Monthly Archives: October 2010

NCAA Week Nine: Michigan vs. Penn State

The offensive attack could be a long way this week. (Paul Battaglia/AP)

PSU: 2010 record – 4-3
MICH: 2010 record – 5-2
Spread: Michigan by 3
Where: Beaver Stadium
When: Saturday, 8:00 PM on ESPN
Last time met: Oct. 24, 2009 – Darryl Clark threw four touchdown passes, three of which went to Graham Zug. Evan Royster added 100 rushing yards in a 35-10 win on the road. 156.5

Opposing player to watch – QB Dernard Robinson: Michigan was on a bye last week which allowed Robinson to get healthy. Robinson is one of the most electrifying players in college football and can break off a big run at any moment. He is averaging 156.5 yards rushing per game this season. Robinson looks to run before he looks to pass and his numbers clearly reflect that. He has also been successful through the air, passing for 1,319 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. The Nittany Lion defense will have to spy on Robinson on every play to try and keep him in the pocket.

Offenses: The Nittany Lion offense finally decided to show up this week against Minnesota. Matt McGloin filled in for the injured Robert Bolden, who is still sidelined with concussion-like symptoms. McGloin tossed a pair of touchdowns in just over two-and-a-half quarters of work. McGloin looks to be the starter this week against Michigan. The passing attack looked very solid with McGloin under center last week. The Nittany Lion receiving core had 206 yards receiving and made it very easy for McGloin to be successful. The running game was also very strong, compiling 147 rushing yards. Surprisingly, Silas Redd led Penn State with 71 yards rushing while Evan Royster only had 62. Redd is has become a bigger part of the Nittany Lion rushing attack in recent weeks. They really have a three-headed monster at running back with Royster, Redd, and Stephon Green. Still, the key to success against the Wolverines will be the play of McGloin. He looked good last week, but let’s not forget that it was against a bad Minnesota defense. He battled for the starting job all spring, so he has plenty of experience with the first team offense. Next to Iowa, Michigan is the best team that the Nittany Lions have faced this season. McGloin will need time in the pocket to have a good game and the offensive line will have to be stellar in dealing with the pass rush.

Everybody knows that Denard Robinson is one of the most dangerous players in college football. However the Wolverines have four very good wide receivers that can help him if he chooses not to run. Roy Roundtree, Junior Hemingway, Darryl Stonum, and Martavious Odoms all have at 15 catches and 200 yards receiving. Roundtree leads the way with 395 yards on 33 catches and has caught two touchdowns. Hemingway and Stonum also have two touchdowns on the season. Michigan’s ground consists of Robinson who has 170 carries this season. The next closest is Vincent Smith with 70 carries for 325 yards. Robinson is certainly the prime ball-carrier for the Wolverines. He leads the Big Ten in rushing with 1,096 yards. However, Robinson is a mere eighth in passing with only 1,319 yards. It’s clear that he is not nearly as effective when he is in the pocket. That will be something that the Penn State defense will have to key on.

Advantage: With the big-play capability of Denard Robinson, the Wolverines have the offensive advantage. They also have a good receiving core, but so do the Nittany Lions. The impact of Robinson alone gives a significant advantage to Michigan in this game.

Defenses: The Nittany Lions’ defense play was very solid last week against Minnesota. Adam Weber is certainly no slouch at quarterback. Last Saturday, Weber became only the fifth passer in Big Ten history to pass for 10,000 yards. Penn State was able to force Weber to throw an interception. Turnovers are something that could be harder to come by nowadays with the loss of cornerback Nick Sukay. The Nittany Lions stepped up and played better against a dreadful Minnesota team. The main concern is still the secondary. They allowed three touchdown receptions to Da’Jon McKnights of the Golden Gophers. That type of play cannot happen if Penn State expects to have a chance against a team like the Wolverines. They will have to get pressure on Denard Robinson and force him to stay in the pocket. That will be one of the keys to defeating Michigan on Saturday. Robinson’s injury could force him to not play quite as much, but we will have to wait and see. Michigan’s backup Tate Forcier is plenty capable of carrying the offense. However he isn’t nearly as mobile as Robinson.

