Benjamin Simon & William Derry
MVP: Josh Hart (G/Villanova)
Rookie of the Year: A.J. Brodeur (F/Penn)
Most Improved: Rodney Williams (F/Drexel)
Defensive Player of the Year: Mikal Bridges (F/Villanova)
Coach of the Year: Steve Donahue (Penn)
Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova
Statistics: 14.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 4.1 APG, .541 FG%, .378 3P%, .876 FT%
Though Villanova lost standout guard Ryan Arcidiacono due to graduation, sophomore guard Jalen Brunson stepped up this season as the Wildcats’ primary ball handler and one of the team’s leaders. The Illinois native entered this season after winning a national championship in his first year but that did not hinder his growth. Throughout this season’s campaign, Brunson helped the Wildcats sweep their non-conference regular season schedule and win the Big East tournament championship by playing his best in the most critical moments. For instance, Brunson scored a career-high 27 points on the road against conference-rival Creighton on New Year’s eve. Despite Nova’s 2nd round NCAA Tournament loss, Brunson took a huge leap this season as a leader and will only get better next season.
Josh Hart, G, Villanova
Statistics: 18.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, .510 FG%, .404 3P%, .747 FT%
Josh Hart’s decision to return to Villanova for his senior year not only paid dividends for the Wildcats, as they compiled 30-plus wins and won the Big East tournament championship, but it also helped the 6-foot-5 guard’s draft stock. Hart proved night in and night out that he was one of the best players in college basketball this season by scoring in double-figures in every contest (13 games with 20 or more points), leading Nova in rebounds (6.4 RPG), and putting the Wildcats on his back against the country’s ranked teams. In a come-from-behind win versus Notre Dame in early December, Hart recorded a career-high 37 points (10-14 FGM-A, 14-14 FTM-A) on national television and put the college basketball world on notice. The 2017 Big East tournament MVP and First Team All-American did not end his last year at Nova lifting the national championship trophy for a second time but Josh Hart did help Villanova have another historic season and improve his chances of getting drafted in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft.
B.J. Johnson, F, La Salle
Statistics: 17.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1 APG, 1.1 SPG, .449 FG%, .362 3P%, .838 FT%
B.J. Johnson became the Explorers’ go-to player after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. The Lower Merion alumnus showed no resemblance of the unused substitute he was at Syracuse, as he led La Salle in points (17.6) and rebounds (6.3) per game. Johnson was a part of a trio of transfers, which included Demetrius Henry (South Carolina) and Pookie Powell (Memphis), that was supposed to revamp the Explorers’ program, though that did not fully come true. That being said, Johnson’s production combined with that of senior guard Jordan Price (15.3 PPG) and Powell (13.7 PPG) did help La Salle win 6 more games this year. Johnson will be one of the best players in the City 6 after returning deciding to return for his senior season.
Rodney Williams, F, Drexel
Statistics: 15.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, .526 FG%
Coming into his senior season, Rodney Williams was tasked with learning a new coaching philosophy, taking on more of a leadership role, and becoming Drexel’s main offensive/defensive threat. Williams accomplished all of this and more, as he led Drexel in points (15.6) and rebounds (6.8) per game during his lone season under head coach Zach Spiker. Williams displayed his knowledge of coach Spiker’s system on a nightly basis by advising his younger teammates and his commitment to Drexel basketball by never putting his head down throughout the 9-win season. Williams made serious improvements from the year before, even adding a 3-point threat for the first time in his career and was one of the few bright spots in Drexel’s first year under Spiker. While Drexel didn’t win too many games, Williams was the team’s anchor on offense and defense. His versatility was consistently relied upon. He often had to cover the team’s best wings and big men, while also attack the basket and hit the open jump shot. Rodney Williams was surely one of the most valuable forwards in the City 6.
A.J. Brodeur, F, Penn
Statistics: 13.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 2.4 BPG, 1 SPG, .526 FG%
Penn head coach Steve Donahue has known about A.J. Brodeur since he was a freshman in high school and fans of Quaker basketball now know why. The Second team All-Ivy league selection did not shy away from the limelight in his first collegiate season as he averaged a team-high 13.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. The offensive skillset that Brodeur showed off this year is impressive alone but his ability on the defensive end and his willingness to defend is what makes his so special as an all-around talent. This is just the start of a remarkable Penn basketball career.
Kurk Lee, G, Drexel
Statistics: 14.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5 APG, 1.6 SPG, .415 FG%, .400 3P%
From day one, Kurk Lee proved himself to be one of the best guards in the CAA. With elite quickness and a mature mid-range game, Lee’s play more resembled a senior playmaker. The freshman point guard only had four games with single digit points and only one game without an assist. Lee capped off the year with multiple big time performances, including a 25-point, 8-assist, 0-turnover game against William and Mary and a 25-point, 5-assist game 4 days later against Towson. Kurk Lee is a superstar in the making for coach Spiker.
Shizz Alston, G, Temple
Statistics: 13.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, .408 FG%, .345 3P%, .868 FT%
Like so many standout Temple guards before him, including Khalif Wyatt, Will Cummings and Quenton DeCosey, Shizz Alston took off after his first year with the Owls. Last season, Alston only tallied two outings where he played for more than 10 minutes, but with DeCosey graduating and senior Josh Brown sidelined for most of the year with an injury, the All-Big 5 first-team selection became one of coach Dunphy’s core players. Alston improved statistically in every category as he averaged 13.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists 1.7 steals, 41 FG%, 35 3P% and 87 FTM%. Since Brown did not play for the majority of the campaign, Alston also had to take over ball handling duties, which gave him more of an opportunity to contribute for Temple. Alston’s production should improve over his final two seasons on North Broad.
Jordan Price, G, La Salle
Statistics: 15.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.6 APG,.433 FG%, .354 3P%, .762 FT%
After being La Salle’s main scoring threat last season, Jordan Price was joined by transfers B.J. Johnson and Pookie Powell this season, who took some of the pressure off of him. This allowed the Second Team All-Big 5 selection to take higher percentage shots from the field, which in turn led to a higher shooting percentage. Furthermore, this gave head coach John Giannini the option of resting Price periodically throughout the game, so that he would be fresh for crunch time at the end of the contest. Price’s ability to create his own shot made him a reliable asset for the Explorers and caused opposing teams to scramble to figure out a way to force him to give up the basketball.
