Moore, Allen lead No. 24 Temple over Fordham

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Moore, Allen lead No. 24 Temple over Fordham

Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Posted: 9:03 p.m. Updated: 10:20 p.m.

By Dave Zangaro
CSNPhilly.com

BOX SCORE

As quickly as Temple built a huge halftime lead, it watched it all but disappear.Fordham outscored Temple by 15 in the first six minutes of the second half and cut the lead to just three after the Owls went into halftime with an 18-point advantage.Following the Rams run, the Owls scored the next nine points and No. 24 Temple was able to hold on for the 77-66 win in an Atlantic 10 battle in its first game since returning to the AP Top 25After shooting 42.9 percent from the field in the first half, Temple shot a frigid 24.2 percent in the second, while Fordham made 51.7 percent of its second-half shots. We missed shots, they made shots, but I think we relied on what the score was at the half, said forward Scootie Randall. I think they dont have nothing to lose, so they're just going to come out here and play every possession.With the win, Temple improved to 18-5 overall and 8-2 in the A-10. Fordham dropped to 6-16 overall and 0-10 in the A-10. The Owls have now won their last 19 games at the Liacouras Center and have won all 11 contests played on their home court this season. The Owls led by as much as 25 points in the first half, but with 13:17 remaining in the second, their lead was 53-50.The Rams had all the momentum, but one play turned it back in the other direction. With just over 10 minutes remaining, Ramone Moore found Randall for an easy layup, which sparked a 9-0 run for the Owls. I think that play was big for our team because we werent doing so good coming out in the second half, so I think that play right there made a statement that we were ready to go, Randall said. "I think it helped our team a lot and gave us a boost.Moore led the Owls with 22 points on 7-for17 shooting and Randall chipped in 12 on 4-for-14 shooting. Chris Gaston paced the Rams with 27.Temple senior Lavoy Allen finished with seven points and 14 rebounds 10 offensive and is now only 17 rebounds shy of setting the all-time Temple mark. Allen, however, had to leave the game with just under 4 minutes remaining after twisting his left ankle while going after a loose ball.Coach Fran Dunphy called it a sprain and said the severity of the injury and Allens playing status for Saturdays game at Dayton (17-7, 5-4) is unknown. Hopefully he can play Saturday we need him, Moore said. But if he cant were just going to have to go without him unfortunately. It was actually a turnover early in the second half only 18 seconds in by Allen that Dunphy pointed to as the momentary turning point.The turnover says Were going to be OK if I turn this ball over, and its a message we cant afford to send, he said.
While the Owls spent most of the second half in damage-control mode, the first half was a breeze.Early on, Fordham couldnt find a way to stop the Temple offense. At the 7:39 mark in the first half, Temples Rahlir Jefferson was driving to the basket one-on-one, when he was pushed by Fordhams Alberto Estwick. It was called an intentional foul. Jefferson hit both free throws.Jeffersons free throws came on the tail end of a four-minute span where Temple held the Rams scoreless. In that span the Owls outscored their opponent 16-0 and led the Rams 47-29 at the half. They came out playing zone so there was a lot of open jump shots. We did a great job of moving the ball and getting open shots for each other, said Moore, who had 14 of his 22 at the half.Forward Micheal Eric started the game and scored 12 points in the first half in 16 minutes, but in the second half saw only four minutes of action and Jefferson took the bulk of the minutes. Dunphy said he wanted to matchup with the speed of Fordham better. Rahlir gave us more energy, getting to spots faster, Dunphy said. I thought Rahlir played very well.Guard Juan Fernandez started his third straight game after missing four of his previous eight with a bone bruise on his left knee, but still showed signs of rust. He scored 10 points on 2-for-9 shooting. He did, however, make a three-pointer late in the second half and nailed four free throws down the stretch."We got a sprained ankle Allen. We got a bad knee Fernandez, Dunphy said. Learn to live with it. Suck it up and play.The Owls won the game and stretched their win streak to four games, but the team will remember this one as the game that almost got away.Were not good enough to have those stretches of games were we dont focus on each possession, Dunphy said. Now they know.E-mail Dave Zangaro at dzangaro@comcastsportsnet.com

Penn, Villanova back for more championships at Penn Relays

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Penn, Villanova back for more championships at Penn Relays

Like many people who come from nearby high schools, Penn senior Chris Hatler has been running at the Penn Relays since he was 15. But his initial experience at the famed meet did not go exactly as planned

“The first relay ever, I fell in the first 100 meters,” he said, “and made a fool of myself.”

