Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Allen giving Drexel a boost

Drexel´s Tavon Allen. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Drexel's Tavon Allen. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

It has taken longer than he expected, but Tavon Allen is back providing instant offense for Drexel.

The 6-foot-7 sophomore, who is averaging 12.7 points, was enjoying a solid season until he suffered an ankle injury on Jan. 11 in a 93-88 double overtime win over Northeastern.

He missed two full games, came back and scored 19 points in a 90-77 loss to Delaware, and then played a total of 15 minutes the next two games because the ankle was bothering him.

He had his best game on Sunday since the injury, scoring a career-high 25 points in a 69-65 win at Delaware, which could have clinched at least a tie for the Colonial Athletic Association title with a win.

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  • "The ankle is still not fully healed but it is better," Allen said. "Before when I came back, the ankle was tender and I couldn't really cut well, but now I am good and get a lot of treatment."

    He also received advice from no-nonsense coach Bruiser Flint.

    "The ankle lingered a little bit more and he played a little mental gymnastics with himself, so he had to sit down and say 'It's time to start getting to be 100 percent and feeling you are 100 percent,' " Flint said. "Sometimes it is mind over matter."

    Delaware and Towson will be the favorites in the CAA Tournament March 7-10, but Allen says the win over the Blue Hens should keep Drexel in the conversation.

    "They should never sleep on Drexel," he said. "We can play with anybody in the conference when we come to play on the same page as a team."

     

    No time to relax

    Unlike last year, when Villanova was 19-12 entering the Big East tournament, the Wildcats have been long assured a place in this year's NCAA tournament.

    The only question for Villanova, 24-3 with four regular-season games remaining, is how high the Wildcats will be seeded. Yet there has been no complacency, and that's because coach Jay Wright won't allow the Wildcats to relax.

    "Coach does a great job of humbling us and always says we have to get better," said junior Darrun Hilliard, who is averaging 13.7 points.

    Wright said one thing that has helped the Wildcats is the number of close games, especially recently.

    Villanova is 8-1 in its last nine games. Those include an overtime win over Marquette; a 65-60 victory at Georgetown; and in the last two games, an 82-79 double-overtime win at Providence and Saturday's 57-54 victory over St. John's at the Wells Fargo Center.

    "It's great being in these close games and winning them is even better," Wright said. ". . . These close games have been good and you learn from each one of them."

     

    Don't look now

    St. Joseph's senior Ronald Roberts Jr. admits it's easier said than done when it comes to not looking too far ahead. Attempting to earn their first NCAA berth since 2008, the Hawks took a 19-7 record into Tuesday's game with Dayton.

    "We take games one at a time, but we hear talk about the tournament and it's hard to ignore it," Roberts said. "It's very exciting. I have never been there before and we know what we have to do to get there."

     

    Tough schedule

    On Thursday, Temple visits No. 7 Louisville and will conclude a streak that can't end soon enough for coach Fran Dunphy and the Owls.

    It will be the fifth consecutive American Athletic Conference game against an opponent that was nationally ranked at the time. The streak began with an 82-58 home loss to Louisville and was followed by a 71-64 win over visiting SMU. Then came a 68-55 loss to visiting Connecticut and Saturday's 82-79 overtime loss at Memphis.

    "It's a tough schedule and a change coming from the Atlantic Ten to this conference," said guard Quenton DeCosey, who is averaging 15.2 points. "We try to accept this challenge and come out every night and play hard."

     

    Numbers don't lie

    Penn is just 4-5 and in fifth place in the Ivy League for a number of reasons, but three-point shooting, three-point defense, and turnovers are three big ones.

    The Quakers are last in all three categories in Ivy League games. They are shooting just 23.6 percent from beyond the arc while allowing Ivy opponents to shoot 36.7 percent.

    Penn is averaging a league-worst 16.8 turnovers in Ivy League games and has a turnover margin of minus-5.44.

    Making threes won't be easy this weekend against Brown and Yale. Brown is first in Ivy League games in three-point percentage defense, allowing teams to shoot 26.5 percent while Yale is second (29.9 percent).

     

    Still confident

    At 12-14 and just 4-8 in the A-10 while on a current five-game losing streak, La Salle coach John Giannini remains confident that his team can change its fortunes.

    "Absolutely, we can, we have proven players," Giannini said. "The problem is we have guys in roles where they have more responsibility than in the past, and we haven't been nearly as good in these roles as we have in former roles."

     


    mnarducci@phillynews.com

    @sjnard

     

    Marc Narducci Inquirer Columnist
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