City 6 observations, Vol. 13.
If you had to pick one City 6 player to get to the foul line — I don’t mean make a foul shot, just force a foul, to get to the line — Drexel’s Troy Harper would be your choice. Harper’s career-high 30-point performance against Charleston on Saturday included making all 11 free throws he tried. (So choosing him to take the free throws also wouldn’t be a horrible idea.) That was the sixth time this season Harper has shot double-digit foul shots.
For fouls drawn per 40 minutes, Harper ranks 18th in Division I. He’s the only City 6 player in the top 100 nationally.
If you had to choose the top individual performance this season by a City 6 player, add Charlie Brown of St. Joe’s against St. Louis as a contender. The Billikens, not exactly a soft defensive bunch, didn’t find a good way to slow Brown on Friday. He ended up 10-for-13 from the field, plus getting to the line to make 6 of 7 free throws, for 28 points, adding nine rebounds and three assists. That’s the kind of stuff you expected to see from Brown this season when he gets in a rhythm. He’s that talented.
There’s another Hawks player who deserves a bright spotlight. By virtue of St. Joe’s beating St. Louis by 30, freshman point guard Jared Bynum sat out the last minute. That means Bynum has played 319 of the last 320 Hawks minutes.
Insane? Not when he’s the only point guard on the team, since Fresh Kimble is out. The load had maybe been getting to Bynum a bit lately. His shooting numbers had been way down. Not against St. Louis, though. Bynum hit for 20 points and six assists, with one turnover. It was obvious the Hawks want the ball in his hands as much as possible.
You’ve heard Phil Martelli talk about Bynum’s not really being a freshman, at least not having a freshman brain. This was one of those times. You could have had a lot of guesses about who was the first-year player on the court inside Hagan Arena on Friday before you got to Bynum.
I had a thought, that maybe Villanova’s entire Big East season was all a setup to give Jermaine Samuels an open look to win a Sweet 16 game or something like that.
Samuels has proven he can heat up. Temple remembers. But before heading to Marquette on Saturday, he had taken only six shots in five games. At Marquette, the whole theory was blown up. Samuels took six shots, making half of them, in 25 minutes. You’re not expecting him to even be a third option, but he is an option, more than capable.
Now that La Salle has won its share of games, it’s an interesting time to ask first-year head coach Ashley Howard about his team’s 0-10 start.
Looking back, Howard said, players weren’t ignoring what he was asking them to do. They were almost trying too hard.
That was making them “a little robotic,’’ Howard said. “They weren’t playing basketball. They were trying to be respectful of me and doing every little thing I was asking. I think we took away our ability to be instinctual.”
If you think of it, that’s all a natural part of a process with a new coach. But Howard sees the difference now. They’re certainly not ignoring his principles.
“Now, they’re playing off instincts,’’ Howard said.
If you were to ask me what Temple statistic needs to improve for the Owls to end up in the NCAA Tournament, you might choose Quinton Rose’s two-point shooting percentage. Rose has made 12 of 38 two-pointers over Temple’s last five games.
The law of averages says that percentage should go up, since Rose is great at getting his shot, and you want him shooting when he’s in rhythm. Rose was a 48 percent two-point shooter over Temple’s previous two seasons.
Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe not. Penn freshmen Bryce Washington and Michael Wang, two of the top newcomers in the Ivy League, both have found out what Ivy road weekends are really like. Both have put up much better Friday games than Saturday games in both of Penn’s Ivy road weekends.