Jay Cutler's Face Comes to Philadelphia; Hilarity and Sympathy Should Both Ensue

Jay Cutler's Face Comes to Philadelphia; Hilarity and Sympathy Should Both Ensue

I have an intense fascination with Jay Culter's mannerisms and facial expressions. And you know what? I'm not the only one. These guys seem pretty on board, too.

When Cutler was dealt from Denver to Chicago a few seasons back, I was largely apathetic about the now "embattled" quarterback. The guy was young and had a lot of hype surrounding him and seemed sort of whiny and frequently overthrew receivers and that was about it.

But I was wrong to be apathetic. There's more to Cutler than I previously assumed. A lot more. And it's in his face.

To begin, I know very little about the guy. I've never met him, never spoken with him and have seen very few quotes from him that would lead me to have any insight into his general or specific thought processes.

Still, the more I watch Cutler, the more I become convinced that he does not enjoy playing professional football. I am under that impression, because it's written all over his face.

Say what you will about the general bullshit that surrounded the "backyard enthusiasm" of Brett Favre, but there are guys in the league who outwardly evidence that they find enjoyment in their profession. Cutler doesn't appear to be one of them.

Then again, who could blame him?

He's a guy who gets the living hell beat out of him every week behind a non-existent offensive line, and then gets criticized for not being "tough enough." He's a guy with semi-other-worldly talent who just can't seem to fit it all together, and who isn't necessarily being given the tools to do it. He's a guy who looks like he's absolutely miserable, and it's because so sullen that he's draws the ire of the public.

I've never been repeatedly smacked to the ground by 300-pound pass rushers; I've never had the mantle of "The Man Whose Arm is Going to Solve a Decades-Long Passing Problem in Chicago" bestowed upon me; I've never been criticized for not playing with a torn ACL; so, I can't tell Jay to try doing all of this with a smile of his face.

But, Jay, you might want to try doing all this with a smile on your face.

Sure, I root for you, but that's because I have generally "contrarian" tendencies, legitimately sympathize with your situation and, yet, still take an outrageous amount of comedic enjoyment in your less than bemused facial expressions.

You look miserable, Jay, and to the large majority of those people who aren't myself, it's a turn off.

I'm writing all of this because there's a decent chance you're going to get carried off the field Monday night after Jason Babin shoots an imaginary arrow into the sky performs his best Hulk Hogan imitation. Personally, football will be less entertaining for me without you shaking your head, looking disgusted and waving dismissively at referees who just flagged you for intentional grounding for the second time in the last five minutes. But, as a matter of professional advice, if you want someone other than just me rooting for you, you might want to think about smiling a bit more.

That assumes, of course, you still have the ability to move your facial muscles after you—for the 9,999th time this season—pull your helmet out of the turf and stand up to get yourself some more.

Jay Cutler might just be the toughest son of bitch in the NFL today. Would someone please recognize it?

Sixers' Ersan Ilyasova excited to see family in adopted hometown of Milwaukee

Sixers' Ersan Ilyasova excited to see family in adopted hometown of Milwaukee

Traveling to Milwaukee means a return to where Ersan Ilyasova began his NBA career.

Twelve years later, it also means a return to his family when the Sixers visit the Bucks on Monday afternoon at the Bradley Center.
 
Ilyasova planted roots in Milwaukee during his seven seasons with the Bucks, who drafted him in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft. Though he has played for four teams since the Bucks traded him to the Pistons in the summer of 2015, Ilyasova has maintained a home base in the city he adopted after coming to the NBA from Europe.

“I kind of grew up there,” he said. “It’s a lot of time spent.”

Ilyasova’s lengthy tenure with his first team - which doesn’t always happen in the NBA - afforded him and his family the time to make Milwaukee their home.

His wife and three young children (daughters ages eight and five years old and son age three years old) have remained there while Ilyasova has moved around the league frequently. He has been a member of the Pistons, Magic, Thunder and Sixers in a matter of two seasons.

“It’s a huge thing,” Ilyasova said. “I haven’t seen the girls for two months now - a lot of Skype and FaceTime. I see my son, he flies back and forth with my wife.”

The Sixers flew to Milwaukee on Sunday from Washington, D.C. after Saturday night's loss to the Wizards at the Verizon Center. Ilyasova planned to stay at his house and catch up on the time he has missed while being away from his family. This includes missed time during the holidays while the team was on a west coast road trip.
 
