Philly March Madness: (6) Mark Recchi vs. (11) Cole Hamels

Philly March Madness: (6) Mark Recchi vs. (11) Cole Hamels

Over the next few weeks at The700Level, we'll be posting poll matchups as part of our Philly March Madness competition. Examine the cases of the two fine Philadelphia athletes below, and cast your vote at the bottom as to which you think should advance to the next round. And as always, feel free to explain your selection and/or debate the choices in the comments section.


(6) Mark Recchi

Mark Recchi spent parts of 10 seasons with the Flyers and still holds the team record for points in a season (123), a mark he set in 1992-1993. The diminutive winger, now 43 years old and still a valued member of a Stanley Cup contender, has been a member of two championship teams, although neither were in Philadelphia. Still, Recchi’s blend of grit with pure offensive skill and a trademark ability to create his own shot in a split second made him a fan favorite in Philadelphia, which he continues to be despite playing so many fruitful years of his career as a member of conference rivals Pittsburgh, Montreal, and now Boston. Some Flyers career milestones include five 25-plus-goal seasons, with 40- and a 53-goal campaigns that also saw him top the 100-point mark, and being a member of the “Crazy Eights” line along with Eric Lindros and Brent Fedyk. Recchi is also well known for being involved in two of the most significant trades in Flyers history. First, he came to the Flyers in a deal that sent Rick Tocchet, Kjell Samuellson, and Ken Wregget to Pittsburgh, and he was dealt to Montreal as part of a deal that returned two other members of our field of 64, Eric Desjardins and John LeClair. He was later traded back to the Flyers for Dainius Zubrus. It takes a special kind of player to be loved in Philadelphia long after you’ve left and played for several hated rivals (and become something of a Flyer-killer), but Recchi earned that respect during his time here. -Matt P.


(11) Cole Hamels

Although his career is still on its upswing, Cole Hamels has achieved something even some of the greatest pitchers in the game have only been able to dream about. In 2008, Cole pitched his way into Phillies history by earning the NLCS and World Series MVP honors while helping to break a decades-long championship drought in Philadelphia. In his five playoff starts that year, he posted a 4-0 record, a sub-2.00 ERA, and a 0.91 WHIP. When Philadelphia needed him most, he was at his best. There is little else he needs to accomplish to earn the love of city, but we often have an odd way of showing that. Although Hamels has had a few statements and actions that fans haven’t appreciated, most were insignificant; his continued on-field progress has most people seeing that despite his California calm, Cole is a fierce competitor with a skill set to back it up. Now seated among the four aces, he has had no problem losing sole ownership of the starting pitching spotlight he had just two seasons ago. With Hamels now throwing four pitches well, including a knee-buckling change-up, we have a feeling we’re in for many more years of highlights, possibly even a Cy Young, and hopefully another parade. -Matt P.

Who should advance to the next round?Market Research

Penn State blasted at home by red-hot George Mason

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Penn State blasted at home by red-hot George Mason

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The cheers reverberating from George Mason's locker room came from players experiencing their hottest streak in years. The quiet from Penn State's mirrored the whimper of the Nittany Lions in the second half as their run was snapped.

Marquise Moore scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Otis Livingston added 18 points and the Patriots beat Penn State 85-66 for their sixth straight win and best stretch since 2011-12 on Wednesday.

"It was a great win for our team, really proud of our guys," George Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. "We really, really competed with toughness in the second half, especially I think our second-half defense was really good."

Jalen Jenkins added 15 points for the Patriots (7-3) who snapped Penn State's four-game winning streak.

Penn State led 38-37 after a wild first half that featured 12 lead changes. But the Raiders took control starting with Livingston's 3-pointer that made it 42-40 early in the second. They dominated from there, leading for the remaining 18:58 and outrebounded the Nittany Lions 44-29, outscored them 44-16 in the paint and held a speedy Penn State team to just two fastbreak points.

