A season ago in the midst of a snowstorm, Temple was able to defeat then, eighth-ranked, undefeated, SMU in a season defining moment. The 89-80 upset victory over the Mustangs on January 24th, 2016 gave the Owls confidence and momentum for the rest of the season. They won nine out of their remaining eleven conference games, which resulted in an American Athletic Conference regular season championship -- Temple’s first ever.
This year however, things played out a little differently when SMU came to Philadelphia. The Mustangs were once again a top-25 team and the snow storm still showed up, but Temple’s offensive game did not. Overall for the contest, the Owls shot 30.9-percent from the floor, 26.7-percent from three and 61.5-percent from the foul line. Temple’s low-percentage offense made it difficult for them to catch up to SMU, who at one point in the game, led by as many as 16.
The Owls were so out of rhythm offensively against the Mustangs, that they went without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes. The field goal drought came in the first half, and began when Quinton Rose was able to get a fast break dunk off of a steal at the 10:44 mark. For the next nine minutes and twenty-five seconds, the Owls only scored one point on a free throw from Daniel Dingle. Temple’s next field goal came at the 1:19 mark when Rose tipped in his own miss. The Owls were able to keep things close though, and in large part, their competitiveness was credited to their effort on the defensive end.
In the first half, Temple held SMU to 32.1-percent shooting overall and an even worse 14.3-percent from behind-the-arc. Although the Owls made an effort to contest shots and were able to contain the Mustang’s offensively to a certain extent, SMU’s length, athleticism and ability to score in the paint and from the perimeter proved to be too difficult to actually stop. In particular, Temple failed to prevent SMU’s Semi Ojeleye, the redshirt junior transfer from Duke, from putting the ball in the basket.
By the end of the first half, Ojeleye already had 13 points on just three field goals, and by the end of the game, he more than doubled his first half scoring numbers by finishing with 30 points overall. His ability to draw fouls and get to the free throw line was one of the prime factors in holding Temple off from coming back in the game. Ojeleye ended with 10 free-throws made out of 11 attempted, which not only displayed Ojeleye’s knack for drawing contact, but also exposed Temple’s over-aggressiveness on defense.
The effort on defense was there for the Owls, but the execution failed to match. Several times, Temple’s defenders would run into screeners, jump over the back of rebounders and jump on pump fakes by shooters. The lack of discipline on the defensive end led to the Owls falling into foul trouble. Every player who played for Temple picked up at least one personal foul and in total, Temple had racked up 20 personal fouls by the end of the game. The Temple fouls resulted in 25 total free throws attempted by SMU. In contrast, The Owls only got to the line 13 times, and made just eight of those attempts.
“We got to attack the basket,” Enechionyia said after the 66-50 loss to #25 SMU. “Sometimes we settle for jumpshots too much and it’s tough to win a game when you do that. I don’t think we draw enough fouls. The only way to do that is to attack the basket and that gets them in foul trouble and makes the game easier.”
As a team, Temple ranks 10th in the American out of 11 teams in both free throws made and free throws attempted. Contrastly, the Owls rank third in the American in three-pointers made and first in three-pointers attempted. This season, it seems as though Temple is literally playing by the motto, ‘live by the three, die by the three.’ When they make the perimeter shots, they win, and when they don’t make the perimeter shots, they struggle to find points elsewhere, such as in the game against SMU.
“We have shooters on this team, but when the shots don’t fall, it’s tough to win,” Enechionyia said. “We have the players that have the ability to get to the basket. I know for myself, I don’t do that enough. Sometimes I settle and I know I have the ability to get to the cup and draw fouls, so personally I know I have to do that better and [we have to] as a team as well.”
As Enechionyia emphasized, it is not that Temple lacks players who have the ability to get to the rim and draw contact, it is just that they do not make a concerted effort to do so. Daniel Dingle, Shizz Alston Jr., Quinton Rose, Alani Moore, Obi Enechionyia, and even Mark Williams have the moves off of the dribble to penetrate and create contact, but more often than not, they all seem content to just hoist up shots from long distance whether they are contested or not. If the Owls continue to settle for perimeter shots instead of getting easier looks at the rim, the offensive inconsistency may make it hard for them to stay competitive for the rest of the season.
Having said that, the Owls played much better against the Memphis Tigers today at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee, as they shot 46.4-percent from the field, 43.5-percent from three and defeated them 74-62.
Despite their performance against the Tigers, the game versus SMU is more representative of how they have played all year. The Owls need to build off their latest performance if they want to finish the season on a high-note.
Photo: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Ernest Aflakpui ended Saturday night with 11 points and 11 rebounds in a 70-62 win against Big 5 rival Penn. The Ghana native isn’t the most talented scorer in the low post, but when Temple goes through a scoring drought, Aflakpui always seems to find a way to make a couple tough layups in the lane to get his team back in rhythm.
