A Few Early Observations On Xfinity Live!

A Few Early Observations On Xfinity Live!

Bruce Springsteen rocked the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Wednesday night and ticket holders to the Boss' show were also treated to a pre/post concert opportunity to experience XFINITY Live! before its grand opening party on Friday night. We were among the thousands of fans who got to take in the new venue on Pattison Avenue. Here are a few random observations.

This isn't a review, by any means, because I didn't get to experience the whole venue. Just a few random thoughts.

-The job they've done with the space is impressive. While I had zero expectations as to what to expect, the outdoor spaces at Victory Beer Hall and the PBR Grill are the kind of places you'll look forward to meeting your friends at before/after a game during the summer. The fire pits were a nice touch.

-Victory Beer Hall's selection is legit and a craft beer runs about $6, I believe -- about the same as most bars in the city. Not only do they have all of Victory's beers but also plenty of other brewery's like Dogfish Head and Troegs among many others. The pretzels were tasty.

-The NBC Sports Arena has a Vegas sports book feel to it, which I think makes for a great atmosphere to watch a game.

-The old Spectrum memories were kept alive in some really nice touches. The Mitchell and Ness store uses the actual boards from the Flyers days at America's Show Place.

-The Dr. J statue is prominently placed on the walk up to the venue.

-The band stage outside is pretty nice and could be very cool if they get bands like the B-Street band that played last night on a regular basis.

-It's hard not to stare. The waitresses/dancers at the PBR Grill are in fact very scantily clad.

-We didn't even really get to see the Spectrum Grille or the Broad Street Bullies Pub.

-McFadden's at the Ball Park and Chickie's and Pete's around the corner can't be too happy about it.

-I want to go back again to check the rest of it out.

My prediction: the debate about where to go before/after a game to meet up with your friends will now only take 10 seconds. You're going to meet at XFINITY Live! for a couple of beers and take the night from there.

You can see more photos of the venue from last night here.

No. 24 Penn State at Purdue: Nittany Lions seek 1st road win

No. 24 Penn State at Purdue: Nittany Lions seek 1st road win

Penn State (5-2, 3-1) vs. Purdue (3-4, 1-3)
Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Ind.
Saturday, noon, ABC/ESPN2

Scouting Penn State
The Lions upended the Buckeyes, 24-21, when safety Marcus Allen blocked a field goal and cornerback Grant Haley returned it 60 yards for a touchdown with 4:27 left in the game. The Lions, who rallied from a 21-7 deficit after three quarters, earned their third straight victory.

Allen and Haley were named Big Ten co-Special Teams Players of the Week, and linebacker Brandon Bell, who had a career-high 19 tackles in the game, earned the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week honor.

Running back Saquon Barkley has rushed for 681 yards, fifth most in the Big Ten, and is tied for the conference lead in touchdowns with nine.

Scouting Purdue
Purdue fell to Nebraska last week in the debut of Boilermakers interim coach Gerad Parker, who replaced the fired Darrell Hazell on Oct. 16. Quarterback David Blough leads the Big Ten in passing yardage (2,065) and total offense (300.7 yards per game), and has thrown 14 touchdown passes (albeit with 11 interceptions).

The Boilermakers are, however, last in the Big Ten in rushing offense (120.3), total defense (441.0), turnover margin (minus-8) and red-zone offense (15 for 23, 11 touchdowns) and next to last in rushing defense (249.0) and passing efficiency.

The Lions lead 13-3-1 and have won the last seven meetings, the most recent a 45-21 victory in 2013.

Storyline to watch
This is the ultimate trap game for PSU, and the Lions’ approach to it will say a lot about their leadership and maturity. They have also dropped their last four road games dating back to last season, including both this fall. Their last victory away from home came last Oct. 24, against Maryland in Baltimore.

What’s at stake
The Lions can become bowl-eligible with a victory.

Penn State 35, Purdue 21

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

CAMDEN, N.J. — If all goes as planned, a time will come when the Sixers can roll out a dominating frontcourt duo with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor sharing the court in lengthy stretches.

That moment has to wait, though, as both Embiid and Okafor are on minute restrictions. As he returns from a knee injury, Okafor currently is coming off the bench and backing up Embiid.

“This conversation with Jahlil and Joel is more intelligent and applicable at a later date,” Brett Brown said at practice Friday. “When Jahlil’s minutes start going up and Joel can, then it’s a real conversation. I do think you may see them sooner than even I thought together. But as far as making it a real constant part of a strategy or rotation, it’s beyond too early days.”

In an ideal world, Brown could pair the two bigs now and use all of their allotted minutes (Embiid 20, Okafor 14) at once. That would leave an extensive workload on second-year bench player Richaun Holmes.

“This is a hot topic,” Brown said. “I will say it one more time: If I play Jahlil and Jo together, I hope Richaun can play 35 minutes.”

It’s an unrealistic expectation for Holmes, who averaged 13.8 minutes in 51 games last season. Brown caps the majority of the Sixers at six-minute segments to keep them competing at a high energy level.

“Right now, he’s a backup,” Brown said of Holmes. “I think he’s going to be an NBA player for a very long time. I just feel like in the role, he’s a second-year player that didn’t really have much of a role last year. He’s shown everybody that he’s for real. He really can play a role. At this early stage, that is the key word.”

Embiid and Okafor have been envisioning competing together since Okafor was drafted two years ago. They became friends long before they were NBA players and have an easy chemistry on the court as a result.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” Embiid said. “We played a little bit together today in practice. We’re figuring out how to play with each other. It’s a process and we’ve got trust it.”

Yes, the players know they have to wait, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to resist an opportunity to play with one another.  

“I think once we figure it out, we can really dominate together,” Okafor said. “We were able to flirt with it again today. We accidentally keep ending up on the same team even though Coach keeps telling us to make sure we alternate. But we’re having fun. We’re trying to put some pressure on it because we want to play together.”

Is that accidentally with air quotes?

“Yeah, exactly,” Okafor said with a laugh.