Bernard Pierce's Temple Career in Numbers

Bernard Pierce's Temple Career in Numbers

Running back Bernard Pierce's decision late last evening to leave Temple University for the NFL Draft after his junior season came as virtually no surprise. In fact, it would have been a surprise had he chosen to stay. 
Temple fans, Owls beat writers and university officials themselves knew there was a substantial chance that the New Mexico Bowl would be Bernard's last game in a Temple uniform. As we wrote over a month ago, the next time you see Pierce at Lincoln Financial Field, it'll be on a Sunday (unless, of course, he's a part of future Saturday Wild Card Weekend games...or Monday Night games...or, as commenter "TU11" reminded just reminded us, Thursday Night games — just covering our bases here).
Anyway, with Bernard's career at Temple now behind him, we thought, better than writing some long-winded retrospective about existence and meaning and whatever else I usually do when I feel the urge to wax philosophic about Temple football, to provide you with the full slate of Pierce's record-breaking accomplishments, and to weigh those against the feats of some of the best runners in the nation.
Bernard Pierce in numerals and an analysis of his draft stock after the jump...
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Temple University Single Season Records Set by Pierce:

— Most rushing touchdowns (27)
— Most total touchdowns (27)
— Most points scored (162)
— Most 100-yard games (9)

Temple Owl Single Game Records Set by Pierce:

— Most rushing touchdowns (5)
— Most points scored (30)

Temple University Career Records Set by Pierce:

— Most rushing touchdowns (53)
— Most total touchdowns (54)
— Most points scored (324)
— Second-most rushing yards (3,470 — Trails only Paul Palmer's 4,895)
— Second-most 100-yard games (18 — Trails only Paul Palmer's 21)

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For much of the early season, especially after his five touchdown outburst in the Maryland game, Pierce was leading the nation in rushing touchdowns, ahead of even Wisconsin's Montee Ball who would ultimately challenge Barry Sander's all-time record for rushing scores in a season. By season's end, Pierce's 27 running touchdowns would trail only Ball's 33, putting the Temple back second in the nation in that category. He would fall just out of the top 10—12th and 13th—in yards per attempt and attempts per game.
Critics will argue that Pierce's success was inflated thanks the lesser status of the MAC conference and that his numbers, both nationally and in the school's all-time record books, are consequently misleading. Such an argument is really quite amusing to anyone who has actually seen him play football. As Temple head coach Steve Addazio puts it, "He's got speed. He's got size. He's got make you miss." Really, Bernard has absolutely every tool to succeed in the NFL, except for maybe just one: durability.
If there's a knock against Pierce, its been his troubles staying healthy. Not once in his three-year college career did he manage to play in every game in a season. His sophomore campaign was so riddled with injury issues that one wondered whether Bernard could ever reach his true potential. Thankfully for him, his junior season was a welcome return to form. Staying mostly healthy in 2011 allowed him to break some of the school records he had already set when he was also mostly healthy as a freshman in 2009.
For the most part, Bernard's astonishing success when on the field and his increased time actually on that field over this past season has worked to quell some of those durability concerns. Nonetheless, there is no way Pierce's prior injury issues did not play a substantial part in his decision to leave school. Projected in private by a coach as a third-round pick, the same as Ball before he ultimately decided to return to school, Bernard obviously had that same option to come back to school, set some more records, and further improve his draft stock. That said, yet another injury, especially a serious one, would only have decreased, rather than increased, his draft value. 
In the meantime, he will obviously have the opportunity to move himself up the board with strong performances at the combine and in pre-draft workouts. Should ultimately wind up a third-rounder as projected, he will be of a high value for the team who ultimately takes him.
As for the school he's leaving, replacing one of the program's all-time greats will be added to the list of issues facing the Temple program in the coming years. Without Pierce, it will be up to Steve Addazio and the Temple staff to build on this program's momentum, momentum generated with great help from Bernard himself. 

Temple's Trey Lowe to redshirt as recovery from car accident continues

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Temple's Trey Lowe to redshirt as recovery from car accident continues

Temple head coach Fran Dunphy had a feeling some bad news would come regarding guard Trey Lowe's status for the coming season. On Friday, it was made official.

Lowe, a freshman who suffered serious upper-body injuries in a single-car crash in his native New Jersey last February, will miss all of the 2016-17 season and take a medical redshirt as he continues to recover, Dunphy announced on Friday.

