Temple

Temple rolls to season-opening win over Old Dominion

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Temple rolls to season-opening win over Old Dominion

BOX SCORE

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Shizz Alston Jr. had 23 points on five 3-pointers and Quinton Rose added 20 points as Temple opened its season with a 76-65 victory over Old Dominion at the Charleston Classic on Thursday.

The Owls (1-0), who were the last Division I team to play their first game, will face Auburn of the Southeastern Conference on Friday for a spot in Sunday's championship game. Old Dominion (2-1) plays Indiana State in the loser's bracket of the eight-team event.

Temple led by 19 points early in the second half before the Monarchs rallied to within 54-53 on Ahmad Caver's tip-in basket with 9:19 to go. But Alston followed with a 3-pointer to extend Temple's lead.

Old Dominion came within 67-65 on Brandon Stith's bucket with 2:08 left. This time, Rose stroked a three on Temple's next possession and the Owls went on to the victory.

Xavier Green had 15 points to lead Old Dominion in its first-ever meeting with Temple.

Experienced Temple aims for return to NCAA Tournament

Experienced Temple aims for return to NCAA Tournament

After last year’s disappointing season in which Temple’s young roster failed to win a game in the AAC Tournament and ultimately was sent home early without a postseason berth of any kind, the Owls, led by their two senior captains Josh Brown and Obi Enechionyia, are aiming for an NCAA Tournament run this go around.

Now in his fifth year, Brown returns as the team’s lead guard after an Achilles tendon injury limited him to just five games last season, while Enechionyia comes back as the Owls' top frontcourt option after withdrawing from the NBA draft last May.

Enechionyia, who averaged 13.1 points and 5.8 rebounds last season, has been a matchup problem for teams in recent years because of his shooting ability as a big man and length on both ends of the floor. But head coach Fran Dunphy praised Enechionyia's evolution into a complete player this offseason.

“I think Obi’s getting better each and every day,” Dunphy said. “Obviously, they are gonna guard him to shoot the jump shot and now he has to attack the closeout, as it were. So, if the guy is hanging on his right side, he has to shot fake and pull through and get the gap. Maybe he’s pulling up for a quick jumper or maybe he’s kicking it to the other side of the floor, a little drive and kick stuff. He can always defend and rebound better, too, and I think that’s the next charge for him — to make a statement, not only shooting the basketball but at the other end of the floor.”

While Brown and Enechionyia are the unquestioned leaders, this Temple team doesn’t lack experience. Junior guard Shizz Alston, Jr. and sophomore guards Alani Moore and Quinton Rose were thrown into the fire in Brown’s absence, playing 36.4, 25.8 and 24.8 minutes per game, respectively, last season.

“It was really important [getting minutes last year],” Rose said. “I’m coming into this season really comfortable because I played in the beginning, middle and end of games last year. I think it’s really important that I’m going into this year with a little experience, more experience than most [sophomores].”

Rose was also able to gain valuable experience in his freshman season by talking to and learning from Brown, who was his roommate during road trips.

“He would just tell me stuff, get my head on straight and get me prepared for games, so that was good,” Rose said. “But this year, he’s doing a great job leading the guys, making sure we go hard, making sure we’re on time with things, early in fact, and just handling our business. He’s a really good leader.”

With depth at guard, Dunphy can allow the four freshmen on the team, whom he described as “great," to develop, though he will likely give them game opportunities. This year, the Owls will often play four guards on the floor at the same time to capitalize on their passing ability and athleticism, which will cause mismatches across the board.

“I think we have a lot of guards that can get out and run and play more than one position,” Rose said. “For myself, I think in the four-guard rotation, I’m the four-man guard and I think that’s a mismatch more times than not.”

“We just have a lot of selfless guys,” Brown said. “They love to share the ball and it makes their job easier, it makes everybody’s job easier when the ball is moving side to side and the defense can’t really react to the moves. We understand that and it’s helping us along the way. Now we just need to learn how to sometimes be selfish. Once we learn that we’re going to be a pretty solid offensive team.”

The experience will come in handy this season in a talented American Athletic Conference that just added No. 7 Wichita State and also features No. 12 Cincinnati. Temple hosts Wichita State on Feb. 1 and travels to play the Shockers on Feb. 15, while it plays the Bearcats at home on Jan. 4 and journeys to Cincy on Feb. 15.

The Owls also play a string of marquee matchups at home early in the season, facing Wisconsin on Dec. 6, St. Joe’s on Dec. 9 and No. 6 Villanova on Dec. 13.

The one thing Dunphy and multiple players emphasized needing to improve upon before the regular season begins this coming Thursday vs. Old Dominion in the Charleston Classic was team defense. Dunphy focused on the team’s communication, weak-side help and denial of second-chance opportunities, while Brown pinpointed help defense and consistency as areas of improvement.

