Off The Boards – January 16th Edition

Off The Boards

By Jack Scheuer

January 16, 2019 Edition

Since just about every college and pro player in the world has been playing basketball since a very early age, it is difficult to explain how free throw shooting can be a problem for so many, examples of which we saw locally over the past weekend. At Temple, where the Owls defeated South Florida, by 2 points, in O.T, Temple shot 23 for 28, while the visitors made only 10 of 25. Improving South Florida, has only 4 loses this season: 3 times by 3 points, and the Temple loss. Their record could be much better if the team was not shooting 61% from the line. At Penn on Saturday, in another overtime, the Quakers were 7-13 from the stripe, while the victorious Tigers made 19 of 21.  On the season, the Quakers are worst in the City Six at 62.2%.  I’m sure that Saturday’s losing coaches, Brian Gregory and Steve Donahue have tried everything to fix the problem, which almost seems to be contagious at times. It’s not that they don’t practice, but for some reason, too many players are having trouble at the foul line, and too often it’s the difference between winning and losing.

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On the same subject, Incarnate Word is the best free throw shooting team in the country this season at 80.7%, while La Salle is 4th at 78.6. Four of the other city teams are in the 70’s. Nationally, even some of the big boys are struggling: Duke, UCLA, Kansas State and Indiana are just a few that are in the 60% range. The best foul shooting recorded over the last 50 years was by Wisconsin, 81.8 % in 2011. The Badgers went 25-9 that season.

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Trivia Time:  Who is the only member of the Big 5 Hall of Fame whose last name begins with an I?  Answer at the end of the column.

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An impressive 61-60 win for injury-plagued Saint Joseph’s last night over a talented Davidson team. In snapping a four-game losing streak the under-manned Hawks came away with the upset. Everybody has injuries, but Saint Joe’s has had more than its share over the last two seasons. 

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How about that Rick Pitino popping up in the Greek League as the coach of Panathinaikos. Despite the bad scene he left at Louisville, he seems assured he’ll coach again in the states, and I’m guessing somebody will give him a shot. What the heck, Auburn’s Bruce Pearl is still coaching.

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Temple’s Nate Pierre-Louis has moved into the favorite spot for the Big 5’s Most Improved Award. The 6-4 soph is averaging 14 points per game, shooting at 50%, and is second on the team in rebounds. In addition, I haven’t seen many players this season who go to the hoop as strongly as he does. 

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This and That: A coach who is off the hot seat is Fran McCaffery at 14-3 Iowa. His 6- 5 son Connor is a promising freshman playing 19 minutes a game. Brother Jack is the Delco Times writer….Bol Bol, Oregon’s outstanding 7-2 freshman center, is out for the season with a foot problem…. At La Salle, freshman Jack Clark has been a very pleasant surprise, averaging 11 points per game, and hitting on 43% of his 3’s….Since returning from his injury, Drexel junior guard Kirk Lee has made 14 for 26 from beyond the arc…. A Pro note: Houston’s James Harden leads the NBA in scoring and minutes played….Upcoming: Tomorrow night Drexel hosts Towson; Friday, Xavier visits Nova at the Wells and Saint Joseph’s visits Saint Louis. On Saturday, La Salle hosts Rhode Island, Drexel has James Madison, and streaking Temple is at home against Penn in a game that could decide who might win the Big Five championship.

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Answer to Trivia Time: Villanova’s excellent guard Tom Ingelsby, is the only I in the Big 5 Hall.

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