How Good Is Temple

Temple has not played a game at home. Villanova has not played a game anywhere but home. So, making pronouncements at this stage is probably silly. But this blog needs a little action so, I am thinking, rankings and expectations aside, the Owls may very well be as good as the Wildcats. And that really is not a slight against Villanova, which has yet to get all its rotation players on the court. It is just based on what Temple already is and might become down the road. There is a chance the city has not just one but two teams that deserve to be ranked.

The Owls look good now and may look much better by the end of the year when point guard Juan Fernandez from Argentina arrives. If Fernandez, described by Davidson coach Bob McKillop as ``Pepe Sanchez with a jump shot’’ after watching him torch a USA Basketball team this summer, is as good as advertised, I can’t think of much the Owls don’t have. And that includes depth, something the Owls really have never had, even in John Chaney’s best years.

Fernandez, after finishing high school in Argentina, is scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia on Dec. 26. He will be eligible to play immediately.

``How well he’ll fit in over those first couple of weeks I don’t know.’’ Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. ``I don’t know enough about all the nuances of him yet, how well he’ll adjust to what we’re doing, what kind of condition he’ll be in, all of those things. Everything we’re hearing, he’s doing well, in shape, lifting, doing all the things that we’ve sent to him to do.’’

The Owls play at Villanova on Dec. 29. That would be asking a lot of Fernandez to be ready to contribute then, but who knows?

``One of his thoughts is that `you’ll have your team pretty well set and I’m coming in kind of a third of the way through the year and I don’t want to disrupt that,’’’ Dunphy said. ``My response was `let us worry about that, just come and play and do your best and we’ll try to figure it out.’’’

So, Fernandez will play. By the way, it was Sanchez, the great Owls point guard who helped Argentina win the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal, that suggested the Owls coaching staff take a long look at Fernandez.

Now, with the scoring of Dionte Christmas, the versatility of Ryan Brooks, the inside play of Lavoy Allen and Sergio Olmos, the experience of Semaj Inge and Luis Guzman, along with the bench play of Ramone Moore, Scootie Randall and Michael Eric and, in a month, Fernandez, the Owls look like a very serious team ready to play some very serious ball.