With over 3,000 kids in attendance from schools across the Philadelphia area, the crowd and atmosphere showed a marked improved from the norm – no matter how screechingly high-pitched the noise got.
“I think it was great to have the crowd there,” Staley said. “I think it was great energy for our players. [They] like to play in front of a lot of people, especially Ashley [Morris]. She’s one of the crowd favorites because of her size and her ability to lead her team to a victory.”
“I love the kids being there,” junior forward Shanea Cotton followed. “It’s a good atmosphere, it gets me excited. I like to see people in the stands.”
The idea for the School Day is to teach kids, many of whom come from rough neighborhoods, about the importance of education and that taking school seriously can lead the greater things in life. And at the same time, it’s for them to enjoy a basketball game.
“If we can get kids out of school earlier, I think we’ll have a lot more people at our games,” Staley said. “But I think it’s important for kids to understand why they’re here, to get the message of how important staying in school is.”
“I like the fact that the kids get to come out to the game,” Morris, a senior guard, added. “I don’t remember doing anything like that when I was younger, so I think it’s a good thing for the children to come out. They’ll want to come to Temple or want to go to college, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Junior forward Shenita Landry wound up making her first start since Jan. 5 against Florida, but it wasn’t supposed to happen.
“Actually, it was a mistake entering the starting lineup,” Staley explained. “It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. It just happened.”
Freshman forward Lindsay Kimmel was supposed to start, as she has been doing since Atlantic Ten Conference play began, but Landry’s name was announced when Temple’s starting lineup was read off.
That meant she had to start the game on the floor, even though Kimmel went through all the normal motions of being announced in the starting lineup, which includes running through a gauntlet of teammates’ slapping hands and a personalized greeting with sophomore forward Jasmine Stone.
By virtue of Xavier and No. 13 George Washington being idle until this weekend, the Owls are currently in first place in the A10 standings. The Owls stand a 7-1, while the aforementioned Musketeers and Colonials and right behind them at 6-1.
That makes this Saturday’s game with Xavier that much more important to the Owls, who have slowly crept their way back onto the “bubble” and in the at-large bid talk thanks to their seven game winning streak.
While things are a still a long ways a way from March, the NCAA selection committee will undoubtedly be interested to see how the Owls do against the top competition in their conference: George Washington, Charlotte and Xavier. So far, the Owls are 2-0 against those teams. And winning that third could really catch the committee’s eye come Selection Monday.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.