“Ern's not an accomplished scorer,” Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said of his 6-foot-10 sophomore center. “Although today, that was one of the things he did very well. He finished well down there.”
Despite the 11 points from Aflakpui, he seems to understand his role on the floor. Still a raw offensive talent in the post, Aflakpui is not too concerned with being the primary option to put the ball in the basket. Aflakpui did a good job of not forcing bad shots in the post against Penn, and credited his teammates with giving him easy looks at the basket to put him in position to score.
“We are a family. We pick each other up when we're down,” Aflakpui said after the game. “It was just a moment in time that my teammates found me in open spots and were confident in me to make shots.”
Aflakpui is known more as a defensive anchor for the Owls, but he did mention that he does work on all facets of his game. The hard work showed off in the win against Penn, as Aflakpui was able to score down low every time Penn made a run during the game.
“Ern was good on the rebounding end and making shots. That's not one of our strong suits, finishing at the rim, but he did a good job of that,” Dunphy said. “I thought he gave us some really good minutes, but other times I was hoping he'd save us a little bit on the defensive end.”
Although Aflakpui played a strong game, both him and coach Dunphy realized that he is still has so much to learn about the game. Yes, he scored in double figures, but even with the double-double against the Quakers, there is no ignoring the fact that Aflakpui struggled defensively against AJ Brodeur, Penn's standout freshman big man.
Brodeur, who came into the Temple game averaging 13 points per game, dominated Aflakpui most of the contest in the low post area, and ended with 17 points. Both Aflakpui and Dunphy acknowledged the situation.
“First of all, I'm a defensive minded player.” Aflakpui said. “I don't think I did a good job today, so I'm still working on that, but defense is my main priority.”
Dunphy added that he tells Aflakpui to watch old tapes of former Temple star and current NBA forward, Lavoy Allen. A number of times, Dunphy has said that Allen is the smartest player he has ever coached, and now, Dunphy wants Aflakpui to develop that same defensive awareness that Allen carried on the court for Temple.
“I talk to him [Aflakpui] all the time about watching tapes of Lavoy Allen,” Dunphy said. “Lavoy Allen, in the four years that he played here, made maybe four mistakes defensively. That's how good he was. He was never out of position. So [I tell Aflakpui to] ‘Watch him [Lavoy Allen]. Watch what's going on. Learn from that. Feel the game better.’ But Ern is learning.”
Aflakpui may not have the innate IQ or scoring ability that Lavoy Allen has, but Aflakpui certainly has the size, speed, frame and work ethic to resemble the way that Allen plays. The double-double that Aflakpui posted against Penn shows the potential that the young forward from Ghana has, and with his junior and senior seasons still left to develop, Temple may have another reliable big man in the paint.
Aflakpui is far from the player that Allen is, but there is hope that Aflakpui can develop into the same brand of player that Allen was at Temple. Allen was known as a hardworking, hustling, relentless and tough player who was skilled with and without the basketball thanks to his awareness of the game. Aflakpui has already proven that he has the ability to play with hustle and toughness. The next step in development for Aflakpui now is to become the smart and savvy player Allen was at both ends. With two more years remaining under Dunphy, there is no doubt that Aflakpui has the potential to be the next great frontcourt player for Temple.
Photo: Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports
Without a true experienced backcourt to start the 2016-17 basketball season, many expected Fran Dunphy's Temple Owls to struggle with playmaking, decision making and overall execution on both offense and defense. Temple's senior point guard, Josh Brown, is still sidelined as he recovers from a torn achilles tendon while Trey Lowe, the Owls standout freshman from last season, decided to redshirt due to injuries sustained in a car accident late last February.
As a result of the major injuries, Quinton Rose, Alani Moore II, and Shizz Alston have all been thrust into the main rotation for the Owls. Although the three young guards have shown their inexperience with questionable shots and blown defensive assignments every once in awhile, the talented trio put their capabilities on full display during the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn over Thanksgiving.
Alston, Rose, and Moore played significant minutes as Temple took on two ranked teams during the tournament. Thanks to the play of the young guards, the Owls were able to knockoff both of those teams and were crowned the 2016 NIT Season Tip-Off Champions.
In the semifinal of the NIT Season Tip-Off, Temple was able to overcome an 18-point deficit in the second half against the 25th-ranked Florida State Seminoles. With 13:30 left to play in the game, Quinton Rose turned over the ball on a bad inbounds pass which led to an easy layup for the Seminoles to put them up 60-42. Subsequently, Fran Dunphy burned a timeout.
