A lengthy absence

The Owls look to earn a NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

Quenton DeCosey, a senior point guard at Temple, is one of three players to have played in all 37 basketball games during the 2014-2015 season. | Margo Reed TTN

Every day this summer, Quenton DeCosey and his teammates woke up at 7 a.m.

After their 8 a.m.class, the senior guard and the rest of the team walked across campus to McGonigle Hall to begin a 9:30 a.m. workout in the team’s weight room.

After winning 26 games last season and missing the NCAA tournament,  the Owls spent the summer on Main Campus working out three times a day.

“You can see the benefits,” DeCosey said. “We have to learn more about each other, and that chemistry this summer will carry out on the court this season.”

The Owls have not made an appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2012-13—the final year of six consecutive appearances made by the team.

Temple finished 13-5 in American Athletic Conference play last season and entered the conference tournament as the No. 4 seed. After an 80-75 win against Memphis in the quarterfinals of the tournament, the team lost to Southern Methodist 69-56 in the semifinals—the third time the Mustangs defeated the Owls last season.

This offseason, in the conference’s preseason coaches’ poll, Temple was projected to finish sixth in the 12 team-league.

“I saw that they had us ranked sixth, but me and my teammates feel the same way—we think we are at the top of the conference,” DeCosey said. “We are going to have to prove that we belong at the top.”

The Owls return nine players from last year’s squad and bring in four freshmen, three of which are guards.

With the graduation of Will Cummings—last year’s leading scorer—the squad is looking to replace the all-conference guard who averaged 14.8 points per game last season.

Junior guard Josh Brown is slated to step in for Cummings and be the team’s lead guard.

“I expect a lot from Josh,” junior forward Jaylen Bond said. “He’s one of the hardest workers on the team. I feel like he is going to be a great point guard for our team.”

Of the five guards returning, DeCosey was the lone player to average double figures in scoring in 2014-15. The next highest was Brown, who averaged 6.3 points per game last season.

The group scored 918 combined points last season in 2,831 minutes of play last season.

“We have a lot of depth,” DeCosey said. “We look really good in the backcourt with me and Josh. I think we are solid. We are going to be able to compete with any team’s guards.”

Joining DeCosey and company in the backcourt are freshman guards Trey Lowe, Levan Shawn Alston, Jr. and Ayan Nunez de Carvalho.

Lowe, from Ewing High School in New Jersey, was ranked No. 127 in the Rivals 150 2015 prospect rankings and Alston, the No. 111 ranked player,  joins the team after being named the 2015 Gatorade Pennsylvania State Player of the Year.

Carvalho, who graduated from   Escuela Normal Superior Jose Maria Torres in Entre Rios, averaged 10 points per game for Argentina’s national team  at the  FIBA U17 World Championships held in Dubai, UAE.

“I was really impressed by the freshmen,” DeCosey said. “I heard they were good, but once I got on the court with them, I saw they were really good.”

The Owls open their season  on Friday with a matchup against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 Poll. They will also play No. 17 University of Wisconsin on Dec. 5 and participate in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Nov. 19-20, 22.

“It will be great for us,” Bond said. “We will play against a lot of great opponents prior to coming into conference play. Hopefully we can come out with some wins.”

In conference play, the squad will play No. 20 Connecticut and Cincinnati, the No. 3 team in the preseason coaches poll, twice—along with a home matchup with Southern Methodist, The American’s preseason favorite, Jan. 23.

“This year, we are going to do a lot of great things,” Brown said. “It starts with our first game, and we are going to compete every game.”

On Nov. 1, the team scrimmaged West Virginia University in Frederick, Maryland at Hood College. The Mountaineers, who reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last season, defeated the Owls 85-74.

“As a team we played really well,” DeCosey said. “It was a great test for us. … They got after us every play.”

Michael Guise can be reached at michael.guise@temple.edu or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.

CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story that ran in the Nov. 10 issue, the men’s basketball team was said to have been out of the postseason since the 2012-13 season. The team played in the National Invitation Tournament last year, which is a postseason tournament. 

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