Off The Boards
By Jack Scheuer
November 5, 2014 Edition
It’s November, which means it’s hoops time, and the only city in the nation with 6 Division One teams is looking forward to another basketball season. How successful this group will be is uncertain, but one thing is sure, nationally ranked Villanova is clearly the best of the bunch. Returning from the 29-5 team will be the relentless JayVaughn Pinkston, plus Darrun Hilliard, Ryan Arcidiacano, and Daniel Ochefu. Then there is that outstanding bench and 2 top recruits. Jay Wright’s biggest concern is probably over-confidence. St.Joe’s,(24-10), went on an impressive late run, and won the A-10 title, but the Hawks have lost 3 starters, all who were good enough to be playing professionally this season. Phil Martelli will count on the highly talented DeAndre’ Bembry, point guard Chris Wilson and freshman James Demery to lead his team, along with Isaiah Miles and Javon Baumann. A major concern will be the lack of outside shooting. La Salle is hoping to bounce back from its disappointing (15-16) mark. The Explorers have solid big men Steve Zack and Jerrell Wright in the front court, plus guards D.J. Peterson and Khalid Lewis. John Giannini is hoping transfer shooters Jordan Price and Cleon Roberts, plus freshman Amar Stukes (La Salle High) will help at the guard position. After 4 seasons of averaging 26 wins, Temple looks to improve from its 13-14 record. Fran Dunphy lost Dalton Pepper to graduation, and Anthony Lee to Ohio State. However, Will Cummings, Quenton DeCosey and Dana Dingle return, and transfers Jaylen Bond, Jesse Morgan, and Devin Coleman, all former area high school stars, will hopefully help to turn things around. Hard-luck Drexel suffered through injuries last year (16-14) only to begin this season by losing point guard Major Canady and forward Kazembe Abif. The talented and healthy Damion Lee has returned along with Tavon Allen and Rodney Williams. Bruiser Flint’s emphasis on defense will be a positive factor. Penn (8-20) can only hope things get better. Miles Jackson-Cartwright and Fran Dougherty are gone, but Tony Hicks is an offensive threat and a healthier Darien Nelson-Henry is capable of being a force up front. Jerome Allen’s team will need help from a freshmen group that features forward Mike Auger, and make a stronger effort to cut down on the turnovers.
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A few words about our professional team and the grand experiment the Sixers have put into place. To be blunt, I think it will be a total disaster. Too many things have to go the right way for this plan to be successful, plus they have to be very lucky with their draft picks. And who knows how many injuries could occur to whatever good players they may be fortunate enough to acquire. I also question how long the knowledgeable Philadelphia fan will put up with the avalanche of defeats and multiple lineup changes. To be content with losing is a very bad idea. It’s also un-American.
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Trivia Time: Who led the NBA in turnovers last year: Answer at the end of the column.
This and That: Former city players are playing all over the world. T.J. DiLeo and Frantz Massenat are in Germany; Dalton Pepper is in Poland; Khalif Wyatt in Israel, Mouphtaou Yarou in France, and Halil Kanacevic is in Slovenia….It looks kind of funny to see Jameer Nelson in a Dallas uniform….St.John’s is looking for big things from Rysheed Jordan. After a slow start last season, the former Vaux star had a big second half….Former Villanova great and NBA veteran Chris Ford will receive the Living Legend Award at the Philadelphia Sports Writers annual banquet on January 16.
Answer to Trivia Time: Washington’s John Wall had 295 turnovers.