Temple Owls

Temple women's basketball dropped by Oregon in NCAA Tournament 1st round

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Temple women's basketball dropped by Oregon in NCAA Tournament 1st round

BOX SCORE

DURHAM, N.C. -- Ruthy Hebard hit the biggest shot of the year for Oregon -- then got her hand on the final shot of Temple's season.

"I was kidding Ruthy, this might be the best 5 seconds of her life," Ducks coach Kelly Graves said.

Hebard hit a jumper with 5.5 seconds remaining, then blocked the Owls' layup at the buzzer to preserve Oregon's 71-70 victory on Saturday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

She finished with 23 points and Sabrina Ionescu added 16 points to help the 10th-seeded Ducks (21-13) win a wild game that had three lead changes in the final 30 seconds and advance to Monday night's second-round matchup with second-seeded Duke.

Alliya Butts scored 28 points and Feyonda Fitzgerald added 16 for the seventh-seeded Owls (24-8), in the tournament for the first time since 2011. Fitzgerald put Temple up 70-69 with a jumper with 14.3 seconds remaining.

Oregon called a timeout and dialed up a play the Ducks had repeatedly run for Ionescu. This time, Graves said, he wanted the ball in Hebard's hands.

Mallory McGwire delivered a perfect high-post pass to Hebard, who hit the go-ahead jumper from the edge of the lane.

"I just felt that they were going to give (Ionescu) some added attention, and that Ruthy might be open kind of slipping to the basket," Graves said. "Both defenders kind of went with Sabrina."

The Owls were out of timeouts so they inbounded the ball to Fitzgerald, who then raced coast-to-coast but Hebard got a piece of her last-gasp layup attempt at the buzzer.

Hebard said she "just swung my arm and hoped I didn't foul," while Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said she had no regrets with how the game ended.

"We're going to live and die with her taking the last shot," coach Tonya Cardoza said.

McGwire finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for Oregon, which overcame a rough night from 3-point range to win the opener of its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005.

Lexi Bando, who makes a Division I-best 50 percent of her 3-pointers, was 0-for-4 from long range for the Ducks before her 3 from the corner tied it at 62 with just under 5 minutes left. It was a one-possession game the rest of the way.

Big picture
Oregon: The Ducks entered as the nation's second-best team from 3-point range, hitting nearly 40 percent of their attempts. They were just 4 of 16 against a Temple team that allows its opponents to shoot just 30 percent from long range.

"We grinded it out, we got stops when we needed to," Ionescu said. "We made big shots down the stretch even though our shots weren't falling like they usually do."

Temple: Ruth Sherrill, a 6-foot forward who had four double-figure scoring games all season, had 10 points by halftime but was held scoreless and missed all five of her shots after halftime while going up against one of the tallest frontcourts in Division I.

"They're a lot bigger than they look on film," Cardoza said.

Star watch
Butts was 12 of 19 from the field and hit all four of Temple's 3-pointers. "When I started shooting, shots started falling," she said, "so I continued to shoot the ball."

Not freshmen anymore
Oregon's three double-figure scorers -- Hebard, Ionescu and McGwire -- were all freshmen, and they combined to take 45 of the Ducks' 67 shots. "I don't think we consider ourselves freshmen anymore," said Ionescu, the Pac-12's freshman of the year. "We have to step up to the level of competition."

He said it
Graves said he was so impressed by Temple's guards that "I would have bought season tickets" to watch them play.

Up next
Oregon: Plays second-seeded Duke on Monday night in the second round of the Bridgeport Regional.

Amid change, senior safety Sean Chandler remains Temple's constant

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Amid change, senior safety Sean Chandler remains Temple's constant

Winds of change have blown across 10th and Diamond Streets over the last several months.

Gone are the head coach and his staff who lead the revitalization of the Temple football program, a four-year starter at quarterback who rewrote numerous chapters of school’s record book and seven starters from one of the nation’s stingiest defenses that paved the way toward the Owls’ first conference title since 1967.

In are Geoff Collins and the assistant coaches of his choosing, four underclassmen quarterbacks of limited experience fighting for the starter’s crown before the nationally televised opener at Notre Dame and a youthful infusion of talent on defense.

But as the winds of change settle and the Owls begin to replenish, one constant remains anchored strongly in the defensive backfield — senior safety and four-year starter Sean Chandler.

And now, as his ultimate season, as an Owl draws near, the man they call “Champ” is ready to take on the leadership role he’s prepared the last three years for.

“I feel like I have to play more of that leader role now,” Chandler, a Camden High product who was voted the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, said. “Other guys have left now. So I have to step up to the plate and get the guys to follow behind me.

“When the new coaching staff comes in, I feel like you have to get the guys to buy in, to buy into the team. Now I’m the guy who feels like I have to make that connection from the coaches to the players and bring it all together.”

