Why Temple refuses to live in a 'bubble'
It's safe to say that the one word the Temple basketball team is sick of hearing is bubble. The 22-9 Owls seem clearly on the bubble for an NCAA tournament bid, but the players have stuck to their narrative that they aren't paying attention to the projections that have them either out of or in the tournament at this time.
It's safe to say that the one word the Temple basketball team is sick of hearing is bubble.
The 22-9 Owls seem clearly on the bubble for an NCAA tournament bid, but the players have stuck to their narrative that they aren't paying attention to the projections that have them either out of or in the tournament at this time.
While ardent Temple fans believe the Owls have done enough already to warrant a bid, Temple likely has work to do at the American Athletic Conference tournament this weekend at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
The No. 4-seeded Owls will meet No. 5 Memphis (18-13) in a quarterfinal at 2 p.m. Friday.
So what about being on the bubble?
"What is that?" Temple senior guard Jesse Morgan asked, barely able to keep a straight face. "Seriously, I haven't paid too much attention and I am just trying to focus on our team and have fun my last year with these guys."
Whether anybody believes that the players haven't looked at projections, it's evident that Temple is entering the game with the mind-set that it has to win.
The Owls should face even more pressure because Memphis will be without Austin Nichols, a 6-foot-9, first-team all-conference forward.
In Temple's 61-60 win at Memphis on Feb. 7, Nichols suffered an ankle injury. He had 17 points, eight rebounds, and six blocked shots before leaving with the injury with 7 minutes, 10 seconds remaining.
Nichols sat out two games, played in four, and then reinjured the ankle and missed the final two regular-season games. On Monday, Memphis coach Josh Pastner said that Nichols would miss the entire AAC tournament.
So if Temple loses to a team without its best player, that certainly wouldn't look good to the NCAA committee.
Temple coach Fran Dunphy acknowledged that Nichols is a key loss, but said that Memphis has other weapons.
He said an especially difficult player is Shaq Goodwin, a 6-9 junior who had 23 rebounds and eight points in the loss to Temple.
"Goodwin has really picked up his game, looking like a player who feels he needs to do more," said Dunphy, who is aiming for his 500th career win. "He had 23 rebounds, and that is a lot of rebounds and a lot of missed shots."
In addition, Memphis is a team in an even more desperate situation than Temple.
"We need to win this tournament to get into the NCAA tournament," Pastner said earlier in the week on a conference call.
The Owls won the game at Memphis without playing their best. They trailed by as many as 16 and earned the victory on Josh Brown's jumper with 2.4 seconds left.
"They were more ready than we were at the beginning of the game," Morgan said. "It just goes to show that you have to stick with it and keep fighting."
Temple shot just 19 for 57 from the field (33.3 percent), 3 of 14 from beyond the arc (21.4 percent), and 20 of 32 from the foul line (62.5 percent).
The Owls will likely have to shoot better. And even without Nichols, Temple rightly expects Memphis to be a handful, a team that has the ability to knock the Owls right off the bubble, or at least keep them sweating right to the selection show.