Your Penn-Temple preview on the way just as soon as I can wrap my head around being able to watch something on replay at the Palestra...
The University of Pennsylvania Quakers are off to a 1-0 start after a 59-45 victory over the UMBC Retrievers on Friday night. Tonight's match up will be the Quakers' 2011-2012 home opener and the Owls' first game of the season. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m and can be heard 1210 AM.
As discussed in our Big 5 preview from last week, Penn is led by the veteran back court of seniors Zack Rosen and Tyler Bernadini. Spearheading the effort against UMBC, Rosen finished with a game-high 26 points, going 10-16 from the field, 4-5 from three, and chipping in 4 boards, 3 helpers and 3 takeaways. Bernadini, on the other hand, struggled to find his shot. He would finish just 3-10 shooting and 1-6 from behind the arc.
Standing opposed are the Temple University Owls, led by an equally experienced tandem of guards in Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore. With Scootie Randall still recovering from a torn meniscus, the starting five figures to feature Fernandez, Moore, Aaron Brown, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Michael Eric. Junior guard Khalif Wyatt tweeted earlier this afternoon that he will not be not be playing tonight. An Owlscoop.com source has since confirmed the tweet, breaking the news that Khalif is serving a one-game suspension for a "minor internal matter."
With Wyatt out of the mix and the rest of the guards getting after each other at both ends, look for Temple to try involve center Michael Eric in the offense. Penn doesn't have anyone who can match his height or physical presence, meaning the 6-10 Eric should have a good opportunity to show off all the work he's put in to his offensive game. The same goes for the 6-9 Anthony Lee, who will be playing his first game in a Temple uniform.
As an aside, if any of you noticed an irregularity in the Temple starting line-up, junior forward Rahlir Jefferson is, as it reads, no longer Rahlir Jefferson. Instead, he has added his mother's last name to his own, opting to go with the hyphenated approach as a tribute and thank you for all that she has done for him. I remember Rahlir's first game as a Temple Owl in the team's season opener on the road at Delaware in 2009. When her son came off the bench for his very first taste of college basketball, I had not to that point in my life heard any woman scream that loud for any reason. It's a nice story and a nice touch.
One other change for the Owls, Ramone Moore will no longer be wearing his trademark No. 23. He will now be wearing No. 10 as tribute of his own. Unfortunately, the motivation for the change is a much sadder story. Moore lost his 10-year-old cousin Zaire to a car accident this past Summer. For more on Ramone's relationship to his late, and all-too-young, family member click here.
Players to Watch Tonight:
For Penn, sophomore Miles Cartwright started in 19 games for the Quakers last season as a true freshman. He finished fourth in scoring behind Rosen, Bernadini and the now graduated Jack Eggleston. Along with fellow sophomore and Archbishop Wood product Fran Dougherty, the two figure to be the immediate future of the program once Bernadini and Rosen (finally) finish up their eligibility at year's end.
For Temple, red-shirt freshman Anthony Lee could prove critical to the Owls' success this season. Undersized and inexperienced in the front court, Temple will need the power forward to help fill the void left by Lavoy Allen. Lee figures to split time at the four this season with the 6-6 Jefferson. Their contributions will be key in Temple's quest to win its fourth A10 title in the past five seasons and to move on to the Sweet 16 after breaking through with the program's first NCAA tournament win in ten years last March.
All-time Series: Temple leads 44-22
At Penn: Temple leads 27-6
Streak: Temple has won last four in a row
Last Meeting: The Owls defeated the Quakers by a final score 73-56 (1/19/11, Liacouras Center). Temple's Khalif Wyatt came off the bench to score a career-high 27 points in the Owls' victory.
See you post-game.
Scoreboard photo courtesy The Pheisty Fans from the Battle of I-95