Temple Owls

Temple product Haason Reddick displaying intangibles to succeed with Cardinals

Temple product Haason Reddick displaying intangibles to succeed with Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. — While the physical talent is a known quantity, the push for Haason Reddick to succeed must come from within. A combination of talent, knowledge, acumen, desire and all the other tangibles and intangibles that make up an NFL player tend to be byproducts of the journey.

The capacity to succeed and aptitude for success, many believe, lay between the ears. If that is the criteria for personal conquest in the NFL, then Camden, New Jersey, native Reddick, selected by the Arizona Cardinals with their first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2017 draft, is clearly on the right path.

Here in the beginning of training camp, Reddick transitions to the NFL with a quiet confidence. He projects an image that embodies the essence of combining physical conditioning with his value to the Cardinals. While Reddick recognizes the task ahead, he also shifts to the future with a clear vision.

“I think I can be great,” he said Friday before practice at the University of Phoenix Stadium. “I always believed in myself. As soon as I learn, I mean really learn, what I’m supposed to do, that’s when I’ll let loose and let my talent take over. Then, I’ll be able to be great.”

As Reddick begins his introduction to the NFL, the projection and forecast for this hybrid player seem off the charts. With the speed of a defensive back, the mobility of a linebacker and the physical nature of a defensive lineman, Reddick could be the prototype of the future. Listed at 6-1 and 235 pounds, the physical tools are clearly in place. Now, comes the education.

Amid great appraisal and assessment, Reddick now descends on the NFL level. From a walk-on at Temple, to All-American stature and a first-round selection, his physical tools represent the height of his talent. When Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said Reddick possesses “unbelievable talent and speed,” the accolades, like a geyser, pour from this core.

For now, Reddick is penciled in at the hybrid spot, a position known in the Cardinals’ defense as “the dollar linebacker.” That’s currently held by Deone Bucannon, who's recovering from ankle surgery this past May and is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Listed as a linebacker on the Cardinals' depth chart, Reddick continues to prepare for a myriad of roles. At the center, Arians identities the South Jersey native as “a pure pass rusher.”

With his talents clearly in place, the processing of information now begins for Reddick.

“He needs to be a sponge and make sure his sponge is never filled,” said veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby, who is entering his 14th NFL season. “His talent is off the chart. It’s about how he uses that talent and how he prepares.”

For now, Larry Foote, the Cardinals' linebacker coach, and Dansby are the two most prominent figures on Reddick’s radar screen. Hugging his playbook before bed each night and reviewing pages the next morning, Reddick said the introduction to the NFL can be overwhelming. Clearly, preparation for the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and all others this fall is a far change from a year ago. That’s when Reddick and the Owls began preparation for Army, Central Florida and Memphis.

Now, Reddick has traded cherry and white for cardinal red and, as his NFL career nears its advent, he is prepared to move forward.

“The transition is about stepping up and maximizing my full potential,” he said. “It’s about coming in and making an impact wherever I’m needed. There’s an understanding about that now. I’m in the NFL, and going against way better competition. Guys have been doing this for a living, and now are really serious.”

Temple's NCAA tourney hopes take a crushing blow

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Temple's NCAA tourney hopes take a crushing blow

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Whether it was simply coachspeak or the dawning realization that his team now has only one entry point into the NCAA Tournament, Fran Dunphy made a short but forceful declaration following Temple’s 80-59 loss to Houston on Sunday.

“We’ve got to win every game we play from here on in,” the Owls head coach said. “That’s the only thing we can do.”

Indeed, at this point, anything short of a perfect run through the American Athletic Conference tournament — which begins on March 8th following the Owls’ final three regular-season games — will likely relegate Temple to the NIT or worse.

The Cougars (21-5, 11-3 American) made sure of that by completely dominating the Owls (15-12 7-8) on their home court to suck the life out of the Liacouras Center — and Temple’s fading NCAA hopes.

“We never let them breathe,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. 

Houston has now won five straight to join nationally ranked Wichita State and Cincinnati atop the conference, making it increasingly likely that only those three squads will represent the American at the Big Dance. 

Temple, despite a conference record hovering around .500, had been making a nice push to join the party thanks to a potent strength of schedule, a couple of impressive November non-conference wins over Auburn and Clemson, and a recent five-game winning streak that included an overtime upset of Wichita State.

But after losing to the Shockers in a rematch on Thursday, the Owls likely needed to win out and then win at least a couple of more games in the AAC tournament to have a realistic shot of an at-large NCAA berth.

Houston ruined that by scoring the game’s first 15 points and never taking its foot off the gas from there en route to Sunday’s lopsided win.

“I think we came out really flat,” said Nate Pierre-Louis, who led the Owls with 13 points after watching the poor start from the bench. “I think we came out underestimating them. And they came out guns blazing, making everything. If we want to push forward, we can’t start out like that at all.”

Dunphy, who could be feeling some heat if Temple misses the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five years, had a hard time explaining what went wrong. But he didn’t make excuses, whether it was the team having trouble with its charter flight leaving Wichita (“You figure it out, suck it up and do a better job”) or bouncing back in general from an emotionally draining game there (“[Houston] had a great win at home against Cincinnati, so they were probably more susceptible to a letdown than we were”).

