Sixers Season Starts Tonight

Sixers Season Starts Tonight

The Sixers season starts tonight in South Philly against Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, and the Milwaukee Bucks.  The Birdman and I went down to the Wachovia Center on Saturday for an open practice for all season ticket holders.  (I am not one)  One side of the lower bowl was open and maybe half full.  It was rather cool to see an NBA team practice.  Mo Cheeks was miked up and you could hear him yelling at the players.  Mo was noting repeatedly that they usually don't look this bad.  He even yelled at A.I. for cussing.  It was all pretty humorous and entertaining.  NBA players have to shoot for a chance to avoid doing suicides as well; this brought me back to high school basketball days.

Some observations I made: There are a lot of new faces.  Steven Hunter will be starting tonight due to Samuel Dalembert's injury.  Lee Nailon should be one of the new bench guys to see a lot of action.  Louis Williams is quick.  He and Iverson were talking some smack.

One of the coolest aspects of the day was some of the player interaction with the fans.  On his way off the court, Iverson signed some autographs and actually took the jersey off of his back and gave it to a young fan.  Chris Webber also gave the jersey off his back to a fan.  Nice moves.

This paragraph from yesterday's article by Phil Jasner gives a nice synopsis of the state of the Sixers coming into opening night:

Opening night tomorrow against the Milwaukee
Bucks is not projecting the way Cheeks and president/general manager
Billy King had anticipated. Starting center Samuel Dalembert, who
aggravated his right quadriceps strain in Thursday's preseason finale
in San Antonio, is out for at least 10 to 14 days. Starting small
forward Kyle Korver hyperextended his left knee in Saturday's open
practice at the Wachovia Center and was held out of yesterday's
session, but Cheeks said, "I think he'll be ready to play."

My thoughts on the coming season: It should be an exciting year.  No one expects anything out of them, so if they play well and make a decent playoff run then fans should be happy.  Andre Iguodala and Allen Iverson are two of the most exciting players in the game and watching them every night should be a treat.  Will CWebb be able to perform at any level near his all star days?  Will his knees hold up?  In any event, the Sixers have some young talent and the A.I. duo should be fun to watch.

Elsewhere:

-Dalembert out two weeks with reinjured quad [ESPN]
-Cheeks wants to see some pressure defense [Inky]:

"I think we have more willing guys to get up
and play this type of defense than we did in Portland," he said. "It's
what I wanted to play [there], but I think these guys are a lot more
willing. You also have, as I had in Portland, a couple of shot-blockers
back there."

-Team Report: Getting Inside [Foxsports]
-Wack ranks third among hoops arenas in USA Today [Sixers Journal]:

The top 5; Denver (4.16), Indiana (4.14), Philadelphia (4.14), Phoenix (4.11), Detroit (4.05).

-A.I. should pull back [ESPN Insider]:

This year's Sixers have too much talent elsewhere to stand around and
watch A.I. dribble, drive, elevate and either shoot or kick out a pass
because he couldn't get a shot off. It's not contender talent mind you,
just playoff talent, perhaps enough to challenge the Nets for the
Atlantic Division crown.

.

Former Flyers coach Bill Dineen dies at 84

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The Associated Press

Former Flyers coach Bill Dineen dies at 84

Bill Dineen, who had the distinction of being Eric Lindros’ first NHL coach, died early Saturday morning at his home in Lake George, New York. He was 84.
 
“Such a wonderful person, who got along with everybody,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. “I never played for him, but worked with him in scouting. Just a great guy.” 
 
Dineen succeeded Holmgren as head coach during the 1991-92 season.
 
“When I got fired, a lot of our guys were squeezing their sticks,” Holmgren said. “They were tight. It shouldn’t be hard to play the game. When things got tough, they were a little under stress, Billy coming in, he loosened things up.”
 
Dineen coached parts of two seasons here from 1991-92 through the 1992-93 season, which was Lindros’ first year as a Flyer.
 
“Bill treated everyone with the utmost respect,” Holmgren said. “He was the perfect guy for Eric coming in here. That respect goes both ways. He was almost a grandfatherly figure for Eric at the time.”

Dineen served as a scout with the organization from 1990-91 until succeeding Holmgren as coach. He then returned to a scouting role in 1993-94 and remained with the Flyers as a scout through 1996-97.
 