“It’s always really exciting,” Ilyasova said. “They’re counting the days when I will come. They’re all excited to come to the game.”
 
Another highlight of being back in Milwaukee? A home-cooked meal.
 
“They’re already preparing it,” Ilyasova said. “It’s duck with apples in it.”

Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo the next Josh Hart? Jay Wright believes so

Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo the next Josh Hart? Jay Wright believes so

NEW YORK — It’s hard to imagine higher praise from Jay Wright.

“I think he can be a Josh Hart,” Wright said. “I really do.”

Donte DiVincenzo is only two months into his redshirt freshman season at Villanova, and his coach is already comparing him to one of the heroes of last year’s NCAA championship team and a 2017 National Player of the Year candidate.

That’s pretty wild stuff, but it’s hard to argue with Wright.

The last two games have been a coming out for DiVincenzo, a Wilmington, Delaware native who played high school ball at Salesianum.

After scoring 20 points and shooting 5 for 17 in Villanova’s first four Big East games, DiVincenzo was 4 for 6 for 10 points with four rebounds and three assists Tuesday in a win over No. 15 Xavier at The Pavilion. On Saturday at Madison Square Garden — with his teammates all struggling from the field — he shot 7 for 10 from the field and 3 for 5 from three-point range for a career-high 19 points to go with three rebounds and two assists in the Wildcats’ win over St. John’s (see game recap).

Hart as a freshman? 7.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 21 minutes per game.

DiVincenzo so far as a freshman? 7.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 23 minutes per game.

DiVincenzo has been so good in these last two wins that, even coming off the bench, he’s played the third most minutes on the team – 31 ½ per game.

Josh Hart-esque.

“I talked to him about that before,” Wright said. “Just what impresses us so much about Josh is that he’s just complete. He does everything. There’s nothing on the basketball court he doesn’t do, and I think Donte can be that kind of player, too.”

On Saturday at the Garden, Villanova got off to another slow start. Ten minutes into the game, the Wildcats were shooting 2 for 12 from the field and 1 for 7 from three-point range and trailed by six.

It sure seemed DiVincenzo sensed how badly the Wildcats needed an offensive lift, because he proceeded to make four baskets in a five-minute stretch, including two confident looks from 3.

Those 10 points keyed a 16-6 run that gave ‘Nova the lead for good.

But DiVincenzo, echoing dozens of Villanova players from years past, said he never thinks offensively.

“No, not at all,” he said. “I don’t feel pressure offensively at all. Just focus on defending and rebounding. If the shots are falling for me, great. But if they’re not, just get back and focus on those two things.”

DiVincenzo is a freshman but did play in eight games last year before breaking his foot and sitting out the rest of the year. He did travel with the Wildcats and was on the bench during the NCAA title run.

Now, he’s the biggest surprise on the No. 3 team in the country. Villanova takes a 17-1 record and 4-1 Big East mark into a game Monday night at The Pavilion against Seton Hall, their first meeting since the Pirates beat the Wildcats in last year’s Big East title game.

Think about it.

‘Nova is down two players who Wright expected to be huge parts of this year’s team — title game hero Phil Booth, who's hurt and not expected back this year, and Amari Spellman, whom the NCAA ruled ineligible.

“We’re trying to get to a certain level of play,” Wright said. “We’re trying to figure ourselves out here. We thought we were going to be one kind of team earlier in the season and we lost a couple guys. We like our team, but we’re still trying to figure it out. We’re not a finished product yet.”

In six Big East games, DiVincenzo is averaging 8.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

No Villanova freshman has averaged 8.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in conference play since Lance Miller in 1990.

Overall, DiVincenzo is eighth among Big East freshmen in scoring, seventh in minutes, rebounding, assists and three-point shooting.

And trending upward.

“We’re really excited about him,” Wright said. “He’s doing everything for us. He’s playing point, he’s playing two-guard, he’s playing the three, he’s rebounding, defending, and that’s the kind of players you like to have.

“He’s only a freshman, and he works hard at it. Those two (DiVincenzo and Hart) compete against each other at practice, and he’s got the same competitiveness, so it’s exciting for us. We’re really fired up.

“And you’ve got to do it in games. We all know it’s going to come sometimes, but you’ve got to do it in games. Do it in the Garden? Against a tough aggressive team? Did it in the Xavier game? That’s big-time.”