Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Temple Basketball, One Month In...

Here we are, a month into the season.  Some players on the roster are playing like we thought they would be and others have left a lot to be desired.  Some have earned more playing time, others are looking for someone else to get their minutes.  The record is pretty much exactly what we thought it would be at this juncture.  Here are my thoughts on the first month and what I think will happen in the next month of the season.

First let's take a look at the veterans...

KHALIF WYATT - Wyatt has been a disappointment so far this season.  Not a huge dissapointment but he definitely hasn't lived up to the earlier season hype.  His shooting has been abysmal.  For whatever reason, he can't just take a normal open shot.  He has to create a leaner, or pump fake and lean into a guy, or kick his leg when he is wide open.  Cmon man, just knock down the shot, you can show your man up or whatever, after it goes in.  I know the leaners and drawing the foul is a major part of his game, but if he doesn't start knocking down shots, who is going to fall for his pump fake?  Some were saying he is playing lazy, I don't agree with that, it's just his style of game.  When he plays methodical and plays well, no one calls him lazy, so I'm not going to go there just yet.  And the first few games he had good assists totals which is nice to see.  The scary thing I noticed in the Duke game is that the Owls seemed to play better when Wyatt was on the bench, I hope that doesn't become the norm.  Overall we'll give him a C on the year.

SCOOTIE RANDALL - Expectations were all over the board on Scootie coming into this year.  If you ask me, he has exceeded expectations.  He is a vocal leader on the court, he can get his shot off at any time, and he can rebound as well as anyone on the team.  He doesn't look like he is out of basketball shape either,  which was the one thing I was worried about.  He is averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds a game and if you ask me, he'll end up averaging more points than that by the end of the season.  We'll give him an A on the first month.

RAHLIR HOLLIS-JEFFERSON - Rahlir is Rahlir, if you watch the games, you know what I mean.  He rebounds with the best of them, he plays harder defense than anyone on the floor, he can score garbage points when the opportunity is there.  But when he takes an open jumper or when someone passes him the ball on the run, you can't help but yell out, NOOOOO!!!!  I have been impressed by his blocking skills though, he's improved there.  Overall, I'm happy with his start, 10/8 is what we can hope for.  Grade B

TJ DILEO - Same as Rahlir, TJ is what he is and he knows his role.  He's been doing a good job of knocking down the open shot and guarding the best guard when he is on the floor.  He's not going to create his own shot or anything but I feel comfortable when he is open.  20 minutes a game, five points a game, we'll take that all day out of your six man.  Grade B

The two starting sophomores.....

ANTHONY LEE - Very, very, pleasantly surprised by Anthony Lee in this first month.  Dude learned how to score.  I figured he would be able to rebound and block shots, but I didn't think he would be that good of a finisher.  10 points a game to go along with 7 boards is a plus for this team, especially with the capable shooters on the roster.  If he keeps this up, he could be A10 Most Improved Player.  He just needs to stay out of foul trouble, his aggressiveness could hurt him in some road A10 games where getting into foul trouble is easier.  Grade for him will be an A.

WILL CUMMINGS - Will has been the second biggest disappointment so far, behind Wyatt.  You can see his ability, his quicks, his basketball IQ, but he just hasn't put it together.  The fact that he is getting less minutes than Dileo shows you what Dunphy thinks about him right now also.  I think he'll turn it around, with every game he gets more experience.  Look for him to get some serious minutes in the next few games against these cupcakes, get him some more game experience.  Grade so far is a D.

First year players....

JAKE O'BRIEN - I like this dudes game and I like his confidence.  His 11 threes are second on the team, and he's shooting them at 43%.  He is also averaging almost three rebounds a game in less than 18 minutes.  He gives Dunphy the chance to provide matchup problems for the opponents that most teams can't offer.  If Dunphy wants to go big he can move Rahlir to the 3 and have O'Brien and Lee down low.  I see Jake getting over 20 minutes a game during conference season.  I give him a B so far on the season.

DALTON PEPPER - Lukewarm on Dalton.  During the Duke game he was shooting with confidence and because of that he was hustling, playing defense, and aggressively rebounding.  I was worried about his lack of effort but it looks like he was just playing tentative earlier in the season, which I guess I can understand.  He's only getting 12 minutes a game, I don't see that going up very much.  Probably won't get any crunch time minutes.  I'll give him a C so far.

