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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Waiting game

For the third year in a row, Temple’s postseason fate lies in the hands of college football bowl officials.

With a win against Kent State this weekend, the Owls finished their regular season with an 8-4 overall record and are hoping to pick up an at-large bid in a non-Bowl Championship Series bowl game for the second time in three years.

“We’re an eight-win team, we’re playing great football in November, we have marquee players and we’re in a large media market,” coach Steve Addazio said. “There’s no question Temple will be in a bowl game. Anything less than that would be ridiculous.”

After making it to a bowl game in 2009, Temple was one of only two bowl-eligible teams in the country to not be selected to a bowl game last year. The Owls said  they’re confident this year’s result will be different.

“[After last year] I would never let us not get to a bowl game,” senior defensive end Adrian Robinson said. “Hopefully, I’ve fulfilled that promise.”

“We’ve improved from last year,” redshirt-senior quarterback Chester Stewart added. “Maybe they’ll go off that, maybe they won’t. We just want to be able to play one more game.”

There are no defined criteria by which a bowl selects a team to participate, but the one commonality throughout the process is that bowls tend to select teams that are going to make the most money.

For Temple, the Owls’ résumé includes an average attendance of more than 28,000, three games televised on ESPN, a win against a BCS opponent and one great big marquee player in junior running back Bernard Pierce, who currently is tied for second in the country in rushing touchdowns.

If chosen by a bowl, Temple would receive an invitation sometime this week on or before Bowl Selection Day this Sunday. The bowl selection process is so complex and variant that it’s nearly impossible to predict, but there are a number of bowls that Temple could be hearing from this week.

There are three bowl games with automatic tie-ins to the Mid-American Conference. The GoDaddy.com Bowl gets the first selection of a team from the MAC, the Little Caesars Bowl gets second pick and the Idaho Potato Bowl third.

Temple will likely be competing with Northern Illinois, Toledo or Ohio for these spots. Although the Owls have a higher attendance average than each of those three teams, both Toledo and Ohio beat Temple in the regular season and Northern Illinois is the MAC’s No.1 seed entering the MAC Championship game.

While the GoDaddy.com Bowl has the first pick of any MAC team, it is not required to choose the MAC champion.

Through a contingency agreement, the fourth team from the MAC could go as an alternate to the New Mexico Bowl, which matches up a Mountain West Conference team against a team from the Pacific-12 Conference. Through another agreement, the fifth team from the MAC could be an alternate for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, which was scheduled to  pit a team from Pac-12 versus an Army before the Black Knights became bowl ineligible.

In order for a team from the MAC to become eligible to play in the New Mexico Bowl, the Pac-12 conference must not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill their non-BCS requirements. As such, Temple is hoping that both Oregon and Stanford get bids in BCS bowls out of the Pac-12.

In addition, the Western Athletic Conference has a contingency agreement with the New Mexico Bowl that would put a WAC team in the Pac-12’s spot. Therefore, Temple fans should hope that Hawaii loses to Brigham Young on Saturday to ensure that that doesn’t happen so the Owls could potentially take that spot.

Probably Temple’s best chance of gaining an at-large bid separate from the MAC tie-ins, the Military Bowl will match up the eighth choice from the ACC against an at-large bid.

Temple has some history with the Military Bowl as the Owls competed against UCLA in its former title, the EagleBank Bowl, in 2009. The 2009 game drew more than 23,000 fans and due to its close proximity, Temple could be an attractive choice for an at-large bid.

Temple will face Air Force in the New Mexico bowl.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Owls run over Army

In Saturday’s matchup between Temple and Army that featured two dominant rushing offenses, the Owls came out on top.

The Black Knights’ defense certainly didn’t look “Army strong” as the Owls rushed for a combined 335 yards and five touchdowns en route to a 42-14 blowout on Saturday afternoon.

“We wanted to come out on offense and establish the run and keep the defense off the field,” coach Steve Addazio said. “That was our game plan.”

The Owls’ running game powered the offense. Junior running backs Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown ran for 157 and 133 yards, respectively.

“We compliment each other,” Pierce said about the Owls’ backfield. “It’s motivating.”

Army couldn’t have come into this game without remembering what Brown did to them last year, when he rushed for 226 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-35 shootout.