The Wolverine secondary is one of its weaker points. They have allowed 296.3 yards per-game throughout the air on the season. Michigan is sixth in the Big Ten in interceptions with seven this season. They don’t get many takeaways, so that is certainly an area that Penn State can try to exploit. The Wolverines also don’t get very much pressure to the quarterback. They only have 10 sacks this season and Penn State does have a decent offensive line. Defensive nose tackle Mike Martin is one of the bright spots on a bad defense. He commands a constant double time and can really fill up the hole. This could poise significant problems for the Nittany Lion rushing attack which is a strong suit. His play could be the only chance the Wolverines have at stopping the Penn State ground game.

Advantage: Penn State has the slight edge due to its recent play. They need to get a few takeaways if they want to upend the Wolverines.

Injury Report:
Penn State: OT Lou Eliades (Torn ACL) *Out for the season, LB Gerald Hodges (Leg injury) *Out for at least two more weeks, TE Garry Gilliam (torn ACL) *Out for the season
Illinois: S Supo Sanni (ruptured Achilles tendon) *Out for the season

Prediction: McGloin impresses once again and throws for 250 yards with three touchdowns. Derek Moye has two touchdowns against a weak Michigan secondary. Penn State prevails 27-17.

Sixers Drop Home Opener

Rookie Evan Turner goes up for a shot against James Jones and Chris Bosh in the Sixers 97-87 opening night loss to Miami. Turner scored 16 points in the loss. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

As expected, the Philadelphia 76ers got handled by the new power house, Miami Heat, 97-87, on Wednesday night.

The Sixers did have a strong finish and saw some good things from rookie Evan Turner, who logged 31 minutes and led the Sixers with 16 points and had seven rebounds and four assists.

Thaddeus Young also had a great game for the Sixers, scoring 15 points in 26 minutes.

The Sixers trailed Miami by eight points at the half and couldn’t overcome a strong game by DeWayne Wade, who led all scorers with 30 points. James Jones added 20 off the bench and LeBron James scored 16.

The Heat went on a 25-8 run to blow up the eight-point game late in the third to make it a 76-51 game.

The Sixers will stay at home and play Atlanta on Friday as they look for the season’s first win.

A Look Into the Bye

Thank God it’s here. After Sunday’s heartless drubbing to the Tennessee Titans, 37-19, the Eagles head into this week’s bye with some questions to be answered.

For starters, Kevin Kolb’s performance did not convince me just yet that he should cough up the starting position despite Michael Vick expected to be near 100% by the following Sunday home against Indianapolis. And with DeSean Jackson expected to be back, the Eagles offense could go toe-to-toe with the Colts.

The Eagles have a big question to answer this bye week: Kolb (shown) or Vick? (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

 

VICK OR KOLB? — I think the answer should be very easy, at least for me. At the starter of the season, Kolb was named the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. He lost his job to Vick when he suffered a concussion against the Packers in their week one 27-20 loss.

Vick started the next string of games before a rib injury forced him out of the starters role in week four against the Redskins. Kolb resumed his role as starter and performed very well before a miserable performance against the Titans.

But as I stated, Kolb was named the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season. He should continue that role heading into week nine against Indy.

For starters, he did nothing to merit losing the job in last week’s loss. Granted he didn’t play well but neither does a lot of starting quarterbacks in a team losing effort like the one Philly had.

Kolb has actually done very well so far this season, completing 97-of-153 (63.4%) of his passes for 1,035 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions. Two of his picks came last week on errant throws, signs of a lack of focus in a game that was out of reach.

Other than the picks, Kolb has been very accurate downfield, hitting Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek for some long passes in the past few weeks. Kolb can and will get better as the season goes on.

A healthy DeSean Jackson is the type of boost Philly need as they head into the tough part of their schedule, starting with Indy. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

 

RETURN OF JACKSON — Another piece that will make Kolb much stronger in the Eagles return week nine is Jackson’s recovery from a sever concussion he sustained in week six against Atlanta.

Jackson said the hit “felt like a car accident,” and was knocked out of the game. He said he feels a lot better this week and is eyeing a week nine return.

