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OPENING TIPS Ratings and datings, weights and slates, knees and media freeze CLOISTERED TEMPLE


LAST SEASON THE TEMPLE BASKETball team was such a fresh act that
the season seemed as if it were scripted by alumnus Bill Cosby. Coach
John Chaney might have even pulled his sweaters right out of Cliff
Huxtable's wardrobe. And the fans, not to mention the media, swooned
over the Owls and super-freshman Mark Macon.
Suddenly the script has changed. Once friendly, Chaney now is
doing a terrific impersonation, not of Cosby, but of the big fellow
who coaches in the nation's capital. Has Hoya Paranoia taken
residence in the City of Brotherly Love?
On media day, Chaney announced that only senior cocaptains Mike
Vreeswyk and Jerome Dowdell will be permitted to speak with the press
this season. Even Macon, now a sophomore All-America candidate, will
be off-limits. Said Chaney, ''Last year I was very concerned when
I allowed all my players to speak to the media, and the media ran
into my dressing room and were very, very distracting and disturbing
when they went to one player ((Macon)) and neglected to talk to the
others. That, to me, could have destroyed us as a team.''
Meanwhile, the school has made some curious scheduling decisions
of late. Villanova offered to play its home game against Temple in
the Spectrum in Philadelphia this season if Temple would return the
favor next season. The Owls refused on the ground that they want to
play as many games as possible on campus. Never mind that Temple has
scheduled its home game against Kansas in an Atlantic City casino.
And never mind that the game with Notre Dame in the 1990-91 season
will be at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
Why the incongruity? Some Temple watchers contend that school
officials are concerned that a big crowd in the Spectrum for an
Owls-Wildcats game might sour the state legislature on the plan to
finance a 12,000-seat arena on the Temple campus. Why build a new
arena if the Spectrum is a suitable alternative? Ah, welcome to the
big time.