As I walked to the Liacouras Center, the weather was mild, and I barely needed the pea coat hanging on me. As I walked through the doors, it hit me. Basketball season has flown; spring is coming fast. There’s one more home game, now. Just one.
Today, the Owls took on Duquesne University and while Duquesne came in at 6-5 in the A-10, we weren’t going to discount them. It was still an A-10 game. And anything can happen in an A-10 game. The day was to celebrate the birthday of Hooter, our mascot, and all the area mascots came out to join him.
Occupying my thoughts were Juan Fernandez’s fresh haircut and a nagging worry that Ramone Moore, who had a slow start earlier in the week against St. Bonaventure, was suffering a slump at the wrong point in the season.
Juan delivered, draining a season-high six treys, and becoming the 7th Owl to pass 400 career assists. He was, as we say, en fuego. Ramone Moore tied his career-high of 8 assists and Khalif Wyatt earned a game-high 24pts. The team was cohesive and fluid, making big plays when they counted most to build a constant, solid lead. The mascots blew out the candles on Hooter’s birthday cake, but the Owls blew out the Dukes for their tenth straight win, 78-59, handling their small team with smart passes and clutch shooting.
As the Wild Cherry began the traditional “I Believe” chant, a surprise emerged. Fans opposite the student section lowered a huge banner with the same slogan, signaling that TU earned another clutch A-10 victory. It’s another tradition that after every game, win or lose, the Owls cross the court and high-five down the length of the student section to thank the fans for their support. I always stand a few rows back during this, clapping and cheering on the players with “good game”s. With one home game left and some of my favorite Owls graduating, I hopped into the thick of students and high-fived all the players–my classmates, my fellow Owls–congratulating them on the win. It’s one of those things that ties us all together. The five guys that take the court may wear jerseys with their names on the back, but they play for us, for Temple, for that name on the front. These Owls exemplify that.
There’s one home game left, then Atlantic City for the conference tournament, then March Madness. It may be mid-February, but the madness has already begun.