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 Trey Lowe to redshirt as recovery from car accident continues

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USA Today Images

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.

Temple vs. SMU: Get ready for offensive firepower in AAC opener

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Temple vs. SMU: Get ready for offensive firepower in AAC opener

Temple (2-2, 0-0 AAC) vs. SMU (2-2, 0-0 AAC)
Lincoln Financial Field
Saturday, Noon, ESPNews

If recent history tells us anything, we should expect to see some crooked numbers on Lincoln Financial Field’s scoreboard Saturday afternoon when SMU visits Temple in the conference opener for each team.

The last two times these AAC programs have met, the final scores have wound up 59-49 (a SMU win in Dallas in 2013) and 60-40 (a Temple win in Dallas last season).

Temple is coming off a 48-20 homecoming demolition of Charlotte. The game was basically over early in the second quarter, a frame in which the Owls scored 28 points to blow away the 49ers. SMU is coming off a 33-3 home loss to in-state rival TCU. The Mustangs hung tough for the first half and the score was 6-3 at the break, but the Big 12 powerhouse Horned Frogs took over in the second half.

Weather could play a factor Saturday, though, as current forecasts call for a chance of scattered thunderstorms in the Philadelphia area all afternoon.

Let’s take a closer look at Saturday’s the matchup.

Scouting Temple
The Owls’ offense has been in a much-needed groove since the second half of the narrow loss at Penn State two weeks ago.

Last week, Walker went 15 of 26 for 268 yards and two touchdowns – a 51-yard bomb to Adonis Jennings and a 40-yard quick strike to Brodrick Yancy. On the season, Walker has completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 846 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. His favorite target has been Keith Kirkwood, who has 14 grabs for 191 yards and two touchdowns through four games.

It should be no coincidence that Temple’s offensive revival has come with the return of star senior running back Jahad Thomas, who missed the first two games of the year with a dislocated left thumb. In the two games Thomas has played, he’s got 127 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Sophomore Ryquell Armstead, who also has four rushing scores, leads the Owls with 166 yards on the ground. Last year against SMU, then-freshman Jager Gardner ripped off a school-record 94-yard touchdown run.

One other offensive note: Temple head coach Matt Rhule was finally pleased with his offensive line after the way it played against Charlotte. Earlier this week, he praised offensive line coach George DeLeone and the job he’s done recently trying to get work out the issues on the line. The Owls didn’t give up a sack last week. True freshman Matt Hennessy started at left guard last week while redshirt sophomore Jaelin Robinson saw time at right tackle. Don’t be surprised if they see significant playing time again.

Two things have concerned Rhule defensively – a lackluster pass rush and the tendency to give up big plays.

Through four games, the Owls have yet to establish any sort of consistent pass rush. They have just four sacks through four games. They had 10 in last year’s opener against Penn State alone. The good news for Temple’s pass rush is that SMU starts a freshman QB and has given up nine sacks through four games, so opportunities to disrupt the pocket should be there on Saturday.

Temple’s defense has allowed 10 plays of 20 yards or more from scrimmage this season, including a 66-yard touchdown run by Charlotte’s Kalif Phillips last week.

Injury-wise, the Owls are relatively healthy. Sophomore wideout Ventell Bryant, who was believed to be dealing with a shoulder injury, announced on his Instagram this week that he’d been cleared to play.

Scouting SMU
The Mustangs’ rebuilding efforts took a big hit during the first game of the season when senior quarterback Matt Davis, who played very well against Temple last season and hurt the Owls with both his arm and legs, was lost for the year with a knee injury. Redshirt freshman Ben Hicks has stepped in and his tenure so far hasn’t been so hot. He’s completed just 50 percent of his passes this year and has thrown just two touchdowns compared to seven picks.

Despite the inexperience and lack of production at quarterback, SMU will still push the tempo with a fast-paced offense that can rip off chunks of yardage instantly and averages 448 yards per game. A big reason for that is the play of sophomore wideout Cortland Sutton, who has 449 receiving yards and four touchdowns already this season. Sutton, whom Rhule had very high praise for earlier this week, averages 24.9 yards per reception. Sophomore tailback Braeden West is no slouch, either. He’s averaged 93.8 yards per game on the ground this season and has two rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, SMU has a couple of ballhawks in its secondary. The Mustangs are tied for tops in the nation with 10 interceptions through four games. Sophomore corner Jordan Wyatt is tied for the team lead in picks with three and also leads the Mustangs with 25 total tackles and two forced fumbles. Walker will have to be wary of where Wyatt is at on the field. Senior Horace Richardson also has three picks already for the Mustangs.

While SMU’s takeaway numbers are pretty, the Mustangs’ total defense numbers are ugly. They give up an average of 449.8 yards per game, which ranks 98th out of 128 teams in the FBS. The 27 points the Mustangs allow per game are good 70th in the FBS.

History
Saturday will mark the third meeting between the schools in the last four years and fifth overall. As mentioned above, the two teams combined for 208 points the last two times they’ve met. Those last two meetings have been the only meetings between Temple and SMU that have had definitive finals. They tied in both 1942 (6-6) and 1947 (7-7). So feel free to call Saturday’s game a rubber match.

Storyline to watch: Second test for Temple's secondary
Thus far this season, Temple has faced a triple-option team in Army, an FCS team in Stony Brook, a weapon-filled offense in Penn State and a second-year FBS team in Charlotte. Needless to say, Penn State was the only true test Temple's defense, specifically the new-look secondary, has had to face and it didn't go so well, especially in the first half when the Nittany Lions tore the Owls apart with slant plays for huge chunks of yardage. While the Owls' defense calmed down, the Nittany Lions still finished with 287 passing yards and 403 total yards. Temple's secondary will have its next test on Saturday with Sutton and SMU's receivers. Corners Derrek Thomas, Artrel Foster and Nate Hairston and safety Delvon Randall have a prime opportunity to gain more confidence against a young quarterback with a tendency to make mistakes. Junior safety Sean Chandler is still the unquestioned leader of the group.

What’s at stake: Getting conference play started on the right foot
If the Owls want to be taken as a serious threat to repeat in the AAC East, this is a game they have to have against an inferior SMU team. This is the first of nine straight AAC games, and even though SMU is in the AAC West, this game is still a tonesetter for rest of conference play. The Owls don’t want to fall behind right off the bat. And they really don’t want to fall behind right of the bat this week, with a short week and travel to Memphis for a game on Thursday looming. Yes, that’s two games in five days coming up for Temple.

Prediction
Even if the weather doesn’t hold out, points will be scored at the Linc on Saturday. Just not as many as the past couple of years. At this point in time, Temple just has more talent and it looks like the Owls are finally getting things in sync. Temple 38, SMU 21