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?

Jeremy Hellickson set to pitch Saturday — unless he's traded

Jeremy Hellickson set to pitch Saturday — unless he's traded

ATLANTA — Even with the Miami Marlins having filled their need for starting pitching, there remains significant interest in Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson, according to major league sources.

The Phillies have received offers for the 29-year-old right-hander, but none that they have deemed worthy of pulling the trigger on.

Hellickson is scheduled to make his 22nd start for the club on Saturday night. Will he make that start? Time will tell. Talks between the Phillies and interested clubs are ongoing.

Hellickson is coming off two strong starts in which he allowed just six hits and one run in 14 innings against the Marlins. Another strong start Saturday could add more luster to Hellickson’s stretch-run value and bring the Phillies the package they are seeking. The trade deadline is Monday at 4 p.m.

Miami had interest in Hellickson before making a deal to acquire starters Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from San Diego in a seven-player trade Friday (see story).

Hellickson is viewed by industry insiders as being a fallback option for a number of teams. Demand for him could grow as trades are made and the starting pitching market thins as Monday’s deadline approaches.

Baltimore, Toronto, Texas, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Houston are among teams looking to add starting pitching.

Though there’s no guarantee that Hellickson will be moved, he is the most likely Phillie to go. Reliever David Hernandez is next on the list. A number of teams are looking for relief help. The feeling around baseball is that the Phils could move Hernandez before Monday’s deadline, but the return would only be marginal.

The Phillies have received some interest in closer Jeanmar Gomez, but not to the degree one might expect for someone with 27 saves. Because Gomez lacks power stuff, rival teams do not view him as a closer on a contending team.

FOX Sports reports that the Rangers have interest in right-hander Vince Velasquez, but the Phils would have to be blown away to move the 24-year-old right-hander. Velasquez started for the Phillies on Friday night.

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons repeatedly emphasized at summer league he wanted to work on “everything” leading up to training camp.

As a point-forward who plays multiple positions, he has more than just one role to address this offseason. But what does “everything” entail? With a wide range of responsibilities on the court, Simmons is honing in on specific areas.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

Shooting
Simmons has been criticized for his reluctance to shoot. During his one season of college ball at LSU, he averaged 19.2 points off 11.7 field goal attempts per game (56 percent made). Over six summer league games (including both Utah and Las Vegas), Simmons took 22 field-goal attempts and shot 32.2 percent. He had less than 10 attempts in four of the games, and attempted 15 in the Sixers’ finale. Simmons attempted one three in summer league action.

While in Utah and Las Vegas, the Sixers encouraged Simmons to be more aggressive. At 6-foot-10, Simmons is able to get to the rim. Once there, many times he passes it off rather than finishing himself. The Sixers don’t expect Simmons to become a 30-point-per-game scorer, but he will be a key part of their offense.

“You always want him to be as good of a shooter as he can be,” Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said this earlier month. “It’s not going to be his strength. His strength is going to be passing, facilitating, playmaking. That’s going to be an added bonus, whatever the percentage or the number is.”

Dribbling
Simmons averaged 5.5 assists per game during summer league (second on the team by 0.3 dimes to T.J McConnell). Conversely, he committed 3.8 turnovers.

The Sixers signed two point guards this summer, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, and McConnell is returning from last season. Head coach Brett Brown said after the draft he does not plan to utilize Simmons as the primary one-guard right away as the 20-year-old learns the league. But early on, Simmons will have the rock in his hands plenty of times given his natural ball-handling abilities, especially when grabbing the rebound and running the fast break.

"I think it's the hardest position to play in the NBA,” Brown previously said. “I think to just give him the ball in that capacity is borderline cruel. He needs to feel NBA basketball. And maybe he evolves there."

Weight room
After college, Simmons put on 20 pounds from his training and entered the draft at 242 pounds. He stood out among the competition in summer league play with his NBA-ready stature. Simmons said he would like to get up to 246 or 247 pounds this offseason.

“Not too heavy,” he said.

With the size of a forward and the skills of a guard, the Sixers will be able to utilize Simmons to create mismatches both in the backcourt and at the hoop.

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

After scoring five first-inning runs on their way to a 7-5 win against the Braves on Thursday, Pete Mackanin decided not to tinker with the Phillies' lineup too much.

In fact, the only change will be at catcher. The struggling Cameron Rupp will get the start on Friday and bat sixth after Carlos Ruiz was behind the plate on Thursday. Rupp, who was one of the few bright spots for the offense in the first half, is just 5 for 31 since the All-Star break. On the season, Rupp is still batting .271 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs.

Aaron Altherr came off the DL with a bang, tallying three hits, including a two-run homer on Thursday. Mackanin has said Altherr will get a long look in right field and Thursday night was a glimpse of why. 

With Altherr's regular presence in the lineup, Cody Asche has been put on notice. After going on a tear from early June to early July, Asche is batting .094 (5 for 53) in his last 17 games. With Altherr and Odubel Herrera entrenched in right and center, Asche will have to get hot to stave off prospect Nick Williams, who seems to be finding his groove at Lehigh Valley.

Here is tonight's lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Cody Asche, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P