Down Goes Penn; Nova, La Salle, and St. Joe's Play on

Down Goes Penn; Nova, La Salle, and St. Joe's Play on

We interrupt these Fall 2012 Big East football updates to discuss Big East basketball that's actually happening now. 
But first, our hearts go out to (now official: Ivy League Player of the Year) Zack Rosen and the Penn Quakers. With their loss to Princeton last night, they fell just one win short of a one-game playoff with Harvard that would have given them a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Like the Drexel Dragons before them, the Quakers dealt Philadelphia a second-straight night of Championship Week heartbreak. If you missed the game, or simply want to re-live the pain, check out (uber-depressed Penn-head) Dave Zeitlin's postgame recap on CSNPhilly.com.
Really, this quote from Penn forward Rob Belcore (courtesy of Zeitlin) says it all:

“I never thought for a second we were out,” Belcore said. “With the guy sitting to my right [Rosen], he’s going to need a month off for how tired his back has got to be. As long as he was taking the floor with me … I thought he could carry us through the whole way. And he almost did. I think we let him down, the other 14 guys.”

Coach Jerome Allen wasn't pleased the other 14 either:

“[Princeton] didn’t have anything to play for other than to be the spoilers,” Penn head coach Jerome Allen said. “How can a team that’s playing for nothing play harder than the team that’s supposedly playing for something? And that’s really what blew my mind.”

Ours, too, coach.
But as we pointed out yesterday, and we'll keep pointing out until Sunday at 6 p.m., Champ Week rolls on.
We'll be back in the coming days with an Atlantic 10 tournament primer to walk you through Temple, Saint Joseph's and La Salle's Friday matchups and their respective roads to the championship game. In the meantime, you can take a look at an updated bracket here and read about La Salle's win over Richmond and SJU's thumping of Charlotte here and here.
And now onto to the Villanova Wildcats and their 9 p.m. Wednesday night matchup with the University of South Florida Bulls. We know it's been a rough day for you 'Novaheads, but you can go back to this post from yesterday and take comfort in knowing we thought you actually would beat Rutgers. 
So can you forgive us for preferring that Penn play for the NCAA than watching you guys make a run for the CBI? We'll assume that's a "no."
Anyway, should you be so interested once the Big East is done detracting from its own basketball tournament by introducing a convenient football addition, Nova and USF will close the octofinals later this evening. You can watch the game on ESPN or online at ESPN3.com.
The remaining Big East bracket below:

Howie Kendrick (oblique) finally ready to begin rehab assignment tonight

Howie Kendrick (oblique) finally ready to begin rehab assignment tonight

Phillies corner outfielder/infielder Howie Kendrick is finally nearing a return. He'll begin a rehab assignment tonight with Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Kendrick has been out since April 15 with an oblique strain. He did defensive work during the Phillies' road trip and has been taking outdoor batting practice at home this week.

Kendrick was off to a hot start when the oblique injury sent him to the DL. In 10 games, he went 13 for 39 (.333) with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs. He batted second all 10 games.

The Phillies are in a bad offensive funk and could use Kendrick's bat over Michael Saunders' right now. The Phils' 1-2 hitters were among the most productive in the majors in April, hitting close to .350 for the month. They're down to .282 on the season as Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera have slumped in May.

With Clay Buchholz likely out for the season and Saunders providing little offense so far, the Phillies' trio of offseason veteran additions has not panned out through two months.

Supplement-free Lane Johnson heaviest he's ever been, feels he has much to prove

Supplement-free Lane Johnson heaviest he's ever been, feels he has much to prove

It's only natural to have some reservations about Lane Johnson after he was suspended for 10 games last season for his second violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. One more positive test and the Eagles will lose their starting right tackle for two full years.

Fortunately, Johnson seems determined to avoid any future run-ins with the league. The 27-year-old changed his entire approach this offseason, cutting out negative influences or any other voices at all while preparing for the 2017 season.

"I just trained by myself back in Oklahoma," Johnson said after the Eagles' first full-team practice of OTAs on Tuesday. "Trained by myself and everything went good. I came back, my body weight is about 325, so I'm heavier than I've ever been. I feel in good shape, and I have a lot to prove, so it's a big year for me.

"I did everything by myself. There wasn't going to be any mishaps."

Two suspensions totaling 14 games later, Johnson has gained a healthy fear of being unknowingly steered toward an illegal supplement.

Johnson tested positive for PEDs before the season last year after taking a banned substance known as peptides and was eventually slapped with the full 10-game penalty after a lengthy appeal process. The fifth-year veteran always maintained peptides were not listed on the label of the offending supplement.

Johnson filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the players' association in November after the suspension was upheld. Its status is ongoing.

Johnson also served a four-game suspension in 2014.

When he's not in trouble with the league office, Johnson is a vital cog in the Eagles' offense. They went 5-1 with him and 2-8 without him last season.

"I feel like whenever I'm playing, I try to be the best right tackle in the NFL," Johnson said. "My deal is to just stay on the field, play a complete season, and I think it will be a big year for me."

Johnson isn't concerned about losing a competitive edge, physically or mentally, after dropping supplements altogether.

"I've always been the athlete that I am," Johnson said. "That's what I'll continue to prove. I'm gonna go play and show people what I can do."

Signed in January 2016 to a five-year contract extension worth $56 million, Johnson has plenty to prove. He was working out in place of 35-year-old left tackle Jason Peters, who wasn't at the start of OTAs, on Tuesday and is expected to one day replace the nine-time Pro Bowl selection permanently.

Despite his checkered past, it sounds like Johnson knows exactly what's on the line, which is why he chose to go it alone this offseason. The only person you can trust is yourself.

Then again, Johnson still has his vices, which might raise some eyebrows with the news he's up to 325 pounds — eight more than his listed weight.

"My big deal is cutting out the ice cream, the Ben & Jerry's late at night — the stuff you want to indulge in," Johnson said. "If you get me on an ice cream binge, it's not good."

The Eagles can probably deal with a little extra ice cream, just as long as Johnson remains committed to keeping dodgy supplements out of his body.