Why the Sixers Must Name Allen Iverson Head Coach

Why the Sixers Must Name Allen Iverson Head Coach

The Philadelphia 76ers have spent the past month conducting one of the most boring, uneventful, irrelevant coaching searches in the history of sports.

Ever since the team announced the resignation of Doug Collins and the hiring of math nerd Sam Hinkie as general manager, we've seen nothing but candidates who are either retreads or assistants you've never heard of -- and no indication that the team is in any hurry to actually hire someone.

And the guys they’ve considered don’t exactly excite me. Brian Shaw, an obscure 1980s Laker best known for dating Madonna? Kelvin Sampson, the guy who got fired from Indiana for NCAA violations? Jeff Hornacek, 'cause it turned out so well the last time he came to town? Chris Finch, you mean this guy?

Are any of these guys going to get our fanbase excited, make the Sixers relevant, or make tickets cost more than 72 cents on Stubhub? Of course not.

I was intrigued by the recent move by the Brooklyn Nets to hire as their new coach Jason Kidd, a former star point guard who led the team to the finals as a player, only recently stopped playing, and had no prior coaching experience. I got to thinking- if only the Sixers had someone like that they could turn to…

Yes, the Sixers must hire Allen Iverson as their next head coach. And the more you think about it, the more of a no-brainer it is.

Everything good that has happened to the Sixers in the last two decades has been because of Allen Iverson. He led them to their only finals appearance and won their only MVP award. And more importantly, he's respected by players and revered by fans. And yes, the man needs a job.

Now, I know what the naysayers are going to say.

How can we hire a coach who doesn't like practice? To that I say, please. Where has practicing every day gotten the team in the last 15 years?

Sure, Iverson's name in the last few years has often been associated with financial woes, alcoholism and gambling addiction. But to say that being broke, or that having a weakness for drinking and betting means you don't deserve a job is a slap in the face to any fan in this great city who has ever dealt with any of the above. And didn't Jason Kidd get popped for a DUI just a couple of months ago?

The question isn't whether the Sixers can risk hiring Allen Iverson. It's whether they can risk not hiring him. And to think- the Coach Iverson Era might even make Eskin's show listenable again.

Other Philly sports takes:

- I heard Lenny Dykstra got out of jail yesterday. Can he be in the Phillies' lineup today?

- I can't believe this latest baseball steroid investigation. MLB should vacate the last five World Series and award them to the Phillies.

- It's an outrage to me that Jason Peters was arrested for drag racing last week. The Eagles need to make it clear that such criminals aren't tolerated on their team, and Michael Vick needs to take the lead in doing so.

- The Cary Williams Sconse interview was the most embarrassing of the year for a Philadelphia athlete, and that includes the time Ilya Bryzgalov praised Stalin.

- Just think, if only McNabb hadn't blown it in the Super Bowl, that would've been Jeffrey Lurie's Super Bowl ring that Vladimir Putin stole

- Let's all shed a tear for Rick Reilly, who didn't find Merion to his liking. Let's hope next time Philadelphia hosts a major sporting event, they give more of an effort attending to the needs of big-time national sportswriters.

You can follow @FakeWIPCaller on Twitter here.

Eric Paschall's game rounding out when Villanova needs it most

Eric Paschall's game rounding out when Villanova needs it most

Those on the outside are now starting to see what those on the inside of Villanova basketball program have seen for the last year and a half.

Eric Paschall can play.

Paschall on Saturday had the biggest game of his career – at least his Villanova career – with 19 points, six rebounds and two steals in the Wildcats’ Big East-clinching win over Creighton at the Pavilion.

With Darryll Reynolds sidelined since early February with a rib injury, the Fordham transfer has been starting and playing at a high level. But he was at his best on Saturday when his team needed him the most.

Paschall was essentially a guard at Fordham, but with Reynolds out and Omari Spellman forced to sit out the year, Paschall has been playing a lot of the 5 for Villanova, and against Creighton, he effectively neutralized 6-foot-11 Blue Jays center Justin Patton, who managed just four points – 9 ½ below his average.

“He’s getting better, that’s the biggest thing,” teammate Josh Hart said of Paschall. “He’s down there battling with Patton, a 7-footer, he’s down there battling with 6-10, 6-11 guys just about every night, and he’s battling and battling and we just tell him, keep working like that. That’s more important to us than him going out there scoring 20.

