DeAndre' Bembry's presence at St. Joe's still felt after being drafted

DeAndre' Bembry's presence at St. Joe's still felt after being drafted

DeAndre' Bembry and Charlie Brown never played on the same team.

But every day, the two basketball players trade texts with Bembry asking Brown how he’s doing in his first year at St. Joe’s and Brown asking Bembry what it’s like in his first season in the NBA.

That’s just the kind of person Bembry is, trying to get to know a new St. Joe’s player even though he’s now playing for a different Hawks team after getting drafted by Atlanta with the 21st pick of the 2016 NBA draft. And that’s why, in a way, it still almost feels like the NBA rookie remains a part of the St. Joe’s program heading into the 2016-17 season.

“The first day of practice, I actually had this idea in the back of my head, I was gonna yell out and use [Bembry’s] name,” St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli said from the Hawks’ media day on Thursday. “But as I’ve gotten older and these guys have gotten younger, I’ve had to diminish my humorous moments because they don’t get it. They don’t laugh at the same things I laugh at.

“But he’s still here. Believe it or not, you can feel him in the way these guys interact with each other — not from the basketball sense but from what they’ve taken what Aaron Brown left and what Isaiah Miles left and what DeAndre left and understand this is a team. This is not about them individually. I’m really pleased with that part of it.”

Although the returning players may have learned a lot from the departed ones, Martelli recognizes he will have a huge challenge trying to replace Bembry, Miles and Brown — a trio that combined to average 46 points per game last season.

He also knows it isn’t necessarily fair to have his current players try to live up to a 2015-16 season in which St. Joe’s won 28 games, the Atlantic 10 Tournament and its NCAA Tourney opener.

“That team last year was an extraordinary experience for all of us,” Martelli said. “But it’s now on a shelf. It’s now a ring, pieces of the net. That’s when I speak of DeAndre, Isaiah and Aaron Brown still being here. The value of being a good teammate, that’s still prevalent with this group.

“We’re not defending A-10 champs. We’re the A-10 champs for 2016. They can all put that in their bag and carry it with them, and now we can see what we can do this season.”

Bembry, of course, was the biggest reason why the Hawks were so good last season — and the 2016 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year cashed that into a first-round pick. For his St. Joe’s teammates, joining him on that memorable ride last season was a lot of fun. So, too, was then seeing him make it to the NBA.

“I was very excited for him,” said point guard Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble, a sophomore captain. “For anyone to accomplish that, especially someone you know, is great. I’m proud of him and what he’s doing. I know he’s working hard over there.”

Kimble added that Bembry joining other former Hawks like Langston Galloway and Jameer Nelson in the NBA adds “motivation” that maybe he could one day get there too. Brown, a promising freshman from Philly who figures to see a lot of minutes this year, agreed.

“Just knowing we can have the opportunity to further our basketball is awesome,” Brown said, adding that Bembry tells him “to keep my head up, stay focused and stay in the gym,” even as the St. Joe’s alum prepares for his own pro games.

What does Martelli think it means to the current players to see former ones now playing their trade in the NBA?

“I’m sure they’re delighted for their successes,” the St. Joe’s coach said. “Every young kid out there thinks, ‘I might be the next one.’ … The fact that Langston and Jameer and DeAndre are so familiar to these guys because they came through here in the summer bodes well for the future. And I hope when these guys put their head on the pillow at night, they’re thinking, ‘Am I next? Can I be the next one?’ Just like I want to them to think about the two Atlantic 10 trophies from ‘14 and ‘16 and say I want to be a part of the next one.”

Winning the next one this season will certainly be a tall feat for the Hawks. But with only one senior on the roster, the Hawks feel like they have something to build toward, thanks in large part to what Bembry and others left behind.

“I learned a lot from DeAndre Bembry, Isaiah Miles and Aaron Brown,” junior swingman James Demery said. “Now we have to take that year and bring it to this one and continue to carry the torch.”

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008


That’s why football is a week-to-week game. Forget about momentum.

Temple found that out the hard way. After coming alive in a big road win over East Carolina last week, the Owls were humbled when a fourth-quarter rally fell short Saturday in a 28-24 homecoming loss to Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Owls had one final shot at the victory with a drive in the final minute, but a Logan Marchi heave to the end zone was broken up.

The loss dropped Temple back under .500 at 3-4 (1-3 American Athletic Conference). UConn moved to 2-5 (2-2) with the victory.

• Say what you want about Temple quarterback Marchi (and you surely will after this game), but the guy is a fighter. Whether things are going his way or not, he continues to try to search for his receivers and attempt to squeeze the ball into those windows on the field. He made it two consecutive games with 300-plus yards passing as he was 33 of 54 for 356 yards with one touchdown and one interception Saturday.

• The game marked Temple’s first homecoming loss in nearly a decade. TU hadn’t suffered a homecoming defeat since a 7-3 loss to Western Michigan on Sept. 27, 2008. On that day, former Eagles DB Jaiquawn Jarrett was beaten in coverage on a double move in the third quarter for the game’s lone touchdown. Coming into Saturday, the Owls had won eight straight homecoming matchups by an average margin of 19.3 points.

• There was a rare sighting for Temple at the Linc: a rushing touchdown from a tailback. In fact, there were two. David Hood, who became the first Owls tailback to score on a run this season in last week’s rout of East Carolina, punched it in from one yard out to open the scoring in the first quarter. Ryquell Armstead weaved his way into the end zone for a 10-yard TD on the first play of the fourth quarter.

