Team USA Basketball Whomps France in Olympic Debut

Team USA Basketball Whomps France in Olympic Debut

mostly watching (AP photo)

They may or may not be better than the '92 Dream Team—I'm a mite
skeptical, though it's probably close—but it's pretty clear that this
2012 Team USA is gonna be damn good. France might be the toughest team
that they play in the Preliminary Round—not a real Gold Medal contender,
but a team of pros at least, with an All-Star in Tony Parker and a
handful of other solid players (Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum)—but after a
sloppy first quarter, Team USA still cruised to an easy victory, leading
by at least 20 for most of the second half and finishing with a 98-71 victory.

The game more or less reinforced the current player hierarchy in the
NBA, with LeBron James and Kevin Durant the obvious team leaders. Even
on a team with Chris Paul and Deron Williams, LeBron served as the
team's primary facilitator, hitting teammates with bullet passes for
easy looks and finishing with nine points and 8 assists, while Durant
served as the first-option scorer, tallying 22 points on 13 shots, and
pulling down 9 rebounds as well. It's hard to imagine a team with
those two guys not finding a way to win any of these games.

 
Our own Andre Iguodala didn't have a ton of impact in this one—he only
played two minutes in the first half, losing most of his minutes to a
hot Kevin Love, and didn't register any meaningful stats in his brief
stretch. He did get to play most of the fourth quarter in what was
essentially garbage time, though he didn't exactly set the court on
fire, with his most notable play being an attempted alley-oop pass that
sailed well over his teammate's head. As long as Love manages to stay
out of Coack K's doghouse, 'Dre's minutes stand to be fairly limited in
consequential action from here out, though he may be called on to be a
defensive stopper off the bench should any opposing wing players give
the team trouble.

However, there was another Sixer more notably involved with today's game
than 'Dre—Coach Doug Collins, who returned to the microphone as the
analyst for today's game on NBC. It was fun to hear Dougie's voice on
the call again, as he did for several years on TNT (and for the '08
Olympic games in Beijing as well), and cool to get his take on a couple of the
players he's had to gameplan against from the Sixers' sidelines these
last few seasons. It'll be a treat to get to hear him for the rest of
the games.

Also, if you're watching these Team USA games and a couple of them turn
into blowouts, there's another reason besides getting to see 'Dre on the
court to keep watching in garbage time—rookie big man Anthony Davis. He
didn't put up huge numbers in today's game, but he had a couple plays—a
block on one end where he just kinda swallowed the shot, an alley-oop
dunk on the other—that were fairly stunning, and showed how much fun
this guy is gonna be to watch in the NBA for the next decade or two, and
how he's already on a level where he doesn't even look out of place
playing with these All-World dudes as teammates.

Next up: The not particularly intimidating Team Tunisia, on Tuesday at 5:15 PM EST. Get ready for some SportsCenter highlights.

Phillies prospect Victor Arano out at least a month with elbow injury

Phillies prospect Victor Arano out at least a month with elbow injury

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies received some good and bad news on pitcher Victor Arano.

He was diagnosed with a sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Surgery was not prescribed, which is good news.

The bad news, he’s been shut down for at least a month.

Arano’s injury was treated with a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection.

The 22-year-old from Mexico said he first started feeling some tenderness in the elbow during a stint in the Arizona Fall League. He experienced some swelling in the elbow after reporting to camp earlier this month.

Arano is an intriguing prospect. He was acquired from the Dodgers as part of the package for starter Roberto Hernandez in August 2014. He impressed team officials in spring training 2015 and really took a big step forward after moving to the bullpen last season. He pitched 79 2/3 innings in 46 games at Single A Clearwater and Double A Reading and recorded a 2.26 ERA while striking out 95 and walking just 19.

Arano’s stuff has been compared to that of Edubray Ramos, who jumped from Double A to Triple A to the majors last season.

The injury means Arano will have to start the season on the disabled list.

In other health news, pitcher Jake Thompson graduated to a bullpen mound on Wednesday. He had been slowed by a sore wrist, but is fine now. Thompson proved that by winning the longest drive at Tuesday’s annual team golf outing.

Thompson lines up to open the season at Triple A.

Give and Go: How much credit does Brett Brown deserve for Sixers' improvement?

Give and Go: How much credit does Brett Brown deserve for Sixers' improvement?

With the team at the All-Star break, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we analyze the job head coach Brett Brown has done this season.

Haughton
Brown's performance has already resulted in more wins than any other season under his leadership, but it continues to be a complex judgment.

He's still tied to an extremely young roster, which lends itself to the high number of turnovers, mistakes coming out of timeouts and defensive breakdowns. 

However, he has managed to get several players to show growth in their games and make sure the Sixers remain balanced even with Joel Embiid's emergence. That can also be attributed to Brown's emphasis on state of play and not state of pay.

He turned to T.J. McConnell ($874,636 salary) at starting point guard over Sergio Rodriguez ($8 million) because the second-year pro has proven to be a better fit and has routinely moved Gerald Henderson ($9 million) from starter to reserve.

Then of course, there has been Brown's handling of the Sixers' mashup at center. The coach has found each guy minutes when he can and, according to the players, been up front about all potential minutes and trade scenarios.

Perhaps Brown's finest job this season has come in a role he thought was over: team delegate. Once Sam Hinkie exited and Bryan Colangelo proclaimed he would be more open with information, Brown certainly had to think his days of standing in front of the media to explain every single thing going on with the franchise were over. Think again. 

Still, Brown's been there each day, answering just about every question thrown his way from injuries to trade rumors. If nothing else, he deserves to be commended for dealing with that ... again.

Hudrick
It's amazing what a few NBA-caliber players can do.

After accumulating a 47-199 record over his first three seasons, Brown has led the Sixers to a 21-35 mark so far this season. Sure, much of the credit for the team's success has to do with adding legitimate NBA talent (and a legitimate NBA star in Embiid). With that said, you're finally starting to see Brown's fingerprints on the Sixers.

A protégé of Gregg Popovich's with the Spurs, Brown preaches defense and ball movement. The Sixers' defense has been a catalyst for their success this season. As Brown says in his Bostralian accent, the defensive end is where the Sixers' "bread is buttered." 

With unselfish players with decent court vision like Dario Saric and Gerald Henderson added to the mix, the Sixers don't look like a total disaster in the half court. They're ninth in the NBA at 23.5 assists per game. They haven't finished higher than 15th in the league in any of Brown's three seasons. 

When you consider what Brown has gone through and how he's managed to keep everything positive, it's incredible. Hinkie pegged Brown as his guy, knowing that Brown was an excellent teacher and had the right attitude to deal with losing. You have to be encouraged by what you've seen out of Brown and the Sixers this season.