Temple Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tips Off Season With Cherry and White Night

Written by: Jake Gabel

Photo by: Temple Athletics

After not having fans in the stands for all of last season, fans finally returned as Temple hosted its first Cherry and White Night since 2016 at the Liacouras Center. 

The event featured a half-court shot attempt for $10,000, musical chairs between players and fans, a Men’s versus Women’s three-point contest, and much more. 

It was the first time the public got to meet the 2021-2022 teams in person. Players, coaches, the marching band, dance team, cheerleaders, and of course the fans, were all finally in attendance together again. 

The Men and Women went toe-to-toe in both the three-point contest and basketball musical chairs. It was a draw, as Jiselle Thomas of the Women’s team won musical chairs and Colin Daly of the Men’s team won the three-point contest. 

Last year’s leading scorer for the Men, Khalif Battle, enjoyed watching his teammates and lucky fans play games at the event. Battle’s favorite part was seeing fellow Owl Emmanuel Okpomo lose in the final round of musical chairs. 

“Watching my teammate be the last one in the musical chairs was funny,” Battle said. “I tried to grab the chair. I was cheating a little bit so the girl couldn’t sit down. But you know they won, they deserve it, we’ll get them next year though.” 

While this event may have just been all fun and games, that is certainly not how Men’s Head Coach Aaron McKie is treating the upcoming season that is right around the corner. When asked if McKie thought the Owls were where they needed to be, he certainly disagreed. 

“Not even close. You can ask me this towards the end of the season and I would tell you the same. We are not where we need to be,” McKie said. “We still got room to grow, I thought I saw a lot, certainly saw guys getting better. Just having the summer, weight training, and skill development is important for your program.” 

Having a very unique season due to the COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things for the team last year. Not only were fans not allowed, but the team could not carry out their usual training schedule. 

Battle and McKie both agreed that having a full summer of workouts and getting fans back in the arena are both very important for the team.

“I think it’s great because in my freshman year (at Butler), I was used to a sold out crowd. And then coming here (to Temple) and having no fans was different,” said Battle. “But I hope the fans know that they give us a little push to close out wins, something we didn’t have at home. I think it will be really important for us for the future.” 

Battle said that things are not going to be like last year for the team. What does he think is going to change? 

“Losing. I’d say that’s it. Just losing. We’re going to find ways, I think we are going to shock a lot of people,” said Battle. 

“I came from a winning team my freshman year, a top 5 team in the country, and then came in last year and losing was new for me. I’m not used to being a loser or losing,” Battle said. “We see where people put us. We are not paying attention to those things but we still see it. Motivation, that’s all I can say.” 

The Men are projected to finish 7th in the AAC while the Women are projected to finish 5th. The Men’s first game is November 10th at the Liacouras Center against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The Women’s first game is November 9th at McGonigle Hall against Saint Francis.  

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