The Evster and Enrico head over to the Frozen Four

The Evster and Enrico head over to the Frozen Four

Late Thursday afternoon, Enrico scored two free tickets to the Frozen Four at the Wells Fargo Center. Knowing I'm a huge hockey fan -- and have literally never had plans on a weeknight -- he asked me to tag along. The following is a minute by minute report of what took place.

Pregame: We are coming at you LIVE from the Wells Fargo Center -- or at least Enrico is -- I am currently hopping on the subway at 5:05pm because I'm an actual person with an actual job and not some laissez-faire blogger who can just take off in the middle of the day to watch a hockey game. Seriously, who starts a game at 5pm? Joining me on the subway platform are a whole lotta white people dressed in their favorite schools' sweaters as well as one ticket scalper who is wearing a black and gold Adidas track jacket and matching black and gold shell tops. He is BY FAR the coolest person waiting at this subway station and is also really, really drunk.

Tonight's first matchup features five-time national champion Boston College, winners of three of the last five NCAA tournaments, and alma-mater of the world's biggest dorfburger, Sammy Davis Enrico Campitelli Jr. Other notable alums include: Mike Mamula, John Kerry and Elisabeth Hasslebeck's husband. Their opponent tonight: the Union College Union, an actual school that I'm not making up. Union is located in action-packed Schenectady, New York, has a student body of 2,100 big ones and offers a major in Post-It notes. Notable alums include Chester A. Arthur (who you may know as the 21st President of THE UNITED STATES), my wife's Aunt Lena, and no one else ever. Clearly I'm pulling for them to beat big bad BC.

1st Period: I finally arrive at the arena just as the first period is ending and meet Enrico in the concourse to get the scoop on what I've missed. BC is up 1-0 thanks to a goal by South Jersey's own, Johnny Gaudreau, who Enrico tells me is nicknamed Johnny Hockey. I have no idea if Enrico's messing with me or not, but I will obviously be calling him Johnny Hockey for the duration of this post.

Tiring of listening to Enrico talk about the various cold and sinus medications he's currently taking, I approach a Union fan wearing a "Bodie" jersey to ask who the hell Bodie is. I figured it had to be his son because why else would a grown man wear a college kid's jersey, but the kind, older gentleman tells me that Bodie's his favorite player and an absolute "dynamo" on the ice. This piques my interest so Enrico and I hurry back to our seats for the start of the 2nd period.

19:57 left in the 2nd -- Three seconds into the game, a BC player falls while trying to skate backwards. I'm beginning to think that this might be the shittiest sporting event I've ever attended.

19:06 left in the 2nd -- Bodie gets the puck for the first time, shimmies by one defender and lets rip the lamest, sorriest wrist shot I've ever seen. The BC goalie catches it without hardly moving, the closest thing I've seen to Cliff Lee's basket catch in that World Series vs. the Yankees. I'm honestly embarrassed for that old man.

17:21 left in the 2nd -- GOAL! Ohhhhhh baby! Union ties it up as my main man Bodie Miller blasts one into the net! Holy Boldie! After almost two minutes of end to end action, Grandpa's favorite player lets fly an absolute rocket that the BC goalie didn't even see. We're all tied now, 1-1, and Enrico is not happy! The public address announcer then tells us that Bodie's first name is MATT, something that I was not expecting, nor will I be calling him.

15:54 left in the 2nd -- As the game goes back and forth, I ask Enrico if he played college hockey, would he wear a caged mask or a see-through visor? Enrico  says he doesn't know, which I find to be a totally unacceptable answer, so I keep probing him and say, "Duuuude, stop being such a Boston College bro and answer the question," and finally Enrico says "the see-through ones because they look cooler," proving that Enrico has no idea how cool cages are. I then tell Enrico that I'd worry about the see through ones getting all fogged up but before I can finish my sentence I notice that he's checking Instagram and not even coming close to paying attention to me. I pray for 16 more Union goals before the next intermission.

12:10 left in the 2nd -- Enrico tells me that Johnny Hockey leads all college players in points this year and is "probably gonna win the Hobey Baker award, that's the trophy they give to the top college player." So I tell Enrico, "I know what the goddamn Hobey Baker award is," and he quickly responds by telling me to, "Go F yourself."

A quick google search reveals that Hobey Baker was born in BALA CYNWYD, PENNSYLVANIA -- bet ya didn't know THAT! -- the same hometown as the dopest blogger on The 700 Level. We also learn that Baker died in an airplane crash during World War I, at the way too young age of 26. This makes us sad, but not that sad because we got free tickets to a hockey game and that makes us better than other people.

10:30 left in the 2nd -- Ohhhhhhh, Johnny! Johnny Hockeyballs shimmies his way past two defenders but then gets too cute as he tries to give it up on a 2 v. 1. This leads me to think about Johnny guest starring on Too Cute: Kittens!, my wife's favorite show on Animal Planet, and one that I highly recommend watching. They're too cute!

9:15 left in the 2nd -- DO NOT BLINK FOLKS 'CUZ YOU JUST MIGHT MISS SOMETHIN. And just like that Union is BACK IN COMMAND. A guy named Daniel Champion or something makes it 2-1, Union. Unfortunately, I did blink and missed the whole thing. Actually, I was watching kids dance on the jumbotron, but whatever, if it's any consolation, Enrico missed it too, once again checking out pictures of chicks on Instagram.

4:07 left in the 2nd -- BOOM BABY! GOAL BC, 2-2! This time it's a defenseman, #6 to be exact, but I have no idea what his name is because this is literally the first college hockey game I have ever been to.

