A Weaker CAA Not So Bad for Drexel

A Weaker CAA Not So Bad for Drexel

At 27-6 overall and 16-2 in conference, it's actually pretty tough not to make the NCAA tournament. Of course, that's what happened to Drexel this year, when its strength of schedule was so bad that it was ultimately relegated to a three seed in the NIT.
Now, following the news that Virginia Commonwealth -- one of the Colonial Athletic Association's best programs and the team that cost Drexel its NCAA tourney berth by defeating the Dragons in the CAA championship game -- is moving to the Atlantic 10, there's no disputing that a weak conference just got even weaker.
But is that necessarily bad for the Drexel Dragons?

If anything, the Dragons benefit in the short term by losing one of their toughest opponents in-conference. 
Coach Bruiser Flint has played the tournament selection game both ways, first by trying to schedule tougher tests out-of-conference and then by running roughshod through his own league. Neither got the Dragons to the dance. The damning scenario for Drexel, however, if true, is the idea that stronger opponents simply won't schedule them. 
So if Drexel needs to win the CAA to go to the NCAAs, because the conference is too weak to consistently earn an at-large and the Dragons can't come to scheduling agreements with stronger non-conference programs, then losing VCU really isn't so bad. Playing them hasn't done enough to advance Drexel's RPI or SOS to a high-enough standard for the committee, so it shouldn't much matter if those numbers takes yet another hit.
If it's all about winning the CAA tournament for Drexel, then its task just got a little easier than it was. The program is now an even bigger fish in an even smaller pond.
Of course, that's just in the short term, and related to the actual basketball about to be played. Forecasting the broader future of that small pond -- considering George Mason, like VCU, was previously linked to the A-10 and Old Dominion is currently mulling its affiliation -- is a bit more of a dicey proposition, like it is for a number of mid-majors around the nation as conferences continue to cannibalize one another. 
But, at the very least, a young Drexel team has a few bright years ahead of it. Maybe they can be the next Colonial league team to make waves in March.

Now with Big3, Rashard Lewis praises Sixers' signing of former teammate JJ Redick

Now with Big3, Rashard Lewis praises Sixers' signing of former teammate JJ Redick

How time flies.

JJ Redick first played with Rashard Lewis on the Magic in 2007, Redick’s second season in the NBA. Ten years later, the 33-year-old Redick has signed a massive one-year, $23 million contract to be one of the Sixers’ leaders. Lewis, 37, is currently competing in the BIG3 league. 

Both Redick and Lewis are in different places in their careers than when they were teammates. Lewis sees Redick excelling in this new chapter. 

“He’s the veteran player here, but when I played with him in Orlando he was a young fella,” Lewis said. “He’s learned a lot playing with Orlando as well as the Clippers. I’m sure he’ll share a lot of his knowledge with these guys because they’ve got a very young team.”

Redick’s NBA insight came from doing a lot of observing early on. He didn’t start off as a main offensive option. Instead, he was a student of the game in his early days with the Magic while Lewis was one of the go-to players. 

Redick only averaged 6.0 points as a rookie and 4.1 points in 8.1 minutes per game during his second season. He clocked a total of 10 minutes during a 2008 postseason in which the Magic reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The following season in 2009, though, Redick averaged over 20 minutes per game in their NBA Finals run. The Magic also made it to the Eastern Conference Finals the next year.

“The chemistry we had was great,” Lewis said. “I think he’s going to bring that here to Philly.”

Over time, Redick developed into one of the best long-range threats in the league. He holds a 41.5 percent career three-point shooting percentage, sixth among all active players. The Sixers have been in need of go-to scorers, especially from beyond the arc. 

“He’s going to help this team,” Lewis said. “He’s going to open it up because he’s a shooter.”

The Sixers are entering an important phase this coming season. They finally have a foundation in place and a core to build upon for years down the road, not just the time being. The younger players will benefit from listening to Redick during practices, games, team flights, and all the other scenarios in which they can soak up his experiences. That could include the playoffs, too, in the suddenly wide-open Eastern Conference. 

“The way he played the game, he’s not only a good shooter but he’s a smart player,” Lewis said. “He has a high basketball IQ. That’s why he’s still playing in the league. A lot of teams have a lot of respect for him.”

Jordan Spieth avoids another major meltdown to win British Open

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AP Images

Jordan Spieth avoids another major meltdown to win British Open

SOUTHPORT, England -- Jordan Spieth is the British Open champion, just like expected, though not like anyone could have imagined.

On the verge of another meltdown in a major, so wild off the tee that he played one shot from the driving range at Royal Birkdale and lost the lead for the first time all weekend, Spieth bounced back with a collection of clutch shots, delivering a rally that ranks among the best.

A near ace. A 50-foot eagle putt. A 30-foot birdie putt.

Spieth played the final five holes in 5 under and closed with a 1-under 69 for a three-shot victory over Matt Kuchar, giving him the third leg of the career Grand Slam and a chance to be the youngest to win them all next month at the PGA Championship.

Spieth joined Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win three different majors at age 23, and even the Golden Bear was impressed.

"Is Jordan Spieth something else?" Nicklaus tweeted during a wild back nine.

Spieth missed four putts inside 8 feet on the front nine and lost his three-shot lead. Then, he looked certain to lose the British Open -- and the reputation he craves as a reliable closer -- when his tee shot on the par-4 13th was some 75 yards right of the fairway, buried in grass on a dune so steep he could barely stand up.

He took a penalty shot for an unplayable lie, and when he realized the practice range was in play, headed back on a line so far that he was behind the equipment trucks. He still had a blind shot with a 3-iron over the dunes to a fairway littered with pot bunkers, stopping just short of one of them near the green.

Kuchar, who had to wait 20 minutes for Spieth to get his situation sorted, missed his 15-foot birdie putt. Spieth pitched over the bunker to 7 feet and made the putt to escape with bogey, falling behind for the first time.

And that's when the show began.

Spieth hit a 6-iron that plopped down in front of the pin at the par-3 14th and came within inches of a hole-in-one. He rolled in a 4-foot birdie putt and tied Kuchar. Given new life, he holed a 50-foot eagle putt and turned to caddie Michael Greller and said, "Go get that!"

Emotions rolling, Spieth followed with a 30-foot birdie at the 16th and was ahead by two. And after Kuchar holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th, Spieth assured himself a two-shot margin up the final hole by pouring in yet another birdie.

From the driving range to the claret jug, Spieth put himself in hallowed territory just days before his 24th birthday. Nicklaus was about six months younger than Spieth when he won the 1963 PGA Championship for the third leg of the Grand Slam.

Spieth goes to Quail Hollow in North Carolina next month with a chance to get that final portion of the Grand Slam.

Kuchar closed with a 69 and did nothing wrong. He just had no answers for Spieth's final blitz. Kuchar had a one-shot lead leaving the 13th green. He played the next four holes with two pars and two birdies and was two shots behind.

Li Haotong of China shot a 63 and finished third.