The return of Jackson will give Kolb, or if the Eagles opt with Vick, their biggest play-maker back. Jackson has 19 catches for 395 yards and three touchdowns. He also has one rushing touchdown.

Jackson’s return will also knock Jorrick Calvin from the punt returner’s role. Calvin made a key fumble in the Eagles loss to Tennessee last Sunday. Granted Andy Reid won’t want Jackson to be taking any unnecessary hits, Calvin may still get to hold onto the returners spot another week.

A Soccer Connection Between A.C. and England?

This article was brought to my attention by Jesse Kurtz of Atlantic City, NJ, who recently ran for mayor of Atlantic City last year.

In the article from the Lancashire Telegraph based in the United Kingdom, it talks about Accrington Stanley wanting to join forces with a club in the Atantic City region.

Accrington Stanley an English football program in the Football League Two which is the fourth highest division in the English football system.

Matt Driver is the one who will set up the team. Driver was a former assistant coach with the New England Revolution in the MLS. He went over to England to meet up with the club’s head John Coleman and assistant Jimmy Bell.

“The way clubs are set up over there is a lot different and he is involved with a few teams, so we have talked about the possibility of an affiliation,” said Bell in the article. “It might be visa wise in terms of getting players over here, plus we might be able to send a few scholars over there. And if we could get a first-team player out of it one day, that would be great.”

Kurtz, a young and up-coming politician in Atlantic City feels this connections is very good for the city.

“Having a local soccer club with an international connection is a fantastic way to bring more attention to our city,” Kurtz said by e-mail. “Anything that maintains our edge of being ‘unique’ is great for the Atlantic City economy.”

Birds Cough-Up Game

Titans WR Kenny Britt catches the third of his three touchdowns on Sunday's 37-19 win. (AP Photo/Frederick Breedon)

Final Score: Eagles 19; Titans 37
Eagles best number: 0:00 – the end of the game.
Eagles worst number: 18 – the number Kenny Britt wore seeing. They saw the back of his jersey a lot on Sunday.
Eagles best play:
Eagles worst play: With the game still in reach as the Eagles trailed by eight, Jorrick Calvin fumbled a punt with little over three minutes left, giving the Titans the ball in field goal territory and letting them put the game away.

Three stars
K. Britt (TEN): 7 catches, 225 yards, 3 TD’s
K. Collins (TEN): 17-for-31, 276 yards, 3 TD’s, 2 INT, 90.3 rating.
C. Finnegan (TEN): 8 tackles, interception returned for TD.

Breaking down the game

MELTDOWN — The Eagles put fourth one of the most embarrassing fourth quarters in recent memory. Leading 16-7 with under five minutes left in the third, LeSean McCoy fumbled the ball on the 7-yard line to stall a would-be Eagles touchdown drive.

After that, the Titans marched downfield and kicked a field goal to make it 16-10. After a David Akers field goal to make it 19-10, the Titans scored 27 unanswered points in the fourth.

Eagles PR Jorrick Calvin fumbles away the Eagles' last hopes of mounting a come-back against the Titans. (AP Photo/Frederick Breedon)

It all started with Kerry Collins hitting Britt for an 80-yard touchdown catch to make it 19-17. After a 3-and-out, the Titans took the lead with a field goal with 9:31 left.

Another 3-and-out for the Eagles and the Titans scored once again, a 16-yard touchdown pass to Britt to give the Titans the eight-point advantage with little over five minutes left.

After each team traded 3-and-outs and the Eagles were left with no time outs, the Titans punted. But Calvin bobbled and then fumbled the punt to give the Titans the ball on the Eagles 33.

But it got worse. The Titans converted on a should-be stop, kicked a field goal to make it a two-score game, and then Cortland Finnegan picked-off Kevin Kolb and returned it to the house for the last play of the game.

SICK OF SAMUEL — Looking at a 3rd-and-7 on the Eagles 30. With Philadelphia only trailing by eight and there still being a chance of the Eagles to force K Rod Bironas to make a long field goal attempt, all they needed was a stop.