Such can be the dangers of overwhelmed teenagers competing at a competition that also features college and professional stars — a three-day track & field carnival that is the oldest and largest of its kind in the country.

But last year, Hatler became one of those college stars himself, helping Penn to a dramatic win in the 4xmile — the host school’s first win in that event since 1950 and its first championship in any of the meet’s marquee distance relays since 1974.

Now, with the 123rd running of the Penn Relays set to kick off in full Thursday — the same day that the NFL draft begins across town — Hatler is ready to add another wheel before graduating, along with fellow senior Nick Tuck.

“Last year was exciting to win the 4xmile, but I kinda felt like for the seniors last year, it was their win, it was their wheel,” said Hatler, who also helped the Quakers set a school record in last year’s distance medley relay. “I know Nick and I kinda have a little grudge here. We want our own wheel for ourselves our senior year. So we’re gonna come out and see what we can do.”

Although the USA vs. the World races Saturday to highlight the meet, the college relays are often the most exciting with wild sprints to the finish line occurring in front of packed Franklin Field crowds. Last year, in between Team USA races, then-senior Thomas Awad chased down two other runners in the 4xmile to give Penn the victory on national TV, before being mobbed by Hatler, Tuck and Keaton Naff. 

Hatler couldn’t quite see the track from where he was standing but had a feeling that Awad — one of the most accomplished athletes in Penn’s track & field history — would come through on the final lap of his Penn Relays career.

“You never bet against Tom at the end of the race,” said Hatler, who earlier this year cracked the 4-minute-mile barrier. “We kinda knew it was gonna happen.”

Few other people expected it because the host school hasn’t always been competitive in the college championships at Penn Relays. But another local school always is — Villanova.

And the Wildcats are glad to get some more competition from their Big 5 rival.

“It was thrilling for me to see it happen,” Villanova men’s track coach Marcus O’Sullivan said. “This is really the home school. We’re happy to be sharing the stress of Penn [Relays] every year with the real home school.”

As for his own team, O’Sullivan said the Wildcats are dealing with injuries so it may not be in top form for the men’s distance medley relay (Friday, 5:30 p.m.), men’s 4xmile (Saturday, 1:15 p.m.) and the men’s 4x800 (Saturday, 4:40 p.m.), the first two of which will be broadcast on NBC Sports.

But he touted the talent of redshirt freshman Logan Wetzel, among others, and seems ready to throw some youngsters into the fire.

“I always say Penn is a defining arena for kids to grow up,” said O’Sullivan, who ran the Penn Relays as a student at Villanova. “You really start to learn. You prepare a year for Penn. 

“My junior year, we were annihilated, lost everything, and it one of the most humiliating moments of my life because so much is expected of you and you drop the ball. I spent a whole year just waiting for Penn, just training for Penn. The year I made the Olympic team, I kid you not, running at Penn, winning at Penn, was way more important for me at that time of my life. That’s how big it is.”

Villanova women’s coach Gina Procaccio also ran the Penn Relays in college and has similar feelings about the significance of the meet. And she’s ready to lead her powerhouse teams to more championships in the women’s distance medley relay (Thursday, 5:30 p.m.), the women’s 4x1500 (Friday, 1:20 p.m.) and the women’s 4x800 (Saturday, 4:10 p.m.).

Those relay teams will be led by Angel Piccirillo, a fifth-year senior who redshirted last year, and junior Siofra Cleirigh Buttner — two of the best distance runners in the NCAA. But it won’t be easy for them as this year’s field will be stacked with the likes of Oregon and Stanford.

But no one has done better at Penn Relays than the Villanova women, who have won 14 DMRs all time, including four straight from 2012-2015.

“I’m not one to shy away from the competition,” Procaccio said. “I like to earn those wins.”

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

About midway through Monday night's Big 5 Hall of Fame ceremony, the oldest inductee of this year's class paid homage to the youngest.