"We looked young tonight for whatever reason," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We have to figure that out. We have to play much harder."

Payton Banks led Penn State (6-4) with 21 points. Shep Garner and Lamar Stevens chipped in 13 apiece for the Nittany Lions.

The big picture
George Mason: The Patriots are on a roll and keeping pace in a competitive Atlantic 10 conference that had five teams with six wins entering the night. They seem to have flipped a switch following a 93-65 loss to Houston on Nov. 21 and haven't lost since.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions had been winning despite deficiencies in a few areas while making up for them in others over the last four games. They weren't able to make up for their lack of production in the paint, however.

Guards on the glass
Paulsen was wary of the size advantage Penn State's forwards had heading in. The Patriots didn't start anyone over 6-foot-7 while Penn State boasted a trio of forwards at or taller than that. Paulsen was particularly concerned about 6-foot-9 Mike Watkins who was fresh off his best game where he blocked 12 shots against Wright State.

But the George Mason coach had faith in his guards' ability to attack the net and win those rebounds. Moore entered the game as the country's top rebounding guard with 10 per game and posted his sixth double-double of the season.

"We have some pretty good rebounding guards," Paulsen said. "So you can't do it unless you have really active, rebounding guards."

Veteran responsibility
Penn State's gotten big time contributions from a handful of freshmen and started three as usual. But it was one of the veterans who shouldered blame afterward.

Banks was dejected after the game and pointed the finger at himself. Despite leading the team in points, he wasn't able to help on the glass.

"A lot of it just starts with me right here," Banks said. "I had zero rebounds. We can't rely on Lamar (Miller) and Mike for the scoring load and Julian (Moore). Our guards have to rebound and that's what we lacked this game and it definitely showed on the scoreboard."

Up next
George Mason plays at Penn on Saturday and has three of their final five games in 2016 at home.

Penn State plays Pittsburgh in Newark, New Jersey, on Saturday and has another on the road before closing out 2016 with a pair of games at home, including the Big Ten opener on Dec. 27.

Instant Replay: George Washington 66, Temple 63

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Instant Replay: George Washington 66, Temple 63

BOX SCORE

With one second on the shot clock, George Washington forward Tyler Cavanaugh let a three-point shot fly from the corner right in front of his bench.

Cavanaugh’s shot hit the bottom of the net to give the Colonials a three-point lead with 8.2 seconds left. Moments later, Temple redshirt senior swingman Daniel Dingle’s open look at a game-tying shot hit off the back of the rim, and George Washington handed the Owls a 66-63 loss on Wednesday at the Liacouras Center.

Temple (6-3) came into the game on a five-game winning streak but looked sluggish from the start. The Owls scored just five points in the game’s first six minutes, 34 seconds.

Temple went into halftime down, 31-25, and trailed George Washington (6-4) by as many as 15 points in the second half. Senior guard Josh Brown hit two threes late in the second half to bring Temple within six. Dingle hit two more to tie the game at 61-61 with 2:44 left. 

Two Cavanaugh free throws followed by a jumper from Temple sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. then tied the game at 63-63 with 39.1 seconds left.

The Owls played the game’s final moments without junior forward Obi Enechionyia, who fouled out with 3:41 left.

Enechionyia cooling off
Enechionyia was held in check for the second game in a row. He scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds but made only one basket in the second half.

The junior went 5 of 17 for 12 points against Penn on Saturday. He scored 20-plus points in five of Temple’s first seven games.

Inside the box score
• Colonials guard Jordan Roland came into the game averaging 4.3 points per game. Roland scored 14 points on Wednesday.

• Brown, who played his first game of the season last Wednesday against St. Joe’s, played a season-high 24 minutes. He played a combined 25 minutes in his first two contests.

• George Washington outrebounded Temple, 37-23. The Colonials had 18 turnovers compared to nine for Temple.

Up next
Temple plays DePaul in the Miami Hoophall Invitational on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.