Morning (Almost Lunch) Extras: Phillies Kick Gagne's Tires & Birds Stuff

Morning (Almost Lunch) Extras: Phillies Kick Gagne's Tires & Birds Stuff

Still hoping to bolster their bullpen, the Phils are once again looking into big names from five years ago. The latest is former Cy Young winner and owner of the longest consecutive saves streak in MLB history, Eric Gagne. He last pitched in the bigs for Milwaukee in 2008, going 4-3 in 50 appearances with a 5.44 ERA and 10 saves.

It's cool Amaro is willing to give former All Stars such as Pedro Martinez a look, and that one certainly didn't work out too badly for them. Gagne just seems too far removed from those three seasons between '02 and '04, when he pitched in an astounding 224 games for the Dodgers. Now he has the appearance of a broken down player, one whose name has come up in the steroid scandal at that.

Gagne, a Montreal native, pitched for the Quebec Capitales in the independent Can-Am league in '09. In 17 starts, he went 6-6 with a 4.65 ERA, and 64 strikeouts to 34 walks. Not sure how much to read into those statistics, but the strikeout to walk ratio is telling. In his best days, that number was closer to 7:1. In recent years, it's been 2:1. It's unclear what kind of ball player the Phillies would be getting, but it will never be the same guy who broke records and won awards.

It's just a tryout though. Thoughts on the possibility of adding Eric Gagne?

Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos became the seventh Eagle to make this year's Pro Bowl in Miami. It's not terribly interesting news, but it is notable how he made the team: Wade Phillips.

The Cowboys head man will run the NFC squad this year (rather than the loser of NFC Championship, due to the game being moved up two weeks), and as Michael David Smith explains at PFT, the coach is allowed to select two additional "need" players for the game. Phillips chose Dorenbos, who has been solid since joining the club in 2006.

Donovan McNabb is expected to replace either Brees or Favre on the roster, giving Philly eight representatives in the game.

Quote of the moment by Shawn Andrews, heard on Sports Bash with Mike Gill on ESPN Radio 97.3, relayed by Moving the Chains:

"When I came out to LA after my back issue, I had to look coach Reid in the eye and tell him I owe him," Andrews said. "It’s bigger than football with me right now. If nothing else, I just wish that I could get just one more season just so I can pay coach Reid and just prove to the fans that I still have it, I still want to be a part of this organization. And for coach Reid sticking by me with my situation in 2008, and I definitely owe the city of Philadelphia so hopefully lord willing, I can get back to 100 percent and get to mashing people again."

CSN went to the trouble of compiling a list of what Eagles quarterbacks might fetch in a trade. The results are kind of all over the board, but the consensus was McNabb for a first or high second, Kolb anywhere from a late first to not even a second, and Vick some kind of conditional mid-round pick.

I think they're right on the money with McNabb, who could be worth as high as a first and a third. Vick too, who could easily go for a fourth as we discussed yesterday. Not surprisingly, it's Kolb who didn't get the respect of the panel. Some really smart football guys (Brian Baldinger, Ray Didinger) had him rated no higher than a third round pick. Obviously nobody knows yet what the true market is for any of these guys, but it seems like the Eagles would want a closer return on their investment. A high second round pick who became the first player to throw for 350-plus in his first two starts?

Starting quarterbacks are worth a premium. If a team believes in Kevin Kolb enough to trade for him, the Eagles will almost certainly ask for more.

The Sixers are back in action at the Wach tonight against Portland. Tip at 7:00. That's all I have to say about that.

Instant Replay: Knicks 110, Sixers 109

Instant Replay: Knicks 110, Sixers 109

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- A 17-point game came down to the final possessions. 

The Knicks squeaked out a 110-109 victory, holding on to this one after suffering a buzzer-beating loss to the Sixers on Jan. 11. 

The Knicks squandered a double-digit lead in the fourth as the Sixers slowly chipped away at their lead at the line. The Sixers got within one, 106-105, when T.J. McConnell drained a three after a series of Sixers’ free throws. 

Jahlil Okafor scored a go-ahead basket during a hustling Sixers possession with nine seconds remaining to give the Sixers a 109-108 lead. 

In the end, it was Carmelo Anthony, who had been running up the scoreboard all night (37 points), that nailed the game-winning jumper over Robert Covington. Kyle O’Quinn picked off the Sixers' final inbound attempt. 

Inside the box score
• Okafor finished with a season-high 28 points and 10 rebounds. He had eight rebounds in first half, including a coast-to-coast fast break.

• Dario Saric continues his strong Rookie of the Year push. He finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. 

• Robert Covington struggled from the field overall (7 of 19, 2 of 11 from three) but filled up the stat sheet with 20 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

• Anthony did what Anthony does. He scored 37 points on 15 of 25 from the field, including the game-winner.

Anderson debuts
Justin Anderson made his Sixers debut in the first quarter. Anderson is a multi-positional player and the lineup reflected that. He first played with Rodriguez, Stauskas, Covington and Holmes. Anderson played 3:47 and went 0 for 1 from three with a rebound and a foul. 

