Temple Erratic, But Effective in Home Opening Win over Central Michigan

Temple Erratic, But Effective in Home Opening Win over Central Michigan

It wasn't exactly your typical Temple basketball game. Though, without Michael Eric and Scootie Randall, basketball atypical of the program might quickly become the norm. And, really, if it continues to result in wins and more than 80 points scored, it won't be such a bad change of pace.

The Temple Owls were erratic for parts of their 86-74 home opening win over Central Michigan, but started and finished strong enough to make sure the outcome was never in doubt. The win is their first of the year at the Liacouras Center and their 23rd straight at home, a new building record.

Khalif Wyatt led all scorers with a game-high 23 points, while Aaron Brown posted a career-high 21.

For Brown, who Temple will need to step up just as he did today in the absence of Eric and Randall, Saturday afternoon was a welcome change from the spot minutes he's played throughout the early portion of his college career. "It felt good to be out there and knock down the first couple shots," said Brown. "I was feeling good, so I just kept shooting."

Hitting those opening shots put Brown in a rhythm that would see the sophomore score 11-straight for the Owls, finish 7-11 from the floor and 4-7 from three. Temple coach Fran Dunphy has said that for Brown to be successful, he needs to shoot well from behind the arc and play great defense. Today, he did both, and received plaudits for his performance.

"He's arguably our hardest working player," said Dunphy. "I didn't think he had played great yet [for us]. Today, he played great…This was his best game by far…I think everything he did was pretty much on target."

As a team, Temple opened up on fire, starting 6-9 from three and jumping out to a 24-point lead on the back of an 18-2 run.

But that lead would begin to slip toward the end of the first half, as their shooting went cold. Temple would make just two of its next eight attempts from behind the arc, and allow Central Michigan to cut their deficit to just eight thanks to an 18-2 run of their own. It was at this point in the early stages second that the typically-reserved Dunphy expressed his displeasure with how his Owls had begun to let up.

"He pretty much just told us that we were playing like…explicit explicit, and that we had to turn it up," Wyatt explained. "They made their run and we held them off and were able to hold on."

"[I said] the same thing you would have said had you been in my position," said Dunphy to the amusement of those gathered for his post-game press conference. "For a stretch there, we took a step back and said 'we have a sizable lead and we don't have to work that hard.' I can guarantee you that was the attitude. And so we spoke of attitude at that point."

Though the Chippewas would continue to battle, Temple began filling up the basket once more and locking down just a bit better on defense. By the end, five different Owls—Wyatt, Brown, Ramone Moore, Rhalir Hollis-Jefferson and Juan Fernandez—would finish in double figures.

Still, for their coach to be totally happy, the team will need to improve its play at its own end. Just as it was a rare sight to see the Owls post more than 50 by the middle mark, it was equally rare to see some of their alarming defensive lapses, especially during the Central Michigan comeback. Two Chippewas—Andre Coimbra and Trey Zeigler—would finish with a team-high 22 points, while point guard Austin McBroom chipped in with another 15.

"I'll wait to see the film to see how we were defensively, but, at first thought, I don't think we were nearly good enough," said Dunphy. "We have to cover for one another, and I don't think we did as a good a job of as I would have liked."

The Owls will have a few days to make all the adjustments they need before they head out on the road this Wednesday night to take on the Toledo Rockets. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be heard on 1210 AM.

Julius Erving, Allen Iverson gearing up for upcoming BIG3 draft

Julius Erving, Allen Iverson gearing up for upcoming BIG3 draft

The NFL isn't the only league with a draft coming up this month.

Julius Erving and Allen Iverson have some work to do, too.

The newly-formed BIG3 three-on-three league will hold the first player draft for its eight teams on April 30 in Las Vegas. Iverson is a player, captain and coach for 3's Company. Erving is the coach of Tri-State.

The BIG3 comes to the Wells Fargo center on July 16 during Week 4 of 10.

There are 24 spots remaining on the rosters. Over 70 former NBA players are hoping to be selected. Former Sixers Jumaine Jones, Larry Hughes, Reggie Evans, Joe Smith, Xavier Silas, and Lee Nailon are among those eligible for the draft.

