Last Saturday John Chaney sent a message. A message that made every coach in the Atlantic 10 cringe, just when they were starting to breathe easy.
Chaney quietly dipped the glass pen in his inkwell in Amherst Massachusetts, and wrote one last scroll just in time for March Madness.
The scroll read “We’re still the champs, until someone knocks us out.”
By the time the scroll was delivered to Massachusetts coach Bruiser Flint, it was too late. His team had already suffered an 84-52 drubbing at the hands of the down-but-not-out Owls.
Chaney’s messengers, Quincy Wadley and Lynn Greer, scored 28 and 26 points respectively, while delivering Bruiser Flint his worst loss in his five-year coaching career. In the victory, the back-court duo scored more points (54) than the Minutemen scored as a team (52).
In the midst of season that included two games against Duke, two defected players, numerous injuries and a seven game losing streak, it was certainly a game that no one other team in the conference wanted to see from a desperate, yet still talented Temple (15-12) team.
“We are certainly feeling a lot better about ourselves,” Chaney said. “We’ve been in situations like this many times where we’ve had to come from behind and get in the tournament. We can’t go into the A-10 tournament with 14 or 15 losses, [but] if we win the rest of our games, a couple in the tournament, we’ll definitely be in.”
That is the exact formula everyone in Owl Country is hoping for, and this win on the road was critical for a chance at an at-large berth.
Temple took control of the game midway through the first half after Alex Wesby’s (13 points) 3-pointer capped a 9-0 run and gave Temple its first double-digit lead at 21-11. Temple finished the half shooting a blistering 64 percent as they lead 47-30 at intermission.
Massachusetts never threatened in the second half as Temple shot 11 of 20 from beyond the arc en route to the 32-point victory.
Massachusetts sharpshooter Monty Mack led the Minutemen with 21 points, including 5 of 7 from three-point range.
AROUND THE A-10
While we are still in Owl Country, let’s start this week with a Ron Rollerson update. Rollerson left last Tuesday’s contest against St. Joseph’s early in the second half after landing awkwardly on his left foot. The 6-10 junior underwent an x-ray evaluation the next day and was diagnosed with a severe sprain of the mid left foot.
According to Temple team doctor Ray Moyer, Rollerson’s will be out three to five weeks.
St. Joseph’s finally attained its well-deserved place among the nation’s elite. With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Hawks (21-4, 11-1) cracked the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll at 24, and were voted 23rd in the nation by the Associated Press.
According to many coaches who have faced St. Joe’s this season, the recognition comes a few weeks late. Nonetheless, St. Joe’s has put itself in an excellent position to gain an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Sliding down to the bottom of the conference, Rhode Island University contacted former Indiana head coach Bobby Knight about its upcoming coaching vacancy. Although Knight was not interested, it does show that Rhode Island Athletic Director Ron Petro is committed to hiring a big name coach that will lead them back to basketball prominence.
According to Petro, Knight was one of 5o possible candidates for the position next season. The most sought-after jobless coach around, former Boston Celtics coach and president Rick Pitino, denied interest in the Rhody post earlier in the year.
In Amherst, Monty Mack’s 21 points against Temple was his 51st career 20-point game, which is good for second all-time at Massachusetts behind Jim McCoy. Mack’s current eight-game streak of 20 points or more is the longest since Julius Erving notched eight straight 20-point games in the 1970-71 season.
Finishing up in Philly, Temple recently filled the fourth and final slot at the 2001 Coaches vs. Cancer event along with national powers Arizona, Maryland and Florida. The match ups will be announced in June for the November 8-9 event held in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
This week’s honor goes to Temple’s lone senior starter, Quincy Wadley. In the only game this week Wadley scored a career-high 28 points in a must-win game against Massachusetts. In addition, Wadley also chipped in six rebounds, five assists and two steals, while playing all 40 minutes.