Off The Boards by Jack Scheuer – November 6th Edition

Hoops time again, and it should be an interesting season for the City 6, what with transfers coming and going, one team in the top 10, and two new coaches. But I can’t continue this column without mentioning the names of two highly respected men, Fran Dunphy and Phil Martelli, who, unfortunately, are no longer connected with Philadelphia basketball. For many reasons, those are two very big losses.

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As usual, 10th ranked Villanova is the best team in the city. The Wildcats have four starters back, two good reserves, and two 5-star recruits in Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, and Bryan Antoine, although the latter is temporarily sidelined. Jay Wright’s team has an early challenge next week when they play at Ohio State. Temple, under first-year coach Aaron McKie, has plenty of fire power, with three double-figure scorers returning, plus transfer Monty Scott, who averaged 17ppg at Kennesaw State. Aloni Moore II will handle the point guard responsibilities. The Owls will be a factor in the American. Penn welcomes the return of the solid Ryan Betley, who missed last season, and returns All Ivy A.J. Brodeur to go along with two other starters. Steve Donahue is hoping freshman Max Lorca-Lloyd will provide minutes. The Quakers will challenge Harvard and Yale in league play. La Salle brings back scorers Isiah Deas, Saul Phiri, and David Beatty, plus ace rebounder Ed Croswell. Second year coach Ashley Howard will be looking for help from several freshmen. Drexel, loser of three starters, will be led by elite point guard Camren Wynter and 6-8 James Butler. The Dragons, under Zach Spiker, will get needed help from guard Matey Juric and forward Sam Green, while Kurk Lee and Zach Walton return from injuries.  Saint Joseph’s, with new coach Billy Lange at the helm, is in a rebuilding mode. The team has no double-figure scorers back, and only two starters, shooter Taylor Funk and 6-10 Anthony Longpre. Ryan Daly, grandson of former Hawk coach Jim Boyle, transferred in from Delaware, where, in two seasons he scored over 1000 points.

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Who is the best team in the country? As usual, Michigan State, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky are highly rated, but you know someone else will slip in at some point. Memphis, with budding 7-1 super star James Wiseman, has a talented group, and Maryland or Florida could possibly end up in the Final Four. But don’t count out Virginia, led by Tony Bennett, one of the best coaches in the nation.

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Up at UMass, Coach Matt McCall, a “Boards” favorite, has figured out why his team has struggled so badly the last two seasons, going 24-41 overall, 9-27 in the A-10. It’s the assistants fault, so he fired three of them. McCall did bring in a good group of freshmen, so the Minutemen should be better, especially without those assistants.

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Who is the Atlantic 10’s all-time leading scorer? Answer at the end of the column.

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This and That: Good luck to the lovable Fran O’Hanlon, who is in his 25th season as the coach at Lafayette ….Just trying to find a home dept: Tevin Mack, a 6-6 swing man is now at Clemson, after stops at Texas and Alabama….Archbishop Wood’s Tommy Funk, now a senior, is already Army’s all-time assist leader….Can’t imagine a guy like former Michigan coach John Beilein being happy in the Pros, especially with a team like Cleveland….Speaking of the NBA, If you think Joel Embiid is good now, wait until he turns 16….Shareef O’Neal, a 6-9 freshman and son of you know who, is back playing at UCLA after sitting out last season with a heart problem… Kentucky’s Brad Calipari got tired of his father not playing him, and transferred to Detroit….Finally, at North Carolina, we have one of the top nicknames in Rechon” Leaky” Black, a highly regarded 6-8 sophomore.

Answer to Trivia Time; Temple All American Mark Macon, who scored 2,609 points.

As we begin the new season, the “Off The Boards” column will appear every other week.

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