Temple-St. Joseph's: 'Nuff Said

Temple-St. Joseph's: 'Nuff Said

The "most played rivalry" in Big 5 history is set to tip off for the 153rd time on Saturday afternoon when the St. Joseph's Hawks travel to North Philadelphia to take on the Temple Owls. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m. from the inside the sold-out Apollo on Broad (The Comcast Network, 1210 AM).

This is the first meeting between the sides since the Temple student section held a mock funeral for the Hawk last season. Though the ceremony was pretty clever (and remarkably well-executed), it only seemed to spark a renewal in the St. Joseph's program, jump-starting the Hawks on a 17-11 run since that afternoon (Feb 20, 2011). Really, the steak was even more impressive (14-6) before the team lost five of its last eight.

And so, here we are to catch you up on both the Owls and Hawks heading into Saturday's A10 matchup. All the relevant news and notes (including C.J. Aiken in short-shorts!) after the jump…

How They Got Here
As mentioned above, St. Joseph's (13-8, 3-3) has lost five of its last eight and has struggled since forfeiting a five game win streak to Harvard on Dec. 31. That said, after dropping four of five, the Hawks came away with a huge 77-63 home win against the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday night. The Flyers were 14-5 to that point and 4-1 in conference, having beaten both Temple and La Salle within the month of the January.

Temple (14-5, 3-2), meanwhile, is on a three game win streak since taking an absolute pounding on the road at Richmond on Jan. 14. Since that time, the Owls won a close contest against La Salle, picked up their second victory against the ACC this season in their win over Maryland and claimed victory at Charlotte's Halton Arena for the first time in the program's history. The team has also welcomed senior Micheal Eric back into the lineup, after the 6-10 center missed a full eight weeks with an injury to his patella.

Hot 'n' Cold
Saint Joseph's junior guard Carl Jones was absent for the team's Jan. 14 loss to the Xaiver Musketeers and has struggled with his shot as of late. Jones, who shot exactly 50% from the floor for the first month of the season, has gone a less than stellar 11-41 over his last four games (27%). Still the team's leading scorer at 16.7 points per game, Jones could figure a difficult cover for the Owls, who struggle with small guards.

For Temple, junior guard Khalif Wyatt -- last year's A10 Sixth Man of the Year who was promoted to the starting lineup due to the absence of medical redshirt Scootie Randall -- has scored 20 or more points in five of his last seven games. He comes into Saturday's contest shooting 41% from behind the three point line and a career best 48% from the field. He trails only senior guard Ramone Moore (17.2 ppg) for the team lead in scoring at 16.3 points per game.

Battle of the Bigs
Though the talent of each team's respective backcourt (Jones and Galloway v. Wyatt, Fernandez and Moore) is well-documented, the matchups under the basket are not to be overlooked.

Temple has played small for the majority of the year, placing the 6-9 but paper-thin Anthony Lee as undersized center beside the 6-6 Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson as an undersized power forward.

The Hawks, on the other hand, feature three bigs who all see substantial minutes in C.J Aiken, Ronald Roberts and Halil Kanacevic. Aiken (who is second in the nation in blocked shots with 4.3 per game) and Roberts (who was apparently born to dunk a basketball) can both jump out of the building, presenting almost constant alley-oop possibilities for any guard with his head up. Add to that Kanacevic, who presents a very difficult cover as a 6-8 forward with skills both down low and on the perimeter, and Temple is going to have its hands full.

The key to the game could be the contributions of Eric, who has played only 24 of a possible 80 minutes since his return. On the floor for just seven minutes against Maryland, he was able to take on another 10 at Charlotte for 17 total on Wednesday night. Seeing another increase of 10 -- from 17 to 27 -- is probably wishful thinking, but solid contributions for anywhere from 20-25 minutes could really prove valuable for the Owls.

Without an inside presence, Temple may be forced to have its veteran backcourt and sharpshooting sophomore Aaron Brown launch jumpers from the perimeter. As a team, Temple is shooting 39.4% from three, good enough 23rd in the nation and second overall in the A10.

We're Going Streaking
Temple has won its last nine in a row over Saint Joseph's. The Hawks last win in the series came way back in 2008 when Pat Calathes hit a late three to upend Temple at the Liacouras Center. The Owls would go on to win that season's rematch at the Palestra shortly thereafter, before ultimately defeating the Hawks in the rubber match for the 2008 Atlantic 10 Championship.

