer session, and after he spoke with group of reporters for 15 more minutes.

-- He declined to weigh in on whether the College Football Playoff selection committee made the right decision with the four teams it chose to compete for the national championship, but he did say he would prefer an eight-team playoff that would include automatic bids for the Power Five conference champions.

"I think a conference championship ought to count for something. I think how you determine your champion is up to somebody else," Emmert said. "I'd like to see all five of the conference champions get in the playoff."

The NCAA has no authority over the College Football Playoff.

"That's why we live in America. Everybody can have an opinion," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany joked, when asked about Emmert's comments. "He doesn't have a vote, though."

-- Emmert said he would like to see the new NCAA football oversight committee better define the purpose of bowl games. There are 40 and some spots are given to teams with sub.-500 records. The NCAA does not run bowl games. It does have a sanctioning process, but mostly it lets conferences decide whether they want to put on games.

"What do we, the membership of intercollegiate athletics, want bowl games to be?" Emmert said. "Are they a 13th game that's an exhibition game? Are they a reward for having won something? We have teams in now that can get into a bowl game having won two or three of their conferences games."

-- The NCAA pulled its championship events out of North Carolina in September because of a state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The decision was later criticized by Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins in an Wall Street Journal op-ed. Jenkins said the NCAA should not be a moral arbiter.

"He and I have chatted a lot about that issue, and obviously I disagree and obviously, more importantly the board of governors disagreed," Emmert said.
The NCAA will choose sites for future championship events in April and part of that is a "fairly complex process," Emmert said, of looking at the local and state laws of potential host locations.

"One of the considerations we have now as we make those decisions, as the sport committees make decisions about where they go, is going to be LGBT rights," he said. "I think and hope and believe, maybe wishfully, that North Carolina will modify their position because citizens want that."

-- Emmert said the Big 12 deciding not to expand was a "good thing for college sports."

"I think the last round was very disruptive. It had a negative impact on so many schools, even personal relationships. It was hard and I'm glad we didn't have to go through that again. Even on a smaller scale," Emmert said.