City 6 Weekly Awards: Will anyone be dancing in March?

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City 6 Weekly Awards: Will anyone be dancing in March?

In each of the last 35 seasons, at least one of Philadelphias six Division I men's college basketball teams has made the NCAA tournament.

Could that streak get snapped this March?

After another week filled with losses, its looking more and more plausible that Philly could indeed get shut out of the Big Dance for the first time since 1977 which is a surprising possibility considering the big expectations coming into the season.

Lets recap the mostly disappointing week with our weekly awards and power rankings.

Player of the week
Saint Josephs sharpshooter Langston Galloway has been struggling with his shooting for part of the season.

Not this week.

In two games for the Hawks, Galloway shot a blistering 58 percent (11 for 20) from three-point rage and scored at least 20 points in both contests a loss to VCU on Thursday and a win over Penn on Saturday.

Galloway also brought down 12 rebounds, including nine against the Quakers, and seven assists on the week.

Game of the week
Galloways 22-point outing wasnt enough for St. Joes in a 92-86 midweek loss to VCU but the game was still the most thrilling one of the week, if not the year.

Despite being without a key player in Halil Kanacevic (who has missed three straight contests because of a death in his family), the undermanned Hawks were not overmatched against the nationally ranked Rams, who lead the nation in steals.

It looked like St. Joes would be able to pull off the signature win when it held a very late four-point lead but collapsed in the final seconds and then ran out of gas in overtime. Still, the Hawks made a lot of big plays and adapted well to VCUs frenetic style in a tough road environment.

Play of the week
Local hoops fans certainly know that La Salle has a bunch of high-flyers on its team and now a lot more people know, too.

In a 72-70 home win over Dayton on Wednesday (see story), the Explorers finished four consecutive possessions with dunks, three of them coming from Ramon Galloway.

That was good enough to land a spot on that nights SportsCenter Top 10, which you can watch here.

Quote of the week
I think maybe youre overrating us. Yeah, I think so. Were not as good as people maybe think we are. Temple head coach Fran Dunphy, after an 81-78 home loss to St. Bonaventure on Saturday (see story).

Stat of the week
Both La Salle and St. Joes are averaging over seven three-pointers made per game. The Hawks are 45th in Division I in the category (7.8) and the Explorers rank 74th (7.3).

Games to watch this week
If you want to get a live look at some of the best teams in the nation this week, the Wells Fargo Center is the place to be as Louisville faces Villanova on Tuesday and Syracuse plays Nova there four days later.

Another nationally ranked program homes to town Wednesday as La Salle hosts Butler in what figures to be a very exciting Atlantic 10 matchup at Tom Gola Arena. Brad Stevens red-hot Bulldogs play another Philly team Saturday when they host Temple.

Speaking of Temple, the Owls will look to go 2-0 in the Big 5 on Wednesday when Fran Dunphy meets his old Penn team at the Liacouras Center.

Other big games this week include Xavier vs. St. Joes on Saturday and La Salle at VCU the same day. And lets not forget Fridays Big 5 Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Palestra, with former St. Joes star Marvin OConnor among the inductees being honored.

Power rankings
1. Saint Josephs (10-6): The Hawks definitely should have beaten VCU but a road loss against a nationally ranked team is still nothing to be ashamed about. And responding by routing a Penn team that rarely gets blown out was impressive, especially without Kanacevic. The Hawks have two home games this week (against St. Bonaventure on Wednesday and Xavier on Saturday) and need to win both to show they belong in the upper echelon of the Atlantic 10.

2. Temple (12-5): The Owls had a rough week, barely surviving a below-.500 George Washington team before losing to Saint Bonaventure at home for the first time ever. Dunphys claim that his team might be overrated could be true, but the fact that the Owls beat Syracuse and nearly beat Kansas shows the potential is there. We could learn a lot about this group when they head to historic Hinkle Field House to take on a Butler team that just knows how to win.

3. La Salle (12-5): The Explorers midweek win over a strong Dayton squad was a good one and their Saturday loss to a Xavier team that never loses at home is not a bad one. But to get on the NCAA tourney bubble, La Salle needs a signature victory. And this is the week to get one as it faces both of the Atlantic 10 newcomers-turned Atlantic 10 favorites in Butler and VCU.

4. Villanova (11-7): The Wildcats also had a rough week, allowing Pittsburgh to score the final 15 points in a 58-43 loss Wednesday (see story) and then dropping a 69-66 decision to Catholic Seven comrade Providence on Saturday. Now the Wildcats have three straight games against nationally ranked foes, traveling to Notre Dame on Jan. 30 following Louisville and Syracuses visits to the Wells Fargo Center this week.

