For Temple seniors Lynn Greer, Kevin Lyde, and Ron Rollerson it is simple: win three straight games or go home.
The lines on the battlefield have been drawn, and for the Owls the battles have just begun.
“We lost 12 games so early [in the season], it’s in the back of everybody’s mind that we may not make it to the [NCAA] tournament,” Greer said. “It’s basically a do or die situation from here on out.”
Temple coach John Chaney also feels the way the Owls played to start the year might come back to hurt them in the end.
“Playing well in the tournament could be a little bit too late, we’re coming around too late,” Chaney said. “After having all of these guys out [with injuries] and suddenly we find ourselves feeling like we were champions for the last couple of years, we feel that now. Well couldn’t that be a little bit too late? You only need one slip and you’re out of it – the tournament. That worries me.”
The A-10 Tournament will commence for Temple on Thursday as they face La Salle.
La Salle has the experience of senior Rasual Butler and the youth and athleticism of freshman Mike Cleaves and Jeff Farmer.
The Explorers defeated Temple in their only meeting of the season back on Feb. 13 in Olney. Butler led all scorers with 25.
But that game was in the past; now it is time for Temple to focus on the present and the future.
The Owls won the right for a first round bye and the A-10 East Division crown with an exhilarating double overtime victory over Saint Joseph’s on Sunday at the Palestra.
Now the focus shifts from a Big 5 match-up to the final A-10 Tournament in Philadelphia in the foreseeable future.
A-10 Commissioner Linda Bruno announced earlier in the season that the tournament would move from the Spectrum to the Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio next season.
For Temple, it simply doesn’t matter who or where they play. They know they just want to play a strong 40 minutes and advance until there are no more games to win.
Chaney knows that without an A-10 Tournament victory, it is unlikely his four seniors will experience the NCAA Tournament again.
“Those four guys [Greer, Rollerson, Lyde, and Wesby], this is there last time around,” Chaney said. “Success has a narrow door. And a lot of guys can’t get through that door and some guys got to hold hands.”
For Temple the opportunity is in their hands.
Three straight wins and they dance.
March 6-March 9
Wednesday March 6
Game #2: 2 p.m.*
Game #3: 6:05 p.m.
Game #4: 9 p.m.*
Thursday March 7
Friday March 8
Saturday March 9
* Games Will Begin Time Approximate. Teams Will Have 20 Minutes to Warm Up In Between Games
Tickets are available through TicketMaster (215-336-2000; 856-338-9000; 302-984-2000) or visit the First Union Center box office.