James Demery, F, Saint Joseph’s
Statistics: 14.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.6 APG, .423 FG%
James Demery was poised to begin the 2016-17 season as Saint Joseph’s starting small forward and help the Hawks return to the NCAA tournament, but that was halted when he fractured the fourth metatarsal in his left foot against Toledo on opening night. Demery would miss the next 10 games due to the injury, but would return against George Washington and went on to average 14.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 43 FG% in a season where the Hawks would lose the backcourt duo of junior Shavar Newkirk and sophomore Lamarr Kimble to season-ending injuries thereafter. Despite all of that, the Second Team All-Big 5 selection found a way to help lead this year’s youthful Hawk team by playing tough defense, attacking the basket, and mentoring his fellow teammates.
Kris Jenkins, F, Villanova
Statistics: 13.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2 APG, 1.1 SPG, .384 FG%, .360% 3P%, .862 FT%
To top what Kris “Big Smoove” Jenkins did at last year’s National Championship would have been almost impossible. He scored one of the most historic shots in NCAA tournament history and won Villanova a National Championship. After deciding to return for his senior season, the expectations for Jenkins were high but he did not let them faze him, as he provided Nova with timely performances during the regular season. Jenkins primarily played forward for the Wildcats, which complemented coach Wright’s small lineup as the Big East honorable mention selection stretched the floor with his sweet-stroke. Though Nova exited the NCAA tournament in the 2nd round this season, Kris Jenkins will always be remembered for his buzzer-beater against North Carolina and he played a major role in the team’s success this year.
G- Pookie Powell
Statistics: 13.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.3 SPG, .434 FG%, .363% 3P%, .843 FT%
After transferring to La Salle for his final three years of eligibility, Pookie Powell was one of the City 6’s most explosive scorers this season. The transfer from Memphis had a season-high 27 points in 31 minutes against #1 ranked Villanova and 24 days later, he had 23 points and 7 rebounds against the A-10’s regular season winner, Dayton. But Powell only played in only 24 of the team’s 30 games, starting a mere 18, after struggling with injuries and the dog house with coach John Giannini. Powell’s well rounded skillset proved to be a problem for opposing defenses and despite the disappointing year for La Salle, Powell was a bright spot.
G- Lamarr Kimble
Statistics: 15.5 PPG, 4 RPG, 4.5 APG, .362 FG%, .320% 3P%
In his second season at Saint Joseph’s, Lamarr Kimble walked into a much bigger role with the losses of DeAndre Bembry, Isaiah Miles, Aaron Brown, and Papa Ndao. He averaged nearly 10 more shots per game than he did the year before, while averaging nearly 20 more minutes per game as well. Kimble showed flashes of serious ability to score and lead. Named a captain as a sophomore, Kimble had five 20-point games and ten games with 5 or more assists. Kimble averaged 18.6 points and 5 assists in his final seven games before being injured. The Neumann Goretti grad was easily one of the City 6’s most productive players this season.
G- Matt Howard
Statistics: 12.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, .494 FG%, .373 3P%, .862 FT%
In his senior season, Matt Howard stepped up big time, acting as a leader on and off the court. On a young team with three freshmen in the starting lineup, Howard was a stabilizing force. Due to a lack of size, Howard was often asked to play the ‘4’ despite being listed at 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds. On a night to night basis, Howard was overmatched, but his toughness helped him to prevail. The Columbia, South Carolina native averaged a career-high in multiple categories, including points (12.5), rebounds (6.8), assists (1.5), and steals (1.2). However, more importantly, he shot the ball extremely efficient, nailing 49.4% of his attempts from the field and 37.3% from 3, which were also both career highs.
F- Mikal Bridges
Statistics: 9.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2 APG, 1.7 SPG, .549 FG%, .393% 3P%, .911 FT%
While Mikal Bridges’ stat line may not be the most impressive, his play on the court speaks volumes. The sophomore was Villanova’s lockdown and most versatile defender. On a smaller team, Bridges was often asked to cover the opposing team’s ‘4’s’ and even ‘5’s’. Bridges was named the Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year, along with respectable averages of 9.8 points per game while shooting 55% from the field. He was a key piece for Villanova that was often overlooked because of their star studded backcourt.
F- Obi Enechionyia
Statistics: 13.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1 APG, 1.5 BLK, .406 FG%, .385% 3P%
Obi Enechionyia began the season as one of the nation’s hottest players. He scored 16 points on the 25th ranked Florida State Seminoles and another 22 on Bob Huggins’ 19th ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. In his first 10 games, Enechionyia scored double digits in each, including five games with 20 or more points. But Enechionyia struggled as the season progressed. He averaged a mere 10.5 points per game in conference play, while shooting 37% from the field and 33% from 3. Despite his struggles later on, Enechionyia was easily one of the team's most impactful players throughout the year.
Statistics: 13.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 2.4 BPG, 1 SPG, .526 FG%
Statistics: 12.8 PPG, 5 RPG, 1.1 APG, .375 FG%, .384 3P%, .819 FT%
After Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble went down, Saint Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli turned to Charlie Brown as one of the team’s primary scorers. Brown responded well, putting up double digit points in every game after failing to score against Fordham on January 7th. The freshman lived up to his name, hitting 38.4% of his three point attempts. Brown was easily one of the most consistent players on the Hawks this year and looks to be a major cornerstone for the program.
Statistics: 14.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5 APG, 1.6 SPG, .415 FG%, .400 3P%
Statistics: 9.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, .433 FG%, .300% 3P%
Many didn’t know what to expect from Rose coming into the season. The rising freshman was listed at 6-foot-8 and 185 pounds and suggested to have unlimited potential, but still extremely raw. He was ultimately not expected to earn tons of minutes. But Rose instantly proved his worth in a 26-point outing against Florida State. He didn’t look back and became one of Temple’s most consistent scorers on a daily basis.
Statistics: 11.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.1 SPG, .475 FG%, .402% 3P%, .906 FT%
The talk coming into the season was all about Jackson Donahue. How would he progress as the team’s go-to off guard? Would he become that knockdown shooter? While Donahue had his moments, it was Betley who emerged as the team’s best scoring guard. Despite sitting out the first 10 games, most of them due to a hand injury, Betley made a statement from the get-go. He started in his first game back and finished the year with 15 starts. Betley was a big catalyst for a team that began Ivy League play by losing their first 6 games. It’s no surprise that when Betley started to get comfortable, Penn began winning. In the final 8 games, Betley did not score below 10 points and as a result, the team went 5-3. Additionally, throughout the team’s five-game win streak in February that ultimately got the team back on track, Betley averaged 17.2 points per game, including three 20-points outings. Betley was a pleasant surprise and easily one of Penn’s best players when in uniform.
Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Benjamin Simon & William Derry
Throughout the season, the teams of the City 6 battled it out between each other and other NCAA foes. While some squads were more successful than others, there were a plethora of players who found success in the 2015-16 season. Here is a look at our All-City Teams, Most Improved Team, and All-Freshmen Team:
MVP: DeAndre’ Bembry
Josh Hart, G, Villanova
Statistics: 15.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, .51 FG%
Mr. Do-It-All. Not only has he proved himself as one of the Big East’s most potent offensive presences, but he has become one of the Big East’s best perimeter perimeters. With supreme athleticism and a top motor, Hart is hard to slow down. Even when he is not scoring, he’s rebounding or hustling. Josh Hart is the ultimate star and team player. This season specifically, Hart has stepped up by leading the Wildcats in scoring and has become a true leader.
Quenton DeCosey, G, Temple
Statistics: 15.6 PPG, 6 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.3 SPG, .40 FG%, .37 3P%
When Will Cummings graduated last year everyone questioned who could replace his production. Who would take the shots at the end of the shot clock? Who would be the offensive leader? While DeCosey had previously had success, it was hard to see him as a legit go-to playmaker. Boy, did DeCosey prove everyone wrong. His ability to play methodical and under control earned himself a unanimous selection on the All-AAC First Team. DeCosey has shined most when the game is on the line. Against Tulsa, he made a fantastic cross court pass to Devin Coleman for a three that sent the game into overtime. Against UCF, using the trademark DeCosey pump fake from the foul line, he nailed a shot with seconds left in the game to take the lead. His success cannot be overlooked, as he has propelled the Owls into the NCAA tournament once again.
Jordan Price, G, La Salle
Statistics: 19.2 PPG, 5.5. RPG, 3 APG, 1.1 SPG, .39 FG%, .37 3P%
It is not secret that La Salle has struggled to win consistently this season. That hasn’t stopped star Jordan Price from consistently producing night in and night out. Without an enormous amount of help, Price has been expected to shoot 15 shots per game and carry the team. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Price is tough to slow down and can also efficiently shoot the jumper from behind the arc. His ability to score consistently, even with the whole gym knowing he is going to be shooting, just proves his unique ability to put the ball in the basket. Jordan Price is easily one of the top offensive players in the City 6.
DeAndre’ Bembry, F, Saint Joseph’s
Statistics: 17.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, .48 FG%, 37.1 MPG
DeAndre’ Bembry began the year with loads of attention swirling around him. After strong freshmen and sophomore campaigns, Bembry’s success in his junior season was highly anticipated. He has yet to disappoint, as another Mr. Do-It-All kind of guy. He has the ability to play with his back to the basket or on the perimeter, where he takes the ball to the basket harder than most college basketball players. The most impressive tool he has is his NBA level fadeaway mid range shot. Bembry has not been complacent however, as he has done a great job of identifying double teams and making the right pass. Not only has he had an enormous amount of responsibility on offense, but Bembry is often tasked with covering the opposing team’s best perimeter player. He has had much success doing so, earning him a spot on the A-10’s All-Defensive Team.
Isaiah Miles, F, Saint Joseph’s
Statistics: 18.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1 BPG, .53 FG%, .39 3P%
Coming into the season, Miles was expected to complement the Hawks’ star, DeAndre’ Bembry. Miles has not just complemented Bembry, but he has been Saint Joseph’s go-to offensive player at times this season. The versatile big man can play in the post, yet also step out and shoot the three at a 38% percent clip. Despite the justified attention given to Bembry, Miles leads the team in points per game, rebounds per game, blocks per game, three point percentage, and field goal percentage of players with more than 50 field goal attempts. Isaiah Miles earned himself second team all A-10 honors, in addition to the conference’s Most Improved Player award.
Ryan Arcidiacono, G, Villanova
Statistics: 11.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, .41 FG%, .36 3P%, .82 FT%
Since his freshman year at Villanova, Arcidiacono has been a consistent contributor for the Wildcats. Known for his hard-nosed work ethic and never die attitude, he is the ultimate competitor. Arcidiacono will always go the extra mile, whether it’s making the extra pass to an open teammate or diving on the floor for a loose ball. Who better to lead your team? He has progressively improved throughout his college career and this season has been his best all around year by far. Arcidiacono has posted his highest points per game average (11.7) since the 2012-13 season and career highs in rebounds (2.9), assists (4.5), steals (1.4) and FG% (42%). He is ‘Nova’s undisputed leader and has set the standard for his team.
Josh Brown, G, Temple
Statistics: 8.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, .40 FG%, .33 3P%
Let’s face it, after former Owl Will Cummings graduated last year many people did not know how Brown would do in the starting role this season. The St. Anthony's alum had shown flashes of what he could be through his first two seasons on North Broad but it was a pretty small sample size playing behind Cummings. Brown showed us all this year why he was named to First Team All-State as a senior in high school. Brown’s ability to hit timely shots and defend the opposing team’s guards ferociously for 40 minutes has complemented the Owls beyond measure. Although his statistics are average, Brown has given Temple a steady hand and a fantastic offensive facilitator who rarely makes mistakes. On defense, the guard thrived, leading the team with a defensive box plus-minus of 3.6. His length and quickness was instrumental in disturbing opposing players.The Owls would be nowhere near the tournament if it weren’t for Brown.
Kris Jenkins, F, Villanova
Statistics: 13.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, .44 FG%, .37 3P%, .84 FT%
Jenkins can flat out shoot. He’s currently shooting 43% from the field and 37% from three. There’s no doubt about his ability to shoot, but there’s more to the 6-foot-6 forward. His high basketball IQ truly makes him an all-around player. Jenkins not only can score in a variety of ways by shooting from around the arc and attacking the basket, but he is a willing defender and rebounder. His rebounds per game are up to 3.8 from 2 last season. As a result of his consistent play this year, his confidence is at an all-time high and Jenkins has scored in double figures in 23 games this season. Though he is often overshadowed by his high profile teammates, he continues to produce for the Wildcats.
Daniel Ochefu, F, Villanova
Statistics: 9.7 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 BPG, .61 FG%
Last season Daniel Ochefu had help down in the paint in the form of forward JayVaughn Pinkston. Pinkston graduated, so Ochefu has had to step up to the plate and be the focal point of ‘Nova’s frontcourt. He’s done just that and more. The forward has been dominant in the post on the offensive end (9.7 PPG), while intimidating on the defensive side. Ochefu can back down any big man and get to the basket, but it’s his ability to pass from the post that keeps opposing teams honest and unable to double team him successfully. His 6-foot-11 athletic frame, also allows him to defend most big men in the country and compete for every rebound (7.6 RPG). He did miss three games this season due to a concussion, which gave junior Darryl Reynolds a chance to shine, but returned to ‘Nova’s lineup and did not miss a beat. Ochefu has truly been heroic in his efforts to lead the Wildcats’ frontcourt this season.
