Overall Rank: #115
Conference Rank: #8 Atlantic 10
2008-09: 22-12, 11-5
2008-09 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Fran Dunphy (55-43 at Temple, 365-216 overall)
Heading into the 2008-2009 season everybody was wondering how Temple would get along without superstar Mark Tyndale. Of course they had Dionte Christmas to take over the team and he did just that, leading the Owls back to the NCAA Tournament. But now Coach Fran Dunphy’s squad lacks that proven go-to-scorer, but there certainly are options.
Key Losses: G Dionte Christmas, G Semaj Inge, C Sergio Olmos
Wings Rahlir Jefferson and Khalif Wyatt are not going to replace Christmas’ 19.5 points per game, but they will be asked to help out. Jefferson, a 6-5 Chester, Pennsylvania product, has the most potential. He is an extremely versatile player who will score around the basket, hit the glass hard and even handle the ball. When he is at the three spot, he will have an easy time dribbling around most defenders. Wyatt is a decent shooter who should provide a spark off the bench.
Christmas is obviously the big loss on the perimeter, but point guard Semaj Inge is gone too. Yet, unlike Christmas, Inge has a replacement in the waiting. Juan Fernandez played the second half of his freshman season and did a great job off of the bench. The Argentinean dished out 2.7 assists per game while averaging under 20 minutes. He is a smart player who will keep the turnovers down. How well he does as a leader of this team remains to be seen, but Fernandez definitely has the tools to turn into a superstar. While Fernandez takes over the point guard duties, it will be up to Ryan Brooks to take over the team. The 6-4 senior tallied 10.6 points per game last year and it will be up to him to keep the defense stretched out with his outside shooting ability.
The now departed Sergio Olmos rarely put up big numbers, but he was a steady force under the basket and a menace on the defensive end of the floor. Despite the lack of flash, he still averaged 8.4 points per game and his departure leaves a gaping 7-0, 220 pound hole in the middle of the paint. Junior Craig Williams is a bulky 6-9 forward, but he is not as effective of a scorer as Olmos was, although the team’s rebounding, at least out of the frontcourt, should improve if Williams can handle more minutes without getting into too much foul trouble.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt did find a star last year when Lavoy Allen emerged as a great scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. Allen averaged 10.9 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks as a sophomore and has room to grow. His offensive game is dynamic since he can score around the basket and step out and consistently hit the mid-range jumper. The question is how effective will he be without Olmos by his side? If Williams can improve or sophomore Michael Eric emerges as a scoring threat, Allen should put up good numbers. However, without a shot blocking threat like Olmos under the basket, Allen may not get the opportunity to block as many shots as he did last season.
Temple could be a pretty good team if Coach Fran Dunphy can fill in some holes. Allen, Brooks and Fernandez are a good core to build around, but this Temple team needs to find two other starters and at least a couple players who can fill some minutes off the bench. Are the freshmen up to that job or are the sophomores ready to step up and play a much bigger role? In what promises to be a tough and tight Atlantic 10 conference, the Owls will not have much time to figure it out.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Juan Fernandez, Sophomore, Guard, 5.5 points per game
Ryan Brooks, Senior, Guard, 10.6 points per game
Rahlir Jefferson, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Lavoy Allen, Junior, Forward, 10.9 points per game
Craig Williams, Junior, Forward, 5.3 points per game