Dick Jerardi: Penn, Drexel save city's rep

Posted: January 16, 2012


All six teams were on the road. Drexel was a slight favorite, Villanova a substantial underdog. Penn and La Salle were slight 'dogs, while Temple and Saint Joseph's were essentially in pick-'em games. The University City exacta saved the day and night for the city. The Atlantic 10 trifecta all lost, although La Salle nearly completed an amazing comeback at Dayton. 'Nova played better, but the result was the same.


The last four seasons, Penn went 1-7 on the Columbia/Cornell trip. The lone win was a Kevin Egee miracle buzzer shot at Columbia in 2009. Forget all that. The Quakers escaped Columbia with a win Friday night and then led all the way at Cornell, winning, 64-52.

Penn (9-9, 2-0 Ivy) gets rewarded for its effort by having exactly one game in the next 2 weeks (Saturday at the Palestra against Saint Joseph's). It's Princeton at the Palestra 2 weeks from tonight, followed by five Ivy weekends and a final game at Princeton.

Penn's senior stars, Tyler Bernardini and Zack Rosen, each had 18 points against the Big Red (6-10, 1-1). They combined for 67 points on the weekend. Bernardini also had 12 rebounds in the two games. Rosen had seven steals.

The best news may be that sophomore Miles Cartwright was 4-for-8 from the arc and had 24 points in the two games. If Penn can get Cartwright going, the Quakers are going to be very difficult to beat.

Penn was 10-for-20 from the arc against Cornell. If the Quakers shoot like that, they can absolutely beat anybody in the Ivy, including Harvard.


Drexel (12-5, 4-2 Colonial) led for the final 25 minutes at UNC Wilmington and won, 79-57. These Dragons do something their recent predecessors could not - shoot. They were 29-for-55 overall (52.7 percent), 7-for-15 from the arc and 14-for-16 from the foul line.

Derrick Thomas was terrific with 19 points. Senior Samme Givens got 15 to give him 1,013 for his career. Freshman Damion Lee continued hot with 14 points.

It is a long way from here to the finish line, but the Dragons look every bit like the team that was the preseason CAA favorite. Anybody that beats them will have to play really well.


La Salle never led at Dayton. The Explorers trailed 74-62 with 2 1/2 minutes left. Sam Mills had a three with 8 seconds left that would have tied it. It missed, so La Salle (13-5, 2-1 A-10) lost, 79-75, but certainly played well enough to win.

The La Salle Big Four were more than good enough against the Flyers (13-5, 3-1). Earl Pettis had 19 points, Ramon Galloway 18, Mills 17 and Tyreek Duren 13. The Explorers shot 50 percent for the game.

The problem is that Dayton is very good and playing from behind on the road is never easy against a winning team.


The injuries obviously are an issue, but there is something missing here - consistency. The Owls lost at Richmond, 76-65.

Temple (11-5, 1-2 A-10) shot just 36.7 percent and 6-for-20 from the arc. Richmond (11-7, 2-1) lost its two senior stars from the Sweet 16 team, but Chris Mooney looks like he has another contender.

Khalif Wyatt had 22 and Ramone Moore 17 for the Owls, but Juan Fernandez was just 1-for-11 and is 2-for-19 over two games.

Temple trailed by 44-25 at the half and never got close enough in the second to have a chance.


The early schedule was set up with a ton of December home games and St. Joe's took full advantage of it. The road has been less kind.

After losing, 71-62, at Massachusetts, St. Joe's (12-6, 2-2 A-10) is now 2-4 in true road games. The Hawks actually led the game, 20-3, after scoring 17 straight points, but they could not sustain. Ronald Roberts made all seven of his shots for 16 points.

The team looks like it has hit a plateau. There is still time to recover, but February is coming in a hurry. Point guard Tay Jones was just 2-for-12 against UMass (14-4, 3-1) and 12-for-40 over his last three games. Jones is not alone in his struggles. The game, which looked easy last month, looks much harder now. It was quite fluid for a time. Now it is not.


Villanova's Maalik Wayns nearly beat Cincinnati by himself. In the first half, he was raining threes. In the second, he was driving past the entire Bearcats team for layups or free throws. He also threw down a crazy dunk over a pursuing shot blocker. He finished with a career-best 39 points, along with a career-best 13 rebounds and six assists. He was 12-for-22, 6-for-13 from the arc and 9-for-10 from the line. Alas, Villanova lost, 82-78.

The Wildcats (8-10, 1-5 Big East) shot 64 percent in the first half, including 10-for-16 from the arc. That was not going to continue for a team shooting 30 percent from three on the season. And it didn't. But Wayns kept them in it all the way to the finish line.

Cincinnati (14-4, 4-1) just had a few more weapons. Not that it is any consolation to anybody on the Main Line, but the Wildcats looked a bit more like other 'Cats teams of recent vintage for much of the game.


Villanova had 17 turnovers, Cincinnati just three.


Iowa coach Fran McCaffery slammed a chair during a huddle at Michigan State last week. His team was in the process of getting crushed, 95-61, right after losing, 76-47, to Ohio State. Message received. Hawkeyes upset Michigan, 75-59, for their third Big Ten win, two on the road.


Harvard was 24-for-37 (64.9 percent) in its easy, 69-48 win over George Washington. The Colonials shot just 15-for-50 (30 percent).


1. Syracuse (19-0): Not brilliant on offense in 78-55 win over Providence, but forced 22 turnovers while committing just eight. Has led every game at the half.

2. Kentucky (17-1): Won at Tennessee, 65-62. Anthony Davis already has 82 blocks, one shy of the school season record.

3.Baylor (17-0): This team is very serious. Blew away Oklahoma State, 106-65. Was 15-for-29 from the arc and shot 52.9 percent overall.

4. Murray State (18-0): In this poll, unbeaten teams get respect. The Racers beat preseason Ohio Valley favorite Tennessee Tech, 82-74.

5. Missouri (16-1): Shot 53.7 percent overall and 10-for-21 from the arc in 84-73 win over Texas. The amazing Ricardo Ratliffe came into the game shooting 76.8 percent from the field and went 10-for-12.

6. Ohio State (16-3): Beat Indiana, 80-63, yesterday. Not up to last season's standards.

7. Duke (15-2): Won at Clemson, 73-66, yesterday.

8. Kansas (14-3): Tyshawn Taylor (St. Anthony's) had a career-best 28 points in 82-73 win over Iowa State.

9. Michigan State (15-3): A 15-game winning streak ended at Northwestern, 81-74. Wildcats shot 50 percent.

10. Indiana (15-3): Upset at home last week by Minnesota, then lost at Ohio State yesterday.

11. North Carolina (15-3): Got crushed at Florida State, 90- 57, worst ACC loss since 1963. FSU's Deividas Duckys was shooting 18-for-56 from the arc; he was 8-for-10 vs. Tar Heels.

12. Connecticut (14-3): Ended Notre Dame's 29-game home winning streak with 67-53 win. ND shot just 32.3 percent.

13. Virginia (14-2): Proved they were serious with close loss at Duke. Off on the weekend.

14. San Diego State (15-2): Aztecs are doing it again. Beat UNLV, 69-67, on a last-second layup. Only losses are to Creighton and Baylor.

15. UNLV (16-3): Rebels have some really good wins. Losing at SDSU at the buzzer hardly a bad loss.

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