Covile earns Player of the Week honor

Erica Covile was named American Conference Player of the Week on Monday. With the selection, the junior forward became the program’s first American Player of the Week during the team’s tenure in the two-year-old conference.

The Detroit native, who averaged 22.5 points and 14 rebounds per game in wins against Southern Methodist and Cincinnati, has helped lead the Owls to a 3-0 start in conference play.

Against SMU, Covile scored a career-high 24 points while grabbing 13 rebounds. She followed up that performance with 21 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to extend her double-double streak to four games in a win over Cincinnati.

For the season, Covile is averaging 10.1 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game. She also ranks second on the team with 20 steals.

The Owls (7-8) will return to action Monday at 7 p.m. when they take on Big 5 rival University of Pennsylvania at the Palestra.

Early tournaments help lessen travel burden for volleyball

With the volleyball season roughly a month away, the team will get ready to embark upon a series of weekend tournaments before the conference schedule begins Sep. 24 in Storrs against Conneticut.

Temple will play four tournaments before their American Athletic Conference opener, the first of which is the Syracuse tournament Aug. 30 and 31.  The following weekend, the Owls will host the Temple tournament before playing the Long Island University-Brooklyn and Big 5 tournaments during next two weekends, respectively.

Coach Bakeer Ganes said one thing in particular stands out in regard to his team’s starting the season with four consecutive tournaments.

“Travel,” Ganes, entering his fourth year as Temple volleyball coach in 2014, said. “It’s much easier on the student-athletes.”

With several long trips on the horizon once American Athletic Conference play kicks off, the Owls’ early fixtures in the region allow Ganes’ team a chance to play without the usual dose of wear and tear.  However, the early weekends involve three matches in two days, which can take its toll.

“It would be more ideal to play one match a day,” Ganes said, discussing the schedule’s opening portion.

However, the consistent play early on gives Ganes a chance to get a feel for what he has on the roster and the best way to utilize his players before facing American foes.

“We have four weekends to get ready for conference play,” Ganes said.  “It’s 12 matches, so we want to take advantage of ever match and figure out the best lineup and just take care of the fine-tuning.”

The Owls’ early schedule is similar to that of other schools in The American, though Ganes noted Central Florida hosted two tournaments before conference play started last season.

One may think a volleyball team playing three matches in two weekend days would cause fatigue issues. Ganes downplayed that potential concern, noting a deep roster helps him figure things out early in the season and avoid players becoming fatigued early.

“We try to have a good-sized squad so we can rotate kids through,” Ganes said. “It also allows us to find the best starting six we need when we start conference play.”

American announces women’s basketball format

It’s not as big of a change as the one the Owls faced a year ago with their move to a new conference, but the Owls’ second year in the American Athletic Conference will feature a few differences.

The American announced its scheduling model for the next two seasons, along with an 11-team conference championship bracket due to the additions of East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa Universities.

Each team will play an 18-game conference schedule, facing eight of ten opponents twice in home and home action, and another two once each. One of those single conference matchups in 2014-15 is guaranteed to be at home.

The complete schedule for the 2014-15 season won’t be released until August, but Temple will play every team in the conference twice with the exception of East Carolina and Tulsa. Temple will host East Carolina, so the Owls will have to go on the road to play Tulsa.

Temple, as well as the rest of the American teams, will have the same home and home opponents scheduled for the 2015-16 season, while the single-game opponents will switch sites, meaning Temple will travel to East Carolina and then play Tulsa at home after this upcoming season.

All 11 teams will play in the conference tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The tournament will be played March 6-9.

Games between the No. 9 and No. 8 seeds, the No. 10 and No. 7 seeds, and the No. 11 and No. 6 seeds will get things started on the sixth. The winners of each game will then play against the top three seeds, who get automatic byes into the quarterfinal round on Saturday. The No. 5 and No. 4 seeds will also face-off on Saturday.

Temple had a turbulent 2013-14 campaign, finishing 14-16 in the regular season, then bowing out with an early quarterfinal exit in the conference tournament via a 72-44 loss to the No. 3 seeded South Florida.

-Nick Tricome

American releases conference pairings

The American Athletic Conference announced its conference pairings today, determining the Owls’ conference slate for the upcoming 2014-15 season.