“It’s my [offensive line],” Brown said about his success against Army. “It’s not science. They were opening up the holes.”

The Owls jumped on the Black Knights early. Temple scored touchdowns on four of their five first-half drives. Brown scored on the Owls’ opening drive, and Pierce scored on the back-to-back drives that followed. Pierce’s second touchdown, the team’s 30th this year, broke the single season team rushing touchdown school record set in 2009.

“It was important,” Brown said about the running game. “When Army gets ahead of you, it’s hard to come back with their time of possession.”

Army entered the game as the nation’s number one-ranked rushing offense, but was held to 96 yards rushing in the first half. The Black Knights looked out of sync on offense early as they used two of their three timeouts on their first drive of the game.

“The coaches did an unbelievable job,” senior defensive back Kevin Kroboth said. “They had us prepared for how Army was going to attack.”

“We prepared like crazy all week,” senior linebacker Stephen Johnson said. “The coaches did a great job.”

Army scored early in the third quarter to cut into Temple’s lead. Black Knights’ senior quarterback Max Jenkins came off the bench and led his team on a 17-play, 80-yard drive. Jenkins ran it in from one yard out to cut Temple’s lead to 21.

“When they get ahead, they can grind the ball and take time off the clock,” Johnson said. “If we get ahead, it puts pressure on them.”

After Temple went scoreless in the third quarter, Brown got the Owls back on the board early in the fourth quarter with one big play.

On the Owls’ first play of the fourth quarter, Brown exploded up the middle untouched for a 52-yard touchdown run. It was Brown’s second of the game and sixth against Army in the past two years.

Pierce responded with a 49-yard run late in the fourth quarter that included six broken tackles. Pierce and Brown both said that there is a healthy competition for yards between the two of them.

“The competition is good,” Brown said. “It brings out the best in us.”

The 42-14 victory was the 29th win of the senior class’ four-year tenure, a new program record.

“It’s important,” Kroboth said about the new record. “As a freshman, you want to come on a team and win. Fortunately, our coaching staffs have allowed us to do that.”

The Owls have a chance to pick up their eighth win of the season next Friday against Kent State. Despite the fact that Temple was eliminated from contention in winning the Mid-American Eastern division this week, Addazio said he talked to his team about staying focused.

“We talked about respect and legacy,” Addazio said, who tied a school record for most wins in a season by a first-year head coach. “We got our seventh win. We have a chance to go and compete for our eighth win.”

Temple cannot win the MAC East, but they can still make it to a bowl game through an at-large bid, something the team said they remain hopeful for.

“All you can do is what you can do,” Addazio said. “I’m sure there will be a spot for us if we take care of business against [Kent State].”

“It hurts not knowing we’re going to get a MAC championship,” Kroboth added. “So our goal is to get to eight wins and get to a bowl game to make that our legacy.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Temple wins in first round of Puerto Rico Tip Off

In a game where the men’s basketball team wasn’t playing at its best, the Owls picked up their second win of the year in dominant fashion.

Temple defeated Western Michigan 69-55 in the opening round of the Puerto Rican Tip Off. All five Owls’ starters finished in double digits in scoring while holding the Broncos’ standout sophomore center Matt Stainbrook to 14 points.

Owls’ redshirt-senior guard Ramone Moore led all scorers with 15 points, while graduate center Micheal Eric collected a career-high 15 rebounds.

The Owls will play the winner of today’s Purdue vs. Iona game tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the Tip Off semifinals.

Temple eliminated from MAC East contention

On a night when Temple football didn’t even play, their chances of winning the Mid-American Conference Eastern division title ended.

Ohio defeated Bowling Green while Miami (Ohio) lost to Western Michigan, giving Ohio the MAC East title and leaving the Owls clinging to hopes of an at-large bowl bid.

The Bobcats won on a last-second field goal by junior placekicker Matt Weller. Bowling Green led by nine at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but Ohio scored 10 unanswered points to secure a 29-28 win.

Miami (Ohio) held a seven-point lead in the second quarter against Western Michigan before the Broncos scored 17 points in a row and held on to win 24-21.

The Ohio win combined with the Miami (Ohio) loss makes it a mathematical impossibility for Temple to win the MAC East.

