Temple, Philly Hoop Group Underwhelm at Palestra


After a relatively uneventful 20-point beatdown
of Ball State Tuesday night, Temple headed into the "Championship
Round" of the third annual Philly Hoop Group Classic with aspirations
of sneaking in the Top 25, having received their first votes of the season last
week. An 11-point win over Virginia Tech Friday coupled with the losses of #20
Illinois, #22 Minnesota and #23 Notre Dame all to unranked opponents left room
for the Cherry & White at the bottom of the polls if they could manage a
successful outing versus St John's just 24-hours later. Unfortunately, Dunph
and the boys weren't so successful.Uploaded by Amy VanDerhei

An ugly 55-48 loss to the Red Storm should have
come as no surprise after the team's lackluster effort against VaTech.

A night
marred by poor shooting, poorer ball handling and yet even poorer
officiating, Lavoy Allen's 18-point, 10 rebound performance was all that separated Temple
from losing to the surprisingly disappointing Hokies. Despite
"balanced" scoring from the rest, no other Owl had more than 8 points.
Trailing briefly in the first, Temple closed the door with a 21-6 run in the second. Nevertheless, the team finished 4-18 from
behind the arc, a staggeringly awful 22%. At the other end, VT Junior guard Malcolm Delaney dropped 32; attributing for 2/3 of his team's overall production and 28 of their 33 second half points, the explosive scorer is surely moving up some NBA Draft boards.

As if Temple's totals weren't bad enough against the Delaneys, the Owls followed up with a 28.1
FG% Saturday, jacking 14 three-pointers and producing an even worse
percentage than the night before--21.4. Ignoring their issues from long-range,
the Owls converted only 19 second chance points despite retrieving an
impressive 17 offensive rebounds.
 Believing his team was out-worked by a
hungrier opponent, Coach Dunphy offered, "I think it's a
statement all good teams want to make, that you're mentally and physically
tough, and I didn't think we were tough either way." You'll find no
argument here.

To be fair, the Owls were without starting
center Michael Eric, who sprained his MCL early in the Ball State game. Leaving
after only thirteen minutes, Eric hasn't seen the floor since and the date of
his return remains a question. Though usually dismissed as an expendable role
player, the 6'11 Sophomore represents an importance to Dunphy's usual in-game strategy:
starting big and focusing on individual match-ups as the game progresses. Forced, instead, to
start the enigmatic Craig Williams, less of a true "four" and more of
a perimeter threat contrary to his tremendous size, Temple (in)effectively
started small and stayed small. Firing and missing early set the tone for
remainder of both games—firing and missing often. Eric's absence in
no small way shows how susceptible this team is to injury and highlights their lack of depth inside.

Back in action Tuesday night in Kalamazoo, the Owls return home Saturday for an afternoon tilt against the 66th best team in Division I last year. Puck Fenn State.

Nick Menta is a Junior at Temple University and a proud member of the Cherry Crusade.

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