The announcement also introduced new members East Carolina University, Tulane University and the University of Tulsa. Despite the added teams, The American will maintain its 18-game conference schedule, concluding that instead of expanding the schedule, each team will instead face eight of its 10 conference foes twice and the remaining two teams once.

This decision led to the determination that Temple will face Houston and Memphis once and the remaining eight twice, as they did last year.  The Owls will host Houston and play in Memphis.

The Owls lost leading scorer Dalton Pepper to graduation as well as leading rebounder and defensive anchor Anthony Lee to Ohio State. Temple will instead look to other options, such as a bona fide starter in junior guard Will Cummings and a proven sixth man in junior guard Quenton DeCosey to help improve their 4-14 conference record last year.

Cummings, a junior who averaged 34.4 minutes per game, will be the team’s leading returning scorer, averaging 16.8 points per game on 45 percent shooting.

The conference championship tournament will be held May 12 through May 15 at The XL Central in Hartford, CT.

American commissioner Mike Aresco said the decision to hold the tournament on a weekend would help with traveling fans and ESPN coverage, which could potentially improve TV ratings and generate more revenue for the conference.

-EJ Smith

Fitzgerald earns final weekly honors

On March 4., freshman guard Feyonda Fitzgerald earned weekly honors from the American Athletic Conference and the Philadelphia Big 5.

For the fifth time this season, Fitzgerald was named The American Freshman of the Week, while she also earned Big 5 weekly honor roll honors for the fourth time this year

In two consecutive conference road games against Rutgers and Central Florida, Fitzgerald averaged 13.5 points per game, while shooting 8-for-10 from the free throw line. The freshman guard also tied a team-high in points in the Owls’ regular season finale against Houston, scoring 16.

Fitzgerald ended the regular season as Temple’s leading scorer, averaging 12.6 points and four assists.

Owls clinch first-round bye

Yesterday, after a delayed Southern Methodist-Central Florida game ended in a Mustangs victory, Temple was officially announced as the No. 6 seed in this weekend’s American Athletic Conference tournament.

With all the conference’s seedings finalized, Temple (14-15,8-10) will play in a quarterfinal contest against No. 3 South Florida (18-11,13-5) at 8pm on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. The game will appear on ESPN3.

The Owls have lost both matchups against the Bulls this season. Most recently, Temple lost in the final seconds at the Liacouras Center on Feb. 22. In that game, Bulls’ sophomore guard Courtney Williams recorded a career-high 35 points, and was honored as the conference’s player of week in the following days.

Leading up to the tournament, Temple has won two consecutive games by 10 points or more, while USF is rolling with a five-game winning streak, including its most recent upset against a nationally ranked Rutgers team.

Fitzgerald earns fourth Freshman of the Week award

Feyonda Fitzgerald was announced as the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week on Monday, her fourth such honor of the season. She was also named to the Big 5 Honor Roll for the week.

The freshman guard adds the pair of honors to a credentials list that will likely warrant strong consideration for The American’s Freshman of the Year award at season’s end.

Temple’s leading scorer through 19 games with 13.5 points per game, Fitzgerald led the Owls (10-9, 4-4 The American) with 25 points and nabbed seven rebounds in Temple’s 74-68 loss to Rutgers on Saturday.

Game times for three conference games announced

The American Athletic Conference has announced the kickoff times and television networks for many games, including three of Temple’s.

The Owls’ conference and home opener against Houston on Saturday, September 7 will kick off at noon and will air on ESPN regional networks. One week later, Temple will host non-conference opponent Fordham at 1 p.m. The game will air on ESPN3, ESPN’s web streaming service. Temple’s game at Rutgers on Saturday, November 2 will commence at noon, also airing on ESPN regional networks.

Temple’s season opener is against Notre Dame on Saturday, August 31 at 3:30 p.m. on NBC. A game on Friday, October 11 at Cincinnati will air on ESPN or ESPN2. Kickoff time for that game has not been announced yet.

American Athletic Conference reveals logo

The American Athletic Conference, Temple’s new conference, has revealed its official logo.

It was officially released on Thursday morning. Temple, along with nine other schools, will officially join the new conference on July 1.

“The elegant, athletic and classic letter A with the unique star inside and AMERICAN underneath was unanimously chosen by every institution,” commissioner Mike Aresco said. “We believe this bold mark and our series of ancillary marks will support our conference name and the values that our name represents.”