They had shut down Titans running back Chris Johnson all game. The second leading rusher in the NFL was held to only 66 yards on 22 carries so a stop in that situation looked plausible.

Johnson took the hand-off, bounced out to the left and made Asante Samuel look stupid to pick up the first down. One-on-one, Johnson is hard to tackle. One-on-one with Samuel, though, everyone knew what the outcome would have been.

Lowering his head like the typical defensive back does today is what Samuel did. It’s hard to tackle anyone, especially with Johnson’s skill set, when you’re staring into the dirt and you don’t wrap your arms around the ball carrier.

Week in and week out we have to watch Samuel make horrible attempts at should-be tackles. He’ll get his token interception to allow people to forget about his inability to do the simple tasks asked of a football player.

I’m sick of watching it, Asante. Just sick. But at least you’re still better than that wasted of space Ellis Hobbs.

HEADING INTO THE BYE — The Eagles will be heading into the bye week this week. Instead of writing about it here, I will touch on a few things regarding the Kolb/Michael Vick situation and the possible return of DeSean Jackson.

It’s going to be a fun two weeks. Hopefully someone teaches Samuel how to tackle.

Bolden Injured In Nittany Lions Win

 

An unexpected quarterback change could be just what the doctor ordered for the Nittany Lions. (Paul Battaglia/AP)

 

When Penn State freshmen quarterback Robert Bolden went down on Saturday against Minnesota, many people gasped as a mediocre season could potentially get much worse.

However, sophomore Matt McGloin stepped right in and threw two touchdown passes in a 33-21 win over a dismal Minnesota team.

McGloin threw was 6-for-13 for 76 yards and two touchdowns in a little over two quarters of work. Bolden went down when he was flushed out of the pocket midway through the second quarter.

The nature of Bolden’s injury hasn’t been revealed yet. He will undergo concussion testing this week in State College.

Before exiting the game, Bolden threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brent Brackett to put the Nittany Lions ahead 7-0.

While the Golden Gophers are a team that had lost six straight games, they certainly came out playing with fire.

Minnesota answered Penn State’s touchdown with a long 75-yard drive in which Adam Weber was very effective in the passing game. Weber ended the drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Da’Jon McKnight to tie the game.

Early in the second quarter, Bolden led Penn State down the field early in the second quarter which resulted in an Evan Royster touchdown run to put the Nittany Lions ahead 14-7.

With 8:59 left in the second quarter, Bolden was gang tackled by three Minnesota defenders on the far side of the field.

It didn’t take long for McGloin to get acculumated to the Penn State offense. On his second play as quarterback, he threw 42-yard bomb to hit Derek Moye in the end zone for a touchdown to put the Nittany Lions up 21-7 with 4:16 left in the half.

Penn State seemed to have steady control of this game, but Minnesota just would not go away. The Adam Weber-Da’Jon McKnight has absolutely lethal in this game.

Weber hit McKnight for a four-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to cut the Nittany Lion lead to 21-14.

McKnight had eight catches for 108 yards and three touchdowns on the afternoon. The loss of Nick Sukay is proving to be more and more crucial to the Nittany Lions defense’s success.

The Nittany Lions answered a 49-yard field goal from Colin Wagner, who has been very accurate this season.

Seven points was as close as the Golden Gophers would get. McGloin connected with Moye once against for a nine-yard touchdown to make the score 33-14.

Weber hit McKnight one more time for a touchdown. Minnesota’s defense was really the downfall for them in this game.

McKnight had a huge game, but it wasn’t enough as the Nittany Lions came away with the victory.

It will be interesting to see how Bolden reacts to concussion tests this week. It would be premature to rule him out, but it is unlikely to play with concussion syoptoms.

His progress will be monitored throughout the week as Penn State prepares to host the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday.

NCAA Week Eight: Penn State vs. Minnesota

PSU: 2010 record – 3-3
MN: 2010 record – 1-6
Spread: Penn State by 8
Where: TCF Bank Stadium
When: Saturday, 12:00 PM on ESPNU
Last time met: Oct. 17, 2009 – Evan Royster ran for 137 yards and Darryl threw for 287 yards and  a touchdown in a 20-0 win.

