Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Manhattan Jaspers 67 at Temple Owls 88 (NCAA Basketball) - November 20, 2016


After ending my college football slate by watching Princeton win the Ivy League crown on Saturday,  (I saw only three games all season), I started my college basketball campaign on Sunday in Philadelphia. There are six schools here that play Division 1 hoops, and I had only seen LaSalle and St. Joseph’s, leaving defending national champ Villanova, Drexel, Penn, and Temple still on the list. The Owls were home on this day, hosting Manhattan, who are coached by the always dapper and dramatic Steve Masiello. A Jaspers game is worth watching just to see him constantly overreact on the sidelines.



Anyway, Temple University is located in North Philadelphia, right along Broad Street at the corner of Cecil B, Moore Avenue. There is a subway stop right here too, so no need to drive. As soon as you exit, you will see the Liacouras Center, where the basketball teams play. It had turned bone chillingly cold overnight, so rather than tour the area; I snapped a quick shot of the exterior before heading to Pub Webb to watch the NFL pregame shows. My buddy Andrew joined and after watching the first quarter of the football games, we returned to the arena, picking up tickets from a friendly scalper for slightly less than box office price.



The Liacouras Center opened in 1997 and was originally known as the Apollo of Temple (a play on the many Temples of Apollo that dot the ancient world). In 2000, it was renamed after Temple present Peter J. Liacouras, who passed away earlier this year. The stadium is a multi-purpose venue and hosts concerts and minor sports teams along with Temple hoops.



The lobby is spacious and has a couple of statues of past coaching heroes, including John Chaney (in the middle below) who led Temple to 17 NCAA tournaments between 1984 and 2001, including 5 Elite Eight appearances...



... and Harry Litwack, who coached the Owls from 1952-1973 with two NCAA third place finishes to his credit.



Inside, the concourse is quite wide and clean, and there are several concession stands around, all with local ties. Chickie and Pete’s, Broad Street Dogs, and Tony Luke's are just some of the names. I appreciated the clever Hack-A-Snack shack that you can see below. Interestingly, beer is also sold here, a rarity for a campus venue.



History is on display here with the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame along the inner wall of the concourse...



...and some early accomplishments in the rafters.



There is a new ring of honour that was unveiled at halftime, with four players comprising the inaugural class. The ceremony took place under red lighting, so the picture isn't that good.



There are also banners for each American Athletic Conference team in the concourse ceiling.



Seating is typical for basketball, with two levels both reached from the main concourse. Manhattan is not a draw here and the place was mostly empty, so we sat in a few different places.



One thing I liked was the giant owl eyes at one end of the court, right above the Cherry Zone (so named because the team colours are Cherry and White), and yes there is a White Zone at the other end.



Overall, Liacouras Center is a decent place to watch a basketball game. I’m sure when one of the other Philly teams visits for a Big 5 contest (Drexel is excluded from this group) that the place fills up and is quite energetic, but this was an early-season mismatch on a football afternoon that kept many fans at home. I’d like to come back for one of those Big 5 games sometime.

The Game

I hoped that the Jaspers would put on a good show and they started well, keeping pace with the Owls through the first ten minutes. With 8:35 to go in the first half, the score was tied at 15, but after that Manhattan became a turnover machine, giving up the ball 8 times as Temple went on a 24-5 run to finish the frame, with the Jaspers hitting only 7 of 28 shots to make matters worse.



The second half was quite entertaining and the teams played a fast-paced back and forth style, as Temple built up a 31-point lead late in the game, but Manhattan closed on a 22-12 run to make the final a slightly more respectable 88-67. The Jaspers finished with 22 turnovers and a 38.7% shooting percentage, compared to 15 and 53.4% for the Owls. Andrew and I left in the final minute but we could have left at halftime and not missed anything. I am sure Masiello had a few choice words for his team after this one.



Next Up

Off to Edmonton next week for the Leafs at Oilers, the first of six games in six venues in six cities in five days. Check back to see how it all turns out.

Best,

Sean

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