The Temple Owls' men's basketball team was picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 Conference, the A-10 announced on Thursday. The announcement came in conjunction with the conference's annual Media Day, held in Brooklyn, and the rankings were based on a poll of league coaches as well as select media members.
Temple went 14-2 in the conference last season (28-6 overall), good enough for second place in the A-10 and a #7 seed in the NCAA Championships. The Owls return four of five starters from last year, including guard Juan Fernandez, center Michael Eric, guard/forward Ramone Moore and forward Scootie Randall.
Two of those players, seniors Fernandez and Moore, were also given the honor of being named to the Atlantic 10 all-conference first team, the league announced. Last season, Moore (14.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg) was a second-team selection, while Fernandez (10.7 ppg, 4.1 apg) was on the third team. They're joined this preseason by guard Tu Holloway (Xavier), center Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure), and guard Tony Taylor (George Washington).
Fernandez was actually chosen as a second-team selection before last season, while 76ers second-round draft pick LaVoy Allen was named to the first team--as well as the defensive team--before the 2010 season. Those two were big reasons that Temple finished the year ranked in the top 25, an honor that the Owls could acheive this year as well.
Temple had two other players named to awards teams on Thursday. Power forward Scootie Randall (11.6ppg, 5.1 rpg in '10-11) was named to the third-team all-conference, while freshman forward Anthony Lee (Columbia, Md./West Oak Academy), was named to the all-rookie squad--one of six rookies picked, due to a tie in voting.
Basketball practice kicks off at midnight on Saturday, when many schools host "Midnight Madness" or similar events to mark the official start of basketball season. Temple's first game comes against Big Five rival Penn on Monday, November 14 at the Palestra. The Atlantic 10 season starts on January 7, when the Owls take a road trip to the Dayton Flyers.
Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll (First place votes in parenthesis)
1. Xavier--304 pts (18)
2. Temple--287 pts (4)
3. St Louis--239 pts
4. St. Bonaventure--217 pts
5. Richmond--196 pts
6. Dayton--168 pts
7. St. Joseph's--165 pts
8. George Washington 163 pts
9. Duquesne--151 pts
10. Rhode Island--117 pts
11. Charlotte--points no longer given
13. La Salle
Josh Verlin is the lead columnist for BuzzOnBroad.com. He can be found on Twitter @jmverlin