Left Wanting More: A Complicated Goodbye to Lavoy Allen

Left Wanting More: A Complicated Goodbye to Lavoy Allen

I'll be the first to admit that this is at least a day or two late. For practical reasons, I held off on writing a Temple-San Diego State recap until my emotions no longer clouded my judgment. A rant about what went wrong would have been just as unthoughtful as a gushing lovefest about "how hard those boys fought." Sometimes, it just takes a bit to put it all together, especially when you're discussing something as emotionally consuming as sport.

What you'll find below still isn't a recap. It's actually a lot more complicated. And, it is because it's complicated that I have devoted more than 140 characters to the topic's consideration.

Many, if not all of you, by now know that the Temple Owls were eliminated from the NCAA tournament on Saturday night following a double-overtime loss to the San Diego State Aztecs. During and following the game, Temple senior Lavoy Allen became and stayed a "trending topic" within the city of Philadelphia on Twitter. While some of the words were complimentary, many of them—the large majority, in fact—were not.

This isn't really about the reductive qualities of (at maximum) a 140-character box, because I think those limitations are pretty self-explanatory. Instead, this is about what happens when we confuse what we want with what we think we're owed.

Over the course of the 2010-11 season, I have consistently heard the following two phrases more than any others from Temple coach Fran Dunphy:

  1. Well, I appreciate the question...
  2. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I don't know where this program would be without Lavoy Allen. 

With Lavoy's last game in a Temple jersey now played, we're somewhere around seven months from figuring out the latter. In the meantime, there are those observers who feel no need to wait. 

Because I lack both the desire and the know-how to find all those uncomplimentary tweets, I'll sum up their general message. "Lavoy Allen let Temple down on Saturday. He let his coach down. He let his teammates down. He let his fans down. Lavoy Allen is no leader. In a word, Lavoy Allen...is soft."

Line by line, tweets poured in ripping him for his 12-point, 11-rebound performance. And, while "soft" was the word most often used, you can search your imagination for synonymous expletives, because they were typed, too.

The question I had then, and still have now, is simple—"Why?"

Lavoy Allen has hid under no rock. He's played in a total of 135 games in his college career, giving you 135 chances to get to know him as a basketball player. While he has indeed improved every year, he has also retained some of the limitations he possessed when he came to campus as a freshman. This can hardly be considered an anomaly in college athletics. In truth, it can hardly be considered an anomaly in professional athletics.

Here's a fair question: have I ever criticized Lavoy Allen? Yes. I've done it on multiple occasions for multiple reasons. I encourage you to click the "Temple University" tag and start digging for evidence. I've wanted him to put on weight. I've questioned his rationale for shooting from range. I, like those people on Twitter, have wanted to see a killer instinct. I've spent 135 games over the course of four years looking at a 6'10 monster and wanting him to act the frigging part.

When Michael Eric was lost to a season ending knee-injury more than a month ago, I finally got that Lavoy Allen. I got a Lavoy Allen who finished his college career with seven straight double-doubles. I got a Lavoy Allen who treated opposing defenders like a joke, and offensive rebounders like a waste of time. I got a Lavoy Allen that asserted his will not just because he could, but because his team needed him. There has always been potential in Lavoy Allen, and there remains still more untapped.

And that's the real issue: we have been left wanting so much more.

We've watched watched Lavoy Allen. We know what talent that lies beneath his friendly and, yes, even passive exterior. And, it is because that talent has been there the whole time that we wanted it all the time. Now, we won't even get it some of the time.

From here on out, I'll stop using "we" and switch to just "me." When he was here, I wanted more from Lavoy Allen. I wanted him to be great. I wanted him to reach his potential. I wanted him to dominate. I wanted him to grip the basketball, take two massive steps and assault the rim like it owed him money. But, when I'm really honest about it, more than anything else, it's that I wanted to watch him do it. I wanted to see him become the player I wanted him to be, and I wanted him to become that player when and where I could see it. I think that goes for all of us.

Sports fans are selfish by nature. We want people we've never met to justify our arbitrary decision to support them on our own terms.

Though I don't know Lavoy Allen, I've see him around quite a bit. I've passed him on the street. I've shook his hand. I've wished him "good luck." I've told him he "had a good game." I've begged him to "beat the Hawk." Hell, I've even participated in a snowball fight with him. But I don't know Lavoy Allen. And he doesn't know me. A great many of you don't know him either. And, more than likely, he doesn't know you.

Still, by the time you're done reading, I will have devoted more than 1,000 words to him. And 48 hours before I embarked on this endeavor, enough of you devoted at least 140 characters to expressing opinions of your own. 

