AROUND THE CITY
ON SECOND THOUGHT
Right after Drexel won its bracket of the Philly Hoop Group Classic at the Palestra and got to 5-1, I wrote that Drexel is now a "compelling program."
Since then, the Dragons have lost four straight and scored 38, 48, 44 and 51.
The 51 was against Temple Saturday at the Palestra. The Owls had 64 as both teams found 5-5.
The Owls had 11 steals and just 10 turnovers, winning numbers. Drexel star Frank Elegar had 18 points and 12 rebounds, but needed 17 shots. Temple stars Dionte Christmas and Mark Tyndale combined for 31 points.
Drexel's issues have been obvious, if not easy to solve. They have committed too many turnovers and can't make shots when they get them. They shot just 35.7 percent against the Owls, not exactly one of the great defensive teams in city history.
Remember the excitement of the Big 5 Classic when all six city teams congregated at the Palestra for an afternoon doubleheader and a single night game, a true celebration of Philly college hoops?
That was allowed to die and the 15,000 or so fans who would have come to those games disappeared. A "crowd" of 3,254 was at the Palestra for Temple-Drexel, not exactly a substitute for the tripleheader.
ACROSS THE COUNTRY:
ANOTHER FRESHMAN FORCE:
Anybody who saw DeJuan Blair play for AAAA state champion Schenley knew he was the perfect player for Pittsburgh. Doing just what he did to Chester in the 2007 state championship game, the 6-7, 225-pound Blair bullied Oklahoma State, shooting 8-for-10, with 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Panthers' 85-68 win.
By the way, serious hoops buffs will know this: Schenley, from Pittsburgh, was the high school of the late, legendary Big 5 Hall of Famer, La Salle's Kenny Durrett.
ISSUES IN THE VALLEY:
Looked like Rick Pitino had a great team at Louisville. He might have one later, but not now. David Padgett and Juan Palacios are out with injuries; Derrick Caracter has been suspended.
The Cardinals lost to Purdue, 67-59, in the John Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis.
Don't play too close attention to what is happening now. Monitor the situation, and check back later. Do not be shocked if this group finishes much stronger than it has started.
BACK AT FREEDOM HALL:
Kentucky owns the state, Louisville just happens to be in it. The Wildcats annually play a game at Freedom Hall, just around the corner from Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Kentucky had UAB down by 14 in the second half before Indiana transfer Robert Vaden blew up on his way to 33 points as UAB came back to win, 79-76.
Mike Davis and IU upset Duke at Rupp Arena in the 2002 Sweet 16. Now Davis, the UAB coach, has upset UK at Freedom Hall.
Is the Billy Gillispie honeymoon over yet? Kentucky is 4-4. It's all Tubby Smith's fault anyway.
WELL DONE, STEVE:
Steve Alford left Iowa for New Mexico, leaving the Hawkeyes in an historically bad situation. New Mexico (9-2) just buried Texas Tech and Alford's mentor, Bob Knight, 80-63.
How come coaches don't have a letter of intent? And if they did, would very many of them have any intent other than to win at all costs and see how much money they could make while doing it?
END OF THE RUN:
Niagara had not beaten St. John's in New York since 1963, until its 77-73 win Saturday at Carnesecca Arena, formerly Alumni Hall.
Roman Catholic's Charron Fisher had 30 points and 14 rebounds for Joe Mihalich's team.
No home cooking for the Red Storm: Niagara shot 46 free throws to just 16 for St. John's.
Brad Greenberg was Sixers general manager for 1 year. He drafted Allen Iverson. His brother Seth is the head coach at Virginia Tech, where Brad was an assistant. Brad is now the head coach at Radford. He wanted his team to stand up to Georgetown. There were some hard fouls, there were four technicals. The normally mild-mannered Hoyas shot 65 percent and drilled Radford, 110-51.
Ohio U. had just come off a win at Maryland. Its only losses had been by two at Holy Cross and Temple. Kansas beat it by 37, shot 54.8 percent and held Ohio to 28.3 percent.
I still think, all things being equal, Kansas is the most talented team in the country.
BURIED IN TEMPE:
It was all going so well for Xavier. The Musketeers were 8-0, but then Sean Miller took his team west to play Arizona State, coached by Herb Sendek, a man he worked for at Miami (Ohio) and North Carolina State. ASU, with four freshman starters, shot 59.5 percent and won, 77-55.
THEY STILL HAVE IT:
Butler beat Florida State, 79-68, as the backcourt of A.J. Graves and Philly's Mike Green combined for 45 points.
Syracuse probably needs to find a way to get East Tennessee State to the Carrier Dome more often. ETSU was there in 1988 and lost, 120-81.
A new-generation East Tennessee arrived at the Dome and lost, 125-75. 'Cuse set a school record by shooting 75.8 percent (47-62). It shot 12-for-19 from the arc in the first half, when it scored 68 points.
Philly freshmen (Neumann-Goretti) Rick Jackson (13 points, nine rebounds) and Scoop Jardine (eight points, six assists) were in on the party.
YOU USED TO BE FLORIDA?:
The old Gators led the nation in field-goal percentage. The young Gators shot 25.5 percent and survived Georgia Southern, 52-49.
DICK JERARDI TOP 15:
1. Texas (10-0): The 96-81 win over Texas State did not mean all that much, but it is known that the Longhorns can really score.
2. Kansas (10-0): Had its starters together for the first time and blew away a solid Ohio team, 88-51, at the new Sprint Center in Kansas City.
3. Memphis (8-0): Held overmatched Middle Tennessee to 27.1 percent shooting in 65-41 win.
4. North Carolina (9-0): The Heels won easily at Rutgers, 93-71, last night.
5. UCLA (9-1): Blitzed Idaho State, 89-49, as point guard Darren Collison had 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists.
6. Georgetown (8-0): Hoyas buried Radford, 110-51, in rare game at on-campus McDonough Gym.
7. Washington State (9-0): Only one team has scored 70 points against Tony Bennett's tough group.
8. Duke (9-0): Gets very interesting when the Blue Devils play Pittsburgh Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
9. Pittsburgh (10-0): Smashed Oklahoma State, 85-68, at home. Okie State has lost 14 straight on the road. Pitt has gotten to 10-0 for the fifth consecutive season.
10. Texas A&M (9-1): Beat dangerous Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 64-37, yesterday.
11. Michigan State (9-1): Drilled Indiana-Purdue/Fort Worth, 79-57. Spartans can win by outscoring you or not letting you score.
12. Marquette (7-1): Beat Sacramento State, 82-51, despite missing 17 free throws. Only loss was to Duke in Maui.
13. West Virginia (8-1): Beat UMBC, 86-62. Six home wins by a 37.3-point average. Big East is going to be brutal at the top.
14. Indiana (9-1): Eric Gordon (back from a tailbone injury) and D.J. White combined for 47 in 100-52 win over Western Carolina.
15. Sam Houston State: (9-0): Beat Texas Southern, 54-51. Don't let Bearkats get to San Antonio, where they will have all those fans dominate the Final Four scene at the Alamodome.