Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Though Temple’s defeat at the hands of No. 2 Duke on Saturday wasn’t cause for much inspiration, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t something positive to take out of the game.
While many of the Owls struggled from the floor in the 90-67 loss, there was one bright spot on the offensive end of the court.
Quenton DeCosey, a freshman guard from St. Joseph’s-Metuchen (N.J.), had a team-high 13 points, setting a new personal standard in the seventh game of his collegiate career. The 6-foot-5 guard hit 5-of-6 from the floor, making all three of his 3-point attempts while adding three rebounds and an assist in a career-high 18 minutes of action.
“Q’s really going to be a very good basketball player,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said after the Duke game. “He has no fear, he thinks he can just score against anybody at any time…I think he’s really a good basketball player and he’s learning.”
Dunphy’s not known to play many guards early in their careers. Current sophomore Will Cummings played just 6.3 minutes per game last season while senior Khalif Wyatt saw just 19 total minutes in his freshman season back in 2009-10; both averaged (or are averaging) over 20 minutes per game in their following seasons. Usually, the seventh-year coach’s excuse for not playing his youngest players has to do with defense, but DeCosey’s offensive skill seems too good to hide.
“He had some mistakes on the defensive end that he has to clean up, but he’s arriving as a college basketball player,” Dunphy said. “He’s figuring out how hard this stuff really is, and I think this is a great moment for him, too. We’ll watch a lot of plays that he will get better from.”
Temple’s 2012 recruiting class is certainly a talented one, between DeCosey–who averaged 24.0 points and was a First Team All-State selection his senior year–and top-100 recruit Daniel Dingle (St. Raymond’s/Bronx, N.Y.) as well as lanky shot-blocking center Devontae Watson. However, on roster that features five seniors, plus redshirt junior Dalton Pepper and a pair of sophomore starters in Cummings and Anthony Lee, it wasn’t so clear where any of those three were going to find ways to get on the court.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming in, I just knew I had to work hard for any minutes I was going to get,” DeCosey said. “In practice, I’m just continuing to work hard and learn from the older guys so I think he has more confidence in me, and that’s where my minutes are coming from.”
When Dunphy first got DeCosey into the Duke game, Temple was already behind by double digits, wilting against a sharpshooting attack led by Seth Curry (23 points, 5-of-9 3PT) and Quinn Cook (14 pts, 3-of-4 3PT) in front of a very pro-Blue Devil crowd. Nevertheless, he got right into the action, hitting two threes in a 2:18 span to help close the gap from 17 points to 11.
“I just wanted to come in and be aggressive,” he said. “When coach Fran put me out there he said ‘Just be aggressive, don’t worry about anything.’ I just wanted to help my team out in any way possible. Today was scoring, so I just wanted to be aggressive.”
“Coach (Dunphy) got a lot of confidence in him and he’s got a lot of confidence in himself, so I think that’s going to take him a long way,” fifth-year senior guard Scootie Randall said with DeCosey sitting right next to him. “Those big threes that he hit gave us a boost on the offensive end. The only thing he can continue to do is get better so I think this is a learning experience for him, him being a freshman, so I think he’s still got a lot to learn. He’s got a long time to be a lot better than he is now.”