Other draft entrants include (in alphabetical order): Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Marcus Banks, Keith Bogans, Earl Boykins, Derrick Byars, Josh Childress, Brian Cook, Ndudi Ebi, Steve Francis, Kendall Gill, Donte Greene, Shane Heal, Mike James, Ivan Johnson, Voshon Lenard, Rashad McCants, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Lawrence Moten, Ronald "Flip" Murray, Andre Owens, Smush Parker, Jamario Moon, Ruben Patterson, Isaiah "J.R." Rider, Eddie Robinson, four-time All-Star Latrell Sprewell, DeShawn Stevenson, Mike Sweetney, Etan Thomas, Hakim Warrick, and James White.

How the rosters currently stand:

3's Company: Allen Iverson (captain, player-coach), DerMarr Johnson (captain)

Ball Hogs: Brian Scalabrine, Player X, Rick Barry (coach)

Ghost Ballers: Captains Mike Bibby (captain), Ricky Davis (captain), George Gervin (coach)

Killer 3s: Chauncey Billups (captain), Stephen Jackson (captain), Charles Oakley (player-coach)

Power: Corey Maggette (captain), Cuttino Mobley (captain), Clyde Drexler (coach)

Three-Headed Monsters: Rashard Lewis (captain), Jason Williams (captain), Gary Payton (coach)

Trilogy: Kenyon Martin (captain), Al Harrington (captain), Rick Mahorn (coach)

Tri-State: Jermaine O’Neal (captain), Bonzi Wells (captain), Julius Erving (coach)

The BIG3 was founded by Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz. It will kick off June 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Roob's 25 Random Points: NFL draft edition

Roob's 25 Random Points: NFL draft edition

This isn't an entirely random 25 Random Points because we are three days away from the NFL draft, so it's kind of top-heavy in random draft thoughts.

But there's also the usual nonsense about regional rail, parallel parking, pro bowling, the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and the best live band in Philly.

Sorry if this one isn't quite random enough. I promise the next one will be far more pointless! 

1. There's a chance the Eagles will select a defensive end in the first round of this year's draft and if they do there's a chance he'll be a terrific, productive player. Historically? That hasn't been the case. In fact, no team in NFL history has been worse drafting defensive ends. Nobody. Let's start with this: In the last 30 years, there have been only 11 defensive ends league-wide who were drafted in the first round and never recorded more than four sacks. Only one team has drafted more than one of those 11 and that's the Eagles, who drafted three of them: Jon Harris in 1997, Jerome McDougle in 2003 and Marcus Smith in 2014. Now, Smith is still active and can add to his total if he makes the roster. But four sacks in three years doesn't augur well for the future.

2. Now consider this: Since sacks became an official NFL stat in 1982, the Eagles have selected nine defensive ends in the first three rounds of the draft. Those nine players have averaged 3.4 sacks per season in an Eagles uniform. Yep. Fewer than 3 1/2 sacks per season! Who has the highest average of the group? None other than the unfairly maligned Mike Mamula, who had 31 1/2 sacks in five seasons as an Eagle -- 6.3 per season. Nobody else is close: Brandon Graham (4.1 sacks per season), Vinny Curry (3.8), Derrick Burgess (2.8), Greg Jefferson (2.7), Victor Abiamiri (1.3), Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (1.0), Jerome McDougle (1.0), Jon Harris (1.0). 

So of the nine defensive ends the Eagles have drafted in the first three rounds, Mamula has been, by far, the most productive. And six averaged fewer than 3.0 sacks a season in an Eagles uniform. And I didn't even include Chris Gocong, a college defensive end who the Eagles converted to linebacker. It's really hard to be this bad at something!

3. Everybody loves mock drafts. They're so popular now that many analysts do multiple versions of the first round and then they keep "updating" their mocks as the draft gets closer. Which makes me wonder what the purpose of those earlier mock drafts is. You're basically saying ... 'OK, this is completely wrong and I'm going to fix it soon, but I'm going to throw it out there anyway because OMG IT'S A MOCK DRAFT. And then I'm going to change it next week and throw it out there again and more people will read it because OMG IT'S A MOCK DRAFT! And it will be completely wrong again.' People love reading mock drafts even though deep down they understand they're meaningless!

