Senior forward Lavoy Allen has not played up to expectations.
Uh oh. Things are starting to get scary for the men’s basketball team.
With Saturday’s loss to Xavier, the Owls have now lost two of their last three games. Both of the losses, which included a thrashing by Duquesne, have come against teams that currently sit at the top of the Atlantic Ten Conference standings.
On one hand, I could write these shortcomings off as tough road losses every team goes through. And to a certain extent, that’s true.
However, in a more pessimistic approach, the losses show the Owls aren’t ready to go into hostile environments and beat the conference’s better teams. The Cherry and White still have at least two more intimidating road challenges on the schedule against No. 3 Duke and Dayton.
Temple’s defense, its calling card the past few seasons, looked foolish against the Musketeers and the Dukes. The Owls let Duquesne start off on a 22-2 run, a blow they never fully recovered from.
One might argue the Owls have stumbled in the past before getting better in March, where they’ve won three straight conference titles, and that’s true. However, only the top four teams are guaranteed to go to Atlantic City.
The rest of the teams will play in on-campus games, only to advance to the championship tournament if they win their preliminary round matchup. The Owls have yet to lose at home this season, but I’d feel safer if the Owls were guaranteed a return to Boardwalk Hall.
The Owls have never won a conference title under coach Fran Dunphy as anything lower than a four seed. Currently, the Owls are tied for fourth place with the Flyers at 3-2 in the conference with 11 A-10 games remaining.
Interesting fact – I had as many points against Xavier as senior forward Lavoy Allen did. No, I didn’t develop an ankle-breaking crossover move. Allen just came out flat.
In 13 minutes of play, Allen recorded four fouls while missing all three of his field goal attempts en route to a whopping zero-point performance.
Bluntly put, that’s not acceptable. Allen needs to show up on a more consistent basis, especially against better competition. In his last five games, Allen has averaged seven points per game on 35.1 percent shooting. His coach, however, is appreciative of the other things Allen brings.
“I yell at him and wish he would do better things and be more assertive and aggressive, but Lavoy is who he is,” Dunphy said. “I think we all need to take a step back and appreciate that about him. As I say to him, and I’ve said it to him a number of times, I don’t know where we would be without [him] these last three years and change without him. He’s that good of a basketball player.”
Honestly, I can agree. With the emergence of sophomore guard Khalif Wyatt and junior forward Scootie Randall, both of who have posted 25-and-up point performances in the last week, Allen doesn’t have to be the No. 1 offensive option. What he does have to be, however, is a reliable rebounding and shot-blocking option, something he hasn’t been lately.
Allen has recorded double-digit rebounds three times this season after averaging 10.7 rebounds per game last season. Allen almost declared for the National Basketball Association draft this offseason, and from his personal standpoint, it might have been the wrong decision to come back to North Broad Street. Allen’s draft stock has taken a dive this season as he’s gone from a preseason all-conference selection to arguably the third or fourth best player on his own team.
“Lavoy is who Lavoy is,” Dunphy said. “I love him, he’s a terrific basketball player … he’ll be better as the year goes on.”
Let’s hope so. Otherwise, I might have to start working on my post game.
Kyle Gauss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.