Coming into the season, sophomore Obi Enechionyia was expected to play a big role for Temple. It is evident that the 6-foot-9 forward and occasional center has been a key player, but not in a way most people imagined.
He has had his ups and downs this year just like Temple has had as a whole. For a while inconsistency was a theme for Enechionyia. In five of his first nine games, he put up double digits on the scoreboard but he also only had a two point effort against Wisconsin. In one of those double digit efforts, he did have a career-high 25 point night in a loss to St. Joe’s. He made four threes in that game and also in a win against Delaware a few games prior.
After making four of his six threes in the Delaware game, Enechionyia talked about how he wanted to come into the season as the go-to shooter for the Owls. He wanted to be the next Jesse Morgan for Temple, who was that guy last year making threes in crucial moments. He said this despite only shooting 12 of 43 beyond the three-point line last year.
This season however, he would be 18 of 42 just twelve games into this season. He definitely has showed some improvement by making 33 of 84 threes up this point. On the other hand, he has not played the role of the go-to shooter by any means.
That role has belonged to either one of two people, seniors Quenton DeCosey and/or Devin Coleman. DeCosey is shooting over 40% from three and he has hit plenty of timely threes this season when the Owls have needed it the most. Then there’s Devin Coleman. Despite having a three-point percentage just below Enechionyia, Coleman has shot beyond the arc over a hundred times. That shows just how much he has been the main go-to guy this season. Evident by his spectacular 7 of 7 game in the upset of SMU and his three pointer against Tulsa that sent the game to overtime, it appears to be the right idea for Coleman to be the go-to guy. Enechionyia isn’t at that point yet, but he could be that man if he keeps improving his long range shot.
Unfortunately for a while, foul trouble did Enechionyia in and it has not really stopped being an issue. He combined for a total of 19 points in the four games after his 25 point night against St. Joe’s. After that rough stint, head coach Fran Dunphy started him on the bench in hopes of making him more productive every minute he is in the game. It was and still is evident that once he has three fouls under his belt, he is less aggressive on defense and he cannot do a ton on offense either.
For the next five games however, Enechionyia still didn’t produce enough coming off the bench averaging just barely over five points per game. Even with his inconsistency and foul trouble as a starter, he still seemed more comfortable in that role compared to coming off the bench.
Because of a Jaylen Bond injury, he would find his way back into the starting lineup in the upset against SMU, despite his recent struggles. However, he was able to manage eight points. Since then, it can definitely be seen how much more confident Enechionyia is when he is in the starting role. With the help of avoiding serious foul trouble, he has averaged 15.5 points per game in the last four games subsequent to the SMU match.
Though Temple took a bad loss at East Carolina, it was refreshing to see an 18 point effort from Enechionyia. He gave a big second half boost in the Owls close win at South Florida the next game. The same can be said for his 17 point effort in the overtime win against Tulsa and 14 point effort at Central Florida. Temple needed every bit of his effort for them to now have a three game winning streak.The lowest field goal percentage he had in those four games was 40% against ECU, a mark he only hit in two of the tens games prior. He has been much more efficient with the ball taking smarter shots at better times these past few matches, as he has become more comfortable in his role.
For Temple to stay at the top of the American Athletic Conference, they are going to need Enechionyia to be as consistent as he has been lately. Joining players like DeCosey, Coleman, and Josh Brown in players who are beginning to find their groove right now. As a result, Temple may just be able to continue their win streak into a very important stretch of games that includes matchups against Connecticut and #1 Villanova.
Photo: Jenny Kerrigan/The Temple News