Since that time, St. Joe's has struggled on and off the floor, losing both games and recruits over three forgettable seasons. The rivalry had become so temporarily lopsided that the Temple students went so far as to host this memorable funeral for the Hawk last season:

Unamused, Martelli was quick to remind reporters after the game just how cyclical these matters can be. Prior to the Owls ripping off nine in a row, the Hawks had actually taken 11 of the last 12, dating back to the 2002-03 season.

With SJU once more on the rise, Saturday should finally prove an even matchup.

Is This the Big 5 Game?
No, that will be played on Feb. 25 at the SJU Fieldhouse. Current Big 5 standings and remaining schedule listed below:

Temple               2-0
Saint Joseph's      1-1
Villanova            2-2
La Salle              1-1
Penn                   1-3

Sat. Feb. 4 -- La Salle vs. St Joseph's (The Palestra)
Wed. Feb. 22 -- Temple at La Salle (The Gola)
Sat. Feb. 25 -- Temple at St. Joseph's (The Fieldhouse)

So This Video Showed up Yesterday
Apparently the folks over at Yahoo! Sports have their own version of a hidden camera show called "BlindSided." While we don't know exactly when this prank took place, given the details mentioned in the film ("Saturday," "rivalry game," "retro night"), it's possible that it could have been this week, with the Temple game as the primary motivation/selling point. Honestly, C.J. Aiken wearing these for 40 minutes would just…

…moving on.

Coaches versus Cancer
Members of both coaching staffs will be donning "suits and sneakers" tomorrow in support of the American Cancer Society. Learn more here.

Relevant Numbers to Consider if You're into That Sort of Thing
The online oddsmakers at VegasInsider have Temple favored by 6.5 as of 9 a.m. Saturday morning. The over/under is listed at 141.5 total (down 1.5 from Friday night).

History
Series: Temple leads 87-65
At Temple: Temple leads 45-18
At Liacouras Center: Temple leads 8-6
Dunphy vs. Saint Joseph's: 15-16 (9-4 with Temple)
Martelli vs. Temple: 16-22
Streak: Temple has won last nine in a row
Lasting Meeting: Temple defeated St. Joe's 66-52 on Feb. 20, 2011 at the Liacouras Center. See recap here.

Most Recent Turning Point in the Series

And we'll see you postgame.

End to End: Is it really a 2-player race atop the NHL draft?

End to End: Is it really a 2-player race atop the NHL draft?

Throughout the offseason, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.
 
Going End to End today are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.
 
The topic: Is it really a two-player race atop the NHL draft?
 
Dougherty
Maybe it's because the Flyers have the No. 2 pick and we tend to put the top prospects under an unfair microscope in years that do not include bona fide picks atop the draft.
 
Maybe it is as simple as whoever the New Jersey Devils do not draft.
 
Maybe we're overthinking this. Maybe we're not.
 
These are the questions that Flyers general manager Ron Hextall and his staff are asking themselves in the weeks leading up to the June 23-24 NHL entry draft in Chicago.
 
It appears to be a two-player draft, or at least that is what we've talked ourselves into. All the chatter has been around Brandon center Nolan Patrick and Halifax center Nico Hischier.
 
"I would say it's pretty accurate," Devils director of amateur scouting Paul Castron recently told the team's website. "They're both excellent players. … I think the media maybe has it that way, but I think there are other players that could come into play as well."
 
I am on the record saying the Flyers should get an immediate impact player at No. 2 in either Patrick or Hischier, unlike the last time they picked in this slot in 2007.
 
So, I believe the Flyers will be coming away from Chicago with either Patrick or Hischier, but I also don't believe it is as much of a slam dunk as we've made it out.
 
By many accounts, it is not a projected deep draft class. ESPN's Corey Pronman recently told TSN Radio 1040 he doesn't believe the two are "completely clear of the pack."
 
"The last time we had a draft like this — say 2012," Pronman said. "I think many scouts had Alex Galchenyuk, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Murray, Griffin Reinhart, Morgan Rielly … it all depended on which teams were picking where. I think this is another one of those years.
 
"I do think Hischier and Patrick are the likely No. 1 and 2, but if somebody else snuck into there, I wouldn't really be surprised."
 
There also doesn't appear much separation between Patrick and Hischier themselves. Hischier has been trending up, while questions remain about Patrick's durability.
 
While both the Devils and Flyers have publicly downplayed injury concerns about Patrick, we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. If New Jersey decides to draft Hischier with No. 1, I could see a scenario in which the Flyers opt to go another route than Patrick.
 
