City Six notes: Belcore is glue for Penn


City Six notes: Belcore is glue for Penn

Rob Belcore plays with his hat, scratches his head and gazes up to the Palestra rafters.

The senior guard has just been asked to list all of the injuries hes had during his Penn basketball career. Its a daunting question.

After a moment of thought, Belcore begins to rattle off the ailments. A sprained ankle. A dislocated elbow. Torn ankle ligaments. Migraines. Torn tendons. A shifted ribcage. Dislocated fingers. Sprained thumbs.

And, he adds, theres probably more that hes forgetting.

I had expectations of myself, a vision of how things were going to go for me, Belcore said. And Ive had a lot of setbacks.

Soon, he will be able to rest. But for the next two months, he will fling his weary body all over the court with complete disregard for what happens to him. Thats because the Ivy League season is about to commence, and this is the last chance for Belcore and the rest of the Penn seniors to win a conference title and play in the NCAA tournament.

The Quakers, who havent captured a league crown since 2007, open the league slate with road matchups against Columbia Friday night and Cornell on Saturday. Both games tip at 7 p.m.

There are so many banners up there, Belcore said, pointing to the Palestra rafters. You can look at them and count them, and none of those have any of my years on them. Just to get one on the way out would be a dream come true. I came here with some expectations. It hasnt quite gone that way but, you know, if you end up on top, youre going to forget about the past.

Its funny, sometimes, how things change. When Belcore committed to Penn in Sept. 2007, he was a sharpshooting combo guard from Illinois, and the Quakers were coming off three straight Ivy League titles. Nowadays, Belcore is essentially a power forward for a team that hasnt had a winning season since hes arrived on campus.

But while his shooting touch isnt what it once was because of all the injuries Its hard to shoot when you dont have two feet under you, he said the senior has turned into the glue guy for the Quakers, grabbing offensive rebounds, playing lock-down defense (on the perimeter or in the paint) and diving all over the court for loose balls.

And even though most people know more about high-scoring Quaker guards Zack Rosen and Tyler Bernardini, the truth is their senior teammate might just be holding this team together. Earlier in the season, head coach Jerome Allen said Belcore works harder than anyone hes ever seen.

It felt great to hear that from Coach Allen because hes been all over the world and has seen so many great players, Belcore said. So it was one of the greatest compliments Ive ever received in my life. His support of me makes me play that much harder for him. The next time the balls on the floor, hell know that Ill be coming out of left field to get it for him.

Belcores hustle might be one of the few things we can safely predict about the upcoming Ivy League season.

Yes, Harvard is a heavy favorite to win the 14-game regular season title and advance to its first NCAA tournament since 1946. (The Ivies are the only league that doesnt have a conference tourney to determine the NCAAs automatic bid.)

But, the Quakers (7-9) have been tested by a brutal non-conference schedule and may just have enough senior leadership to give the Crimson and the rest of the upper-echelon Ivy teams a run for their money.

Everybodys 0-0, Belcore said. Thats my take. Its college basketball. Who can ever predict college basketball?

More than most people, Belcore knows this to be true.

Drexels diaper dandy

Shortly after Drexels 64-58 win over VCU on Sunday, Dragons coach Bruiser Flint didnt hold back when asked to assess the performance of freshman guard Damion Lee.

He called him bad. And then, he called him awful.

Four days later, in another big Colonial Athletic Association game, Lee was the opposite of that.

Simply put, the freshman was on fire, scoring 16 of his 21 points in the second half to lead Drexel (11-5 overall, 3-2 CAA) to a 60-53 comeback win over first-place George Mason, which had come into Thursdays contest on an 18-game conference winning streak.

Lee, who iced the game with a pair of quick-trigger three-pointers, is currently the top freshman scorer in the city, averaging 11.1 points per game.

And the Dragons, after losing two of their first three league games, are now coming off consecutive home wins over maybe the two best CAA teams heading into road matchups against UNC Wilmington (Saturday) and Hofstra (Wednesday).

Villanovas shooting woes

So far this season, Villanova juniors Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek are both shooting less than 30 percent from three-point range.

That might not be as much of a problem if both players werent jacking up a combined 10 long-balls per game.

So what exactly has been the issue?

I do think theyre good shooters, Villanova coach Jay Wright said after the free-falling Cats dropped to 8-9 overall and 1-4 in the Big East with a loss to Syracuse on Wednesday. They have to learn how to go against defenses that are geared to stop them. They had always been the secondary guys that played off Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes and they got easier shots.

The Nova guards will look to find the bottom of the net more Saturday when the Wildcats take on Cincinnati in a Big East contest at noon.

A-10 madness

If the first couple of games are any indication, the Atlantic 10 season is going to be a wild ride. Just take a look at what the Philly teams have done so far.

Temple (10-4, 0-1), one of the leagues top squads, opened with a surprising defeat to Dayton its first home loss since Jan. 2, 2010 before earning a gutsy road win against a very strong Saint Louis team.

Saint Josephs (12-5, 2-1) sandwiched a rough home loss to Charlotte around wins over Duquesne and Fordham.

And La Salle (13-4, 2-0), which was picked 13th out of 14 teams in the preseason poll, is one of only two unbeaten teams in the A-10, having beaten powerhouse Xavier and UMass at home.

La Salle will try to keep its perfect league record intact when it travels to Dayton on Saturday for a 7 p.m. matchup. Temple and St. Joes are also both on the road Saturday, taking on Richmond (7 p.m.) and UMass (4 p.m.), respectively.

Six in the City is a weekly notebook on the citys six Division I college basketball teams written by contributor Dave Zeitlin. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.

