Part of the reason why the Owls were so successful this season was due to their strength and depth across the bench. This was thanks to freshman Obi Enechionyia and Clemson transfer, Devin Coleman. Both were initial spark plugs in their first year for Temple. Enechionyia, a 6’8 forward, averaged 5.3 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game, including 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 blocks in the final game of the year against Miami (FL).
Coleman, who missed the first 10 games of the season due to NCAA transfer rules, brought energy filled minutes whenever he was on the court. He averaged 3.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. The crafty guard also played well as the season closed, scoring 13 points and 5 rebounds against George Washington in the second round of the NIT.
Without these two players, the Owls would not have been the same team. The depth they provided to the team was extremely necessary for the squad’s success. However, this coming season Temple will lose senior guards Will Cummings and Jesse Morgan. Therefore, they will have to rely on Coleman and Enechionyia for even more productive minutes, maybe even as starters.
The Empire caught up with both Coleman and Enechionyia this past month. Here is what they had to say about this season, the season to come, personal goals, and more!
Benjamin Simon: What were you proud of this season?
Devin Coleman: I'm very proud of the improvement that we made as a team. The year before, we really struggled but this season we improved in so many ways and I think it showed out there on the floor.
B: What do you plan to improve on?
D: Personally I plan on working on my conditioning and being more consistent with my shooting.
B: What was the transition like after coming from Clemson? How are the two schools different?
D: The transition from Clemson wasn't too difficult because I'm from Philadelphia so I didn't have to get used to much. I already had a relationship with the coaching staff after being recruited in high school and I already knew a few of the players. All of the guys were really accepting and willing to help me out with the few things I needed to adjust to, so it was a really easy process.
The differences in the two school are pretty big with Clemson being in the south, in a more rural environment, and Temple obviously being a city school. Both are great places and first class programs, with great people at the [schools]. I've enjoyed my time at both universities.
B: What was your most encouraging game this season?
D: The most encouraging game for me was the second round of the NIT [tournament] against George Washington. I had a very frustrating season as far as shooting the ball and struggled to get on the floor, so to have a game where I shot well and played extended minutes felt great.
B: Who is your athletic influence?
D: Allen Iverson and Kevin Garnett were my two influences growing up playing basketball. They're obviously very different players because of the size difference but what I always admired about both guys was their competitiveness and passion for the game. They both left everything on the floor and you could see how hard they were playing out there. They never disrespected the game with a lack of effort. Their passion and competitiveness are the two things I learned from them and tried to mimic from a very young age.
Benjamin Simon: What were you most proud of this season? What were you least proud of?
Obi Enechionyia: I was proud that we didn't give up after not getting into the [NCAA] tournament, and that we made it as far as we did in the NIT. I was least proud of not beating Tulsa or SMU.
B: What do you plan to improve on this offseason?
O: I plan on improving my post game and getting stronger.
B: How was Temple different than high school? Was it a challenging transition?
O: Temple was different because the college game is a lot faster and more physical. It was a challenging transition, but one that got easier as the season went on and as I got more comfortable on the court. Off the court it was a tough transition from high school in terms of keeping up with my schoolwork and all of the traveling that we had to do.
B: What are your personal goals for next season?
O: My personal goal for next season is to step up and be a leader by example on and off the court.
B: What was the most fulfilling victory for you and the team this season?
O: The most fulfilling victory for us was when we beat Kansas at the Wells Fargo Center. We obviously were not expected to win, so beating them by 25 was very fulfilling.
Photo on left courtesy of Obi Enechionyia's twitter
Photo on right courtesy of philly.com
If you're a Temple fan, there's no way you can forget the scrappy and lovable guard, TJ DiLeo. The Temple graduate never did get a chance to consistently start, but he was also a fantastic role player with teams that included standout players such as Khalif Wyatt and Juan Fernandez. DiLeo averaged 2.3 points in his career along with nearly 1 steal per game. However, DiLeo was more than effective, averaging nearly 15 minutes per game in his career, and 19 in his senior season. He was a primary on-ball defender, and provided energy filled minutes off the bench in his time at Temple.
He also played in four NCAA tournaments and along with 126 career games. Unfortunately it was not enough to earn him a ticket to the NBA. Instead, DiLeo transitioned to Europe, playing for the Giessen 46ers in the Pro A league. He has continued his effective career with substantial averages of 10.1 points per game, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
The Empire caught up with DiLeo to ask him questions about his career at Temple and the new life he has found in Europe:
Benjamin Simon: How would you summarize your career at Temple? What were you proud of? What weren't you proud of?
TJ DiLeo: My career at Temple was great. I'm most proud of winning a few A-10 championships, both [in the] regular season and tournament. Also, making it to the NCAA tournament every year was an awesome accomplishment. There's not a lot that I'm not proud of except maybe the losses in the NCAA tournament. The Indiana loss is one that's still on my mind.
B: What skills have you improved on since then?
T: I think I've really improved my feel for the game. Overseas you really have to become a smart basketball player because the game is different. It's more team basketball oriented. There's not so much one on one in the game, and if you don't learn to adapt, it will be difficult. Decisions on the court have to be made faster. You need to know all the different options in any situation, be able to read the defense, then be able to make the decision quickly. There's no holding onto the ball for too long because of the shortened shot clock. If you miss an open man or dribble too many times, the next thing you know the shot clock is at 5 seconds and you have to force up a bad shot. I think I've been able to improve my decision making and feel for the game a lot in my two years here.
B: Tell us a little bit about your basketball experience since Temple.
T: After Temple I signed in the German Pro A with the Giessen 46ers. My first year we made it to the semi finals and lost. I like my experience in Giessen, so I re-signed with them for this season. We finished the season in 3rd place, and we are currently playing in the [finals].
B: What has playing in Germany been like?
T: Playing in Germany has been a good experience for me. First of all, I'm happy to still be able to play basketball for a living. But, Germany has been a pretty easy adjustment for me. The quality of life is great. For the most part, everyone speaks English. The food is similar. Basketball wise, there's not as much travel as in college. Giessen is in the center of Germany so commutes are never too long. For away games, we travel the morning of the game.
B: How is the culture different? How is the basketball different?
T: The culture is not too different here. Like I said above, people speak English and the food is similar. People like American movies, shows, and music. There are a few little things you have to get used to. NOTHING is open on Sundays except fast food and gas stations. At restaurants, you never get free refills. Small stuff like that.
With basketball, obviously there are a few different rules overseas than in college. The shot clock is 24 seconds. The 3 point line is further. You can tip the ball off the rim once it touches the rim. You can't inbound the ball into the backcourt if you're in the front court. The refs call traveling differently. And like I said earlier, the style of play is different. It's more team oriented. There is a focus on spacing, quick passing, and decision making. You see a lot of more skilled big men over here. There aren't those 18-21 year olds that you see in college. These guys are older, more experienced, and more skilled.
B: What is the next step in your career?
T: The next step in my career is to hopefully stay in Germany, and find a good situation where I can get a better contract and continue to make a living.
Picture courtesy of www.giessen46ers.de