Saint Joseph's Hosts Temple with Big 5 Title on the Line

Saint Joseph's Hosts Temple with Big 5 Title on the Line

The Temple University Owls and Saint Joseph's University Hawks have not played a game inside the SJU Fieldhouse since 2001. This will be their first meeting inside the newly refurbished Hagan Arena.

And really, is there any better way for it to happen? By night's end, either one or both of these schools will leaving with the Big 5 Championship.

Tipoff between the (18-11, 8-6) Hawks and (22-5, 11-2) #22/22 Owls is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ESPN U / 610 AM / 1210 AM)

Pre-Gamer, a brief lamentation of round-robin series without tiebreakers, open letters to each student section and make-shift hype packages after the jump…

How We Got Here (Conference Play)
The Owls are the winners of their last 11 games in a row, 10 of which have come in Atlantic 10 play. The streak is the longest by an Owls program since the 1999-2000 season, when a John Chaney Temple team led by senior Pepe Sanchez reached as high as fifth in the nation. Temple is 10-0 since the return of starting center Micheal Eric.

After an absolutely awful patch mid-season that saw SJU lose five of seven games and start just 2-3 in conference, the Hawks have rebounded nicely to 6-3 since. They had won three in a row prior to dropping a game at home to Richmond Wednesday night. At 8-6, the Hawks are one of four eight-win teams in the A-10 -- alongside Xavier, UMass and Bonnies -- vying for a first round-bye in the conference tournament. Should they not lock down an automatic pass to AC, the Hawks will more than likely be hosting a game on its own campus in round one.

How We Got Here (Round-Robin Play)
The Owls have won two of their three Big 5 victories in overtime. The first came on the first night of their season at the Palestra against Penn. The second came just three nights ago inside the Gola against the La Salle. A win would hand Temple its second solo Big 5 Title in the last three seasons. It would be their 26th city title -- the most of any program -- and just their second 4-0 sweep of the Big 5 in 24 years (though that stat is a little misleading for obvious scheduling reasons).

Saint Joseph's started off its Big 5 schedule by kicking the holy hell out of the Villanova Wildcats from inside what appeared to be (we're sorry we couldn't make it) an absolutely rocking Fieldhouse. They then badly outplayed played a La Salle team who somehow managed to take them to the wire at the Palestra just three weeks ago. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they ended up dropping a game to Penn in the middle of their 2-5 January swoon and find themselves 2-1 in round-robin play.

With a win tonight, SJU would secure a share of its first Big 5 championship since Jameer Nelson and Delonte West's perfect regular season of 2004. It would the school's 19th title.

How Is There Not a Tiebreaker?
Really, an extra game is obviously unworkable, but how is a head-to-head tiebreaker not invoked to declare a solo champ each season?

Sure, a win tonight would be special enough for SJU -- for the reasons further outlined below -- but two teams sharing a title at 3-1 is just lame. We also grant, by the way, that Temple's semi-annual playing of both La Salle and St. Joe's would make a head-to-head tiebreaker just a little disingenuous, but it wouldn't make any less sense than the system we have now when one game counts and another doesn't.

Institute a tiebreaker. That is all.

We're Going Streaking
Temple has won its last 10 straight versus Saint Joseph's. That streak is one game shy of the longest streak by either program. SJU had previously won 12 of 13 on two separate streaks of five and seven games before the current trend in Temple's favor. The Hawks have not beaten the Owls since Jan. 26, 2008 at the Apollo, when Pat Calathes nailed a three with 11 seconds remaining, forcing an off-balance something or other by Mark Tyndale that wouldn't fall, resulting 68-67 victory for the St. Joe's.

You Guys Better F@#$ing Bring It Tonight
Dear Saint Joseph's Students,

You went bat-crap crazy insane during the Holy War. You stormed the floor after beating #17/19 Creighton. You haven't played Temple at home since 2001. Temple hasn't won at the Fieldhouse since 1999. Your school deliberately cost itself a larger attendance for this game in an effort to generate the most insane and beneficial atmosphere possible. As a Temple alum -- I am obligated to hate you. As a basketball fan -- I demand you lose your collective *stuff* tonight.