The MAC carries three bowl games. The No. 1 team from the MAC plays the No. 2 team from the Sun-Belt Conference in the Go-Daddy.com Bowl on Jan. 8. The No. 2 team from the MAC plays the No. 8 team from the Big Ten Conference in the Little Caesars Bowl on Dec. 27. The No. 3 team from the MAC plays the winner of the Western Athletic Conference in the Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 17.

With a win against their final MAC opponent, Kent State, next week, the best that Temple could finish in the conference is fourth.

The Owls could still make it to a bowl game by an at-large bowl bid, potentially taking the conference spot of a team isn’t bowl eligible (hasn’t won at least six games). Temple could possibly take bowl spots from teams in the WAC, Big East Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference or Pacific 12 Conference.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Men's basketball wins despite identity crisis

With two starters out and a couple of its key players in foul trouble, the men’s basketball team was having an identity crisis in last night’s overtime win against Penn.

Junior guard Khalif Wyatt was suspended for the season opener while senior forward Scootie Randall was out due to injury. Senior guard Juan Fernandez and graduate center Micheal Eric both struggled to stay out of foul trouble in the second half, forcing every other player to step up.

With two players out and two starters sitting on the bench, Temple didn’t look like a team that was poised to win the Atlantic Ten Conference title, but rather a group of individuals who were trying to find their place on the team.

“I think Penn played better than we did, and we just scored more points,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “I thought we did some good things, some others, not.”

Coming into this season, rebounding was one of the Owls’ biggest questions. The Owls didn’t necessarily answer that question in their season opener. Eric was the only player on the team to have rebounds in the double digits, and when Eric wasn’t on the court, the Owls suffered.

Penn was able to assert itself in the paint in the second half as a result of Eric’s foul trouble. Eric had four fouls late in the game and was absent for the game’s final three-and-a-half minutes, which allowed Penn to go on a 5-0 run and send the game into overtime.

“[Eric] is still learning how to play,” Dunphy said. “We asked a lot of him. He’s going to get better each game.”

Junior guard T.J. DiLeo probably did more than Dunphy or anyone could have expected. In Randall and Fernandez’s absence in the frontcourt, DiLeo was the force off the bench that the Owls needed. He played 38 minutes and scored 10 points, both career highs.

“[DiLeo] got a chance to play and he did a great job,” Dunphy said. “He knows his role. If the next game he’s not playing as many minutes, he’s not going to be crying about it. I was proud of him tonight.”

Fernandez hit a game-changing three and iced the victory with two free throws in overtime.

“The last play of regulation, you’re hoping that [Fernandez] is going to have the ball in his hands,” Dunphy said. “He’s going to make something happen.”

Fernandez established himself as the team’s leading scorer in place of redshirt-senior guard Ramone Moore, who had an off-day shooting. Moore scored 15 points, but went only 6-20 from the field.

Junior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson picked up some of Moore’s slack in his starting role at forward. He scored 10 points and collected five rebounds while logging 35 minutes. He also displayed his athleticism with a high-flying dunk midway through the second half and his ability to play perimeter defense.

While Moore was the Owls’ leading scorer last year and is expected to shine in his senior year, it must have been comforting to Dunphy and the coaching staff to see Fernandez, DiLeo and Hollis-Jefferson step up when Moore had an off game.

“We’re absolutely comfortable with that,” Dunphy said. “That size and athleticism is very helpful to us.”
While the Owls’ issues in the paint are still team concerns, Dunphy said he was happy to come out with a win in a tough Big-5 battle against Penn, a team he said has given them trouble during the past three years.

“This was the closest [game against Penn] that we’ve had,” Dunphy said. “We’re just happy to come out with a victory.”

Bowl game appearance still within reach

Last season, the football team went 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the Mid-American Conference and missed the postseason. This year, those two records are the best-case scenarios for the Owls, but a potential postseason bid is still within Temple’s reach.

The Owls’ current in-conference record of 4-3 is good for second place in the MAC East with two games left on Temple’s schedule. The Owls can make the postseason in two different scenarios:

-The Owls beat Kent State in their final regular season game AND Ohio loses the two remaining games on its schedule.
-The Owls beat Kent State, Miami (Ohio) wins out, AND Buffalo finishes higher than Bowling Green in the MAC East standings.

There are four games that will account for the most change in the outcome of the Owls’ season. If the following games go in Temple’s favor then the team can claim the MAC East bid to a bowl game.

