Temple, Dunphy to Renew NCAA Rivalry with Steve Fisher

Temple, Dunphy to Renew NCAA Rivalry with Steve Fisher

Though the history between the universities of Temple and San Diego State is a little thin, tonight's 6:10 tip off on TNT will not be their first meeting. In their one and only contest, a game played on December 30, 1981, the Aztecs defeated the Owls by a final score of 75-64 in an event allegedly called the Cabrillo Classic. Let's call this a "small" sample size.

Nonetheless, there are some cool story lines to follow and reminiscing to be done today. Let's start first with this evening's coaches and then move our way back through the annals of college basketball history to a group of dudes named the Fab Five. We play our version of "This is Your Life" with coaches Fran Dunphy and Steve Fisher after the jump...

Though Temple, as detailed above, lost its one and only meeting with SDSU, Fran Dunphy came out the victor in his single confrontation with Steve Fisher. Then the coach at Penn, Dunphy's Quakers defeated Fisher's #25 Michigan Wolverines 62-60 on December 13, 1994 thanks to a timely assist from current TU assistant coach Shawn Trice and a clutch jumper from the new head man at Penn, Jerome Allen. When told Dunphy mentioned the game to reporters in his Friday press conference, Fisher had some fun of his own with the media. This courtesy of OwlScoop.com's John Di Carlo:

Reporter: Fran was saying you're a better person than you are a coach.
Fisher: Maybe.
(Laughter)
Reporter: He also talked about taking his Penn team and winning at Michigan one time. Can you reminisce about that?
Fisher: He didn't say that, did he? I think the referees cost us the game. 
(More laughter)
I do remember that. I don't remember names, but he had guys who were lights out shooting the ball against us in our building. I congratulated him for winning, took my chin to my chest and walked out. He's exactly right. I wish he hadn't said that, but he's exactly right. 

On the flip side, Fisher's left another Big 5 legend—John Chaney—walking off the floor in defeat on two separate occassions, albeit probably in a manner opposite taking a chin to the chest and leaving in silence. One of those two Temple losses came in the form of a 1993 West Regional showdown between the Owls and Michigan University's Fab Five of Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson.

For those of you who may have missed last Sunday evening's "30 for 30" documentary on the team, keep an eye out for it on replay. The piece was exceptionally well put together, and even if you happen to disagree with Jalen Rose's thoughts on American socioeconomics, you do get a few minutes of Temple playing ball in these fantastic cherry threads. What you won't hear in the doc, however, is this gem from coach Chaney:

At a late juncture, a frustrated Chaney, tired of seeing Chris Webber push Derek Battie around on the blocks without referee intervention, yelled to Battie: “Next time he does that, knock him on his ass!” A technical foul followed that essentially ended whatever suspense remained.

See? The Basketball Hall of Famer was paging Nehemiah Ingram long before the John Bryant incident. No big deal.

Getting back to tonight's game, though San Diego State is the clear favorite, there were some analytic rumblings prior to the tournament in regards to a Sweet 16 appearance for the Cherry & White. But, even as a soon-to-be TU alum, I just don't think the Owls stack up. Still, I'm sure the boys, including the playing-injured Scootie Randall, will give it their all tonight in what could be the last time Lavoy Allen ever dons a Temple jersey.

In closing, while I would traditionally try to come up with some witty play on Juan Fernandez' name, I think those have all been just about exhausted over the last two days. Instead, I'll depart by encouraging you to consider the following investment.

Don't look now folks, but the Temple Owls are the only team from this city left standing. So much for that preseason top-10, eh Jay?

On verge of Super Bowl, Eric Rowe responds to Eagles, Roseman

On verge of Super Bowl, Eric Rowe responds to Eagles, Roseman

The Eagles' season ended a few weeks ago with a 7-9 record. 

In a couple weeks, Eric Rowe might be playing in the Super Bowl. 

Rowe, of course was the Eagles second-round pick in 2015 and went on to have a promising rookie season. But in 2016, the change of head coaches brought a new defensive coordinator and a new scheme, which Rowe apparently didn't fit. So a few days before the season began, he was dealt to the New England, where he has become a big part of their defense. 

In his after-the-season press conference on Jan. 4, Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was asked about the trade and gave a somewhat curious answer. He said the team made the move because the front office had already determined they were not going to give Rowe an extension, even though he wouldn't have been eligible for two more seasons. 

If that sounded weird to Eagles fans, they weren't alone. It sounded weird to Rowe too, when the Wilmington News Journal's Martin Frank caught up with him this week. 

