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Game 8: vs. Temple (6-2)

Despite losing their top inside/outside combination, coach Fran Dunphy has Temple off to a good start in 2009, winning 6 of their first 8 games, which include home victories over Siena, Ball St. (20 point win), and Penn St., a neutral floor win over Virginia Tech, and road wins at Delaware and Western (6 point win).  Temple's losses were a 1 pointer at Georgetown and a 7 point neutral floor loss against St. John's.  The Owls aren't going to win any style points for the way they play, but they won't apologize for it either, especially given their results.  Coach Dunphy doesn't have a deep team, so he's slowed the game down, emphasizing efficient, patient offense, and tough half-court defense.  Each of Temple's players offer something unique offensively, forcing you to guard everybody.  Defensively, they're long and athletic, making it tough for opponents to shoot over the top or finish inside.  Temple has a rugged squad that should give the Atlantic 10 fits.

Starters

Luis Guzman, 6'3" 200 Sr.  4 pts, 4 reb, 3 ass.  38% FG, 43% 3PFG, 44% FT

Juan Fernandez, 6'4" 180 So.  11 pts, 4 ass, 3 reb.  38% FG, 36% 3PFG, 67% FT

Ryan Brooks, 6'4" 200 Sr.  14 pts, 6 reb.  39% FG, 19% 3PFG, 77% FT

Lavoy Allen, 6'9" 225 Jr.  12 pts, 10 reb.  48% FG, 14% 3PFG, 71% FT

Craig Williams, 6'9" 240 Jr.  6 pts, 2 reb.  38% FG, 33% 3PFG, 40% FT

Off the Bench

Ramone Moore, 6'4" 180 So.  6 pts, 4 reb.  39% FG, 0/12 3PFG, 44% FT

Rahlir Jefferson, 6'6" 200 Fr.  5 pts, 3 reb.  36% FG, 63% FT

If you've watched Temple play this year, you'll notice their offense is very familiar to ours, more so the previous 2 years than this year.  The Owls will spread the floor, giving their guards room to create their own shot.  They will run the Princeton offense, so look for a lot of dribble handoffs and pick and pops, especially with Williams in the lineup who plays the Monty St. Clair catch and shoot role.  Temple's backcourt plays like a John Chaney backcourt, they'll be patient until they see an opening, then they'll attack.  Guzman is looking to pass when he drives, he shoots more when the shot clock is winding down.  Fernandez's game is similar to Pepe Sanchez.  He's what you would expect from a European guard, crafty with the ball, good court vision, and deep shooting range.  Brooks is a better 3 point shooter than his numbers indicate, but he's struggled a little more without Dionte Christmas attracting double and triple teams.  Allen is Temple's post threat.  He has a nice back to the basket game, but he can also drive under control and hit the 17-footer.  In the future, he'll be a 3 point threat, but his range doesn't extend that far yet.  Off the bench, Moore can play any of the guard positions and looks to drive the ball.  Jefferson looks like he'll be a good player.  He's a big, athletic kid who can penetrate and finish under control well for a freshman.

Temple will run a couple of set plays, mostly looking for Brooks to get a shot on the wing or to get Allen the ball down low.  But Temple will mostly spread the floor and look for their guards to initiate the offense.  Their bigs will set back screens to try and free up Fernandez and Brooks as they dribble weave.  When the shot clock gets under 10, Guzman will come off the high pick and roll looking to create a shot for himself or someone else.  On inbounds plays, their deadliest play looks for Brooks off a double screen.  If Brooks isn't open, the 2nd option is to throw it out high, then right back down to the block to Guzman who steps in and posts.

Defensively, watching Temple play defense is like watching the shell drill in practice, everyone is in the perfect position.  And because everyone is always in the perfect position, they're always in great rebounding position.  The only criticism I'd have is they can be slow to react to back door cuts, but they don't get beat that often.

Temple has held 6 of their 8 opponents under 60 points.  Their defense ranks 9th nationally in points/possession, 7th in effective FG percentage, 6th in 3 point field goal percentage defense and in the top 50 in team defense and opponents' offensive rebound percentage.  Teams are only shooting 37% from the field against Temple's D, 23% from 3.  It will be important for us to get out and run when possible and take advantage of transition and our depth.  At the other end, can we play solid defense for 35 seconds at a time?  Temple isn't a prolific offensive team, shooting 40% from the floor, 26% from 3.  They don't get to the foul line much, and when they do, they're only converting at a 63% clip.  But they take care of the ball and share the ball really well.  The Owls average 15 assists aginst just 10 turnovers a game.  We have to stop dribble penetration, defend the pick and roll, and rebound so they can't keep running clock.  We will have to play a very mature, strong game in order to win Tuesday night.

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