Top 10 Topics

1. Calathes I and II.

The Temple Owls already should have a healthy respect for the Calathes family - the only family in America with brothers leading different Division I teams in scoring.

Last season, Pat Calathes had 27 points and seven assists when St. Joseph's took out the Owls at the Palestra, 92-76. Tonight in Miami, Temple gets the latest Calathes, Pat's younger brother Nick, who leads Florida in scoring (14.8) and assists (5.5) as a freshman. Those numbers aren't a great surprise. The defending national champions had to replace all five starters, and the 6-foot-6 Calathes was a first-team high-school all-American.

Temple gets Calathes coming off the worst shooting night of his brief college career. He made 1 of 9 shots and scored four points in last weekend's 62-49 loss at Ohio State. The Gators are 11-2 but have played only three games against teams that field I-A football teams and lost two of them, to Florida State and Ohio State. The lone win was over Rutgers.

2. Add Wayne Ellington to the list.

The North Carolina sophomore and Episcopal Academy graduate was among the travelers who missed flights at Philadelphia International Airport. Ellington missed his plane back to school the day after Christmas - being a star for the nation's top-ranked team wasn't going to impress anybody on that security line.

He missed practice and was benched for the start of Thursday's game against Nevada. Tar Heels coach Roy Williams obviously didn't consider it a grievous offense. Ellington still played 28 minutes and scored a career-high 23 points in North Carolina's 106-70 victory.

"I was in the gym when I was at home - it's not like I wasn't doing anything," Ellington said after he drained 5 of 8 three-pointers.

3. If Pittsburgh wins tonight . . .

The Panthers deserve to rise a little higher than their No. 6 ranking in both major polls. Winning at Dayton when Dayton has a strong team is a feat, and the Flyers are 10-1. For their part, the Flyers get a chance to break into the national rankings by showing that their win at Louisville on Dec. 8 wasn't just the result of the Cardinals' being in disarray.

4. Did John Wooden turn them down?

In the season's strangest hire, Eddie Sutton takes over as interim coach at struggling San Francisco, making it three Suttons coaching D-I hoops. His sons already are in charge at Oklahoma State and Oral Roberts. Sutton, 71, is two wins short of 800 for his career and concedes that the statistic was a big factor in his taking the job.

Sutton coached his first game last night at Weber State, even though he still had not set foot on San Francisco's campus.

"I have seen pictures of the campus," Sutton told Robyn Norwood of the Los Angeles Times. "I'm looking forward to getting a tour."

5. Give the Explorers a warm Philadelphia greeting.

When La Salle tips off tonight at Villanova, it will be the Explorers' first local appearance in more than a month. They don't have a home game until they open Atlantic Ten play Jan. 9 against Richmond. It will be 42 days between home dates, since a Nov. 28 game with Central Connecticut State.

6. This won't make any headlines.

It didn't result in a string of victories, but one reason La Salle's offense has gotten untracked lately is the return of sophomore guard Ruben Guillandeaux, resulting in a third scoring option with Darnell Harris and Rodney Green. Guillandeaux had missed La Salle's first five games because of bursitis in his wrist. In his five games back, Guillandeaux has averaged 11 points and 3.4 assists - up a bit from his 8.0 and 2.6 as a freshman - and he combined for 28 points in La Salle's recent losses to newly ranked Mississippi and DePaul in Puerto Rico.

7. Where in the world is . . .?

Former Villanova sharpshooter Allan Ray, with the Boston Celtics last season, is in Italy, where he is the leading scorer for Lottomatica in Serie A. One of his teammates is former Temple star David Hawkins. Other Villanova products in Italy include Mike Nardi, who plays one level down for Agricola in Lega2, and Brooks Sales, the leading rebounder for Snaidero in Serie A. Another Snaidero starter is former Penn star Jerome Allen.

8. Expatriate of the week.

Maryland-Baltimore County sophomore Matt Spadafora doubled his previous career scoring high last weekend when the Archbishop Wood graduate made 7 of 8 shots for 18 points in an 83-65 win over Hampton. The Retrievers are coached by Randy Monroe, a Roman Catholic High and Cheyney graduate and former La Salle assistant. They are 8-4 and favored to win the America East.

9. This week's A-10 hype.

We know it's early, but in recent seasons we've been burying the Atlantic Ten before league play began. As of Dec. 23, the A-10 had four schools in the top 20 of the RPI computer rankings. No other conference had as many. That last sentence probably deserves an exclamation point, but it is early. Of course, the Big East had seven schools in the RPI's top 40, while the A-10 had the same four. What this really means: The A-10 is set up for three or four NCAA bids.

The A-10 did a smart thing this year, setting up tiers for its conference schedule so that teams considered the top contenders - based on a coaches' vote - wouldn't be dragged down by too many games against teams projected to have bad RPIs. In other words, if you're playing St. Bonaventure twice this season, you're not supposed to have a shot at March Madness. (La Salle plays the Bonnies on Jan. 12 and Jan. 30). The A-10 also dictated that its top-tier teams would not schedule any nonconference games against teams below 200 in the RPI, and that no one would schedule "guarantee" games, road games designed to result in a profitable loss. The idea is to get home-and-home series established with better opponents or play in preseason tournaments. Of course, all that works fine when teams get quality out-of-conference wins, always the bottom line.

10. The real top 10.

1, Memphis. 2, North Carolina. 3, Kansas. 4, Washington State. 5, Pittsburgh. 6, Texas. 7, Michigan State. 8, UCLA. 9, Duke. 10, Georgetown.

Contact staff writer Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489 or mjensen@phillynews.com.