Sports

Inexperienced players making their marks

The stat sheets and locker room following men’s basketball games have a different feel these days. First-year coach Fran Dunphy has put together a supporting cast for senior Dustin Salisbery, as the Owls (2-2) have relied heavily on a seven-man rotation. No longer does one player dominate the point totals or the media attention. Dunphy’s… Read more »

The stat sheets and locker room following
men’s basketball games have a different feel these days.

First-year coach Fran Dunphy has put together a supporting cast for senior Dustin Salisbery, as the Owls (2-2) have relied heavily on a seven-man rotation.

No longer does one player dominate the point totals or the media attention.
Dunphy’s septet features some of the least likely names.

After a recent game, juniors Chris Clark and DaShone Kirkendoll, reserves a year ago, were being hawked down by reporters.
Meanwhile, Salisbery, one of the team’s captains, watched from his locker.

It’s easy to say things are a bit different.

Prior to the season, Salisbery and fellow senior Dion Dacons were expected to start every game.

Nothing has changed in that category, but others have stepped up.

Dacons said last week’s win against Rutgers
“was a major stepping stone” for sophomore
Dionte Christmas and Kirkendoll, who each came off the bench last season.

Both players have blossomed in expanded
roles. Christmas leads the team with 20.5 points per game, and Kirkendoll is tops in three-point efficiency.

Dunphy cited that the Owls have played with vigor as junior Mark Tyndale remains academically ineligible at least until a Dec. 16 meeting with Towson.

With Tyndale out, Dunphy said he has been wary of how much practice time Tyndale gets with the first team.

But the coach said it’s something he has to monitor.

“I’m going to have to revamp how we do substitutions,” Dunphy said. “It is what it is.”

Following the Owls’ top four scorers, sophomores Semaj Inge and Sergio Olmos have absorbed an increase in minutes this season.

And Clark, a point guard with 16 assists off the bench, rounds out Dunphy’s seven-man shuffle.

Salisbery said he doesn’t expect Dunphy’s
short rotation to catch up to the Owls.
“I think it’ll be fine. There are a lot of guys who can play who weren’t getting the opportunities”

a year ago, Salisbery said. “If we need them, they’re going to come in and be ready to play.”

TAKING A GAMBLE

Following Tuesday’s contest with Western
Michigan, the Owls will prepare for a two-hour road trip to their next home game.

When the Owls take the floor Saturday, they will hold home-court advantage against Cincinnati (5-2) in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.

The game will be Temple’s first ever in the venue, which will also host this season’s Atlantic Ten Conference tournament.

GOLDEN ARCS

The Owls are experiencing a flurry of superb three-point shooting. In fact, they’re shooting 45 percent from the field, which includes a scorching 42 percent from long range.

The Owls are currently embroiled in a 306-game streak of hitting at least one trey, dating back to February 1996.

Without a dominant interior threat, that streak might not come to an end this season.

RPI WATCH

It’s never too early to start watching the Owls’ rise and fall in the Ratings Percentage Index.

According to national sportswriter Ken Pomeroy’s Web site, kenpom.com, RPI takes into account quality wins and strength of schedule among other factors.

Pomeroy has the Owls ranked 302nd in the nation, about 237 spots out of attaining a place in the NCAA Tournament’s 65-team field.

IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME

Sophomore forward Dionte Christmas was named the A-10 Player of the Week for the week ending Dec. 2.

Christmas leads the league with 20.5 points per game and is tied with teammate DaShone Kirkendoll for three-pointers made.

MAKE OR BREAK

As “The Temple News” goes online exclusively for the holiday season, the Owls embark on a critical four-game stretch.

Between Dec. 30 and Jan. 10, the Owls are scheduled to play Big 5 rivals Villanova and Saint Joseph’s, nationally-ranked Duke and A-10 frontrunner Xavier.

Be sure to check out www.temple-news.com throughout December and January for the latest coverage.

Christopher A. Vito can be reached at christopher.vito@temple.edu.

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