It's been a rough season to say the least. (Photo/AP)

Opposing player to watch – QB Adam Weber: Weber is one of the few bright spots for a dismal Golden Gopher football team. He has thrown 14 touchdowns while only tossing six interceptions this season. He has been effective despite not having many playmakers to help him out. Minnesota has lost six straight games and Weber may be their only chance to avoid another loss.

Offense: This could be a breakout game for Robert Bolden. He has struggled at times and has had trouble finding the end zone. Minnesota ranks last in the Big Ten in sacks and that should give Bolden plenty of times to hook up with his receivers. Evan Royster hasn’t been very consistent this season and could use a great game. He torched the Golden Gophers last year and could do the very same once again. Derek Moye and Devon Smith are two huge playmakers that Bolden could be looking for throughout the game. It would be nice to see Smith more involved in the offense. This game also could show more of freshman running back Silas Redd. Redd hasn’t had much of a chance to make an impact this year. He has shown brilliance in flashes and could get some time in mop up duty.

Defense: The Nittany Lions have struggled against Iowa and Illinois in the last few weeks. They have had a week off to try and make some adjustments for the remainder of the season. They will have an easier task today against a Minnesota squad without many playmakers. This should be a game where Penn State pressures the quarterback and forces some turnovers. I’d like to see more out of the pass rush this afternoon. It will also be interesting to see how they respond without their defensive leader Nick Sukay. The loss of Sukay for the season is absolutely devastating for a team that doesn’t get many turnovers as it is. This could be a chance for the youngsters to step it up and show their skills.

Injury Report:
Penn State: OT Lou Eliades (Torn ACL) *Out for the season, CB Nick Sukay (Torn pectoral) *Out for the season, TE Garry Gilliam (torn ACL) *Out for the season
Illinois: S Kim Royston (broken bones in leg) *Could miss a few more weeks

Prediction: Penn State runs over a bad Minnesota team and Bolden shows he’s going to be a big-time player. Nittany Lions roll 38-13

NFL Week 7: Eagles @ Titans

PHI: 4-2, t1st in NFC East
TEN: 4-2, y1st in AFC South
Spread:
Where: LP-Field (Nashville, TN)
When: Sunday, 1 PM on
Last time met: Nov. 19, 2006 – The Titans smoked the Eagles, 31-13.
Last Week: The Eagles rolled over Atlanta, 31-17. The Titans smoked the Jaguars on MNF, 30-3.

Best case scenario: With getting another start, Kevin Kolb guarantees that he will be the starting quarterback for the rest of the season. Kolb throws for 300 yards and three touchdowns, two to Jeremy Maclin. The defense rattles Vince Young, sacking him six times and forcing him to throw two interceptions. Asante Samuel returns a pick for a touchdown.

Worst case scenario: Kolb is pressured greatly by the Titans defense and is forced to make bad decisions. Andy Reid yanks Kolb in the second half in favor of Michael Vick, who doesn’t do much better. Chris Johnson has a field day, ending the run defense’s string of good games with a 150-yard day and two touchdowns.

Opposing player to watch – RB Chris Johnson: Johnson is arguably the most electrifying running back in the NFL. He has the break-away speed of a wide receiver and can take the hard hits. He is second in the league with 596 yards and leads the league with seven rushing touch downs. If the Eagles defense isn’t on their A-game, it could mean a great performance from Johnson.

Offenses: Kolb is going to start with Vick listed as questionable. Kolb is having a Pro Bowl caliber last few weeks. He’s completed 71-of-105 passes for 804 yards, five TDs, and two interceptions. But he lost a target last week when DeSean Jackson was knocked out with a concussion and will not play on Sunday. But Jeremy Maclin stepped in nicely last week with his two-touchdown game. LeSean McCoy is a very underrated running back in the NFL.

Johnson is the offense in Tennessee. But with a running back that good, that isn’t entirely a bad thing. Young is enjoying a solid season at the reigns despite having Kerry Collins waiting in the wings to take over any time he slips up. Young has completed 62-of-101 passes with seven TDs. Nate Washington and Kenny Britt combined for 32 catches, 236 yards, and seven TDs.

