Sixers Extras: Career Years for Thad and Dre?

Sixers Extras: Career Years for Thad and Dre?

The list of reasons why the Sixers are playing so much better this year than last is a long one, from the second-year leap of Jrue Holiday to the resurgence of Elton Brand to the new leadership of coach Doug Collins. But two of the biggest reasons are players who have been the core of the team's offensive attack since the first time the team made the playoffs in the post-Iverson era. It's been an awesome season for both Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, one which has seen both players playing their role on the Sixers better than ever before. And the people have begun to take notice.

Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News writes about Thad's rise in Philly this season, and calls him "perhaps the primary reason for the Sixers' meteoric rise from bottom-of-the-standings dwellers to one of the best teams in the league over the past month and a half." Cooney points out Young's career-high field-goal percentage (55%) and his wise decision to stop launching so many threes (only 18 attempts after 302 his first three years) as evidence of his better fit with the Liberty Ballers this season. "This year, I've laid off the jump shot a lot because I know what my strengths are and what to do to get where I need to be," Young is quoted as saying. 

Meanwhile, Coach Collins salutes Thad in the same article for his effort on the other side of the ball. "The one thing about Thad is his defensive growth has been the key to our team,'' quoth Collins. "He has done an amazing job with his quickness and his speed and guarding screen-and-roll and covering space with speed. He has been a huge part of why we're a good defensive team." Interestingly, the article barely even makes mention of Thad's move to the bench this season--good to see that the Sixers are above getting hung up on such roles these days.

As for whether Young, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has earned himself a place in the team's future..."We hope," says GM Ed Stefanski. Fair enough for now, I suppose.

While Thad's improved numbers speak for themselves, you have to dig a little deeper to appreciate the year that Andre Iguodala has been having, writes John Finger of CSN Philly. Finger acknowledges that 'Dre has dipped in most conventional statistical categories, seeing his points per game drop from 17.1 to 14.1, his free-throw percentage from 73% to 71%, and his field goal rate hover once more around an uninspiring 44%.

But, Finger points out, these metrics don't tell the whole story. "In the realm of advanced metrics," he writes, "Iguodala is charting the best Win Shares per 48 minutes, assist percentage, the best defensive rating and best rate of turnovers given in a season for his career." Indeed, Coach Collins supports the idea of 'Dre having a career-best year in '10-'11. "Andre is a playmaker for us. He’s a rebounder, he’s a defender and I think he’s been terrific," says Collins. "I never judge a guy like that based on his statistics. I judge him by the value to his team and how well he plays and if he gives you a chance to win."

Defense and leadership seem to be the buzzwords when describing 'Dre's impact ont he Sixers this season. The defense should be obvious to Sixers fans by now, as Finger and Collins point out the excellent job that Iguodala has done defending such all-world scorers as the Celtics' Paul Pierce and the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, but the leadership has been somewhat new to this season--something attributed by many to his experience with Team USA over the summer. "I’ve been trying to be a leader and do what I can to make some of the guys become better,” says Iguodala.

Whether or not you agree that this is a career year for either player, you have to agree that this feels pretty far away from the 'Dre and Thad that sulked through a 27-win season for Eddie Jordan last year. And for that, we should be very thankful.

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

052816-union-webbestvideo3_1920x1080_694956099989.jpg

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Brian Carroll tied it in 92nd minute and the Union escaped with a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in a showdown of the Western and Eastern conference leaders.

Carroll ran underneath Fabian Herbers' high-arching header and slotted the finish under goalkeeper Zac MacMath from close range.

The Union (5-3-5) responded only 5 minutes after the Rapids (8-2-4) opened the scoring on Sam Cronin's header in the 87th minute. Cronin made a deep run to connect with Marlon Hairston's cross from the right flank, redirecting it into the far corner of the goal.

Both Dillon Powers and Luis Solignac had shots crash off the crossbar for the Rapids after the 70th minute.

The Union extended their unbeaten streak to seven while the Rapids stayed unbeaten in their nine home games this season.

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

052816-salisbury-post-webbestvideo3_1920x1080_694933571725.jpg

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing the New York Mets 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch -- almost certainly his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers' bench to keep teammates calm -- and later answered by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that appeared to hit him in the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings for the win. The right-hander yielded two hits, both in the first, and snapped his three-game losing streak.

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets' 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Corey Seager and Howie Kendrick also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets -- and their fans -- were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard's first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman's back by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets' dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett's first pitch of the sixth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 6-0 cushion with his 38th career homer against the Mets.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

Where are you now?
Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

Trainer's room
Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

Up next
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts against the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May -- including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

080213-raudabaugh-slideshow-uspw.jpg
USA Today Images

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

The Soul fell on the road to the Cleveland Gladiators, 63-49, at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.

The loss was just the second of the season and the first away from the Wells Fargo Center for the Soul. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh completed 25 of 44 passes for 342 yards and seven touchdownsi in a losing effort.

The Gladiators were led by receiver Quentin Sims, who finished with 10 receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns, and signal caller Arvell Nelson who completed 22 of 36 passes for 307 yards and seven touchdowns.

Next week, the Soul travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks on Saturday, June 4. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports and 97.5 The Fanatic.  Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.