NCAA Tournament: Temple's task: Slowing down SDSU's Kawhi Leonard
Harry How, Getty Images
TUCSON, Ariz. — Temple just doesn't seem to get a break.
First, the Owls (26-7) had to defend Penn State's electrifying senior guard Talor Battle. Now, they must deal with San Diego State's super sophomore Kawhi Leonard as they take on the Aztecs on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. EDT (TNT) in an NCAA tournament West Regional third-round game.
But defending Leonard is harder than keeping up with Battle was in Thursday's second-round matchup.
"He's a deadly combination of size, athleticism and motor," said Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill, whose squad lost by 68-50 to the Aztecs (33-2) on Thursday.
"You don't really see guys that are 6-foot-7, 225 pounds have his skill set and play with the tenacity that he does every second that he is out there. I mean, he is what all coaches dream of."
The seventh-seeded Owls hope Leonard doesn't give them nightmares at the McKale Center.
The extremely versatile forward is a finalist for both the Naismith and Wooden nation player of the year awards. He also is projected to be the 13th overall selection in June's NBA draft, according to a mock draft by DraftExpress.
Just don't tell that to Leonard.
"I'm not looking on the Internet or none of that," he said of not keeping up with NBA projections at this moment. Leonard will, however, sit down with his mother, Kim Robertson, to consider his NBA options after the season.
"I'm just focusing on my team and becoming a better basketball player," he added.
TV RATINGS ARE UP: The NCAA tournament's new television format drew more viewers to the first full day of March Madness.
Thursday's games across four networks averaged 7.4 million viewers. That's up 16 percent from last year, when games were only on CBS.
The NCAA's 14-year, $10.8 billion deal with CBS and Turner means each game is televised nationally in its entirety on CBS, TNT, TBS or truTV. In the past, broadcasts on CBS were regionalized, and the network would switch among games.
'WINNING' WITHOUT SHEEN: Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin is living his own real-life sitcom of sorts. At least, that's the impression he gave when asked about the fine recruiting job done by assistant coach Darren Savino.
"He does a great job shopping for us," Cronin said. "He lives in my basement. Takes the pressure off me at the grocery store. We're 'Two and a Half Men.' I have a 4-year-old daughter. It's just not quite as eventful (as the TV show). We're not 'winning' every day."
LAST WORD: Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan had a Yogi Berra moment during his media session on Friday after being asked if there were any roads he doesn't know about or any towns he's hasn't been to in 10 years of recruiting in the state.
"If I didn't know where they were, I wouldn't be able to tell you," he said, drawing laughter from the room.
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