No team ever wants to start their season 1-3. While losing in November leaves plenty of time for recovery, it also puts added pressure on the remainder of the season.
Temple finds itself in the unenviable position of beginning the season 1-3 following a 74-68 loss to #16 Utah in the consolation game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Sunday, but there is a silver lining. Each of Temple’s losses has come against a ranked opponent.
Two of those losses were winnable games, however, and it is unlikely Temple is happy with moral victories.
Through three games this season DeAndre’ Bembry has found himself in an unfamiliar position from a season ago. The junior forward has not had to do it all for Saint Joseph’s so far this season.
In stark contrast to last season, the Hawks are winning without Bembry needing to take control on both ends of the court.
That is because the Hawks have received contributions from a bevy of players, spreading the wealth and taking some of the burden off of Bembry.
On Wednesday night, it would be senior Isaiah Miles’ turn to take control. The 6-foot-7 forward would go off against Buffalo, tying his career highs for points and rebounds with a 24-point, 14-rebound effort to help the Hawks easily move past Bulls, 89-67.
“There’s a well-rounded team around me this year, so I don’t have to do as much as I did last year as far as everything: defense, offense, making plays for other people. I feel like I have all of that around me. I’m not really worried about my stats,” Bembry said. “I feel better not doing everything and we’re winning.”
One year ago, Saint Joseph’s found itself with one option to win: get the ball to DeAndre’ Bembry. That wasn’t a bad option, as Bembry averaged 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, but it resulted in more losses than wins for a one dimensional Hawks team.
What a difference a year makes.
Just two games into the season, the Hawks appear to have quite a bit of depth and as a result, the pressure no longer lies solely on Bembry’s shoulders.
After scoring 23 points in the season opener against Drexel, Bembry got off to a much slower start in Sunday’s contest with Niagara, going scoreless on just one shot in the first half. One year ago, that likely would’ve resulted in Saint Joseph’s finding itself trailing at the half, but on Sunday, the contributions of others allowed the Hawks to head to the locker room with a 34-28 lead.
Bembry would find his groove in the second half, as the Hawks opened up a 24 point lead on their way to 73-62 win over Niagara, but with four Hawks scoring in double-figures for the second straight game, it became evident Bembry no longer needs to do it all for Saint Joseph’s.
“We have a lot of playmakers. Checco is another playmaker. Shavar is doing a lot better. We have people who are making plays for others, so that’s really the best thing,” Bembry said.
Last Season: 33-3 (16-2 Big East)
After securing a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the 2013-2014 season, expectations were high for last season's Wildcats. They did an excellent job of living up to those expectations, winning their first 13 games of the season and becoming one of the last teams in the nation to lose their first game. Along the way, the Wildcats defeated both VCU and Michigan en route to winning the Legends Classic.
Last Season: 11-19 (9-9 Colonial Athletic Association)
The start of last season was disappointing, to say the least, for Drexel fans. With known stars like Damion Lee and Tavon Allen, the team was expected to be at least competitive. Instead, they dug themselves too deep of a hole to come out of. Granted, they played four pretty tough teams to start the season (@ Colorado, vs Saint Joseph's, vs USC, vs Miami). The Dragons lost each of those first four games, but then won two straight against an underrated Cornell squad, and Southern Mississippi.
It’s been a tough start to the season so far for the 76ers and their fans. Nerlens is clearly a much improved player from his rookie year and Jahlil has been dominant offensively, but they still haven’t managed to put that first notch in the win column. It’s not shocking but why do I have a bad taste in my mouth? We all knew coming into this year that this wouldn’t be a team that would compete for a playoff spot, all of us besides Jahlil and Jerami at least. So what’s the problem?
I think part of the problem for me is something that is made more apparent by how well Jahlil has performed; his surrounding cast outside Nerlens is doing his development a disservice. Had Big Jah been a work in progress, it might not sting as much that the rest of the Sixers aren’t near his level but since he and Nerlens have played so well and have for the majority of the season kept the team in the game, it becomes blatantly apparent in a close game with 5 minutes left that the rest of the team is holding back these two bigs from anything beyond individual success. Make no mistake, individual success is great but when it’s the only success being achieved it can lead to it being the only success that is being strived for. I’m beginning to surmise that the Sixers handicapping themselves with only fringe and untapped potential players may end up being a problem. In the first couple years of the rebuild I understand that the team would look bad because they had to be dismantled to be rebuilt, but year three has been equally bad. Something needs to be said for that.
Early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's match at Dallas, rookie linebacker Jordan Hicks picked off a Matt Cassel pass and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown, a touchdown that proved to be huge en route to an overtime win. Hicks had been making huge plays all season, but that Hicks Six was one of the more crucial plays of his young career. However, we will have to wait until next year to watch Hicks play again.
Just when I thought you couldn't possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself!