St. Joseph's to Wage Holy War on Campus

St. Joseph's to Wage Holy War on Campus

For the first time since the formation of the Big 5, the St. Joseph's Hawks will host the Villanova Wildcats on their own campus. Rather than playing the game at the Palestra, per usual, SJU will take its bi-annual home game with rival Villanova to its newly refurbished fieldhouse—the Hagan Arena.

Detailing the story for the Daily News, Dick Jerardi also writes that the Temple Owls will be similarly impacted and thus making the trip down City Line Ave at some point this season.

University officials say the move is far from permanent, and really more of a temporary decision aimed at reinvigorating the program. Plus, the school won't vacating its second home altogether, as SJU will still play the remainder its Big 5 match ups versus Penn and La Salle at the Palestra.

Comments from head coach Phil Martelli and SJU athletic director Don DiJulia after the jump...

Coach Phil Martelli has long insisted that his school would continue to play its home games at the home of the Big 5. Unfortunately for the program, the Hawks haven't seen much success inside the Palestra in recent years, a factor no doubt, at least in part, prompting the move.

From the Daily News:

"This," Martelli said, "might get people's attention. There's been a lot of discussion at the levels on campus about creating the buzz, getting the fervor and the fire back. How do you do it? The easy thing is to say win games. To get the building where it's kind of bursting at the seems again."

It does seem quite a long time ago that university had so many people in the Fieldhouse that it was potentially in violation fire codes. Those Jameer Nelson-David West, St. Joe-Xavier show downs have become a forgotten relic of a not so distant past.

Though the move has generated some blow back, particularly this ESPN piece lamenting the end of tradition, it's nearly impossible to fault the Hawks. They've willingly played their Big 5 games at the Palestra longer than any other school, save for, of course, Penn.

Villanova makes the Hawks travel to the Main Line every other year, just as Temple similarly enjoys the atmosphere of its own confines. Both schools play better on their own campus. So, it makes sense for Joe's to try something of the sort.

True, the school will lose the additional ticket revenue generated from playing in the substantially larger Palestra, but it may be a short term loss for a long term gain.

We were able to get in touch with university athletic director Don DiJulia to get his thoughts on the move. While DiJulia acknowledges that the 2011-2012 ticket returns will obviously be less than usual, he stresses that move was made for the basketball reasons Martelli mentions above.

That said, the AD remains hopeful that the added buzz will prompt an increase in season ticket sales, thereby sparking a renewed interest in the program.

If the experiment works, then the Hawks succeeded. If not, the school always retains the option to move its full slate of Big 5 home games back to the Palestra.

Temple at No. 19 Navy: Owls go for first AAC title

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Temple at No. 19 Navy: Owls go for first AAC title

Temple (9-3) at No. 19 Navy (9-2)
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
Saturday, noon, ABC

It would have been hard to picture Temple in the American Athletic Conference championship game after the Owls’ first game of the season, a 28-13 loss to Army.

But that’s exactly where they are three months later, as Temple will take on No. 19 Navy in the conference championship game Saturday.

The Owls and Midshipmen have both been handling opponents as of late. Temple’s won its last four games by at least three touchdowns, while Navy has outscored opponents 141-62 in its past two games.

Let’s take a look at how one of the country’s top offenses and one of the country’s top defenses match up.

Scouting Temple
The Owls' defense seems to get better every week. Temple ranks No. 3 in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense and No. 10 in scoring defense. The only two teams that rank higher than the Owls in both categories are Alabama and Michigan.

Teams haven’t scored more than 13 points against the Owls in their last four games, and Temple is outscoring opponents 123-23 during that stretch.

Redshirt-senior defensive lineman Haason Reddick was named a first team all-conference selection earlier this week. He leads the FBS in tackles for loss. Redshirt-senior Praise Martin-Oguike is coming off one of his best games of the season last week against East Carolina, in which he had two sacks, including a forced fumble. He has seven sacks this season.

On offense, Temple’s goal this week will be to sustain drives and keep Navy’s offense off the field. The Owls are currently No. 5 in the FBS in time of possession, holding the ball for more than 34 minutes per game.

Earlier in the week, coach Matt Rhule said senior quarterback Phillip Walker was questionable for Saturday’s game. Walker will likely play, but the Owls might be without one of their top offensive weapons.

Rhule said sophomore running back Ryquell Armstead is doubtful. Armstead has 842 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.

Scouting Navy
The Midshipmen have one of the simplest — yet at that same time one of the best — offenses in the country. Navy ranks No. 2 in rushing yards at 342 yards per game.

Quarterback Will Worth runs the triple option for Navy. He has 2,544 total yards of offense and 33 total touchdowns. He’s passed for 1,363 yards and rushed for 1,181 more.  Worth has a touchdown in 11 straight games.

Worth has attempted 258 rushes compared to 115 passing attempts. Four other Navy players have at least 40 rushing attempts this season.

Senior wide receiver Jamir Tillman is the Midshipmen’s best receiving threat. The 6-foot-4 wideout has 32 catches for 533 yards and two touchdowns.

Navy’s defense hasn’t been quite as elite as its offense. The Midshipmen have allowed 30 or more points in four of their last five games.

The Midshipmen are allowing 265 passing yards per game. Opposing quarterbacks have averaged 313 yards and three touchdowns in their last three contests.

Storyline to watch: Can Temple find a way to stop the triple option?
The last time these two teams played was in 2014, when Navy ran for 487 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-24 win against the Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. Temple’s most recent matchup against the triple option was when it lost to Army in its season opener. The Black Knights ran for 329 yards and four touchdowns. With only a week to prepare, Temple will have to find a way to cure its option woes if it wants a chance to win Saturday.

What’s at stake?
The Owls have only won one other conference championship in program history, when they won the Mid-Atlantic Conference in 1967. A win would also give Temple its third 10-win season in program history. If Western Michigan loses Friday night, Temple also puts itself in contention for a spot in the Cotton Bowl with a win.

Prediction
Temple has to figure out this option thing at some point, right? The Owls’ ability to convert on third down and sustain long drives will help slow Navy's offense. This one will most likely come down to who has the ball last, but the Owls are a little bit more well-rounded, so they get the edge. Temple 31, Navy 28