Sports

Freshmen Atkinson, Taylor give boost to Temple front court

ESPN.com rated both players as three-star recruits coming out of high school.

Standing just more than six feet tall, Erica Covile was usually the tallest player on the court for Temple last year.

With a talented group of guards and lack of effective post players, the Owls often put a five-guard lineup on the court last season.

Coach Tonya Cardoza said that will not be the case this year.

“That was something we started doing when we were trying to figure out what worked last season,” she said. “And it worked because those five guards were our best players.”

Two new freshmen have added size and depth to Temple’s frontcourt.

Freshmen Shantay Taylor and Shannen Atkinson are the new faces looking to make an impact on Temple’s 2016-17 season.

Taylor stands at 6-feet-3 inches and Atkinson is 6-feet-4 inches tall.

“I’m just focusing in practice, learning the offense, learning the plays,” Atkinson said. “I’m just doing everything I can to be ready for the season and help the team.”

Low post defense and rebounding are two of the weaknesses Cardoza hopes Taylor and Atkinson can help neutralize.

The Owls ranked No. 44 in Division I with 41.4 rebounds per game last season, but they also gave up more than 13 offensive rebounds per game.

“I think I can help a lot rebounding,” Taylor said. “I love to attack the glass, especially the offensive glass. So I definitely think I can really help the team.”

Temple’s four returning starters bring a veteran presence. Over the offseason, junior guard Tanaya Atkinson worked on her game to complement the new bigs and help give Temple an advantage in the low post.

“She’s a matchup nightmare at the four,” Cardoza said of Tanaya Atkinson. “If they put a big on her she can blow by them and score, or if they put a guard on her she’s worked on her post game and can score from there.”

Scoring from the low post is a focal point for the team this year. Cardoza is looking to have reliable post scorers she can give the ball to get a bucket.

In Temple’s 77-76 loss to the University of Michigan in last year’s Women’s National Invitation Tournament quarterfinal, the Wolverines outscored the Owls 42-34 in the paint.

ESPN.com ranked Shannen Atkinson a three-star recruit and gave her a 90 out of 100 rating. Her recruiting profile describes her as an “agile left-handed finesse post” player.

The site also rated Taylor a three-star recruit and gave her a rating of 88, describing her as an “agile, athletic interior prospect” who “brings developing offensive arsenal.”

“Our post players have developed and we think we can get a lot out of them,” Cardoza said.

Adding size is not going to detract from Cardoza’s biggest emphasis as a coach. Temple likes to get out and run on the fast break and push the ball whenever possible.

“I think I fit in well with the guards on the team,” Shannen Atkinson said. “All the guards are really quick and run, and that is something I like doing. I think I can run the floor really well and give the guards an option to pass to on the break.”

Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at kevinschaeffer@temple.edu or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer.

Kevin Schaeffer

can be reached at kevinschaeffer@temple.edu
Or you can follow Kevin on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer
Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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