That's how much hoops legend George Raveling, a 1960 Villanova graduate, was blown away by Penn alum Ibrahim Jaaber's impassioned speech that ended with a powerful poem about how basketball saved him.

"It kept running through my mind that you represent everything good about sports," Raveling said to Jaaber. "And I hope you'll continue to use your wisdom, your influence, to make the game better, to make the world better. As a 79-year-old-man, soon to be 80 in June, I want to tell you that if I come back in the next life, I want to be like you."

That touching moment, in many ways, was a perfect encapsulation of the ties that bind the Big 5, from one generation to the next. But aside from Raveling and longtime Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Bill Lyon -- who, despite battling Alzheimer's, courageously gave an acceptance speech to a standing ovation at the Palestra -- this year's class was filled with contemporary guards who clashed in some great Big 5 games not too long ago.

Among them were two current NBA players in Saint Joseph's icon Jameer Nelson (class of 2004) and former 'Nova star Randy Foye (2006), as well as Temple's Lynn Greer (2002) and Jaaber (2007). La Salle women's player Carlene Hightower (2008) was the other member of the star-studded class defined by tough, gritty Philadelphia guards.

"The inductees here for the Hall of Fame have got to be maybe the greatest class we've ever put together," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright, who closed the night by accepting the Big 5 Coach of the Year award right after Josh Hart took home Player of the Year honors. "I grew up in Philadelphia and we always talk about what a great place the Palestra is -- and it is. But when you listen to Lynn, Randy, Coach Rav, Ibby, Jameer, you know why this is a great place. It's because of all the great man that have played here -- outstanding, humble, articulate, intelligent men that understand they're part of something that's bigger than themselves. That's what makes the Big 5. That's what makes the Palestra."

Nelson, the National Player of the Year during St. Joe’s historic 2003-04 season, certainly showed what kind of person he is, inviting all of his old Hawks teammates who were in attendance to stand behind him as he accepted his Hall of Fame award. And he even choked up at one point as he described what those teammates, coach Phil Martelli and Saint Joseph's University have meant to him as he's forged a long and fruitful NBA career.

"Without them, none of this would be possible," said Nelson, the Hawks' all-time leader in points (2,094) and assists (713). "These guys mean the world to me."

Nelson, now with the Denver Nuggets, just wrapped up his 13th season in the NBA, calling it an "unbelievable ride" for a 5-foot-11 kid from Chester. That's two more years spent in the league than Foye, who Nelson thanked for forcing him to be better back in their college days. He also called Greer one of his "great friends" and said that Jaaber's speech "touched me in so many different ways, I wish more young kids could hear it."

"I'm very grateful to be inducted with you guys," Nelson said, although he did point out that when he was at St. Joe's, the Hawks had Villanova down 43-9 at halftime one year. 

"But those next couple years, we paid y'all back," said Foye, now with the Brooklyn Nets, during his own speech.

Those rivalries were especially meaningful to Foye, who also played against Jaaber in both high school and college.

"Being from North Jersey, you never hear about the Big 5," said Foye, a first-team All-American and Big 5 Player of the Year in 2006. "For me coming here and witnessing it up close and personal, it's just something truly amazing."

Foye added that everywhere he goes, he tries to embody what a Philly guard is -- "small but play big," as he put it -- while reminding people that he's proud to be a Villanova alum. The same can be said of Raveling, a longtime college coach and executive who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

"I'm so proud to say I'm a Big 5 product -- and a proud graduate of Villanova University," Raveling said. "I look back many times and realize the wisest decision I ever made in my lifetime was to enroll at Villanova University."

Just as he opened his speech, Raveling also closed it by saying he was "proud" to enter the Big 5 Hall of Fame the same year as Jaaber, whose remarks touched on spirituality, family and a unique journey from Morocco to New Jersey to Penn.

Jaaber also made sure to thank the person who perhaps embodies the Big 5 more than anyone else: former La Salle player, former Penn coach and current Temple coach Fran Dunphy.

"I don't think I could have had a better coach for me in my situation than my Coach Dunphy," said Jaaber, the 2006-07 Big 5 Player of the Year and the all-time Ivy League leader in steals (303). "I'm almost embarrassed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame before Coach Dunphy."