In early May, Hextall said with "any young player who has had injuries, you do background checks." What if the Flyers find something in those background checks they don't like?
 
Therefore, I don't think we're overthinking it too much to take a look at other top prospects in this class, such as Windsor center Gabriel Vilardi, Portland center Cody Glass or Owen Sound center Nick Suzuki. Because I do think there is a legitimate possibility the No. 2 pick could be someone other than Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier.

Hall
The Flyers, in an overly advantageous position, should not get cute here. 

Depth at center is so vital to any organization. The Flyers have been lacking just that and it has shown the past three seasons.

With this draft, a high-end center is falling into their lap at the No. 2 pick. From all indications, Patrick and Hischier are at the head of the class.

Sure, the Flyers should do their homework, and they will. They'll be thorough in their scouting and preparation leading up to June 23.

To me, though, this is pretty simple. The Flyers' decision will essentially be made by the Devils' choice at No. 1 — and that's the odd convenience of the second overall selection.

Unless Hischier goes to New Jersey and alarms sound on Patrick's health, the Flyers need to make the obvious call and add one of these two centers.

Paone
Let's break this question down into simplest terms.

Could the Flyers take someone other than Patrick or Hischier at No. 2 come June 23 in Chicago? Of course, they could.

As Tom mentioned above, Vilardi, Glass and Suzuki are all up there at the head of this class with the projected top two, though seen by many as a slight level down from Patrick and Hischier.

A lot of times, decisions like these come down to team preference of a certain player. But don't expect Hextall to make that preference known until he steps to the podium to announce the Flyers' pick on draft night.

But could and should are two very different questions.

Should the Flyers take someone other than Patrick or Hischier at No. 2?

Nope.

Let's be honest, the Flyers fell backward into this No. 2 pick. And with that, they have the chance to select a potential stalwart forward with a strong knack for putting the puck in the net, which both Patrick and Hischier possess. And each should be able to show that off in the NHL sooner rather than later. Remember this: The Flyers' "Big 4" of Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux scored 90 of the Flyers' 212 goals last season. That accounts for 42.5 percent. Immediate scoring help is needed and both Patrick and Hischier should have the ability to bring that to the table.

Yes, the questions about Patrick's durability are legitimate. And yes, Hischier is trending even further upward.

But, to me, this goes back again to simplest terms.

The Flyers should pick whomever New Jersey doesn't out of Patrick and Hischier.

Sixers Mailbag: Draft De'Aaron Fox at 3, re-sign Ersan Ilyasova?

Sixers Mailbag: Draft De'Aaron Fox at 3, re-sign Ersan Ilyasova?

This week, I tweeted asking for questions for a Sixers mailbag, and the replies came pouring in. (Thanks, everyone!)

So we changed it up and in addition to answering the questions in these articles, we also discussed some of the topics on PST Extra. Read below and watch the video for the responses. If you tweeted a question with #CSNSixersMailbag and don’t see it on here, don't worry, there will be plenty more answered leading up to the draft and free agency.

The Sixers should explore all possibilities: trade up, trade down, trade the pick, draft third. The draft is a little funky this year in that there is not a clear-cut choice between picks three through five, and perhaps beyond that. If the Sixers like either player, there is the possibility they could simply select that player No. 3.

I’ve said before, I could see Fox going third. The speedy point guard met with the Sixers at the draft combine and outlined how he would fit playing off the ball with Ben Simmons and finding opportunities with Joel Embiid. Is three a stretch for him? I don’t think so.

Monk has not been projected as high as Fox, so the option of trading down for him is viable. If the Sixers draft for need, however, his skill set is a fit at three. Monk is their best option for a shooter, and they are lacking shooters. It's not uncommon for a prospect to jump in the draft order based on what the team at that selection is looking for. Of course, if the Sixers trade down, they could pick up another piece (future pick, etc.) in addition to Monk in the deal, which always is worth considering.

Ersan Ilyasova was a great veteran presence for the Sixers this season before they traded him to the Hawks at the deadline. He boosted their offense and, more importantly, helped in Dario Saric’s development.

The Sixers and Ilyasova had different plans for the future, though, and understandably so. Ilyasova, who turned 30 this month, was going to be looking for a longer-term contract this offseason than the Sixers were interested in offering. Ilyasova wanted commitment and security at this point in his career; the Sixers wanted flexibility with their options in the frontcourt.

Ilyasova has put together a résumé that will attract teams in free agency this summer.