After 135 games spread out over four years, watching Lavoy Allen play basketball has taught me a lesson. We don't always get what we want, and we aren't owed it either. Lavoy Allen is the textbook definition of judging an athlete not for who he is, but for who we want him to be, and then confusing the two. We wanted him to be a killer; it was just never his style. Of course I wished for more both for and from Lavoy, but I feel damn privileged to have gotten what I received. I've seen four NCAA tournament appearances, three Atlantic 10 titles, two columns with double digits and one brand new all-time leading rebounder in my program's history. We just all fell into the trap of confusing who he was for what we wanted.

So, who was he? Lavoy Allen was one of the greatest Owls in a rich Temple history, and he could have been even better. Somewhere between his 1,421 points, 1,147 rebounds and 4,352 minutes played, that point got lost. I used to want more from him; now, I just want more of him. 

Maybe I didn't need 1,188 words to sum up how I feel about Lavoy Allen; because, now that it's over, I don't even need 140 characters—just 47 will do. "Thank you, Lavoy, and good luck. I'll miss you."

Eagles 21, Vikings 10: Standout plays

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Eagles 21, Vikings 10: Standout plays

Reviewing the standout plays from the Eagles' 21-10 victory over the Vikings:

1. First quarter: Pick your turnover
There were six in the first half and five in the first quarter -- four coming on consecutive possessions in the first quarter.

Carson Wentz threw two interceptions. Brent Celek may have been interfered with on the first, but the second was all on Wentz. He dodged the rush and actually had some time, but forced it into triple coverage.

Sam Bradford had one. He was hit by Brandan Graham, and Rodney McLeod came down with the pick.

Wentz and Darren Sproles botched a snap, but the Eagles got the ball right back when Connor Barwin hit Bradford's arm just before it went forward and Malcolm Jenkins recovered. Jenkins returned it for a touchdown, but after a review he was ruled down because Rudolph had touched him.

In the second quarter, Rodney McLeod stripped Bradford, Beau Allen -- in for injured Bennie Logan -- recovered and it led to a field goal.

2. Second quarter: Josh Huff's 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown
After Blair Walsh scored the game's first points with a 48-yard field goal that barely made it over the crossbar, Huff caught the ensuing kickoff at the 2-yard line and bolted straight ahead. 

He ran through Walsh, and just when it looked like Vikings CB Marcus Sherels might catch him, Huff stepped on the gas and flipped into the end zone for his second career kickoff return for a score.

Doug Pederson then elected to take the successful PAT off the board after Vikings safety Harrison Smith was flagged for roughing the kicker, and Wentz gave the Eagles two more points with a sneak.

3. Second quarter: Going for it on 4th-and-2 at the Vikings' 44
With 1:21 left in the first half, the Eagles lined up to go for it and tried to draw the Vikings offside. When that didn't work, they called timeout ... and then went for it again. 

Wentz dropped the snap, picked it up and sprinted left for six yards and the first down.

The drive ended when Caleb Sturgis hit a 35-yard field goal that followed yet another odd sequence. Sturgis, with 15 seconds left in the half, attempted a field goal, but the Vikings called timeout to ice him. Pederson then sent out his offense, and Wentz threw incomplete to Jordan Matthews in the end zone before Sturgis returned to hit the field goal.

4. Third quarter: Mathews' 27-yard catch/run/hurdle
On 1st-and-10 at their own 45, Mathews took a short pass and sprinted 27 yards, ending it by hurdling a Vikings defender. It matched the game's longest play from scrimmage to that point (Vikings WR Adam Thielen had a 27-yard catch).

On the next play, Wentz dropped the snap but picked it up and tossed it to Sproles for a 19-yard gain to the Vikings' 9-yard line. The play resembled Sproles' 73-yard touchdown catch/run Week 3 against the Steelers.

After Wentz dropped yet another snap (his third of the game in addition to the botched handoff), he hit Dorial Green-Beckham, who barely crossed the goal line for the game's first offensive touchdown, a 5-yarder. 

5. Third quarter: Jordan Hicks bats ball in Bradford's face
This play didn't have a major overall impact but was just symbolic of how the Eagles' D besieged Bradford all afternoon. Hicks chased down Bradford and whacked the ball after Bradford tried to throw it away. 

The Eagles sacked Bradford six times, forced him to fumble four times and picked him off once. He completed 24 of 41 passes for 224 yards, a garbage-time TD, which helped boost his passer rating to 71.6.

6. Fourth quarter: Stopping Asiata on 4th-and-1 at the Eagles' 6-yard line
Matt Asiata's 29-yard run on 3rd-and-14 would have had this spot, but the drive ended when Allen and company stuffed Asiata here to get the Eagles the ball back.

7. Fourth quarter: Sherels' fumbled punt
The Eagles went nowhere in the following possession, and Donnie Jones got off a non-Donnie Jones-like punt that Sherels tried to catch on a bounce, didn't, and Trey Burton recovered it. 

The Eagles followed by driving 47 yards in nine plays for a 21-yard field goal that made it 21-3.

Instant Replay: Eagles 21, Vikings 10

The Associated Press

Instant Replay: Eagles 21, Vikings 10


Story coming …