During his time at Temple, Chandler has been groomed for this type of role under tutelage of program greats such as Tyler Matakevich (now with the Pittsburgh Steelers), Tavon Young (now with the Baltimore Ravens), Haason Reddick (the Arizona Cardinals’ first-round pick this past year) and Avery Williams (in camp with the Houston Texans).

All of those guys always had their fingers on the pulse of the team and knew which buttons to push and when to push them, even during the trying times. They knew when to bump the coaches aside and take matters into their own hands when it came to getting a message across, all while navigating the program’s rise in prominence.

Chandler heard those messages loud and clear.

“I’m willing to fill in any role in any way possible to help this team and help my team win,” Chandler said.

“He has some charisma to him when he speaks up and lets everyone know what he’s thinking,” said Taver Johnson, who is Temple’s new defensive coordinator after spending the last three seasons at Purdue as defensive backs coach. Johnson also spent 2007-2010 as defensive backs coach at Ohio State, where he coached Eagles star safety Malcolm Jenkins.

“He’s got a good personality and, on top of that, he’s a worker. He does a really good job of getting out there and doing a lot of behind-the-scenes things. When the place is shut down, he’s usually here. Even on the weekends, Saturday and Sunday, day or night.”

It’s not like “Champ” was just handed this role because he has the years he does under his belt. Sure, that plays a part. But his actions on the field make him stand out and they do a lot of his speaking for him.

In his three years in cherry and white, Chandler has amassed 185 tackles, 26 pass deflections, seven interceptions (two of which were returned for touchdowns), three sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 32 career games.

The talent and skill and respect have been there from the very beginning. Temple has a tradition of awarding single-digit jersey numbers to players voted the toughest by teammates and the coaching staff. Prior to his first collegiate game in 2014, Chandler was awarded his now customary No. 3 by his teammates. Former head coach Matt Rhule has said he wouldn’t give a single digit to a freshman, but trusted his players and let them overrule him for “Champ.”

A corner by trade at first, Chandler played his first two seasons at Temple on the outside. As Rhule and his staff watched Chandler mature on the field, they decided it would be best for the athletic, versatile 6-foot, 195-pounder’s professional future if they moved him inside to safety. Chandler’s first season on the inside was last year and he excelled with 51 tackles and two picks, all while missing four games with a leg injury.

Others outside of Philadelphia have now taken notice as Chandler is on four preseason award watch lists – the Jim Thorpe Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Bronco Nagurski Award and the Lott IMPACT Award.

The Thorpe Award is for the best defensive back in the country. The three other awards are various defensive player of the year awards.

“It just lets me know people are watching with a close eye now,” Chandler said of having his name on the watch lists.

“But they’re only watch lists. Gotta go win ‘em now.”

Collins has spent the last several seasons as a defensive coordinator with both Mississippi State and Florida in the college football pressure cooker that is the SEC, where defensive dominance reigns supreme among the conference’s and nation’s big boys.

And Collins knows his way around some elite defensive backs.

While at MSU, he coached Detroit Lions corner Darius Slay, who was a second-round pick in 2013.

At Florida, he coached corner Vernon Hargreaves, a three-time All-American, three-time all-SEC selection and the Tampa Bay Bucs’ first-round pick (11th overall) in 2016. Hargreaves made the NFL All-Rookie team last season.

Also while with the Gators, Collins coached safety Keanu Neal, the Atlanta Falcons’ first-round pick (17th overall) in 2016. Neal was also voted to the NFL All-Rookie team last season.

“I’m excited about [Chandler] and he epitomizes ‘Temple Tuff’ and single-digit tough,” Collins said of his senior safety. “He’s back and he’s better than ever. You just see him every day with a look in his eye and a desire to be great. I just think he epitomizes what this program is all about.

“Over the last seven years, I’ve coached some really good defensive backs. Sean Chandler is in that conversation with any of those kids.”

High praise.

But people inside and outside 10th and Diamond certainly are having conversations about the man they call "Champ."

Temple football agrees to future home-and-home series with Miami

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Temple football agrees to future home-and-home series with Miami

Temple football has added another major program to its future scheduling.

Late Thursday morning, Temple and the University of Miami announced a home-and-home future series beginning in 2020.

The Owls will head to Miami on Sept. 5, 2020, while the Hurricanes will come to Philadelphia on Sept. 23, 2023.

Miami joins Notre Dame this season — Temple's season opener on Sept. 2 — and Oklahoma as big programs on the Owls' future schedule through 2028. Other notable programs include Maryland, Boston College and Duke.

It's been 12 years since Temple and Miami last played, when the No. 7 Hurricanes crushed the Owls, 34-3, at the Linc on Oct. 15, 2005. Temple lost, 38-0, to the No. 1 ranked Hurricanes the last time it visited Miami in 2001.

Overall, Temple is 1-13 against Miami in its program's history. The Hurricanes have won their last 13 games against the Owls.