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Same Old Sixers? Five Ways This Year's Team is Different Than the Last Few

Same Old Sixers? Five Ways This Year's Team is Different Than the Last Few

The script feels awfully familiar, it's true. The Philadelphia 76ers
have gotten off to a fairly good start this season, going 10-7 in their
first 17 games, but have done so mostly at home and mostly against
fairly weak teams, and it feels like only a matter of time until they
start falling back and end up about where they've ended up in four of
the last five seasons—with a seventh and eighth-seed in the playoffs and
an all-but-certain first-round exit. The Sixers aren't a bad team, but
they're not an elite team, and they will probably be exposed for their
mediocrity sooner or later, just as they have been every other year. 


However, even though the overall story arc is a retread, the season
doesn't feel quite like a repeat. That's because a number of the
details—including some of the cast and characters—have been different
enough from past years, last year especially, to keep things
interesting. Here are some of the changed subplots for the Sixers this
year:


1. They're winning in close games, not blowouts. When the Sixers
got off to their hot start last year, John Hollinger briefly had them
listed at the top of his Power Rankings. This year, they're in the 20s.
Why the huge disparity, despite the similar records? Scoring
differential. Last year, the Sixers were 12-5 after 17 games, but they
had an incredible +209 scoring margin, including eight wins of 20 points
or more against lottery-bound teams like the Raptors, Warriors, Pistons
and Wizards. The inflated wins, explained largely by the Sixers having
the advantage of a consistent roster from the year before in a
strike-shortened, training-campless season, made the team seem more
dominant than they actually were, and masked the fact that they still
had no idea how to win close games, an inability that would haunt them
later in the season when the rest of the league started to catch up to
them.


This year, the Sixers aren't blowing out anybody. Their biggest win
this season was a 15-point victory in New Orleans, and their nine other
W's have been by ten points or less—in fact, for the season, the Sixers
have a negative scoring differential, having been outscored by opponents
by a total of 14 points. Most statistical analysts would point to this
decreased scoring differential as a sign that this Sixers team is weaker
than last year's, and rightly so, though on the other hand, you could
at least say that this marks some sort of progress, that the fact that
the Sixers are now able to close in close games against mediocre
opponents, where their record last year in one-possession games was
abysmal. It's a change of pace anyway.


2. They don't fast break anymore. Whether a conscious
strategic decision by Coach Collins or a matter of changes in
personnel—the departed Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams were two of the
team's best fast-breakers and most aggressive playmakers—the team
doesn't really run anymore. After finishing in the top five in the
league in fast-break scoring each of the last five years (except for
last year, when they finished eighth), the team ranks only 19th this
season, with about 13 points a game.


With Jrue Holiday as the team's primary ball-handler, the team runs a
much more precise, orchestrated half-court offense that doesn't rely on
scoring in transition. Watching Holiday in transition, he rarely looks
to be bolting for the basket, instead just steadily advancing towards
the hoop, looking for easy-score opportunities to present themselves,
and running a play if none do. Given the improved half-court option the
team has acquired (Jason Richardson, Nick Young) or developed (Evan
Turner, Thaddeus Young) this year, this makes sense, though it results
in a lot fewer highlight dunks and such as we had with 'Dre and Sweet
Lou running the team at 60 MPH.


3. They can shoot the three-ball. The primary half-court
weapon the team has added to their arsenal this year is the
three-pointer. The team averaged a solid 36.2% from three last year, but
they barely shot the long-ball, averaging about 14.6 attempts a game,
the sixth-lowest rate in the league. This year, they're shooting more
from deep—about 18.5 attempts a game—and converting at a higher rate,
38.2%, good for sixth in the league. Thanks to the recently acquired
trio of Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Jason Richardson (particularly
Richardson, averaging 2.5 treys a game on 43% shooting) and internal
improvement from Jrue Holiday (39%) and to the surprise of many, Evan
Turner (42%), teams now need to honor the Sixers' three-point shooting,
giving Jrue Holiday more options when penetrating and Thaddeus Young
more freedom to operate on the post.