But from that point on, Rose and Alston were determined to get their team back in the game.
“We just looked at each other. Me and [Rose] brought everybody together and said ‘Let's go. It’s time to pick it up. We're on the big stage, we’re not going out like this,’” Alston said after the game. “Down 18 points, we're going to fight back and win this game.”
Fight back is exactly what the Owls did and the tone was set by both Rose and Alston.
Rose hit a calm jumper right out of the timeout to make it a 16-point game, and after getting a stop on defense, Rose drained a 3-point bucket off an assist from Alston to go on a 5-0 run on his own and cut the FSU lead to 13 points in just 42 seconds. From that point on, the Seminoles just could not contain Rose or Alston.
Rose was able to take FSU's guards off the dribble and draw several fouls to stop the clock and take points off the board while Alston kept on nailing step back three after step back three. The two young guards went on to score the next 16 points for Temple, which included five straight made free throws from the freshman Rose and three straight 3-pointers from the sophomore Alston.
Alston only scored four points at halftime, but by the end of the game, he racked up a total of 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor, 4-of-8 from three and a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Alston had huge stops on defense as well and was able to come away with 3 steals while also finding his teammates throughout the game, ending with 4 assists. Undoubtedly, this was the best showing of Alston’s short career at Temple so far after struggling to contribute consistently his freshman season.
“Everybody knows it's been a tough start for me, especially shooting the ball,” Alston said. “So when I saw those threes go in, I just wanted to cry. I haven't made that many threes in a while...It felt normal again.”
Rose filled up the stat sheet in the comeback win over Florida State as well, scoring a game and career high 26 points. Rose also added 4 assists and 6 rebounds to his line, showcasing how he can affect the game in more ways than one.
“They were being aggressive defensively, so we knew we had to match the aggressiveness on offense,” Rose said. “We had to play aggressive, attack baskets and make shots and that's what we did.”
Aggressive might be an understatement to describe Rose’s play during the game. Rose was able to get to the line 15 times and made 12 of those free throw shots. That aggressive play was one of the main reasons why Temple was able to come back from FSU’s double digit lead, and in the championship game the following day against #19 West Virginia, that same aggressiveness was matched. This time however, it was the smallest player on the court that showed his toughness and ability to get to the free throw line when needed.
Although West Virginia’s full court pressure has been known to force teams into submission by cutting off passing lanes, getting up in ball carriers’ faces, and forcing several turnovers, Temple was unphased by Bob Huggins’ signature defense for most of the game. A major reason why Temple was able to exploit ‘Press Virginia’ was thanks to 5-foot-10 freshman, Alani Moore II.
The young point guard may be small, but his athleticism and speed caused major problems for WVU's pressure. Each time Moore received the ball in the backcourt, he was able to out run double teams and find holes in the Mountaineer's high risk, high reward defense. When the Mountaineers failed to keep up with Moore off the dribble, they fouled the freshman, but he made them pay.
Moore was able to hit entirety of his eight free throws, all of them coming in the second half, keeping Temple in the game after WVU had come back from being down 20 points.
“I stayed with my normal routine,” Moore said after the game about his clutch free throw shooting. “I stayed focused and locked in and just made the shots.”
Not only did Moore’s aggressive attacks off the dribble get himself easy points at the free throw line, but that ability to dribble away from double teams created easy looks for his teammates as well. If it was not for Moore’s speed and ball handling, Obi Enechionyia’s 22 points would have been much harder to come by and Temple may not have beaten the 19th-ranked Mountaineers 81-77.
“I thought (Moore) really stepped up today. The presence and toughness he had hasn't necessarily shown itself before today,” Fran Dunphy said of the freshman point guard. “I thought he really stepped up towards the end of the first half, and then again making all those foul shots...I think he really arrived today.”
It was only a two game stretch, but the clutch performances from the underclassmen backcourt against two ranked teams gave people a taste of what can be a dangerously underrated Temple Owl team.
Yes, the season is early, and yes, they have shown already shown their growing pains in losses to New Hampshire and Massachusetts. But when this team gets it going, they are hard to stop. With older guys on the team like Daniel Dingle and Obi Enechionyia already off to solid starts, the blossoming of Quinton Rose, Alani Moore II, and Shizz Alston over the Thanksgiving tournament has created even more offensive options. If the young guards are able to sustain their efficient, aggressive, and intense play, do not be surprised to see the Owls dominate come time for conference play and a run at the NCAA Tournament.
