Around the World: A Mixed Bag of City 6 Updates

Around the World: A Mixed Bag of City 6 Updates

It was an up and down weekend for college basketball in the city of Philadelphia, though, we admit, mostly down.

One program lost its starting center and a game to a MAC opponent. Another dropped two games in three days. Another dropped two in two. One nearly overcame Pitt, but then didn't. And then somebody beat Penn State and Drexel didn't even play!

So yeah...mostly bad. Brief updates on the local college ball scene below.

Temple
The Temple University Owls received the absolute worst news they could hear when they found out they would be without starting center Michael Eric for their game against Bowling Green on Sunday. Already making due with a short bench thanks to the absence of Scootie Randall, the Owls moved to a seven, though mostly six-man rotation without Eric. It would not be enough to beat the Falcons on their own floor.

Temple entered this season with questions about its front court depth before losing Eric. Now with 6-9 freshman Anthony Lee as the only player in the rotation above 6-6, the Owls look to be in some serious trouble.

No timetable has been set for Eric's return. The injury is to his right patella, the same body part that caused him to miss the last two months of the season last spring. He is scheduled for a reevaluation today.

Villanova
We knew the Wildcats wouldn't be the same team we've grown accustomed to over the last few years, but we didn't think it would be like this. Back to back losses to St. Louis and Santa Clara don't bode well for a team who schedules a typically weak out-of-conference schedule to make up for the literal hell that is their in-conference docket.

That said, St. Louis is actually a much improved basketball team and, by all accounts, a legitimate contender to the A-10 title. It's not what you would consider "a bad loss," especially in an early season tournament so far from home.

That Santa Clara game though is a tough one to swallow, regardless of whether or not it was like a home game for the Broncos.

Penn
The Quakers are losers of their last three in a row, dropping contests with Wagner, #16 Pitt and James Madison.

Though there's no reason to believe they won't be plenty successful in the Ivy League and surprisingly competitive for sleep-walking out-of-conferences opponents, Harvard's consecutive victories over #20 FSU and UCF may give Quaker fans some pause about how they stack up against the League's heavy favorite to repeat.

The good news is that Zack Rosen is still entertaining and that Jerome Allen is making every attempt to supplant Jay Wright as the best dressed coach in town. So there's that, right?

La Salle
Though they gave Pitt a legitimate scare last week, I doubt their 51-44 follow-up of a loss to Robert Morris was exactly what the Explorers had planned.

Their rebound blow out of Rider puts them back on the winning track for now, but Dr. G's young team still has a long way to go before they begin changing any hearts and minds.

Fortunately, their out-of-conference schedule isn't overly taxing, so it might be a good opportunity for the team to learn how to win some games and head into its A-10 slate with a bit of confidence.

St. Joe's
At 4-2, the Hawks have been something of a revelation. Their only losses are to Big East member Seton Hall and the one-man Mo Mo Jones show of Iona—who they were still able to force to double overtime.

In the meantime, they've beaten Western Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Tulsa and Penn State. There are plenty of teams who will do a whole lot worse than G-Tech in November and December when it comes to marquee wins.

Point guard Carl Jones is exploding for 21.3 ppg and shooting better than 50% from the floor, while sophomore Langston Galloway is following up his strong freshman campaign with an average 16.3 a night.

Are the 2011-2012 Hawks part of the consistent patch of A-10 overachievers who peak early and stumble late? I suppose we'll find out. But, for now, coach Phil Martelli looks to have temporarily silenced at least a few of his critics.

Drexel
Yeah, they've sort of been off since last Monday...

But they are 2-2 and scheduled for a game this Wednesday with St. Joseph's. Dragon fans have been crying for some love this season and always feel like the forgotten team in town. They've had some quality showdowns with members of the Big 5 in recent years. One more should give them even more material to add to their "why we deserve a scheduling agreement" manifesto.

Upcoming City Match-ups
11/30 Drexel vs. St. Joe's (Hagan Arena / 7:00 p.m.)
12/3   Penn vs. Villanova (The Pavilion / 7:00 p.m.)
12/10 Villanova vs. Temple (Liacouras Center / 5:00 p.m.)
12/17 Holy War (Hagan Arena / 7:00 p.m.)

Lifeless Phillies should call up red-hot Roman Quinn ... why not?

Lifeless Phillies should call up red-hot Roman Quinn ... why not?

The Phillies are a lifeless team right now.

For a while the starting pitching was the biggest issue, then it was the bullpen, now it's the offense. The Phils have hit .224 since May 12, which was when their 2-7 road trip began. 

Their .268 on-base percentage over that span is worst in the majors and their .613 OPS is better than only the Mariners.

Players up and down the lineup are slumping. Odubel Herrera has hit .207 with a .246 OBP since the ninth game of the season. Michael Saunders hasn't given them much at any point. Maikel Franco had an eight-game hit streak snapped Monday, but even still is hitting .221 with a .281 on-base percentage. 