Advantage: Push.

Defenses: Long story short because of how worn down I am with writing: Both have good squads that have been susceptible to bad games. The Eagles run defense will be tested a third straight week with a premier running back in Johnson where the Titans could have their hands full with all the Eagles’ weapons. Should be an interesting game.

Advantage: Push

Injury Report
Eagles
: Out: B. Bunkley (elbow), D. Jackson (concussion), J. Peters (knee). Questionable: Vick (rib).
Titans: Questionable: B. Scaife (groin), V. Young (knee).

Roose’s Prediction (4-2): The teams are very evenly matched. But the Birds will prevail in a close one, 21-17.

Jackson’s Concussion Puts Damper on Win

The Eagles offense suffered a huge blow when Atlanta's Dunta Robinson's vicious hit on DeSean Jackson game the receiver a sever concussion. (Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer)

Final Score: Eagles 31; Falcons 17
Eagles best number: 326 – yards Kevin Kolb threw for.
Eagles worst number: 3 – number of field goals missed by David Akers.
Eagles best play: After scoring on an end-around earlier in the game, Kolb faked an end-around in the third quarter and hit Jeremy Maclin in stride for an 83-yard touchdown.
Eagles worst play: Kolb left WR DeSean Jackson hanging on a lobbed pass in which the star receiver took a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit delivered by Dunta Robinson.

Three stars
J. Maclin (PHI):  7 catches, 159 yards, 2 TD.
K. Kolb (PHI): 23/29, 326 yards, 3 TD.
T. Cole (PHI): 5 tackles, 2 sacks.

Breaking down the game

JACKSON SUFFERS CONCUSSION — It’s one of the most talked about things in sports: concussions. Jackson became a statistic on Sunday while being on the the receiving end of a vicious hit that knocked him out of the game and probably the next few weeks with a concussion.

The Falcons Robinson blind-sided Jackson, who turned around to try and make a catch on a soft pass from Kolb. The helmet-to-helmet hit knocked both players out of the game.

Jackson, the Eagles biggest playmaker, suffered a sever concussion and is likely out of next week’s game against the Titans.

With the league taking a stance against these type of hits, no one has yet to be suspended for them. Only a handful of fines have been handed out. Should Robinson be suspended for the hit? How about James Harrison of the Steelers for knocking two players from Sunday’s game against Cleveland? How about all the other countless incidents that happen on a weekly basis? If the league wants to crack down, make an example out of someone and get the head injuries to a minimum.

MACLIN STEPS UP — Jackson’s concussion allowed Maclin to step-up, which he did on Sunday. Maclin’s performance made many fantasy owners happy (or those who sat him – me – sad) with his seven catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin makes a diving catch in the second quarter for his first touchdown of the game, an 8-yard score. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

His first score was a nice diving catch in the front right corner of the end zone. Kolb struck Maclin with a bullet into his chest for the 8-yard score in the second quarter to make it 21-7 game.

His second came on a fake end-around in the third in which he bolted down the left side line and caught Kolb’s offering in stride for an 83-yard score.

Maclin has big-play ability written all over him as well. But what separates Maclin from Jackson is that he is a smarter route-runner with better hands. Many people don’t believe it but Maclin is the Eagles best wide receiver and could turn into  Kolb’s favorite target.

BE GONE, PINK SHOE! — You may have noticed the pink equipment on a handful of NFL players the past few weeks. One of those players was Akers, who sported a pink cleat on his left foot.

Eagles kicker David Akers kicks with the unlucky pink left boot on Sunday.

But while the pink gear is an obvious stance for breast cancer awareness, it was a hinderance to Akers’ ability to make field goals.

In his first three attempts, Akers’ kicks all went wide left. But in the fourth quarter, Akers ditched the pink cleat for his old one and punched the ball through the uprights, finishing 1-for-4 on the day.

RUN DEFENSE SHOWS UP AGAIN — The Eagles run defense has really made a stance since getting run over by the Redskins a couple weeks ago. Coming off a strong performance in San Francisco, the front-seven again stuffed a big-time running back on Sunday.