Temple vs. Kent State (Nov. 25)
First and foremost, the Owls need to win their final MAC game of the year against the Golden Flashes. Temple needs to improve its final in-conference record to 5-3 and get help elsewhere to win the MAC East.

Miami (Ohio) at Ohio (Nov. 22)
Temple needs Miami (Ohio) to defeat the Bobcats in either scenario in order for the Owls to make the playoffs. If Ohio loses to the Redhawks and the Bobcats go 1-1 in their last two games, there will be a three-way tie atop the MAC East standings between Temple, Ohio, and Miami (Ohio).

The tiebreaker depends on the in-conference record for the other teams in first place, which is nullified since each team would have beaten another team in the three-way tie. The tiebreaker would then defer to the record against the fourth-place team in the MAC, which complicates things even further.

If Temple beats Kent State, then the Bobcats, Redhawks, and Owls will all have defeated the Golden Flashes, and the tiebreaker would then defer to the fifth-place team.

Buffalo and Bowling Green are the two teams who could decide the tiebreaker. Temple needs Buffalo to finish higher than Bowling Green, as the Owls beat the Bulls but lost to the Falcons. The Owls would win a tiebreaker if deferred to Buffalo, but would lose if deferred to Bowling Green.

Ohio at Bowling Green (Nov. 16)
Temple can make the playoffs with either outcome of this game, but Ohio losing would make things a lot simpler.

If the Bobcats lose, then Temple would win the MAC East with a win over Kent State and an Ohio loss the following week against Miami (Ohio).

If the Bobcats win, then Miami (Ohio) will have to win on the same night against Western Michigan and defeat Ohio the next week for the Owls to have a chance to make the postseason.

Bowling Green at Buffalo (Nov. 25)
In order for the Bulls to finish higher than the Falcons, Buffalo needs to win out, including a win over Bowling Green on the same day Temple plays Kent State.

If the Falcons defeat the Bulls, then the Owls could not win a tiebreaker for first place and would have to hope that Ohio loses its two remaining games while Temple beats Kent State.

The Owls will know where they stand going into their final game of the season versus Kent State. By then, Temple could be mathematically eliminated or control their own destiny.

No matter what happens, the Owls need a win against the Golden Flashes to have a chance to win the MAC East and make the postseason and possibly a bowl game.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Alleged child molester was offered Temple job

Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who has been charged with the sexual assault of eight boys from 1994-2009, had an opportunity to work at Temple.

Sandusky was offered the job of head coach of the football team in December of 1988. Former Athletic Director Charlie Theokas extended the opportunity to Sandusky after the job was vacated by Bruce Arians on Nov. 27 of that year.

Sandusky is currently facing 40 charges of indecent conduct that span over 15 years. The charges include involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault of a person less than 13 years old, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children.

Sandusky allegedly used the Second Mile, a foundation he created to benefit needy children, to seek out his victims.

Sandusky coached under Joe Paterno for 20 years and won two national championships before being offered multiple head coaching positions across the country, including Temple.

In a 1999 article in Sports Illustrated, Sandusky is quoted as saying, “If I hadn’t had the other part of my life—my family and the Second Mile—I would’ve been a head coach.”

Owls pick up key MAC win

The Owls improved to second place in the MAC East with a win over Miami (Ohio).

The football team was able to fight through internal health issues and outstanding play from the opposing quarterback in an in-conference win over Miami (Ohio).

Despite a 300-yard performance by Redhawks’ junior quarterback Zac Dysert and playing without junior running back Bernard Pierce, the Owls forced three turnovers in route to a 24-21 win.

“At some point in every season, there’s times when you have to find a way to win games,” coach Steve Addazio said. “That’s what we did, found a way to win the football game.”

The win improved the Owls to 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the Mid-American Conference, good for second place in the MAC East. The Owls need to win their next two contests and hope Ohio loses two out of three of its remaining matchups in order for Temple to gain the MAC East bid for a bowl game.

“We know that we need to win out for the rest of the season to accomplish some of the goals that we have left,” redshirt-sophomore quarterback Chris Coyer said. “It was a huge win for us.”

