Athletic Supporters: Temple v. Maryland off the Court and in the Stands

Athletic Supporters: Temple v. Maryland off the Court and in the Stands

For Nick Menta's recap of Temple's 73-60 win over Maryland on Saturday, click here.

Make it a clean sweep for the Temple University Owls over Maryland Terrapins, with decisive victories on both the football field and the basketball court within the last four months.

Maryland, best known recently as Under Armour's attempted equivalent to Nike's Oregon, is now 0-3 against Temple over the last two years, counting their Dec. 2010 basketball loss to the Owls in addition to the two games mentioned above.

And while these two programs are surely differentiable on the scoreboard when pitted head-to-head, they're differentiated in other ways off of it -- and in ways far less flattering for Temple.

For much of the early going on Saturday, it appeared as though Maryland had actually outdrawn Temple in a building approximately two hours from their College Park campus, a building just a brief subway ride from Temple's personal SEPTA stop at Broad and Cecil B Moore.

Finally, at the beginning of the second half, the corners of Temple's section of the Palestra filled in to solidify the sell out. There are myriad of potential reasons for the late-arriving crowd, with Saturday morning's troublesome snow storm at the very top of the list.

Nonetheless, the trademark Maryland "OH!" during the national anthem -- which the anthemist handled flawlessly, by the way -- was a jarring reminder of how far Temple still has to come when it comes to drawing a major -- and not mid-major -- fan base.

Really, there are very few schools in this country who can claim a prouder basketball tradition than Temple (The Owls' boast the sixth most wins Division I Men's Basketball history). Still, the school seems to have issues drawing on its own.

Sure, it makes sense that the Owls' biggest crowds come against their strongest opponents and their local rivals, but the drop off from Temple and Duke to Temple and the average opponent is sharper than it should be.

For reference, Temple basketball finished 90th in the nation in average attendance in 2011, drawing 5,925 per game. That number was good enough fifth in the Atlantic 10 and represents just under 60% of the Liacouras Center's total capacity for basketball.

By comparison, the Maryland Terrapins of the ACC finished 14th in the nation, drawing over 14,000 per game.

I will preface with the following concessions. First, of course Maryland is going to outdraw Temple as a result of the disparities between the ACC and A10 schedules. Second, of the four A10 schools to outdraw Temple in 2011 -- Dayton, Xavier, Charlotte and Richmond -- there is no immediate, or at least only one, other basketball alternative in the market.

But let's be honest, the basketball alternatives in the city of Philadelphia really shouldn't be an obstacle for the Owls. Temple University boasts a full student body of 37,000. The school has an alumni base of more than 250,000, many of whom still reside in the city limits or its immediate suburbs.

Moreover, Temple has consistently ranked within the Top 25 in the nation over the past three seasons, and has made four straight NCAA tournament appearances. They are, at minimum, a Top 30 program. They only happen to draw like a school who just manages to squeak into the NIT each season.

Temple has the student body and alumni base to rival almost any Division I institution, but generally lacks a unifying campus culture. As the school becomes increasingly residential and less commuter-driven in the coming years, perhaps the culture will change -- or, in this case, form. Maybe a greater pride or the university and its athletic programs -- a pride common in so many other major universities, like Maryland -- will spring forth.

But in the meantime, the Temple athletic department will be forced to soldier on with a major college program represented by a mid-major fan base. Temple can continue to beat the best in the nation -- knocking off four AP Top 10 programs in the last four seasons and going 5-1 against the Big East and ACC combined over the last two years -- but it won't be their on-the-floor resume that's bumps them to a bigger, better conference any time soon. On that front, they'll need their student body and alumni to start supporting both the football and basketball programs in greater numbers.

On the court, the Owls have no reason to Fear the Turtle; but off it, they have every reason to envy the supportive culture which surrounds the Maryland Terrapins.

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.