The Eagles held Michael Turner to only 45 yards on 15 carries and the Falcons only gained 65 yards on the ground. Atlanta has a top-10 running game in the NFL and Turner is also in the NFL’s top 10 for yards so unlike last week against a weak San Fran offensive line, this was a big step towards becoming a strength once again.


2010 Philadelphia 76ers Season Preview

The Sixers should have an exciting brand of basketball this season. (Jeanna Duerscherl/AP)

Last Season: The Sixers are coming off an awful season in which they went 27-55 and finished in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. It was a trying season for Sixers fans and it became clear that changes had to be made. Following the season, Eddie Jordan was immediately fired. The Jordan firing was written on the wall and had been speculated since the halfway point of the season. It was a dark and dismal season, but there was a very encouraging sign. Rookie Jrue Holiday came in as a raw point guard needing to expand his skill set. Holiday played very well down the stretch and showed that he is the future at point guard for the Sixers. He averaged 8.0 points-per-game and 3.8 assists-per-game. Holiday is an effective floor general and should continue to improve in the 2010-2011 season.

Coaching Change: The Princeton offense is finally in the past. The Jordan firing left the organization with the task yet again of searching for a new head coach. The Sixers brass wanted an experienced coach that could work with this young group and improve their game. They decided to go with former Bulls coach and NBA analyst Doug Collins. Collins is a former four-time NBA All Star, so it’s clear that he understands every aspect of the game. He has vowed from the beginning that he aims to work very hard with swingman Andre Iguodala and try to take the superstar’s game to the next level. Collins seems to be very keen on defense and that is something that the Sixers need work on. He is a welcome change and brings a great attitude to the city of Philadelphia.

Key Arrivals: In a summer that was dominated by “The Big Three” in Miami, the Sixers weren’t very active in free agency. However they were quite active in the trade market. In an unexpected move, they shipped offensively-inept center Samuel Dalembert to the Sacramento Kings for center Spencer Hawes and veteran small forward Andres Nocioni.

Dalembert was a player that just never seemed to fit in Philadelphia. He is a tremendous rebounder and shot blocker but could never contribute on the offensive end. A change of scenery would do him good. On the other hand, Hawes is a nice pickup for the Sixers. While he is not the defensive standout that Dalembert was, he provides some much-needed offense from the center position. He is a 46.8 percent career shooter which is very respectable for a big man. Hawes will step back and attempt the occasional three and will hit some of those shots. Nocioni is a solid veteran pickup who can be an asset to the Sixers. Nocioni will be the sixth man off the bench this season. He can spell Iguodala and Thaddeus Young. He is a fairly solid shooter and can bring veteran leadership to the team.

The Sixers also acquired forwards Craig Brackins and Darius Songalia from the New Orleans Hornets for guard Willie Green and forward Jason Smith. It was basically a salary dump for the Hornets and they wanted a backup point guard for Chris Paul. The Sixers were able to add some size in the frontcourt. Brackins is a solid addition to the team. He was the 21st overall pick in the draft this season and was a star at Iowa State for three years. He has huge potential to be a good power forward in the NBA. If nothing else, he can be an admirable backup to Hawes.

Perhaps the biggest arrival was the drafting of Evan Turner with the second pick in the draft. This kid does it all. He scores, rebounds, and dishes out assists. He is a complete player and will be a breath of fresh air for Sixers fans. Turner averaged 20.4 points-per-game, six assists-per-game, and 9.2 rebounds-per-game in his junior season at Ohio State. Turner has the potential to be an absolute stud in the NBA. He could be a dark horse for rookie of the year. Turner paired with Iguodala could give the Sixers a high flying offense this season.

Season Prediction: 36-46 (3rd in Atlantic Division)

The Sixers aren’t quite ready to compete in the Eastern Conference. Doug Collins will bring a new attitude to the Sixers and should have them playing hard. The Sixers could be a young and exciting team this year. Turner will bring more fans out to the arena and should give Sixers fans something to look forward too. They are a few years away from contending but Collins should have the Sixers moving in the right direction.