Photo: Austin Ampeloquio/The Empire
Shizz Alston Jr. is currently the sixth most efficient passer in the entire NCAA. He has an assist to turnover ratio of 10.5 and through four games, has turned the ball over only twice. In 141 total minutes played, Alston has racked up 24 assists to that pair of turnovers, and the confidence of the sophomore guard continues to grow as each game passes by. None of the other five players ahead of Alston in the assist-to-turnover ratio standings nationally have played as many minutes as he has, and this tremendous efficiency from the underclassman is a telling sign of just how much positive progress he has gone through in such a short amount of time.
“His assist-to-turns are really good,” Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said of Alston after Temple’s 88-67 win over Manhattan on Sunday. “Everybody is comfortable playing with Shizz and now he’s really starting to understand what his role is.”
More and more, it is becoming clearer that the “role” Dunphy mentions references Alston’s increased job in the backcourt, as many of the Owls’ pieces are missing due to injury, including fellow sophomore guard, Trey Lowe and senior captain, Josh Brown.
In fact, Alston is playing very similarly to how Josh Brown played last season when Brown was thrusted into the primary rotation after the point guard position was left vacant following the graduation of Will Cummings. By the end of last season, Brown was eighth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio and was the main reason why Temple, as a team, ended their 2015-16 campaign ranked third in the nation in fewest turnovers per game.
Alston is doing more than just finding his team open looks though.
During Temple’s blowout win against Manhattan, Alston was able to score a career high 17 points on an efficient 7-of-11 shooting from the floor. His scoring came, in large part, thanks to his court awareness, constantly finding open holes in the Jasper’s zone defense. For several possessions, Alston would cut to dead spots around the high-post and free throw line area to nail open mid-range shots. Alston was also able to fill in every single stat in the boxscore except for turnovers.
The second year guard was able to grab three defensive rebounds, record two steals, and reject a shot at the rim for a block. When the season started, Alston made known that this kind of all around play was how he wanted to contribute to the team.
“I told myself, when I’m not scoring, I have to do other things to help my team,” Alston said after the Owls first game of the season earlier in November. “I feel like that gives us some energy. My blocks, and my steals...give us some life.”
Before the season began, Fran Dunphy noted that he had different expectations for Shizz Alston Jr. this year, but did not really specify what those expectations were. With his recent efficient play, the Owls and coach Dunphy should now be looking forward to how Alston can continue to run the offense with a continued confidence and efficiency, while also playing reliable defense against opposing guards.
“He played very well. He’s got a better sense of who he is right now,” Dunphy said. “It was not an easy freshman year for him. I think he picked up a lot tonight...he came of age, and as we move forward, he’s going to be expected to do even more for us.”
Photo: Charles Fox/Philly.com
Daniel Dingle’s highest minutes per game average for a season at Temple came during his 2015-16 campaign for the Owls, when he averaged 20.7 minutes per game. In Temple’s first game of the 2017-16 season, Dingle played a game and career high 43 minutes. Talk about drastic increase.
This is the most he has ever played in a single game under Fran Dunphy and probably the longest he has ever played in a regulated contest. Granted, the game did go into overtime, but even at the end of regulation, the fifth year senior captain had already logged 38 minutes on the hardwood. The major distribution of minutes for Dingle payed off in the end, as Temple was able to hold off Big 5 rival La Salle in a 97-92 win at the Liacouras Center. After watching what Dingle could do on the court offensively and defensively for an extended period of time, there is no doubt that his role has drastically changed for the Owls this season compared to prior years.
Last season, Dingle’s role on the team was different each game. Therefore, it was hard to actually assess how well he could run an offense or guard a man straight up for an entire game, but he did show glimpses of his ability to step up and take over games. The game that stands out in particular in the minds of many Temple fans and for Dingle himself was last season’s come-from-behind victory against the University of Connecticut on February 2nd. With Temple trailing by double digits and five minutes left to play, Dingle was able to hit three clutch three pointers to keep the Owls in the contest.
“I feel like UConn was my best game. Just [because of] the energy in the building and the confidence in my teammates for me to make threes and step up,” Dingle said after being asked if the 21point performance against La Salle was his best game at Temple. “Last year, my role varied each game, so I didn’t know what my role would be, but UConn is probably the game that I remember the most.”
Though that UConn game was full of energy, emotion, drama and late game heroics, Dingle’s play in this year’s season opener truly showcased his all around potential. Not only did Dingle have a career high in points and minutes, but he also dished out five assists and grabbed four rebounds as well. The redshirt senior shot 7-for-11 overall, 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and drained 4-of-5 shots from the free throw line. Dingle did all that, while checking La Salle’s premier scorer, Jordan Price, for the entirety of the game. By the end, Dingle added three steals to his stat sheet stuffing performance.
“Coach [Dunphy] trusts me. This is my fifth year. I know the ins-and-outs of the program, so definitely my confidence is higher,” Dingle said of his new leadership role after the La Salle victory. “Getting the opportunity...I think it’s my turn to help the young guys.”