Coyer made the first start of his career at the head of the offense. He finished the game 10 for 19 passing for 92 yards and a touchdown while adding 97 yards and a score rushing. Addazio said that while Coyer guided his team to a win, he would’ve liked to see him open up the passing game more.

“We were trying to throw the ball and we missed on some plays that would’ve popped the game open,” Addazio said.

On the contrary, the Miami (Ohio) offense centered on the outstanding play of Dysert and sophomore wide receiver Nick Harwell. Dysert passed for 364 yards and three touchdowns, while Harwell had 15 catches for 229 yards (both school records) and two touchdowns.

“We have the most respect for [Dysert],” senior defensive end Adrian Robinson said. “He’s a great quarterback and I know he’s going to have a great career.”

Owls’ junior running back Matt Brown started in place of Pierce, who was a late scratch with a concussion. Brown rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown, 22 of which came on the Owls final drive late in the fourth quarter that sealed the victory.

Brown, who has seen action in every game this year, said it felt like any other game.

“The whole week we prepared for [Pierce] not to be in the game,” Brown said. “It was just another game.”

In the face of Dysert and Brown, neither team was able to establish its defense in the first quarter.

A Redhawks turnover on their opening drive enabled the Owls’ offense to work on a short field on the ensuing drive that gave the Owls an early lead. Junior placekicker Brandon McManus hit a 32-yard field goal with a little more than nine minutes left in the first quarter for the game’s first score.

Miami (Ohio) came right back after the Owls took the early lead. Dysert went a perfect five-for-five passing for 65 yards on the ensuing drive, capped off by a 29-yard touchdown pass to Harwell.

“I’m proud of the way kids battled,” Addazio said. “We overcame a lot of adversity and foolishness to give us an opportunity to win the football game.”

Facing a deficit, the Owls responded with a scoring drive of their own. Coyer led the Owls on a 10-play, 66-yard drive capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Deon Miller that retook the lead.

The Owls forced a key turnover that enabled them to add to their lead before halftime. After a Temple punt, Dysert was intercepted by Robinson on the Redhawks’ first play of their third drive of the second quarter.

Coyer rushed for a nine-yard touchdown on the very next snap. In two plays, the Owls forced a turnover and added to their lead. Temple led by 10 points going into halftime.

“That was a big moment for me,” Robinson said. “This is going to be a memorable game.”

“That was a huge momentum swing for us,” Coyer added. “We really needed that.”

The Owls’ defense stiffened in the second quarter The Owls sacked Dysert four times and added Robinson’s crucial interception.

“We knew the sacks were going to come,” Robinson said. “We just had to be patient.”

“We looked like Temple’s defense again,” Addazio added. “We’re a team that has to get after the quarterback. When we did, we threw off [Dysert’s] rhythm and we switched momentum.”

The Owls’ offense stalled in the third quarter, allowing Miami (Ohio) to mount a comeback. Two out of three third-quarter drives were three and outs and Coyer was unable to get anything going in the passing game.

“There were some plays that I left on the field,” Coyer said. “But that will all come. I’ve got to keep preparing more each week.”

Dysert went 11-14 with 123 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter, but committed a game-changing turnover just before the fourth quarter.

After driving the ball into Owls’ territory, Dysert was picked by sophomore defensive back Zamel Johnson, his first career interception. Johnson’s play stalled the Redhawks’ drive and shifted the game’s momentum.

“I was just trying to be as close to the receiver as possible,” Johnson said. “When I saw he tipped the ball, I was there and I grabbed it.”

“That pick was a big turning point in the game,” Addazio added. “It took them out of a momentum drive and flipped the field position.”

Facing a 10-point deficit late in the fourth quarter the Redhawks were given help from a costly penalty by Robinson.

After the Owls forced the Redhawks to punt, Robinson went offside on fourth down, giving Miami (Ohio) an automatic first down, which they wouldn’t let go to waste. Dysert drove the Redhawks down the field and hit Harwell for his second touchdown, a 19-yard score, to bring Miami (Ohio) to within three points with a little more than four minutes remaining.

It was the last time the Redhawks would touch the ball.

Coyer and Brown each rushed for first downs on the Owls’ final drive, which chewed up the remaining four minutes of the game and sealed the Owls’ 24-21 victory.

“That was probably the best we’ve run the four-minute offense all year,” Coyer said. “Between [Brown] and the [offensive line], it was outstanding.”