Temple PG Josh Brown suffers Achilles injury; surgery set for Wednesday


Temple PG Josh Brown suffers Achilles injury; surgery set for Wednesday

The start of college basketball season is months away, but head coach Fran Dunphy's Temple team may have already suffered a huge blow.

Senior point guard Josh Brown suffered a left Achilles tendon injury last week and will undergo surgery on Wednesday. The timetable for Brown's recovery is unknown at this time. first reported the news.

Last year's leading scorer and floor general Quenton DeCosey and big man Jaylen Bond have both graduated, so Brown was expected to take on much more of a leadership role on an evolving Owls team this coming season. Brown and guard/forward Daniel Dingle are the only seniors who were expected to steadily see significant playing time next season. Junior forward Obi Enechionyia is the only other veteran who would fit that category.

But now those plans could be out the window with Brown's sudden injury.

The injury to Brown also could potentially leave Temple without its two most dangerous guards for a significant period of time as sophomore Trey Lowe is still recovering from injuries suffered in a single-car accident in New Jersey in March. There is still no indication as to when Lowe could be ready to return to the court.

The potential absences of Brown and Lowe could lead to more significant roles for sophomore Shawn Alston, Jr. (2.3 points per game in 10.8 minutes of action a night last season) and incoming freshman and three-star recruit Alani Moore.

Brown, a 6-foot-3 Newark, New Jersey native, played in all 33 games for the Owls last season and averaged 8.3 points, 4.9 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game in 36.2 minutes per night, the highest average playing time of any player in the American Athletic Conference. His 3.50 assist-to-turnover ratio was best in the AAC and tied for eighth in the entire country.

Brown's signature moment last season came when he hit a game-winning floater in the dying seconds that enabled Temple to pull off an upset at No. 23 Connecticut in January. He also led the Owls with 16 points in their heartbreaking overtime loss to Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

News groups seek to unseal records in Penn State's Jerry Sandusky case


News groups seek to unseal records in Penn State's Jerry Sandusky case

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Two news organizations asked a Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday to unseal records in the pending criminal case against three former Penn State administrators over their handling of complaints about Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of child sexual abuse.

The Associated Press and The Legal Intelligencer on Tuesday asked Dauphin County Judge Richard Lewis to make public filings in the case against the university's former President Graham Spanier, former Vice President Gary Schultz and former Athletic Director Tim Curley.

The motion says dozens of unidentified documents have been sealed in violation of the public's right to access information from the courts. The docket lists dozens of "sealed entries" and provides no information about their contents.

"Although certain grand jury material is, under normal circumstances, properly maintained under seal, if information is in the `public realm' or does not `implicate the secrecy of the grand jury,' it should not be sealed, as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has instructed," wrote Gayle Sproul, lawyer for the AP and ALM Media LLC, publisher of the country's oldest daily legal newspaper.

She said the volume of sealed documents suggests they "sweep far beyond the narrow category of protected `matters occurring before the grand jury.'"

Schultz's lawyer declined comment, while messages weren't immediately returned by lawyers representing Curley and Spanier. A spokesman said the attorney general's office has "some reservations about the mass release" of information from the case.

The three men await trial on charges of failure to report suspected abuse and child endangerment. Curley and Schultz were first charged at the same time as Sandusky in November 2011; charges against Spanier were added a year later.

Superior Court earlier this year threw out many of the more serious charges against the men, based on a determination that the role played during grand jury proceedings by Penn State's then-general counsel, Cynthia Baldwin, violated attorney-client privilege. The Superior Court file also is sealed.

Sandusky continues to pursue appeals after being convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. He spent decades as the defensive coach under Joe Paterno before his retirement in 1999.

Judge grants time for victim claims in Paterno-NCAA lawsuit


Judge grants time for victim claims in Paterno-NCAA lawsuit

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Lawyers for Joe Paterno's relatives and the NCAA can have more time to look into newly disclosed allegations about claims of abuse against the late Penn State football coach's former assistant Jerry Sandusky, a judge said Monday.

Judge John Leete is presiding over a lawsuit by the Paterno family against the NCAA. He gave the parties 45 days to explore claims that a boy told Paterno in 1976 he was molested by Sandusky, and that two coaches witnessed Sandusky abusing children in the late 1980s. The information was made public this month when a Philadelphia judge ruled in a lawsuit by Penn State over insurance coverage for Sandusky-related claims.

Penn State's lawyers "will, as appropriate, approach victims in the Sandusky matter to ascertain their willingness to take part in voluntary discovery," Leete wrote after a Monday conference in the case. "The court will take all necessary steps to protect the confidentiality and anonymity of any such persons."

Paterno's relatives have rebutted the 1976 accusation, and an attorney for some Sandusky victims has said it is not irrefutably supported. Also, prosecutors have called the 1980s claims unreliable.

The claims were briefly described in a May 4 order by Philadelphia Judge Gary Glazer, but there were few details. The Associated Press and three other news organizations filed a request last week seeking to unseal related court records.

The Paternos say the NCAA's use of a Penn State-commissioned report damaged their commercial interests. Two former Penn State coaches, Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney, are also suing the NCAA, saying the report made it impossible for them to find comparable jobs.

Leete's order said he may adjust a timetable he laid out in March that established deadlines in the case through mid-October.

Messages seeking comment from lawyers for the NCAA and the Paterno family were not immediately returned.

Paterno died in 2012, two months after state prosecutors first charged Sandusky with child molestation.

Sandusky was convicted later that year of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence. He has maintained his innocence. A hearing in his ongoing appeals is scheduled for Friday at the courthouse near State College.