Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Temple 80, Kent State 66 (1-0)

A 14 point victory over Kent State in Tuesday's Season Opener showed us a lot about this Temple team.  A mix of good and bad things were on display.  Here is what I took away from the game, along with some first impressions on each player.  We'll do it bullet style....

- First off, welcome back Scootie Randall.  After missing a full season with a knee injury Scootie came out firing.  31 points is something none of us expected.  Boy do I love his shot.  He can get that shot off on anyone.  You could tell he was tiring towards the end of the game and his five turnovers show that he is still a little rusty.  But this game will do wonders for his confidence the rest of the year.  Expectations are really high now.

- First thing I noticed when I turned on the tv is that Temple is a really big team.  Granted, Kent State is a pretty small team, but each Temple player just looked physically bigger at each position.  Even DiLeo looks bigger than 6'3".  Anthony Lee put on some weight and looks powerful underneath.  Pepper is 6'5" and can really leap.  Lots of athleticism and size for this team, that alone will carry them against these weaker teams on the non conference slate.

- Dalton Pepper looked a little lazy to me, like he wasn't aggressive on the defensive or offensive side.  I'm not saying he is a lazy player, maybe he was just a little hesitant in his first game with Temple.  I hope that isn't something that is part of his game.  Like I said earlier, he's a big guy and he plays big, he'll help on the rebounding end for sure.

- Wyatt strained a hammy and didn't get the playing time he would have received.  He still played the way we are us to seeing.  In control, smart, methodical play.  When the game is on the line, he's the guy we want with the ball.  Six assists is something we probably won't see a whole lot this year.

- 19 turnovers really irks me.  It's the first game so sloppiness is to be expected, but they kept making the same mistakes over and over.  Travel, pass without faking a pass first, dribbling into a crowd, things that shouldn't happen as the year goes on.

- Jake O'Brien impessed me today.  All the things I read said that he could rebound and play D, no one said anything about his shot.  Knocking down two threes was something I was not expecting.  If he can stretch the D and provide space for Wyatt and Randall during the year, that will be well received.

- Will Cummings didn't do anything to excite me in the opener.  He's quick, he's smart, just didn't seem like a playmaker.  That 4 on 1 that he botched was poor.  Not down on the guy, I'm still looking forward to a big year, I would just choose to forget about this game if I could.

- If there is one thing that Dunphy has to be giddy about this year, it's the defense.  Each player on the team can lock down their guy on that end.  Randall, Cummings, DiLeo, and Jefferson are top notch defensive players.  Pepper and Wyatt look really good also.  Chaney would have loved to have these guys back in the day.  I wouldn't expect great defensive numbers as far as points a game, but that's because the offense is more fast paced than in years past.  But at the end of the game when a stop is needed, I will feel good about the defense.

- Rahlir looks about the same from last year.  Great garbage player.  He gets the loose ball, rebounds, plays D, moves the ball, but still can't shoot.  Nothing wrong with that though, with the scorers Temple has, he doesn't have to be counted on to score from the outside.

- Anthony Lee had a great game.  The announcer said it best, he just knows how to get open.  If he can continue to hit his free throws and score when given the ball down low, he'll be a huge asset this year.  He needed strength, and it looks like he put a lot of time into that in the offseason.  I have high expectations for him now for the year.

- DiLeo is your glue guy that every team needs.  He hustles like crazy, plays great D, and can hit an open shot when it is there.  Pretty embarrassing at the line though, ha, he needs to fix that.

Overall I give this game a B+ for a season opener.  Good offensive output, good defensive effort, good outcome.  Ball control could use a little work, and it's not a good thing to be outrebounded by a smaller team.  Not a bad thing to blow a lead and have to dig deep and get a win. Every time they are in that position, it helps them grow as a team.  But, obviously it's not a good thing to blow that big of a lead.  So as I said, mostly good, but some bad.  Looking forward to the next one Saturday at home vs. Rice.  Should be another win in front of the home crowd. 

What did you all think of the game?  Any different observations?


Monday, November 12, 2012

Temple Owls 2012-2013 Preview

Another season of Temple Owls Basketball starts Tuesday at noon.  This will be a very interesting season.  The schedule is loaded with big games, and also loaded with some very winnable games.  The roster is the deepest that I have seen in my 20 years of being a fan.  There are 10 players that will get significant time as the season plays out.  This will be my preseason prediction post.  I hope to have a post after every game, or at least after every game that I watch. 