Mark Howe, one of the greatest Flyers defensemen of all-time, played for Dineen as an 18-year-old rookie in the WHA with the Houston Aeros (1973-74), and also had him during his final year as a Flyer in 1991-92.
 
“He was one of the best people I ever met in the game of hockey,” Howe said. “He was a real players coach. Of all the guys I ever played for. Maybe a little Paul Holmgren, too. 
 
“If you lost the game, he was one of the very few people if you went for a bite to eat or a beer after the game you lost, you actually felt poorly for letting the coach down.”
 
Howe said Dineen’s teams weren’t all about skill.
 
“He picked people that were about ‘the team,'” Howe said. “He made me earn my spot that first year in Houston.”
 
Dineen posted a 60-60-20 record with the Flyers. His son, Kevin, played on both of those teams before assuming the captaincy from Rick Tocchet in 1993-94. 
 
A gentleman behind the bench, Bill Dineen was much the same person as a player. A former right wing who spent the majority of his six-year playing career with the Detroit Red Wings, he had just 122 penalty minutes in 322 games, scoring 51 goals and 95 points.
 
“I knew Billy for a long time," Flyers senior vice president Bob Clarke said. "He was a player and coach at the minor league level and the NHL level, but I think more importantly he was a really, really good hockey person and really good person.” 

Dineen won two WHA titles coaching the Aeros and two Stanley Cups as a player with the Red Wings. A member of the AHL Hall of Fame, Dineen also coached the Adirondack Red Wings from 1983 through 1988-89.
 
Three of his five sons — Gordon, Peter and Kevin — played in the NHL. Sons Shawn and Jerry had their roots in the AHL. 
 
“His boys are scattered all over the map,” Holmgren said. “Just a tremendous hockey family.”
 
Dineen is part of Flyer folklore trivia. He, along with Keith Allen and Vic Stasiuk, were all Red Wings teammates during 1953-53. They also shared something else in common: all three later  became Flyers head coaches.

Instant Replay: No. 1 Villanova 74, No. 23 Notre Dame 66

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The Associated Press

Instant Replay: No. 1 Villanova 74, No. 23 Notre Dame 66

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. – Villanova wasn’t ready to surrender its No. 1 ranking that quickly.

Despite trailing No. 23 Notre Dame for the first 30-plus minutes of action Saturday, Josh Hart and the Wildcats kept the Fighting Irish at striking distance and stormed ahead late for a 74-66 win in the Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center.

The Wildcats wouldn’t take their first lead of the game until the nine-minute mark of the second half, which would put the teams on the seesaw for the next few minutes of action. Trailing the Fighting Irish, 62-61, with over six minutes remaining in the game, Villanova went on a 12-5 run to close out its 10th win in as many tries.

Hart continued his spectacular senior season, pouring in a career-high 37 points, pulling down 11 rebounds and dishing out four assists, all team highs. Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges and Eric Paschall each chipped in eight points behind Hart. 

Colson Bonzie and Matt Farrelll each scored 18 points each for the Fighting Irish.  

Turning point
Leading 68-66 with under two minutes remaining, a Kris Jenkins three pointer clanked off the back of the rim and fell to the ground as a loose ball. Jalen Brunson corralled the ball before it went out of bounds and was fouled by Matt Farrell. Brunson hit both free throws to extend the Wildcats’ lead to four. 

Bonzie missed an open look at a three on the other end and Darryl Reynolds was fouled after grabbing the rebound off the miss. Reynolds sunk both free throws to put the game on ice.

Big men on campus
Villanova: Josh Hart 

Hart kept Villanova in striking distance in the first half, scoring over half of his team’s points (19) and chipping in four rebounds and three assists. Hart continued his dominance in the second half with another 18 points and seven rebounds. The senior was 10 of 14 from the field, three of four from deep and a perfect 14 for 14 from the free throw line.  

Notre Dame: Matt Farrell

The Bridgewater, New Jersey, native had an impressive homecoming. Farrell gave Villanova’s defense fits all afternoon with his scoring and playmaking abilities out of the pick-and-roll, as he finished with 18 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the field and six assists.  

Inside the box score
• Both teams struggled from deep. Notre Dame shot 6 of 22 and Villanova hit 4 of its 16 attempts

• Notre Dame led for 30:54 of playing time.

• A lot of the game was played in the half court, as both teams combined for just 13 fast-break points.

Up next
Villanova returns to The Pavilion for its fourth Big Five matchup of the early season, as the Wildcats play host to Temple on Tuesday.