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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.)