<font face=”verdana, arial, helvetica” size=”2″ color=”#ffffff”Men’s Basketball
If you go…
• What: No. 16 Temple vs. No. 6 Florida
First-round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament
Winner plays the winner of the Maryland-Arizona matchup
• When: Madison Square Garden, New York City.
• Where: Thursday, 6:30 p.m. ESPN2
• Last meeting: Temple beat Florida 75-54 in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. Temple has won all four meetings between the two teams dating back to 1969.
• Position by Position Matchups:
Temple: Lynn Greer, Sr
Florida: Justin Hamilton, Jr
Greer is the consummate leader of the Owls and is the key to the team running smoothly. His vision on the court to find players down low is an attribute to his basketball knowledge. Greer can flat out shoot the ball, too. He can hit the open three, and he will knock down most of his free throws.
Hamilton will return to the basketball court after missing most of the 2001 season with an ACL injury. He is a guard with great range. He had 26 assists with just four turnovers in his last nine games before his season ending injury. He also has a reputation for being one of the best defenders in the SEC.
Temple: Nile Murray, Fr
Florida: Brett Nelson, Jr
Murray beat out Brian Polk for the honor of starting next to Greer in the Temple backcourt. Murray’s smooth shooting and overall defensive skills won him the starting spot. Murray cans the three with ease and will help out in Chaney’s match-up zone. He is a freshman so expect some mistakes. Murray’s positives should outweigh his inexperience.
Nelson returns as one of the top two-guards in the nation. Nelson, who averaged 15.3 points as a sophomore, has a nearly flawless stroke from the field. He is the all-time Florida leader in steals, assists and three point field goals. He should give Temple fits from behind the arc.
Temple: Alex Wesby, Sr
Florida: Orien Greene, So
Wesby is back from a hamstring injury that hampered him during the pre-season. Wesby brings to the table a very good jump shot. Defensively he is getting better everyday, according to Temple coaches. One key for Wesby to be successful is knocking down the outside shot. The rest of his game is more solid.
Greene is not a true small forward. Florida Coach Billy Donovan will start the season with a three-guard offense. Greene stands at 6-foot-4-inches and can dish the ball past defenders to find the open man. He had 85 assists a year ago as a freshman.
Temple: Ron Rollerson, Sr
Florida: Matt Bonner, Jr
Rollerson lost 30 pounds over the summer dropping from 335 to 305. Offensively he has talent. The question mark still lies with his conditioning and being able to make it up and down the court to help out the Owls on the defensive side of the ball. If Rollerson is able to get back on D and help on the weak side to take some burden off the shoulders of Lyde, then he will shine.
Bonner could have made a statement for the most improved player in the nation last year. Bonner stepped in for the injured Brent Wright and went from averaging 4.8 points per game to 13.3 points per game. Bonner also not only hits the boards, he also hits the books. Bonner’s 3.96 GPA was one of the best in the nation. He rescued his woeful rebounding averages from 3.2 per game to 7.7 all in one season.
Temple: Kevin Lyde, Sr
Florida: Udonis Haslem, Sr
Lyde is the most important player for this Temple team to succeed. Lynn Greer runs the team but if Lyde is playing the kind of basketball he can play, Temple can dominate down low. Lyde is one of the best centers in the country and playing against another big man such as Haslem will be a marquee match up to kick off the new season.
Haslem is the emotional leader of this very deep Florida team. He is also the player that establishes a presence down low and scores the basketball. He is without a doubt the key to the Gator offense. He will run the floor as well as block shots. One thing to count on with Haslem is he will be in the game. He has never missed a game in his Florida career and has started 68 consecutive games.
Off the Bench:
Temple: The Owls have quantity off the bench, the effectiveness and quality they will provide has yet to be determined. Glen Elliott is almost certain to be the sixth man off the bench to start the season. He will fill in when Lyde or Rollerson get in foul trouble.
Coach John Chaney said he has seen bright spots in guard Jay Jameson’s game which means he should see some time in the early going. Jameson is coming off an impressive performance against the Ezybonds scoring nine points in 11 minutes while dishing off two assists and making one steal. Polk and Hawley Smith will come off the bench as well at the guard spot. Both players are tentative in the early going. Polk should see some time. Smith will have to prove himself in practice before Chaney gives him game time action.
Polk is a huge question mark for Temple this season. He has looked impressive at times during practice sessions. He has a good shooting range, and great leaping ability. Defensively, he needs more time to adjust to Chaney’s system. Scouting reports say Polk is an excellent outside shooter. Time will tell if he can show off that part of his game in this rigid Temple offense.
Greg Jefferson seems to be lost in the mix. Jefferson only played six minutes in the exhibition game, not registering any points. Wilbur Allen and Steve Tulleners are two walk-on players that have made the team. Both are used primarily in practice and will not see much time if any during games. Allen went to Oak Hill Academy, while Tulleners is from Unionville Pa.
Florida: The Gators have impressive freshman coming in to help out. James White and David Lee top that list. Both players were highly rated coming into college and have done everything in practice for Donovan to make him believe in their skills.
James White at times will spell Nelson at the two-guard, but he will mostly play at the small forward spot. He is known for his high-flying ability and was dubbed “Flight” coming out of high school.
David Lee will help out down low spelling Bonner. Lee is a natural left handed shot that will compliment the style of Haslem. In his short time with the Gators, Lee has also developed a reputation for hustling for loose balls on the court.
LaDarius Halton is a prolific scorer and a dazzling dunker He is best when he is out in the open floor. While in transition look for Halton to knock down a jump shot or fly in for a trademark dunk. Defensively he is still learning, he has worked over the summer on distributing the ball at a better rate.
Game Two: Arizona vs. Maryland
This game should be an extreme challenge for this young Arizona team. Four out of their five starters from last season are gone.
Jason Gardner returns as the leader of the team. Luke Walton also will provide some leadership to a team that boasts five freshman and only nine scholarship players.
Maryland returns starters Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter, and Steve Blake. The Terrapins have the honor of being ranked No. 2 overall by the Associated Press. It is the highest ranking ever in the history of the Terrapins. Maryland Coach Gary Williams is one win from tying another Maryland coach, Bud Millikan, as the second-winningest coach in ‘Terp history. Both teams fell to Duke last season in the Final Four.