Helping the ‘young guys’ is exactly what Dingle did according to sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr., who had a game and career high six assists. As a sophomore, Alston said that, “playing with Obi and Dan made it easy tonight..hitting shots...they made it real easy to be a point guard.”
Temple head coach, Fran Dunphy, was thoroughly pleased with Dingle’s output during the game, commending his all around effort on both sides of the basketball, as well as in the huddle.
“I thought Dan was terrific tonight, in a lot of different ways,” Dunphy said. “He carried us for a large part of the game...Dan’s a good leader, a great guy and I’m very happy for him.”
It is still very early in the season, but if Dingle is able to consistently put up points, find ways to get his teammates easy baskets, and defend the opposing team's best player, he may be one of the best two way players Temple has ever seen.
Photo: David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports
Benjamin Simon & William Derry
Temple finished the 2015-16 regular season on a high note, as they were crowned champions of the American Athletic Conference (AAC) with a 20-10 record.The Owls went on to play in the semifinals of their conference tournament, where they fell short of a title, but still earned a bid to March Madness after missing out on the tournament for the past two seasons.
In a nailbiter, Iowa defeated Temple 72-70 with a buzzer-beater putback in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, robbing Fran Dunphy and company of the opportunity to face off against the eventual NCAA champions: the Villanova Wildcats.
Dunphy now enters his 11th season at the helm of the Temple men’s basketball program. In 2015-16, the all-time winningest coach in Philadelphia Big 5 history earned the American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honor for the second consecutive year. And now Dunphy’s coaching skills will be put to the test once again. As a result of four seniors graduating last spring, Temple will rely heavily on young, inexperienced players to come in and compete for minutes.
Furthermore, the Owls may be without senior guard Josh Brown for most of the season due to his ongoing recovery from an achilles tendon surgery. Brown’s absence will catapult freshman guard Alani Moore into the line of fire, as he will likely begin the campaign in the starting five.
Jaylen Bond (F, graduation), Devin Coleman (G, graduation), Quenton DeCosey (G, graduation), Devontae Watson (F/C, graduation), Trey Lowe (G, Injury)
Temple graduated four seniors last season in Quenton DeCosey, Devin Coleman, Devontae Watson, and Jaylen Bond.
DeCosey, who started in all 33 games last season, led the Owls in scoring with 15.9 points per game and ranked second in rebounding (6.0), assists (85) and three-pointers (49), which resulted in a first team All-AAC selection. DeCosey was the team’s go-to scorer and they will have trouble replicating his ability to put points on the board.
Bond was Temple’s lone team captain and a second team All-Philadelphia Big 5 honoree. He led the team in rebounding (8.5), grabbing 541 boards in his two years on North Broad. He was also the anchor of the defense, disrupting opposing big men with his long arms and wingspan. Coleman was a lethal outside shooter off the bench, converting a team-high 64 three-pointers. He was a streaky shooter who could get hot at any moment (hence the 23 point, 7-7 from three point range performance against SMU).
Watson was a reliable big off the bench, who along with DeCosey, Bond, and Coleman, will be missed. At 6-foot-11, Watson occupied a lot of space and was used in situations when the team needed a bigger body to play defense.
Finally, Lowe will redshirt the season after getting in a car accident last March. He will stay with the team and rehab in preparation for next season. Lowe showcased his ability to score in freshman season in bursts. Although he only averaged 4.8 points per game, he had 3 double digit scoring outings, including a 21-point outing against Villanova.
Ayan Nunez de Carvalho (G, R-Fr.), Steve Leonard (R-Jr., Transfer), Isaiah Lewis (G, Jr., Transfer), Alani Moore (G, Fr.), Damion Moore (C, Fr.), Quinton Rose (G, Fr.)
The Owls bring in a three person freshmen recruiting class, while adding two transfers (Lewis and Leonard), and a redshirt (Carvalho). From the get-go, the most impactful player in year one will be Alani Moore. Despite being the shortest player on the team at 5-foot-10, Moore is a floor general who is ready to produce right away. He is quick, clever, and mentally mature.
The other two freshmen, Damion Moore and Quinton Rose, will have a tougher time getting consistent minutes. Both are raw, but physically imposing players for their position. Moore is 6-foot-10 and 225 pounds, but extremely young and inexperienced. As a 6-foot-8 guard, Rose has a higher ceiling, but is an equally large project. However, Rose may find more minutes than Moore purely based on his size and mismatch ability for his position.
