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:

Joel Embiid unhappy with how Sixers handled injury updates

Joel Embiid unhappy with how Sixers handled injury updates

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Joel Embiid will miss the next four games and is slated to return March 3 against the Knicks in Philadelphia, so long as he is symptom-free. While Embiid wants to play as soon as possible, he’s just glad there is now a definitive timetable announced.

Prior to Thursday, the team had not announced a specific timeframe.

“I wasn’t too happy with the way it was kind of handled before,” Embiid said. “I saw the day-to-day part. I was told that I was going to miss at least two or three weeks. So I wasn’t happy with the way it was handled.

“I thought keeping my name out there was going to just like literally have people think about me all the time instead of just saying when I was going to be back. So I’m happy that they did that today and they said that I’m out for the next four games.”

Embiid suffered a left knee contusion on Jan. 22 against the Trail Blazers. He sat out three games and returned on Jan. 27 to play the Rockets. He has not played since then, sitting out the last eight games.

An MRI also revealed Embiid has a slight tear in his meniscus, which is not thought to be related to the contusion.

Embiid went through a full practice on Thursday for the first time, he estimated, in four or five weeks. (Wednesday’s practice was not intense.) According to the Sixers, they are encouraged by the progress Embiid showed but do not feel he is game-ready. Team doctors are holding him out the next four games to minimize the risk of aggravating his knee. In order for him to be cleared, Embiid has to be symptom-free.

Embiid had eyed a return on Friday against the Wizards because he was feeling well, he said, but he had some swelling on Thursday.

“No swelling, no pain, nothing,” Embiid said of his criteria to play.

Now the team -- and fans -- can move forward without daily questions of Embiid’s status.

“I think it’s good for everybody,” Brett Brown said. “For you all to understand, the people that buying a ticket to understand, for me as a coach to prepare my team that he’s not going to be here for four more games. I like that clarity. I’m fine with it. Obviously, you want him playing, but the mystery that surrounds that speculation I think is frustrating for people and we understand that.”

Embiid reiterated the patience aspect of the injury, noting he waited two years to rehab his foot and there is no need to rush his knee. Now everyone can be in the loop with his status.

“The end point is basically making sure I’m ready to play instead of just putting me out there,” Embiid said.

In Justin Anderson, Sixers get solid defensive wing who was buried in Dallas

In Justin Anderson, Sixers get solid defensive wing who was buried in Dallas

On the surface, the Nerlens Noel trade doesn't look good.

The Sixers on Thursday traded the third-year big man to the Dallas Mavericks for forward Justin Anderson, center Andrew Bogut and a top-18 protected first-round pick. That first-rounder turns into two second-round picks if it doesn't convey in 2017. Yuck. And double yuck.

The only hope in this trade comes in Anderson. The former first-round pick has the look of a prototypical NBA wing. At 6-foot-6 with a nearly 7-foot wingspan, he has the frame to disrupt passing lanes and the bulk at 228 pounds to muscle up stronger swingmen.

At Virginia, Anderson was a key cog for a team that was ranked as high as No. 2 and earned a 2-seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. After that season, Anderson opted to forego his senior year and enter the NBA draft. He was selected 21st overall by the Mavericks in 2015.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett preaches defense and Anderson was one of his finest disciples in that regard. Offensive limitations and being a part of a balanced attack with the Cavaliers caused Anderson's stock to drop. Despite shooting 45 percent from three in his final season, Anderson was considered a streaky shooter and, frankly, that's remained the NBA.

His rookie season was one to forget. The Mavericks were competitive in the Western Conference, finishing as the 6-seed and losing to the Thunder in the first round. Anderson couldn't find his way into Rick Carlisle's rotation. Dallas' never-ending supply of point guards coupled with the sharpshooting duo of Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons relegated Anderson to just 11.8 minutes a game his rookie season. In his limited time, he shot 41 percent from the field and 27 percent from three.

Unfortunately, it's been a similar story this season, but with some glimmers of hope. Anderson is still losing minutes to Matthews and also big free-agent acquisition Harrison Barnes, who's having a strong first season with the Mavs. But over a three-game stretch in late January, Anderson averaged 15.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20 minutes per game. He also shot 6 of 16 (38 percent) from three during that span.

“I don’t want to sell myself short,” Anderson said to the Star-Telegram during that run. “I still think that I can be a really great player in this league, but I think it’s going to take a lot of hard work.

“I think [the early-season struggles] may be the best thing that’s happened to me in my career. All we can do is wait and just keep working hard, push through it and hopefully one day it’ll all pay off."

The most promising numbers in Anderson's young career are that he's averaging 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per 36 minutes as a pro. At the very least, Anderson should develop into a solid defensive wing. If he develops offensively, who knows?

Per ESPN's Kevin Pelton, "Noel and Anderson (who just sneaks over the bar) are both among the 21 players in the league who have averaged 2.0 steals per 100 team plays and blocked 2.0 percent of opponent 2-point attempts or better in at least 500 minutes."

It's tough to argue that this trade was a good one for Bryan Colangelo. With that said, Anderson could still turn out to be a decent NBA player. He needs minutes and patience, two things the Sixers can offer in spades.