Off the Boards
By Jack Scheuer
November 9, 2016 Edition
Just like that it’s Hoops time again, the best part of the year, when everybody is undefeated and hope springs eternal.
There’s more than just hope out on the main line, where the defending National Champions Wildcats, despite losing Ryan Arcidiacano and Daniel Ochefu, are ranked in the top 5 nationally. Returning starters Josh Hart, Big- Shot Kris Jenkins, and Jalen Brunson will be the nucleolus of a team that will go eight deep, including several solid holdovers and talented Fordham transfer 6-7 Eric Paschall. Jay Wright’s team is certainly the class of the city, poised to defend it’s NCAA title, and certainly a Final Four contender.
La Salle was a disappointing 9-22 last year, and John Giannini is hoping the addition of transfers B.J. Johnson (Syracuse), Pookie Powell (Memphis), and Demitrius Henry (South Carolina) will help get the Explorers back on the right track. The 6-7 Johnson, son of former La Salle shooter Bobby Johnson, is set to be a starter along with big-time scorer Jordan Price. The newcomers will fight for minutes with holdovers Amar Stukes, Cleon Roberts, Tony Washington, Johnnie Shuler and Yevgen Sakhniuk.
Temple (21-12) starts out with it’s best player, point guard Josh Brown hoping to return from an Achilles injury, and without soph Trey Lowe, a probable starter, out for the year after an automobile accident. Fran Dunphy is hoping 6-9 Obi Enechionyia, who finished strong last season, will continue to spark the offense , and that returnees Daniel Dingle, Mark Williams, and Ernest Aflakpui will contribute in the frontcourt. Guard Shizz Alston Jr.will start with highly regarded freshman Alani Moore running the point. Quinton Rose, a talented 6-8 freshman, will also see action.
Saint Joseph’s, coming off a banner 28-8 season, unfortunately has the dubious distinction of not having a returning player who averaged double figures. In addition, sophomore Pierfrancesco (Checco) Oliva, a starter, is out for the season with a leg injury. Phil Martelli will open with Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble, a diminutive but very quick backcourt, and James Demery up front. The rest will be a battle between 6-9 Jai Williams, Javon Baumann, and freshmen Charlie Brown and Gerald Blount. There’s a slight possibility that DeAndre’ Bembry will be missed..
Penn (11-17) is another team expecting help from transfers. Matt MacDonald, 6-5 (Fairleigh-Dickinson), and 6-4 Caleb Wood,(Reno), figure to start for Steve Donahue. They’ll join returnees Matt Howard, sharp-shooter Jackson Brown, and impressive 6-8 freshman AJ Brodeur. An experienced bench has Jake Silpe, Max Rothschild, and Sam Jones with freshman Ryan Betley joining in.
At Drexel (6-25) it will seem strange not to see Bruiser Flint at the helm after 15 years. His successor is Zach Spiker, who had a impressive four years as Army’s head man. It’s rebuilding time as the Dragons return only two of last season’s top scorers. Rodney Williams, at 6-7 will be the focal point of the offense, aided by Mohamed Bah, Sammy Mojica and Austin Williams. Wake Forest transfer Miles Overton (St.Joe’s Prep), and freshman Kurk Lee will be in the backcourt. Overton is Doug’s son, and Lee’s father Kirk, played for the N.J. Nets in 1990-91.
So there they are, the City 6, proudly representing the only city in the nation with six Division One basketball programs.
Let the games begin!