Darien Nelson-Henry, C, Penn
Statistics: 12.7 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.2 BPG, .57 FG%
One of only two seniors on Penn’s roster this season, Nelson-Henry did his best to help the young Quakers and first year head coach Steve Donahue compete in a year where they lost standout guard Tony Hicks due to transfer and sophomore guard Antonio Woods due to academic ineligibility. Through it all, Nelson-Henry remained level headed and led Penn with 12.7 PPG, 8.1 RPG and 1.2 BPG. His size allows him to back down defenders and score with either hand, but his craftiness gives him the ability to finish through traffic while down in the paint. The Washington state native can pass from the post, which opens up the floor and gives him the opportunity to find open teammates around the arc. Furthermore, his 6-foot-11 frame and weight of 265 pounds allows him to bang in the paint with most big men. Nelson-Henry led by example this year and made the most of a turbulent Penn season.
Matt Howard, G, Penn
Statistics: 12.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, .46 FG%
The Penn guard emerged this season as a surprise. In the past years, Howard would often disappear during games, or would struggle to assert himself as a go-to offensive piece. This season, however, the Penn guard stepped up. Asked to be the team’s primary perimeter scorer, Howard embraced the role, scoring double digits in 18 outings. Despite being asked to shoot almost 10 shots a game, the guard finished with an impressive 46% from the field. He also played an important role in the rebounding category and on the defensive end. Although he is only 6-foot-4, Howard averaged 5.7 rebounds per game, including 3 double digit rebounding performances. On defense, he was tasked with covering the opposing team’s best perimeter players, and even sometimes, their big men. Against Dartmouth, the off-guard covered their 6-foot-8 freshman forward, Evan Boudreaux, for majority of his time on the floor. His success cannot be overlooked.
Cleon Roberts, G, La Salle
Statistics: 12.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.9 SPG, .39 FG%, .36 3P%
Roberts has had to play much of the season in shadow of Jordan Price, but it has not slowed him down. The junior proved himself to be a player who can get hot and hit shots. With only 6 games with less than 10 points scored, Roberts turned out to be solid second option to star Jordan Price. Although he struggled to produce in other areas, Roberts showed he could score on a consistent basis. He complemented Price and the Explorers with his sweet stroke from behind the arc, hitting three or more three pointers in 13 games. Furthermore, Roberts did a solid job of getting to the charity stripe and converting his free throws, as he shot 77% from the line.
Tavon Allen, G, Drexel
Statistics: 13.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, .36 FG%, .37 3P%, .83 FT%
The senior had an up-and-down season for the troubled Drexel Dragons. Asked to fill the gigantic shoes of Damion Lee, Allen, at times, showed his ability to do so. Shooting a career high 36% from three, Allen was able to average 13.1 points per game, which included multiple impressive scoring outings. He tallied five 20 point games, including 33 points against top ranked Hofstra. Although he often struggled with foul trouble, Allen showcased his ability to really shoot the ball from the outside and give Drexel that needed scoring punch when necessary.
Obi Enechionyia, Temple
Statistics: 11.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, .42 FG%, .39 3P%,
Obi Enechionyia has thrived this season as the team’s most consistent perimeter shooter. At 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, it isn’t often that you see someone with his size be able to shoot the ball with his proficiency. For much of season he shot at 40% clip from three point range, nailing shots from all over the court. In addition to playing as a face-up four man, Enechionyia added a fadeaway post jump, which proved to be strong at select times. With unique athleticism to match a silky jump shot, Enechionyia became a focal point of the Owls’ offense this season.
Jaylen Bond, F, Temple
Statistics: 10.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1 SPG, .47 FG%
Although Bond has struggled during parts of the season, the big man has come along towards the end of the season for the Owls. After five straight games with single digit points and rebounds, Bond has responded with 4 straight double digit scoring outings, including 3 double-doubles. When Bond is playing well, he is hard to stop. A bulky and lengthy big man who can bang with the largest players in the NCAA. Bond thrived this season off of efficient hook shots and putbacks. When he is attacking the boards on both ends of the floor and playing defense, the Owls are scary team. However, the consistency has not always been there, but when it has, he is one of the top players in the City 6.
Most Improved Team:
Josh Brown, G, Temple
Statistics: 8.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, .40 FG%, .33 3P%
When Will Cummings graduated, many wondered whether Josh Brown would be able to step up and take on the role as floor facilitator for the Owls. Brown has not disappointed. Despite playing a team high 35 minutes per game, the junior is only averaging 1.3 turnovers per game. While last year he averaged 1.63 assists per turnover, this season he has significantly improved that margin to 3.74 assists per turnover. The large jump that Brown has taken as the team’s floor commander cannot be overlooked.
Jackson Donahue, G, Penn
Statistics: 9.7 PPG, 2 RPG, 1.2 APG, .40 FG%, .38 3P%
Jackson Donahue largely began the first month of college basketball riding the pine. He logged 2 DNP’s and only one game with double digit minutes throughout the first ten games. But a big game against top ranked Villanova, where the freshman dropped 18 points in 31 minutes, earned him a regular spot in the lineup. From there, Donahue only played one game for less than 30 minutes and scored single digit points in only four games. He became that go-to shooter that the Penn offense had desperately needed throughout the season.
James Demery, F, Saint Joseph’s
Statistics: 8.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG, .51 FG%
Last season James Demery played major minutes for the Hawks. He averaged 24 minutes per game and showed flashes of his real potential in his freshman starting role. But his trouble to shoot and consistently produce on the offensive end resulted in a lack of production. He averaged 6.7 points per game and shot 36% from the field, and 17% from three point range. His struggle gave him an offensive rating of 86.9 and an offensive box plus-minus -3.5. This season however, Demery has taken leaps forward. Now coming off of the bench, Demery has an offensive rating of 113.6 and a offensive box plus-minus of .7. Demery’s improvements have been instrumental in Saint Joseph’s success.
