Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ring The Alarm... Alabama's Dying!

I had to hold my breath in fear that the student body wouldn’t storm the floor after the big win on Saturday evening in Philadelphia.

An enthused and crowded student section pounded on the chairs and chanted in support of their Owls as Mardy and company took down the Crimson Tide for Temple’s first win against a ranked opponent in a long while.

Temple came out of the gate with something to prove knocking down trey after trey to put the pressure on ‘Bama in a hurry. However, Alabama wasn’t shook and they hit a number of long balls of their own to keep things close.

Temple had another balanced box score that saw the man they call the “X-Factor” lead the way with 20 points. Dustin came out of the gates on fire like the Hot Boys knocking down four threes in the first half. He loves to pull up for the elbow three balls and he was hitting almost everything he saw in the first half. Antwayne chipped in 17 but more importantly had 11 boards. Mardy added 15 and Mark rounded out the double figure scoring with 10.

The Owls put up 68 points which is high by Temple standards but the defense and board work was the difference in the win. I already mentioned ‘Twayne’s work but Dustin’s 9 rebounds are nothing to sneer at. He also had the play of the game with a huge blocked dunk attempt that was quickly passed out to Mark who found Antwayne in the corner for three. He also added three steals to fill up the box score in a big way.

Can’t say enough about the difference in the swagger of the Temple team when they have another guy clicking the way Dustin was on Saturday. I was impressed not only in the three point shooting which has always been a strength but also in his ability to recognize when it was time to go to the hoop in the second half. In a game like this where Temple actually shoots well enough to really space the floor and a couple guys get hot you have to take advantage of spacing by taking the ball to the basket. Mardy does this on occasion as does Mark but it was nice to see Dustin recognize that the defense was sagging his way and make them pay by going hard to the hole.

I am a little puzzled by Mardy’s lack of production this season and I am not simple talking points. Against Alabama he scored 15 but only grabbed 3 rebounds and had no steals, usually his bread and butter category. He also was charged with an uncharacteristic two turnovers but when compared to his 7 dimes that is acceptable. Its possible this is all a result of teams making him the focal point of their defensive attack and having an increased awareness of his presence on the floor in guarding from takeaways but its worth noting. However I’m sure Mardy would argue that with the defense keying on him it’s allowing his teammates to get some open looks at the basket and the Owls are winning. Say No More.

The Liacorous center was rocking like the good old days. The game was televised on ESPN2 and the student section was as loud as I have heard it. Whoever is leading that group of kids is doing his or her thing but I did feel that the overrated chant was in poor taste and WAY to early. Come on! There were like 15 minutes left and this is Temple! You know that offense can catch a case at any time and shut down its operation. However, all is forgiven cause this is a good win.
Much respect to Steve Gengler who allowed me to use some of his original shots from the game. You can check out his site here: http://www.xanga.com/iisteve99. Hopefully he isn’t one of those wild men who was chanting overrated but even if he is, all is forgiven!

Looking ahead Temple has Auburn @ their place and then the Gamecocks back home in Philly. These are going to be two tests for the Owls as both these clubs know how to play and are familiar with the match up zone. Last season the boys stumbled against both clubs in games I feel were very winnable. Its going to be a true test for Temple of not only their basketball ability but their mental and maturity as a squad. I also think if they can string together these two wins they will be making a push at the Top 25… It’s early but I feel good.


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