Last night was almost a perfect night for basketball in Philadelphia. Up in North Philly, the Temple Owls scored an upset win over No. 9 Georgetown — coach Fran Dunphy‘s 400th career victory — that ended with the home fans storming the court. Had the 76ers been able to hang on for one last defensive stop and beat the Celtics in their first national TV home game in what seemed like forever, Philly would be the talk of the basketball world this morning.
College or pro, Ramone Moore was the city’s star of the night. Temple’s 6-4 junior guard dropped 30 points against G’town, hitting 12-of-18 from the field and scoring 44 percent of the Owls’ total output (68 points).
Temple is 6-2 this season as they look to win a fourth straight Atlantic 10 conference championship. I got a chance to catch up with the team’s leading scorer, Moore (12.3 ppg), who was A-10 Sixth Man of the Year last season, to talk about his breakout campaign and the Philly basketball scene:
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Dime: What did you work on this summer?
Ramone Moore: Just my overall game. I had a chance to work out down in Houston, so I went there. It was good to work out with NBA guys. It was a good opportunity.
Dime: Did you play in any tournaments this summer?
RM: Yeah. I forget the name of it, but I played in a summer pro-am league up here in Philly. In college, I can only play from June to July in the offseason, so I chose to play out here in Philly. There was a lot of great competition in the league.
Dime: Who was your toughest competition?
RM: The toughest competition was the NBA players. There were players like Hakim Warrick and Mardy Collins. As far as teams, there was a team full of former Temple players like Mark Tyndale and Dionte Christmas. They were the best team I played this summer.
Dime: How would you describe Philly basketball?
RM: Philly basketball is a very close-knit, family type of atmosphere. A lot of guys try to stay close. We Facebook, Skype, and just look out for each other and make sure we are all doing well. Everyone tries to help if someone from Philly can make it. There is a lot of support out here.
Dime: Describe the feeling you had winning the A-10 championship.
RM: It was great. The first two years I wasn’t a part of it as far as playing on the court. (NOTE: Moore redshirted his first year at Temple.) Last year was the first time I was a part of it. I shared it with my family. Championships are something you dream of in college. Not too many players get the chance to play in a college championship game.
Dime: What was the key to your Sixth Man of the Year win last season?
RM: My teammates brought it to my attention that I wasn’t playing like myself in the beginning of the season. We had a break between Christmas and going into conference play, and I changed my game around. I just wanted to fill my role. Some games we weren’t doing well on offense and I was a spark off the bench.
Dime: How do you pull off a fourth straight A-10 championship?
RM: By not doing anything different. Coach Dunphy leads everything. We trust in him day in and day out. We just work hard. Coach Dunphy is a good coach. We listen to things he tells us.
Dime: How would you describe the chemistry on the team?
RM: In my four years here, all the teams have been great. Coach makes sure we are a family on and off the court. A lot of guys don’t have that support. Some players come from far away. We make them feel at home. I take a role in that. I’m here for them. I’m like their brother.
Dime: You guys lost a couple of seniors. How do you replace that leadership?
RM: Ryan Brooks is the greatest teammate you can have. Luis Guzman was a great leader. They had four years of experience and leadership. We will miss them. Most of the younger guys have been playing real hard and deserve minutes. We are going to need guys like me and Lavoy (Allen) to be a big part. It’s a great opportunity.
Dime: Is your role on the court different from last year?
RM: I did a great job last year getting to the basket, but I have to get my shooting better and get my teammates involved. Overall, if I can do my job and my teammates do their jobs, we can get a lot of wins. I’m not sure if we can get as many as last year — 29 is a lot — but we will be close.