Philly March Madness: (3) Donovan McNabb vs. (14) Bobby Jones

Philly March Madness: (3) Donovan McNabb vs. (14) Bobby Jones

Over the next few weeks at The700Level, we'll be posting poll       matchups as part of our Philly March Madness competition. Examine the cases of the two fine Philadelphia athletes     below, and cast your  vote at  the bottom as to which you think should advance to the next  round. And as always, feel free to explain your selection and/or debate the choices in the comments section.

(3) Donovan McNabb

When we look back at Donovan McNabb's career a decade or two for now, it  might seem totally ridiculous that he was as polarizing a figure as he  was during his playing days here. Booed from draft night by Eagles fans  who thought Ricky Williams was the way to go with the second pick,  McNabb went on to have a career far superior not only to Williams, but  to all the other quarterbacks taken in the vaunted '99 draft class (Tim  Couch, Akili Smith, Dante Caulpepper, Cade McNown). Leading the Eagles  back to the playoffs in just his second season behind center, Donovan  would eventually get the team to four consecutive NFC Championship  games, including an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX, the Birds' first  appearance in the big game in a quarter century. By the time he was  traded, D-Mac had set most of the Eagles' quarterback records, including  completions, passing yards and touchdowns. But because he had not set  the team record for Super Bowls won--just one would've done it--and  because he had frequently frustrated fans with his inaccuracy and  occasionally perceived lack of intensity and toughness, many had  long-since called for him to be jettisoned by the time Andy Reid finally  traded him to conference-rival Washington in 2010. It appears now to  have been the right move for the time--Donovan's 2010 season was  mediocre at best, while his Philly replacement Michael Vick had a  near-MVP year--but there's no telling how miserable the beginning of the  21st century would have been for the Birds without McNabb, who rescued  the franchise from the likes of Koy Detmer and Doug Pederson and turned  it into a perennial contender for an entire decade. -Andrew

(14) Bobby Jones

The answer to the trivia question "Who was the first NBA player to win  the Sixth Man of the Year award?," Bobby Jones did a whole lot more than  that for the Philadelphia 76ers during his eight seasons in the City of  Brotherly Love. Starting out with the Denver Nuggets in the ABA, Jones  came over to the NBA in the '76 merger and was eventually traded to the  Sixers as part of a deal for unapologetic gunner George McGinnis. The  deal would prove to pay dividends, as the Sixers already had a surfeit  of scoring, but badly needed what Jones brought to the team--defense,  energy and toughness. Known for his devout Christian beliefs and values,  Jones rarely boasted gaudy stat lines during his days with the Sixers,  averaging just 9.0 ppg and 4.6 rpg in his Sixth-Man-winning season, but  he was lauded by teammates and beloved by fans for bringing his all to  every game, every night. “Bobby Jones gives you two hours of his blood,  showers and goes home,” said onetime GM Pat Williams of Jones's game.  “If I was going to ask a youngster to model after someone, I would pick  Bobby Jones.” The Sixers' key lockdown perimeter defender off the bench,  Jones helped Philly make the playoffs in every one of his eight seasons  there, including their legendary fo'-fi'-fo' championship run of 1983.  Bobby was recently ranked by SLAM magazine as the 159th best player of  all-time, callin him a "vital piece in the [Sixers]' success because of  his selfless play." -Andrew

    Who should advance to the next round?online survey

Results So Far:

East Bracket:

(1) Julius Erving (91.8%) over (16) Von Hayes (8.2%)
(8) Simon     Gagne (77.9%) over (9) Seth Joyner (22.1%)
(5) Eric Lindros (70.3%)     over (12) Eric Allen (29.7%)
(4) Randall Cunningham (77.6%) over   (13)   Shane Victorino (23.4%)
(11) Cole Hamels (82.1%) over (6) Mark     Recchi (17.9%)
(14) Tug McGraw (51.1%) over (3) Moses Malone   (48.9%)
(7)   Darren Daulton (74.0%) over (10) Andrew Toney (26.0%)
(2)   Chase   Utley (93.5%) over (15) Andre Waters (6.5%)

Midwest Bracket:

(1) Mark Howe (60.2%) over (16) David Akers (39.8%)
(9) Rod     Brind'Amour (73.6%) over (8) Rick Tocchet (26.4%)
(5) Brian Westbrook    (93.3%) over (12) Jayson Werth (6.7%)
(4) Mike Richards (85.1%)   over  (13) Trent Cole (14.9%)
(6) John LeClair (89.2%) over (11)   Clyde  Simmons (10.8%)
(3) Jimmy Rollins (75.8%) over (14) John Kruk   (24.2%)
(7) Lenny Dykstra (51.9%) over (10) Dave Poulin (48.1%)
(2) Allen Iverson (83.1%) over (15) Jeremiah Trotter (16.9%)

West Bracket:

