Minutes before the top of the hour and the start of the Selection Show, Tonya Cardoza was all business.
Seated in the middle of her team, the first-year coach was quietly anticipating the start of the NCAA Tournament Selection Show last night in the Fox Gittis Room in the lobby of the Liacouras Center.
It wasn’t until approximately 7:45 that it was announced that the Owls would face the Florida Sunday afternoon in Storrs, Connecticut.
If the No. 9 Owls defeat the No. 8 Gators they will have a chance to play the top-ranked and undefeated Huskies in the second round of the Trenton Region.
“We’re not looking at UConn,” Cardoza said. “Our opponent is Florida and that’s who we’re looking at right now.”
Most outside the Temple locker room weren’t looking at the Owls to make a run at the NCAA Tournament this season. In the midst of a coaching change and losing their two top performers earned Temple a fourth place ranking in the pre-season Atlantic Ten Conference rankings.
Cardoza and her young squad silenced the critics by going 21-9 with an 11-3 mark in the A-10 to finish second in the conference.
With Cardoza coming to North Broad Street and leading Temple to a Tournament appearance in her first year, many on campus are hoping that the 20th women’s basketball coach in Temple’s history stays awhile.
Cardoza can’t look that far. In fact, she can’t even look past Florida and a possible second round match up with UConn. All she and her team can do is get back to practice and enjoy the experience for however long it lasts.
“One thing I’ve never been able to say is that we don’t have anything to lose,” Cardoza said. “Going in, we’re the underdog, whether coaching or playing. Just enjoy this and know that we could possibly go in there and upset some people.”
Pete Dorchak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.