Just another big-time shot for Villanova’s Jermaine Samuels, Drexel getting to higher ground in the Colonial Athletic Association, and St. Joseph’s finding some psychic relief via a Big 5 win were some of the highlights of the past week of local hoops.
We’ll get to all three right away in our City 6 observations, Vol. 10.
Connecticut coach Dan Hurley was on point going over all sorts of things after UConn lost a close one Saturday to Villanova. One thing Hurley said raised an eyebrow, however. He’d talked about needing to pick your poison and decided to live with Samuels taking threes.
Maybe Hurley was just covering for his guys after Samuels made 4 of 6 threes including a late dagger, but if that was the coaching decision, it wasn’t automatically the right one.
You don’t have to even watch tape to decide Samuels can get you with late threes. Googling will do the trick. There’s “Jermaine Samuels 3-pointer lifts Villanova past No. 1 Kansas,’’ or his five three-pointers and 29 points last season against Marquette, and his big-time threes to get past Temple.
That’s all anecdotal, not quite statistically significant? While it’s true the numbers say Samuels isn’t a big-time outside threat, hitting only 27.8% of his threes this season, after making 34.7% as a sophomore, we’ll argue that’s because opponents are giving him his proper respect, guarding him behind the line. Last two minutes, guard him closer, since he’s been there before.
The Dragons are a game out of first in the CAA after blasting first-place William & Mary over the weekend. Now, we’ll really get a chance to see if Drexel is ready for higher ground since the Dragons are on the road for their next three, at Northeastern, Hofstra and Delaware. Getting a win or two out of that trio, then they’re officially in CAA contention.
Cam Wynter, Zach Walton and James Butler’s combining for 60 points was the top line of the W&M game, since the three outscored the visitors by themselves. A big team stat: only 9 turnovers, a big deal for a squad 324th in Division I in turnover percentage.
Ryan Daly was the obvious St. Joe’s focal point before the season, and he’s been the obvious focal point virtually every game. That doesn’t mean we knew how Billy Lange would use Daly. So we asked him. Rein in Daly or give him freedom?
“Let him loose, more on that side,’’ Lange had said just before the season.
Lange’s father, a hoops coach himself, didn’t raise a fool. Daly is 48th in the country in percentage of shots taken, but also 58th in D-I in assist rate. He’s almost a barometer of sorts for how strong opposing defenses are on a particular night. Temple, Richmond and Duquesne all held him to single digits. But Saturday’s win over Penn at the Palestra was his third 30-point game of the season, adding to the Villanova and Connecticut games.
Of course, there was another big stat that played into the win over Penn: Daly’s teammates combined to make 9 of 20 three-pointers. More than enough on a day when the Quakers made only 7 of 34, getting most of their 81 points from closer range.
Can’t blame you for not predicting the Owls would lose four of their last five. So now we’ll see if they can play from behind, with games against Cincinnati, Penn and Connecticut in an eight-day span. It seemed off, almost disrespectful, when Temple was picked seventh in the AAC in preseason. Right now, the Owls are tied for eighth.
There aren’t too many easy nights in the A-10 this season. The Explorers already know that, at 1-4 in the conference, with a trip to Richmond on Wednesday, followed by visits from VCU and St. Louis.
If La Salle is going to get to .500 in the league, the Explorers will have to pull off a couple of upsets. They’re still showing their fight, as a 66-63 loss at Rhode Island shows. The Explorers outshot the Rams from two-point and three-point range, but that wasn’t enough because La Salle committed 22 turnovers and allowed URI 21 more trips to the foul line.
Tuesday was John Chaney’s 88th birthday. Where was Chaney half his life ago? He was the fourth-year head coach at Cheyney State, with a Division II national title still in his future, and still more than six years away from being named Temple’s head coach.