We covered the bare basics with Temple in the Old Spice Classic Primer earlier today, but we decided we needed to know more about Temple hoops before our Thanksgiving date in Orlando. So we brought in Owlified from the Owl's Nest to talk up his talented top 25 worthy squad and fill in all the details. Check it out (our answers to his questions should appear on his site sometime before tomorrow's contest).
1. With Coach Litwack and Coach Chaney having coached at Temple, obviously there's a tradition of long-tenured coaches making the Hall of Fame from Temple - will Coach Dunphy join them?
Coaches Litwack and Chaney are two of the greatest college basketball coaches that there ever were. Coach Litwack is credited with creating the innovative "zone defense". As the head coach, Litwack guided the Owls to two NCAA Final Fours, an NIT Championship, and accomplished much more during his 21 years and 373 victories. Coach John Chaney brought Temple to the national recognition that Temple is truly known for. 17 NCAA tournament appearances (five elite eights, eight second rounds, four first rounds). The Owls went to a post season tournament in all but one year under Coach Chaney. To honest, both of these guys achieved more than can even be mentioned. Both of course are in the Naismith and Big 5 Basketball Hall of Fame.
You look now at what Coach Dunphy has accomplished not only the last four years at Temple, but also before at Penn. At the helm here, Dunph has taken this team to four straight Atlantic 10 Championships and NCAA Tournament births. We have been extremely fortunate to have such high profile coaches, and I do not have any objection to adding another name such as Coach Dunphy's to any prestigious list.
All three of these coaches have put Temple in the national spotlight.
2. Say I didn't know anything about Temple Basketball 2010-11 edition (this is mainly true) - who do I need to know about? What's the style of play? Who are the engines of this team?
Well, prepare for some Philly hoops! You're about to face the 22nd best team in the nation, which looks to be arguably the best of Coach Dunphy's in the four years that he has been here. Led by senior Lavoy Allen
and junior Juan Fernandez
, this team has high hopes of breaking through the first round of the tournament and wreaking havoc over almost any team in the country.
A bit about our key three players:
Forward Lavoy Allen is an absolute animal in the paint that averaged a double-double for the Owls last season. He is a smooth player who can either put up a soft touch on the block or even step back to foul line range and drill one. In addition, he is quite the defender. He causes plenty of problems for the opposition down low, and does a nice job cleaning up the boards.
Junior Juan Fernandez is the floor general of this team, controlling the point. He played shooting guard last year, and is probably the deadliest long-range shooter on this team. His ball handling skills are pretty good, which makes it pretty tough for defenders to force turnovers on the dribble. Juan sees the floor as good as any point guard out there, and scores style points all the time with some of the passes that he dishes out.
Junior guard Ramone Moore
is the "scorer" of this team. Reason I put that in quotes is because he's the guy that's looking to score on you before anything else. He represents the Philly of this team, beating his defenders one on one to the hole, or pulling up for a jumper.
3. Mark Macon, Eddie Jones, Aaron McKie, Mardy Collins - is there anyone on the current team who will join those 4 in the Association?
Next to join that group will be Lavoy Allen. In fact, he was considering entering the draft and forgoing his senior year. Allen was actually part of the USA Select Team that competed against the US National team this past summer, and had the opportunity to play with some of the best at both the collegiate and professional level.
4. How important is winning the Big 5? Do you support Drexel joining? (Also, explain for our readers who probably don't know - exactly what is the Big 5 and a short history of Philly college hoops)
Well, here's the history of the Big 5: In 1955 the five major colleges in Philadelphia's rich basketball talent. It's a unique tradition in college basketball that no other city can truly relate to. The teams that compose the Big 5 are La Salle, Penn, St. Joe's, Temple, and Villanova. Every year each team plays the others at least once. Temple ends up playing against La Salle and St. Joe's twice because they are in the same conference.
The Big 5 is all about being the best team in Philadelphia. It's a fun tradition that showcases what Philadelphia basketball is all about. There are a number of rivalries inside the Big 5, including Temple/Villanova, Temple/St. Joe's, and VIllanova/St. Joe's. La Salle considers St. Joe's it's rival, and who could hate on Penn?
A unique fact is that at least one team from the Big 5 has made it to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last 33 years.
Last year's Big 5 Champion was Temple.
Do I support Drexel joining? Not the Big Five. They're in the "City 6".
5. Who would you like to punch in the face?
Can I choose two people? They'd be Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright and St. Joe's HC Phil Martelli.
6. With Brooks and Guzman graduated who steps up to handle the ball and take over the scoring?
As I mentioned above, Juan Fernandez has moved to his natural position of point guard. He played it back in Argentina and as part of the National U-19 team there. Ramone Moore and Fernandez will continue to pick up the scoring that was left behind by Brooks. Players like center Micheal Eric, forward Rahlir Jefferson, and guard Scootie Randall have also stepped in and made bigger contributions to the points category this year.
One thing that we will definitely miss from both of these guys is the defensive pressure they both brought. Last year, the Owls were statistically one of the best defensive teams in the country. Losing your top defender in Ryan Brooks as well as the pressure that Guzman brought hurt, but there are a number of guys that will also step it up here.
7. How much does it hurt losing Williams to injury?
Eh, in my opinion it doesn't hurt too much. Williams was a big body that played outside the perimeter on offense, and really didn't stand out defensively. It hurts because it means that Allen and Eric will have less breaks and extended minutes, but at the same time I think these team can play at a faster pace without him. Williams was a pretty reliable shooter from beyond the arc, and that's what we're going to be missing without him. Very unfortunate that he's been banged up.
8. Fran Dunphy has been there longer than I thought - any comparison to his coaching style versus John Chaney?
Coach Chaney used to like to slow things down on offense and set up the offense. Coach Dunphy lets his players push the pace and attack the defense. On the other side of the ball, Coach Chaney was known for his matchup zone. He'd very rarely leave it. Coach Dunphy likes the man-to-man, which allows us to focus on specific player matchups.
9. Do you still use that fabled match-up zone?
Coach Dunphy has moved on from the zone, and likes to pressure inside of the three point line with the man-to-man.
10. What type of defensive strategy would you use to stop your team? What would you try to exploit on offense?
It's really tough to defend this team because we are extremely balanced. We don't necessarily favor the guard play over the post play. It all comes down to how we size up against the opponent.
The best way to stop is is to make us turn the ball over and force jumpshots. Make Lavoy Allen a nonfactor, and limit Juan Fernandez's play up top. If one guy is not hot on the team, then three others will step up and find ways to produce on offense. It's such a diverse team.
11. Besides stud forward Lavoy Allen, who else is going to torment us all night?
Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez will cause the Golden Bears a lot of problems. Watch out!
We thank Owlified for his fine answers, and here's to a great Thanksgiving tilt on the hardwood!