Three Reasons Temple’s Blowout of Kansas Shouldn’t Surprise

Posted by Mike Lemaire on December 24th, 2014

Three weeks ago I published a piece on why people should start feeling good about Temple‘s chances to make noise this season. The Owls responded to my bold proclamation by losing to a mediocre St. Joseph’s team on that very same day and getting pasted by 23 points on the road against an admittedly excellent Villanova team. The results didn’t necessarily prove that I was an idiot for hyping Temple, but it didn’t exactly make me feel good about going out on that limb either. Today I am feeling much better after watching the Owls absolutely drub a Kansas team by 25 points that entered the game with one of the most impressive non-conference resumes of anyone in the country. On the surface, the outcome was a huge surprise as a usually efficient Jayhawks’ offense was bogged down by turnovers and missed jump shots. But the Owls have quietly been sneaking up KenPom’s team ratings and have pushed themselves squarely into the conference title discussion with conference play right around the corner. Casual college basketball fans may view the Owls’ victory Monday night as a stunning upset and it was, but the college basketball fans who have been paying close attention this season likely knew the Owls had more than a puncher’s chance of taking down the mighty Jayhawks in Philadelphia and here is why.

Temple's Win Last Night Proves Its Dangerous to Doubt Fran Dunphy

Temple’s Win Last Night Proves Its Dangerous to Doubt Fran Dunphy

1. Temple made more than half of their two-point baskets. It’s no secret that Fran Dunphy‘s club has been bricking shots at a frightening rate this season. Even after last night’s show, the team is still shooting just 42.9 percent on its two-point shots this season — good for 294th in the country and nearly five percentage points worse than the 47.6 percent that serves as the national average. Volume-scoring guards Will Cummings and Quenton DeCosey have been primarily to blame for this unsightly mark. They use the majority of the team’s possessions and take most of the team’s shots as well, which is unfortunate, because both players are still shooting under 40 percent on two-point field goals for the season. Monday night was a different story however. The Owls made 21-of-28 two-pointers (75 percent) and both Cummings (3-of-5 from inside the arc) and DeCosey (6-of-7 from inside the arc) played under control and allowed other players on the roster to shoulder some of the offensive burden as well. DeCosey and Cummings are still the team’s best and most important offensive players but they have often tried to do too much offensively, especially against good teams. Last night they led the team in scoring again, but they also patiently looked for good shots and got to the free-throw consistently, which put a lot of pressure on the Jayhawks’ defense and the unit was obviously unable to respond. The bad news is that it will be virtually impossible for the Owls to shoot the ball like they did last night again this season. They are a better offensive team than they have shown, but they aren’t THAT good. That said, if Cummings and DeCosey can settle down offensively and other players can chip in, Temple will continue to see its shooting percentages rise to a more respectable rate.

2. The Owls aren’t the same team they were at the beginning of the month. Those who haven’t followed Temple all season were probably wondering, “Dunphy probably should have played that Jesse Morgan guy more at the beginning of the season”. Of course we would have seen a lot more of Morgan and fellow fresh face Devin Coleman if Dunphy had been allowed to play them. But both are transfers who were forced to sit out for the first semester, but now they are eligible and they make Temple far more dangerous offensively. Morgan is the more impactful of the two and was brilliant last night, scoring 17 points to go along with three assists and three rebounds. Coleman only played 14 minutes but he knocked down a triple and chipped in two rebounds and two assists without turning the ball over, so he made a difference as well. Not only does the addition of the duo give Temple more options at the guard position as well as a legitimate two-way player in Morgan and three-point shooter in Coleman. It also allows Dunphy to push Daniel Dingle and Mark Williams — two players having brutal seasons — to the outskirts of the rotation. Perhaps even more encouraging is that both Dingle and Williams are young players who are liable to improve quickly, which gives Dunphy 10 players who could legitimately compete for playing time. He obviously won’t go that deep ever, but it’s still a nice luxury to have.

3. Temple’s defense is legitimate. I wish I had the time and the resources and the know-how to look up the largest turnarounds in efficiency from one season to the next for a specific unit because if everything holds Temple’s defense has to be near the top of that list. The Owls finished last season ranked 257th in adjusted defensive efficiency, it was the worst mark in the conference by a sizable margin. This season, thanks to suffocating perimeter defense, excellent rim protection and solid rebounding, the Owls are 42nd in adjusted defensive efficiency, which is currently the 4th-best mark in the conference teams with tournament aspirations like Maryland, Iowa State, and VCU. They dominated Kansas on that end of the floor on Monday night, forcing the Jayhawks into one of their worst shooting nights of the season and blocking eight shots in the process. Certainly Kansas can play much better than they did, but it would be wrong to withhold credit for the Owls’ defense because they played a role. That level of defense may not help the Owls win a national title, but it is probably good enough to contend for a conference crown, especially if the offensive continues to improve.

mlemaire (324 Posts)

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *