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.

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.