The difference between Temple and Maryland comes down to their leaders

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WASHINGTON DC – Despite what Fran Dunphy told a flock of reporters after Temple’s 64-61 win over Maryland tonight, the Owls needed this game.

“I think every game is a much needed win,” the Temple head coach said after the game.

He has a point, but after going 1-2 in the Old Spice Classic, Temple needed a win of substance. They needed something that resembled a quality win over an NCAA Tournament-caliber opponent, and while we will have to wait and see if the Terps end up putting together a strong enough resume to make the Big Dance, picking up a de facto road win against an ACC team is a quality win.

The ironic part? If Maryland had won, we would probably have been saying the same thing.

The Terps are an interesting team this season.

They have a potential first round pick in Jordan Williams in the middle and they have a nice combination of experience and youth on the perimeter, but it hasn’t clicked yet for the Terps. There is something missing. The talent is there. Prior to tonight, Maryland hung with Pitt and Illinois at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in NYC.

For the most part, the Terps have been operating with a point guard by committee. Adrian Bowie starts, but, as we saw tonight, Terrell Stoglin and Pe’Shon Howard end up playing a bulk of the minutes. Stoglin and Howard make your typical freshmen mistakes — they commit some turnovers, they force some ill-advised shots — but they also provide a level of energy and are more dynamic as playmakers than Bowie, Sean Mosley, and Cliff Tucker.

See tonight as an example.

Maryland really struggled on the offensive end in the first half. They were turning the ball over and Temple was dictating what shots the Terps got. If Jordan Williams didn’t play as well as he did in the first 20 minutes (10 points, 9 boards), Maryland would have been in a much bigger hole than 32-21.

The start of the second half was much of the same. Maryland didn’t have a spark, and after Tucker turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions with about 16 minutes left in the game, Maryland found themselves down 36-21. That’s when Maryland head coach Gary Williams inserted Stoglin, Howard, and another freshman in Haukar Palsson. Those three sparked a quick 10-0 run that got the Terps back into the game. The two teams traded buckets for the next ten minutes before Stoglin and Howard sparked another run, this time 8-0, that even things up at 56.

“The young guys came in and did a great job of flying around,” Williams said. “I told the team after the game it doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s just (that) you have to play hard. We toughed it out and we could’ve won the game at the end.”

That right there is the problem.

Maryland didn’t come out of the gates ready to play in either half. Their veteran perimeter players — the guys that were supposed to be the leaders for this team — combined for eight points on 3-11 shooting from the field to go with five boards, three assists, and five turnovers. It was that lack of leadership that cost Maryland the game tonight.

Its also a major reason that Temple won.

This Temple team is unique. They have a number of talented players, but this group is a “team” in every sense. Their strength is their defense, a system that doesn’t rely on forcing turnovers with overwhelming athleticism, but instead thrives on helping and recovering, and buying into Dunphy’s defensive game plan.

This is a team with a seven man rotation where six of the seven average between 21.3 and 33.5 minutes and all seven average between 6.0 and 11.7 ppg. Their best player is either Ramone Moore or Juan Fernandez, depending on the night, neither of whom is the Owls bet NBA prospect. That goes to Lavoy Allen, whose biggest asset in this system — his unselfishness — is his biggest knock in the eyes of NBA scouts.

Most important, however, is the maturity and leadership this team shows. They never panicked has Maryland was making their comeback. Sure, the Terps forced some turnovers, but Temple still ran their sets offensively. The Owls didn’t take any quick shots down the stretch. The 6-to-8 point lead that Temple held for the majority of the second half seemed that much bigger because Temple’s style of play limits the number of possessions available for their opponent to score. Being down eight with ten minutes left to Temple is like being down eight with five minutes left against a team that plays at a faster pace.

Temple never wavered from what their goal was.

The leadership, however, really showed through on the two most important plays of the game.

Maryland completed their comeback with 1:52 left in the game. Dino Gregory grabbed a defensive board and outletted the ball to Stoglin. Stoglin hit Bowie, who was streaking up the floor. Bowie found a cutting James Padgett, who hammered home a two handed dunk that tied the game at 56. After the bucket, Maryland hesitated as they got back into their press.

Temple didn’t. The Owls immediately inbounded the ball and it ended up in the hands of Moore. Moore attacked, finding Lavoy Allen open for a lay-up and the foul. After Allen hit the free throw, the Owls were back up three points. On Temple’s next possession — following two missed free throws from Jordan Williams — Rahlir Jefferson collected an offensive rebound on a missed jumper from Moore. He turned the ball over trying to kick it back out, but the turnover resulted in a trap of Gregory in the corner. Instead of Stoglin coming back to get the ball, he waited on the other side of the lane. When Gregory tried to outlet the ball to him, Khalif Wyatt stepped in and picked off the pass, finishing an easy layup that all but cemented the game.

I’ve said it before, but poise and leadership on a basketball team fall under the Rule of Porn. They are difficult to define, but you know it when you see it. Its that poise and leadership that will makes the difference when two teams have relatively equal talent.

We saw it tonight from Temple. They were able to execute their game plan down the stretch.

We haven’t quite seen it yet from Maryland this season.

Whether or not the Terps get there will determine which tournament they are playing in come March.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events

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WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.