Checking In With the 76ers In Week Four of the Lockout

Checking In With the 76ers In Week Four of the Lockout

Yeah, yeah, football football football. Bully for them for getting their
act together with time to spare before the 2011 NFL regular season is
to start, but for those of us more concentrated on the upcoming NBA
season—there's probably a handful of us somewhere, maybe in Los Angeles
and Miami—it's hard to get too excited about football's return when
resolution in pro hoops still seems so far away. Who cares about Kevin
Kolb and Brett Favre when the Sixers don't even know if they're going to
be able to re-sign Tony Battie next year?

There's no particularly promising news on that front to my
knowledge, so the best I can do for you guys is to keep you posted as to
what the boys on the team have been up to while locking out is still in
effect. Here's the lowdown on how some of our guys have been keeping
themselves busy.

Andre Iguodala:

Enrico already told you about 'Dre's aspirations towards business management
(and possibly some dabbling in civil activism), and aside from his
summer reading list, he's also doing some training and made a cameo at
Sweet Lou's kiddie hoops camp. But most of what AI9 has been doing is
listening to pop music, and sharing his opinions about it via his new
Twitter account. Some pearls:

On Lady Gaga: "What do @ladygaga be talkin bout that got her 11.6
million followers???...11.6 million followers??? No one MAN should have all that power!!! ( #kanyevoice)"

On Watching ?uestlove DJ in Brooklyn: "It's mad eccentric in this joint...but I can dig it"

On Big Sean and 21st Century Music Storage: "Big Sean on his way, his cd dope...I said "cd" like I have the actual thing! Album I should say...my bad.."

On Beyoncé: "This beyonce album is the perfect shower music #isaidit...isaidit !"

Oh, and he and ET should be checking the Chicago date of Jay-Z and Kanye's Watch the Throne
tour. So if you're at the United Center show on Oct. 6th, keep an eye
out for two dorkily dressed six-and-a-half footers with awkward (and
oddly overlapping) dance moves. Can't miss 'em.

Evan Turner:

Speaking of the Extraterrestrial, he's had the most high-profile training regimen in this off-season, thanks to his working out
with renowned shot doctor Herb McGee, who's trying to get the Kid to
use his guiding hand less on his jumper. Good on Evan for putting in
work, though if he's actually hoping on being able to keep up his career
rate of shooting 50% from the field, he might want to think about
playing in a different basketball league than the NBA. (No high-usage
two guards besides Dwyane Wade even approach 50% in the pros, and
crossover moves aside, Turner's no D-Wade.)

Besides that, the Villain has also been tweeting up a storm, learning about the manipulativeness of girls (awww, Evan!!), singing along to the Backstreet Boys (does anyone actually think "Shape of My Heart" is a classic, though?) and begging for rides
to the Waffle House (bro, there's probably an IHOP within walking
distance). If the lockout continues, Evan and 'Dre might eventually have
a Russian novel between them, composed haltingly in 140-character
installments.

Jrue Holiday:

Now that he's done supporting girlfriend Lauren Cheney
on the US Women's Soccer team (losers), The Damaja is putting in time
for the kids out on the West Coast. The Sixers' point guard held his
first-ever kids basketball camp
in Porter Ranch, California this week, and is prepping another camp at
the SuperGym in Los Angeles in Early August. Featuring special guests
Shawn Marion and John Wall! Watch the awkward promo below. ("Sepulveda?") :

Oh, and not to be left out of the team's pop love on Twitter, he's also been quoting Drake, though saying you ain't went this hard since you was 18 doesn't mean so much when you were 18 like, a year ago.

Thaddeus Young:

The boy Thaddeus has perhaps the most
to anticipate about the lockout ending, given his imminent free agency
and his likelihood to demand a yearly salary in the high-seven /
low-eight digits on the open market. "I think I’m definitely underrated
by many people after all these years," Thad told HoopsHype
recently. "There’s a lot of different aspects to my game: I can take
guys
one-on-one, I can play guys out, I can dridbble… There’s a lot of
things I can do out there." There are indeed, but whether that's enough
for the Sixers to match whatever exorbitant offer he might end up
getting—under what might be a pretty restrictive salary cap by
then—remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Thad says that he'd "like to stay with
Philadelphia, the team drafted me," but qualifies that "my mindset is
that anything can happen." To be continued...

Spencer Hawes:

This guy did this:

Yikes. Basketball really can't get back here soon enough.

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jayson Tatum lights up Virginia, Wake Forest

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jayson Tatum lights up Virginia, Wake Forest

We're have just a few weeks left in the college basketball regular season, so everyone is looking for a big win. Or in the case of a top prospect, a big performance to show all the scouts.