4. It also cracks me up when analysts breathlessly claim that a player is DROPPING DOWN THE DRAFT BOARD or SHOOTING UP THE DRAFT BOARD. Actually, they're really not. There is often a perception of players rising and falling, but most of the time it's not really happening. NFL teams set their boards based on a lot of information, most of which the public never sees. When bits of that information leak out, then that's reflected in mock drafts, and you have the illusion of players rising and falling. But in reality, teams have already set a value for that player. So he's not really rising or falling at all. Mock drafts just THINK he is. Now, if a player gets hurt in his pro day, yeah, that will affect his actual status. But those are the exceptions. Most of the time you hear people talking about a player "shooting up the draft board" or "plunging down the board?" Not really happening. It's all an illusion!

5. All that said, I feel like the first couple days of the draft are the most revealing time of the season for NFL teams because it's the one point where they really tip their hand about what they like about their roster and what they don't like. For 363 days, NFL coaches and executives tell you they love everybody on their team. For a couple days in April, they can't hide the truth any longer. That's when we truly learn what they are thinking.

6. I love a good train trestle.

7. My top 20 Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame omissions: 1. Todd Rundgren, 2. Warren Zevon, 3. The Monkees, 4. Dire Straits, 5. Kate Bush, 6. The B-52's, 7. Roxy Music, 8. Bon Jovi, 9. Cheap Trick, 10. The Replacements, 11. T. Rex, 12. Guided by Voices, 13. The Smiths, 14. Jethro Tull, 15. Television, 16. Three Dog Night, 17. The Cars, 18. Big Star, 19. Iron Maiden, 20. Gentle Giant.

8. Who do I want at No. 14? Let's say Gareon Conley, John Ross, Corey Davis, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, Jabrill Peppers, Derek Barnett, Charles Harris and Reuben Foster are all on the board. That won't be the case, but let's say they are. What direction would you go? There's no right or wrong answer. You can make a good case for any of those guys. We know the Eagles are desperate for pass rush help. We know they desperately need corners and a running back. But for me, it's all about weapons for Carson Wentz, and there's no guarantee Alshon Jeffery or Torrey Smith will be here beyond this year. So a young, play-making wideout is at the top of my list. Someone Wentz can grow with for the next several years. It comes to whether you like Ross or Davis better. Ross is obviously faster, but Davis is a big, tough, strong, smart, physical kid who has pretty good speed of his own. If I were making the pick? I'm going with Davis.

9. What about cornerback? The class is so deep the Eagles should be able to get some help in the later rounds. There could be four or five corners taken in the first round, and since there are teams that don't need corners, it will push quality guys into the second, third and even fourth rounds. Remember, Eric Allen? Second round. Sheldon Brown? Second round. Bobby Taylor? Second round. The Eagles have five of the first 139 picks and I would be fine using two of them on corners.

10. Speaking of corner ... I haven't given up on the notion of Jalen Mills as a potential starter. I know he doesn't have world-class speed, but, man, I like the way he plays. He's tough, he's aggressive, he doesn't back down, he's got that LSU swagger. Yeah, he got beat deep too many times last year, but tell me a rookie cornerback who doesn't get beat. Every time he kept his head up and kept fighting. Mills battled some pretty darn good wide receivers last year and held his own much of the time. Is he best-suited to be a slot or a third corner? Maybe. But I want to at least give him a shot in training camp. I like his game, and I think he has a chance to be a player.

11. OK, if you're at a restaurant and you're on the phone, don't eat. And if you're eating, don't use the phone. M'kay?

12. It's amazing how many bad quarterbacks the Eagles have had in their history. Did you know only four QBs in Eagles history have won more than 20 games as a starter? Donovan (92), Jaws (69), Randall (63) and Norm Snead (28). And only six have won at least 10 games and have a winning record: McNabb (92-49-1), Jaws (69-67-1), Randall (63-43-1), Norm Van Brocklin (19-16-1), Nick Foles (15-9) and Rodney Peete (15-9). Only McNabb, Jaws and Tommy Thompson in the 1940s have won more than one playoff game. Carson Wentz needs 22 wins to become the fourth-winningest QB in franchise history. Which is sad.

13. If you wanted to, you could take local rail from Newark, Del., to New Haven, Conn. I have this all figured out. If you took a 6:22 a.m. SEPTA train from Newark you would get to Market East at 7:46 a.m. and connect to a Trenton train at 7:51 a.m., arriving in Trenton at 8:54 a.m. Then you would cross the platform and take the north-bound 9:21 a.m. New Jersey Transit train, arriving at Penn Station at 10:35 a.m. After a quick subway ride up to Grand Central via the 1-2-3 train and the S shuttle (or 7 train), you would jump on the 11:34 a.m. Metro North train, arriving in New Haven at 1:26 p.m. Voila, Newark to New Haven in only seven hours! Matter of fact, other than two segments -- New Haven to Providence and Perryville, Md., to Newark, Del. -- you could take local rail from Fredericksburg, Va., to Newburyport, Mass. If you really wanted to.