Thanks,
Nick

Dear Temple Students,

You threw a funeral for the Hawk last year. You organized a whiteout against Xavier. You had projectiles not-so-gently lobbed at you at the Gola. You haven't played St. Joseph's at the Fieldhouse since 2001. You haven't won at the Fieldhouse since 1999. Their school deliberately cost itself a larger attendance for this fame in an effort to generate the most insane and beneficial atmosphere possible. You're outnumbered. Sound like you aren't.

Thanks,
Nick

The (Not Free-Throw) Line
Four hours to tip and Temple is a three-point favorite.

Have Fun Tonight You Crazy Kids

New Jersey product Tim Adleman limits Phillies to 1 hit over 8 innings

New Jersey product Tim Adleman limits Phillies to 1 hit over 8 innings

Cincinnati Reds starter Tim Adleman came into Friday night's start against the Phillies with an ERA above six, having allowed 10 runs in his last 5 2/3 innings. 

So, naturally, he gave up just one hit over eight scoreless innings. 

The 29-year-old righty dominated the Phillies in just his 20th career MLB start en route to his third win this season, pitching easily the best game of his young career in a 5-2 Reds' win (see game recap).

It was understandably the best that Reds manager Bryan Price had seen from Adleman.
 
"It wasn't just because of the line score," Price said. "It was really command-based. Really good both sides of the plate. Had a nice sinking fastball, could straighten it out when he needed to. A very, very good changeup. I don't think he even used a breaking ball there until the eighth inning.

"So it was really that good."

At just 100 pitches through eight, naturally the question for Price was whether to allow him the chance at a complete game. However, Price needed to get reliever Asher Wojciechowski work to get him ready for a start next week.

"I wanted to stay in there pretty badly, but you understand the move," Adleman said. "Wojo needed to get some work. It had been a while since he threw and it's a game in May. It's not a game that's deeper in the season. … I totally understand."

For his eight innings, Adleman attacked the Phillies' batters early in counts and didn't allow a batter to reach third all night. He retired the leadoff batter in all but one inning and allowed just four batters to reach base.

The Phillies' only threat came in the first inning. An Andres Blanco single was followed by an Aaron Altherr hit by pitch. That brought up Thursday's hero — Tommy Joseph — with two men on and just one out. Adleman utilized his changeup on a 1-2 pitch, inducing a weak grounder back to the mound for a 1-4-3 double play. 

In three at-bats against Joseph, Adleman recorded three groundball outs, all on the changeup, which is his primary off-speed offering.

"The scouting report is that he's a really good fastball hitter. Does a lot of damage on fastballs," Adleman said, "so if you can get him in situations where you're confident he's looking for a fastball and then cut a changeup on him, it can be really effective. Obviously, you have to keep it down, but that's the same with all your pitches."

Joseph's at-bats set the trend for the rest of the Phillies' lineup. The Reds' starter kept the ball down and didn't allow another baserunner until he walked Blanco to lead off the seventh. Sixteen of his 24 outs came on groundballs and only five pitches were hit past the infield. 

Adleman stated his goal was to use the Phillies' aggressiveness against them with strikes early in the count, and it worked. It was his first time pitching into the eighth inning in his career and he did so with almost exclusively his fastball and changeup.

"I think it had a lot to do with that little pause [in his delivery] and he did a good job changing speeds on us," Joseph said. "He basically did it with two pitches, which says a lot about how hard this game can be. Hats off to him. 

"Next time, we'll see if we can't get him back."

In a way, Adleman was getting the Phillies back. He made the third start of his career at Citizens Bank Park last year on May 14. He took the loss against Friday's starter, Aaron Nola, while allowing three runs in five innings.

Born in Staten Island, Adleman was raised in New Jersey, but grew up a Yankees fan. He hadn't been to CBP until college, when he faced Villanova while playing for Georgetown. 

