Moving Voracek Around the Lineup Nothing to Be Le-Cavalier About

Moving Voracek Around the Lineup Nothing to Be Le-Cavalier About

When you think of things that worked for the Flyers on the ice last season, pairing Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek together on the top line should be right at the top of the list. Voracek helped jump start Giroux’s campaign when the captain got off to a slow start, while G helped his right wing realize renewed potential as a scorer.

They seemed like such a logical fit together, it was difficult to understand why head coach Peter Laviolette didn’t try it sooner – or from day one for that matter.

Whatever the reason for the delay, at least now we know that it works. Giroux posted three goals and seven assists through the first 16 games of 2013. Voracek had three scores and eight helpers over the same span. Once the two of them joined forces however, Giroux picked up the pace with 10 and 28 over the final 32 games, while Voracek erupted for 19 and 16.

And that was with a revolving door on the left side. Imagine the numbers they could rack up over a full season, especially were Scott Hartnell able to locate his stroke again, or if somebody else could fill the void.

Keep on imagining, because you might not see it all that much. When the Flyers signed Vinny Lecavalier last week, it was widely assumed he was brought here to replace Danny Briere as the second-line center. It turns out the team might be interested in having him play right wing though, specifically on Giroux’s line. Lecavalier discussed the possibility in a conference call with reporters over the weekend.

Lecavalier said he would be “very comfortable” on right wing and admitted he was asked about that by Laviolette in their meeting. The Flyers need scoring on the right side and once again have a log jam of centers.

Lecavalier said he would love to play right wing on Claude Giroux’s line. That’s a problem because Jakub Voracek on the right side was an outstanding fit for the Flyers last season, when he scored 22 goals and was second to Giroux (48 points) in total points with 46.

“If you watch me in a game, if I have a choice of going on the left side with the puck or right side, I choose, 99 percent of time, going on the right side,” said Lecavalier, who is a left-handed shot.

“It’s not something I really worry about, especially after being told you might play with Claude Giroux. I’m open to that and would be excited for that.

“I would be very comfortable [there]. That is something they asked me at the meeting if I could play wing and I said, certainly. I’m a lot more comfortable on the right wing than on the off-wing.”

This is exactly the type of situation that some feared when Lecavalier was signed, only we thought Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier were the ones at risk of being pushed down the lineup and/or having their positions changed. Instead it seems Voracek could be forced to slide over to the left, or change lines altogether.

Granted coaches switch up their lines from time to time, and there’s a chance at some point over an 82-game season Giroux and Voracek may have been splitsville as part of some type of shakeup. Why are the Flyers already considering messing with that chemistry now though, in July?

Maybe all of this is much ado about nothing. Maybe Voracek could excel just as easily on Giroux’s left. Maybe it’s the Flyers’ brain trust doing their due diligence and figuring out what Lecavalier is comfortable with before signing him. Regardless, it’s a curious development as we ponder where Lecavalier fits with the Orange & Black.

>> Lecavalier chose Flyers before an offer was made [CSN]

Andrew Kulp is a freelance writer covering Philadelphia sports for The700Level.com. E-mail him at andrewkulp@comcast.net or follow him on Twitter.

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons repeatedly emphasized at summer league he wanted to work on “everything” leading up to training camp.

As a point-forward who plays multiple positions, he has more than just one role to address this offseason. But what does “everything” entail? With a wide range of responsibilities on the court, Simmons is honing in on specific areas.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

Shooting
Simmons has been criticized for his reluctance to shoot. During his one season of college ball at LSU, he averaged 19.2 points off 11.7 field goal attempts per game (56 percent made). Over six summer league games (including both Utah and Las Vegas), Simmons took 22 field-goal attempts and shot 32.2 percent. He had less than 10 attempts in four of the games, and attempted 15 in the Sixers’ finale. Simmons attempted one three in summer league action.

While in Utah and Las Vegas, the Sixers encouraged Simmons to be more aggressive. At 6-foot-10, Simmons is able to get to the rim. Once there, many times he passes it off rather than finishing himself. The Sixers don’t expect Simmons to become a 30-point-per-game scorer, but he will be a key part of their offense.

“You always want him to be as good of a shooter as he can be,” Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said this earlier month. “It’s not going to be his strength. His strength is going to be passing, facilitating, playmaking. That’s going to be an added bonus, whatever the percentage or the number is.”

Dribbling
Simmons averaged 5.5 assists per game during summer league (second on the team by 0.3 dimes to T.J McConnell). Conversely, he committed 3.83 turnovers.

