Villanova set to face Temple in annual Big 5 Philly Classic

Matt Clark

VILLANOVA (1-0) vs. TEMPLE (1-3)

Saturday, Dec. 4, 3:30 pm at the Palestra

Last Meeting: Nov. 21, 2003Villanova 73, Temple 48

Inside Slant

The Temple game tips off the Big 5 Classic. Starting in 1955, LaSalle, Penn, St. Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova have participated in basketball’s biggest intercity rivalry. Last year, Villanova fell a game short of taking the title and Temple was nowhere to be seen in the race. The past will repeat itself, at least for Temple. Last year the Wildcats embarrassed Temple in a midnight game, taking the game by 25 points and holding the Owls to just 27 percent from the field. This year, the teams have both, matured, but the Owls lost David Hawkins, who accounted for nearly 10 percent of the teams offense last year.

Key Match-Up

Keith Butler, a 7-1 Center, vs. Jason Fraser would seem like the likely answer, but after recent surgery the big man still does not look 100 percent. Fraser only played 12 minutes against UMBC. The closest match-up to Butler would be ‘Nova’s own seven-footer, Chris Charles. Charles was serviceable last year while replacing Fraser during another injury, but he was ineffective; 2-3 rebounds a game for someone who is seven feet tall does not cut it in the Big East. It comes down to Curtis Sumpter [in a good way]. Sumpter had 226 rebounds last year, 30 blocks and 14.2 points a game. He is the ‘Cats’ best player, so that means he’s too good to cover Butler (he’s also only 6-7). Sumpter has to worry about Owls’ starting forward Antywane Robinson and Wayne Marshall who combine for 11.6 rebounds, 12.3 points a game and have seven blocks this season. Now, in case you are wondering, I did not forget about Will Sheridan. Sheridan should easily be able to cover Butler, but Sheridan doesn’t start. Another downfall is Sheridan’s height (6-8) and the fact that he will have to help out with Robinson and Marshall. If Fraser does not play, Butler could hurt the Wildcats … but not enough for the ‘Cats to actually lose.

‘Cats Key to Victory

This is simple. Villanova is just a better basketball team. They shouldn’t need any specific keys to victory – they should just outplay Temple. This is however, Villanova Athletics and sometimes we lose easy games. First: Score points. Whenever Ray, Sumpter and Foye score double digits, the ‘Cats win. Last year, four players averaged over 10 points.

Second: Shoot three’s. Now, I hate three point chuckers, but Temple is horrible around the perimeter. Auburn hit 14 three points in the first half against Temple’s zone defense, so ‘Nova should take advantage of it before they switch to man.