Archive: December, 2010
We have 8 weeks of regular season to play, but, after the first 7 weeks, one could make a pretty good case that Villanova senior Corey Stokes has been the best player in the Big 5.
Stokes has gone from a one-dimensional standstill shooter who had trouble getting on the court early in his career because he was either unwilling or unable to play defense to a complete player having his best season when his team needs him most.
When Thursday’s game with Temple was on the line, Stokes was in the middle of everything. He had 11 points in the first half and 13 in the second for a game-high 24. There was not much individual consistency in the game _ except Stokes. In the critical final 20 minutes, he was 5-for-6 from the floor. And his defense was as good as good as his offense. He conceded nothing, not even a likely dunk by Lavoy Allen. He took a foul instead and forced Allen to make two free throws. He made just one.
Stokes never averaged double figures in his first 3 seasons. This season, he is averaging 16.4 points. He never shot more than 41.6 percent. This season, he is shooting 47 percent overall and 43.2 percent from the three-point line. He is also shooting 94.6 percent from the foul line.
If Temple shoots 10-for-21 from the arc in any Atlantic 10 games, the Owls almost can’t lose. Their margin for error against A-10 teams will be much greater than it was at Villanova on Thursday when the Owls lost, 78-74, and, for the most part, played a winning game.
If Temple can get its guards and Lavoy Allen together on offense, they will lose very few games in 2011. Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore combined for 25 points in the first half at 'Nova when Allen had just five points and very few offensive touches.
In the second half, Fernandez and Moore combined for just 11 points while Allen had 17. Some of that may have been due to a change in defensive focus by Villanova. Moore, at times, seemed to be playing too fast. And Fernandez said he started to get a little tired from the Villanova pressure.
One of the best college basketball games in the country tonight is in our backyard.
No. 8 Villanova plays host to No. 25 Temple at the Pavilion on Villanova's campus. This is a stern test for both teams before they head into conference play next week -- Villanova opening Big East play Sunday at home vs. Rutgers, and the Owls opening Atlantic 10 play on Wednesday vs. Fordham at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J.
“Their guard play has been extraordinary over the years,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said about Villanova. “This is really no exception . . . And I think their bigs are playing better.”
Tonight in local college basketball, La Salle plays host to Towson and Penn visits Marist. La Salle is looking to get above the .500 mark while Penn is 5-4 and has won three of four games.
Here is a look at tonight's games:
Who: La Salle (6-6) vs. Towson (3-7)
Penn junior guard Zack Rosen has been named Big 5 Player of the Week.
Rosen tied a career high with 30 points in the Quakers' 78-68 win over Delaware. Rosen scored 26 of his points in the final 16 minutes, 18 seconds.
Three players were named to the weekly Big 5 honor roll:
Temple is back in the Associated Press Top 25 poll after a 4-week absence.
The 9-2 Owls are 25th. Villanova (10-1) remains eighth in the Top 25. Georgetown is ranked ninth and is 11-1, its only loss to Temple at the Liacouras Center.
On Thursday night at the Pavilion on Villanova's campus, the Owls and Wildcats will play at 7.
After seeing Penn’s men’s basketball team for the first time this season in its 78-68 win at Delaware Wednesday night, my impressions are it’s a developing team with potential.
Leading scorer Zack Rosen and Jack Eggleston, the newest member of Penn’s 1,000-point fraternity, give the Quakers scoring punch. Tyler Bernadini adds to Penn’s experience.
Freshman Miles Cartwright looks like a player. He’s quick and can score (12.1 points per game). Against Delaware, 6-7 senior Conor Turley was a presence, scoring 14 points.
Corey Stokes is playing the best ball of his Villanova career. The senior has scored in double figures in every game but one (eight points vs. Marist). He has missed just one free throw all season and leads the NCAA in accuracy (96.8 percent). And when he misses from the arc, it is a surprise.
``Throughout my career, I always thought every shot was going in,’’ Stokes said after the Wildcats crushed Monmouth last night. ``You have to think like that as a shooter.’’
After the Monmouth game, Jay Wright had an interesting take on how his team is different from last season’s group.
``Scottie (Reynolds) wasn’t just a 2,000-point scorer,’’ Wright said. ``That’s enough in itself, but he was the personality of the program. He was the leader off the court. He was bigger than life in our program. Even when we were on the road, everybody would be on him. They’d all be yelling about him being adopted and it took the pressure off of everybody else. Now, for the first time, it’s on (the current seniors).’’
Conference affiliations often dictate when City Series games are played. The Atlantic 10 never plays any conference games until January so Temple’s Big 5 schedule is backloaded because two of the games are against A-10 teams (Saint Joseph’s and La Salle).
Conversely, Villanova does not have much room for anything but Big East games when the calendar hits January.
So, Temple will be playing its first City Series game on Dec. 30. Villanova will be playing its last. And, like last season, it will be the city Game of the Year.
Saint Joseph’s played five games in the first 11 days of December. They did not win any of them.
The Hawks have now gone 10 days without a game. They play at Boston University tonight in one of their three games before the end of the calendar year.
St. Joe’s will be without senior guard Charoy Bentley tonight. He had an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 15. He will be out until sometime next week, at the earliest. The Hawks will suit up 10 scholarship players tonight. Eight will be freshmen or sophomores.