Temple-'Nova Preview: Get Your Roll outs Ready

Temple-'Nova Preview: Get Your Roll outs Ready

Big 5 game. Big East controversy. Big student roll outs. This has the potential to special.

The Temple Owls are set to host the Villanova Wildcats from inside the Apollo on Broad. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday evening (ESPN 2 / 1210 AM).

My hype meter is off the charts. Let's blow this thing out.

[Temple-'Nova notes after the jump]

We're Looking at You, Yarou
Mouphtaou Yarou has the size and strength to swing this entire game. If you've been following our college coverage so far this year, then you are no doubt aware of Temple's injury issues and lack of height. Consequently, it will be up to the 6-9, 205-pound red-shirt freshman Anthony Lee to deal with the 6-10, 255-pound Yarou.

Outside of Lee, the next tallest Temple Owl legitimately "in" the rotation is the super-long, though nonetheless only 6-6, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson.

If Villanova coach Jay Wright isn't running his offense straight through Yarou and directly at Lee, there will be absolutely no defense for the Wildcats if they fail to get the job done. That said, John Lamb of OwlsBlog.com raises an interesting point about the wildly inconsistent Yarou, "No Owl can match up with Yarou’s beefy 250-pound body, but the same could be said for Missouri (whose tallest active player is 6-9) and they did just fine" when Yarou finished with only 11 points in 33 minutes.

Villanova in Transition
…leaves a lot to be desired. Baiting Lee into foul trouble will force Temple make an already undersized five-man set even shorter. Though, it's tough to tell if it's really in Villanova's best interest to see Temple go small.

To borrow from Brian Ewart of VUhoops.com, "Villanova has been repeatedly burned in transition [in 2011], where players tend to take just a second too long to find their defensive assignment."

This is where Temple's Juan Fernandez could absolutely torch the 'Nova defense. Though Juan has his shortcomings, there's no denying his vision in the open floor. Combine his rapid creativity and reinvigorated jump shot with high-percentage three-point shooters in Aaron Brown and Khalif Wyatt and a difficult cover for any team in Ramon Moore, and Villanova will have its hands full in stopping the Owls.

Setting the Pace and Shooting from behind the Arc
Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek have struggled mightily from three this season, posting shooting percentages of 32.5% and 27.3%, respectively. As a team, Villanova is shooting just 35% from three.

The Owls, on the other hand, are up only four percentage points at 39% as a group, but are getting a big boost from the sudden emergence of sophomore Aaron Brown.

If Wayns and Cheek aren't hitting early, it would be in their best interests to work their way to the basket and try to get to the line, potentially putting an already undermanned Temple in foul trouble.

Where 'Nova seems better off looking to hammer the ball into the post and penetrate the lane, Temple might do well to cash in on its recent success both in transition and from behind the line. In that sense, Temple will be doing everything it can to up the pace, while 'Nova could and, probably, should look to slow things down.

Salty Student Section
With streamers outlawed, Big 5 student sections have had to embrace more fully the tradition of creating large roll out banners to taunt the opposition. Unless, of course, the game is being played at the Pavilion. Thankfully, Saturday's won't be.

Though the coaches and players will focus on the basketball and that aspect of the Temple-'Nova rivalry, it will be hard for fans to look at this game and not see more.

Expect the Temple students to have plenty to say regarding the Villanova administration and the Owls' place in the recent Big East realignment fiasco. As for the 'Nova students, I'm not sure what to expect. After all, they didn't even show up to the building in 2009.

Speaking of History
Temple has won twenty-three straight games at home, losing only to top-ranked Kansas in 2009 in their last three seasons at the Liacouras Center. Just three weeks before that blowout, the Owls knocked off then #3 Villanova on the back of a career-high 33 points from Fernandez.

Last year, Villanova held its own home court in the definition of a Big 5 classic, finishing on top 78-74 thanks to a 21 point breakout performance from Maalik Wayns.

Who will be THE GUY tomorrow?

Your relevant All-Time Statistics
Series: Villanova leads 44-41
At Temple: Temple leads 14-8
At Liacouras Center: Temple leads 3-2
Dunphy vs. Villanova: 4-13
Wright vs. Temple: 8-3

And, Finally, for You Degenerate Gamblers
The line opened surprisingly large with Temple favored by as many 9 points. Though, within the last 36 hours, that spread has shrunk to as little as 4 1/2 (see Bodog), which is far more reflective of what it should have been all along.

As always on this front, proceed as you will (and I don't want any more e-mails asking for specific advice on wagers. Well, I mean, I want them; I'm just not sure I'm allowed to respond. Or want to…I don't know (see above)).

And we'll see you post-game.

