It was a very emotional night for Ramone Moore.
When Temple’s name appeared on the big TV screen on Selection Sunday, Moore looked up and made a gesture.
“I thought about Zaire,” Moore was saying as he then glanced at the button on his shirt with the name Zaire written on it. “I think about him every day.”
Zaire Moore, Ramone’s cousin, died at the age of 10 in a tragic car accident last summer. Ramone switched his jersey number from No. 23 to 10 in memory of Zaire.
A fifth-year senior, Moore led the Owls in scoring (17.8) and helped carry them to a fifth straight berth in the NCAA tournament. Not even an Atlantic 10 tournament quarterfinal loss to Massachusetts could dampen Moore’s spirit. Temple (24-7) will face the winner of Wednesday’s game between No. 12 California and No. 12 South Florida in the second round Friday.
“I’m so happy we’re back in the tournament and it’s something we don’t ever take for granted,” Moore said. “I really wanted it for Zaire. It was a tough season at times for me because of my feelings for Zaire. I look at my daughter [Simone] and just hug her and it makes me feel better. I want to keep winning for Zaire.”
And for Temple coach Fran Dunphy.
After a number of disappointing, opening-round losses, the Owls broke through and advanced to the second round last season before falling in double overtime to San Diego State.
“I am so tired of hearing the criticism of coach Dunphy,” Moore said. “He’s a great coach. He’s incredible. We kind of felt like we had let him down. As players, we have to take responsibility. We take the criticism personally. We want to go and win for him. For me, it’s my last shot. I want to leave it all out there on the court.”