Temple Heads South to UDel for Final Game of 2011

Temple Heads South to UDel for Final Game of 2011

Two nights after barely escaping a Buffalo team they were favored to beat by almost double digits, the Temple Owls (8-3) will head south down I-95 to take on the Delaware Blue Hens (5-5, 1-0 CAA) in their final contest of the calendar year.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and can be heard on 1210 AM.

Assorted Temple-Delaware notes after the jump...

What We Learned from the Owls Getting Buffaloed:
A distinct lack of depth under the basket was a concern even before the Owls lost starting center Michael Eric to the same patella injury that ended his junior season earlier this month. Though the original estimates had the 6-10 senior out for up to six weeks, Temple officials, including coach Fran Dunphy, hoped to have Eric back by this point in the schedule. Unfortunately, the initial six-week prognosis is looking more and more correct as the Owls now expect to be without Eric another two to three weeks.

Doing his best to fill in for the injured senior, at 6-9 the "undergirthed" redshirt freshman Anthony Lee is the only member of the Owls' rotation over 6-6. His early foul trouble, coupled with that of the also undersized for his position Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson put Temple at a distinct disadvantage against the much larger, and surprisingly athletic bigs of the Buffalo Bulls.

While Buffalo is a better team than most would immediately recognize, the game is an all-too-worrying sign of the Owls future against offensively-skilled frontcourts. In conference, the prospects of an Andrew Nicholson or even a C.J. Aiken-Ronald Roberts combination look like impending disasters for the Owls without their starting center.

That said, even when Eric returns, the Owls will still lack depth when it comes to usable height. Nevertheless, his presence in the lineup should prevent from looking as badly exposed as they did against Buffalo on Wednesday. In the meantime, help defense and knockdown perimeter shooting will need to be the calling cards of an undersized and undermanned Temple lineup.

Getting to Know the Delaware Blue Hens:
Thankfully for the Owls, Delaware boasts a largely guard-oriented lineup and offers no one over the height of 6-9. That individual, Jamelle Hagins, is averaging a double-double off 14.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game—numbers Temple will hope are a reflection of the fact that he's really the Blue Hens only meaningful size. I mean, somebody has to board (right, Clarence Weatherspoon?). Still, the kid is shooting better than 50% from the field, which isn't necessarily a given at his height.

Manning the backcourt, 6-2 sophomore Devon Saddler leads the team with 20.2 PPG, but falls way down the list when it comes to scoring efficiency, registering 38.7 FG on better than 17 shots per game.

Don't Look ahead to Duke:
A matchup with the Duke university Blue Devils is an obvious treat for any college basketball player, but Temple needs to stay focused on the task at hand. Friday night should end with an easy road victory for the Owls, but they have already proven on multiple occasions this season that they cannot afford to take any opponent lightly. Temple's meeting with Duke is scheduled for January 4th at the Wells Fargo Center and the Owls will do well not to think about it until after the New Year.

The Two-Year Anniversary of Rahlir HOLLIS-Jefferson's College Debut:
The last time Temple made its way down to Delaware was for their season opener against the Blue Hens in 2009.

The Owls won what would have been a forgettable 76-56 final had it not been for the unbridled exuberance of Rahlir Jefferson's mother seeing her son play in his very first college basketball game. I have never heard, nor will I ever hear again, a woman scream that loud or that long for any reason. It subsequently came as no surprise this year when Rahlir added the hyphenated "Hollis" to his last name in honor of all that his mother has done for him throughout his life. Cheers to Rahlir and the fam (Rondae, if you're reading, Go to Temple).

Relevant History:
All-Time Series: Temple leads 36-6
At Delaware: Temple leads 16-1
Streak: Temple has won last 16 in a row
Last Meeting: Temple beat Delaware at the Bob Carpenter Center by a final score 76-56 in 2009. Ryan Brooks lead all scorers with 23 points and finished one rebound shy of a double-double.

We'll see you post-game

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry from how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 - the last previous time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a massive one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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AP Images

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.