The Temple men’s basketball team comes out of the winter break with six wins and 12 losses, including blowout losses to St. Bonaventure and N.C. State. With their streak of 12 straight NCAA tournament bids on the ropes, maybe down for the count.
Is this the same Temple team that went to the Elite Eight last season, before bowing out to Michigan State?
This Temple team is inconsistent, soft, and unable to play against the Atlantic 10 conference’s top teams.
And it is beginning to show.
“I don’t have an answer for it,” coach John Chaney said. “These were the things that guys used to do years ago when they were throwing games. You know, when guys threw games, I lived at that time, that’s what they used to do.”
Temple started the season with a tough slate of games against Florida and Maryland and two losses. They won the next three games against Charlotte, Penn State and Wisconsin but then went on a six-game losing streak.
After winning the next three games, wins against Fordham, Duquesne and Rhode Island, many still said that for the Owls to have a chance at the NCAA tournament, they would have to exorcise its early season woes and dominate the A-10.
That has not happened.
Instead the Owls find themselves in a whole heap of trouble. The bleeding will not stop anytime soon, unless the old Owls suddenly resurface.
Temple is 3-3 in the A-10 and stuck in a three-way tie for third place with UMass and St. Bonaventure in the A-10 Eastern Conference. Wednesday night’s game against Fordham ended too late for this edition.
Temple has lost three straight A-10 games, St. Bonaventure, UMass and Richmond, and will kiss any chance they have for an NCAA tournament bid away if they do not win the A-10 tournament.
Can they win? Sure.
But there is a whole lot of basketball to be played between now and then.
The Owls have to get back to the basics: play hard-nosed Chaney defense and take good shots.
Inconsistency has plagued the Owls thus far this season. If one player is doing everything correctly on the court, another one of the key players is not executing like he should be.
“Brian Polk and Nile Murry have been doing a great job, making big baskets, big foul shots, and everything else,” Chaney said. “But unfortunately, when those guys get better, and you lose the efforts and the energy of your better players — Lynn Greer and Kevin Lyde and David Hawkins and Alex Wesby — those are the main hubs of this team, when you lose any one of those guys, you are in deep trouble. And we are.”
Junior forward Greg Jefferson was suspended indefinitely for breaking team rules at practice on Tuesday … Redshirt sophomore Brian Polk won his second A-10 Rookie of the Week award last week. Polk, a 6-foot-4-inch guard from Harbeson, Del., averaged 18.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals in two games. He led Temple with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, with three three-pointers, six rebounds, and six steals in Temple’s 80-61 loss at N.C. State last Saturday.