The Sixers signed two point guards this summer, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, and McConnell is returning from last season. Head coach Brett Brown said after the draft he does not plan to utilize Simmons as the primary one-guard right away as the 20-year-old learns the league. But early on, Simmons will have the rock in his hands plenty of times given his natural ball-handling abilities, especially when grabbing the rebound and running the fast break.

"I think it's the hardest position to play in the NBA,” Brown previously said. “I think to just give him the ball in that capacity is borderline cruel. He needs to feel NBA basketball. And maybe he evolves there." (See story)

Weight room
After college, Simmons put on 20 pounds from his training and entered the draft at 242 pounds. He stood out among the competition in summer league play with his NBA-ready stature. Simmons said he would like to get up to 246 or 247 pounds this offseason.

“Not too heavy,” he said.

With the size of a forward and the skills of a guard, the Sixers will be able to utilize Simmons to create mismatches both in the backcourt and at the hoop.

Tonight's Lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

Tonight's Lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

After scoring five first-inning runs on their way to a 7-5 win against the Braves on Thursday, Pete Mackanin decided not to tinker with the Phillies' lineup too much.

In fact, the only change will be at catcher. The struggling Cameron Rupp will get the start on Friday and bat sixth after Carlos Ruiz was behind the plate on Thursday. Rupp, who was one of the few bright spots for the offense in the first half, is just 5 for 31 since the All-Star break. On the season, Rupp is still batting .271 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs.

Aaron Altherr came off the DL with a bang, tallying three hits, including a two-run homer on Thursday. Mackanin has said Altherr will get a long look in right field and Thursday night was a glimpse of why. 

With Altherr's regular presence in the lineup, Cody Asche has been put on notice. After going on a tear from early June to early July, Asche is batting .094 (5 for 53) in his last 17 games. With Altherr and Odubel Herrera entrenched in right and center, Asche will have to get hot to stave off prospect Nick Williams, who seems to be finding his groove at Lehigh Valley.

Here is tonight's lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Cody Asche, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P

Temple football announces future series with Boston College and Duke

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Associated Press

Temple football announces future series with Boston College and Duke

Temple football starts its training camp next week, but the Owls have made another splash in the future scheduling department. This time, the opponents come from the ACC.

The program announced Friday it has agreed to future series with Boston College (2018 at BC and 2021 in Philadelphia) and Duke (2022 in Cameron, North Carolina and 2023 in Philadelphia). Temple also announced a game with Bucknell in Philadelphia in 2019 announced dates for previously confirmed future matchups with Maryland and Rutgers and 2017's season opener at Notre Dame.

The Boston College series is intriguing because it will be the renewal of an annual series from when the programs used to meet every year in Big East conference play. The Eagles hold a 28-7-2 all-time advantage over the Owls. Temple's last win against Boston College came in 1999 when the Owls earned a 24-14 victory. Of course, the matchup will be even juicier if former Temple head coach Steve Addazio is still leading Boston College in two years. But with the way the program floundered to a 3-9 record, earned just one win against an FCS program and went winless in ACC play last season and doesn't have a bright outlook this season, don't hold your breath that Addazio will be there.

The Owls have never met the Dukies on the gridiron.

Temple's non-conference slate this season includes home dates against Army (Sept. 2), Stony Brook (Sept. 10) and Charlotte (Sept. 24) and a visit to in-state rival Penn State (Sept. 17).

Friday's announcements come on the heels of an announcement earlier this month that confirmed Temple will play a three-game set with national powerhouse Oklahoma. That series is set to start in 2024.

Below is a list of dates for Temple's future games against non-conference opponents:
2017 – at Notre Dame - Sept. 2, vs. Villanova - Sept. 9, vs. UMass  - Sept. 16, at Army - Oct. 21
2018 – vs. Villanova -  Sept. 1, vs. Buffalo - Sept. 8, at Maryland - Sept. 15, at Boston College - Sept. 29
2019 – vs. Bucknell - Aug. 31, vs. Maryland - Sept. 14, at Buffalo - Sept. 21), vs. Army - Oct. 26
2020 – vs. Idaho - Sept. 12, vs. Rutgers - Sept. 19
2021 – at Rutgers - Sept. 4, vs. Boston College - Sept. 18
2022 – at Duke - Sept. 3, vs. Rutgers - Sept. 17
2023 – at Rutgers - Sept. 9, vs. Duke - Sept. 16
2024 - at Oklahoma - Aug. 31
2025 - vs. Oklahoma - Sept. 13
2028 - at Oklahoma - Sept. 2