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