Villanova Is No. 1 in the Polls for the First Time Ever

Villanova Wildcats guard Josh Hart (3) reacts with guard Ryan Arcidiacono (15) after a score against the Providence Friars during the second half at Wells Fargo Center on January 24th. The Providence Friars won 82-76 in overtime.

Villanova Wildcats guard Josh Hart (3) reacts with guard Ryan Arcidiacono (15) after a score against the Providence Friars during the second half at Wells Fargo Center on January 24th.

The Villanova men’s basketball team may have its 1985 national championship, but the Wildcats had never been ranked No. 1 in the country during the regular season — until now. (There was no postseason AP poll in the 1985 season.)

The latest Associated Press poll, released today, has Villanova as the top team in the nation. The Wildcats were third last week, but No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 North Carolina both lost last week. Villanova is also No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Read more »

T.J. McConnell’s Steady Play Providing Boost for Sixers

 

Sixers rookie point guard T.J. McConnell and associate head coach Mike D'Antoni react during a timeout | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sixers rookie point guard T.J. McConnell and associate head coach Mike D’Antoni react during a timeout | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

When the Sixers made the trade to acquire Ish Smith, much was made about how Smith could help elevate the play of big men Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, and deservedly so. Both of the Sixers’ prized possessions have been playing substantially better basketball with Smith’s ability to create getting them easy looks at the basket.

A secondary benefit was likely to be the Sixers’ perimeter shooters. If there’s one elite skill Smith has it’s his speed, and his ability to collapse the defense, force the opponent into help rotations, and pass out of that pressure was sure to generate more open looks for guys like Robert Covington, Hollis Thompson, and Isaiah Canaan.

One of the unexpected beneficiaries of Smith’s presence on the roster has been rookie T.J. McConnell.

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Report: Sixers Have Inquired About Clippers Forward Blake Griffin

Could the Sixers acquire star power forward Blake Griffin? A report from Fox Sports Ohio says they have inquired about his availability | Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Sixers acquire star power forward Blake Griffin? A report from Fox Sports Ohio says they have inquired about his availability | Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the Sixers have had discussions with the Los Angeles Clippers about the availability of star forward Blake Griffin.

The report comes on the heels of a report from Mitch Lawrence of the Sporting News that the Denver Nuggets had inquired about Griffin.

Speculation about Griffin’s availability has increased in recent days after a report that Griffin would miss at least 4-6 weeks because he broke his hand in an altercation with the team’s assistant equipment manager.

Do the Sixers have a chance of pulling off a deal?

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The Real Deal: A Philly Bookie Speaks in Anonymous Interview

Our anonymous bookie shows off a wad of cash.

Our anonymous bookie shows off a wad of cash.

With the Super Bowl — the single biggest sporting event in the world — now upon us, there are vast amounts of money being wagered on every aspect of the game. According to the American Gaming Association, Americans are expected to bet $4.2 billion on the Super Bowl, with only $126 million of that going through legal channels. That leaves a whopping $4.1 billion in illegal bets, handled in the shadowy world of the neighborhood bookie. Here, a veteran Philadelphia-area bookie tells us all about his unique — and sometimes violent — line of work. Read more »

Report: Colangelo Has to Approve Changes to Sixers’ Basketball Operations Department

Philadelphia 76ers owner Joshua Harris (L) introduces Jerry Colangelo (R) as special advisor before a game against the San Antonio Spurs at Wells Fargo Center. | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report from Yahoo Sports, Jerry Colangelo has to approve all changes to the Sixers’ basketball operations department | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports’ ‘The Vertical’, the Philadelphia 76ers have promoted Brandon Williams to chief of staff.

In the newly created position Williams would report directly to general manager Sam Hinkie, where he would have influence on player development, agent relations, and recruiting, according to the Yahoo Sports report.

