For one night, Temple's basketball program took a step back in time.
For the better part of three decades, the Owls called McGonigle Hall their home. That era came to a close on Feb. 24, 1997, with a win over Fordham. The following season, they moved next door to the Liacouras Center. But for these 40 minutes, it was mostly about the past.
Playing before a sellout crowd of just under 4,000, which because of semester break did not include the usual student contingent, the Owls beat Bowling Green, 63-39. The players wore retro uniforms from the 1980s, although the shorts still looked a little too long if memory serves.
At halftime a number of former Owls were escorted out to midcourt, including Mike Vreeswyk, Jay Norman, Tim Perry and Howie Evans.
Score one for nostalgia. And alums, many of whom might have been in the house when it opened.
There were a few issues with the scoreboard, which probably made sense even though the women's team often plays here. But tickets went for $9, and the concessions were discounted. Win, win, win.
The was the first time the Owls (10-2) had suited up since getting back into the Top 25 for the first time since 2001. And the first time since they moved up from 21 to 18 in the rankings. In their previous two games they had beaten unbeaten Villanova at home and unbeaten Seton Hall on the road (on Dec. 19). They are off to their best start since the 1993-94 squad, which won 16 of its first 18.
They're at Northern Illinois (2-7) tomorrow, before hosting No. 1, unblemished Kansas on Saturday. That one is also sold out. The capacity across the street is a shade over 10,000, a number that hasn't been reached that often.
In keeping with the theme, the football team is even playing in its first bowl game in 30 years today.
Fran Dunphy's Owls did what they do best, which is defend. Their among the national leaders at that end, and this did nothing to hurt that.
It was 32-13 at the half, as they held the Falcons to one field goal in the closing 13 minutes. The visitors, who didn't score for almost 9 minutes, were shooting 4-for-22.
Bowling Green got to within 10 with 14 minutes left, but the margin was quickly back to 20.
Earlier this month, the Owls held Penn State and Miami (Ohio) to 42 points back-to-back. The last time they kept anyone to 39 was Feb. 22, 2006, against visiting Richmond. That was John Chaney's last season.
"This was [athletic director] Bill Bradshaw's idea," Dunphy said. "It seemed like a good time to do it. All the things that have happened in this building, there's a lot of history and tradition. It's nice to celebrate that. Those guys [who were honored] were part of that. I hope the fans liked it."
The Owls got a career-high 17 points off the bench from Ramone Moore, who had two in his last four games and hadn't even scored in the last two. In 21 minutes off the bench, the redshirt sophomore from Southern High shot 7-for-9, including his first three-pointer of the season. He also had four assists and a pair of steals.
"It was great," he said. "I got the opportunity to come in and gave the team a boost, helped get us going when we needed it. We've been winning, so I've been satisfied with that. I'll go in the next game and try to do the same thing, if the team is struggling. With whatever we need, not just scoring. I'm not worried about it. I'm happy."
He came in late in the first half and contributed four consecutive baskets. In the second half, he was a big part of the run that put it away for keeps.
"He provided a tremendous spark, at a time of the game when we needed to separate ourselves," said Ryan Brooks, who led the way with 19 points, six rebounds and six assists.
The only Falcon to score 10 was Dee Brown.
"At Seton Hall, it was Scootie Randall [who only played 4 minutes this time]," Dunphy noted. "Tonight it was Ramone. The next game it might be Rahlir Jefferson who gives us something. That's what good teams do. They step up. I'm happy for [Moore]."
The Owls are indeed a good team. We'll find out just how good in the next few months.
"It's definitely hard to get here," said Brooks, talking about the polls. "It's even harder to stay here. We look forward to the challenges ahead. We know teams are going to look forward to playing us."
Only if they're into root canal.
"Everyone's excited about it," Dunphy added. "We've put ourselves in pretty good position. But now we need to really concentrate our efforts. There's a reason why all the great teams are there each and every year.
"We hope to be one."