Coat Check | 01.29.19

by Matt Murphy

Each week, “Coat Check” will highlight the Delaware Blue Coats, the NBA G League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers.

CHECKING IN

The Blue Coats are home.

Wednesday night marked the grand opening of 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware, with the Blue Coats (10-17) playing host to the Memphis Hustle (Memphis Grizzlies) in front of a lively crowd that filled the new arena.

Prior to the historic tip-off, an on-court commemoration featured local dignitaries, as well as a group of 76ers front office executives that included team president Chris Heck and general manager Elton Brand.

The pregame festivities also signaled the start of a new tradition.

Each game, a celebrity guest will pound the Blue Coats’ ceremonial drum to get things going. On Wednesday, former championship boxer and Philadelphia native Bernard Hopkins did the honors.

Faces in the crowd at the new crib

A post shared by Delaware Blue Coats (@delawarebluecoats) on

Both Delaware U.S. senators—Tom Carper and Chris Coons—attended the opener. Governor John Carney and Wilmington mayor Mike Purzycki were also there, while Philadelphia Eagles running back and Delaware native Wendell Smallwood sat courtside.

The opening night matchup came down to the wire, but Memphis escaped with a 110-106 victory. The Blue Coats recorded a season-high 61 rebounds.

On Friday in Wilmington, the Blue Coats fell, 134-123, to the Sioux Falls Skyforce (Miami Heat). Cameron Oliver recorded a career-high 28 points (11-14 fg, 2-2 3fg, 4-4 ft) and added 14 rebounds in the contest.

The following night, the team dropped a 111-105 home affair to the Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte Hornets).

TWO-WAY TRACKER

Shake Milton

Sixteen seconds into Wednesday’s opening night game, Milton scored the first basket in 76ers Fieldhouse history on a give-and-go layup. He finished with 20 points (9-19 fg, 1-2 3fg, 1-1 ft), nine rebounds, and two assists before fouling out in the game’s closing minutes. In 14 appearances with the Coats, Milton is averaging 24.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 35.7 minutes per game. The rookie then traveled west with the 76ers, and went on to post an NBA career-high 11 points (4-7 fg, 3-5 3fg) in Saturday’s match-up with the Denver Nuggets.

Haywood Highsmith

Highsmith also suited up for the Blue Coats on 76ers Fieldhouse Opening Night. The 6-foot-7 wing nabbed a game-high three steals, while seven of his 11 points came from the free-throw line. Prior to this past weekend, Highsmith was the only Blue Coat to appear in every game. That streak was snapped when he traveled to Denver with Milton and the Sixers, subsequently missing the home back-to-back in Delaware. Highsmith added one rebound and an assist against the Nuggets on Saturday in his second career NBA game.

BLUE QUOTE

Head Coach Connor Johnson, on 76ers Fieldhouse:

“We can have our locker room, we can have our weight room, we can have our training room. We can get the guys what they need to succeed and what they need to develop to hopefully get to the next level. And this building has that for them and that’s something that we’re excited about.”

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: KEENAN EVANS (6-3, 195 LBS)

Evans was acquired on Tuesday, Jan. 22 in a trade with the Grand Rapids Drive.

Past Week: 2 GP | 13.0 PPG | 3.0 RPG | 2.0 APG

Season:  23 GP | 14.4 PPG | 3.6 RPG | 3.2 APG

Basketball Fact: Teamed up with 76ers rookie Zhaire Smith, who is currently on assignment with the Blue Coats, to lead Texas Tech to the 2018 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight

Fun Fact: Faces old team (Grand Rapids) on Tuesday with the Blue Coats

UP NEXT

The Blue Coats return to 76ers Fieldhouse for another home back-to-back, beginning with a Tuesday night matchup against the Grand Rapids Drive (Detroit Pistons) at 7:00 p.m. The team then faces the Windy City Bulls (Chicago Bulls) on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.

Photos: Alex Subers, Wayne Terry

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