Temple enjoys first workout at new basketball facility

Feeling at home, Temple players get in their first practice in new facility.
Feeling at home, Temple players get in their first practice in new facility. (SARAH J. GLOVER / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: January 18, 2012

WHEN NATE Blackwell played at Temple in the mid 1980s, the Owls had "one gym to practice in, one gym to play in, one gym to do everything in. A change of venue would have been nice."

In 1997, the Owls moved from McGonigle Hall into the Liacouras Center. But there was still a void.

"One of the mistakes is we didn't include a practice facility, a weight room, all that," Blackwell noted.

The situation has been rectified. In a big-time way.

Yesterday the Owls got to work out for the first time in their new state-of-the-art facility, which is part of a major renovation project in the Pearson-McGonigle complex. Located on the third floor overlooking 15th Street, it's not yet complete, but it will include all the things you'd expect from such a move.

As Blackwell put it: "It's a prime-time program, so they deserve to have prime-time stuff."

He'll get no arguments from coach Fran Dunphy, whose team will host La Salle tonight.

"It's a tribute to all those who've gone before us, players, coaches, administrators, to make this possible," he said. "It's the culmination of a lot of years of tremendous basketball at Temple University, for all of this to come to fruition. We're really grateful for it.

"It means we have a home of our own, where we can come whenever we want, card-swipe our way in and work on some things. We haven't had that luxury. And I mean that sincerely. It's a luxury to have this. There's plenty of really good basketball teams that don't have what we are now experiencing.

"It says a lot about Temple's commitment to intercollegiate athletics as well. I hope it helps in every sense of the word."

It figures to be one of those gifts that keep on giving well into the future.

As for the present, the Owls (11-5, 1-2 Atlantic 10) have lost two of three, both on the road, since beating then-No. 5 Duke in South Philly on Jan. 4. They might get one of their two injured starters, big man Micheal Eric (knee), back relatively soon. They've won the last five meetings with the Explorers, including three last season. They'll meet again on Feb. 22 at the Gola. Dunphy is 21-6 against his alma mater, 9-2 since moving across town from Penn. The Owls are 7-1 in this series at the Liacouras. The loss was in 2009.

The Explorers lost for the first time in seven games on Saturday at Dayton, which just became the first team to win at the Liacouras in 2 years. Their current 11-2 run is the best at 20th and Olney since 1989-90.

"It's as balanced as I've seen the league," said Dunphy, who won the A-10 Tournament in 2008, '09 and '10. "I've made the statement that 11-5 can be a winner. Probably someone will beat that, but if you can finish 11-5 you've had a helluva season . . .

"This game should be really challenging in finding out where we are, who we are and who we can become as well."

It should make the final trip to Atlantic City most interesting.

Between now and then, those swipe cards should get a lot of use.

"The past 4 years I've been here, gym availability was an issue that we had at any given time," said senior Ramone Moore, the team's top scorer at 17 points a game. "This has everything that a [player] wants. It's just a blessing for Temple. For the players we have now and the ones coming in . . . For the people who made this happen, hopefully I can donate [some day]. I'd be more than willing to give back."

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