2012-13 Season Preview: Temple Owls

Temple guard T.J. DiLeo (left) looks to drive against teammate Khalif Wyatt (right) as Devontae Watson sets a pick. (Photo: Julie Smith)

Anthony Bellino (@Bellino_Anthony)

Last season Temple once again qualified for the NCAA tournament, but was beaten by South Florida in the round of 64. While Temple may have lost three of their most important players from last year’s squad, Fran Dunphy has put together one of the deepest rosters in recent memory. The Owls were picked fourth in the preseason Atlantic 10 Conference polls and will likely come into the season, their final in the conference looking to go out with a bang.

Temple Owls Season Primer
Coach: Fran Dunphy, 7th season (134-65, .673)

Last Year: 24-8 (13-3 Atlantic 10 Conference); Lost in A 10 tournament quarterfinal (Massachusetts, 77-71), NCAA round of 64 (South Florida, 58-44)

Key Losses: Michael Eric (9.0 ppg, 8.8 rpg), Juan Fernandez (11.1 ppg, 3.8 apg)Ramone Moore (17.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
Eric, Fernandez and Moore were all contributors at different times during the 2011-12 campaign for the Owls.  Moore led the team in scoring and was selected as a first team all-Atlantic 10 Conference performer.  Fernandez contributed in all four of his seasons at Temple, as a senior he was named third team all-A 10. Fernandez finished his career with 1,247 points and 422 assists. Eric missed 13 games as a senior with a fractured patella; he still went on to lead the Owls in rebounding with 8.8 per contest.

New Faces: Daniel Dingle (Bronx, NY. /St. Raymond’s), Quenton DeCosey (Union, NJ./St. Joseph’s-Metuchen), Dalton Pepper (Levittown, PA./West Virginia), Jake O’Brien (Weymouth, MA./Boston University), Devontae Watson (Ambridge, PA./Lincoln Park Center)
While Dunphy may have lost three of his biggest contributors from last season, he was busy making sure that the 2012-13 squad wouldn’t be short on depth. Pepper arguably has the most experience of anyone on the roster, playing on the 2009-10 West Virginia squad that made it all the way to the Final Four. Pepper and O’Brien, the Boston University transfer, will be used to stretch the floor; O’Brien is listed at 6-foot-9 but is more of an inside-out threat than anything.

Dingle had offers from all over the country including Arizona, Rutgers and A-10 foe Xavier before committing to the Owls in November of his senior year.  The 6-foot-7 freshman is a player who can play several positions but is listed as a small forward. For a player of his size he possesses a great ability to pass the ball and create opportunities for his teammates.

Watson, a long-armed (94-inch wingspan) 6-foot-10 freshman center, will be relied on to spell Anthony Lee on a roster that is short on true big men. He is one of only two players nationally to record 1,000 points, rebounds and blocks in his high school career.

DeCosey brings in a long frame, standing at 6-foot-5 and is primarily a scorer. He’s a slasher who will look to put the ball in the basket. In high school the New Jersey native and state Player of the Year scored 24 points per game as a senior.

Anthony Lee will be the Owls’ starting center as a redshirt sophomore. (Photo: Josh Verlin)

Starting Frontcourt: Anthony Lee (5.0 ppg, 5.0 rbg), Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (9.3 ppg, 6.6 rbg)
Lee heads into his sophomore season with a confidence boost from last year. He was forced into the starting lineup as Michael Eric rested an injury and showed promise as a red shirt-freshman. This off-season Lee added 20 pounds to his lanky frame which should help him endure a full season as the starting center. Hollis-Jefferson, a 6-foot-6 senior, plays bigger than his height would suggest; he was 11th in the A-10 last season in rebounding with 6.6 per contest. In the past three seasons Hollis-Jefferson has appeared in all but three games.

Starting Backcourt: Khalif Wyatt (17.1 ppg, 2.2 spg), Scootie Randall (10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2010-11), Will Cummings (1.4 ppg)
Wyatt, a senior, is the teams’ most decorated player returning this year; as a junior he was selected Second Team All A-10 after scoring 17.1 points per game and had 12 games in which he scored over 20 points. Unlike last year, where Fernandez and Moore had the ball in their hands as much as Wyatt, he will likely be dominating the ball and be expected to score at a higher rate. The 6-foot-4 guard was selected First Team All-Conference for the preseason. He averaged 2.2 steals per contest last season which was good for fourth in the A 10.

After missing all of last season due to a nagging knee injury Randall, a 6-foot-6 senior is now 100 percent healthy and ready to get back on the court. As a junior in 2010-11 Randall was the A 10’s most improved player averaging 10.7 points per game. Randall, a career 37.8 percent three-point shooter will stretch the floor and bring an added dimension to the Owls offense.

