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Don't underestimate Temple
Posted: Saturday March 24, 2001 2:14 AM
By Albert Lin, CNNSI.com
So what's gotten into the Temple Owls?
John Chaney's club -- which probably wouldn't have made the NCAAs had it not won the Atlantic 10 tournament -- now finds itself one winnable game away from the school's first Final Four since the days of Hal Lear and Guy Rodgers (that would be the late '50s).
The Owls have completely stifled three high-powered offenses, holding Texas to 65 points in a 14-point win, Florida to 54 points in a 21-point win, and now Penn State to 72 points (after a late spurt) in a 12-point win.
More impressive has been Temple's point totals. Known for playing a slow, deliberate pace that values quality possessions and running the clock, the Owls have come out firing in the NCAAs, averaging 79.3 points. If they keep shooting this well, there's no telling how far they could advance.
We said early in the year that Temple was a top 10-caliber club. But then the Owls went through that seven-game losing streak, and players started leaving or getting booted. Had Chaney's tough-love style finally caught up to his program? We should have known better. Temple has its mojo back, which means the rest of the country had better beware.
When that matchup zone is working -- and when Chaney is mixing it up to give opponents different looks -- there is nothing harder to solve, especially with only a day of preparation. Even the defending national champions, Michigan State, will have their hands full Sunday afternoon. The Spartans have been winning easily but not necessarily impressively most of the year, and Temple has certainly shown that it can frustrate even the best of foes.
One of these days Chaney will get to the Final Four. Could this be the year? The Owls have already surprised us by getting this far. What's one more victory?
| None |
|If we had to pick, we'd probably choose Illinois' 80-64 win over Kansas. But even that one never got too close. Two of the other games (Michigan State over Gonzaga and Temple over Penn State) were comfortable victories. As for the fourth contest, although it was relatively tight, we never for an instant thought Arizona wouldn't hold on to beat Mississippi.|
| Frank Williams, sophomore, guard, Illinois |
|Williams was the reason the Illini always had an answer for Kansas. He not only scored a career-high 30, but he grabbed five rebounds, handed out three assists and made three steals. More important, his leadership kept the Illinois offense (not the prettiest thing) running smoothly, and his quick hands and feet kept Jayhawks point guard Kirk Hinrich from getting Kansas going. If the Illini have one weakness it's their lack of a pure point producer (Cory Bradford shot an extremely ugly 1-for-13). But keep the ball in Williams' hands, and we're still pretty confident that Illinois will cut down the nets in Minneapolis.|
| Eric Chenowith, senior, center, Kansas |
|Forgive us. We just couldn't resist picking on Easy E one last time. The Big Fella closed out his undistinguished career with almost a complete 0-fer against Illinois. In 22 minutes, he grabbed two rebounds and, to his credit, picked up a couple assists and didn't turn the ball over. But he took no shots (missed both free throw attempts), registered no blocks and committed two fouls. Chenowith was a complete non-factor -- come to think of it, the perfect way to go out. In his defense, he wasn't the reason Kansas lost the game. If there was a culprit for the Jayhawks, it was their horrendous (18-for-35) free throw shooting. Had they knocked in even a handful more, they would have had a two-possession game down the stretch.|
| Greg Jefferson, sophomore, forward, Temple |
|Does John Chaney really not have a bench, or does he just choose not to use it? Given what we saw from Jefferson Friday, it's the latter. Called into action when starter David Hawkins picked up two quick fouls, the Los Angeles native (averaging 1.5 ppg) was a monster, scoring a career-high 15 points (7-for-9 FG) and grabbing seven rebounds (five offensive) in 21 minutes of action. He seemed right at home playing defense and was always around the ball, which might earn him some more playing time.|
| No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 3 Maryland, 4:40 p.m. ET |
|We'll be interested to see if Terps coach Gary Williams changes his starting lineup to combat Stanford's superior size, or if he just substitutes more frequently. Maryland definitely has the talent and depth to beat Stanford, and the Terps finally seem to be putting things together. But it's hard to count out the Cardinal, who have answered basically every challenge (beating on the road the two teams it lost to at home). They've had the target on their backs for much longer. Final thought: If Maryland somehow wins this game and moves on to Minneapolis, we're making the Terps our new pick for the title. It would be a breakthrough akin to UConn's in 1999.|
| No. 1 Duke vs. No. 6 USC, 7 p.m. ET |
|Both teams have fantastic starting fives and like to play an up-and-down, helter-skelter tempo. Neither side has much depth. We would argue that a fast-paced game benefits the Trojans, who have the horses for playground ball but not necessarily the discipline to run halfcourt sets; the Blue Devils can do both. We've said that Duke cannot maintain this pace for six straight games. Well, the Blue Devils may have had their one bad game against UCLA, when they struggled shooting the ball in the first half yet still emerged ahead. Once Jason Williams got hot, game over. However, if USC is able to do what it's done its last two contests -- jump out to a big lead -- perhaps Duke might fall.|
| Juan Dixon, junior, guard, No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 1 Stanford, 4:40 p.m. ET |
|The Terps' leading scorer is also their only consistent outside threat, and in order for Maryland's various post players to have room to operate against the Collins twins, Dixon must be making his shots. If not, it will be a long night. Steve Blake, Byron Mouton, Drew Nicholas and Tahj Holden are also capable 3-point shooters, but for one reason (Blake is usually loathe to shoot) or another (Holden is just as valuable inside) none can be relied on. Alternate strategy: If Maryland can get the Collinses in foul trouble, it will be able to pound down low at will.|
Check back for a new Day at a Glance every day there's NCAA tournament action.