Temple Erratic, But Effective in Home Opening Win over Central Michigan

Temple Erratic, But Effective in Home Opening Win over Central Michigan

It wasn't exactly your typical Temple basketball game. Though, without Michael Eric and Scootie Randall, basketball atypical of the program might quickly become the norm. And, really, if it continues to result in wins and more than 80 points scored, it won't be such a bad change of pace.

The Temple Owls were erratic for parts of their 86-74 home opening win over Central Michigan, but started and finished strong enough to make sure the outcome was never in doubt. The win is their first of the year at the Liacouras Center and their 23rd straight at home, a new building record.

Khalif Wyatt led all scorers with a game-high 23 points, while Aaron Brown posted a career-high 21.

For Brown, who Temple will need to step up just as he did today in the absence of Eric and Randall, Saturday afternoon was a welcome change from the spot minutes he's played throughout the early portion of his college career. "It felt good to be out there and knock down the first couple shots," said Brown. "I was feeling good, so I just kept shooting."

Hitting those opening shots put Brown in a rhythm that would see the sophomore score 11-straight for the Owls, finish 7-11 from the floor and 4-7 from three. Temple coach Fran Dunphy has said that for Brown to be successful, he needs to shoot well from behind the arc and play great defense. Today, he did both, and received plaudits for his performance.

"He's arguably our hardest working player," said Dunphy. "I didn't think he had played great yet [for us]. Today, he played great…This was his best game by far…I think everything he did was pretty much on target."

As a team, Temple opened up on fire, starting 6-9 from three and jumping out to a 24-point lead on the back of an 18-2 run.

But that lead would begin to slip toward the end of the first half, as their shooting went cold. Temple would make just two of its next eight attempts from behind the arc, and allow Central Michigan to cut their deficit to just eight thanks to an 18-2 run of their own. It was at this point in the early stages second that the typically-reserved Dunphy expressed his displeasure with how his Owls had begun to let up.

"He pretty much just told us that we were playing like…explicit explicit, and that we had to turn it up," Wyatt explained. "They made their run and we held them off and were able to hold on."

"[I said] the same thing you would have said had you been in my position," said Dunphy to the amusement of those gathered for his post-game press conference. "For a stretch there, we took a step back and said 'we have a sizable lead and we don't have to work that hard.' I can guarantee you that was the attitude. And so we spoke of attitude at that point."

Though the Chippewas would continue to battle, Temple began filling up the basket once more and locking down just a bit better on defense. By the end, five different Owls—Wyatt, Brown, Ramone Moore, Rhalir Hollis-Jefferson and Juan Fernandez—would finish in double figures.

Still, for their coach to be totally happy, the team will need to improve its play at its own end. Just as it was a rare sight to see the Owls post more than 50 by the middle mark, it was equally rare to see some of their alarming defensive lapses, especially during the Central Michigan comeback. Two Chippewas—Andre Coimbra and Trey Zeigler—would finish with a team-high 22 points, while point guard Austin McBroom chipped in with another 15.

"I'll wait to see the film to see how we were defensively, but, at first thought, I don't think we were nearly good enough," said Dunphy. "We have to cover for one another, and I don't think we did as a good a job of as I would have liked."

The Owls will have a few days to make all the adjustments they need before they head out on the road this Wednesday night to take on the Toledo Rockets. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be heard on 1210 AM.

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

The Eagles are 3-0. They’re alone atop the NFC East and have been the biggest surprise of the young NFL season.

Doug Pederson’s message to his team: You haven’t done anything yet.

Although the Eagles are riding high, Pederson doesn’t want his team to change its outlook or hard work. That’s what teams have to worry about once they’ve found some success.

“The biggest thing is complacency,” Pederson said Monday. “You think you've arrived. You think you are all that. When that creeps in, that's when you get beat. It's my job not to let that creep in. I've got to keep the guys focused and grounded. I told them this week they're going to travel and go home and people are going to pat them on the back and say how great they are.

“But next Monday, I'm going to tell them, ‘Hey, we're back to work. We're 0-0. This is Game 1 and let's go.’ That's just the way it has to be. You are building for one ultimate goal and that's a few weeks down the road. That's what you are trying to get to. But you can't get there unless you take care of the next opponent. It's my job to keep them focused that way.”

