A poll at Owlsports.com, the official Web site of Temple athletics, asks its visitors: Which fall sports team will have the most successful season?
Men’s soccer leads the way with 39 percent of the vote. Football, in all its 1-5 glory following Saturday’s close loss to Pittsburgh, is second with 20 percent. Volleyball, last year’s Atlantic Ten runner-up but not within a whiff of .500, is third with 19 percent.
Perhaps the most fitting response would be “None of the above,” but Temple does not provide that option for obvious reasons. The combined record of the five fall sports teams was 21-37-2 as of Sunday, with only field hockey able to boast a non-losing record at 6-6.
That’s a gaudy winning percentage of .350 from a group that includes three 2003 A-10 finalists (men’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball).
So what is an Owl fan to do?
Some fans admit they are already looking forward to the season they live for around here. The basketball season is only five weeks away. And practice begins by the end of this month.
“I like Temple football, but I love basketball,” said Temple alumnus Patrick Brogan, tailgating outside Lincoln Financial Field before the Homecoming game Saturday. “Even though this year is kind of a pitch year for us, because we’re still not that great but the A-10 is pretty thin.”
In a stray from the recent norm, men’s basketball enters the season without an established senior to carry the bulk of the offensive and leadership load. Juniors Mardy Collins and Antywane Robinson will share the responsibilities of a go-to guy with sophomore Dustin Salisbery, who flashed talent at select times last season. And the arrival of sophomore power forward Wayne Marshall, who was a academic casualty last year, might strengthen last year’s weak post presence.
The steady guidance of fullback-like guard David Hawkins is gone, and the 2004 Owls appear to lack the formidable outside shooting that would make them the favorite in the A-10. The uncertainty is what makes this year exciting, because any positives would provide reason for optimism in 2005.
The women’s team is built to contend in the NCAA tournament, and coach Dawn Staley constructed a schedule that reflects that.
The Owls open the season against Louisiana State at the Liacouras Center and travel to Tennessee the following weekend. The Tigers and Volunteers have both been named preseason No. 1s in various polls.
While the men’s outlook is hazy, the women expect no less than extended postseason success from their veteran roster. Seniors Cynthia Jordan and Ari Moore return as starters, and last year’s freshmen standouts, Britney Jordan and Kamesha Hairston, prepare for even greater roles in their second year. All-conference forward Candice Dupree is just a junior, but has two seasons of experience as a starter under her belt.
So as fans bemoan another losing football season and decry volleyball’s continued inability to beat anyone outside the substandard A-10, we all know what they’re really waiting for.
Get ready for the most fun you’ll likely have as a Temple sports fan. Hoops is just a month away.
Benjamin Watanabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.