Top 68 Team Previews: #14 Temple Owls
Ramone Moore led Temple in scoring last season with 15.2 points per game. (Icon SMI)
By Ryan Feldman
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Last Season: 26-8 (14-2)
Key Losses: Lavoy Allen
Head Coach: Fran Dunphy
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Juan Fernandez 6-4 Sr.
SG: Ramone Moore 6-4 Sr.
SF: Scootie Randall 6-6 Sr.
PF: Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson 6-6 Jr.
C: Micheal Eric 6-11 Sr.
Key Reserves: Khalif Wyatt 6-4 Jr. SG, Will Cummings 6-1 Fr. PG, Anthony Lee 6-9 Fr. PF, T.J. DiLeo 6-3 Jr. PG, Aaron Brown 6-5 So. SG
Fran Dunphy finally got over the hump with his first NCAA tournament win in 17 years. After a dramatic NCAA tournament win over Penn State in the 2011 NCAA tournament, the Owls fell to San Diego State in double overtime. But after losing just one key player, Temple hopes to be even more successful in 2011-12.
The one key player the Owls lost is Lavoy Allen, Temple's all-time leading rebounder. He provided stability down low for the Owls on both ends of the court. Replacing Allen will be tough, especially at the defensive end. But with a plethora of guards returning and a hopefully healthy Micheal Eric – who missed the final 10 games of the season with a fractured right patella – to fill in for Allen down low, the Owls have the talent and experience to be even better than last season. The strength of their team will be in the backcourt, where they have a slew of reliable options, including 6-foot-4 senior Juan Fernandez, 6-foot-4 senior Ramone Moore, 6-foot-6 senior Scootie Randall and 6-foot-4 junior Khalif Wyatt.
Fernandez and Moore will start at point guard and shooting guard, respectively. Fernandez is coming off a disappointing junior year where most of his stats dipped off due to a nagging knee injury. Moore is coming off a breakout season where he led the Owls in scoring with 15.2 points per game.
The combination of Fernandez, Moore, Randall, Wyatt, 6-foot-5 sophomore Aaron Brown, 6-foot-3 junior TJ DiLeo and 6-foot-1 freshman Will Cummings gives Temple not only the best backcourt in the Atlantic 10 but one of the better backcourts in the country.
Moore and Randall are the Owls' best scorers. The two of them are also the team's best 3-point shooters. When Moore and Randall were at their best, the Owls were nearly unbeatable in the Atlantic 10 last year. But Randall suffered a foot injury that prevented him from playing in seven of the final nine games.
After Randall fully recovered from his foot injury, he suffered another setback in June when he tore his meniscus. That required surgery and now Randall is still rehabbing. Dunphy expects Randall to miss the beginning of this season while he continues to rehab his knee.
Wyatt emerged last season as one of the team's best scorers. He led the team by shooting over 42 percent from 3-point range. Wyatt gives the Owls yet another terrific scoring option on the wings.
Brown and DiLeo excel on the defensive end. Cummings is a fast, athletic guard who can get past defenders to the rim. Cummings has the potential to become a star at Temple, but he may have a hard time finding lots of playing time as a freshman because there are so many capable returning guards.
Joining Eric in the frontcourt will be Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, a 6-foot-6 forward that averaged 5.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Jefferson is a long, athletic combo forward that specializes on the defensive end. He didn't make a single 3-pointer last season and only shot 55.7 percent from the free throw line, but he can score inside and knock down mid-range jumpers.
While Randall is out, Wyatt will fill in for him in the starting lineup along with Fernandez, Moore, Eric and Hollis-Jefferson. Brown, DiLeo and Cummings will provide depth in the backcourt, while 6-foot-9 redshirt freshman Anthony Lee will back up Jefferson and Eric in the frontcourt. Lee sat out last season because of a back injury, but he will certainly be counted on to contribute significantly this season.
Certainly the loss of Allen doesn't help, but with the depth and experience they have returning this season, the Owls have a chance to win the A-10 and build off last year's NCAA tournament success to make an even deeper run. Injuries really hurt the Owls last season. If they can stay healthy this season (once Randall returns), their talented backcourt may carry the Owls to their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2001.