Temple Midseason Report
Offensive Identity: There is no urgency amongst Temple Owls’ backcourt. No rush.
With floor spacing out of a coach’s fantasy, the Owls each have plenty of room to operate. Lavoy Allen and Michael Eric screen to open up Ryan Brooks and Juan Fernandez. When Brooks starts flying around the screens, trouble is on the way.
Temple fans surely remember both Dionte Christmas and Mardy Collins fondly. Nationally, both deserved the occasional attention that wandered their way. Brooks (15.5 ppg), a relative unknown to the nation at large, recently elevated his play to comparable levels.
Brooks put up at least 20 points against Villanova, Seton Hall, Xavier, UMass, Delaware, and Charlotte. His 22 points and seven rebounds helped Temple hand Xavier its first and currently only A-10 loss.
The Owls demonstrate enviable patience, constantly seeking a better shot. The three-guard combination of Brooks, Fernandez, and Luis Guzman takes most the shots, but remains unflappably unselfish. All three guards, along with junior starter Allen, have dished out over 50 assists for the year.
Coach Fran Dunphy must be the envy of every coach in America with Allen on his squad. Allen’s skill set is as handy as an Allen wrench, rebounding high above the rim, converting in the paint, and sinking nearly 85 percent of his free throws in A-10 action.
“I think in so many games this year we have really good performances off the bench,” said Dunphy. “I think that is what you need going forward. We have got some really good contributions off the bench and we are going to need that to be successful.”
The bench players feel a certain pride in contributing to this Top 25 team.
“I think it is really important for myself, and Scootie (Randall), and Rahlir (Jefferson) coming off the bench doing a good job, bringing energy,” said Ramone Moore.
The Owls’ vision appears true to legend. As a team the FT% hovers on high, 76 percent through the conference season. Only 13 teams in the nation maintain a higher conference FT%. The recipe for closing out teams includes a dash of steady guard play–which Guzman, Fernandez, and Brooks provide–along with handfuls of converted free throws.
Defensive Identity: Eric and Allen form a nice inside tandem on the defensive end. They both have good length and agility. Eric does not know where to get his points yet, but can always keep his man frustrated on the other end.
Making his job even easier defending the paint are the guards Brooks and Guzman who double down furtively. Any time a big takes too long getting into his pivot or post move, a Temple guard gets in his pocket with a disrupting arm.
“You need guys coming off the bench really doing a good job playing their role defensively,” Dunphy added.
The guards are not individually outstanding deterrents, but like Voltron, their sum is greater than their parts. They play like a team that spent offseason months together on a trust course, sharing ropes and blindly falling into each others’ arms. Help defense is an assumption with Temple, not an idyllic dream.
“Just play defense and get stops,” Eric said after disposing of LaSalle at home. “That is the motto all season.”