While Anderson said he had learned about the Sixers by watching his first game from the bench, he will get more on-the-court experience on Sunday when he plans to spend time at the training complex on the team’s off day. 

Bigs Convene
Joel Embiid was with the Sixers in New York. After the second quarter ended, he stayed on the court to talk with Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah. Both Knicks big men also were sidelined on Saturday.

Trust It
T.J. McConnell isn’t the only one to #trustthefriendship with Saric. Check out this no-look pass to Robert Covington. 

Up next
The Sixers have a day to bounce back from this loss. The 48-9 Warriors come to town on Monday. 

Villanova pushes past Creighton despite exhaustion before off week

Villanova pushes past Creighton despite exhaustion before off week

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA, PA. – Jay Wright finally admitted what we could all see.

The Wildcats are gassed.

No. 2 Villanova beat No. 23 Creighton, 79-63, Saturday at the Pavilion to clinch the Big East Conference regular-season title outright (see Instant Replay).

The Wildcats are 27-3 and 14-3 in the conference, but the last couple weeks their lack of depth has shown.

With Omari Spellman ruled ineligible before the season by the NCAA, Phil Booth out since November with lingering knee pain and Darryl Reynolds out the last five games with a rib injury, Wright has essentially been limited to five starters, freshman Dante DiVincenzo off the bench and a few minutes a night from freshman Dylan Painter.

It's taken a significant toll on the six guys in the rotation. 

Big late leads have dwindled or, in the case of Wednesday’s game against Butler, disappeared. Three-pointers have front-rimmed. Defensive assignments have been missed.

Through it all, Wright refused to admit fatigue was an issue.

Now, with the Wildcats securely the top seed in next month’s conference tournament, Wright is being honest about his team.

They’re exhausted.

“I know you guys have asked a lot, 'Do I think we’re getting worn down with seven guys, 6 1/2 guys,' and I said I don’t think so, I think we can do it,” Wright said Saturday after the Senior Day win over Creighton.

“I gotta answer your question, but it just doesn’t do us any good saying we’re worn out. It’s not an excuse. Other teams have things to deal with. I get we weren’t pretty, we haven’t been pretty, today wasn’t pretty. But I think it just speaks to the leadership of these seniors and I think it speaks to the character of these seniors (that they got through it).

“Are they tired? Yeah. Are they worn down some? Yeah. But it doesn’t matter. Other teams got stuff too. It’s not the reason you lose. It can’t be the reason you lose. Maybe you were tired and you didn’t concentrate or we didn’t defend or we didn’t rebound. That’s what happened and that’s the way we look at it.

“I wasn’t trying to BS you, I was just saying that whether you’re tired or not doesn’t matter, you’ve got to get it done, and we got it done. I’m so proud of them and it’s senior leadership. It’s talented players and senior leadership.”

Villanova now has a week off before an essentially meaningless game next Saturday at Georgetown.

It’ll be the Wildcats’ first extended break since the season began.

“They haven’t had an off week because they played Virginia (two weeks ago in a non-conference game), and now they get it and a chance to get their legs back,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.

“It’s a long season and when you don’t really have a chance to catch your breath, especially because he’s riding six or seven guys pretty hard right now? I’m sure this week off will do them some good.”

Sophomore transfer Eric Paschall had a career day Saturday, with 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting to go with six rebounds. Josh Hart added 16 points and eight boards, Kris Jenkins overcame another off shooting night from three (1 for 7) to record 15 points, four boards and three assists, and Mikal Bridges had 11 points and eight rebounds. DiVincenzo and Jalen Brunson each scored nine points. 

The next meaningful game Villanova plays will be March 9 in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament in New York.

Now it’s time to rest. And heal.

“It’s going to be good for us,” Jenkins said. “We get a couple days off. We’ll still watch film, still learn, still get better, but physically we need a couple days to regroup and get ready for Georgetown and then the Big East tournament.

“Georgetown is first, but we really do need this break.”

On Saturday, Villanova built an 11-point lead, gave it all away, fell behind, traded off seven second-half lead changes, then went on a 16-4 run midway through the second half to finally put away the Bluejays.

With the threes not falling, the Wildcats focused on attacking the rim and scoring in the post in the second half.

Jenkins in particular had an unusual game. He stopped shooting treys and made 5 of 8 shots from inside the arc. That’s the second-most two-pointers he’s ever made and the most he’s ever attempted.

“Just playing off my teammates and adjusting to how teams play me,” said Jenkins, shooting just 30 percent from three the last 10 games.

“They really take away threes and try not to let me get any clean catches so always being aggressive and trying to make the right play.”

For a tired team, backing off the threes was huge.

Villanova outscored Creighton 36-18 over the last 14 minutes after Creighton took its biggest lead – two points at 43-41.

Now comes rest.

“It’s big for these guys,” Wright said. “In my mind, we just had to get to today. We just gotta get through it without getting somebody else hurt and without just being dead.

“Because we’re going to get time off. We’re going to take Sunday off, we’re going to have a light day Monday, and then we’re going to take Tuesday off, because these guys really need the rest. So this is perfect timing for us.”