(1) Mike Schmidt (96.9%) over (16) Keith Byars (3.1%)
(9) Wilbert Montgomery (59.4%) over (8) Jeff Carter (40.6%)
(5) Ron Jaworski (83.5%) over (12) Bobby Abreu (16.5%)
(4) Ron Hextall (94.1%) over (13) Andre Iguodala (5.9%)
(6) Mike Quick (59.8%) over (11) Hugh Douglas (40.2%)
(3) Brian Dawkins (98.3%) over (14) Scott Rolen (1.7%)
(7) Maurice Cheeks (51.9%) over (10) Eric Desjardins (48.1%)
(15) Carlos Ruiz (58.9%) over (2) Tim Kerr (41.1%)

South Bracket:

(1) Reggie White (97.1%) over (16) Hersey Hawkins (2.9%)
(9) Troy Vincent (51.8%) over (8) Curt Schilling (48.2%)
(5) Pete Rose (85.2%) over (12) Peter Zezel (14.8%)
(4) Ryan Howard (86.3%) over (13) Jon Runyan (13.7%)

Sans Spellman, challenges face Villanova in run to repeat

Sans Spellman, challenges face Villanova in run to repeat

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Darryl Reynolds said it hurt. And he wasn’t alone. 

A month ago, Reynolds and the rest of the Villanova Wildcats found out five-star freshman big man Omari Spellman would not be eligible to play in 2016-17.

And despite Spellman — at 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds — being the biggest competition cutting into Reynolds’ playing time for his senior year, Reynolds understood the ramifications from losing what was expected to be a key cog in Villanova’s next run for glory.

“We lost a — no pun intended — big piece to the puzzle,” Reynolds said Tuesday at Villanova’s media day. “He went down, but everybody else has realized that we need that much more from everybody else.

“Me and Omari are close, in more ways than on the court. It would’ve been exciting to play with him. But it also provided that much more motivation.”

Motivation because Reynolds, a Lower Merion grad, also understands what the ramifications mean for him, too. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound senior may arguably be the most important player on the 2016-17 Wildcats. 

For three years, Reynolds has largely taken a backseat, hidden by the shadow of Daniel Ochefu. Now he’s front and center.

“He battled through that,” fellow senior Josh Hart said. “Never complained. Never had any down moments. Brought it every single day. We know he can play at this level.”

Reynolds heads a position in which Villanova was supposed to have depth. Now it has question marks. Reynolds and Spellman were going to be a 1-2 punch inside and a perfect supplement to a bevy of offensive talent around them. The question marks up front include sophomore Tim Delaney and freshman Dylan Painter. How quickly the two of them get going will be big. And so, too, will be figuring out where Fordham transfer forward Eric Paschall fits in the rotation.

Coach Jay Wright, who said Reynolds would be a starter, talked more about the other pieces behind Reynolds when asked what he’d be expecting from the senior big man.

“I think part of our challenge is Tim Delaney and Dylan Painter,” Wright said. “Which one of them, if not both of them, can step up and give us the depth that Darryl gave us last year up front when we needed size? Down the stretch in big games against big-time teams, you need that size. We’ve got to develop Tim and Dylan and see how they do with that, see how Eric Paschall can do. Can he play bigger? We definitely have our challenges.”

Those challenges also include replacing leadership roles vacated by Ryan Arcidiacono, Ochefu and a trio of walk-ons.

Insert Reynolds there, too. The Wildcats will start three seniors this year. Hart and Kris Jenkins may do most of the scoring, but they’re pretty reserved off the court and when talking to the media.

“Obviously Ryan (Arcidiacono) was a great leader for us. He was our rock,” Hart said. “When you look at this team, a lot of times we look at [Reynolds]. He calms everybody down. He vocally tries to make sure everybody’s on one accord. Basketball-wise, he’s always been good. You saw the Providence game last year when we needed him to step up and he had, what, like 19 and 11?”

Hart remembers the numbers well, even if he added an extra rebound to the ledger. Reynolds was 9 for 10 from the floor and had two blocks in 36 minutes of action to help the Wildcats earn revenge with a road win after the Friars beat them in Philadelphia two weeks prior.

That game was the last of a three-game stretch in late January into early February when Ochefu was sidelined with a concussion. Reynolds’ minutes over that stretch: 29, 31 and 36, respectively.

That experience, Reynolds says, coupled with the rest of 2015-16 — when he saw an uptick in minutes from his sophomore season’s 5.4 per game to 17.1 per game — will be easy to draw from in 2016-17.

“There’s nothing like getting out there and actually playing,” Reynolds said. “You see a lot from the sidelines. You learn a lot playing spot minutes. You get different things. But just being out there throughout entire games, playing 20-plus minutes, it teaches you things that you could never have learned from another perspective. I learned a lot from those experiences and I think it made me the player that I am in many ways. It’s the same thing with this year. I’m still going to learn a ton in a sense of being out there that much more and not having Daniel. 

“In many ways he taught me a lot. So not having him, not having that voice in my ear, not having that guy to go against in practice, it will make me grow up. 

“Nothing wrong with that,” he said with a smile.