Lewis and Carvalho will add depth to the team early in the season, but may have trouble finding consistent minutes when Brown returns. Carvalho may be an interesting x-factor for the team after sitting out last season as he got accustomed to his first year living in America. The Argentinean is big for his position at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds. On top of his size, he has played a fair amount of basketball, competing for the U17 Argentina National Team in the 2014 U17 FIBA World Championships, where he averaged 10 points per game. Lewis, on the other hand, comes to Temple after playing JUCO ball at Casper College.
Projected Starting Lineup
G: Alani Moore (7 PPG, 3 APG, 1.5 SPG)
The clever guard from Washington D.C. is the exact opposite of former Temple guards. Freshman Alani Moore can blow by people off the dribble with his elite quickness, a trait Temple fans haven’t seen very often. After years of Juan Fernandez, Khalif Wyatt, and Josh Brown, Moore’s speed will add a nice change of pace. He is labeled as a floor general and should be able to man the team with the help of Alston until Brown comes back.
While Moore should see major minutes early on, he will lose minutes at the 1 when Brown returns. Brown will undoubtedly start when his injury heals, but in the meantime, the team will have extended tryouts to see who will start until Brown comes back. Although Moore could very well find his way on the bench when Brown returns, Dunphy might opt to sit one of the big men in favor of a smaller, more talented lineup, featuring both Moore and Brown sharing the ball.
G: Levan “Shizz” Alston Jr. (13 PPG, 2 APG, 2 RPG)
Altson had a strong season in his first year at Temple. He showed his ability to be a hybrid guard, playing both on and off the ball. His versatility will play a valuable role while Brown is injured. Despite only averaging 2 points and .6 assists per game, Alston made a bigger impact than his stats will suggest. On top of a big first game, where Alston scored 12 points against the then number 1 ranked team, North Carolina, Alston played double digit minutes in twelve straight games to open up the year. But as the season went on, Alston fell out of favor, tallying only three double digit minute games for the remainder of the season. However, if the Owls want to have any success, Alston will need to play well. As the team needs another scoring option, Alston will have many opportunities to prove himself as a legit college basketball player.
F: Daniel Dingle (7 PPG, 4 RPG, .42 FG%)
The rising senior has always had the potential, but has never seemed to live up to it. Despite playing 21 minutes per game, Dingle only averaged 4.4 points per game and shot an abysmal 32% from the field and 24% from three. The good news is, Dingle is back and has trimmed 10 pounds. After looking slow last season, he should bring some versatility to the big man position, using his ability to take slower defenders off the dribble and smaller ones into the post. If Dingle can replicate and build off of the production he had in 2013-14 before he got injured, the team could have a lot of success. It’s no secret that Dingle’s production translates into wins. During the 2015-16 season, in games that he scored more than 5 points, the team went 7-1. He will need to be quick and once again find that respectability from the deep range to improve.
F: Obi Enechionyia (14 PPG, 7 RPG, .41 3P%)
With Josh Brown injured, Obi Enechionyia will enter the season as Temple’s go-to scorer. The junior forward is a versatile big man who is as talented as anyone in the AAC. Last season, Enechionyia had 18 double digit scoring games, including two times where he erupted for 20 points. The power forward is a knock down three point shooter with a beautiful stroke, as he shot 39% from three throughout 2015-16. However, the bigger question marks involve other aspects of his game, rebounding and defense.
With Jaylen Bond gone, Enechionyia will surely need to improve his rebounding and defense. Last season, Enechionyia had a reliable force next to him who he could always count on to do those aspects of the game, while he just scored. But this season is different. The other forward spot next to him will be a question mark. Enechionyia needs to use his athleticism and take over the game in every aspect. No longer does he have a scapegoat to hide his flaws. If he can fill those holes, Enechionyia will surely be one of the best players in the American.
F: Ernest Aflakpui (4 PPG, 7 RPG, .59 FG%)
The big man from Archbishop Carroll struggled to find minutes last season after injuring his knee in his senior year of high school. While he appeared in 18 games, he scored in only 8. But that’s not what Ernest Aflakpui is supposed to do. His job is to rebound, play defense, and hustle. Although he went through growing pains during his first season, Aflakpui gives Dunphy the proper size in the middle of the defense and will provide a complementary role to Enechionyia’s scoring and offensive ability. All he needs to do is play efficiently and Aflakpui will see his minutes increase.
Ayan Nunez de Carvalho (G, R-Fr.), Steve Leonard (R-Jr.), Isaiah Lewis (G, Jr.), Damion Moore (C, Fr.), Mike Robbins (G, Sr.), Quinton Rose (G, Fr.), Mark Williams (F, Sr.)
The Owls will have one of their shallowest benches in recent years. It will be headlined by senior Mark Williams. The forward from Cleveland can stretch the floor with the three ball and play inside if needed. While he is not a go-to scorer or a lockdown defender, he is a solid role player who has now played in the system for four seasons. After Williams, there is not a guy on the bench who has played substantial Division 1 minutes.
