Philly Rolls Through Chicago

Philly Rolls Through Chicago

My kind of town, Chicago is..  First off, some general thoughts on the town of Chicago.  The city is beautiful and the fact that there is a beach along the whole town is pretty amazing.  Everywhere we went was very nice and extremely clean.  The people were also incredibly friendly and nice, even when a few of us (see scooter) were living up to their Philly reputations.

We started Friday off at the Cubby Bear which is directly across the street from the famous Wrigley Field sign.  It reminded me of a Chikie and Pete's feel.  There was a real solid showing of Philly fans here, and also the entire weekend.  For Friday's game we sat along the first base side in the last possible row, but much like CBP the view was still very nice.  The rooftop seats outside of the park are pretty impressive and Wrigley has a tremendous baseball vibe to it.  The Phillies played pretty well and Cory Lidle pitched a great outing to give the Phillies a chance to win.  Our group was questioning the move to pitch to Derek Lee.  But Latroy Hawkins came through to be the MVP of the game for the Phils.  It was great to get a win in our first time at Wrigley.

Post game we checked out Hi-Tops which was a good time.  Very nice scenery and a packed house following the game.  We rested up a bit after that and took a walk along the beach.  I have never been to a major city with a beach before, so I thought it was pretty impressive.  This is where we have a great group shot with some nice Chicagoins.  After we checked out the beach we ran into the guy on the scooter who allowed our special friend take it for some off roading.

Friday night we wandered around the city a bit and ended up at nice bar called Cactus.  I am a huge fan of any bar where you can drink outside, and the weather was perfect.  Great times.  We think we went somewhere after Cactus, but no one can confirm this.  Please note on the picture below of the Wrigley Field sign, it isn't just horribly off center, I was trying to get the Phillies flag in the picture as well.

We got a slower start to Saturday and ended up opting to watch most of the game at Hi-Tops and later Goose Island Wrigleyville.  One of the highlights of Saturday's game may have been Will Ferrell singing the National Anthem in his phenomenal Harry Carey voice.  Ditka was also there.

Random Phillies notes: no one likes Jose Offerman, also Ryan Howard has been pitiful.

The Phillies won Saturday's game and Billy Wagner made everyone happy by showing his stuff.

Following the game we decided to go all out Chicago style and hit up the great steakhouse Gene & Georgetti's on Franklin Street.  I went with the filet mignon, garlic mashed, and shared some creamed spinach.  We also downed a few bottles of a nice shiraz.  After dinner we went to see a show at The Second City which is a comedy club famous for producing SNL stars.  The show didn't disappoint, at least it didn't disappoint those who got to see all of it.  The show was actually really long and very funny.  A great guest appearance in the third set included Jim Belushi and his son as well as two other former SNL guys, but they were older so I didn't recognize them.  Following this we hit up Dublins where the beers are cold and the drinks don't stay down to well.

Sunday we headed to the ball park earlier than usual because most of us just wanted to watch a baseball game.  We had bleacher seats and we couldn't have asked for better weather.

Bobby Abreu was the only Phillie to get anything on the board for the Fightins and we had to leave the brooms at home.  We sat in right center, right behind Bobby Abreu, who much to the dismay (or was it the opposite) of our crew butchered a fly ball he could have caught.  Brett Myers pitched very well, with the exception of two dingers he allowed.  The fans in the bleachers were great, we made a few cubbie friends.

It was an awesome weekend of basball in the windy city.  Who's booking the trip to San Diego?

For the complete photo album of the weekend click here.

Sans Spellman, challenges face Villanova in run to repeat

Sans Spellman, challenges face Villanova in run to repeat

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Darryl Reynolds said it hurt. And he wasn’t alone. 

A month ago, Reynolds and the rest of the Villanova Wildcats found out five-star freshman big man Omari Spellman would not be eligible to play in 2016-17.

And despite Spellman — at 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds — being the biggest competition cutting into Reynolds’ playing time for his senior year, Reynolds understood the ramifications from losing what was expected to be a key cog in Villanova’s next run for glory.

“We lost a — no pun intended — big piece to the puzzle,” Reynolds said Tuesday at Villanova’s media day. “He went down, but everybody else has realized that we need that much more from everybody else.

“Me and Omari are close, in more ways than on the court. It would’ve been exciting to play with him. But it also provided that much more motivation.”

Motivation because Reynolds, a Lower Merion grad, also understands what the ramifications mean for him, too. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound senior may arguably be the most important player on the 2016-17 Wildcats. 

For three years, Reynolds has largely taken a backseat, hidden by the shadow of Daniel Ochefu. Now he’s front and center.

“He battled through that,” fellow senior Josh Hart said. “Never complained. Never had any down moments. Brought it every single day. We know he can play at this level.”

Reynolds heads a position in which Villanova was supposed to have depth. Now it has question marks. Reynolds and Spellman were going to be a 1-2 punch inside and a perfect supplement to a bevy of offensive talent around them. The question marks up front include sophomore Tim Delaney and freshman Dylan Painter. How quickly the two of them get going will be big. And so, too, will be figuring out where Fordham transfer forward Eric Paschall fits in the rotation.

Coach Jay Wright, who said Reynolds would be a starter, talked more about the other pieces behind Reynolds when asked what he’d be expecting from the senior big man.

“I think part of our challenge is Tim Delaney and Dylan Painter,” Wright said. “Which one of them, if not both of them, can step up and give us the depth that Darryl gave us last year up front when we needed size? Down the stretch in big games against big-time teams, you need that size. We’ve got to develop Tim and Dylan and see how they do with that, see how Eric Paschall can do. Can he play bigger? We definitely have our challenges.”

Those challenges also include replacing leadership roles vacated by Ryan Arcidiacono, Ochefu and a trio of walk-ons.

Insert Reynolds there, too. The Wildcats will start three seniors this year. Hart and Kris Jenkins may do most of the scoring, but they’re pretty reserved off the court and when talking to the media.

“Obviously Ryan (Arcidiacono) was a great leader for us. He was our rock,” Hart said. “When you look at this team, a lot of times we look at [Reynolds]. He calms everybody down. He vocally tries to make sure everybody’s on one accord. Basketball-wise, he’s always been good. You saw the Providence game last year when we needed him to step up and he had, what, like 19 and 11?”

Hart remembers the numbers well, even if he added an extra rebound to the ledger. Reynolds was 9 for 10 from the floor and had two blocks in 36 minutes of action to help the Wildcats earn revenge with a road win after the Friars beat them in Philadelphia two weeks prior.

That game was the last of a three-game stretch in late January into early February when Ochefu was sidelined with a concussion. Reynolds’ minutes over that stretch: 29, 31 and 36, respectively.

That experience, Reynolds says, coupled with the rest of 2015-16 — when he saw an uptick in minutes from his sophomore season’s 5.4 per game to 17.1 per game — will be easy to draw from in 2016-17.

“There’s nothing like getting out there and actually playing,” Reynolds said. “You see a lot from the sidelines. You learn a lot playing spot minutes. You get different things. But just being out there throughout entire games, playing 20-plus minutes, it teaches you things that you could never have learned from another perspective. I learned a lot from those experiences and I think it made me the player that I am in many ways. It’s the same thing with this year. I’m still going to learn a ton in a sense of being out there that much more and not having Daniel. 

“In many ways he taught me a lot. So not having him, not having that voice in my ear, not having that guy to go against in practice, it will make me grow up. 

“Nothing wrong with that,” he said with a smile.