City 6 Showdown: St. Joe's Hosts Drexel at the Fieldhouse

City 6 Showdown: St. Joe's Hosts Drexel at the Fieldhouse

There were rumblings prior to the season that the Drexel Dragons and St. Joseph's Hawks would open some eyes this year, with the Dragons even being discussed as a contender for the CAA Title.

At 2-2 and 4-2, respectively, tonight's game is a key early season matchup for both, with the Hawks looking to continue their hot start and the Dragons trying to rise above, rather than fall below, .500.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside the Hagan Arena on the campus of St. Joseph's. Tonight's relevant story lines after the jump...

C.J. Aiken vs. the Drexel Frontcourt
This, honestly, could be the game in a nutshell. St. Joseph's C.J. Aiken is averaging 12.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game. The really important stat though, in this case, is his 34.5 minutes a night.

Dragon starting center Daryl McCoy is the second tallest player on the team behind only 6-10 sophomore Goran Pantovic. The problem is that neither plays very much, with McCoy registering just over 16.5 per game and Pantovic having only made one appearance this year. The bulk of the minutes underneath have so far been manned by 6-8 sophomore Dartaye Ruffin, who makes up the remaining 23.5 left by McCoy.

Working in the Dragons' favor is that they have a whole lot of height with the smallest guy in their starting five topping off at 6-4; they just don't have that one guy who is, you know, really big. Fortunately for them, Aiken is known more for playing face-up than back-to-basket, and the Dragon's will have to use that their to their advantage on defense.

That said, if C.J. finally decides he's ready to sit down in the post to either a) draw a double and distribute or b) simply to expose a smaller defender, he, Ronald Roberts and Halil Kanacevic could make it a long night for Drexel.

Carl Jones vs. the Drexel Backcourt
While size at the perimeter is never a bad thing, it can be hard to stay with smaller guards. In this case the Dragons will be trying to keep up with (perhaps) the quickest guard in the city in Carl Jones.

Despite my adamant protests during his first two seasons that "the kid is too undisciplined to ever turn into anything," Jones is averaging 21.3 points per game and shooting better than 53% from the field. Add in Langston Galloway as a highly-talented perimeter shooter and the Drexel D will need to balance staying in front of Jones with closing out on Galloway.

As such, Drexel should be prepared for a whole lot of drive and kick, be it from Jones or, more likely, fellow guard Chris Wilson.

Can We Get a Little Love for the Dragons?
Big 5, City 6, green jacket, gold jacket who gives a...

Anyway, with Villanova's one foot constantly out the door, isn't it about time we embrace the forgotten school actually inside the city limits? I mean, I know I harp on the whole St. Joe's/Bala Cynwyd thing, but the Main Line? Sheesh.

And as far as the actual basketball goes, Drexel is 5-2 in its last six meetings with a Big 5 opponents. They've bested Penn in each of the last three seasons and have taken two of three from St. Joseph's. Their only defeats over that stretch come in the form of an OT loss to the Hawks on opening night 2009 and a drubbing at the hands of the then-#3 Villanova Wildcats later that season.

Bruiser Flint runs a real program that holds its own when given the opportunity to meet its City 6 rivals. The Big 5 legacy is as special a tradition as you're going to get in the modern athletics—especially in this age of frantic realignment—but there's plenty of room in the conversation for an improving Drexel team with a perpetual chip on its shoulder.

Plus they have this painted on their home floor.

Tip-off is, once again, at 7 p.m. and can be heard on 610 AM. In the meantime, Trent Reznor's cover of the Immigrant Song from the upcoming Girl with the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack...

Hakstol intrigues with pairing, potential of Konecny, Couturier, Voracek

Hakstol intrigues with pairing, potential of Konecny, Couturier, Voracek

VOORHEES, N.J. — Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek styled matching green jerseys during Friday’s practice at Flyers Skate Zone.

Together, they whipped around the ice in what head coach Dave Hakstol called a “physical, grinding, competitive day, probably the most competitive of camp … and that was for a purpose.”

Flyers fans are likely crossing their fingers, hoping the trio in green holds a purpose, as well.

The line of Konecny, Couturier and Voracek was a new wrinkle to 2016 training camp, a day before the team’s fifth preseason game. Maybe an experiment of sorts by Hakstol, but one that exudes all kinds of potential leading up to Saturday night’s contest against the Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center.

“It’s one day of practice,” Hakstol said. “They were fine. I wasn’t keying on that line in any way, I was keying on a lot of our team play. They were fine, they worked hard. To really see what kind of chemistry they have and how productive they can be, we’ll have to wait until the game [Saturday] if they’re together.”