While Leonard played at the Division 3 level for Ursinus and Lewis played JUCO ball at Casper College, the bench looks rather inexperienced. With that said, coach Dunphy has some intriguing options. He has two gigantic freshmen, Rose and Moore, who are raw, but talented. Carvalho returns to Temple after redshirting last season and has a lot of playing experience competing with his Argentinian National Team. He has spent a year in the Temple system and is familiar with the team and playing style. Lewis, who struggled to find minutes at Casper College, playing only 15 minutes per game, may not be the savior, but could provide depth at the point guard position with some college basketball experience.
vs. La Salle (Nov. 11th, 2016)
The Owls face a revamped Explorers team on opening night. Temple defeated La Salle last season by 13 points at the Philadelphia Big 5 doubleheader which took place at the Palestra. This Big 5 contest pits an improved La Salle roster against a Temple program that lost four seniors due to graduation. The game on November 11th will be an early test for coach Dunphy’s inexperienced team and will give everyone a sense of the Owls’ potential as a team.
at Villanova (Dec. 13th, 2016)
Temple takes on the defending National Champions in Villanova. Though the Owls lost to the Wildcats last year by 16 points, sophomore guard Trey Lowe had a breakout performance, scoring a career and team-high 21 points. Lowe will not be here this year, as he is redshirting, but the Owls will need another performance like that from someone else. Temple will enter the Pavilion as a longshot to win but the experience and exposure these young Owls will gain is invaluable.
at Connecticut (Jan. 11th, 2017)
After defeating UConn twice during the regular season but losing to them in the American semifinals, Temple will seek revenge when they travel to Hartford, CT in early January. Though the Huskies will be heavily favored coming into this matchup, expect the Owls to compete and hustle for 40 minutes in a major indicator about the outcome of the American.
Despite having one of their most inexperienced teams in recent seasons, in 2016-17, Temple should have some success thanks to their schedule. As of now, Temple only has two teams on their entire schedule that are in the preseason top-25. While they face off against Florida State at the beginning of the season, they also play multiple lighter games, including at home against New Hampshire, Manhattan, and NJIT. In addition, there is a good chance that they will not have Josh Brown back until conference play begins. Therefore, it will be hard to see them pulling off upsets against La Salle, Florida State, or Villanova without their key guy. As a young and inexperienced team that returns only one starter from last year to open the season, it is hard to predict how the team will perform. But with an easier non-conference schedule and Obi Enechionyia returning after a strong finish to the 2015-16 season, the Owls should find themselves with another 15+ win season.
“I’m definitely going to play this year. It’s just a matter of time, when and where. -Josh Brown in an article by CSNPhilly.com
“We don’t have that bona fide scorer. There’s going to be nights when I have to pick up the scoring load, Obi has to pick up the scoring load, Dan, Josh and [Alston] and so forth. But I think that’s a positive for our team because any night, it could be the next guy.”- Mark Williams in an article by The Temple News
“We’re going to have to get this year’s Devin Coleman for us, who bought in, probably was a starter, but bought in to coming off the bench to give us a little bit of a spark. That guy, this year’s Devin Coleman, he’s probably not going to start a lot of games, but he’s going to finish just about everyone.” -Head coach Fran Dunphy in an article by The Temple News
“I think we can go down low a little more. I think it’s been a trend where we tend to shoot a lot of jump shots and play around the key, but guys like Ernest, he does a great job ducking in guys, so I think we’re going to go down there a little more this year. -Daniel Dingle in an article by The Temple News
“If we can get him to have a move or two down there, he doesn’t have to be [Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame center Hakeem] Olajuwon. I just want him to be Aflakpui. But I want him to be able to pass the ball out, repost again and really be a threat down there for us. But he has to finish plays and that’s what he’s working on right now. He’s been shooting the foul shot pretty good, which is what I’m encouraged by.” -Head coach Fran Dunphy in an article by The Temple News
Photo: Jenny Kerrigan/TempleNews
Coming into the 2016-17 season, Temple will be without four key seniors from last year’s NCAA tournament run. Quenton DeCosey, Jaylen Bond, Devin Coleman, and Devontae Watson were all major parts of the team but have since graduated. There are some concerns as to how Temple is going to be a contender in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) and if they’re good enough to enter March Madness for the eighth time in the last decade. After such a successful season, who can fill the spots of sharp shooters Devin Coleman and Quenton DeCosey? Who will provide the inside presence of forwards Jaylen Bond and Devontae Watson? Emerging star Obi Enechionyia might be the unique answer to both of those questions.