5. Drexel (6-11): The Dragons played only one game this week and it was a success, as they beat William & Mary on the road to snap a three-game losing streak. Drexel, which is still battling injury problems, should be able to now go on a three-game winning streak. The Dragons take on Hofstra on the road on Wednesday and host Georgia State on Saturday both of which are relatively easy matchups.

6. Penn (3-14): After eight straight losses, the Quakers finally won the 1,700th game in program history by virtue of a 54-53 victory over New Jersey Institute of Technology on Thursday. Despite that win, however, the Quakers turned the ball over a season-high 26 times. And two days later, they shot a woeful 4 for 21 from three-point range in a 20-point loss to St. Joes. The Quakers play their final non-conference game and final game in the month of January against Temple on Wednesday.

Temple's defense counting on several to replace production of NFL draft picks

Temple's defense counting on several to replace production of NFL draft picks

With just over a week to go before the season opener vs. Army at Lincoln Financial Field, it’s tough to pin down a way or even a few words to describe the 2016 incarnation of the Temple Owls.

There’s still veteran leadership on the offensive side of the ball with quarterback Phillip Walker and running back Jahad Thomas back for their senior seasons.

But the program has now reached the point where head coach Matt Rhule, entering his fourth year at the helm, and his staff can really start molding the Owls into their vision. Members of highly-rated, athletic recruiting classes of recent years continue to filter their respective ways into important roles.

At this time last year before the season opener against Penn State, the pulse of Temple’s team was clear — experienced, ferocious defense.

But even with star linebacker Tyler Matakevich (Pittsburgh Steelers), defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis (Washington Redskins) and cornerback Tavon Young (Baltimore Ravens) graduating and moving on to the NFL, there’s some very talented and experienced players to fill their roles as the Owls continue to evolve.

So that invites this question: Who’s being counted on to produce and fill the shoes of those who’ve moved on?

Let’s start with the obvious hole in production at linebacker without Matakevich, who finished his Temple career with 493 tackles and punctuated that stellar career with last year’s Bronco Nagurski Award, given to the nation’s best defensive player.

Redshirt senior Stephaun Marshall will slide over to SAM linebacker and take Matakevich’s old WILL linebacker spot. While Matakevich was a generational talent, Rhule is confident Marshall will be able to contribute to the Owls’ defense.

“He’s moved to be a productive guy,” Rhule said Tuesday during Temple’s media day. “I think he’ll play really well.”

Being a productive player is something Marshall, a Montclair, New Jersey native, is used to. In 38 games with the Owls over the past three seasons, Marshall has recorded 113 total tackles, 11 pass deflections, 2½ sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one interception. He’s also used to moving positions — he started his collegiate career as a safety before moving to the SAM spot in 2014.

And Marshall will be set up nicely to increase his production in 2016. In defensive coordinator Phil Snow’s aggressive scheme, the WILL spot is known to be the most productive on the field. Previous guys at that spot under Snow include former NFL players Pat Tillman (241 tackles) and Adam Archuleta (203 tackles) at Arizona State, and, of course, Matakevich at Temple.

Another player to keep an eye on at the WILL linebacker spot is redshirt freshman Chapelle Russell, who’s currently No. 2 on the depth chart behind Marshall. Still, Russell could see some time as Rhule and his staff have gushed about his potential for a long time now. At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Russell is an athletic specimen.

“Chapelle Russell has infinite talent,” Rhule said Tuesday. “He’s got tremendous upside. It’s just gonna be whether he does it. He’s a redshirt freshman. Some days he’s out there and makes every tackle. Some days his shoulder bothers him a bit or something like that or it’s Coach Rhule told him he couldn’t wear this pair of socks and he’s not quite at the same level. We’re just trying to get him to be the same guy every day.”

As far as the defensive line is concerned, there’s no true answer yet on the inside to replace Ioannidis. Senior Averee Robinson, redshirt junior and North Carolina transfer Greg Webb, redshirt sophomore Freddie Booth-Lloyd and true freshman Karamo Dioubate are all in the mix to play key roles at defensive tackle.

The Owls are set up nicely at defensive end, though, with Praise Martin-Oguike and Haason Reddick back for their senior seasons.

Martin-Oguike had 30 tackles, four sacks and an interception last season. Reddick, a former walk-on from Camden and Haddon Heights High School in South Jersey, made noise last season with 45 tackles and five sacks, all while paying his own way to school without a scholarship.

“I got here and he wasn’t even on the team,” Rhule said of Reddick on Tuesday. “All he’s done is battle for his spot. He played last year at an all-conference level while not being on scholarship.”

