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‘Nova Knicks stir things up | Sports Daily Newsletter

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Mention the ‘Nova Knicks around here and you are sure to stir up the feelings of fans. Check the reader comments below for a sampling of how Philadelphia-area folks feel about them.

Villanova brought great vibes to the area when it captured NCAA championships in 2016 and 2018. Even Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright concedes, though, that there is a “hatred Philly people have for Villanova.” Wright did a great job describing the strange dynamic to a former Inquirer sportswriter, John Gonzalez.

Of course, New York manhandled the Sixers, so that is part of it. Still, no one can deny the grittiness that Villanova’s three Knicks — Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, and Donte DiVincenzo — bring to the court. Incredible offensive rebounding has allowed them to take over games. Also, they have broken the mold in this playoff success story: None of them was anywhere near a lottery pick, but they are their team’s driving force.

So why didn’t Brunson, Hart, or DiVincenzo wind up on the Sixers roster? It took years for all of them to develop into NBA stalwarts, Marcus Hayes writes, and they never would have gotten the time to develop in Philly.

— Jim Swan, @phillysport, sports.daily@inquirer.com.

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❓ Is it time to be concerned about J.T. Realmuto’s sore knee? Email us back for a chance to be featured in the newsletter.

There are times when Ranger Suárez gets angry on the mound. The Phillies starter, who is known for his stoicism, never shows it — but he feels it. Like when he walks a batter. In fact, he hates that. And during the offseason, he decided to focus on two of his secondary pitches: the curveball and changeup. The result of his work and the execution that followed have made Suárez into one of the best pitchers in the game this season.

J.T. Realmuto missed his second straight game Monday with a sore right knee. “We’re just going to treat it for a couple days and see how it feels and go from there,” the Phillies catcher said.

Without Realmuto and Trea Turner in the lineup, the Phillies rallied from two runs down to beat the New York Mets, 5-4, in extras, thanks to clutch hitting from Bryson Stott.

Next: The Phillies close out their series in New York at 1:10 p.m. today (NBC10). Aaron Nola (4-2, 3.67 ERA) will start opposite Mets right-hander Jose Butto (1-2, 3.00).

The NBA Draft Combine started in earnest Monday in Chicago with players participating in strength and agility drills. The rest of the week will present a better opportunity for players to display their skill and personality during five-on-five scrimmages and media sessions. This year will be light on local talent as the invitation-only event doesn’t count a single Big 5 player among its 78 participants. With that in mind, we focused less on individual players and zeroed in on five storylines to watch, including players the Sixers could select and Bronny James’ decision to stay in the draft.

The Eagles signed three draft picks — edge rusher Jalyx Hunt, running back Will Shipley, and wide receiver Ainias Smith — ahead of their first organized team activities next week. They also brought in yet another cornerback, undrafted rookie Shon Stephens, a 25-year-old out of Ferris State in Michigan.

Guess who’s been around the Eagles’ training facility “almost every day?” It’s Jason Kelce.

Some lucky fans will get to be on the field at the Linc this season as part of the team’s partnership with TickPick.

Ivan Bailey-Greene is more than just a defensive tackle at St. Joseph’s Prep who plans to play at East Stroudsburg next season. He also has become an accomplished painter of portraits. “I think everybody should have an outlet,” he says. “With the hustle and bustle of the real world, everybody needs something they like to do.”

Worth a look

🧠 Trivia time

J.T. Realmuto has been a two-time All-Star with the Phillies. Before him, who was the last Phillies catcher to make the NL All-Star team? First with the correct answer here will be featured in the newsletter.

A) Mike Lieberthal

B) Carlos Ruiz

C) Darren Daulton

D) Lance Parrish

What you’re saying about the ‘Nova Knicks

We asked you: Are you rooting for the ‘Nova Knicks in the playoffs? Among your responses:

As a lifelong Saint Joe Hawks fan, I hope the Knicks never win another game. — Frank B.

I have been really frustrated that the 76ers have not drafted or traded for one player that was on the two Villanova championship teams in 2016 and 2018. Those teams played five home games each year at the Wells Fargo Center. The Villanova campus is a short drive away, but the 76ers didn’t think they were good enough to play for the home team. So yes, I am rooting for the Knicks. Go Nova Knicks! — Tom E.

I am Nova grad 1972 but have always been a Sixer fan. I root hard for the Nova Knicks and hope they can go all the way! — Joe V.

Rest assured this dyed in the wool Sixers fan along with a covey of Cat faithfuls will be pulling for the displaced “Nova Knicks” in NY. How can we not urge them on? Little known to many, there’s also a Jersey boy in there at the front leading the Knicks, no doubt crafted by his gifted dad, a Camden High ‘55 grad. After all, to borrow from Frost, isn’t “A Rose Is A Rose?” — John B.

Editor’s note: You are referring to Knicks president Leon Rose, a graduate of Cherry Hill East.

I have been a Villanova basketball fan since Paul Arizin. I have a brother, cousins, and a late uncle who were Nova grads. Reluctantly I wish those Nova guys who killed the Sixers much personal success, but I have always been pretty much a Philly-only guy who really doesn’t care who wins after my team has been eliminated. — Everett S.

Loyalty to your college is a positive characteristic for anyone, especially a program as successful as Villanova. However if you’re a Philadelphian or a fan of their teams, that loyalty ends when graduates of your school are playing for the opposition. If this seems more complicated than that, you’re not a real Sixers fan. — Ed N.

In this week’s gripping episode of unCovering the Birds, The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane delves into the chilling moment when Stewart Bradley collapsed on the field, a pivotal incident highlighting the NFL’s concussion crisis.

Through detailed recounts and interviews with Bradley and his former teammates, the episode explores the immediate decision to let Bradley return to play, the long-term effects of concussions, and their profound impact on players’ lives beyond football, marking a significant moment in Eagles history and the broader conversation on head trauma in sports. Listen now.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Marcus Hayes, Jeff Neiburg, DeAntae Prince, Gabriela Carroll, Scott Lauber, Alex Coffey, EJ Smith, Isabella DiAmore, and Matthew Frank.

By submitting your written, visual, and/or audio contributions, you agree to The Inquirer’s Terms of Use, including the grant of rights in Section 10.

Thanks for reading, newsletter fans. Maria will be at Sports Daily’s controls on Wednesday. — Jim

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