• Delvon Randall is simply a playmaker. The Owls’ leading tackler, Randall added another five stops in Saturday’s win. The junior DB also made a beautiful play along the sideline in the first quarter when he undercut an out route for an interception. It marked Randall’s third straight game with a pick. The Owls only have four interceptions this season and Randall has three of them.

• My colleague Greg Paone touched on college football’s targeting rule a couple of weeks ago (see story)We agree on pretty much all of the nuts and bolts of the rule. I’m glad it’s in place to protect players from violent and unnecessary hits. However, the more I see it called each week — and it seems like there is at least one in every game now — the more I’m starting to dislike the implementation. Temple defensive lineman Sharif Finch was ejected for targeting on Saturday when he went high on Huskies quarterback Bryant Shirreffs on a third-quarter touchdown pass. Shirreffs sold the hit by jerking his head back as he fell to the ground, but it was definitely worthy of a penalty. Was it a late hit? Yes. A bone-headed hit? Absolutely. But one worthy of Temple losing a top defensive player for the remainder of the game? I don’t think so.

• Speaking of Shirreffs, it’s easy to see why the Huskies have the best passing offense in the AAC. He didn’t show it with yardage in this tilt (just 105), but he was able to connect on three touchdowns through the air. He also added 39 yards on the ground, including a key run up the middle late in the fourth quarter.

• The Owls simply aren’t a good enough team to overcome 12 penalties for 117 yards.

• Like any other major college football game around the country, Saturday’s matchup at the Linc had scouts from NFL teams listed to attend. Of course, the Eagles were listed for several scouts in their home stadium. While the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers were also among those expected to have representatives at the game, there was only one other team labeled for more than one scout besides the Eagles — the New York Giants. At 0-5, they can certainly use all the help they can get right now.

• Temple will look to rebound when the Owls travel to play their final non-conference opponent in Army at 12 p.m. next Saturday.

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

USA Today Images

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

Temple (3-3, 1-2 American) vs. UConn (1-4, 0-3 American)
Lincoln Financial Field, ESPNews
Noon Saturday

Last time out
Temple beat East Carolina, 34-10, last Saturday.

UConn lost to Memphis, 70-31, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Last week, quarterback Logan Marchi finally got on track with his first 300-yard game of the season against East Carolina. This week, the redshirt sophomore will face UConn, the team he initially committed to in high school under former coach Paul Pasqualoni. Marchi was then denied after a coaching change was made. The Huskies have the worst passing defense in the AAC, giving up 399.8 passing yards per game, and have allowed 19 touchdowns through the air in 2017. If Marchi can play well for a second week in a row, look for Temple’s offense to put up some points. 

Another matchup to look at is UConn’s passing attack against Temple’s defense. The Huskies’ boast the best passing offense in terms of yards in the AAC, averaging 325.8 yards per game, but have only scored nine touchdowns this year. Temple, on the other hand, allows the eighth-most passing yards in the conference (253 yards per game), but is ranked fourth in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 26 points per game. Connecticut must convert drives into touchdowns against this Owls defense if it wants to compete.

What it means
Temple’s hopes to reach the AAC championship game might not be realistic anymore but its bowl hopes are still alive. A win against UConn would put the Owls just two victories away from becoming bowl-eligible, which after their start would be good for Owl fans.

Series history
Temple holds the 12-5 series advantage over Connecticut, and is currently on a three-game win streak.

What’s next?
Temple travels to Army.

UConn hosts Tulsa. 

Penn (2-2, 0-1 Ivy) at Columbia (4-0, 1-0 Ivy)
Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium
1:30 p.m. Saturday

Last time out
Penn lost at Central Connecticut State, 42-21, Saturday.

Columbia defeated Marist, 41-17, Saturday.

Scouting report
Penn’s strength is its rushing attack. They rank second in the Ivy League averaging 204 yards per game on the ground. Karekin Brooks has 543 yards rushing and five touchdowns so far this season. Getting the ground game going will be key for the Quakers this week.

Columbia defense has been strong so far this season. The Lions rank second in the Ivy League in total defense only allowing 316 yards per game and are third in the Ivy in pass defense. The Lions allow 194.8 yards per game through the air.

Series history
This is the 96th meeting between the teams. The Quakers hold a 73-21-1 advantage and have won the last 19 editions.

What’s next?
Penn hosts Yale.

Columbia is at Dartmouth.

Villanova (4-2, 2-1 CAA) at James Madison (5-0, 2-0 CAA)
Bridgeforth Stadium
6 p.m. Saturday

Last time out

Villanova defeated Maine, 31-0, Saturday.

James Madison beat Delaware, 20-10, Saturday.

Scouting report
Villanova has allowed just 1.6 yards per carry and 52 rushing yards per game this season. The Wildcats boast a strong scoring defense as well, the best in the Colonial allowing only nine points per game.

James Madison boasts the second-best rushing offense in the CAA averaging 223 yards per game and is second in scoring defense. The Dukes allow just 10 points per game to opposing offenses. Look for this game to be defensive showdown.

Series history
This is the 26th meeting between the teams. James Madison leads the series 14-11 and won 20-7 last season.

What’s next?
Villanova hosts Elon next Saturday.

James Madison travels to William & Mary next Saturday.