4. Their starters are their scorers. For the first two years
of the Doug Collins era, our Coach seemed obsessed with keeping scoring
balance between the starting lineup in bench, with two of the team's
three best scorers—including Lou Williams, who became the first player
in nearly 20 years to lead his team in scoring as a sixth man—coming off
the bench. Well, not this year—our top four scorers all start this
year, and they're the only four players on the team averaging
double-digits in points per game. Even the odd man out in the starting
lineup—Lavoy Allen, eighth in team scoring with 6.2 points a game—has
started to pick it up, going for double-digits in three of his last four
games after only doing so three times in the team's first 13 games.


This disparity might not exactly have been by design for Coach
Collins—he's probably still hoping to get more scoring out of Nick Young
(9.6 ppg, 38% FG), Spencer Hawes (7.2 ppg, 44% FG) and Dorell Wright
(7.9 ppg, 33% FG)—but it does sort of illustrate that the team's
strengths might not be in its depth, as it was last year, but rather
that our good players area really getting good. Which brings us to...


5. They have room for improvement. Under the guidance of
veterans Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and Elton Brand, the team was
probably better at the beginning of last season than it has been this
season. But that team was never going to be better than it was during
that first month of the season—its core guys had already become who they
were, and the team's ceiling was correspondingly low. This year,
though, it's all about potential, which the team is only starting to
realize. Two of the team's core players, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young,
seem to be getting better with every game, and a third, Jrue Holiday,
seems like a front-runner for the Most Improved Player award with his
play all season. The chemistry is improving, a team identity is
emerging, and the unit on a whole just seems a lot stronger than it did
when the season began a month ago—with the potential to get even
stronger as the season goes on.


Oh yeah, and there's still that other guy, the world's most
controversial seven-foot Trina superfan, healing on IR, hopefully to
join the team before season's end. Maybe he makes the Sixers a whole lot
better with his return, maybe he proves toxic upon his return and
actually makes the team worse, maybe he doesn't return at all. But the
prospect of his return, however unlikely it might appear at this point,
means you can't close the book on this Sixers season just yet, since if
he actually does join the tam at some point, they instantly go
from being one of the most predictable teams in the league to one of the
most unpredictable. After years of knowing the ending in the first
couple chapters, we'll gladly take the promise of an uncertain ending.

CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

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CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
Company: Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia
# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours

Basic Function

This position will work closely with the Vice President of Sales in generating revenue through commercial advertisements and sponsorship sales. The intern will gain first-hand sales experience through working with Sales Assistants and AEs on pitches, sales-calls and recapping material.

Duties and Responsibilities

• Assist Account Executive on preparation of Sales Presentations
• Cultivate new account leads for local sales
• Track sponsorships in specified programs
• Assist as point of contact with sponsors on game night set up and pre-game hospitality elements.
• Assist with collection of all proof of performance materials.
• Perform Competitive Network Analysis
• Update Customer database
• Other various projects as assigned

Requirements

1. Good oral and written communication skills.
2. Knowledge of sports.
3. Ability to work non-traditional hours, weekends & holidays
4. Ability to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
5. Must be 19 years of age or older
6. Must be a student in pursuit of an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Juris Doctor degree
7. Must have unrestricted authorization to work in the US
8. Must have sophomore standing or above
9. Must have a 3.0 GPA

Interested students should apply here and specify they're interested in the ad/sales internship.

About NBC internships

5 Minutes with Roob: Mitchell White talks about his time in Canada

5 Minutes with Roob: Mitchell White talks about his time in Canada

In today's "Five Minutes with Roob," Reuben Frank chats with Eagles cornerback Mitchell White:
 
Roob: Hey everybody, welcome to today’s edition of Camp Central here with cornerback Mitchell White. Welcome to Philly! Let’s go back in time — now, you were as much of a track prospect in high school as a football prospect, right? What led you to football as opposed to the high jump? You were a 6-foot-10 high-jumper, which is pretty good.
 
White: I don’t know, I was just always drawn to football in general. I like the team and camaraderie of it. Track was kind of more natural, and I don’t want to brag about it or anything, but it was easy. It came very easy to me, very natural. Football I enjoyed working for a goal and achieving success in that sport. So just more of a thrill and more of a satisfaction out of it.
 
Roob: Now you go to Michigan State as a walk-on. What were the challenges of that, and how tough was it to earn a scholarship as a walk-on there?
 
White: The challenges are pretty similar to being an undrafted free agent here. Every year, you start at the bottom of the depth chart and they bring guys in for that specific position every year. And you have to hustle — you kind of take the back door every single year, so you have to re-earn that scholarship every single year. It just gets you in that mindset of just always working and never taking for granted a play or a rep. Always hustling, being the first guy to do something. Obviously, it benefits me now in the long run, but it was definitely a challenge. I had a twin brother who was on scholarship, I had a younger brother who was on scholarship, so definitely being in that household it felt like I had to get on scholarship.
 
Roob: They’d just walk around calling you walk-on?
 
White: Yeah, yeah.
 
Roob: ‘Come to dinner, walk-on!’
 
White: Right.
 
Roob: You go to Oakland after school finished, you sign with the Raiders and I believe you were there with Matt McGloin if I have my dates right. You were there for that whole first training camp. What was that experience like?  
 
White: Again, I would say looking back to that time, I was just trying to hold my head above water. I was a rookie fresh out of college, so everything was really fast for me and I hadn’t played much at the defensive back position in college in terms of game experience. But yeah, looking back, it’s helped me this time around because I have a little bit more seasoning of what to expect at training camp, how you need to take care of your body, things you need to pay attention to and how you need to get into the swing of things.
 
Roob: What about the decision to go to Canada? You were just talking to Aaron Grymes here, who’s a CFL vet like you. You both did three years up there, you both won a Grey Cup. What was that experience like and was that a tough call going up there?
 
White: I think if you’re born in America and the United States, you want to play in the NFL. I think you’ve got to understand that it comes down to realities, like, ‘Look, I want to keep playing football.’ I didn’t want to spend a year out of football. I wanted to get better, to play to get better. It’s a humbling experience, but then your options get fewer. It’s definitely professional football up there and it teaches you how to play and you’ve got to play every week.
 d up going up there and finding wow, there are some good players up here and there’s some good football and I’ve got to bring my game. You don’t have a lot of options once you go up there and if you get cut, then your options get fewer. It’s definitely professional football up there and it teaches you how to play and you’ve got to play every week.

Roob: Now, a crazy thing happened after your second year with Montreal and this story blows my mind. They asked you to take a pay cut even though you were a starter, you were an established player. And you’re a prideful guy. Tell everyone what happened when they asked you to take a pay cut.
 
White: I don’t want to bring a negative light on that. It’s a business side of football and unfortunately, it came to me. I had a great experience in Montreal all the way up to that point, but yeah, we had a camp and I had moved to a new position that year. I thought I had a good camp but they asked me to take a pay cut and that was a really big moment for me because I trusted myself as a player and I said, ‘Look, I’m not going to take a pay cut and I’ll take my chances somewhere else in this league. I think somebody else is going to pick me up.’ And sure enough, they did. I had to wait four weeks for it, but Ottawa picked me up and I ended up having my best season up there.
 
Roob: So you sign with the Redblacks and you guys go 9-9-1 but you get to the Grey Cup and you’re 10-point underdogs to the Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup, which is the Super Bowl of Canada. Oh, by the way, Montreal? Who cut you? You had an interception against them in the regular season to seal the game, so you get a little revenge. But what do you remember about the Grey Cup? And what an accomplishment, I think they were 16-2-1, you guys were 9-9-1. They were heavy favorites and you guys won it all.
 
White: The one thing I remember about that week was how confident as a unit we were. We were just like, ‘We know what to do. It’s game time.’ One of the better feelings is playing championship-level football and playing for your team and that, to me, was one of the best parts of that experience. Really giving it up for your team and your teammates because I just want to win that game. I don’t care about anything else, I just want to win and when you accomplish that, it’s a real feeling. There’s nothing like winning the championship and that’s what I hope we can do here.
 
Roob: Now how do you feel like you fit in? It’s a very young group of corners and everyone’s getting a good, long look. Jim Schwartz talked about, ‘I don’t know who the starters are. I don’t know who the backups are.’ Everything’s up for grabs. You feel like it’s a good spot for you from that aspect?
 
White: One thing that I’m best at is when I have an opportunity to compete. And I think everybody here at the professional level wants to be able to compete and get their fair shake at a chance. Obviously, I came from a household where we’re all athletes and we were taught that the cream rises to the top. And it’s long camp and it’s going to play itself out.
 
Roob: We appreciate a few minutes. Eagles cornerback Mitchell White, good luck. Thank you.