When in doubt, Rico, what do you do? "Put it on net," my blogging editor says, because we are the two smartest hockey fans in the world. What a ballgame!

Hockey game!

2nd Intermission -- All knotted at 2, it's time to take a stroll around the WFC and buy a $7 slice of pizza from Lorenzo's. As we walk around, I try to take secret snappers of a bunch of unsuspecting fans.

Here are some of my best:

Bjugstad??? That can't be a real name. Also that visor is incredible. I have no idea what Mr. and Mrs. Bjugstad were looking at by the way. I think it was a funnel cake stand.

Not sure if you can tell, but these grown men are wearing eagle hats with beaks on them. The dude on the left, who is also wearing a flag cape totally caught me taking a secret snapper and was like, "Heyyyyyyyy," but I just kept walking away really fast and I don't think he really cared anyway I mean he was wearing a hat with a beak on it.

 

This is just a dorf I saw earlier in the day outside City Hall.

Start of the 3rd period -- Deadlocked at 2 apiece, Enrico and I settled back into our seats for the final session. Enrico was a nervous wreck at this point, living and dying with every shift despite the fact that he had not seen one BC hockey game in the last four years.

17:15 left in the 3rd -- Okay, a guy just got blasted in the head and I was the only person who started screaming. He seems to be fine, he's currently trying to smash another guy's brain into the boards, but if I were him I would go straight to the bench and call my mother.

15:00 left in the 3rd -- Penalty on somebody! I have never understood what is legal in this sport and what is not, but the referee is putting his wrists together in an X formation and signaling that something just happened. I think it was probably Boarding, but Enrico disagrees and thinks it's Cross Checking. I tell him that's ridiculous and he agrees and changes his guess to Interference. He's correct! Two minutes for Interference on BC.

13:29 left in the 3rd -- GOAL FOR UNION! 3-2 in favor of the underdogs! The goal was scored by the same guy as the last one and the Union fans are going crazy. MANY of them are also wearing visors and they keep chanting, "Let's go U! Let's go U! Let's go U" which sounds a lot like Michigan's "Let's go blue!" chant. Whatever, these guys deserve to go bonkers. This is literally the only good thing that has ever come out of Schencekedeitdy besides A GODDAMN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES and Aunt Lena's potato latkes.

13:11 left in the 3rd -- OH NOW WE'VE GOT SOME BOARDING. Some guy on Union just smashed a guy into the boards and the BC player is DOWN on the ice. A nearby Union fan screams, "Get up you faker!" and I am not making that up. Enrico is calling for a 5-minute major and the PA announcer comes over the loud speaker and tells us there's a game misconduct! Wowzers! Plus a 5-minute power play for the Eagles!

E-A-G-L-wait I'm rooting for Union.

9:08 left in the 3rd -- Three minutes into the power play and BC cannot get it going. Plus, I now realize that their big guy, #12, a guy who I've been calling "Bates" aka "Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey" all game long is actually named "Hayes."

8:07 left in the 3rd -- GOAL, UNION! Holey moley, only five seconds after they killed off the power play, some dude on Union goes one on one with the keeper, gets stoned, then his teammate puts back the rebound to put them up 4-2! Enrico is devastated! BC calls timeout! The Union fans are going berserker as "Party rock is in the housssse tonighttttttttttt" blasts from the loud speakers. This song is so stupid/amazing. This could be the best night of my life.

4:14 left in the 3rd -- It's looking bleak for BC. The Union crowd continue to dominate the Wells Fargo Center. This is like a home game for Union, like UCONN at the Garden, but nothing like that because the arena is half empty and Shabazz Napier is not STRAIGHT OKIE DOAKIN' FOOLS ALL NIGHT.

2:12 left in the 3rd -- BC has pulled their goalie and Bodie is talking trash to all of the BC players during a stoppage. He kinda seems like a major prick. Plus, all of the lovable Union fans are starting to get really annoying with this "Let's go U!" stuff. I'm pretty much ready to start pulling for BC.

1:45 left in the 3rd -- GOAL, BC! "We ain't dead yet!" screams my trusty editor, right after some dude shoots a laser into the top shelf netting part of the net where the shelf would be if they decided to build a shelf in that net. 4-3 Union. Do you believe in Miracle Whip?!

1:09 left in the 3rd -- It's a GOALNADO, folks! This time, Union pop one in, off of an easy rebound into an open net. You can kiss the Eagles goodbye, it's 5-3 and Enrico looks salty.

:17 left in the 3rd -- OH YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. Another goal, this time for BC and we're back to a one-goal game. 5-4. Could turn out to be meaningless, but it was another top shelf wristaroo.

HORNNNNNNNNNN!!

It's all over! It. Is. All. Over.

Despite a last second shot on net, Union College -- an actual place -- pulls off the major upset over the Boston College Campitellis. They will now advance to play the winner of the Minnesota-North Dakota game, which will get going in a half hour, and I will no way in hell be blogging about.

Three long hours later -- Game 2 was a total snooze fest, but did feature a GOPHER ON ICE and SPINNING CHEERLEADERS.

No goals were scored until 4 minutes left in the final period, but then Minnesota scored two come-from-behind goals including a LEGIT BUZZER BEATER to send them into the finals. In all my years of watching college hockey, I have never seen a more incredible ending to a game.

Even more incredible because now I can go home and go to sleep.

Prediction for the Final -- Minnesota 18, Union 3, Enrico 0.

Follow The Evster @TVMWW.

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