QUENTIN DECOSEY - The reason Pepper will lose minutes?  Because QDC will be taking them.  This dude just oozes confidence.  And man can he shoot.  I worry that his ego could get the best of him.  But I don't think it will, being cocky and confident in a reserve role is a good thing if you ask me.  He's 6'5" too so he can play the 1, 2, or 3.  Looking for big things from him.  Grade A so far.

DEVONTAE WATSON - Loved his dunk in a blowout with the clock running out in the first game against Kent State.  Ha.  Grade A.

DANIEL DINGLE - Grade F, only because I was told all offseason that he would be getting minutes.  But obviously, he's still going to be a plus for this program.

A few too many close games early in the season against bad schools if you ask me, or anyone else that follows Temple basketball.  But in the end, they were all wins, and really that's all that matters this early.  I just continue to be amazed at how Dunphy's teams can blow any kind of lead.  They were up huge against Kent and let them come back and tie it up.  Against Rice, Delaware, and Wagner at home they were up the whole game and could never pull away until the end.  If just one of those teams gets hot and pulls out the win, this team would be a huge disappointment.  The win against Villanova was good, Nova was hot early and Temple just stayed with them and showed their talent advantage in the second half to run away with that one. 

The Duke game deserves its own paragraph.  I actually felt good about this team when that game ended.  Duke hit 13 three's and Temple didn't get a free throw until 8 minutes left in the game.  The fact that they were down 11 with 6 minutes to go is a good sign when a top tier team is hitting shots like that.  Heck, if a few more fall for Temple, that could have been a single digit game going into the final five minutes, can't really ask for much more than that in a "road" game.  As I said earlier, the worst part about that game is that it seemed like the team was better with Wyatt off the floor, I don't like that.  So after the first seven games, I'll give the team a B-.  Record is where it should be, but the domination over the cupcakes isn't.

In the next four weeks the team will face five very, very winnable games at home.  These should be no doubters but I'm sure they won't be.  Temple needs to bury a couple of these teams to remind themselves that they have that ability.  In the middle of these games is the Syracuse game.  At the end is the last nonconference game at Kansas.  Personally, I think this team will win the Syracuse game.  They have the talent, they have the confidence, and every year they beat one of these teams.  Who will get hot and take over?  We had Dionte against Tennessee, Juan against Villanova, Ramone against Georgetown, Wyatt against Duke.  Will it be Scootie?  Or possibly O'Brien hitting a few treys?  Either way, I'm guessing the Kansas game is a blowout, and not the good kind. 

So if this goes as I'm predicting, the Owls will be 12-2 heading into A10 play with a win over a top 10 team.  I think we would all be ok with that.  Let me know what you all think.  Until next time, thanks for reading.


Khalif Wyatt

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dr. Brackets First Edition

Today is the first big college basketball Saturday of the year.  With no college football it is the first chance for fans to really check out some teams and see what all the fuss is about.  We can all go check the rankings and see where the national media thinks everyone stands but we all know that is just a waste of time.  Most rankings are just based on school history, a couple big wins, offseason recruiting, and other things that really have nothing to do with how the team is actually playing.  In this blog we are going to try something different.  My buddy Mike Witte (AKA Dr. Brackets) has come out with his first edition of what the seedings could look like come March Madness time.  I'll write out what he has and I'll just make some notes on whether I agree or whether he should ever get mentioned on this blog again.  I figure I'll just call my self Brackets M.D. for this one.

Here is Dr. Brackets seeds....

1. Duke, Syracuse, Indiana, Michigan

Well those are pretty good picks except for one.  Syracuse isn't going to be that great this year, they lost some good players and like usual, they don't play anyone in nonconference so they are hard to get a read on.  Duke is really good, Michigan have some sick athletes, and Indiana has experience and smart players.

2.  Kansas, Louisville, Arizona, Florida

From what I've seen early in the year, Florida would be my other one seed.  They are tough, have shooters and big men.  Arizona is suppose to be better, but they haven't really done much lately, they'll have to prove it to me, I'd have them a lot further down.  Louisville will be there in the end and so will Kansas.

