Temple Prepares for Central Michigan, Next Six Weeks without Michael Eric

Temple Prepares for Central Michigan, Next Six Weeks without Michael Eric

The Temple Owls have been lacking depth since starting the season without small forward Scootie Randall. Now they're really in trouble.

After injuring his right patella last Friday in practice, center Michael Eric is expected to miss the next six weeks, taking the Owls through mid-January without two senior starters. Though Randall's injury was difficult blow to a team who relies on his leadership and consistent play, life without him was at least workable. Moving through the rest of their out-of-conference docket without Eric won't be so easy.

They'll begin today when they host the Central Michigan Chippewas in their home opener at the Liacouras Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. and can be heard on 1210 AM.

With Scootie rehabbing from a torn meniscus and Eric working to heal the same right patella that ended his junior season in the month of February, Temple is now badly undermanned and undersized. The responsibly for guarding the basket on D and providing a down low presence on the offensive end now falls to red-shirt freshman Anthony Lee.

Seen fairly or unfairly as the direct successor to Lavoy Allen when recruited, Lee now finds himself in exactly the same position as a first-year player that Allen did as a fourth-year starter. The Owls were forced play the majority of their stretch run and the entirety of the 2011 Atlantic-10 tournament without Eric and Randall last season. For the next six weeks, they'll try to do it again with almost exactly the same roster, save for Lee in the place of Allen.

At 6-9 Lee is now the tallest player in rotation that features height at the guard position, but no one else over 6-6. To provide any height, coach Fran Dunphy may have to at some point turn to another red-shirt freshman in Jimmy McDonnell, who did not figure to be part of the Owls plans for this season just a month ago.

If Lee is the only option underneath, and understandably still has some development ahead of him at both ends of the court when it comes staying on the floor, then the Owls may be forced to play some five guard sets with the 6-6 Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson using his length to make up for the team's lack of size.

Whatever the set, the Owls are going to need a significant contribution from sophomore Aaron Brown. Brown saw some time at the end of last season filling in in exactly this same situation for an injured Owls squad, and showed flashes of very real talent. Dunphy told reporters at the team's media day last month that for Brown to help this incarnation of the Temple Owls, he needs to hit 3's—his particular forte—and not be a good, but a great defender. Unfortunately, Brown has found it a bit difficult to work into the flow at either end given his spotty minutes. Perhaps consistency will show up with an increase in time.

If not, then the Owls are about to find themselves in a very difficult position over the next six weeks. Upcoming meetings with Texas and Duke were daunting enough, and that was before they lost to Bowling Green last weekend. There is no game the team can feel overly confident about until Randall and Eric come back. In the meantime, they have to be careful not to drop so many games as to put due pressure on themselves to need to win the A10 tournament to secure an NCAA tournament berth.

Today's meeting with Central Michigan is the second of three consecutive MAC games for Temple. They typically have a very successful history against their football program's conference rivals. Prior to their defeat at Bowling Green last Sunday, the Owls had won 12-straight against the MAC and have held a 17-6 record against MAC teams since the 2006-2007 season, when their scheduling agreement with the conference (thanks to the football deal) first began.

What's left of the injured Owls will need to ban together to begin a new streak today.

Nigel Bradham expects name to be cleared, apologizes for distraction

Nigel Bradham expects name to be cleared, apologizes for distraction

Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham, who was recently arrested for his involvement in an assault of a Miami hotel worker, was back on the practice field for the team's first full-squad practice Thursday afternoon.

The 26-year-old declined to give his side of the story, citing the ongoing police investigation, but said several times that he “most definitely” expects his name to be cleared.

“I can’t really speak on that part because it’s ongoing,” Bradham said when asked if he made a mistake, “but I am confident my name will be cleared.”

The alleged assault on the Miami beach reportedly stemmed from the length of time it took 50-year-old hotel worker Jean Courtois to bring Bradham’s group of six an umbrella for which they had already paid.