Obi Enechionyia, F, Temple
Statistics: 11.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, .42 FG%, .39 3P%
Last season Obi Enechionyia showed promise as the lone freshman in his recruiting class. He averaged 5 points per game and showed that he was a versatile power forward. But this season, Enechionyia took major steps forward to becoming a major part of Temple’s offensive plan. However, this did not happen instantly. In his first 17 games, the sophomore had 11 single digit outings and only 3 games with more than 25 minutes played. However, since that point, he has played less than 20 minutes in a game and has only one game with single digit points. Enechionyia has found his shot, becoming that go-to three point threat he strived to be at the beginning of the season.
Isaiah Miles, F, Saint Joseph’s
Statistics: 18.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1 BPG, .53 FG%, .39 3P%
Isaiah Miles has made impressive strides from last year to this year, earning himself the Atlantic 10’s Most Improved Player. Last season, Miles was solid. He had his moments, but for the most part, he did perform as an adequate second scoring option for an underperforming team. He shot 38% from the field and 35% from three to average 10 points per game. Despite only playing 3 more minutes per game this season, he is now shooting 52% from the field and 38% from three for 18 points per game. His former pedestrian offensive rating of 100.7 is currently 133, which is 7th in the nation. His offensive box plus-minus has changed from .5 to 6.9 this season, also highest on the team. However, it hasn’t only been his offense that has reaped the benefits of hard work. His defense has additionally steadily improved, as defensive rating has decreased each year since his freshman season, now at 99.6. The improvement of Isaiah Miles cannot be overlooked.
Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova
Statistics: 9.9 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 2.6 APG, .45 FG%, .37 3P%
Brunson entered this season with major expectations after winning a Class 4A Illinois state championship at Stevenson High school, a FIBA U19 World Championship in Greece with the USA basketball, two Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year awards, and earning a spot as a McDonald's All-American. The five-star recruit started the season in ‘Nova’s starting five and has started in all but one game thus far. Brunson can finish through traffic when he drives to the basket and make highlight reel passes if necessary, but it’s his knowledge of the game that allows him to set the tempo for the Wildcats. Brunson has benefited from playing alongside senior Ryan Arcidiacono. Brunson's season averages (10.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.7 apg) may not scream out potential National Player of the Year candidate but on a team that features Josh Hart, Daniel Ochefu, and Arcidiacono, among others, the freshman is doing all that he can on a top ranked team that has talent from top to bottom.
Terrell Allen, G, Drexel
Statistics: 9.8 PPG, 3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, .41 FG%
Terrell, not Tavon. Tavon Allen is of course Drexel’s leading scorer (13.1 ppg) but Terrell is their freshman point guard, who had a solid first year. Terrell was thrusted into Drexel’s starting lineup at Hagan Arena on opening night and did not shy away from the bright lights of Philly basketball. Though Drexel lost to the Hawks 82-81, Terrell finished the game with 18 points (7-13 FGM-A), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and played 36 minutes. Not too bad for his first career college basketball game. He went on to start in all but two games for the Dragons. The Maryland native struggled at times, but most freshmen do as they try to adjust to the physicality and speed of college basketball. More often than not though, he was a bright spot for the Dragons, who posted a 6-25 record under former head coach Bruiser Flint. Terrell scored in double figures 14 times and led Drexel in assists (3.5) and steals (1.5). He scored a game-winning shot in his last double digit scoring performance against Elon that sent the Dragons to the quarterfinals of the CAA conference tournament. One thing is for sure and that is Drexel has a quality starting point guard for years to come.
Jackson Donahue, G, Penn
Statistics: 9.7 PPG, 2 RPG, 1.2 APG, .40 FG%, .38 3P%
The sharp-shooting guard from Connecticut stepped up big time for the young Quakers when his number was called. Donahue began the season coming off of the bench for first year head coach Steve Donahue and showcased his ability in a strong performance against Big 5 rival Temple, where he scored 12 points off of 4 three pointers. Two games later he received his first start against another Big 5 rival in Villanova and did not miss a start after that. In Penn’s last 17 games of the season, Donahue scored in double digits 13 times, shot 41% from the field and played 35.5 MPG. This is due in part to his ability to come off of screens and hit shots in rhythm. He benefitted greatly from the unfortunate dismissal of sophomore guard Antonio Woods and became one of Penn’s most lethal scoring threats.
Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova
Statistics: 6.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1 SPG, .50 FG%, .79 FT%
With all the hype surrounding teammate Jalen Brunson coming into the season, Bridges flew under the radar early on but as the season progressed, the 6-foot-7 guard played an integral role in ‘Nova’s success. Bridges did not feature in the starting five this season but did average 20 MPG coming off of the bench. Furthermore, he became a commodity for the Wildcats, scoring 7 or more points in 18 games. His defensive of presence was also evident in his ability to stay in front of quicker guards and taller forwards thanks to his 6-foot-7 frame. The Malvern native ultimately became Nova’s sixth man.
Pierfrancesco “Checco” Oliva, F, Saint Joseph’s
Statistics: 4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, .37 FG%
“Checco” was the biggest surprise coming into the season for the Hawks. Oliva began the season in the starting lineup for the Hawks and remained there for all but six games. The Bergen Catholic graduate got off to a hot start to begin the season, averaging 8.2 points, 5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2 blocks in his first five games. His ability to space the floor for the Hawks made him a consistent contributor early on. Furthermore, he gave coach Phil Martelli a different type of frontcourt player compared to his counterparts because of his dribbling and shooting capability. Checco did cool down after that five game stretch, partly due to the return of Hawks forward Papa Ndao, who missed the first six games of the season. Though the forward continued to start games, his minutes decreased from 25.6 MPG in his first five games to 15 MPG in his last 26 games. Through it all however, Checco remained in Saint Joseph’s rotation and has sporadically produced for the Hawks.
Photo: AP Photo/Chris Szagola
This past Friday multiple City 6 teams earned their spot in the NCAA Tournament. While Saint Joseph’s clinched their spot earlier on Sunday by winning the Atlantic 10 championship, Villanova and Temple tried to enter the field as at-large bids. Despite losing in the Big East title game, Villanova had done enough to feel safe heading into Selection Sunday. However, Temple could not feel so comfortable, as they were labeled as a “bubble team” after a 21-11 season.
Villanova and Temple did not have to wait long for their name to be called. Less than a half hour in Villanova learned they would be a number 2 seed, facing 15th seeded UNC-Asheville in the South region. Seconds later, also in the South region, Temple was announced as a 10 seed, heading on to face 7th seeded Iowa. A potential victory for both teams would set up a traditional Big 5 matchup in the Round of 32. Not much longer, Saint Joseph’s heard their name called. As an 8 seed, they will face 9th seeded Cincinnati.
Click here for the entire bracket.
