KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Mark Tyndale has played in a lot of tough venues throughout his four years with the men’s basketball team.
He’s played at Georgetown, South Carolina and Alabama. He’s faced Villanova at both the Palestra and the Pavilion. He’s played at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium twice.
Those places pale in comparison to Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena, Tyndale said.
“This one tops the list,” Tyndale said after the Owls lost to the No. 7 Volunteers, 80-63, before 21,817 screaming fans Friday. “I think the fans were pretty enthused. They did a great job staying in the game and getting their guys pumped up and fired up.”
The road doesn’t get any easier from here.
Temple (0-1) travels to San Juan for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic, where they’ll play three games in four days beginning Thursday against Providence. They’ve also got a Dec. 29 contest against Florida on a neutral site, if playing in Sunrise, Fla. counts as a neutral site.
In between, the Owls have two road games against Mid-American Conference opponents, which certainly aren’t sure wins. The Owls discovered that last season, when they dropped their season opener on the road to Kent State and had to overcome a 14-point deficit to beat Ball State at Worthen Arena.
Still, an argument can be made that the Owls took on their toughest competition of the season in the Volunteers, picked to win the Southeastern Conference and contend for the national championship.
“I think this is a great experience for the young guys,” Tyndale said of playing the Vols. “Me, being a senior, I could have stepped up a little bit, shown a little bit more leadership. I think this is a great learning process, but it ain’t no fun losing.”
Freshman Lavoy Allen embraced the challenge, scoring eight points on 5 of 7 shooting. He collected a game-high nine rebounds and three assists. Still, he only played 23 minutes because he took two early fouls and sat out much of the first half.
“We need him on the court,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “He’s terrific. He’s going to be a terrific college basketball player, if he isn’t already.”
Allen was aware that he was being thrown into the fire against one of the nation’s elite teams, but picked up a lesson.
“We’ve got to go out there and play more aggressive,” Allen said. “I don’t think teams are going to let us come into their house and do whatever we want.”
Dunphy wants the Owls to take such lessons from their loss.
“I’m pleased with having the opportunity to play a caliber of team like this and hopefully we’ll learn from it,” Dunphy said.
The Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame announced its fourth annual induction class last week, which included former Temple coach Harry Litwack.
Litwack coached the Owls from 1952-73, accumulating 373 wins, which was the most in program history until John Chaney passed him.
Litwack, inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1976, took the Owls to their only Final Four appearances, in 1956 and 1958. He also guided Temple to a National Invitation Tournament championship in 1969.
Litwack and the other inductees will be honored in a ceremony Dec. 12 held at the Hyatt Regency Penn’s Landing. Tickets to the event can be purchased at www.phillyhall.org/banquet.
DUKE TICKETS ON SALE
Individual tickets for Temple’s Jan. 9 contest against Duke, held at the Wachovia Center, went on sale Monday. Prices range from $22 to $100.
Tickets can be purchased at the Wachovia Center box office, by calling 1-800-298-4200 or by visiting www.comcasttix.com.
John Kopp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.