The Owls will have a bye week before taking on Army at home on Nov. 19. The Owls know that their next game is a must win if they want to have a shot at playing in the postseason.

“We’ve got our sixth win of the year and next week we have a chance to go for seven,” Addazio said. “That’s where our focus is.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Temple football faces a must win

While last week’s loss to Ohio has the Owls clinging to their hopes for postseason play, the football team remains focused on the task at hand in tomorrow’s game against Miami (Ohio).

The loss to Ohio dropped Temple to third place in the Mid-American Eastern Conference standings, with two out of three of their remaining games coming against other MAC East teams. Starting tomorrow, the Owls need to win out to have a chance to gain a bid to play in the postseason.

“There are three regular season games left, our mindset is one at a time, win three games,” coach Steve Addazio said. “What’s in our control is to have our football team as prepared as we can possibly be for the next game. And that has to be the mindset of our program right now.”

The successes and failures of last week’s game against the Bobcats were a departure from the Owls’ typical play this season. Temple entered the game ranked second nationally in scoring defense, but let up a season-high 35 points to Ohio. Similarly, the Owls had been struggling at the quarterback position all season long, yet redshirt-sophomore quarterback Chris Coyer passed for three touchdowns and added 188 yards rushing against the Bobcats.

 Addazio said the positives from the Ohio game outweigh the negatives.

“I thought our program took an important step in that loss, one that hadn’t happened here yet,” Addazio said. “The key question is whether or not that step continues. If it does, then something was gained in that loss.”

“[The Ohio game was] a frustration for us, but we can’t let that frustration get to our heads,” senior defensive back Kee-ayre Griffin added. “We have to bounce back and play collective football as a team.”

Coyer’s breakthrough performance made an impact on Addazio, who said that Coyer will start tomorrow’s game against Miami (Ohio).

“There’s no drama with Chris Coyer,” Addazio said. “I think that’s terrific. That’s the way it has to be.”

Miami (Ohio) have won four out of their last five games after beginning their season 0-4 and sit one game ahead of the Owls in the MAC East standings. The Redhawks feature a pass-heavy offense led by junior quarterback Zac Dysert. Dysert averages 263 yards passing per game and is a threat on the ground with three rushing touchdowns on the year.

“[Dysert] stays in the pocket, he’s a tough kid,” Griffin said. “If he has to make plays with his feet, he will. The defense will just have to step up to the occasion and contain the quarterback.”

“[Miami (Ohio)] has a heck of a quarterback,” Addazio added. “[Dysert] is a real competitor.”

After a rough start to the season, the Redhawks’ defense has settled down in the second half, holding opponents to under two touchdowns in three out of their last four games. Sophomore defensive back Dayonne Nunley is fifth on the team in tackles (42) and is tied for third in the MAC with three interceptions on the year.

“[Miami (Ohio)] has a good offense and a great defense,” Griffin said. “It comes down to will power and who wants it the most.”

“They seem to be growing each week and getting better as they go,” Addazio added about the Redhawks. “In the MAC, any team can be any other team in any proven week.”

Addazio also stated that he would like to see his team win the battle for field position against Miami (Ohio), something he said was a turning point in the game against Ohio.

“We pinned their return game inside the 20, but we didn’t capitalize on that field position cause we let up too many big plays on defense,” Addazio said.

“I have to stay home with my abilities and help the team on offense and defense,” junior punter Brandon McManus added. “Punting wise, I’d like to put more height on height on the ball to limit their return. [Miami (Ohio)’s] return is very good.”

The matchup against Miami (Ohio) tomorrow is the most crucial game of the year for the Owls, as are the rest of the remaining games on the schedule. Despite the pressure of having to win out, Addazio said his is satisfied with how his team has performed.

“I really like our football team right now,” Addazio said. “I really see a lot of positive things happening. I see an extremely competitive and talented football team, and I’m proud of that.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Basketball preview insert edition of The Temple News

This week's edition of The Temple News feature's the men's and women's basketball preview insert.

For complete basketball preview coverage, pick up a copy of The Temple News on campus, or go to http://temple-news.com/files/2011/11/November-8.pdf.

Men's basketball forced to replace legend

Averaging nearly one double-double per game throughout his entire career, Lavoy Allen was a stable force for men’s basketball, game in and game out for four years.