3.  Cincinnati, Illinois, Ohio State, New Mexico

Cincy looks to be a good team this year, they have some good wins already, I could see this happening.  Ohio State to me will be a two seed, they are tough all around and Craft can rape a guy and not get a foul called on him.  I'm willing to bet some good money that Illinois doesn't even get a single digit seed.  They haven't played anyone this year and they just flat out aren't good.  They play at Gonzaga tonight, it's going to be a massacre.  The Lobo's are a sexy pick, I like it.

4. Gonzaga, Georgetown, Minnesota, Michigan State

Gonzaga will probably end up seeded higher.  They'll have a great regular season record which will warrant a high seed.  Georgetown is tough, and with a down Big East this year, they could get enough wins to get there.  Michigan State, meh, it doesn't matter, they'll be in the Final Four when it is all said and done.  Minnesota is an interesting gamble pick, they have beat San Diego State, Memphis, and FSU so maybe you are on to something here.

5.  Notre Dame, Missouri, Alabama, Oklahoma State

I feel ok about all of these picks.  Top 20 teams, ya, but I think Oklahoma State has a pretty high ceiling.  Big 12 isn't all that great this year so they could get some wins to vault themselves up higher.  I'm seeing a freefall from Mizzou compared to last year.

6.  Temple, San Diego State, Colorado, Wichita State

I'm really high on Colorado and Wichita State this year.  Both teams could get a top 4 seed.  Temple will be interesting, they don't have a great team, but they have a deep roster with lots of experience so they will win the games they should win.  San Diego State has been underachieving this year, they might not live up to the hype.

7.  North Carolina State, Miami, Oregon, Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech will falter like every year, and they have beat no one this year.  Oregon has a really good homecourt advantage.  NC State will probably end up around here, they have more talent, but don't play as a team.  Miami, ugggh, they suck.

8.  Pittsburgh, UNLV, Creighton, St. Joseph's

Creighton will end up with a top five seed.  McDermott is a stud, the next Larry Bird.  St. Joe's will barely get in the tourney, they are wayyyy overrated.  UNLV and Pitt are middle of the road teams so that makes sense.

9.  Kentucky, Baylor, Memphis, Maryland

Whoa, Kentucky as a nine seed???  They will be at least a four, SEC is weak, they'll get hot.  Memphis also, CUSA is weak, they'll get hot.  Baylor?????  They are in the top tier in the nation, they'll be a top 4 seed also.  Did you just try to hide these teams down here to see if anyone read this far???

10.  Kansas State, Oregon State, Stanford, North Carolina

UNC at 10?  What?  Ya, they won't be as good as usual, but they'll be a top 4 seed when it is all said and done.  The others could go up or miss the dance altogether, enigmas.

11.  Xavier, Southern Miss, Iowa State, Wyoming

Iowa State misses the dance altogether, Wyoming is an up and comer.  Xavier, who the hell knows, I actually think they take a big step back this year.  Might even miss the dance.  How do you lose to Vandy?

12.  Ohio, Virginia, VCU, George Mason, Northwestern, Butler

VCU will be a top seed, they have some freak athletes.  OU, my alma mater, should make the tourney but they are so damn inconsistent.  They have their whole team back, but if you lose a few games, you have to win the tourney, and they could lose to a hot team.  I just don't know about them.  Butler is going to struggle in the A10 this year, but they could make it.  Northwestern for the first time?  I can dig that.

13.  Murray State, Davidson, Bucknell, Utah State

WHAT????  Just kidding, who knows about these teams.  Murray State should be the class of their conference with Canaan coming back and Davidson is always solid.  Probably will win their conferences.

14.  Hawaii, Illinois-Chicago, Iona, Western Kentucky

Hilltoppers are the shit.  What was that dudes name from Iona a couple of years ago that was a stud?  Hawaii, either way, they'll have to travel.

15.  Stephen F Austin, Weber State, Harvard, South Dakota State

Harvard is the class of the Ivy.  Weber State is in Utah, met some chics in Vegas that went there, fun times.  Who is Stephen F Austin?  Have you ever in your life met someone from South Dakota?

16.  Florida Gulf Coast, Gardner Webb, Norfolk State, Robert Morris, Stony Brook, Texas Southern

Robert Morris owns the Bobcats of Ohio, I do know that.  Don't know much more about these teams, just that for some reason they are division 1 schools.

Glaring ommissions.....

Wisconsin, Marquette, Colorado State, UCLA, and St. Mary's.

We'll be back at the beginning of conference play with the second edition.  What are your thoughts?  Thanks for reading, enjoy the season.