Phillies-Cubs 5 things: Getting Vince Velasquez back on track

052816-salisbury-post-webbestvideo3_1920x1080_694933571725.jpg

Phillies-Cubs 5 things: Getting Vince Velasquez back on track

Phillies (26-23) at Cubs (33-14)
2:20 p.m. on CSN

The Phillies have lost back-to-back games to the MLB-best Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field and on Sunday afternoon, they'll look to salvage a victory in the series finale.

Here are five things to get you ready for the ballgame:

1. Avoiding a sweep
Phillies fans had losing shoved down their throats for long stretches last season. This season has been much different … at least until the last three series.

With Saturday's loss, the Phils have lost three consecutive series for the first time in 2016 and will look to avoid their first sweep since their opening series in Cincinnati. The 4-1 victory by the Cubs was the Phillies' fourth loss in five games. They haven't lost five of six since September 2015. 

Meanwhile, the Cubs have won four straight games after losing eight of 12 games in mid-May. A win Sunday would give Chicago its fourth win streak of at least four games already in 2016. 

If that doesn't underline how tough a task the Phillies have ahead of them, Sunday's starter will do the trick.

2. Solving Lackey
John Lackey doesn't have the pizzazz of a Jake Arrieta or Jon Lester, but the veteran righty has been a consistent force in the Cubs' rotation. Coming over from the rival Cardinals in free agency, Lackey has a 4-2 record with a 3.38 ERA in nine starts in 2016.

However, the underlying numbers have been even better. He's completed six innings in all but one start and has seven quality starts. He has 61 strikeouts compared to just 13 walks and 45 hits in 61⅓ innings. 

Lackey has been a workhorse for the Cubs and has struck out at least five batters in each of his last four starts. 

The good news for Phillies fans? Despite Lackey's solid numbers, the Cubs have lost four of his nine starts.

3. Getting back on track
At 23 years old, it's tough to expect Vince Velasquez to be an ace all season, even if he may fill that role at some point in the not-so-distant future. 

So Velasquez's relatively minor struggles over his last few starts shouldn't worry fans as a sign of things to come. In Detroit, the flamethrowing righty could only complete four innings while giving up three home runs. While he struck out 10 and gave up no runs the start before against Miami, he failed to get past the fifth inning.

Those two starts came after consecutive outings where Velasquez gave up four runs in six innings. His last quality start came May 1, although it's tough to call his game against the Marlins anything but impressive.

While he's faced some strong lineups like the Mets and Nationals, the Cubs are a force Velasquez hasn't dealt with quite yet. He has no career numbers against the Cubs' probable starters, a group that has combined to be one of baseball's top offenses in 2016.

4. Who's on first?
Ryan Howard's final season in Philadelphia has been a grind to say the least. The veteran first baseman has just six hits in 58 at-bats in May and has just a .154 batting average this year. Howard's eight home runs have been a bright spot, but he doesn't have a homer since May 11.

Howard has three hits (two home runs) in 16 career at-bats against Lackey. But with right-handed first baseman Tommy Joseph excelling in his first big-league action, manager Pete Mackanin may turn to the rookie Sunday, as Howard tries to end his slump.

5. This and that
• Obubel Herrera is 3 for 4 in his only career appearances against Lackey. Maikel Franco is 2 for 3 against the righty.

• The Phillies are 3-0 in the final game of road trips this year … and 3-0 in the final game of homestands, too. 

• The Cubs have not swept the Phillies in Chicago since 1995.

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

052816-union-webbestvideo3_1920x1080_694956099989.jpg

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Brian Carroll tied it in 92nd minute and the Union escaped with a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in a showdown of the Western and Eastern conference leaders.

Carroll ran underneath Fabian Herbers' high-arching header and slotted the finish under goalkeeper Zac MacMath from close range.

The Union (5-3-5) responded only 5 minutes after the Rapids (8-2-4) opened the scoring on Sam Cronin's header in the 87th minute. Cronin made a deep run to connect with Marlon Hairston's cross from the right flank, redirecting it into the far corner of the goal.

Both Dillon Powers and Luis Solignac had shots crash off the crossbar for the Rapids after the 70th minute.

The Union extended their unbeaten streak to seven while the Rapids stayed unbeaten in their nine home games this season.

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

052816-salisbury-post-webbestvideo3_1920x1080_694933571725.jpg

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing the New York Mets 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch -- almost certainly his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers' bench to keep teammates calm -- and later answered by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that appeared to hit him in the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings for the win. The right-hander yielded two hits, both in the first, and snapped his three-game losing streak.

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets' 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Corey Seager and Howie Kendrick also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets -- and their fans -- were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard's first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman's back by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets' dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett's first pitch of the sixth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 6-0 cushion with his 38th career homer against the Mets.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

Where are you now?
Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

Trainer's room
Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

Up next
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts against the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May -- including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.