“That’s a long time away," Rowe said. "If that’s the reason, that’s really, really weird. You know, it’s whatever. If he thinks that, then I guess that’s what it was. They’re thinking way down the line.” 

Rowe, 24, ended up starting seven games during this regular season for New England, but played just 43 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps. If Rowe played 50 percent of defensive snaps in 2016 or if he does it in 2017, the fourth-round pick the Eagles get back in the trade will turn into a third-rounder, so there's still a chance next year. 

While a third-round pick wouldn't be bad, the Eagles gave up on a young, talented corner just a year after drafting him because he didn't fit what they wanted to do. 

Shortly after the trade, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz called Rowe a good cover corner but cited the development of Jalen Mills as a reason why Rowe became expendable. Schwartz said he appreciated Rowe, but the personnel staff "decided to use him as an asset, and as coaches, we just deal with that and keep playing." 

It was pretty clear during training camp that Rowe had fallen out of favor with the Eagles. He was buried behind Mills and others on the depth chart, so maybe the trade was the best thing for him. 

"That was frustrating, just kind of like thinking, 'What am I doing wrong?'" Rowe said to the Wilmington News Journal. "Yeah, I made mistakes, but everybody makes mistakes. I'm not making bad mistakes. I'm making plays. Why am I sliding down? That was frustrating times. I would just go home and my girlfriend's there, and I'm telling her all this stuff. I'd tell my parents, and they're like, 'Just keep your head up, just keep working because you never know. Then boom, the trade comes up." 

And now he might get a chance to play in the Super Bowl, while the Eagles desperately need to fix their cornerback position before next season. 

Sixers-Trail Blazers 5 things: Streaking Sixers meet tough stretch

Sixers-Trail Blazers 5 things: Streaking Sixers meet tough stretch

Sixers vs. Trail Blazers
7 p.m. on CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 6:30

Coming off of an impressive win over the Raptors Wednesday, the Sixers (14-26) welcome the Trail Blazers (18-26) to the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night for the first game of a back-to-back. 

Here’s what to watch for the matchup:

1.  Streaking Sixers
What a new year it’s been for the Sixers.

Winning seven of their last nine games has Joel Embiid thinking playoffs. The Sixers are 5½ games out of the eighth seed in the East, and should get even better if (or when) Ben Simmons makes his debut.

With five teams ahead of them, it seems unlikely the Sixers get in, but why not enjoy the streak while it lasts and give Embiid and the youngsters a taste of their first success in the NBA?

2. Heating up
Speaking of enjoying the streak while it lasts, the schedule gets tougher from here on out.

With five sets of back-to-backs over the next two weeks, the team will be forced to play at least five games without Embiid. And the difference with "The Process" on the floor and off is staggering. The Sixers are 12-17 with Embiid, but a putrid 2-9 without the rookie sensation. Much of that can be attributed to Embiid’s stellar defense and Jahlil Okafor’s um, less than stellar, whatever he calls what he does on the defensive end.

3. Super Dario
Dario Saric’s improved play has been another catalyst for the hot streak. Saric has elevated his game during the 7-2 run, raising his numbers in points and rebounds, giving the Sixers a solid second unit. In fact, Saric is second (behind Embiid) among rookies in points (9.7) and rebounds (5.9) per game. 

“If Joel Embiid weren’t in the league, you’d have to talk about him in consideration for Rookie of the Year,” head coach Brett Brown said after Wednesday’s win.

4. Another one
After slowing the Raptors' All-Star backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry on Wednesday, the Sixers face another dynamic backcourt in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The duo averages a combined 49.5 points per game, nearly half (46 percent) of the Blazers' total points per game.

Luckily for the Sixers, the Blazers are an abysmal 7-17 on the road this year, including 5-10 vs. the Eastern Conference. 

5. This and that
• The Blazers have given up an average of 114 points over their three-game losing streak. The Sixers have scored 114 or more points in five of their 30 games this season. 

• The Sixers are 3-4 in the first game of back-to-backs and 1-6 in the second leg. The Sixers face the Hawks Saturday.

• After signing a four-year, $70 million contract with the Blazers in the offseason, former Sixer Evan Turner is averaging 9.4 points, 3.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game, all down from his four-year average while with the Sixers. 

• Nearly every Sixer received a player vote for the All-Star Game: Embiid (43), Sergio Rodriguez (8), T.J. McConnell (4), Okafor (4), Simmons (3), Jerryd Bayless (2), Robert Covington (2), Nerlens Noel (2), Gerald Henderson (1), Ersan Ilyasova (1), Richaun Holmes (1), Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot (1), Saric (1).