Middle finger last year, indifference this year: Halil Kanacevic talks about St. Joe's vs. Nova on Saturday

Middle finger last year, indifference this year: Halil Kanacevic talks about St. Joe's vs. Nova on Saturday

One year after saluting Villanova fans with both of his middle fingers and then promptly blowing the game, St. Joe’s forward Halil Kanacevic was asked by reporters this week if he was relieved that the Hawks' next game against ’Nova -  this Saturday at 6 p.m. - is in his home gym.

And he responded with what was the equivalent of a shrug. A manly shrug.

“Personally, I don’t care,” he said. “It could have been there. I have no problem with it. But whatever, it’s here. I’ll go play there – I don’t care. Whatever happened last year happened last year. It’s a new year.”

Hear that, ’Nova fans? Kanacevic isn’t scared of your middle-finger-prompted heckling. And he’ll surely get plenty of that from the Main Liners that were able to secure a seat in tiny Hagan Arena for Saturday’s Big 5 showdown in Philadelphia.

But there might not be too many of them. For my CSNPhilly.com game preview, Kanacevic told me that “getting tickets is harder than getting tickets for the Super Bowl” and that he can’t even get some of his family members seats in the cozy gym.

The fans that do make it inside the building will almost certainly see a great game (perhaps a court-storming if St. Joe's pulls off the win against the 14th-ranked team?) but they probably won’t see any more obscene gestures. Kanacevic has learned his lesson that giving the finger to an entire section of students is not exactly the smartest thing to do.

“I probably should be the one that dwells on it the most,” he said. “It happened. I learned from it. I’m not gonna do it again. That’s pretty much all I can say about it, honestly. But whether the game being here, there, people dwelling on it, that’s really out of my mind. I’m just worried about winning a basketball game.”

Carson Wentz further asserting himself as Eagles' leader in Year 2

Carson Wentz further asserting himself as Eagles' leader in Year 2

It's not like Carson Wentz wasn't a leader last year. 

He was. 

From the moment the No. 2 pick arrived at rookie camp in May, those leadership qualities the Eagles discovered during the pre-draft process were immediately on display. Wentz is a natural leader at a position that necessitates it. 

So in his rookie season, he led. 

"I thought that was all kind of natural, things naturally happened," Wentz said. "Yes, I was a rookie but I don't think that I was by any means quiet. I wasn't just the guy that rolled with the punches and went with it. I thought I was still doing my job as a leader as well. But the longer we're playing this game and the more experience we have, the more we can just step up our leadership as well."

If Wentz was a leader in his rookie season, he's really a leader now.  

Last year, he arrived to the Eagles' offseason after the whirlwind of the NFL draft and admitted on Tuesday that he "didn't really know where the locker room was." Hard to lead when you don't know where to get changed. 

And throughout last spring, he was the team's third-string quarterback preparing for a redshirt season until he was thrust into the starting role after the Sam Bradford trade, just a little over a week before the start of the season. 

A year sometimes makes a huge difference. 

This year, he's the guy, the face of the franchise, the unquestioned leader of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. 

"There’s definitely a poise about him," receiver Jordan Matthews said. "You can tell it’s not like last year when he was thrust into the position. He knows his role, he knows he’s the guy, and I think there’s a sense of confidence that comes with that, a sense of poise that he handles extremely well. I’m excited to see what he does this whole offseason and what we’re going to do moving forward."

Wentz is the Eagles' leader on and off the field. He's planning on getting together with his receivers and skills position players again this summer, something he thinks will become an annual trip. 

Earlier this month, Wentz took his offensive linemen out for a day of shooting guns and eating steaks (see story). He bought his entire line shotguns last Christmas. 

It might not seem like a summer get-together or a trigger-happy trip would help the Eagles on the field, but it might. After all, the team's being closer certainly won't hurt. And Wentz, 24, is the guy facilitating all of it. 

Then there's the way Wentz leads on the field. He's always had control of the huddle, but with more time in the offense, he knows what he wants. Center Jason Kelce said the more knowledge Wentz gains of the offense, the "more comfortable (he is) voicing [his] opinion." 

"And I think that he's definitely asserting his style on the offense," Kelce said. 

For the most part, Wentz had a pretty good season as a rookie, flourishing early, hitting a long rough patch, and then finding his way out of it. He ended up throwing for 3,782 yards and set an NFL record for completions as a rookie. 

The Eagles this year, and in the foreseeable future, will go as far as Wentz leads them. 

"They say the biggest jump is from year one to year two, so him just knowing what’s coming, he looks like a vet already," offensive tackle Lane Johnson said. "Pretty extraordinary."

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Shaq always has the trump card -- and by that we mean championship rings -- to throw in Charles Barkley's face. But with that said, Sir Charles is probably a much better trash talker and therefore has a superior mouth to defend himself with and throw barbs back in Shaq's direction.

The mouthy duo got into it a bit last night and it teetered between fun and lighthearted and a little personal.

Shaq attacks Chuck for only playing in one NBA Finals and therefore not really knowing what he was talking about. Charles claps back at Shaq for having ridden Kobe and Dwyane Wade's coattails. 

During an NBA playoffs that has been mostly boring, at least these two can still entertain us.