With 18 regular-season games on its schedule, Temple’s 1-3 record might not seem important in the grand scheme of an entire season. This team, however, needs no reminder of its decline around the same point last season.
The team started the 2016 season with two wins in its first four games. The Owls finished the year with a 1-14 record and didn’t win a game after Sept. 18.
The mindset in the Owls’ locker room is to prevent history from repeating itself.
“The way last season unfolded has been brought up a lot,” freshman defender Aisha Brown said. “A huge reason why I don’t think we’re going to repeat what this team did last season is because we’re always playing with that in the back of our minds.”
Coach Seamus O’Connor has witnessed a difference even in something as basic as how the team conducts itself following a loss.
“You can just see there’s a lot more buy-in with this team, even through the first few games,” O’Connor said. “Last year, they just took the beatings. This year they’re clearly angry about it when they lose.”
The change in disposition following games has O’Connor unconcerned that this season will take the same turn as last year.
O’Connor structured the schedule to accommodate his young squad. He committed the team to two preseason scrimmages instead of its usual one to prepare the Owls to play at the Division I level.
Temple has two home games this week after Sunday’s double-overtime loss to Lehigh University. Then the Owls have an 11-day layoff between Sunday and Sept. 15, when they play on Towson University’s home field.
“I always like to try and schedule some sort of extended break between games right around the time that we start our conference schedule,” O’Connor said. “We look at the preseason as season one, our non-conference schedule as season two and our conference schedule following that break as season three.”
The break will allow players to evaluate themselves individually and as a team before entering their conference schedule — a stretch of nine games, with the team traveling to Memphis, Tennessee, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Tampa and Orlando, Florida in less than a month.
The gap will also allow the coaching staff to recruit in places like California during the height of the high school season, O’Connor said.
The Owls had a stretch without games from Sept. 21-28 last season.
“Last year, we practiced a ton during that long break in the season,” junior forward Kerri McGinley said. “It was like a second preseason.”
Despite the Owls’ 1-3 record, the team’s consistent improvement from one game to the next gives O’Connor confidence that its record is not representative of what this team is capable of doing. The Owls took a season-high 22 shots on Sunday.
“A lot of what we use the out-of-conference schedule for is to get ourselves ready for the [American Athletic Conference] schedule,” O’Connor said. “I told them after the St. Joe’s game, ‘We’re 20 percent away.’ After the overtime loss versus Lehigh, we’re 6 percent away. We’re really close.”