Temple Men’s Basketball: Owls off to a Fast Start in Dunphy’s Final Year

The Temple Owls will soon experience something at the end of the season that they’ve only experienced 4 times in the last 60 years, and that’s a coaching change. At the end of the season head coach, Fran Dunphy will be stepping down after 12 years at the helm. Temple alum and former NBA player Aaron McKie will take over the head coaching duties next season. But Temple isn’t having a pity party and so far look to be sending Fran out with a bang.

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Temple came into this season unranked, but that was to be expected. The team finished last season with a 17-16 record, ending up 7th in the conference. They suffered a stretch of 6 losses in 7 games midway through conference play which derailed their season. Temple then lost in the second round of the American Athletic Conference (AAC) tournament, and would eventually lose to Penn State in the first round of the NIT (National Invitation Tournament).

This season Temple has shot out of the gates and is off to one of the best starts in years. The Owls finished non-conference play with a 10-2 record. One of their losses came in Brooklyn against VCU during the GOTPRINT.COM tournament. The game was a nail-biter that came down to the end. Their other loss on the year came on the road against Big 5 rival Villanova. A game in which Temple actually led midway through the 2nd half but ultimately fell to the Wildcats. Other than those two blemishes, Temple has looked very good. They are a perfect 5-0 at home and 3-1 against Big 5 opponents with UPenn still on their schedule. The team has also defeated 3 teams (California, Missouri, Georgia) from power 5 conferences.

Leading the charge for the Owls is their two-headed attack of Quinton Rose and Shizz Alston Jr. Both guys lead the team in scoring with Alston Jr. at 19.3 ppg and Rose at 16.3 ppg. Shizz is in his senior year while Rose is still a junior, however, both players are expected put their names in for the draft at the conclusion of the season. What makes these two such a lethal combo is their ability to score from just about anywhere on the court. Rose is a 6-8 guard with a long wingspan. He’s tall enough to get his shot up over smaller guards and quick enough to get past bigger defenders. For Shizz, when his jumper is falling, it’s going to be a long night for the defense.

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The X-factor for this team so far is without a doubt, Nate Pierre-Louis. He’s averaging 11.9 ppg but it’s not his work on offense that catches your attention, but his work on defense. If you watch him play you understand why he is one of the best on-ball defenders in all of college basketball. He’s not afraid of any challenge and will more often than not pick up full court. He’s currently averaging just over 2 steals per game.

Although the Owls are off to a hot start they’ll have their work cut out for them once conference play starts. Houston and Cincinnati once again look to be the favorites in the American this year. Not to mention UCF, Tulsa and USF will prove to be challenging foes as well. That being said, Temple has the talent to compete with just about anyone and might have what it takes to make a little noise come tournament time. Their first conference game is on the road against UCF on January 2nd.

Do you like the way the Temple Owls have started out in 2018-19? Leave a comment below.

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