At this point, why not bring up Roman Quinn and play him every day? It makes too much sense right now.

Daniel Nava went on the 10-day DL Monday with a hamstring strain suffered Friday in Pittsburgh. It doesn't seem to be a serious injury, but why not use the open space as an excuse to bring Quinn up for at least a few days and see what he's got?

Quinn could infuse some energy and life to the top of a sputtering lineup. Bat him second, play him in the corner outfield and see what happens. At the very least, he'd be a defensive upgrade over Saunders. At the most, Quinn's hunger to stick in the majors could result in a hot streak that sparks the top of the order the way Herrera does when he's hot.

Quinn is hitting lately at Triple A, batting .333 with a .424 OBP over his last 15 games. He showed last September that he can be an offensive catalyst with his ability to beat out infield singles, bunt for hits and spray the ball. Yes, he strikes out too much for a leadoff-type hitter, but it's just hard to see the downside of a call-up right now.

The argument against bringing Quinn up now is that it's too early to sour on Saunders, a player the Phillies signed in hopes of trading at some point. But think about how much Saunders would have to do to have worthwhile trade value. Yeah, you could flip him somewhere for a negligible return or some salary relief, but he'd have to be extremely productive for at least a month to get a team interested in trading a minor-leaguer of any value for him.

Pete Mackanin has tried many things to spark the Phils' lineup, moving Herrera and Franco down, sitting guys, challenging guys. The best solution, perhaps the only solution right now, might be a move made over his head to promote the Phils' speedy, switch-hitting outfielder who has a future with them so long as he stays on the field, which he has this season.

As for Rhys Hoskins and Jorge Alfaro, who have also hit very well at Triple A, they just happen to play the same positions as Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp, who have been the Phillies' most reliable bats the last few weeks.

Jason Kelce ignoring trade rumors as he tries to work on himself

Jason Kelce ignoring trade rumors as he tries to work on himself

Jason Kelce is aware of the rumors and reports that have surrounded his name this offseason. 

As much as he might try to avoid them, the Eagles' veteran center does not, presumably, live under a rock. So he's heard for months about the possibility of his long run with the Eagles coming to a close. 

After all, the Eagles have stockpiled an abundance of interior offensive linemen who can play center, and trading Kelce would save the team $3.8 million in cap space. 

So it all makes sense, but Kelce is trying to keep it out of his mind. 

"I think you'll drive yourself crazy if you're reading too much into what's going on," he said on Tuesday as the Eagles kicked off their voluntary OTAs. "My whole offseason has just kind of been really the only thing I can control is my game and the way I play and what I've been doing. So I've just really tried to hit the weight room, work on technique, work on things to try to get my game back to where it used to be."

How is he able to put it out of his mind? 

"Because worrying about it doesn't do any good," he answered.

While the Eagles have Isaac Seumalo and Stefen Wisniewski ready to play center if necessary, head coach Doug Pederson said on Tuesday that Kelce is still "the guy." 

Kelce, 29, was named to his second career Pro Bowl team last season, which might be a surprise to those who watched the Eagles throughout the year. Kelce wasn't as bad as some people think, but he also probably wasn't a Pro Bowl-caliber player. 

He got off to a very slow start in 2016 but did seem to get better as the season went on.  

"I feel at times last year, there were times I was dominant and games where I didn't really do a great job," he said. "You go back and watch film and try to make the corrections, try to make sure that moving forward I'm the same player I was in the past."

Kelce attributed many of his problems early last season to lousy technique. He's been trying extra hard to work on that part of his game as well as in the weight room. 

Often characterized as undersized, he said weighed 295 pounds on Tuesday morning. That's also his listed weight on the Eagles' website. 

All last season, Kelce said he played in the 290s, which was heavier than he had been in a long time. His goal this offseason is to make it up to 300 pounds by training camp, and then he hopes to keep the weight on. 

"I would certainly think so," he said. "As you get older, it gets a little bit easier to put on the weight and hold it on. I think everybody kind of finds that out."

Perhaps the biggest reason for the Eagles to keep Kelce around this season is the development of quarterback Carson Wentz in his second year. Kelce, as his center, might be integral to Wentz's growth. Although Kelce said he doesn't think of it like that when asked if that relationship gives him an advantage over others.  

Kelce has been with the Eagles since 2011 when he was a sixth-round pick out of Cincinnati. He's played and started 78 games in six seasons. 

He admitted last season he needed to play better or he knew he would become expendable (see story). So the rumors and reports this season likely aren't a shock to him. 

He's still not going to pay attention to them. 

"The reality is, we always have guys coming in, coming out," he said. "Now we happen to have a lot of really good depth at interior line. But like I said, it doesn't do me any good worrying about the what-ifs. All I can control is what I can control and that's how I go out and play, how I go out and prepare and how I try to get back to the player I've been in the past."