He also didn’t hide from the fact that there wasn’t enough effort from his players.

“We were a step slow all day long,” Dunphy said. “We had decent rest, we worked hard enough, [assistant coach] Chris Clark had us very well prepared for the x-and-o piece. We were just slow all day.”

In no way was that more magnified than in Houston’s 53-22 rebounding advantage, including a 17-5 edge on the offensive end. The Cougars' 53 rebounds matched a Liacouras Center record.

When asked about that, Sampson pointed out that he recently learned his team was among the shortest in the nation. Clearly, though, their hunger makes up for that fact.

“I guess we’re short but it never crossed my mind that it mattered,” the Houston coach said. “What’s that old saying? If size were important, what happened to the dinosaurs?”

Dunphy had a less philosophical (and probably more scientifically accurate) approach to the rebounding discrepancy.

“We were just not disciplined enough on the rebounding side,” the Temple coach said. “They played very well, and obviously we didn’t play very well at all.”

Sadly for Temple fans, the Owls have had a few games this year when they didn’t play well. They’ve also had games where they’ve looked like world-beaters, making this a particularly maddening season.

So whether the Owls close the regular season strong and make a run in the conference tournament or crash out in the first round is anyone’s guess, really. But even after Sunday’s brutal loss, sophomore Quinton Rose forecasted some optimism as the up-and-down 2017-18 campaign winds down.

“I think we’re at our best when we have our backs against the wall,” said Rose, who scored 13 on Sunday. “So I have no doubt we can make a good run."

Temple flops in biggest game of season

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Temple flops in biggest game of season

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In its biggest game of the season, Temple had its biggest flop.

With their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes dangling over a precipice, the Owls were smoked by visiting Houston, 80-59, on Sunday at the Liacouras Center.

Quinton Rose and Nate Pierre-Louis scored 13 points apiece for Temple (15-12, 7-8 American), which had won seven of its last nine coming in with the only losses in that stretch to nationally ranked teams (Wichita State, Cincinnati) on the road.

Corey Davis Jr. had a game-high 20 points for Houston (21-5, 11-3), which has now won five straight, including a massive win over No. 5 Cincinnati on Thursday, and is challenging the Bearcats and Shockers for the league title.

• It sounds cliché but Houston just seemed to want it more, outhustling Temple to loose balls and dominating on the glass by a ridiculous 53-22 margin. Not surprisingly, there were smatterings of boos from Temple fans when the final horn sounded.

• Considering the urgency of the game, Temple was very flat from the start with Houston’s Davis hitting two tough three-pointers to spark an 8-0 start for the visitors.

• The Cougars built their lead to 15-0 as Temple fans, standing until the Owls scored their first basket, grew impatient and implored head coach Fran Dunphy to change the lineup.

• Finally, Temple got on the scoreboard when Obi Enechionyia threw down a big dunk with 13:36 left in the first half. But fittingly, Davis hit a jumper just moments later and the red-hot Cougars kept their foot on the gas to increase their lead to 34-11 with 7:30 left.

• Houston led by a staggering 24 points at the final media timeout of the first half and took a 21-point lead into halftime after an Enechionyia three-pointer in the final seconds.

• Temple shot 31 percent in the first half, and it seemed even uglier with several of the Owls’ shots missing the rim entirely.

• The biggest first-half difference was rebounding as Houston held a 31-9 advantage and an 11-1 edge on the offensive boards. On one especially excruciating possession for Temple, Houston got a couple of offensive rebounds before Davis drilled a three right in front of the Temple bench.

• With Temple showing a little more life to start the second half, the Cougars promptly sucked it back out of them with star senior Rob Gray hitting a big three to put them up 47-24 with 16 minutes left.

• With 13 minutes left, the Cougars had doubled up Temple’s score (54-27), and then went ahead 59-27 on Davis’ sixth three-pointer of the game. Temple fans had very little cheer for from there. Houston’s a good team but it’s not easy to explain how the surging Owls could lose a game this badly to anyone at home.

• Houston actually had far more turnovers than Temple, 17-10.

• Temple lost at Houston, 76-73, back in December, and is now 2-7 all-time vs. the Cougars, including a 1-4 mark in Philadelphia.

• Houston is chasing just its second NCAA Tournament berth since 1992 and its first since 2010. The Owls, meanwhile, are in danger of missing two straight Big Dances for just the second time since Fran Dunphy took over in 2006. Thanks in large part to a great strength of schedule and their recent hot streak, the Owls were on Joe Lunardi’s “Next Four Out” in ESPN’s bracketology but this loss — and a sub-.500 conference mark — will certainly drop them even further off the bubble.

• The best celebration of the day came in honor of Hooter the Owl’s birthday, with mascots from around the city coming to the Liacouras Center to pay their respects. But those vibes didn’t extend to the game as Temple dropped to 12-1 all-time on its mascot’s birthday.

• Temple plays its final home game next Sunday vs. UCF before closing the regular season with road games at UConn and Tulsa. But even if they win out, the Owls still likely need to win the American Athletic Conference tournament to get into the NCAAs.