Sports

Basketball Preview: Courting the youth

Underclassmen will play crucial role in rebuilding year.

After losing senior guards Shey Peddy and Kristen McCarthy following last season, a number of young guards will now be asked to perform the duties formerly occupied by two Temple greats.

The Owls enter the 2012–13 season with six freshmen and sophomore guards. As if this wasn’t a tall enough task for coach Tonya Cardoza to overcome, projected starting point guard, sophomore Monaye Merritt, suffered a torn ACL in the offseason that ended her 2012–13 campaign before it even started.

“[Merritt’s injury] changed things drastically because you have Monaye, who didn’t play a lot but was able to get some experience,” Cardoza said. “We were hoping that she would come in and fight for that starting position. She’s someone who has played the point position all her life and has a lot to offer.”

With Merritt sidelined for the entire season, sophomore Tyonna Williams will likely take over as the squad’s starting point guard. Williams, who has played mainly as a two-guard under Cardoza, said she’s up for the challenge.

“It’s definitely different playing on the college level as a point guard,” Williams said. “I still have a lot of learning to do, a lot of growing to do. I learned a lot from the starting guards last year, especially [Peddy].”

Peddy averaged 17 points, five rebounds and three assists per game last year as a senior. Cardoza said she has seen Williams develop into a potential leader in Peddy’s absence.

“[Williams’] whole demeanor has changed,” Cardoza said. “I think she’s done a complete turnaround where she knows what’s expected of her and she doesn’t want to let anybody down. She wants to be the captain of this team. To see her do that in one year, it makes me smile.”

With Williams taking over at the point position for Merritt, freshman May Dayan is expected to become Cardoza’s starting shooting guard. Dayan, who Temple recruited from Israel, said she is aware of the magnitude of being forced into a starting role in her first season.

“They want us to lead the team,” Dayan said. “Most of the time the ball is in the guards’ hands. We make the decisions, so they expect a lot this season.”

“I think [Dayan] is the next [guard] that could be a really good scorer for us,” Cardoza said. “She can get to the basket, and she can shoot the three. It’s just making her do it because she’s so unselfish. She needs to understand that she can score and we need that from her.”

Sophomore Rateska Brown is also expected to interchange between the one-guard and two-guard positions in wake of Merritt’s injury. Brown played sparingly last season, averaging 3.9 points per game.

“I expect to produce a lot,” Brown said. “I want to be a huge contribution to the team this year. I would like to score a lot if I can, play defense if I can, but I would like to be a huge contribution as far as scoring, as far as helping the team with assists and things like that.”

Cardoza has yet to announce her starting forward. There is some speculation that she may choose to go small and start a guard, but freshman forward Sally Kabengano may have the upper hand. Kabengano has experimented with various positions during the course of the preseason.

“As you get into [playing multiple positions], you get used to it,” Kabengano said. “At the start it’s hard trying to remember all the plays and all the different positions and trying to play in a new position.”

While the focal point of opposing defenses will likely be senior center Victoria Macaulay, it will be up to Temple’s young, inexperienced guards to take care of the ball and hit open shots once the defense collapses on Macaulay, Cardoza said.

“We need to make sure they’re taking care of the ball,” Cardoza said. “We need to make sure every time down we get a good shot at the basket. I think we’re going to play more of a perimeter game.”

With a glaring lack of depth up front for the Owls, Cardoza has no choice but to put trust into her young backcourt, something she said she feels comfortable with.

“Yeah, we’re inexperienced, but we’re not going to use that as an excuse,” Cardoza said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t expect a lot from them.”

Jake Adams and Tyler Sablich can be reached at sports@temple-news.com.

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