The Rights to Ricky Sanchez began as a protest to mediocrity. Spike Eskin, program director of WIP, and Mike Levin, comedy writer for network sitcoms, began the conversation in 2012 after years of frustration with an approach that kept the team “competitive” but far from contending. On Friday night, the podcast hosted Two Way night at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware. The nearly sold out arena had an atmosphere that evoked memories of the Blue/White scrimmage crossed with the Live Ricky at the Franklin Music Hall. The venue and the team were fitting for a podcast that always focused most on the unique and under publicized prospects that defined “The Process” Era.
Even before Sam Hinkie was hired as the general manager, the pair had formed a worldview that preached the value of taking a step back in order to position the team for greatness. The phrase “Trust the Process,” while not invented by the podcast, was certainly popularized by Spike and Mike. The pair famously end each podcast episode with a call and response, “You down with TTP? Yeah… you know Lickface.”
“I used to write for Ridiculous Upside in 2010,” said Mike Levin, who aside from being a comedy writer is one of the most impressive deep draft analysts around. “The fact that it’s taken me this long to see a G League game in person is criminal.” Levin is an annual fixture at NBA Summer League in Vegas, but since moving to Los Angeles has had to watch most regular season games on TV. Mike displays a surprising depth to his knowledge of the Sixers’ developmental prospects that shows that he watches his fair share of Blue Coats games online.
Blue Coats Return Home
The Blue Coats return home after dropping two close games at the G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas. Prior to the trip to Vegas, the team had won 7 straight. The Coats are currently 4th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 10-6. “It was good for our guys,” said head coach Connor Johnson about the Showcase. “The more they can play in front of people in a live environment and show what they can do, [the better].”
The College Park Skyhawks entered the game 9-8 led by Brandon Goodwin and Charlie Brown. The Skyhawks also boast a former Process 76er, Cat Barber, who played for the 76ers in the preseason in 2016 before an October release.
First Half Surge
Both teams shot 50% from three in the first half. The Blue Coats made 12-24 threes, and College Park knocked down 8-16 as the teams traded buckets seemingly at will to enter the half 79-78. The Coats had three players in double figures at the half, including Marial Shayok, Haywood Highsmith, and Jared Brownridge. Jonah Bolden and Doral Moore struggled, perhaps a sign that College Park was willing to give up the three in order to take away deep touches and penetration.
Christ Koumadje, however, was able to score 8 first half points on the strength of 4 offensive rebounds.
Second Half Struggle
The Blue Coats scored just 46 points in the second half and faded in the final 6 minutes. The Skyhawks ultimately controlled the fourth quarter, outscoring Delaware 33-27 and finished off the win, 132-125. Tahjere McCall scored 28 off the bench to lead College Park.
Marial Shayok was excellent offensively on Friday. He scored 21 first half points on 8-11 shooting, including 4-5 from three. Shayok has been a walking bucket so far this season. His impressive wingspan and soft scoring touch bode well for his future as a professional. Shayok was just 3-9 in the second half.
Xavier Munford has emerged as a leader for the Blue Coats team. He is third on the team in scoring average and leading the team with 6.3 assists per game. Xavier finished the night with 17 points and 10 assists to go with 3 steals. Haywood Highsmith and Jared Brownridge each scored 18 in the game, and Koumadje finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Blue Coats in the loss.
Mike and Spike held their Live Ricky from center court after the game ended. The pair have long had excellent chemistry as a podcast pairing, but they are underrated as an interview tandem. Shizz Alston and Haywood Highsmith were interviewed, including each getting a Ricky signature “Jigsaw” question. Highsmith talked about the moments in Toronto when the Kawhi Leonard shot fell. He also noted that comparisons he has heard between himself and Robert Covington, a player he has tried to emulate by “working hard, playing defense, shooting.”
Head coach Connor Johnson and general manager Matt Lilly joined the podcast together and talked about a range of topics, including the essential challenge of the G League which balances competitive atmosphere with talent development. Matt Lilly made a number of references showing he clearly is aware of the podcast history and lore. He walked off with a “Trust The Process.” Connor Johnson shouted out former Process Sixers Isaiah Canaan and Hollis Thompson.
The night set a record for most attended Blue Coats home game in history. The Paul Green Rock Academy is the official house band of the Delaware Blue Coats, and they played some special songs from the Ricky podcast history, including “Imagine the Process” and “Say the Name,” as well as past podcast intro music hits. In all, it was a fun and cultish atmosphere.
The Blue Coats did not win the game, but the fans were treated to a great night in Wilmington.