Cummings is the x-factor this season for the Owls, and replacing Fernandez at the point will be no easy task for the 6-foot-2 sophomore. He brings a different style than Fernandez to the Owls backcourt, he’s quicker and will look to get the offense more transition buckets rather than getting into set offenses off of turnovers. Dunphy has not officially announced that Cummings will be the fifth starter; it could also be senior T.J. DiLeo or Pepper.

Bench: T.J. DiLeo (2.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg), Dalton Pepper (3.5 ppg, .333 3pt% at West Virginia), Jake O’Brien (11.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg 2010-11 at Boston University) Daniel Dingle (18 ppg, 12 rpg at St. Raymond’s HS), Devontae Watson (12 ppg, 14 rpg, 10 bpg at Lincoln Park Center HS)
The bench this season is as deep as ever, it’s possible that the Owls could have 10 plus players enter the game on any given night. DiLeo was consistently the first off the bench last season and provides a spark on the defensive end, usually coming in and working hard on the opposing teams best offensive guard. Pepper and O’Brien will both be inside-out presences that could cause problems for opposing defenses.

Dingle is the most intriguing of the bunch, listed at 6-foot-6 he could play guard or forward. His skill set will allow Dunphy to put some interesting lineup combinations on the floor at any given time. Watson will be relied on to spell Lee; he’s the Owls longest player and will look to block shots around the rim.

Four Games to Watch: vs. Duke (12/08 @ Izod Center) vs. Syracuse (12/22 @ Madison Square Garden) @ Kansas (1/6) @ Saint Joseph’s (2/2)
Normally its three games to watch, but this season Temple plays four games that can’t be missed. Duke will be looking for revenge on the Owls after last year’s shocking 78-73 upset at the Wells Fargo Center, this year’s game will be held at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ. Exactly two weeks later the Owls head to Madison Square Garden to play Syracuse in the Gotham Classic. Traveling to Kansas is going to be Temple’s biggest challenge of the season mainly because of the atmosphere at Allen Fieldhouse. Saint Joseph’s is arguably the biggest game of the year for Temple; they travel to Hagan Arena on February 2nd to face the A 10 pre-season favorite Hawks.

Temple Features:
Nov. 1: Depth’s the Key for Temple
Oct. 18: Sophomores Key for Temple in 2012-13
Oct. 8: Jake O’Brien Makes a ‘Smooth’ Transition to Temple
Oct. 6: Change has Temple Looking Towards the Future
Sept. 13: Temple Test Drives Workouts on the Football Field
Aug. 8: What Will O’Brien’s Arrival do for Temple’s Frontcourt?
July 27: Temple’s Dingle on an Accelerated Learning Curve
July 10: Temple’s Watson Makes Good First Impression
June 26: Temple’s Wyatt Working on Leadership
June 25: Temple’s Versatility led by Senior Randall
June 14: Summer Transitions: Temple Owls

Three Keys to Success:
1. Don’t Look Ahead: This season the A 10 is as deep as it’s ever been with the addition of Butler and VCU. Moving to the Big East next season has taken over Temple’s campus; if they get caught looking forward they’ll be in for a rude awakening. The Owls have big games against Duke, Syracuse, Villanova and Kansas on their non-conference schedule so there is no excuse about them not being battle tested once January 10th rolls around and conference play tips off against Xavier.

2. Scorers: Aside from Wyatt Temple doesn’t return a player who averaged double-figures last season. Randall and O’Brien both averaged over 10 points per contest two years ago, so whether it is one of those two, Cummings, Hollis-Jefferson or Lee someone needs to put the ball in the bucket. If the Owls can’t develop a consistent second scoring threat expect double-teams to be clinging to Wyatt.

3. Point Play: Expect to see Cummings, Wyatt and Dileo all handling the ball at different times. Cummings doesn’t have much experience at this point in his career, Dileo has always been more of a defensive-minded player and Wyatt is a true shooting guard rather than a point guard. All of these players will be relied on heavily to find open shots for their teammates and distribute the ball.

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2 Responses to 2012-13 Season Preview: Temple Owls

  1. Josh2Otter says:

    Very, very good write up! This team is surely the deepest of Dunphy’s tenure at Temple. There’s still the ‘big’ problem and if Lee or Watson go down for any amount of time you could see Temple slip up. We all know Fran can coach up a storm and this year’s talent pool is excellent and easily good enough to make the tourney and win some games, but will they? The schedule is VERY difficult and the A10 really gave Temple the short end of the stick (17 home games is nice but there are only a couple of top teams they play at home). That could be the biggest factor this season.

    • TU Fan says:

      Temple just has to take care of business at home, all of the home games except VCU are really winnable. If Temple takes care of business at home and can pull one signature upset (which Fran does often), the owls are in great shape.

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