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Sixers Experiment With Okafor at Power Forward in Loss to Hawks

Whether or not Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor can succeed playing together is a key question for the Sixers this season | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sixers head coach Brett Brown could start experimenting with Noel and Okafor’s defensive assignments | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

“I don’t think anybody really played that well,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said after his team was destroyed by the Atlanta Hawks by a score of 124-86.

The 38 point differential was the Sixers’ second worst loss of the season.

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Phillies Trade Former First-Round Pick Jesse Biddle to Pirates

Mar 13, 2015; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jesse Biddle  throws a pitch during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Bright House Field. Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 13, 2015; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jesse Biddle throws a pitch during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Bright House Field. Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies have cut bait on their 2010 first-overall pick. Jesse Biddle has been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, per multiple reports. The Inquirer had it first.

The Phillies received right-handed pitcher Yoervis Medina in the deal. Medina, 27, is a three-year MLB vet with a career 3.08 ERA.

Biddle was the 27th overall pick in the 2010 season, a graduate of Germantown Friends who grew up in Mt. Airy. He grew up a Phillies fan and was in the stands for both halves of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. In fact, he got sick after spending the night in the rain, and wasn’t able to attend the victory parade. When the Phillies announced his signing, he was jocular with the press: “I’m getting the start tonight. Halladay is now the number two.” He was even somehow related — distantly — to Owen Biddle (of Roots fame) and Nicholas Biddle (of Second Bank of the United States fame). This seemed like the best “local boy done good” story in Philadelphia history. Read more »

Sixers Mailbag #13: Which Player Has Improved the Most?

Jerami Grant's improvement on the defensive side of the court has been one of the pleasant surprises for the Sixers this season | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jerami Grant’s improvement on the defensive side of the court has been one of the pleasant surprises for the Sixers this season | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

This week we continue our 76ers mailbag series, where we discuss some of the pressing topics around the team.

In the 13th edition of our Sixers mailbag we take a look at Dario Saric and what role he’ll play with the team, we’ll discuss who has improved the most and what some of the most pleasant, and unpleasant, surprises of the season are, and take a look at some of the best wins in the Sam Hinkie era.

Read more »

Phillies Unveil New Red Alternate Jerseys

Phillies - Red alternate jerseys - 2016

For the first time in years, the Phillies will wear red jerseys in the regular season.

The Phillies announced today that the jerseys, created by Majestic, will make six appearances during the 2016 season. They’ll make their debut on April 14th at Citizens Bank Park.

“We’re excited to bring a new, colorful look to Citizens Bank Park this year,” David Buck, the Phillies’ senior vice president of Marketing and Advertising Sales, said in a release. “We have great respect for the history of our uniform, so by going with a simple, classic design, we feel we’ve been able to balance a new look with our storied tradition.”

The Phillies will be wearing the red jerseys at their afternoon businesspersons specials this year; the other dates are Wednesday, May 18th; Wednesday, June 8th; Monday, June 20th; Wednesday, July 6th and Thursday, August 4th. Fans can began purchasing the new red jersey starting Friday. Read more »

Drexel Prof Finds Exercise Doesn’t Protect Student Athletes From Depression

The death by suicide of Penn freshman track athlete Madison Holleran in January 2013 rocked the local college sports world and jump-started discussions everywhere about the pressures faced by student athletes. But when Drexel Med professor and Drexel sports team physician Eugene Hong wanted to examine the issue of depression in college athletes, he found very little research on the subject. What there was instead was a general perception that participation in athletics had a protective effect. “Because of our societal and cultural idiosyncrasies,” says Hong, “we equate physical health with mental health.”

Whether that perception was true was what Hong and his fellow researchers wanted to find out. So they performed their own study of 465 athletes at a single East Coast D-1 university. The results, just published in the February issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, showed the same level of clinically relevant depressive symptoms in student athletes as in their non-athlete peers.

That result was surprising, says Hong, whose experience as a team physician dates back nearly two decades, not just because of that societal perception, but also because studies have shown that exercise is a clinically acceptable treatment for depression. Why wasn’t it protecting these college kids?  Read more »

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