"We all feel that this is in the best interest for Trey, as a person, a basketball player and a student," Dunphy said in a statement released by the university. "We feel at this time that concentrating on his rehabilitation this year will give him the best chance to come back strong and healthy for 2017-18. Trey will still be a big part of the team during this redshirt year, while continuing to work with our medical and strength team in preparation for his full return to action.”

Lowe was just starting to come into his own at the collegiate level around the time of the unfortunate accident. In a Feb. 17 game at the Liacouras Center against then-No.1 and eventual national champion Villanova, Lowe dropped a career-high 21 points. Though the Owls lost, 83-67, Lowe had made an impact and earned the trust of Dunphy, which isn't easy to do as a freshman.

A three-star recruit, Lowe played in all 28 games, including five starts, prior to his injury and averaged 4.8 points and 1.8 assists in 12.3 minutes per game. He would be a redshirt sophomore if he's ready to return for the 2017-18 season.

The absence of Lowe will leave the Owls particularly thin at guard this year. You may recall senior point guard Josh Brown, who was to be counted on as the Owls' leader this season, tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout. His status for this season is still unknown as he continues to rehab from his injury.

Junior forward Obi Enechionyia, who averaged 11 points per game last season, is Temple's leading returning scorer.

The onus to produce at guard will be placed on redshirt senior Daniel Dingle and sophomore Shizz Alston, Jr. True freshmen Quinton Rose and Alani Moore will also likely have to chip in.

They have just over a month to get ready. Temple hosts La Salle in both schools' season opener on Friday, Nov. 11 at the Liacouras Center.

Sixers' Ben Simmons suffers fractured bone in right foot

Sixers' Ben Simmons suffers fractured bone in right foot

As the Sixers get two bigs back from injury, another goes down.

First overall pick Ben Simmons suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot on Friday. Simmons rolled his right ankle during the team’s final training camp scrimmage at Stockton University.

Simmons underwent an X-ray and MRI on his right foot and ankle. Sixers head physician Dr. Christopher Dodson and Sixers chief medical officer and co-chief of sports medicine orthopedics at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center Dr. Jonathan Glashow reviewed the images.

Simmons’ timetable to return is to be determined. The Sixers are considering further medical evaluation and treatment options. 

Landing the number one pick and selecting Simmons was the highlight of the Sixers’ next chapter. They were supposed to be healthy this time around as they entered a new phase following a 10-72 season. 

The news of the fracture adds to years of injury-related setbacks. Nerlens Noel missed his entire rookie season rehabbing from an ACL injury. After undergoing two foot injuries in as many years, the 2014 third overall pick Joel Embiid is slated to make his NBA debut Oct. 4 against the Celtics in preseason action. Jahlil Okafor is also expected to play next Tuesday for the first time since his season-ending knee surgery in March. 

The Sixers drafted Simmons to become a focal point of their system. At 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, he is a point-forward with the potential to change the look of a lineup. During training camp Brown experimented with multiple combinations, including playing Simmons at the point, shooting guard and small forward. 

Brown called the two-three combination of Simmons and Dario Saric “6-10, do-alls” (see story)

Simmons, 20, impressed his teammates during camp. In just four days of practices, it was easy for them to see how Simmons would improve the Sixers. 

“He’s really physical,” Joel Embiid said. “He’s just a big presence. When he pushes the ball, you can feel it. He makes you want to go with him. … He’s so fast and he’s so big.” 

Said Nerlens Noel, “He just plays basketball the right way. When your big man does that, it makes it a lot easier because he is very versatile being a point-forward type. That opens up a lot of things for him to be able to open up for his teammates."

The Sixers will be faced with filling a role they haven’t actually had yet. They had gameplans of how to utilize Simmons, but they were implemented only in training camp. The Sixers have a frontcourt logjam which will allow them to plug in other players at the power forward spot. They also can fill his experimented role on the wings with traditional shooters. But his absence will eliminate versatile lineups in which players are essentially “positionless,” a Warriors-style of play that causes mismatches of size and skills. 

Even though the Sixers have an abundance of bigs, Embiid and Okafor will be monitored for minutes at the start of the season. Throw in Simmons’ injury and this creates opportunities for other frontcourt players such as Richaun Holmes and Elton Brand. With Simmons absence, there also could be more minutes for Saric to play his natural position at power forward. 

Simmons wasn’t letting himself get too far ahead as he entered his first NBA season. He has been taking each day one at a time with an excitement of the newness of his rookie year.

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

Now it remains to be seen when Simmons will play his first game.