The NCAA Tournament is one of the best American sporting events and this year’s rendition has a case for it to be the best in its storied history. So far, the college basketball season has been loaded with incredible games between top ranked talent, upsets galore, and the birth of future stars. More exclusively in Philadelphia, much of the same has happened between Villanova, Temple, Penn, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, and Drexel. So, with the Final Four just a few months away, it is as good of a time as ever to break out the brackets and get to predicting the postseason outcomes for each team.
Record as of 1/28: 3-17
Analysis: It has been a tough year for Drexel in all facets of the program. With Damion Lee transferring to Louisville for graduate school following a stellar season, it left head coach Bruiser Flint with little to work with. Freshman guard Terrell Allen and junior big man Rodney Williams are bright spots on team, showing signs that they are going to be focal points of the squad following this year. Williams, a standout at St. Christopher’s High School in Virginia, currently ranks ninth all time in Dragons blocked shots history with 96 stuffed in two and half seasons. Allen, who ranks second on the team in scoring with 10.2 points per game, provides the necessary skills at the guard position with scoring and quick passes. The other Allen, Tavon, is back for his final season and Dragon fans have to be happy with that. Tavon’s gradual increase in production year by year was just the answer to head coach Bruiser Flint’s problem following Damion Lee’s transferring to Louisville. Overall, the team just isn’t up to par with the rest of the CAA, falling in all but one of their eight league contests to date. Their lone CAA win came at home against the College of Charleston by a score of 61-54, who is 13-7 on the year. The two other wins were against Penn and La Salle earlier in the season. Those kinds of wins against fellow city teams are paramount for a struggling program, since they have known each other so well and have played since the 1900s.
Final verdict: The Dragons will probably make much noise in the CAA playoffs, especially with tight competition at the top of the conference with James Madison, UNC Wilmington, Hofstra, William and Mary, and Towson. It will likely shake out with DU snagging the 9 seed in the tournament, squaring up against Elon, who beat the Dragons already this year. Unless they win the tournament and shock the likes of JMU, UNCW, or W+M, an NCAA Tournament is far from plausible this time around.
Record as of 1/28: 5-13
Analysis: La Salle is the type of team this season that keeps it close in games, but falls short towards the end. The record doesn’t show some of the true ability of this team. The schedule for the Explorers has been an interesting one too, giving a good mix of nonconference opponents. Most notably, La Salle took on Towson at home, #9/6 Villanova at the Pavilion, #13/16 Miami (FL) at the Palestra, Florida Gulf Coast on the road, and Temple as part of the Big 5 double header. For a program trying to gain its footing in a tough Atlantic-10, reaching out to ACC schools like Miami can give the Explorers a chance to cause an upset so that when they enter league play, teams that have been in the rankings in other points of the season like Dayton or VCU will have to watch out. Despite their lowly record, La Salle averages 8.1 points less than an opponent per game, making close games a frequent. Take the January 16th game at Rhode Island for example. Junior Jordan Price had 20 points and sophomore Johnnie Shuler had a career high 16 points in the losing effort, contributing to a 17-9 run in a 7 minute span by the Rams which gave them the lead. It is evident the team is moving in the right direction, but finishing the regular season strong and heading into A-10 playoffs looking to make some noise is the right mindset.
Final verdict: Similarly with Drexel, La Salle is going to need to try and snag some tough wins as conference play goes down the stretch in an effort to gain momentum going into the A-10 tournament. The Explorers face five teams ranked in the top five of the conference over eight games, a hard challenge for any team, but would benefit immensely from winning two of those five games in addition to taking 2/3 from the bottom five teams in that stretch. This would give La Salle a record of 9-16, inching them closer to a potential first round bye in the tournament. A postseason appearance, whether it is NCAA, NIT, or CBI is very unlikely but the foundation for a further run next season is in place.
Record as of 1/28: 6-9
Analysis: Penn strung together some decisive wins this season, but just couldn’t keep a hold on to the momentum early on and have stumbled as of late. The team has fallen in four of their last five contests, despite playing well and hard. Three of said losses came in overtime by a total margin of eight points. Offensively, they have been focused on sophomore big man Darien Nelson-Henry, a Lake Washington High School graduate, who leads the team with 12.3 points per game. Production from a big man is at a premium these days in college basketball and the Ivy League especially. Penn, who just opened conference play, has a tricky road ahead, when they play Yale, Columbia, and Harvard in a five game stretch from February 20th to March 5th. Shooting from freshman guard Jackson Donahue has been a spark plug as of late, and continued success for him would help the Quakers gain some footing in the conference, especially without former starting guard Antonio Woods, who violated academic policies at Penn.
Final verdict: Neither an Ivy League title or an NCAA Tournament appearance are in the foreseeable future for this team, unfortunately. The Ivy League is difficult to map out each season because of their lack of a conference tournament and they mere eight teams. Penn does have four recruits coming in for next season, so fresh faces to follow in the footsteps of current freshmen Jackson Donahue, Jake Silpe, and Max Rothschild, who have produced more than expected, is a definite plus. When programs go through swings of positives and negatives, it is important to find a medium and Penn has a nucleus that head coach Steve Donahue and the rest of the staff can work with in the years to come. The hope is that they can gain some traction and that they can go from a tie for 6th place like they are now, to a top four or even top three team and draw some attention back to the Quakers.