“We want to win as many games as possible," Brown said. "From there, hopefully, we get into the tournament and make a special run. We know what it takes, it’s an everyday process so we’re trying to approach every day like that.”

Temple at a glance

Head coach: Fran Dunphy (12th season at Temple, 29th overall)

Last year: 16-16, 7-11 in AAC (finished eighth in AAC regular season standings, lost 80-69 in first round of AAC Tournament to East Carolina)

Top returners: G Josh Brown, F Obi Enechionyia, G Shizz Alston Jr.

Key losses: G/F Daniel Dingle, F Mark Williams

Impact newcomers: G Nate Pierre-Louis, F De’Vondre Perry, F J.P. Moorman II, F Justyn Hamilton

Games to watch: Dec. 6 vs. Wisconsin, Dec. 9 vs Saint Joseph’s, Dec. 13 vs. No. 6 Villanova, Jan. 24 at No. 12 Cincinnati, Feb. 15 at No. 7 Wichita State

Best-case scenario: Brown returns to pre-injury form and spearheads Temple’s deep backcourt, while Enechionyia provides inside scoring and defensive threats to make the Owls competitive again in the talented AAC. The two senior captains lead Temple back to the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence.

Worst-case scenario: Brown’s injury lingers and Temple’s young guards can’t handle the tough AAC competition, while Enechionyia struggles as a top scoring option and the Owls fail to make the Big Dance for the second straight year.

Temple holds off Cincinnati to keep bowl hopes alive

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Temple holds off Cincinnati to keep bowl hopes alive

BOX SCORE

CINCINNATI -- Temple was able to keep its bowl hopes alive and make its senior class the most successful in school history.

Junior Frank Nutile threw for one touchdown and ran for other, Isaiah Wright had a 98-yard kickoff return and Temple kept its bowl hopes alive with a 35-24 win over Cincinnati on Friday night.

"We would rather die out there than let our seniors down," Nutile said.

With two games left, the Owls need one more victory to become bowl eligible. One more win and the senior class will be the best all-time.

"Our seniors are special. I'm lucky I got to be their coach," first-year coach Geoff Collins said. "They've gone through a lot with this program. A lot of them had to wait their turn."

The Owls (5-5, 3-3 American) held off an inspired second-half effort by Cincinnati (3-7, 1-5) to get the win.

Hayden Moore threw a 29-yard pass to Thomas Geddis and Mike Boone had 28- and 21-yard runs on consecutive plays to make it a one score game with 7:40 left in the third quarter but Wright took the kickoff back 98 yards to separate the Owls from the Bearcats. Wright then threw a two-point conversion pass to Nutile on a trick play.

"For the first time I told the guys I'm disappointed with the way we coached; disappointed with the way we prepared the," Cincinnati's first-year coach Luke Fickell said. "It is baffling to me. The defense can play really well in the first half and have really big stops in tough situations. The offense doesn't move the ball in the first half. In the second half it completely flips. We have to find a way to break through some of this stuff."

Nutile completed 19 of 30 passes for 224 yards.

"He studies film and works hard," Collins said. "You could see it on several key plays tonight. He is a great kid."

David Hood's one-yard run midway through the second quarter gave Temple a 13-0 halftime lead. Hood was Temple's leading rusher with 89 yards on 19 carries.

Hood has spent most of the season backing up Ryquell Armstead.

"I look at myself as the No. 1 back every week," Hood said. "Our offense really came together tonight."

Cincinnati had a 76-yard punt return called back for an illegal block in the back and fumbled to set up one of Aaron Bourmerhi's two first half field goals.

Hayden Moore completed 20 of 36 passes for Cincinnati and was the leading rusher with 75 yards on 11 carries.

Takeaways
Temple: Ventell Bryant moved into eighth place on Temple's all-time list for receptions with 117. His 62 yards r and yards receiving also put him eighth on the list with 1,721. . With the win, Temple's seniors tied the team record of 31 wins by a class. ... The Owls faced two triple option offenses in a row before coming to Cincinnati. Army rushed for 248 yards on Oct. 21 but they held Navy to 136. Cincinnati split the difference with 184 yards rushing.

Cincinnati: Luke Fickell and Geoff Collins are both in their first season as head coach. Both were on the defensive coaching staff at Alabama for the 2007 national championship season. . Cincinnati has lost nine of its last 10 AAC games.

Up next
Temple will host Central Florida at noon on Nov. 18. The undefeated Knights will be the final home opponent for the Owls, who need one more win to be bowl eligible.

Cincinnati will travel to East Carolina on Nov. 18 at a time to be determined. The Pirates and Bearcats are at the bottom of the AAC standings.