We also saw La Salle find a new star in Jordan Price, and Saint Joseph's DeAndre' Bembry blossom into a future NBA prospect. Drexel had a rough start, going 2-11 at the beginning, but finished a respectable 9-7, even ripping off a 6-game win streak. They lost Damion Lee as a transfer to Louisville, so the hunt for a number one option on offense begins. Penn finished 9-19, but they have a new coach in Steve Donahue, who was an assistant at Penn for 10 years before becoming the head coach at Cornell and Boston College.
There's a lot to look forward to this season, but I'll start with a preseason ranking/summary of each City 6 program.
Last Season: 33-3 (16-2, 1st in Big East)
First Game: November 13 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson at The Pavilion
Last season saw the Wildcats not only reach the top 10 rankings, but had them in there for pretty much the whole season. They took advantage of their roster depth and suffocated opponents with their full court trap defense. Eight players averaged at least 14 minutes per game, and six different players scored at least 9 points per game. The Wildcats also ranked 23rd in the country in points per game, 13th in assists per game and 38th in field goal percentage, giving them one of the most efficient offenses in the nation.
One area they struggled in was in the rebounding category, ranking 174th in the country on the boards. Daniel Ochefu grabbed about 8.5 rebounds per game, but the rest of the team was weak on the glass.
Villanova was especially strong shooting the ball last season. However, in their last game against the NC State Wolfpack, they shot just 31% from the field. It was a bit of an unlucky performance for the Wildcats. Hopefully they continue to grow this season. They lost some key contributors in Dylan Ennis and JayVaughn Pinkston, but they keep Ryan Arcidiacono, Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and Daniel Ochefu, while also bringing in top 100 recruit Jalen Brunson to help out in the backcourt.
Last Season: 26-11 (13-5, 3rd in the AAC)
First Game: November 13 vs. UNC in the Veterans Classic
The Temple Owls got hot late in the season and rode their streak to the NIT Semifinals, before bowing out to the Miami Hurricanes. The Owls were the opposite of Villanova, ranking 28th in the country in rebounds per game, while ranking just 238th in points per game.
They had three double-digit scorers in Will Cummings (14.8 ppg), Quentin DeCosey (12.3) and Jesse Morgan (11.9), but didn't have too many options on offense outside of those three. But with Cummings and Morgan moving on, it's time for Jaylen Bond to step up and be a much bigger contributor on offense this season.
They had a pretty difficult non-conference schedule last year, facing Duke, Villanova and Kansas, but were able to pull off the upset against Kansas at the Wells Fargo Center by a score of 77-52. The non-conference schedule is a little more manageable this season, with just North Carolina and Wisconsin posing big threats. The Owls have a good mix of seniors and juniors on the roster, so expectations will be high for Fran Dunphy.
3) Saint Joseph's
Last Season: 13-18 (7-11, 10th in the A-10)
First Game: November 13 vs. Drexel at Hagan Arena
It was a pretty rough season for the Hawks, especially coming off of an A-10 championship and NCAA Tournament berth in the 2013-2014 season, as they had a lot of new faces to acclimate. DeAndre' Bembry was phenomenal last season. He averaged 17.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, leading the team in both categories. There's no question that he will be a huge focal point of the offense, especially now that he's on almost all NBA scouts' radar.
The real question is will anyone else step up and become a reliable option along with Bembry. Isaiah Miles was second on the team in points and rebounds, with 10.7 and 5.1 per game respectively, so Phil Martelli will naturally look for him to take more control on offense. Miles developed his three point shot and became more consistent from downtown last season. Look for him to utilize that skill even more this year.
Aaron Brown, who transferred from West Virginia, needs to be a lot more involved in his senior year. He is capable, but seemed uncomfortable last season. Martelli has a young roster once again, so sophomores James Demery and Shavar Newkirk will have to be ready to go from the start.
4) La Salle
Last Season: 17-16 (8-10, 9th in the A-10)
First Game: November 14 vs. Towson at Tom Gola Arena
La Salle had a good season last year, but more was expected out of them. They found a star in Auburn transfer Jordan Price, who led the team in scoring with 17.2 points per game. He should be in contention for a first team All A-10 spot.
Jerrell Wright, Khalid Lewis, D.J. Peterson and Steve Zack are gone, so there will be a lot more minutes and offensive touches to go around down low. Sophomores Tony Washington and Amar Stukes will be first in line to receive those chances. Stukes averaged 22 minutes per game last year, but will be looked upon to be a leader in the backcourt. Washington didn't play much, but he will receive a ton of minutes this year with a diluted frontcourt.
This is a young squad, so there will be some growing pains, but they have the talent to make a run in the A-10.
Last Season: 11-19 (9-9, 6th in the CAA)
First Game: November 13 vs. Saint Joseph's at Hagan Arena
The Dragons had a very rough start to the season, going 2-11 in their first 13 games. But once the in-conference games came around, they fared much better. Damion Lee was one of the highest scoring guards in the nation at 21.4 points per game, but he transferred to Louisville at the end of the season.
Senior Tavon Allen will be called upon to lead this squad. Allen averaged just 11 ppg last year, but he played much better in the second half of the season. He needs to be more reliable all season long for this team to make any noise. Kazembe Abif and Major Canady did not play last season, so getting them back is a huge plus for the Dragons.
Rashaan London and Rodney Williams will also need to play bigger roles for this team to take off. It is a bit of a rebuild after last season, but they have the opportunity to make some noise in the CAA.
Last Season: 9-19 (4-10, 8th in the Ivy League)
First Game: November 13 vs. Robert Morris at the Palestra
Last season, Penn finished dead last in the Ivy League and their coach Jerome Allen left after six seasons coaching the team. It's up to new coach Steve Donahue to revive the program. Donahue was an assistant at Penn for 10 years before leaving to become head coach of Cornell and Boston College.
The Quakers were in the bottom third in the nation in points, rebounds and assists, so they can only improve in those areas. They bring back seniors Tony Hicks and Darien Nelson-Henry. Hicks led the team in scoring with 13.2 ppg, and DNH led in rebounding with 5.1 rpg.
Junior Matt Howard and Sophomore Antonio Woods each averaged over 8 points per game, so look for those two to play a bigger role for the Quakers this season. It's tough to recruit in the Ivy League, so it comes down to coaching. With Donahue in the mix, the Quakers can improve instantly.
By: Dan Goggin
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