Fastbreak Friday: Temple, St. Joe's hit the road

Fastbreak Friday: Temple, St. Joe's hit the road

February 8, 2013, 2:15 pm
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CSN producers Brian Brennan and Sean Kane, our resident college basketball junkies, make their predictions each weekend for the City 6 teams. Brennan is off this week. Look for Fastbreak Friday on each Friday for the remainder of the season.

Yale (7-14, 1-3) at Penn (4-16, 1-2), Friday -- 7:00 p.m.
Brown (8-10, 2-2) at Penn (4-16, 1-2), Saturday -- 7:00 p.m.

SK: I can't help but sympathize with Jerome Allen. The Penn head coach visited our CSN studios Wednesday to tape a segment for Big Men on Campus. During the taping Neil Hartman asked about Fran Dougherty's return from mononucleosis and how Allen plans to work his leading scorer and rebounder back into the lineup. At that point Allen revealed that Dougherty will likely miss the rest of the season with a dislocated elbow suffered late in the Quakers' loss to Cornell last Saturday. Just when it seemed Dougherty's return could spark Penn to a late season run in the Ivy League, another injury takes him down. His return lasted all of a game and a half.

The soft-spoken Allen doesn't expect anyone to feel bad for him, nor should he. But his Quakers simply can't catch a break. The one positive is that Dougherty's absence allowed for some of the young Quakers to gain valuable experience. The improvement of freshmen Darien Nelson-Henry and Tony Hicks, as well as sophomores Patrick Lucas-Perry and Henry Brooks, bodes well for the future. As for the present, I expect Penn's fortunes to improve even without Dougherty. Yale and Brown have each struggled, and the Quakers are certainly due for a few breaks.

Penn 68, Yale 65
Penn 62, Brown 57

Temple (15-7, 4-4) at Dayton (13-9, 3-5), Saturday -- 11:00 am

SK: Temple showed some serious resilience with its win over Charlotte Wednesday. Fran Dunphy surely wasn't happy with giving up 88 points and allowing the 49ers to shoot over 60 percent from the field, but it was a game that the Owls desperately needed to have and they got it thanks to more stellar play from Khalif Wyatt and a big-time performance from Jake O'Brien, who scored 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting. It's been the question all year with Temple: Who is going to help Wyatt in the scoring department? The answer Wednesday was O'Brien. Whether he can contribute like that consistently is another question entirely.

UD Arena is never a fun place to play, particularly at 11:00 in the morning. Saint Joseph's lost a game Wednesday at Dayton that the Hawks controlled for the first 35 minutes. All the intangibles would appear to be in Dayton's favor Saturday. But look for Temple to answer the bell and pull out a narrow win. The Owls can ill-afford many more losses on their NCAA tournament resume, and they know it.

Temple 73, Dayton 71

Saint Joseph's (13-8, 4-4) at Massachusetts (15-6, 3-3), Saturday -- 2:00 p.m.

SK: The enigma that is St. Joe's continued its puzzling season Wednesday at Dayton. The Hawks looked poised to win their fourth straight game and be on their way to a late push up the A-10 standings. Then they watched as Dayton made big shots down the stretch to seize control of the game. The loss wiped out the momentum St. Joe's had gained with last weekend's thrilling win over Temple and sent Phil Martelli back to the drawing board.

The recent struggles of Langston Galloway have been one of the more confounding aspects of the Hawks' inconsistency. The junior guard is considered one of the best pure shooters in the country. Yet he's shooting just over 40 percent for the season and is averaging 7.5 points over the last five games. It won't get any easier for Galloway and company Saturday at UMass. The Minutemen's Chaz Williams is one of the most explosive guards in the A-10, and he and his teammates will be more than ready for a visit from the preseason favorites in the conference.

UMass 77, St. Joseph's 73

Fordham (6-17, 2-6) at La Salle (15-6, 5-3), Saturday -- 2:00

SK: The apprehension spreading through Explorer Nation would be laughable if it weren't so rooted in past experiences. La Salle fans are legitimately hesitant to discuss their team's NCAA tournament credentials in fear of sending the Explorers into a tailspin. It's understandable when you consider it's been more than two decades since La Salle played in the NCAA tournament, and more than a handful of recent Explorer teams have squandered strong starts with late season collapses.

I'm here to tell you that won't be the case this season. I'm not guaranteeing that La Salle will breeze into the Field of 65, but I am confident saying the Explorers won't devolve into a downward spiral in February and March. Dr. John Giannini's team is simply too experienced and good.

La Salle will have fresh legs following a seven-day layoff, and that will result in a comfortable win Saturday against over-matched Fordham.

La Salle 79, Fordham 63

South Florida (10-12, 1-9) at Villanova (14-9, 5-5), Saturday -- 3:00

SK: In a season spent searching for adjectives to describe this wildly unpredictable Villanova team, Jekyll and Hyde seems to fit the bill. Two days after shooting 27 percent and scoring 52 points in a bad home loss to Providence, the Wildcats erupted for 94 points on 59 percent shooting at DePaul on Tuesday. Villanova scored 54 points in the second half of the DePaul win, making 22 of 32 shots in the final 20 minutes. It was by far the best Jay Wright's bunch has played on the offensive end all season.

I've spent a lot of time detailing the development of Ryan Arcidiacono in this column. The freshman point guard was brilliant Tuesday, scoring 23 points and handing out five assists. But if I had to vote for Villanova's MVP through two-thirds of the season, I'd point to Darrun Hilliard. College kids tend to improve the most from their freshman to sophomore seasons, and Hilliard is a prime example of that. He's averaging 16 points in the Wildcats' last seven games and is playing with such great confidence. Hilliard never seems unsure of himself in clutch situations. I expect more big numbers from him Saturday.

Villanova 71, South Florida 66

James Madison (14-11, 8-4) at Drexel (9-14, 5-6)

SK: Inexplicable doesn't do justice to Drexel's loss at home to Old Dominion on Thursday. Losing by double-digits to a team that entered the game 2-20 (0-10 in the CAA) and just fired its coach is unfathomable, even for a team like the Dragons, who have battled inconsistency all season. Truth be told, Thursday's game wasn't as close as the final score indicates. Clearly Drexel's star-crossed season is reaching its breaking point.

Meanwhile, former St. Joe's assistant Matt Brady has James Madison on a roll. The Dukes have won five of their last six and won't be feeling sorry at all for Drexel on Sunday. If Drexel has any hope of putting Thursday's disaster behind it, it's going to need a big effort from Damion Lee. Lee was held scoreless against Old Dominion in 27 minutes of action.

After what I saw Thursday, there's no way I can pick Drexel to win this game.

James Madison 73, Drexel 66