March is my favorite time of the sports calendar primarily because of the world of college basketball. I don’t mind that the rest of the country joins in the fun after the diehards follow college basketball’s important regular season through and through. Now we’re entering conference tournament mode and the excitement starts to peak. This year, the tournaments have a little different meaning with all the money-crazed conference affiliation switching going on. I’ve focused my attention on 16 of Division I’s more geographically-acceptable conferences and the Atlantic 10 is not one of them. They were getting on the edge with adding Richmond, Charlotte and Saint Louis several years back and then Bernadette McGalde tried to get all Big Time by adding Butler and VCU, along with pricing out long-time fans by moving the conference tournament from Atlantic City to the Barclays Center. Kind of gives me a chuckle to see the conference get picked on themselves with the new Catholic 7 (a place I can actually live with if it is an even 6 East Coast teams and 6 Midwest teams). That brings us to Temple, who after 33 years in the A-10 crawls back to it’s football bully, the former Big East, but this time for the full membership. You know, the one that Big East that once said “Your football team sucks and you have to leave”. Is it worth it Temple? Let me know next year after your February conference game against SMU.
OK, enough ranting…there is a stadium trip in this whole post and regardless of my frustration with the conference shuffle, I did have a good time at a very quality arena in Temple’s Liacouras Center. I really like visiting Philadelphia and the wife decided to accompany me on this trip. We are usually drawn to Old City and that’s where we went back to prior to the 2 PM game start. With her being Jewish, we decided to check out the new National Museum of American Jewish History. Really interesting and well thought out museum that extended five floors. I wish we had one more hour as there really was a lot to take in and I can concur whole-heartedly with the glowing TripAdvisor reviews. It took about 20 minutes to get through the Philadelphia Flower Show traffic through the city and up Broad Street to Temple. The North Philly neighborhood surrounding the school is really dicey, but Temple itself is quite modern with new buildings, shops and restaurants near the Liacouras Center.
The arena opened in 1997 and is almost three times the size of the old McGonigle Hall next door. A nice open entryway has plenty of room for fans before they enter into the arena concourse with a huge block T logo staring at them on the wall. Inside, I like the building a lot as the two-level, cherry-seated facility has great sightlines throughout. Banners up above are a nice reminder of the storied history that this school has. On the court, Temple was fighting for an NCAA at-large bid and they didn’t do a lot against a bad Rhode Island team (8-18, 3-10). The Rams kept knocking three’s down and it was a struggle for awhile until the Owls finally seized control in the second half. They hung on for a 76-70 win. There was a good crowd on hand as I would say it was about two-thirds full. I’m sure next week’s CBS game will be sold out. The crowd was ok and really didn’t get loud until the second half. When the home squad made some great plays to pull ahead by seven, many were on their feet cheering. However, as URI came back and the Owls needed a boast, the crowd sat quietly waiting for something to happen. They needed to make some noise there. Many have ragged on the Temple crowds before and comparing them in the scope of the whole A-10, I rated them 5.5 out of 8 points for fan support and 8.5 out of 14 for atmosphere. Check out the detailed review on the entire Liacouras Center experience by clicking here or on the reviews section to the right.