Temple and St. Joe's Set to Square off in Final Game as A-10 Members

Temple and St. Joe's Set to Square off in Final Game as A-10 Members

It's the most-played rivalry in the Big 5 — spanning 154 games — and for the first time in 31 years, it's about to change.

Temple and Saint Joseph's have played in the the Atlantic 10 since 1982, but, this coming July, Temple will finally make the jump to the Big East for all-sports, after re-joining as a football-only member last summer.

That makes tonight, barring a A-10 tournament meeting, the last time Temple and St. Joe's will play each other as members of the same conference.

Saturday night, 6 p.m., the Hagan Arena at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse on Hawk Hill (CBS Sports Network / 610 AM — Martucci-Lunardi / 1210 AM — Donahue-Baum).

It's not a bad to way to go out, especially with something on the line. Neither Temple (14-6, 3-3) nor St. Joe's (12-7, 3-3) want to fall below .500 in a deep league when both have fallen short of their preseason expectations to date. Another win or loss will teach us something about both of these teams and bolster or weaken their respective NCAA hopes. The A-10 is the strongest its been in years, but its members seem to be doing more to beat each other up than to strengthen the tournament bids of the best teams, at least in the early going.

And that brings us to the bigger picture, just when the league is its most formidable, the most change is on the way. Temple — a program with five straight NCAA tournament appearances that has won the conference tournament or regular-season title in four of the last five seasons — is on its way out. But so too — it appears — is Xavier, and possibly Butler, and possibly Dayton, and possibly who knows who else might defect to the Catholic 7's new basketball conference, expected to begin play in 2014. (Charlotte, for the record, is going to Conference USA in 2013. I didn't forget. It's just meh.)

No matter who goes where, local fans will always have the Big 5 games. But tonight is the last time it'll mean something extra in the standings. To a lesser degree — the two haven't shared the same conference for as long — we'll be saying the same thing about Temple-La Salle on Feb. 21.

Paint the rollouts and maybe throw a streamer or two. Tonight isn't the end. It's just the end of what we're used to.

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

I like to give Flyers fans a bit of a hard time on occasion, but that's only because I love them.

One beautiful Flyers fan today reminded me of why I love them.

They took the time to send a postcard to CSNPhilly.com's Flyers Insider -- and hater of the woo -- Tim Panaccio with one single word written on it.

"Woo."

Panotch says "Someone wasted a stamp and post card on this," but I say we just generated at least 50 cents in ad revenue from those of you that are reading this right now.

Money and time well spent.

Now, if you're not up on your wooing, Panotch penned a piece on how some fans wooing at games started annoying some of the players. Panotch hates the woo. BUT... and this is an important but... the Flyers are 6-0 since this all started. 

Woo.