John Chaney did not have to do much to get his team to play against Memphis. The defense was tight and made the Tigers look claustrophobic against the 1-3-1 and ball zone. The Tigers struggled at times to even make an entry pass.
But when Memphis needed baskets the most, coach John Calipari looked for his star player Dajuan Wagner to respond and he did.
In the last sequence of the game Chaney did not have the luxury of relying on his star player to come through.
Life after Lynn Greer came sooner than expected for the men’s basketball team, but it was a reality the team will eventually face. There is no doubt that Greer would have attempted the last shot to put his team in the NIT Championship game.
Last Tuesday that duty belonged to sophomore David Hawkins, who had two attempts to win the game in the waning seconds. Next season he can expect more of those shots as he replaces Greer as the Owls number one option.
Seniors Kevin Lyde, Alex Wesby and Ron Rollerson gave everything they had and sophomore Brian Polk’s barrage of three-pointers looked like it could be enough for the win.
But Temple looked lost at times without its leader on the court. Not boxing out properly, being unaware of timeouts, costly fouls and not knowing where to be on the court led to the demise of the game for Temple.
After the game Chaney said how you start is how you finish, which pretty much summed up the Owls season. Injuries to Rollerson, Lyde and Wesby, along with the ineligibility of Hawkins hindered the Owls starting a season on the right foot.
The season will end tonight with an ailing Rollerson and Greer, and with the redundant underclassmen mistakes.
Every season the NIT at the Madison Square Garden plays host to the premier teams in the nation and then welcomes back teams that fell short of its expectations.
Temple’s dream-filled season provided too many questions and not enough answers. The 2001-2002 men’s basketball season will forever, in my mind, be the season that never started.
Chris Silva can be reached at email@example.com