Reddick was put on scholarship after last season. During this preseason camp, he was awarded jersey No. 7, an achievement as the Owls annually award single-digit jersey numbers to those voted toughest by teammates.

Sharif Finch, who had an interception against Penn State last year, is also in the mix on the defensive line.

The cornerback situation is a bit more unsettled at this point.

After last season, the Owls seemed set there with star Sean Chandler, who had four picks in 2015 and returned two of them for touchdowns. But the staff decided to move Chandler, a junior, to safety during the offseason to better utilize his athleticism and because it felt it would be the better position for his pro prospects going forward.

What’s left at corner after Chandler’s move is a mish-mash of depth. There’s no shortage of players who have the potential to make an impact, according to Rhule.

Redshirt senior Nate Hairston and redshirt junior Artrel Foster both saw time there last season and played well. Redshirt sophomore Derrick Thomas and redshirt freshman Kareem Ali are also in the mix.

But it sure sounded Tuesday like Rhule is waiting for one or two of them to stand out during the early part of the season.

“Thomas is playing at a high level. Foster was playing at a really high level but he just has some nicks right now, so he’s fighting to get back. Hairston is coming on and Ali is coming on, too,” Rhule said. “I think our corners, we feel like we have a lot of depth.

“The thing about playing corner is you have to get beat. You have to go into a game and really get beat and then respond to it. We have a lot of guys who have the talent to do it, they just haven’t gone into a game and got run by yet. How they respond is a true marker of how they are as a corner.”

The cornerback question may not get an answer for a couple of weeks, at least. Army runs the triple-option offense and rarely throws. On the schedule after Army is Stony Brook, an FCS squad.

That leaves the Sept. 17 game vs. Penn State at Beaver Stadium as the first true test for Temple’s corners. And for the defense as a whole.

Temple basketball names Chris Clark assistant coach

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AP

Temple basketball names Chris Clark assistant coach

Chris Clark is back with the Owls.

The former Temple guard and team video coordinator was named an assistant coach to Fran Dunphy’s staff on Wednesday night.

“We are happy to have Chris Clark rejoin our staff,” Dunphy said in a release by the school. “He knows our system as a player and as a staff member last year. He also has extensive coaching experience, serving as an assistant at three different D-I programs. Chris has been successful at every stop in his career, and we look forward to having him back in the fold.”

Clark, a Philadelphia native, played for the Owls from 2004-08 and was a standout sixth man his senior season, helping lead Temple to a 21-13 record and Atlantic 10 conference championship. During the 2015-16 season, he served the Owls as their video coordinator. He left the program in April to join Drexel’s staff as an assistant.

“I am truly excited to be able to return to Temple as an assistant coach on Fran Dunphy’s staff,” Clark said. “Last season was special working at my alma mater as the video coordinator, but to now serve as an assistant is truly an honor. With that said, I want to thank Drexel head coach Zach Spiker for the opportunity to work on his staff, and his understanding through this process. I enjoyed my short time there and wish the program continued success.”

Trace McSorley named Penn State's starting quarterback

Trace McSorley named Penn State's starting quarterback

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Trace McSorley will start at quarterback for Penn State when the Nittany Lions open against Kent State on Sept 3.

Coach James Franklin settled on the sophomore after McSorley battled redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens for the job through the spring and summer.

"We're excited what he brings to our offense," Franklin said Wednesday. "I think the biggest thing is he's been the backup quarterback for two years. He has game experience and there's value in that. You've been able to see it already, you're not projecting as much."

McSorley will make his first career start at home against Kent State.

"It's a lot of weight off my shoulders," McSorley said. "Over the whole offseason, Tommy and I were pushing each other. This team will be better because of how this competition went with us pushing each other."

Both quarterbacks are strong runners, but McSorley's experience gave him the edge.

His shiftiness was utilized in practice throughout his tenure as Christian Hackenberg's backup. He usually led the scout team against the top defense, offering a similar look to the opposing running quarterbacks Penn State would play.

Although he's played sparingly on Saturdays in that time, McSorley saw meaningful snaps in Penn State's bowl game in relief of an injured Hackenberg. Then, McSorley completed 14 of 17 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns, ran seven times for 31 yards and nearly led a comeback against Georgia.

Now, McSorley will try and turn around a unit that's ranked 105th and 114th in total offense the last two seasons. He'll do so in a spread-based offense designed for a mobile quarterback and led by new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.

"I think the best thing about the way he runs the ball is he's savvy," linebacker Jason Cabinda said. "He sets up his cuts. You play a guy who's a statue in the pocket and you cover well, he gets sacked. Now we have another element. Not only do you have to worry about covering guys, but when that four or five seconds is up there's that option of scrambling, another aspect of the play you have to worry about."