The Owls will attempt to maintain that level of consistency, as for the first time since 2006, the team will take the court this season without Allen leading them at forward.

“[Allen’s] greatest asset was that he was the same guy every day,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “He was very consistent as a player and very consistent as a person. I think the guys got used to that, they knew that they could count on him.”

A quiet but efficient leader, Allen became Temple’s all-time leading rebounder last year while leading the Owls to the NCAA tournament.

“[Allen] wasn’t one of the most talkative people, but on the court he was the most efficient player that I’ve ever been around,” redshirt-senior guard Ramone Moore said. “When you walk into a room you might not even notice [Allen], but once he’s on that floor, you know his presence is felt.”

Allen was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the National Basketball Association draft in June. This season, the Owls will be dealt the task of replacing Allen’s production, both on and off the court.

“There’s a chemistry piece that’s missing,” Dunphy said. “[Allen’s] reliability was very strong, and I think the guys took comfort in that. That consistency is what you really need.”

Graduate center Micheal Eric will start this year as the Owls’ top returning big man. But Eric will have to improve upon last season’s 5.9 rebound per game average in an effort to make up for losing Allen. Dunphy said that Eric can’t do it alone, everyone will have to step up and grab rebounds.

“On the defensive end in rebounding, everybody’s going to have to take a piece of the action without [Allen],” Dunphy said. “He was a great rebounder. He was the best defender we had. You could always count on him.”

Redshirt-freshman Anthony Lee will also have a chance to gain a significant amount of playing time in his first season. Dunphy and Lee’s teammates said that the 6-foot-9-inch forward, who redshirted last season with a back injury, could make an impact immediately in the paint.

“[Lee] is doing about as good as he can do,” Dunphy said. “I’m impressed with where he is, but he is going to have to continue to make progress. He’s probably going to have to give us 20-some minutes a game.”

The Owls also have a multiplicity of experienced guards returning. Senior Juan Fernandez is a team co-captain and third-year starter, and junior Khalif Wyatt and sophomore Aaron Brown averaged 20.7 and 9.9 minutes per game, respectively, last year.

“I think every year poses a different issue,” Dunphy said. “Some years you’re going to be a good team and you’re going to spread out the scoring across the whole five positions, and other years there’s going to be kids who are just really good scorers and other people will defer to them.”

A shift from a forward-based offensive setup to an offense that centers on the athleticism of the guards could be in place due to the emergence of Moore last year, who lead the team in scoring in his first full season as a starter.

“I think a lot of times we might have to go small, so that might put the load on myself,” Moore said. “I think it’s going to be a question for all of us. It’s nothing we can’t handle.”

Dunphy said that there will be a continuous cycle of guards each game, citing the benefits of multiple players coming off the bench.

“When you come off the bench you see the game a little bit better,” Dunphy said. “You’re expected to perform coming off the bench. You can’t make as many mistakes.”

“A lot of those guys, you can tell they’re trying to improve and make a difference on the team,” Randall added.

While Dunphy said it’s impossible to replace Allen as a player or a person, the Owls’ depth at guard combined with their size at forward makes it that much easier.

“I don’t think you ever replace guys like Allen,” Dunphy said. “I’m not sure who we are yet, we’re still developing towards who we are.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Temple left out of Big East invites

Big East commissioners travled to Philadelphia over the weekend and extended invites to six schools today.

Temple was not one of them.

The Big East offered invites for football only to Air Force, Navy, and Boise State and all-sports invites to Central Florida, Houston, and Southern Methodist University.

There was some speculation that Temple would receive an all-sports invitation as well. In addition to the meeting taking place in Temple's home city, Mayor Michael Nutter and former Governer Ed Rendell each sent letters to Big East Commissioner John Marinatto over the weekend pleading Temple's case.

The Big East conference is undergoing a dynamic transition after several of its premier programs have recently dropped out. Athletic powerhouses Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced their departure for the Atlantic Coast Conference in September, while West Virginia and prospective member TCU will be moving to the Big 12.

The Big East is aiming to reach at least 12 football-playing programs. If the six schools all accept their invites, the Big East will still be one team short of their goal of 12.

In addition to Temple, Memphis is reportedly on the Big East's radar for the final slot.