Being 3-0 (they’re one of five 3-0 teams) gives the Eagles a head start, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee them a playoff spot. This is the ninth 3-0 start in franchise history. They’ve made the playoffs just five times in the previous eight. And they recently missed the playoffs after starting 3-0 in 2014 under Chip Kelly.

In NFL history (before this season), there have been 276 teams to start with 3-0 records. Of them, 200 (72.3 percent) have made the playoffs.

“We just have to approach it the same, one day at a time,” Pederson said. “That's the way this business goes. You are on top of the world one minute, and you can be at the bottom of the heap the next. Just got to keep things even-keeled and can't get too high, can't get too low. Approach it the same. Like I mentioned earlier, you can't substitute for hard work. That pays off on Sundays. We just have to stay the course. Again, a lot of football left.”

While the Week 4 bye comes pretty early, the Eagles have a couple key players who will use the time to get healthy. And Connor Barwin pointed out that the bye is coming about closer to the halfway point between when the team started its tough training camp and the end of the season.

Pederson told his players to use the week to get away from football and free their minds. Meanwhile, Pederson and his coaches will use the extra time to self-scout and prepare for the final 13 games of the regular season.

With a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback who was thrust into action a week before the opener, expectations outside (and perhaps inside) the building were tempered.

The Eagles aren’t an underdog anymore.

“We kind of enjoyed flying under the radar, but obviously a win like this against a team like the Steelers will open some eyes around the league,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “For us, nothing different. We’ll keep our preparation the same. We’ll stick our heads down and focus on the work day to day and understand what’s gotten us to 3-0.”

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Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — How much of a horse is Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov?

Well, consider this:

The 19-year-old logged a game-high 28:48 of ice time Monday night during the Flyers' 2-0 split-squad loss to the Devils in which he also quarterbacked the first-unit power play (8:03) and had the most penalty kill time (3:58) (see story).

“I thought I played well,” Provorov said. “It took me a few shifts to get into the game. I competed as hard as I could.”

He said he was used to playing more than 25 minutes in Brandon (WHL), anyway.

“Of course, this is a better league, high pace and it will take a few games to adjust,” Provorov said.

Because the Flyers have yet to work on power play, the results aren’t there. They were 0 for 7 in the game.

“We haven’t done anything on the ice, but have done some video on the PK on the board but nothing on the power play,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s other priorities now with so many players (64) in camp.”

Provorov worked both points on the power play and had just one official shot in the game.

“We didn’t get to do much power play [in camp],” he said. “It will get better as the preseason goes on.”

Rookie forward Travis Konecny worked the low slot on the top power play. He logged 18:34 of ice time, including 6:01 PP time. Konecny had two shots in the game.

He was on Andy Miele’s line with Scott Laughton. Konency had the only shots on his line.

Hakstol said Konecny and Provorov each “settled in” as the game went on. Hakstol isn’t sure if one or both will play Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center against the Islanders.

Konecny’s body language in camp exudes confidence unlike a year ago when he was skittish in his first-ever Flyers training camp. Now he sits back, takes it all in and has that look on his face of been there, done that.

In fact, he was trying to calm down some of his buddies, Anthony Salinitri and Connor Bunnaman, who were seeing the lights before the game.

“Me and [Ivan] Provorov were just talking,” he said. “We feel a lot more comfortable this year.

“I’ve been in this position here. I have my guys Salinitri and Bunnaman, we all hang out together and it’s their first year.

“They’re excited for their first preseason game just like I was last year, but I’m not thinking, ‘Wow, it’s an NHL arena.’ I’m thinking about the game and getting ready to play.”

Konecny was impressive last fall as an 18-year-old and Hakstol said he takes everything into account with more emphasis on the now than the past.

“Your body of work includes your season last year,” Hakstol  said. “Includes everything. The most important information is what you do right now. No question in my mind. I take everything into account.”

Take this into account: Alex Lyon is going to be a contender with Anthony Stolarz for the starting job in goal with the Phantoms this season. He was outstanding with 28 saves on 29 shots.

“They spent some time in our zone and had their big guns out there,” Lyon said of being under siege for two-thirds of the game. “They had a few shots but we did a good job keeping them to the outside. No super grade A opportunities.”

Lyon stopped two breakaways by Beau Bennett, one within three minutes of play.

“I felt like a newborn deer and could barely stand up,” quipped the former Yale goalie. “I was so nervous. It felt good to stop the first one.”