This past week included some surprises (unless you had St. Joseph’s winning decisively at UConn) and the ups and downs of having young guards. We also lost a journalistic titan who knew his way down the Palestra ramp.

Here are my weekly City 6 observations, Vol. 2.

Big 5, on it goes

First Palestra game of the season, first person you see up in the hallway, La Salle radio analyst Rich Prendergast. (Looked like maybe Rich was trying to talk a couple of people into the building, but that’s another story.) Downstairs, Prendergast mentioned that he had just run into Penn assistant Joe Mihalich Jr. The dots are easily connected, the ties going straight through Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich Sr., who was on the Speedy Morris staff at La Salle with Prendergast.

Still, a Big 5 thing … La Salle radio analyst mentioning how a Penn assistant coach was a ring-bearer at his wedding.

Dixon on redshirt track

Let’s start this by stating flat-out, Abington High graduate Eric Dixon will have a strong college career. Great basketball IQ, sense of the court, etc. Hoops fans around here saw all that before Dixon got to college. But with Villanova flooded with power forward types, Jay Wright said the current plan is to redshirt Dixon. Makes sense not to waste very limited minutes when the back end could be something entirely different. (Think Mikal Bridges, with some Omari Spellman conditioning thrown in.)

Postgame material

Leaving another game, turning on the Temple radio postgame show, they tell you their player guest after the just-concluded La Salle game will be Owls redshirt freshman Arashma Parks. Not what we were expecting, since the Temple big man, who happens to be the younger brother of Omari Spellman, had played nine previous minutes in his two-game career, with no points and no rebounds. In Game 3 at La Salle: 12 minutes, 7 points, 5 offensive rebounds, 1 block. The radio guys made a point of saying Nate Pierre-Louis was the star of the game, but they can’t have him on every game, so Parks earned his air time.

Temple forward Arashma Parks (14) shouts after his team scored during a game against La Salle.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Temple forward Arashma Parks (14) shouts after his team scored during a game against La Salle.

Speaking of Nate

You’re used to seeing assist-to-turnover ratios … let’s introduce a new stat: Steals-to-turnovers ratio. So far, Pierre-Louis, the Temple junior guard, has 13 steals to just 4 turnovers (3 TOs in the opener vs. Drexel.)

The technical term for that ratio … insane. Causing havoc at one end, not creating any at the other.

Speaking of turnovers

Nine combined for La Salle’s two freshmen point guards against Temple shows … they’re freshmen point guards.

Still speaking of turnovers

Hey, you cover John Chaney for a decade, turnovers get on your brain. Penn has less of them this season than its opponents, and has yet to commit more than any opponent in a single game. (Was 15 per team at Alabama.) … If that is true with a new point guard playing SEC, Conference USA and Atlantic 10 opponents, you’d expect it to usually hold all season.

Still speaking of turnovers?

Hard to win on the road committing 30 of them. That’s what Drexel did Saturday at Stephen F. Austin, and when the Dragons only got 4 offensive rebounds, it explains how the home team could get 21 more shots. Didn’t matter that Drexel actually shot a little better from inside the three-point stripe and a lot better from outside it. Still worked out to a 15-point loss.

Stat line of the week

We knew St. Joseph’s would have ups and downs this year. We just didn’t calculate the ups correctly. Hawks winning at UConn? Didn’t have that one. Then you say Ryan Daly has 30 points, Taylor Funk has 5 assists, Daly and Lorenzo Edwards combine for 17 defensive rebounds, Rahmir Moore comes off the bench to score 22, the Hawks have 9 steals to just 10 turnovers. Well, yeah, winning numbers. Next game, 24 turnovers, a loss at Loyola. Ups and downs.

Connecticut's Alterique Gilbert (3) and Saint Joseph's guard Rahmir Moore (10) battle for possession late in the second half.
Stephen Dunn / AP
Connecticut's Alterique Gilbert (3) and Saint Joseph's guard Rahmir Moore (10) battle for possession late in the second half.

Favorite March Madness experience

Sitting next to a man who usually kept his neatly-written notes from a game to a single page. If a sentence made it on to that page, it had a chance of making it into Bill Lyon’s column. If Bill said something about the game and you laughed, that had a shot, too. He always kept his eyes wide open for plot twists. (When Bill was done typing, more than one coach kept a Lyon column as a career keepsake.)

When Bill Lyon was done typing, more than one coach kept a Lyon column as a career keepsake.
INQUIRER ARCHIVES
When Bill Lyon was done typing, more than one coach kept a Lyon column as a career keepsake.

I noted this week that for all his literary talents, Bill himself wasn’t fancy. Dressed up for a game might mean his best sneakers. Good luck getting him to eat dinner anywhere but Champs in the hotel, even in New Orleans. Best I could do one Final Four there was one breakfast stop at Cafe du Monde. I took it. While the NCAA tournament was always the goal for the local teams, it worked out for college hoop writers for other reasons. You got the chance to sit next to Bill, travel and laugh with him. RIP Bill. Those sentences live on.