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.)

Up from 217 to 250, Ben Simmons also stronger mentally from work with LeBron

Up from 217 to 250, Ben Simmons also stronger mentally from work with LeBron

CAMDEN, N.J. — It appears Ben Simmons took the saying about having the weight of the world on your shoulders a tad literal.

The Sixers' No. 1 overall pick walked into the team's sparkling new training complex for media day sporting a much bigger frame than when his name was called on draft night.

"I'm a lot stronger. When I started getting ready for the draft I was about 217 [pounds] and now I'm around 250," Simmons said Monday.

When you're expected to be the centerpiece of an organization that managed just 10 wins a season ago, it helps to have that extra bulk to carry those expectations. 

But Simmons isn’t just being looked at as a key to help change the franchise’s fortunes. He’s also being viewed as perhaps a once-in-a-generation talent after drawing several comparisons to LeBron James, who Simmons shares an agent with in Klutch Sports Group.

So how did the incoming rookie deal with being likened to four-time MVP and three-time NBA champion James? He went to work like someone trying to achieve those same goals.

“Just being around him and learning from his habits and what he does has just helped me overall,” Simmons said of working out with James and other NBA stars during the summer. “He’ll be one of the first guys in the gym every day. It doesn’t matter what day it is. He’s one of those guys who gets the work in and enjoys the rest of his day. Just learning from him I think I can take a lot from what he’s done. ... He’s done a lot for me. He’s helped me experience things I need to learn.

“They get in the gym and work. It’s one of those things where they don’t play around. They get straight to it. Obviously in the weight room too. LeBron loves the VersaClimber and they also brought two more in here. I’m starting to learn from what these guys do, D-Wade (Dwyane Wade) also. They’re all doing the same thing, working out every day and getting ready.”

That type of work ethic will go a long way toward Simmons' earning the respect of his Sixers teammates. The group was already eager to get on the floor with him for training camp at Stockton University and get a firsthand look at the versatile forward, especially his prowess as a passer.

“The most exciting thing that I’ve seen was his passing ability,” Jahlil Okafor said of Simmons. “That’s going to help me out a lot. He’s selfless. Being with the summer league guys he was always about the team. I’ve always considered myself a good teammate and he’s a great one as well. I’m excited to work with him.”

“I think for anybody who likes to shoot or likes to score, whenever you can have a big man who is a really good ball handler, can make good decisions, has great vision, it’s always a great thing,” Gerald Henderson said. “If you can be aggressive on the offensive end you don’t always have to have the basketball to be able to be right there and score. You have somebody that can find you and really is thinking pass-first. I think it’ll be great, not only for us but just our offense in general.”

Considering that the Sixers finished 29th in scoring a season ago, Simmons knows they will need him to be more than just a facilitator. The team needs consistent scoring from everyone on the court. And while the LSU product’s jump shot was questioned during his lone year in college, he believes he has worked hard to silence those doubts.

“I usually try to take what they give me. Obviously I’ve been working on my shot a lot with all the coaches,” Simmons said. “I can shoot the ball. I’m not really worried about that. Coming into training camp, it’s one of the things I’ve been working on since LSU.”

Simmons made it clear several times that he is confident in his offensive game and that the Sixers’ logjam in the frontcourt will work itself out on the floor. One thing he’s not so sure about: that he’s even in this position.

Despite dreaming about being in the NBA since he was a kid in Australia and being groomed to be the No. 1 overall pick for years, Simmons said it’s still a bit of a surprise to be at this point.

“I think it’s still surreal for me,” he said. “I think it’ll finally hit me once I step on the court matched up against OKC the first game.”

There were Carson Wentz and Ben Simmons fans at the debate last night

There were Carson Wentz and Ben Simmons fans at the debate last night

I'm not sure if they could win nationally, but there is absolutely no doubt that a Wentz-Simmons ticket would dominate the Delaware Valley.

An intrepid Philadelphia sports fan was up at the Presidential Debate last night at Hofstra University and made a sign showing his support... for the Eagles and Sixers.

I don't know though, I'm pretty sure Simmons was born in Australia.