In his high school years and on Nike’s EYBL circuit team, Team Takeover, he was ranked the 3rd best player in the state and the 29th best forward in the country. But what makes him unique? And what kind of success has he had as an Owl? One thing that really sticks out about Enechionyia is his growth from his first to second year. Nearly every statistic went up for Enechionyia, after starting 21 more games his sophomore season than he did his freshman season. As he got more comfortable, he raised his three-point percentage by more than .100 points (38.6%), allowing him to score 170 more points (352 total, 11 PPG) than he did the year before. This kind of growth is crucial to being a good player in college basketball. His growth from a “developing big forward who is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential” to someone who has shown how he can utilize his skills exemplifies Obi’s ability as a learner and basketball player. So how does he compare to stars from last year?
In the 2015-16 season, Obi Enechionyia played fewer games and got less playing time than Devin Coleman. Despite this, he still scored more total points in the season and averaged almost 2 more points than him per game. Obi placed in the top 30 of scorers in the AAC and managed his way in the top 15 in three-point field goal percentage, where he was just .07 decimal points behind Devin Coleman’s 39.3%. He also had some stats that surpassed even Temple’s top scorer and prized guard, Quenton DeCosey. He made 7 more three-pointers than DeCosey and placed five spots higher in the AAC top 20 for three point makes. In addition, Obi had a better true shooting percentage (TS%) than DeCosey and had a lower turnover percentage (TOV%) at 8.1% than both Jaylen Bond and Quenton DeCosey. Enechionyia weighs 35 more pounds and is 6 inches taller than Coleman, which brings out the comparison of characteristics between Jaylen Bond and Obi Enechionyia.
As a power forward, you should have shooting abilities, but, more importantly, you need to be able to defend the paint, score, show athleticism and of course, be big. Both Enechionyia and Bond fill the criteria in that category. Both are above 6-foot-7 and over 220 pounds. However, in the blocks category, Obi averaged 0.9 blocks per game and was placed 11th in the conference, well before Bond’s 0.7 blocks per game. Obi was second in scoring on the Owls, despite getting an average of 1.4 fewer minutes than Bond per game. Bond also had 6 more personal fouls than Obi in the year. Both players have scouting reports and game tape that reveals their athleticism, even from while in high school. Here’s where Obi really has to fill Bond’s shoes. Last year, CBS.com caught up with Temple’s head coach, Fran Dunphy. He emphasized Jaylen Bond’s leadership role, saying “We need to find that leadership from somewhere else and right now I'd say that Jaylen Bond is providing most of it -- as well he should.” Obi really needs to be a leader this year above anything else.
Throughout Enechionyia’s career, he has proved to be a playmaker and someone who can play with and against some of the best players in the country. Enechionyia has the potential to be the go-to guy that Temple needs him to be. He has shown immense growth from his freshman to sophomore year and will be expected to continue to do so in the 2016-17 season.
Photo: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke
Justyn Hamilton announced via Twitter this past Monday that he will be enrolling at Temple University next fall.
The 6-foot-10 power forward currently attends Independence High in Charlotte, North Carolina and has played AAU basketball with Team United.
DePaul also had interest.
Temple's class of 2017 now consists of Hamilton, guard/forward De'Vondre Perry, and small forward J.P. Moorman who both committed last week, in addition to combo guard Nate Pierre-Louis, who committed in early September.
Photo: Jeff Siner/ Charlotte Observer
Temple head coach Fran Dunphy announced last Friday that sophomore guard Trey Lowe will redshirt the 2016-17 season.
Lowe was involved in a car accident on February 28, 2016, which ended his freshman season prematurely. He is still recovering from injuries suffered in the accident but hopes to come back for the 2017-18 season.
The New Jersey native averaged 4.8 points in 28 games during the 2015-16 season. Lowe had a breakout performance against #1 Villanova on February 17th, where he scored a team and career high 21 points.
Lowe shined at Ewing High School, scoring more than 2,000 points.
Photo: Matt Slocum/AP Photo
This past Friday De’Vondre Perry announced via Twitter that he will be attending Temple University next fall.
Perry, who is originally from North Carolina, currently attends Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in Baltimore, MD. The 6-foot-6 guard/forward was named to the All-Metro first-team after leading Poly to their first Baltimore City Division I championship last season. He averaged 20.4 points, 12 rebounds, and 5.1 assists during his junior year.
Virginia Tech and Kansas State were also on his final list.
Temple now has three commitments for the class of 2017 in Perry, small forward J.P. Moorman, who committed earlier this week, and guard Nate Pierre-Louis, who committed in early September.
Photo: Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun
-Temple finishes season with 80-69 loss against East Carolina in first round of AAC tournament