Temple Heads South to UDel for Final Game of 2011

Temple Heads South to UDel for Final Game of 2011

Two nights after barely escaping a Buffalo team they were favored to beat by almost double digits, the Temple Owls (8-3) will head south down I-95 to take on the Delaware Blue Hens (5-5, 1-0 CAA) in their final contest of the calendar year.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and can be heard on 1210 AM.

Assorted Temple-Delaware notes after the jump...

What We Learned from the Owls Getting Buffaloed:
A distinct lack of depth under the basket was a concern even before the Owls lost starting center Michael Eric to the same patella injury that ended his junior season earlier this month. Though the original estimates had the 6-10 senior out for up to six weeks, Temple officials, including coach Fran Dunphy, hoped to have Eric back by this point in the schedule. Unfortunately, the initial six-week prognosis is looking more and more correct as the Owls now expect to be without Eric another two to three weeks.

Doing his best to fill in for the injured senior, at 6-9 the "undergirthed" redshirt freshman Anthony Lee is the only member of the Owls' rotation over 6-6. His early foul trouble, coupled with that of the also undersized for his position Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson put Temple at a distinct disadvantage against the much larger, and surprisingly athletic bigs of the Buffalo Bulls.

While Buffalo is a better team than most would immediately recognize, the game is an all-too-worrying sign of the Owls future against offensively-skilled frontcourts. In conference, the prospects of an Andrew Nicholson or even a C.J. Aiken-Ronald Roberts combination look like impending disasters for the Owls without their starting center.

That said, even when Eric returns, the Owls will still lack depth when it comes to usable height. Nevertheless, his presence in the lineup should prevent from looking as badly exposed as they did against Buffalo on Wednesday. In the meantime, help defense and knockdown perimeter shooting will need to be the calling cards of an undersized and undermanned Temple lineup.

Getting to Know the Delaware Blue Hens:
Thankfully for the Owls, Delaware boasts a largely guard-oriented lineup and offers no one over the height of 6-9. That individual, Jamelle Hagins, is averaging a double-double off 14.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game—numbers Temple will hope are a reflection of the fact that he's really the Blue Hens only meaningful size. I mean, somebody has to board (right, Clarence Weatherspoon?). Still, the kid is shooting better than 50% from the field, which isn't necessarily a given at his height.

Manning the backcourt, 6-2 sophomore Devon Saddler leads the team with 20.2 PPG, but falls way down the list when it comes to scoring efficiency, registering 38.7 FG on better than 17 shots per game.

Don't Look ahead to Duke:
A matchup with the Duke university Blue Devils is an obvious treat for any college basketball player, but Temple needs to stay focused on the task at hand. Friday night should end with an easy road victory for the Owls, but they have already proven on multiple occasions this season that they cannot afford to take any opponent lightly. Temple's meeting with Duke is scheduled for January 4th at the Wells Fargo Center and the Owls will do well not to think about it until after the New Year.

The Two-Year Anniversary of Rahlir HOLLIS-Jefferson's College Debut:
The last time Temple made its way down to Delaware was for their season opener against the Blue Hens in 2009.

The Owls won what would have been a forgettable 76-56 final had it not been for the unbridled exuberance of Rahlir Jefferson's mother seeing her son play in his very first college basketball game. I have never heard, nor will I ever hear again, a woman scream that loud or that long for any reason. It subsequently came as no surprise this year when Rahlir added the hyphenated "Hollis" to his last name in honor of all that his mother has done for him throughout his life. Cheers to Rahlir and the fam (Rondae, if you're reading, Go to Temple).

Relevant History:
All-Time Series: Temple leads 36-6
At Delaware: Temple leads 16-1
Streak: Temple has won last 16 in a row
Last Meeting: Temple beat Delaware at the Bob Carpenter Center by a final score 76-56 in 2009. Ryan Brooks lead all scorers with 23 points and finished one rebound shy of a double-double.

We'll see you post-game

Josh Huff flashes again, but can he finally find consistency?

Josh Huff flashes again, but can he finally find consistency?

INDIANAPOLIS – The main reason Josh Huff has been such a frustrating player during his young NFL career was on full display Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
 
He flashed. Again.
 
The third-year wideout from Oregon was dynamic, elusive, productive. He didn’t look like a disappointment. He didn’t look like the player fans have grown to distrust. Instead, he looked like the guy they still hope he can become.
 
“Just get back to being me, get back to being myself,” Huff said. “I know every receiver, everybody’s gonna drop balls in this league. I just can’t beat myself up over that.
 
“I know that I belong in this league. I know that I’m able to make plays in this league, so I just have to play my game and be myself and let it sort itself out.”
 
Huff finished Saturday’s 33-23 win over the Colts with two catches for 60 yards and a nine-yard touchdown run. He again showed just how dangerous he can be when the ball’s in his hands.
 