Let's take a look at whose stock rose and whose fell this week among eight top freshmen.

Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke (6-8/204)
America is finally seeing the Jayson Tatum that was highly touted coming into his one-and-done stint with the Blue Devils. The move to power forward has ignited his game and helped catapult Duke in its seven-game winning streak. His line Saturday against Wake Forest — 19 points on 6 for 11 shooting, 3 of 5 from three, and seven rebounds — was pretty good and he made some clutch free throws to clinch the win.

But can we talk about his Virginia game? Seriously, this may be the gem of his college career. Tatum's Blue Devils were held to just 21 points (he had seven of those) by Virginia's stingy defense in the first half. So what does he do? Score 21 by himself in the second half to lead the Blue Devils past a top-15 team. He had 28 points on just 13 shots, making 6 of 7 from three while adding eight rebounds, a block and a steal. He had a 7-0 run by his lonesome that put Duke up for good. He's likely a three at the next level, but Tatum displayed all the tools to be an effective three while dominated at the four, a much-needed boost for the soon-to-be top-10 Blue Devils.

Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona (7-0/225)
The three-point shooting slump isn't quite done yet for the Finnish freshman, but at least he's found his scoring touch again. Markkanen had a pair of double-doubles in Wildcat wins this week over Washington St. and Washington, all while only making 1 of 6 from beyond the arc. He's now just 4 for 19 from three in his last five games, a slightly worrying stretch that has brought his three-point percentage down to 46.5 percent.

Still though, he didn't fail to produce in 68 minutes combined over a three-day span. First, he had 19 points and 11 rebounds vs. Washington St. in a 78-59 win, his first double-figure rebounding effort since his last game vs. the Cougars. He then came through with 26 points and 13 rebounds against Washington in a 76-68 win. He was able to hit some jumpers but also competed inside, making his way to the free-throw line nine times and making eight from the stripe. It's certainly encouraging after some lackluster showings over the last two weeks.

Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington (6-4/195)
After missing two games last week with a knee injury, Fultz came back fully healthy with a pair of nearly identical performances. On Thursday, the impressive freshman shot 7 for 16 from the field, 2 of 6 from three, and had 19 points to go with four assists during an 83-81 loss to Arizona State. Two days later, he shot, get this, 7 for 16 from the field, 2 of 6 from three, in the loss to Arizona. He did make to the charity stripe more often (make 10 of 15 from the free-throw line) and finished with 26 points and six assists.

In the defeat, Fultz still played 38 minutes and scored or assisted on over 55 percent of the Huskies' points. Sure, he had four turnovers, but when you have the ball in your hand as often as he does, it's bound to happen. It's a pretty good idea of what he'll be doing for a team that finds itself at the top of the lottery this year. He showed off every part of skill set — shooting, getting the rim, finishing, etc. — Saturday and nearly led the 9-18 Huskies to a win over the No. 5 team in the country.

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
Most players don't dominate a game while taking the fewest shots among his team's starters. Most players aren't Lonzo Ball. Ball messed around with a triple-double while taking just nine points Saturday night, coming up just short with 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Bruins, who beat USC, 102-70.

Three teammates scored more points than Ball, but that's in part thanks to how well he spreads the ball and runs the offense. His maturity doesn't just come on offense. He's also solid on the defensive end, in part thanks to his 6-6 frame at point guard.

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-4/185)
Kentucky's catalyst keyed the Wildcats to two more wins this week as they extended their win streak to four. Monk was his normal volume shooting self in the two games against Tennessee and Georgia. He took a total of 31 shots, up from 30 over two games the week before. While he made just 10 of the 31 attempts, the formula seems to be working because the Wildcats keep winning.

He had 20 points with four threes and eight rebounds in a blowout win over Tennessee. The more impressive effort came with worse stats in the road victory against Georgia. He made just 3 of 11 but got to the free-throw line for 11 attempts and got it done for Kentucky in other ways, notably five assists and three steals. Monk has been labeled an offense-only guard, so the trio of steals are a welcome sight. How he'll defend ones and twos at the next level will be a real defining challenge for him.

Quick Hits
• Florida State lost consecutive games and forward Jonathan Isaac was relatively quiet, scoring 15 points on 14 shots over the two games. He had just three free throw attempts yet still reeled in 12 rebounds and had four blocks.

• Kansas' Josh Jackson provided 16 points on 14 shots Saturday, as the No. 3 Jayhawks defeated No. 4 Baylor. Jackson, by making his only attempt vs. the Bears, is up to 35.3 percent from three.

