ATLANTIC CITY - After Temple's win today, I thought back to something I read in a column by Dick Jerardi earlier this season. I couldn't remember exactly when, so I went back in our archives and found it.
When Jameer Nelson chose Saint Joseph's over Temple in 1999, the Hawks began a domination of the Owls that lasted until last season. Prior to Nelson's arrival on Hawk Hill, John Chaney's team had owned St. Joe's.
Could Lavoy Allen have a similar impact on the series? When the Owls sophomore chose Temple over St. Joe's, among others, it was not clear exactly what it meant. It is becoming clearer now.
If the meaning was clear back, then, the change in momentum from the Hawks to the Owls is practically transparent now.
Temple's winoverSt. Joe'stoday was its fifth straight in the series, with a three-game sweep this season following the final two of three last year.
Allen specifically might not be the reason for the streak - though he played well today despite an ankle injury that, as Dunphy said afterwards, might have led other players to want to sit the game out.
To me, if any one person is responsible for Temple's resurgence, it is Dunphy himself.
This was not a banner day for the Owls' offense, with Dionte Christmas' 1-for-10 performance from the field especially glaring. But Dunphy's players are definitely running his system, and they are doing it well. St. Joe's was not able to answer the Owls' fluidity on offense with sufficient offensive flow at the other end.
Indeed, take Christmas' performance out if the box score and the rest of the Owls combined to shoot 27-for-50.
The biggest performances came from Sergio Olmos and Ryan Brooks, both 6-for-12, and Semaj Inge, who was 6-for-9. Brooks also made three of four three-point attempts.
Also significant was Craig Williams' 4-for-7 afternoon, all from beyond the arc. It wasn't just that Williams made those shots, it was how he made them: the hits were all pretty open, which speaks well of Williams' ability to move off the ball.
It was also an indictment of the St. Joe's defense, frankly, because none of the Hawks' frontcourt players got out to guard the 6-foot-9 forward. Phil Martelli knew that to do so meant Olmos or Allen could be left open inside for easier shots. But to send a guard against Williams created a mismatch, and Williams' height means he can shoot over a zone.
Nor is this the first time Williams has exploited a mismatch against St. Joe's this season. He hit two threes at the Palestra and three at the Liacouras Center, and in the first game I remember specifically asking Phil Martelli about the mismatch problem. It's in the postgame audio here.
And by the way, Williams is a freshman. Chew on that for a moment.
Time to hand out the day's awards. The game of the day was Duquesne's 78-74 upset of Rhode Island, in part because an upset and in part because... okay, entirely because it was an upset. There haven't been any others so far, so why not?
The Dukes played an extremely efficient game, shooting 52.8 percent from the field and averaging 1.286 points per possession. Although Rhode Island won the rebounding battle 43-29 and pulled down 24 offensive boards, that's in part because they missed 36 of 63 field goal attempts. Duquesne did pretty well at its own end, pulling down 13 offensive rebounds to 19 defensive boards for the Rams.
Rhody star Jimmy Baron scored 26 ponts on 8-for-20 shooting, including 8-for-16 from beyond the arc. But I couldn't help thinking that he disappeared late, though some will argue that was because of Duquesne's defense.
Consider that after Duquesne took the lead for good with 6:50 left in the game, Baron took only two shots. He made the second, a three-pointer with 47 seconds left. Obviously everyone knows to deny Baron the ball, but given his ability to shoot from other planets I figure you should do whatever you have to do to get him the ball.
The award for best fans of the day goes to Temple. I've lived in Philadelphia for seven seasons now and this was the first time I've ever seen Owls fans, especially students, outnumber and out-shout Hawks fans.
Temple's students also win the prize for best accessory of the day, because they had rollouts. Nothing can top that, although the giant Dionte Christmas head was neat. So were the basketball-shaped hats the Dayton band wore.
Both will have chances to win again tomorrow after the Flyers beat Richmond, 69-64. They'll meet Duquesne in the second semifinal.
The award for best name of the day goes to Dayton's Luke Fabrizius, or I should say Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuke Fabrizius. That's how the Dayton fans pronounce it when Fabrizius hits three-pointers, which he did three times tonight.
The shot of the day does not go to any Atlantic 10 team. It goes, of course, to Dwayne Anderson of Villanova, as the Wildcats held off Marquette by the very last millimeter of their fingernails at Madison Square Garden.
Temple's press conference was starting just as Anderson's shot went in, and we near the dais could hear the gasps from near the televisions all the way across the press room.
There's a poll attached to Kern's recap that asks whether Villanova will beat Louisville. I think you have to give them a decent chance, because the Wildcats are clearly playing with momentum and the Cardinals didn't have to work too hard to beat Providence.
And you know the 'Nova fans will be in full throat tomorrow night - maybe even by New York standards.
Before closing the post, I've added yet another new feature here on the blog: a video player with college sports stories from the Associated Press. Right now it's focused on the Big East tournament but there will be loads of other content there over the next few weeks.
Okay, that will wrap things up for tonight. You'll find all the mutltimedia offerings below, including video highlights from the Temple and St. Joe's press conferences. The remarks by Tasheed Carr and Ahmad Nivins are particularly worth watching.
I'll be back tomorrow night with live coverage of Temple-Xavier.
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.