14. I remember sitting there in the media room in the basement of the Vet in April of 1988 thinking the Eagles really screwed up taking Keith Jackson with the 13th pick. Jackson had caught only 13 passes for 358 yards his senior year at Oklahoma and averaged just 16 catches for 390 yards in four years with the Sooners. He wasn't considered a good blocker and he never caught many passes. Jackson of course went on to earn first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in each of his first three seasons with the Eagles and averaged 61 catches for 689 yards and five TDs in his all-too-brief four-year stint with the Eagles.  

15. Two years later, the Eagles drafted Illinois wide receiver Mike Bellamy in the second round, and I was convinced he was the next Mike Quick. He was smooth, polished, productive. And never caught a pass as an Eagle. I think Jackson and Bellamy are the two Eagles draft picks over the years I was most wrong about.

16. The point being we all have our opinions on the draft, but you really don't know for a year or two what kind of draft a team really had. Consider the Eagles' 1986 draft. Nobody knew at the time, but the Eagles drafted two of the best players in franchise history 25 picks apart in rounds that don't even exist anymore -- Seth Joyner in the eighth round and Clyde Simmons in the ninth round. Joyner was released on final cuts and returned home to Pearl River, N.Y., before rejoining the Eagles. He didn't become a star until his third year. Simmons didn't have his first double-digit sack season until his fourth year. But Joyner went on to become the only player in NFL history with 50 sacks and 25 interceptions, and Simmons ranked 10th in NFL history with 121 sacks at the point he retired after the 1999 season (behind eight Hall of Famers and Leslie O'Neal). That was one of the greatest drafts in Eagles history. But nobody knew it for years.

17. Sometimes I feel like people are underestimating the Eagles' defense. Let's not forget they ranked 12th in the NFL last year, held quarterbacks to the fifth-lowest completion percentage in the NFL, allowed the fifth-fewest first downs, allowed the eighth-fewest touchdowns and ranked third in the red zone. All this under a first-year defensive coordinator and rookie head coach. Now, they also ranked last in the NFL allowing big plays. Which is why they're focusing on corner and pass rush. But they have tools to work with. It's not a total rebuild at all. They underachieved up front last year, but they're still solid on the defensive line, linebacker and safety. If they figure cornerback out, there's absolutely no reason this can't be a top-10 defense in 2017.

18. I don't get why the Google maps app on my phone always tries to direct me to a random place on the other side of the world when I ask for directions. If I just type "drug store," it will try to send me to a drug store in Venkatanarasimharajuvaripeta, India. If I type "gas station," it will try to send me to a gas station in Mamungkukumpurangkuntjunya, Australia. Dude. I'm in Philly. I've also learned that screaming at my cell phone doesn't help.

19. Crazy that 18 of the Eagles' last 24 first-round picks have been linemen. That goes back to 1991! The only players they've taken in the first round the last 26 years are quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Carson Wentz; wide receivers Jeremy Maclin, Freddie Mitchell and Nelson Agholor; and cornerback Lito Sheppard. If the Eagles take a non-lineman this year at No. 14, it'll be the first time since 1982 through 1984 they haven't taken a lineman in the first round for three straight years. They drafted Mike Quick, Michael Haddix and Kenny Jackson in the first round those years.

20. All of which means Lito is the only defensive player who wasn't a lineman the Eagles have drafted in the first round since Ben Smith in 1990!

21. Is there something seriously wrong with me if I pump my fist a few times and scream, "AWWW YEAH," after a particularly good parallel parking job?

22. Best live local band from Philly is Sheer Mag.

23. It's not "sampling." It's stealing.

24. I'll be surprised if Wentz doesn't throw at least five more touchdowns and five fewer interceptions in 2017 than he did in 2016 (16 TDs, 14 INTs). How does 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions sound?

25. I was in a restaurant the other day and they had pro bowling on the big-screen TV. Turns out it was a big match between the New York Kingpins and the Philadelphia Hitmen. Did you know we have a pro bowling team? Go Hitmen?