At 29, he's a little old for a second-year starter because he took a winding road to the major leagues. Drafted by the Orioles in 2010, he was nearly out of baseball by 24. He spent two years in independent leagues before catching on with the Reds and debuting in the show last season.

The journeyman starter had struggled in his last few starts, which helped his ERA balloon to 6.19. However, his Friday night opponent seemed more than happy to take some air out of the balloon. Adleman became the fifth pitcher in the last six days to come into a start against the Phillies with an ERA of 5.00 or above and allow one run or less over at least five innings. 

"It feels good," Adleman said of his night. "Philly's a good young team and Nola is making quite a name for himself. He out-pitched me last year and coming into tonight I knew I had an opportunity to right the ship so to speak."

Pete Mackanin calls team meeting after Phillies hit low point with 21st loss in 26 games

Pete Mackanin calls team meeting after Phillies hit low point with 21st loss in 26 games

BOX SCORE

When the opposing pitcher comes in with an ERA that matches the area code for San Diego — 6.19 — and holds you scoreless on one single over eight innings, well …

You've reached the low point of your season.

And it's time for a team meeting.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin called for a little powwow after his club suffered a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night (see Instant Replay). Don't let the final score fool you. It wasn't that close. The loss was the Phillies' 21st in the last 26 games. They were held to three hits for the fourth time in the last six games — five losses — and have scored just nine runs over that span.

Mackanin acknowledged that this was the low point for his team, which owns the worst record in the majors at 16-30. Cincinnati starting pitcher Tim Adleman entered the game with a 6.19 ERA, but he pitched like an ace in holding the Phillies to just a first-inning single over his eight shutout innings (see story). Adleman walked two, struck out four and at one point set down 16 straight Phillies. The 29-year-old right-hander has made 20 starts in his big-league career and this was by far the best.

"Yeah," Mackanin said when asked if the loss was the season's low point. "We need to step it up. We're better than this. I know we're better than this. We've just got to start playing as aggressive as we can and take it to the other team. Be aggressive at the plate and pound the strike zone."

That apparently was Mackanin's message to the club in his postgame meeting, though he would not talk about it.

"He just wants to see us play with a little more fire and a little more energy," Aaron Altherr said. "You know, it's something we've got to do. Today wasn't too great. But, like I said, hopefully we can right the ship and start winning some games again."

Tommy Joseph was tight-lipped on the content of the team meeting.

"That's basically stuff that was between us," he said. "There's a pretty good understanding that we need to get going in here and that was really it. I think the rest is pretty self-explanatory and what he had to say is between us.

"It's definitely not a lack of effort. Everybody is out there trying to get the job done. I think there are certain nights when the job is getting done. When things start to spark a little bit, everybody feeds off that. Obviously there are some nights where that doesn't happen. It's definitely not from a lack of effort. Everybody is going out there busting their ass, so it's just a matter of sometimes it goes our way and sometimes it doesn't."

Mackanin used slumping Odubel Herrera in the leadoff spot for the first time this season and he produced a ninth-inning double after Adleman exited. The Phillies actually loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but a fielder's choice groundball and then a strikeout by Maikel Franco, the potential tying run, ended the game. Franco struck out swinging wildly at a full-count breaking ball from Raisel Iglesias.

Joseph mentioned that Adleman changed speeds well and used a slight hesitation in his delivery to throw off hitters.

But was it more the pitcher or more just a bad offense?

"It's hard to tell," Mackanin said. "That's a daily question. Are we not hitting the ball like we should or is the pitcher that good? It seems like I look up and every other pitcher we face has a 6.00 ERA, but I think it's all because we're missing good pitches to hit. We're getting pitches to hit and we're not hitting them."

Aaron Nola did not have a good start. He gave up a pair of homers in falling behind, 3-0, after two innings, and, obviously, there was no coming back, not with this offense.

The Philies are 5-18 in the month of May.

Or should we say Mayday?

"We're trying to stay positive, as positive as we can throughout this stretch," Altherr said. "You know, it's tough sometimes when things are going the way they are. We're just going to keep being positive, keep trying to bring as much energy as we can to win some games."