Looking at the schedule, there are a few things that jump out at you.  One, there are a lot of very winnable games on the slate.  Nothing is a gimmie we have learned, but some of these games are pretty close to that.  Rice, Delaware, Wagner, Towson, Alcorn State, and Canisius all at home could help the Owls get out to a quick start.  To me, no road games are gimmies, I don't care who they are.  Temple once again plays some big names in the non conference portion.  Duke, Kansas, and Syracuse will let us know where the team stands early on in this season.  Another thing I noticed was that the team alternates home and away the whole entire conference slate, never seen that before.

As we mentioned before, this roster is deep.  At least ten players will get a chance to play this year, which is something you usually don't get from a Temple team.  Khalif Wyatt will be the team leader on the court.  He has the skills to score over 20 a game and win the A10 player of the year.  His only downfall is his attitude, can be a little heady at times.  But at the same time, what makes him great is his fearlessness.  When the game is on the line, the Owls don't need to worry about someone stepping up, Wyatt will do that.  Senior Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Sophomore Anthony Lee will be returning as starters from last years team.  They will do the dirty work, rebound, play D, and score when given the ball down low.  Probably the most athletic bigs we've seen in awhile.  Scootie Randall returns after missing all of last year.  We hope he comes back the way he was playing when he got hurt.  He is the vocal leader on the team.  TJ Dileo is also a senior and will get big playing time.  His defense is very valuable.  Will Cummings is the man to watch.  He was a top recruit from 2011.  He didn't get much playing time at all last year with Fernandez and Moore playing guard.  All I read is that this kid can play, I'm pumped to see it.  Dalton Pepper and Jake O'Brien will also be in the rotation.  They are transfers and both will play key parts.  Daniel Dingle, Quentin DeCosey, and Devontae Watson are this years freshman class.  Dingle looks to step in right away and make a difference.  Injuries have played a part the last few years, let's hope this year is different.

Let's take a look at the schedule and try to predict what is going to happen.  Remember, I hope they win every game, so I hope my predictions of losses are incorrect, but here is a stab in the dark.

at Kent State   Win, close game, Cummings has a big start.
RICE               Win, home opener, blowout
DELAWARE  Win, another pasting, Randall breaks out with 5 threes
at Buffalo        Win, beatdown on the road, need to send a message after last years near loss
WAGNER       Win, route, Jefferson sets a career high with 20.
at Villanova     Win, Big 5 game, hard fought, Wyatt goes for 30
DUKE              Loss, will be a good game, but as we all know, Owls won't get the calls in the end
TOWSON        Win, close game, tough one after the Duke loss
ALCORN STATE   Win, thrashing, Cummings goes for 25
CANISIUS      Win, close one over the holidays
at Syracuse       Win, huge W, resume builder, Temple beats a top 10 team every year, Scootie is the hero
DETROIT         Win, close one after the Cuse W
BOWLING GREEN     Win, massacre for payback from last years L
at Kansas          Loss, probably a beatdown, tough place to play
at Xavier          Win, down year for Xavier, I'll be there
ST. LOUIS       Win, don't lose conference home games, DiLeo has a big game
at George Washington   Win, don't lose to GW very often
ST. BONAVENTURE   Win, beatdown, Dingle has his breakout game
PENNSYLVANIA         Win, Big 5 game, probably a bit more comfortable than last year
at Butler           Loss, first big conference game for Butler, tough one to take, I will be there
RICHMOND    Win, Anthony Lee with a double double
at St. Joseph's    Loss, God I hate just saying that, but it just has that feeling
CHARLOTTE    Win, probably not close
at Dayton           Loss, I'll be there, Dayton gets every call at home, ha
DUQUESNE      Win, beatdown
at UMASS         Loss, four straight conference road losses
LASALLE          Win, Big 5 game, they played the Owls tough last year, time for payback
at Charlotte         Win, last time we play these guys, not a bad thing
RHODE ISLAND     Win, Rhodey is going to be weak for awhile
at Fordham           Win, starting to roll now
VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH    Win, Senior Day, Wyatt goes for 40

Some notes:  25-6 overall, 12-4 in conference.  Undefeated at home.  Wyatt averages over 20 a game.  Wyatt first team all Conference.  Cummings and Randall second team all conference.  Dingle Newcomer of the year.  Cummings A10 Most Improved.

Postseason prediction.  You can laugh, I am, this is total guessing...

A10 First Round win over Butler
Semi Final loss to UMASS

5 Seed vs. Seton Hall, Win
Second Round vs. Michigan, Win
Kansas Sweet 16, Loss

28-8 Overall
Sweet 16 Appearance

Agree?  Ya, I don't agree either, I guess I'll just have to watch the games.  I'm ready for this season, should be a good one.


Khalif Wyatt