This is what we’ve all been waiting for.
The football season is coming to an end and the rest of the fall sports have closed shop.
Our attention will now shift to college hoops, my most treasured pastime.
But, as I stated in my final column last year, I’ve given up on predictions.
In fact, I hate preseason predictions and polls.
Only half of the teams ranked before the initial tip-off of the new season finish where they were predicted.
You must remember what the Temple men’s was predicted to do, and what actually happened.
What grabs me the most, as we enter the new season, are the similarities between the men and women’s teams.
Both are predicted to win the East Division of the Atlantic 10 conference.
Both have top-flight freshman expected to make serious impacts.
Both are continuing to reel in top prospects throughout the country.
Both have coaches that continue to add to their legacies.
But both coaches will be in situations they haven’t been in a while, if at all.
The departures on both teams certainly overshadow the newcomers, but not by much.
Coach John Chaney will be faced with the task of replacing great his frontcourt and leading scorer in Lynn Greer.
This season Chaney will have to start more than one freshman, and that’s probably not by choice.
Nonetheless, there is a tremendous upside to Chaney’s diaper-dandies.
Freshman Maurice Collins is the most underrated prospect in the A-10 and has been compared to former Owls Aaron McKie.
7-foot center Keith Butler could be the key to the match-up zone defense, although he has struggled with the rotations during the preseason.
Forward Antwayne Robinson also promises to make an impact.
In the other locker room is Dawn Staley’s squad.
The theme of the season is “Episode III,” marking Staley’s third season at the helm.
The women’s team won’t be satisfied with just making it to the tournament if they get there; they want it all.
Guard Khadija Bowens, who sat out last year because of NCAA regulations, is the most explosive and athletic player on the team and should fill the void left by two-guard Natalia Isaac.
A healthy Rachel Marcus could also come in handy with the departed Athena Christoforakis, the teams’ second leading scorer last year.
The sole difference in this year’s women’s squad is height; the Owls have five players over six-feet.
Throw in All-American candidate Stacey Smalls at the point and a bunch of returning sophomores and this team could be very dangerous.
Truthfully, both teams could be more threatening than last year.
From the looks of it, many would think this is a rebuilding season for both coaches but I would call it a reconfiguring season.
The faces are different, the schemes the same.
With new players come exhausting learning curves and both coaches could have totally thrown last year’s playbook out the door.
But why ruin a good thing?
Even if it means dropping your first handful of non-conference games, which many expect both teams to do.
Predictions are for the experts, I’m no expert.
Why can’t we just let the seasons unfold in front of our eyes without the nit-picky nuances of a team having no shot at the crown after just one game?
Chris Silva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.