Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas at The Temple

I've said all along that Lavoy Allen, a budding NBA prospect on Temple, is the real deal Holeyfield. I watched the 6-foot-9 forward outplay Georgetown's Greg Monroe, significantly, at the Verizon Center while I was down in D.C.

Allen, who jumps so high he can kiss the clouds, got the better of Monroe, tearing down rebounds over the crafty 6-foot-11 forward while exploding to the tin. He stole the show from Monroe that with several rim-choking dunks, as well.

Temple's upset bid would fall short, however, as the Hoyas gutted out a 46-45 overtime victory.

Yesterday, Christmas finally came for the Owls. It's always odd to see Christmas at the Temple, but there it was. Not a white X-mas but it was raining three-pointers.

Allen turned in his third double-double of the season (10 points and 17 boards), Juan Fernandez (33 points, seven treys)scorched the nets, and Temple stamped No.3 Villanova with a titanic 75-65 upset.

Temple turned a page in the intracity rivalry, as Owls fans showered the Wildcats with a chorus of "Overrated!" chants at the Licarous Center.

The latest Big 5 game was as good as advertised.

It was as intense as a scene in Vivid Video flick and behind Fernandez, who nailed 7 of 10 from beyond the arc, Temple garnered their Philly bragging rights.

The win marks the first time Temple has defeated their Big East foe since 2004.

"What's it going to do for us down the line, I've got no idea," Owls coach Fran Dunphy said.

"We'll figure it out later on."

The Owls have emerged into a contender in an NCAA that's as wide open as the Wilmington River. Allen is the real deal, a jumping jack who's slipped under the radar. After inhaling 17 boards yesterday, he's likely to flee from obscurity.

The Owls no-joke schedule continues after we break out the New Year, as they face Kansas Jan.2

For the second time in as many years, the Owls have pulled off a major early-season upset. Last year, it actually was Christmas at the Temple. Then-guard Dionte Christmas poured in 25 points en route to a stunning upset over Tennessee.

Don't sleep on Temple or high-flying Lavoy Allen.

OVER IN WEST VIRGINIA, folks remained tight-lipped about the situation with Devin Ebanks. He was out for the first few games due to "personal issues," according to Bobby Huggins. But Ebanks, the NBA draft hopeful averaging 10 points in three games, sat out in West Virginia's recent 69-43 drubbing of Coppin State.

Nothing has been revealed, everyone's lips remained sealed. I don't like to pay attention to the rumors, to the word around the Morgantown campfire. That shit is strictly for celebrity gossip sites.

Ebanks, a versatile 6-foot-9 wing who went from spindly to jacked after packing on 30 pounds this summer, needs to get back on the court once Big East play emerges. WVU guard Casey Mitchell, who Huggins recruited as an outside shooter to pad the loss off last year's sharpshoooting guard, Alex Ruoff, has been the watermark of inconsistency.

Now Mitchell is warped in a drought. Mitchell is 4-for-23 his last three games, 0-for-12 from three-point territory. Has the whole world gone crazy? Someone please, get Kevin Pittsnogle out of whichever class he's teaching right now, and get him on board as an assistant coach. He ought to be able to teach this young man how to dial in from downtown.

Then again, Mitchell's recent slump may not be a portent of what's to come. Knicks guard Danilo Gallinari couldn't hit the side of a barn in pre-season games and erupted for 30 during the Knicks' first regular season home game. He's been a sniper ever since. Mitchell could simplu be tangled in nothing more than a shooter's shutdown, a cold spell that everyone except maybe Reggie Miller has been in before.

These aren't big games WVU is playing right now. Their biggest win of the season came against Texas A&M during the 76 Classic in late November. Mitchell shot 1-for-the world in that one.

If there's still a search warrant out for Mitchell's stroke once conference play rolls around, WVU could be in trouble.

Many folks have West Virginia pegged as the top team in the conference, due mainly to the potential of a potent quartet in Ebanks, Da'Sean Butler, Truck Bryant, and Kevin Jones. Jones' game has taken off lately.

The former Mount Vernon (N.Y.) HS (see Gordon, Ben for more on Jones' alma mater) star hasn't dipped below 16 points the last three games.

He nearly copped a double-double against Duquesne (still without high scoring guard and Mount Vernon native Melquan Bolding, who's sidelined with a wrist injury) before turning in a 22-point, 11-board (8 on the offensive side) performance in the walloping of Coppin State.