His first catch of the day was a 38-yard catch-and-run, which clearly played to his strengths. His second was a 22-yard pickup on a critical 3rd-and-6 during a drive that ended with a touchdown.
 
And aside from the catches, he also ran into the end zone on a 9-yard jet sweep early in the second quarter.
 
“We had some plays designed to get him involved this week, to get him the ball,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “I thought he did a great job. The play that really comes to my mind is the third down where it was man coverage. He beat the guy and made a nice catch, big conversion for us. He’s a guy, and I’ve said it all camp, that has big play potential for us. It’s just with his speed and his ability to run after the catch. To get him involved tonight and see those things from him, it was really nice.”
 
Huff said he tried to enter the game like it was any other. And he said he didn’t do anything differently. But it clearly seems like the 24-year-old is trying desperately to get out of his own way. Because when he does, he can be electric.
 
Saturday night was also about the coaching staff’s finding a way to use Huff — something that clearly eluded the last staff, despite Chip Kelly’s familiarity with the wideout.
 
With Jordan Matthews out against the Colts, Huff again played in the slot, a role that seems to fit his strengths, while the jet sweep for a touchdown was the culmination of plenty of similar plays run during practices.
 
“Coaches know what I can do with the ball in my hands,” Huff said. “So they’re trying to find ways to get the ball in my hands, whether it’s a pass or behind the line of scrimmage.“
 
The Eagles made sure to get the ball to Huff on Saturday night and he rewarded them with the kind of play he’s shown he’s capable of before.
 
He took a step forward Saturday night. Now, he just needs to make sure the step backward doesn’t follow this time.
 
“It’s just a mental game for me,” Huff said. “I know I can make all the plays that I made today. It’s just about doing it on a consistent basis and being the best I can be during that play or during that game.”

Today's Lineup: A.J. Ellis, as expected, catches Vince Velasquez

Today's Lineup: A.J. Ellis, as expected, catches Vince Velasquez

After arriving to the team Saturday, veteran backstop A.J. Ellis will see his first game action in a Phillies uniform, as expected, in Sunday's series finale against the Mets.

Ellis will catch right-handed starter Vince Velasquez and bat seventh. The catcher doesn't bring much to the plate with his bat, but he calls a good game and was Clayton Kershaw's personal catcher in Los Angeles. It'll be interesting to see how he handles Velasquez.

The 35-year-old is hitting just .194 this season with one home run and 13 RBIs.

In other lineup notes, Tommy Joseph gets the start at first base and will bat cleanup and Jimmy Paredes gets his second straight start in left field. Paredes will hit sixth.

Here is the Phillies' full lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Jimmy Paredes, LF
7. A.J. Ellis, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P

For more on today's game, check out Steven Tydings' game notes.

Super sub Roland Alberg putting on potent show for Union

Super sub Roland Alberg putting on potent show for Union

CHESTER, Pa. -- Roland Alberg has been a terror for opposing teams. 

The latest attack from the Dutch bomber happened Saturday, while the Union were gridlocked in a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City. Alberg entered the match in the 65th minute and ended it in the 67th, when he launched a volley that beat goalkeeper Alec Kann. 

“I have to be patient, but when I come on the field, I have to do my thing,” Alberg said. “It’s a great team performance. We did a great job, got three points and we are happy with it.”

He added an assist for the 2-0 win (see game story)

“He’s a wonderful player,” said Union left back Fabinho, who assisted on Alberg's goal. “He came on and changed the game. I saw him and I know what he likes. I give the ball to him and he scores. He has nine goals. It’s nice for him. I hope he scores more.” 

That type of impact hasn’t been irregular for Alberg. With nine goals on the season in just 925 minutes played, the 26-year-old leads MLS in goals-per-90 minutes with 0.88. Only New York City FC’s Frank Lampard is close with .85.

“He’s far and away the leader in our league,” said Union manager Jim Curtin, who originally cited Alberg’s goals-per-90 stat. “He has a special quality.”

Yet, despite that “special quality,” Alberg remains a super sub, buried behind Tranquillo Barnetta at the center attacking midfield spot. He has two goals in his last four games — all coming off the bench.

“I have to show it every training, and then it’s the coach’s decision,” he said. “If [Curtin] uses me as a sub, I’ll do 100 percent my best. And if it’s as a starter, it’s the same thing for me. Of course every player wants to play as a starter, and me too. But it’s a long season. Playoffs, they are coming. So I’m patient.”

Alberg’s potency isn’t lost on Curtin, even if the manager doesn’t switch his winning formula. Though Alberg is pushing for a starting spot, the Union might just be more dangerous with him off the bench.

“He’s a starter on most MLS teams,” Curtin said. “It’s just a matter of having depth at that spot. He’s a very valuable player to our team and shows we have a deep squad. I can’t say enough about how well he’s played in any role. As a starter for us, he’s won us a bunch of games, and his role off the bench, he’s won us some games now, too.”