Record as of 1/28: 11-8
Analysis: Temple University as a whole has had such a thrilling run in the athletic department this school year with the recent success of the football team. Head coach Fran Dunphy has been reportedly on the hot seat at TU, ever since the rumored hiring of Rick Brunson as assistant coach and successor to the Dunphy throne, former Temple and Chicago Bulls player and father of Villanova freshman guard Jalen Brunson, came up. When the air cleared up a bit at the start of the season, Temple immediately was put to the test, facing unanimous preseason #1 UNC in Annapolis, Maryland. Going up against any Carolina team is a challenge, but TU was victim to the the AP Poll, as they fell in 2 of 3 games to ranked opponents as a part of the Puerto Rico Tip Off in San Juan. Easy wins against Delaware, Fairleigh-Dickinson, Delaware State, sprinkled in with a few losses versus Wisconsin in Madison and an OT L against Saint Joseph’s at home. Most Owl fans were probably hoping for a better turnout in the beginning portion of the season, but there isn’t much you can do against #22/20 Butler and #16/16 Utah on a neutral court or an overtime loss to a Big 5 rival. Opening up American Athletic Conference play in a huge way was just the spark the Cherry and White needed. Cincinnati is a notoriously grind-it-out type of team and sits with Temple right in the upper-class of the AAC, so taking them down at home in 2OT was a testament to both teams’ ability. Temple’s versatility comes from the depth of their roster. Those who have played in the 18 games thus far are averaging double digits in minutes, with most averaging 20 or more. Senior guard and Clemson transfer Devin Coleman alongside fellow senior guard Quenton DeCosey have been the go-to scoring options for coach Dunphy recently. DeCosey has been productive to say the least, scoring 10 points or higher in all but two games, both of which resulted in losses (12/5 vs Wisconsin, 1/2 vs Houston). In a game where many thought it should’ve been an easy win, the Owls fell on the road to East Carolina in a wild finish. With the score all tied up at 61, Pirates’ freshman Kentrell Barkley converted an and-one with just seconds remaining to seal the win off of a crazy tipped ball sequence. Despite the disappointing end result, Temple had stellar performances from Obi Enechionyia, who lead the team with 18 points. Their leading scorer, DeCosey, also had a solid game with 14 points, including a steal late in the game that led to the scoring being tied up at 61. In a match where there were 14 lead changes, Cherry and White fans shouldn’t disregard the fact that freshman center and Archbishop Carroll alumnus, Ernest Aflakpui, had career highs in points (8), rebounds (14), and minutes played (25). After he suffered a knee injury just a few weeks into the season last year at Carroll, it is really great to see him out on the court and getting quality time as a freshman in college. Despite the loss, good things are to come for the Owls.
Final verdict: Temple actually has a very solid shot to win its league this year. With SMU’s suspensions and postseason bans, TU could wind up with the #1 seed in the conference tournament if they win out in conference games. Even if the standings stay as they are now, Temple would play either Houston or South Florida, and the Owls would much rather play against the latter of the two teams. If Temple can in fact win out and make it to the semifinals of the league tournament, they could make it close enough to the top 25 where they would find themselves in a position to have an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament, drawing a 13 or even an 12 seed. Without a doubt this team has the talent and potential to make it that far, but crazier things happen before.
Record as of 1/28: 17-3
Analysis: Honestly, anything out of SJU this season after the way they played last season. Many thought they would be a middle of the pack team and not even be in consideration for the postseason. But now, St. Joe’s is a legitimate contender for the A-10 title this year and have put together a resume of solid wins against the likes of Temple at the Liacouras Center. That rarely is a sure-fire bet, especially when the Cherry and White have shown that they can be really hot this year, but the Hawks prevailed in overtime thanks to Lamarr Kimble’s go-ahead three ball in OT. Kimble’s trey sealed the first win for SJU at Temple since 2008. Running through the rest of the nonconference with ease, and only two losses on the year to Florida and Villanova in the Holy War, VCU came around. It was a battle towards the end, but the Hawks really played well. Down by one at the half, they went on an 11-0 run and were up by 10 for a little while to start off the 2nd half. VCU battled back and regained the lead for good with about six minutes remaining. With Naismith Memorial Player of the Year candidate DeAndre Bembry leading the way with co-star Isaiah Miles, the Hawks are a well-built team with consistency from both their starters to the bench. It’s hard to see any major stumbling blocks in the way of the Saint Joseph’s success.
Final verdict: Barring any upset losses, a definite A-10 top 3 spot in the tournament with a chance at #2 if they beat Dayton at home on February 17th. SJU will most likely make it into the NCAA tournament as a potential 12 seed. Some bracketologists have them as a play-in team, but an at-large bid is most definitely in reach for the Hawks.
Record as of 1/28: 17-3
Analysis: To be honest, there is not a more complete team in the country than the Villanova Wildcats. That being said, there is so much parity this year that they are still beatable. As they have shown all season, besides the three-point shot, there isn’t just one area of the game that Villanova relies on too much: their man to man defense is solid, their zone has improved mightily, passing hasn’t been an issue, rebounding is manageable despite a lack of big men, and their inside/mid-range shooting has been smooth all year. With so many deadly aspects to their arsenal, VU is unbelievably strong when they get on a roll. What makes this Villanova team so great is that the rest of the conference is so good, that every game matters and for the most part, the ‘Cats play like it. If you want to be critical, Villanova did get blown out by Oklahoma and Virginia, yes. They lost to Providence yesterday in a game they should’ve won, yes. BUT the OU game was a neutral site and they have this kid named Buddy Hield, who may be the best player in the country. Virginia is a perennial ACC contender with its continued defensive pressure and wholistic game and Providence is lead by the reigning Big East Player of the Year, Kris Dunn. Don’t point to the statistics and say Villanova isn’t good, because they will tell you otherwise. ‘Nova is the #1 ranked team in Ratings Percentage Index, #2 in strength of schedule thanks to neutral site games against Stanford, Georgia Tech, and OU as well as marquee nonconference games at SJU and at Temple, #6 in the country in the AP and Coaches polls, reaching fourth just last week. Six of their seventeen wins have come against teams ranked in the top 50 of RPI. Still not a believer? Just watch the tape. The Ryan Arcidiacono and Josh Hart tag team is one of the best in the country without a doubt. Arch scores from all over the court and Hart adds with an unprecedented ability at rebounding for a guard, as he ranks second on the team with 143 this year. The complimentary offensive pieces go from 2015 Illinois High School Player of the Year Jalen Brunson to redshirt freshman Mikal Bridges to guard Phil Booth to shooter Kris Jenkins, and 2013 PIAA AAAA State Champion Darryl Reynolds. An all-around stellar cast to go along with former Coach of the Year Jay Wright, provides the ‘Cats with a great chance at glory come March.
Final verdict: It is quite possible that Villanova wins the Big East Regular Season and Tournament Champions outright and back-to-back for the first time ever. Joe Lunardi thinks that the ‘Cats will be a 1 seed in the West Region, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them as a 2 seed in the East. As a result of their fantastic play, making an Elite Eight or maybe even a Final Four run wouldn’t be a gigantic surprise.
Around the New Year, people often make “New Year’s resolutions.” These are normally positive changes they want to make to their lives. Here are The Empire’s New Year’s resolutions for each team of the City 6:
Drexel: Continue to get consistent play from Tavon Allen
Coming into the season, many wondered if Tavon Allen could shoulder just some of the load that Damion Lee had handled in his time in Philly. And at times Allen has, but too many times he hasn’t. If the Dragons want any sort of success, Allen will have to be more consistent in his offensive output. When the senior has shot above 40% from the field, the Dragons are 2-1. When he has had more than 2 turnovers, they’re winless. The bottom line is that Drexel is only averaging 64.5 points per game. They need more from Allen. That starts from making sure he is taking high percentage shots and then knocking down the open shots he receives. But Drexel will not win if Allen can’t be more consistent on the offensive end because he is their most talented scorer when he is on.