The arrest report obtained by NBC claims Bradham punched Courtois without being provoked. Several reports, meanwhile, have claimed Courtois provoked the attack by hitting Bradham’s girlfriend. Courtois told NJ.com the attack was unprovoked

Bradham disagreed on Thursday: “How many times you’ve heard my name, going around doing something to somebody? That makes no sense.”

Bradham also declined to say whether or not he’ll be filing counter-charges against Courtois.

On Tuesday night, the day before reporting to his first training camp with the Eagles, Bradham had a conversation with head coach Doug Pederson. Pederson said the conversation was “great” and said he didn’t foresee a scenario where Bradham will be cut from the team because of this. Bradham, on Thursday, admitted he was and is worried about discipline that might stem from the incident.

“I just pretty much told [Pederson] what happened,” Bradham said. “Like I said, I can’t really put it out in the public yet because it’s still an ongoing investigation. But we had a heart-to-heart conversation about everything and we’re pretty much on the same page about what things I need to do. And I also apologized for being a distraction to the team and everything like that.”

Bradham said this is the first time he has ever been arrested – he was charged with marijuana possession in 2013. While he continually declined to disclose the specifics of this incident, he did express remorse that anything like this happened at all.

“Most definitely,” Bradham said. “You don’t want that to be part of your legacy at any time throughout your career and it’s my first year here. I just started and I definitely didn’t want to start out with that being in the news and everything.”

The Eagles signed Bradham to a two-year, $7 million ($4.5M guaranteed) deal this offseason and plugged him in as the team’s starting strongside linebacker. It was a natural fit because he had his best season playing under Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in 2014.

Now, before he has even played a game for the Eagles, his name has been at least somewhat tarnished.

“Your first impression is everything, especially to the fans,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate for me that I didn’t get the chance to play, at least let them see me play before they get an opinion about me.”

Tonight's lineup: Aaron Altherr bats 5th for Phillies in season debut

Tonight's lineup: Aaron Altherr bats 5th for Phillies in season debut

Aaron Altherr, activated by the Phillies Thursday afternoon, bats fifth and plays right field in his season debut in Atlanta. 

Sometimes one hitter can make a lineup look much different. Altherr's presence in the middle of the Phillies order provides them with three power hitters, something they've seldom had this season. He provides some protection out of the five-hole for Tommy Joseph and Maikel Franco, who precede him.

Cesar Hernandez remains in the leadoff spot for the Phillies after going 3 for 4 with a walk Wednesday to raise his batting average to .290. 

Cody Asche may soon lose playing time as the Phils' outfield picture gets more crowded, but for now his lineup spot appears safe. With Peter Bourjos on the DL, Asche gets the start in left field and bats eighth.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Carlos Ruiz, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Cody Asche, LF
9. Aaron Nola, P

Phillies reinstate Aaron Altherr, place Peter Bourjos on 15-day DL

Phillies reinstate Aaron Altherr, place Peter Bourjos on 15-day DL

The player who was projected to be the Phillies' opening day rightfielder and No. 5 hitter is finally ready to play. The Phils on Thursday reinstated outfielder Aaron Altherr from the disabled list after he missed the season's first 103 games with a wrist injury.

Altherr takes the 25-man roster spot of Peter Bourjos, who was placed on the 15-day DL with a right shoulder sprain.

Altherr, 25, impressed with power late last season, hitting .241/.338/.489 for the Phillies with 11 doubles, four triples, five home runs and 22 RBIs in 161 plate appearances. 

He tore a tendon sheath in his wrist on a diving catch attempt early in spring training, had surgery and missed about four months in total. The Phils were patient with Altherr during his rehab assignment, giving him the full 20 days before making the decision to add him to the active roster. In 13 games at four different levels during the rehab stint, Altherr went 14 for 41 (.341) with two doubles, a homer and seven walks.

Bourjos injured his shoulder running into the wall at Marlins Park earlier this week. The injury will keep him from being traded ahead of the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline, but Bourjos could be moved in August. He hit .410 in June but was slumping before the injury, hitting .148 over his last 14 games.