Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Are Flyers underachievers? (And Final 4 musings)

A seasoned team should not have begat this uneven season

Are Flyers underachievers? (And Final 4 musings)

Joffrey Lupul and the Flyers face the Florida Panthers at the Wachovia Center tonight. (Steven M. Falk/Staff file photo)
Joffrey Lupul and the Flyers face the Florida Panthers at the Wachovia Center tonight. (Steven M. Falk/Staff file photo)

Are the Flyers a disappointment this season? Think about it.

They’ve got four guys with over 30 goals, a seasoned pair of goalies, and at least two defensemen, Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn, who are potential Olympians. Shouldn’t they at least be the second seed this season? Does anyone believe there’s more talent on the Devils or Bruins for that matter? Sure the Devils have Marty Brodeur, but they made some of that run to the top with him sidelined.

By the way I did not like young captain Mike Richards dismissive response to that recent two-game skid, which has really become more. Save that first period against Toronto in the rematch, it’s been more than two games that they seem like a team without a system.

I fear they do not see last year’s run as a building tool, or even overachievement. The one silver lining is their best efforts seem to come against the better teams, so …


Impressive as North Carolina’s Final Four run was, I was struck by how similar both opponents played against the Tar Heels, and the analysis from both coaches afterwards. Villanova coach Jay Wright spoke of how the Cats got better every game of the tournament but that ``today we did not get better.’’ Similarly Tom Izzo said ``Some of it was Carolina and some of it was us.’’ Which only goes to prove that coaches can be as biased as the fans of their teams. Carolina made them look that bad.

When CBS commentator Clark Kellogg spoke of Michigan State rushing themselves, shooting early in the shot clock, not moving the defense side to side quickly – those sets worked against teams that could not pressure on the perimeter and cover the interior at the same time. My kid’s at State and I wanted them to win, but that’s as thorough I’ve seen a college team play back to back in a long time. They were seasoned pros, really.

By the way, did anyone else find it odd that Izzo did not call an early timeout so his less experienced team could take a deep breath?

He is a great coach. And allowing CBS to film inside his locker room… well we all should cheer his success so more coaches do that in the future. It was terrific TV.


The 30th anniversary of Magic-Bird reminds me of one of my favorite sportswriter stories. The day after he sank the ``junior, junior sky hook" to beat the Celtics in Game 4 of the 1987 Finals, I got on an already packed elevator at the Sheraton in Boston with a bunch of suits headed to a lunch meeting. Everyone was talking about the game, about the intensity, and most of all, about how great Magic was.

One guy, with that thick Boston accent, was going on particularly about what a great era, what great players he and Larry Bird were.

And then the elevator opened up and there was Magic, with an ice bucket in hand and a Lakers trainer at his side.

The conversation came to a halt, Magic smiled and opted not to squish on. (Doubt he could have). And just before the doors closed, the guy who had done most of the talking shouted, in that unmistakeable accent, ``Lucky Shaaat’’!

Daily News Columnist
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About this blog
Donnellon's career began in Biddeford, Me., in 1981, and has included stops in Wilkes-Barre, Norfolk, and New York, where he worked as a national writer for the short-lived but highly acclaimed National Sports Daily. He has received state and national awards at each stop and since joining the Daily News in 1992 has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press Managing Editors of Pennsylvania and the Keystone Awards. He and his wife of 26 years have raised three fine children, none of whom are even the least bit impressed with the above. E-mail Sam at donnels@phillynews.com
Reach Sam at donnels@phillynews.com.

Sam Donnellon Daily News Columnist