Interminable Sixers Coaching Search At An End: It's the Spurs Guy

Interminable Sixers Coaching Search At An End: It's the Spurs Guy

At the draft a month and a half ago, erroneous reports (which we played our part in further circulating) surfaced that the Sixers had hired former Spurs assistant and Australian national team head coach Brett Brown to succeed Doug Collins as the Ballers' new fearless leader. A month-and-a-half after that story was debunked, and after 2/3 of the assistant coaches in North America were interviewed for the position, Sam Hinkie has finally made his selection...and it's former Spurs assistant and Australian national team head coach Brett Brown. Good looking out, Hink.

Update: Marc Stein is now reporting that colleagues are trying to talk him out of accepting the job. Shut up, coaching dudes.

What do we know about Brett Brown? Not much, but Rich Hoffman of Liberty Ballers apparently knows some things, and the following takeaways from his recent profile on BreBro seem noteworthy:

1. He has a stellar reputation for player development, having served as director of player development for San Antone from 2002-2006--which, for what it's worth, was the period when two late draft picks in Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker first became perennial All-Star candidates and likely future Hall-of-Famers. Sixers are gonna need a healthy dose of young-dude whispering over the next half-decade, so that's good to know.

2. He's a pretty worldly dude, having found his way to the Australian national team after taking a post-basketball backpacking trip across the land down under. Having a good working knowledge of international hostels doesn't necessarily make you a basketball genius, natch, but hey, the two best coaches of the last quarter century (Phil Jackson and Brown's old boss Gregg Popovich) were both pretty cultured dudes, so maybe there's something to that.

3. He has a really thick Boston accent. Don't quite know what to think of that, to be honest, but it should make for some entertaining post-gamers, at least.

Hoffman also points out that if Brown takes after Pop, he'll also be smart enough to stay out of the way of the team's tanking effort--as the Spurs did in '97 in order to land Tim Duncan--which is also probably a good thing.

In the end, my analysis of this coaching move is the same as it was six weeks ago: Brown has the word "Spurs" closely associated with his name, so good hire by default. You can't exactly translate stats across coaching gigs, so we'll just have to wait and see what the Brett Brown era brings us, but I'm more optimistic than not. Go smart Sixers.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).