• NC State fired its coach this week, but that didn't stop Dennis Smith Jr. from being his normal self. In a pair of losses to ranked teams, Smith had 43 points, nine assists and seven rebounds combined.

Now a country music artist, ex-Phillie Brett Myers hopes to play in Philly

Now a country music artist, ex-Phillie Brett Myers hopes to play in Philly

Much like he was on the mound, Brett Myers is giving everything he has to create a name for himself in the music industry. And he is doing it by being his "own man." 

Unlike the mainstream pop-country that appears in your head when you think of the genre, Myers has set out to be different. When asked about the country music of today, Myers does not agree with the direction it is going. His first album, "Backwoods Rebel," describes the former Phillies’ starter and his music accurately — rebellious and unconventional. Myers’ music is country with a twist of rock but holds back from the mainstream pop country of today. 

“They kill it, don’t get me wrong,” Myers said this week in a phone interview with CSNPhilly.com. “But it’s not my cup of tea. Every song is about a girl and sitting on a tailgate. I think it is pop country that is out now. Country music is about songwriting and storytelling. I see these guys like Luke Bryan singing these songs, and I see they have six guys write the song. I mean, does it really take six guys to write a song? That frustrates me because I am a singer and songwriter. I live in this world. I don’t live in their fairytale world that they are singing about. 

"I think a lot of people want to listen to their music because it takes them away from their everyday life. But I want to write about everyday life stuff. I can only write about what I know and what I’ve seen. I don’t feel like this country music stuff we listen to today really grasps real-life stuff like country music is supposed to be.” 

For the last two years Myers has dedicated himself to this craft and produced two albums — he is working on his third. At first, it was strictly writing and no singing. The former pitcher was convinced to sing and now has the itch to play in front of live audiences.  

The end goal: get back to the City of Brotherly Love. 

“My main priority this year is to play a couple shows in Philly,” Myers said. “That’s all I want to do is play a show at the Fillmore or one of those venues they have in Philly. I know half the people there would come to watch me suck. And the other half would come to see me (do well). That’s the way Philly is and I am perfectly OK with it. I would enjoy it.”

The misconception with Myers’ post-retirement career is most people do not see it as a serious endeavor. He wants to clear the air. Myers is as serious as it can be when it comes to his music, but he still hasn't had the chance to play in a big venue in Philadelphia. 

He has played a few shows in Florida — his home state — but knows Philadelphia is his best chance to validate his music career. 

“The two shows we’ve done, I can tell you we don’t suck,” Myers said. “I got two guys from ‘Puddle of Mudd’ in the band. An original member from ‘Shinedown’ in the band. These guys have platinum records on their walls. And I think to myself, 'Why would they be a part of this if they thought it sucked?'"

He does not want a promotional team behind him; instead, he wants to go against the grain and make it in the industry on his own. 

“Twitter, Instagram, try to do some podcasts here and there,” Myers said. “My buddies have a syndicated radio show that I go on and put my music on. A couple people in Philly have written articles about when I first came out with my album. Good or bad.

“With the second album, I didn’t get the same publicity as the first because it wasn’t a shock. So not many people know it’s been out since August. I am working on the third one now, but this is why I need to play live (for more publicity).”

As he did with baseball, Myers doesn’t do this because he wants to make money. He loves it.

“I’m not going to do it if doesn’t make sense," he said. "Because I’m doing it for nothing. I’m putting my own money into this thing, but my band is not going to play for free. If I can make enough money to pay them and pay for our expenses. I don’t care if I make a dollar out of this.

“I want to create my own genre. Meaning I am southern rock and country, that’s how I classify my music. I don’t just say, 'Yeah I’m a country music artist’ or whatever. Because I know I am not mainstream country. That’s what people think country is right now, pop country. I don’t offer that and I never will. I don’t believe in selling out to make a dollar. I’m writing this for me and people who want to enjoy it.”

Country music and his children have his full attention these days, which makes it is hard for Myers to keep up with his old team. He did offer some words about the front office dealing with the young players and how there is always a chance the Phillies could surprise people in this season. 

“Honestly I don't know what their clubhouse personalities are so I really couldn't tell you if they have the same similarities," he said. "But you know, we were that young team coming up. It took us a while to figure it out, but Pat Gillick and his team put together a great group of personalities with a good mixture of young talent and veterans.

“I wish them the best, but you never know what the season has in store for anyone. Teams look good on paper then can't perform on the field. That's what makes baseball so great you never know what's going to happen. It's just so unpredictable.”