Will we see that?

“You might,” Hakstol said. “I don’t have anything set yet.”

Konecny played left wing Friday, next to Couturier at center and Voracek on the right. If that is in fact the case Saturday, the 19-year-old Konecny will see another golden opportunity to woo management in his push for a roster spot. The Flyers purposely paired Konecny with NHL forwards Brayden Schenn and Michael Raffl in Wednesday’s 2-0 preseason win, and the 2015 first-round pick responded with a goal and an assist.

Friday marked a new day with new possibilities.

“It felt good,” Konecny said. “Just like the game [Wednesday] night, you’re playing with good players and it makes the game easier. I was just trying to keep things simple and work hard.”

Couturier and Voracek are two of the Flyers’ most skilled passers and playmakers. Combine them with Konecny — a prized prospect with the same traits — and it’s hard to measure the upside.

“It opens up a lot of space,” Konecny said. “Those guys are big out there, so when they’re going to the corners, it creates a little room for me. I’ve just got to find the holes and find the spots and the puck kind of just comes to you.”

Left wing is Konecny’s best shot at making the team’s roster and snagging a top-six role. The Flyers are heavy at right wing while light at left. Among the Flyers’ group of forwards, it’s the position of greatest need.

Like Hakstol said, Friday’s practice had purpose. So Konecny’s trying out left wing had substance, too.

“I think it’s a possibility,” Hakstol said. “I wouldn’t say that’s an absolute, but that’s one area that we’re looking at — not just for him, but for other players. So that’s one possibility.”

Konecny, more of a right winger and/or center, has no qualms with playing left. Really, a player of his ilk can make an impact regardless of position.

“I’ve played all positions through junior,” he said. “I’ve played right, middle and left, so wherever I fit in, I’d play there. I’m trying not to look too far ahead, though, just trying to play every day, and wherever I am that day, I’ll focus on that position and get the job done that day.

“I usually end up on the left wing when I’m coming across the ice anyway. I enter the zone on that side of the ice, so it helps me. I actually think I see the ice better when I play on that side of the ice.
 
“I got another day to play today. It’s just about earning each and every day.”

Voracek and Couturier, both of whom have yet to play in a preseason game because of World Cup of Hockey competition, looked at Friday as just another practice with new elements — such is life in training camp.

“It needs some work, obviously we need to get used to each other but if we skate and play with the puck, we should be fine,” Voracek said.

“Even last year along with this year, every game [Konecny has] been very solid. He’s a hard-working kid for his size. He’s very greedy, he’s not scared and he’s skating well. For a 19-year-old, he’s looking very, very sharp.”

Roster talk
According to a report by generalfanager.com, the Flyers waived forwards Petr Straka, Andy Miele, Chris Conner and Greg Carey, as well as defenseman and South Jersey native T.J. Brennan. None of the five were seen practicing Friday and the Flyers did not have an announcement. If they clear waivers — which seems likely — they’ll report to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

With the reported moves, the Flyers’ roster stands at 34, including injured players Nick Schultz, Mark Alt and Cole Bardreau. The Flyers will have to be at 23 by the season opener Oct. 14.

Goalie situation
Hakstol said whomever is in net Saturday will play the entire game. He would not say if it would be Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth. An announcement will be made Saturday morning. Neuvirth is back from the World Cup and has yet to play a preseason game.

Gudas update
Defenseman Radko Gudas (wrist), who said Wednesday he’s “pretty close” to 100 percent, will “definitely” play in a preseason game, Hakstol said. The coach would not say whether it would be Saturday or next week.

Carson Wentz named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week

Carson Wentz named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week

As Carson Wentz rolls out of bed, he wins an award. Brushes his teeth, wins an award. Eats breakfast, award.

This time, the Eagles' rookie quarterback has been named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week for his performance against the Steelers in a 34-3 Week 3 win.

Against the Steelers, Wentz completed 23 of 31 passes for 301 yards, two touchdowns and a 125.9 passer rating. He beat out Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, Browns CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun and teammate Wendell Smallwood.

This is the second time in three weeks that Wentz has been named the NFL Rookie of the Week.

Here are the awards Wentz has won so far this season:

- NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 1
- NFC Offensive Player of Week 3
- NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month for September
- NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 3

Wentz won't have any chances to win more awards this weekend as the Eagles are on their bye. They'll play again on Oct. 9 in Detroit.