Penn: Play through Darien Nelson-Henry on offense and defense
Penn is best when they are playing through Darien Nelson-Henry. This means getting him a plethora of touches, especially where he can make things happen. When he gets the ball, teams have to collapse and help out, leaving open shots for the big man’s teammates. As one of the bigger and more talented big men in the Ivy League, Nelson-Henry has great touch and feel for the game on the block. Not many teams have been able to contain him offensively, as he has shot 50% or above from the field in 8 of their 12 games. He additionally has scored double digits in all but three of their games. But he still isn’t getting enough shots (8.9 per game), but they have played best when they have consistently got him the ball. Defensively, Penn has to commit to playing aggressive on-ball defense. This is because they know that Nelson-Henry will be manning the middle ready to help. He is a great interior defender and provides trouble for players of all sizes. The Quakers need to make sure they force the game into the hands of their senior captain, Darien Nelson-Henry.
La Salle: Play with more intensity
La Salle began the season with a bang. Against Towson, the Explorers found themselves playing with only five scholarship players for the final eight or so minutes. They played hard. They played with fire. They played with intensity. They played like the team that wanted to win more. Since then, there hasn’t been a defining game where the team played with 100%. As the New Year comes around, La Salle needs to play with more intensity. If La Salle can do this, they will win some games in the A-10. They have the go-to scorer. They have the solid role players to complement superstar Jordan Price. The question just remains: do they really want it and how bad? Ultimately, playing with more heat would lead to more efficient offense and better overall defensive play.
Saint Joseph’s: Keep using depth to their advantage
With such a great start to the season, there haven’t been too many struggles for the Hawks. And to be honest, there isn’t much they should change. However, if there is one aspect that could help them better improve, it would be using their depth to their advantage. To this point, coach Martelli has done a pretty solid job of using his bench, as 8 players have played in more than 10 games and averaged more than 10 minutes per game. Guys like Javon Baumann, Chris Clover, and Markell Lodge saw consistent playing time in each game early on in the season. Lately, however, it seems that coach Martelli is starting to close his rotation a bit, as only 8 players played in their last game against Maryland-Eastern Shore. Although they did win, it would be wise to continue keeping a deep rotation because Saint Joseph’s has the talent to do so. It was just a year ago that Baumann was starting and Clover was putting up 20 points per game at Saint Joe’s Prep. Coach Martelli’s willingness to play 10 players early in the season is a major reason why the Hawks are 10-2. Not only does it allow his major contributors to get a quick breather, but it keeps the defense off balance and on their toes.
Temple: More consistent shooting and offensive output
When Temple went into the Cincinnati game this past Wednesday, not many saw the Owls coming out with a win. The team has yet to beat a ranked opponent, despite the plethora of opportunities they’ve already encountered. But Temple came in ready to play and they started out AAC conference play with a bang. This was in part thanks to their consistent offensive play. The team shot 50% from the field, 45% from three, and only gave up 8 turnovers. However, this is not an accurate description of how the Owls have played during the season on the offensive end. Part of this comes from their inability to hit open shots and shoot the ball well from the perimeter. On the year, the team is shooting 32% from three and only one player (Obi Enechionyia) shoots above 40% from three. But when Temple can shoot well, they are hard to slow down and can play with nearly anyone in the country. The question is, can they produce even without shooting well? This is a problem they will need to solve or Temple will struggle to consistently win games in a tough AAC conference.
Villanova: Get Daniel Ochefu more involved
The Wildcats enter the New Year ranked 16th in the nation. But there are still many aspects they can work on, as they fell to two of the three ranked teams they played in 2015. If ‘Nova wants to compete for a championship, they will need to improve their game, specifically by getting big man Daniel Ochefu more involved. Too often the ‘Cats fall in love with the three point shot and forget about the 6-foot-11 big man. Ochefu needs to be their number one option and honestly, he should probably touch the ball every possession. The team is at their best when the offense runs through the man who is shooting 62% from the field and averaging 9.5 points per game. When the ball does run through the big man, they are at their best. In the Penn game, Ochefu scored 9 of the team’s first 11 points to help set the tone for the game. When ‘Nova starts to get too three point happy, they need to remember their most well-rounded and dynamic offensive player -- Daniel Ochefu.
Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
In just two days, “The Basketball Tournament” (TBT) begins. The much anticipated event is a single elimination basketball tournament that includes many former collegiate and NBA stars. In TBT’s second year, the City 6 is being well represented with a plethora of players including Khalif Wyatt, TJ DiLeo, Dalton Pepper, Ramon Galloway, Tyrone Garland, Jerrell Wright, Reggie Redding, Garrett Williamson, CJ Aiken, Samme Givens, Frantz Massenat, and so many other guys. The tournament will also have former NBA players such as Nate Robinson, Mike Bibby, and Jason Williams, along with others.
TBT regulates the games must be 5-on-5 with 18 minute halves. The winner will bring home 1 million dollars. Each team can include up to 15 participants, but no more than 12 actual players, along with a coach, general manager, and fan booster. In order for the squads to have a chance at competing in the tournament, they had to gain at least 7 players and have 100 fans on “The Basketball Tournament” website by June 1st. However, even if they meet those baseline standards, they don’t automatically get in. The top 18 teams in each region (Northeast, Midwest, West, South) with the most fans get an automatic bid into the tournament. Then 6 more teams are selected for an “at-large” bid to get the chance to compete for 1 million dollars.
“It's free entry and you have the chance to win a lot of money,” said DiLeo, who will be competing with the North Broad Street Bullies. “Players don't need much more incentive than that.”
The tournament travels across the country, all of the way from California (July 10-12) to New York City for the championship (August 1-2). TBT even makes a pit stop in Philadelphia, at Philadelphia University from July 17-19, where the teams from the Northeast region will compete in the preliminary rounds, including many of the former City 6 players.
When asked about which teams he thought would be a tough matchup, DiLeo responded, “I think [Boeheim’s Army] will be a tough team.” but also added that he’s “not really looking past the first round.”
After being questioned about which team he was excited to face, he repeated, “Only looking at the first matchup against St. Anthony's. I don't want to look past that.” Even though this isn’t a professional league, TJ DiLeo and the players participating in TBT are competing to win. They are focused and determined to bring home to the 1 million dollars.
For more information, visit the tournament website: http://www.thetournament.com/
Photo courtesy of www.thetournament.com