Maybe it is a stereotype -- the tough, grinding East Coast team against the fastbreaking speedy West Coast team. But it probably is not far off when it comes to Saturday's NCAA third-round game between Temple and San Diego State in Tucson.
"We're a team that, you know, tries to slow down the ball a little bit, play more half-court offense and defense, I think," Temple hero Juan Fernandez said today. "That is where we feel more comfortable. On the other hand, they prefer to play an up-tempo game and go up and down and, you know, try to get as many fast-break points as they can. So we will have to try to establish ourselves and play our rhythm."
San Diego State is ranked 79th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 72.1 points per game. Temple is ranked 114th, at 70.8 points per game.
The surprising stat is that the Aztecs are ranked sixth in scoring defense, at 58.7 points per game. Temple is 35th at 62.2.
"It's one of those teams that like to get up and down," Temple's Ramone Moore said. "I think we have to do a good job of managing the game and doing the things that we like to do to control the ball and not let them get in transition and do the things they want to do, which is something they've been doing a pretty good job, which is why they had a good season."
Moore was asked if the Aztecs reminded him of any team that Temple played this year.
"I think this is one of the most unique teams we've played all year," he said.
San Diego State conceded that it expects Temple to try to slow things down, but the Aztecs feel like they can force tempo with how they play defensively.
"We definitely try and play an up-tempo game, try to speed it up," D.J. Gay said. "When teams try to slow it down on us, we might come out more aggressive on the defensive end. Try to cause more turnovers or do anything to help speed the game up. But I think speeding the game up can be done on the defensive end."
Aztecs coach Steve Fisher was asked what his ideal tempo would be.
"We're a team that likes to run," he said. "And yet, we're not a team that's going to run for 40 minutes. We want to create some turnovers and run off of turnovers. Have you take maybe a little different shot than normal and run off of that.
I think at this level it's too hard to play, to grind it out for 40 minutes at nothing but halfcourt. That being said, Temple will not allow us to run for 40 minutes. And we won't allow Temple to run. So we're going to need to pick and choose. And then be able to run a half-court offense.
But we would like to have a pace to the game. And what that means for a score, I don't know. I know Temple doesn't give a lot of run-outs and easy baskets and they're hard to score on in half-court. So it will be a challenge for us."