“We know he’s talented enough to score 20, you saw that (Saturday), but the way he’s battling and the way he’s not being frustrated and just keeps getting better, for us that’s the best part.”

Paschall averaged 15.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game two years ago for the Rams, earning Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year honors.

He was one of only three NCAA Division I freshmen who averaged at least 15.9 points and 5 ½ rebounds per game. The others were D’Angelo Russell of Ohio State and Jahlil Okafor of Duke, who are both now double-digit scorers in the NBA.

But to play at Villanova, you have to play defense, and that’s where Paschall has shown the most improvement.

“Eric is developing as a Villanova basketball player defensively in terms of executing far better than anyone knows,” coach Jay Wright said. “We know. When he’s in the game, we are executing at a high level. We’re just starting to see what he can do offensively, but in our program, you’ve got to be able to (play defense) first and he’s been doing that all year.

“(He’s) getting better and better, and today you just saw a glimpse of what you’ll probably see next year, but you’ve got to get the basics down first, which he’s done an incredible job of this year. It’s like I tell you with Dante (DiVincenzo), these guys play against him in practice, they’re not surprised when they see him do that, but I know everybody else is, because they don’t get to see it all the time.”

It’s not easy to transfer into a new program and get used to new players, a new coach, a new system, a new philosophy.

“It was a process,” Paschall said. “The biggest thing was getting used to what they wanted, and that’s defense and rebounding. That took some getting used to, but once I understood what they were looking for from me and what they wanted me to do, that just made it easy.

“The guys welcomed me with open arms. It’s a brotherhood here and we’re all brothers and they made me feel like I was a part of it from Day 1. It can be hard sometimes as a transfer coming in, but they made it easy. It’s just a matter of focusing on my job.”

Overall, Paschall is averaging 7.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and shooting 50 percent from the field in an average of 21 minutes a night. But during these last five starts, he’s 21 for 32 from the field (66 percent) and is averaging 9.8 points per game.

“Eric, he came in knowing what coach wanted, knowing what coach’s philosophy is and how coach wants things, and he’s come and in done what’s expected,” Jalen Brunson said.

“He’s done a great job for us and we’re extremely confident in him. It’s hard coming in front a different school, coming in and learning a new system, learning the philosophy, but he’s done a good job.”

Paschall can play the 2 through the 5, so he gives Wright a lot of versatility.

His 19 points Saturday were his most as a Wildcat and his most in any game since he scored 21 for Fordham vs. George Mason on Feb. 18, 2015.

When asked about his role, he just pointed at Hart and Kris Jenkins.

“Just listen to these guys, making sure I have my head clear every game,” he said. “They do a great job of telling me what to do during the games and having my attitude right during the games so I can just go out there play hard, play together, play smart, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

As thin as Villanova is – Wright has played just six guys in his regular rotation since Reynolds got hurt – Paschall has been a life-saver.

It’s hard not to imagine how talented Villanova will be next year with Spellman, Paschall, Mikal Bridges, Phil Booth, Brunson and DiVincenzo.

But first there's a game Saturday against Georgetown, the Big East Tournament in New York and then the NCAA Tournament.

“We see him getting better every day with his decision making,” Hart said of Paschall. “Last year he definitely kicked our butt a lot when he was on the scout team.

“One thing we always had a question about was how was he going to fit in with just playing hard the way we play defense, and he’s doing the best job, and he keeps getting better, and seeing him develop and seeing him grow has been amazing. Looking forward to seeing what he’s going to do in the future.”

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Phillies pitching prospect Nick Pivetta had one of those pinch-me moments Saturday.

He met his boyhood idol, Roy Halladay, at a charity event.

Someone had filled in Halladay that Pivetta had grown up in Canada and had regularly watched Toronto Blue Jays games on television. Pivetta loved watching Halladay pitch, as he talked about a few weeks ago here.

“I got to briefly shake his hand,” Pivetta said Sunday morning. “He knew I was like a stalker. He said, ‘Oh, right, you’re the guy from British Columbia.’ “

Halladay, who pitched for the Phils from 2010 to 2013, lives in the Clearwater area. Pivetta said he expected to speak more with Halladay in the coming days.

Halladay was honored at the 44th annual Clearwater For Youth banquet and Pivetta attended with a number of his teammates and Phillies officials. Phillies chairman David Montgomery and his wife Lyn were also honored for their charitable works.

Pivetta will pitch for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March.