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St. Joe's lost the game but won March Madness in so many ways

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St. Joe's lost the game but won March Madness in so many ways

The problem with the NCAA Tournament, sometimes, is we too often remember only the final moments. The incredible buzzer-beaters. The crazy meltdowns. The celebrations and the tears. (And also stuff that doesn’t involve Northern Iowa over the last four days).

So when Saint Joseph’s ride came to a gut-wrenching end Sunday in Spokane, it will be the late turnovers that sealed Oregon’s 69-64 win over the upset-minded Hawks that many people will likely remember for years to come.

And that’s a shame because, despite the tough loss, this very likable St. Joe’s team won March Madness in so many ways. Let’s count them:

1. A star is born noticed

Every hoops fan in Philly may know about DeAndre’ Bembry and his ‘fro but it quickly became apparent that not everyone in the country does, especially when analyst Doug Gottlieb referred to him as the “best player you’ve never heard of.” It was nice to see, then, that the junior swingman was able to shine on the national stage, scoring 23 in the Hawks’ first-round win over Cincinnati and going for 16 points and 12 rebounds vs. Oregon -- this after his 30-point monster game in the Hawks’ Atlantic 10 title-game triumph. He even showed what kind of leader he is for taking the blame for the loss to the top-seeded Ducks because of a late turnover before expressing gratitude and appreciation for the ride. He will be missed on Hawk Hill if he decides to turn pro.

2. A perfect game-winning shot

The Hawks couldn’t have drawn this one up any better. Trailing by one to Cincy in the opening-round 8-9 game, head coach Phil Martelli called a brilliant play out of a timeout to get Isaiah Miles open for a three-pointer that the senior drained. Miles said afterwards that it was the first game-winner he ever hit at any level even though he had been dreaming about it all his life. And it was fitting end to a remarkable senior season in which Miles turned into a bona fide star following three mostly pedestrian seasons.

3. Martelli’s got jokes

When he wasn’t thinking up great plays, Martelli was thinking up interesting responses to reporter’s questions (or their posture). After comparing Cincinnati’s defenders to bouncers at a club, the Hawks’ coach had a little fun with a writer that was, um, too relaxed at the postgame press conference following the win. “You need like a cushion or anything” is definitely going to be the name of my NCAA Tournament bracket next year.

4. “Fresh Kimble” shows the future is bright

His real name is Lamarr but everyone calls him “Fresh.” He certainly helped the Hawks look fresh Sunday night with some clutch shots and great drives in the second half while some of the veterans battled foul trouble. The point guard finished with 11 points off the bench against the Ducks but my favorite moment came when he -- a freshman -- was doing his best to console Bembry coming off the court. That shouldn’t come as much a surprise as he clearly loves the guy. And if Bembry leaves, perhaps he’ll take his mantle as the next St. Joe’s star.

5. Aaron Brown’s last hurrah

Other players came through with some big March moments for the Hawks but it’s hard not to specifically highlight Aaron Brown, who scored in double figures in both NCAA Tournament games. The senior has been through a lot and actually played in the Big Dance back in 2012 while at West Virginia. But that must seem like a lifetime ago. So it was cool to see him bookend his college career with another trip to the NCAA Tournament -- and an impressive one at that.

6. The walk-ons got moves

Do not try these dance moves at home:

7. The return of little Phil

He’s no longer wearing a custom suit, holding a clipboard and mimicking the coach like he did two years ago but Martelli’s cute grandson was stealing camera time again this March -- this time decked out in a full uniform.

8. The alums were all in

Even the ones that are now in the NBA.

9. The Hawk loses his head

Props, as always, to the Hawk. It’s alway fun hearing people marvel (or mock) how it flaps its wings the entire game, especially this time of year. Turns out, there’s a real person inside there too.

 

10. Underdog spirit

It may get overlooked since Oregon isn’t a traditional power but it’s important to keep in mind that a St. Joe’s team that had little to no expectations before the season began not only won the A-10 Tournament and a game in the Big Dance (its 28th of the season) but also went toe-to-toe with a No. 1 seed. And they did so after flying across the entire damn country. And with no true big man. And with their own city probably focusing more on Villanova and Temple than them. This is a team that needs to be remembered for a very long time -- and not just for how the season ended. 

Brent Celek would rather retire than play for Cowboys

Brent Celek would rather retire than play for Cowboys

Need another reason to love Brent Celek?

Probably not — the standing ovation he got at the Sixers game in March just hours after being cut by the Eagles gives you a sense of the connection he has with Philadelphia fans.

But appearing Friday on 97.5 The Fanatic, Celek did the one thing guaranteed to get you in any Eagles fan's good graces — diss the Cowboys.

"Hell no. Do you think I would play for the Cowboys? Philly is my home," Celek said. "If they offered me 10 million, I still wouldn't go."

While Celek said back in March before being cut that he wasn't planning to retire, it sounds like his mind has shifted. He has a hard time imagining himself playing anywhere besides Philadelphia.

"I think I'm leaning more toward retirement," Celek said. "I've had a few offers, but none of them are worth leaving a city that I have been in for 11 years where I won the Super Bowl in my final year. It wouldn't feel right to put another uniform on."

Like seeing Brian Dawkins in a Broncos uniform, it would be bizarre to watch Celek suit up for another team. 

If he does find a new home, we know it definitely won't be Dallas. 

You can listen to the full interview with Celek here

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Mets pitcher records 1st MLB hit off Scott Kingery, jokes on social media

Mets pitcher records 1st MLB hit off Scott Kingery, jokes on social media

When someone gets a bloop single or a broken bat hit, they’ll often say “it looks like a line drive in the box score.” Does the same apply when your first major-league hit came off Scott Kingery lobbing pitches over the plate?

Thursday, in the midst of the Mets' 20-run victory, the Phillies used position players to record the final nine outs of the game. Roman Quinn pitched first and regularly registered in the upper 70s with his offerings, but Kingery on the other hand …

In the eighth inning, Mets reliever Jerry Blevins was called on to hit for just the fourth time in his 12-year MLB career and he delivered with an RBI single off the soft-tossing rookie infielder. 

After the game, Blevins took to social media to make a joke about his first hit.

Mets fans had some fun with the moment, too.

While Dodgers fans, just didn’t get it.

The Phillies went on to win the second game of the twin bill, aided by a solo home run from Kingery. The Phils also gained a half-game on the Atlanta Braves in the standings, so we can have a laugh at this one.

Congratulations, Jerry, it’s a line drive off Kershaw in the box score.

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