The Temple Owls - last year’s American Athletic Conference regular season champions - knew they were losing stars Quenton DeCosey and Jaylen Bond to graduation. But they didn’t know they were also losing their rock of a point guard, Josh Brown. Brown played more minutes than any other AAC player last season, and never once came out of their overtime loss to Iowa in the NCAA Tournament.
But Brown tore his achilles tendon in a pickup game in the off season, and though he’s now practicing again with the team, head coach Fran Dunphy has said that he will not play in New York.
Without Brown’s guidance, Temple has gotten off to a rough 2-2 start, though they are coming off their sharpest game of the year in a blowout win over Manhattan.
The Owls essentially have an 8-man rotation, and are led by two upperclassmen. Obi Enechionyia, a 6-10 junior, and 6-7 senior Daniel Dingle are both matchup problems. The Owls create a lot of interior traffic with screens and misdirection to get the ball to Enechionyia and Dingle in the post, where both are strong and savvy. And then as soon as you get used to looking for them in the post, they’ll flare out for a 3-pt attempt.
Enechionyia (20.8 ppg) is making 50% of his long range attempts, while Dingle (15.3 ppg) is at 35%.
The other player to watch is 6-8 freshman Quinton Rose (9.8 ppg). He’s the most athletic player on their roster, and has made 4-10 3s.
The Owls offense is a lesson in patience, and this will be a battle of tempos. Florida State is the most uptempo team in the ACC and 30th nationally, while Temple is 261st.
The ‘Noles will have to figure out how to match up with Obi Enechionyia while still trying to keep bigs like Michael Ojo and Chris Koumadje on the court.
When FSU has the ball, they’ll need to do their damage in transition. Fran Dunphy’s defenses are designed to stop dribble penetration, and could really cause FSU problems in half court sets. Their interior defense has been stout and they’ve blocked over 19% of opponent’s 2-pt attempts. They’re also the best defensive rebounding team that FSU has faced.
Florida State and Temple are game 1 of the NIT Season Tip Off, and the game will be at 12:30 on Thanksgiving Day, and will be broadcast on ESPNU. Illinois and No. 19 West Virginia are on the other side of the bracket.