Temple is trying to work through its split persona.
“There are two teams,” coach Tonya Cardoza said.
In their first season in the American Athletic Conference, the Owls’ schedule and lack of experience have produced an array of inconsistent performances.
Coming off last year’s 14-18 season, when Temple was unable to earn a win streak of longer than two games, the 2013-14 season showed signs of change.
“It is different,” junior guard Rateska Brown said. “We’ve got a good group here. Everybody’s capable of scoring. Everybody’s capable of playing [defense]. Everybody can play together. We’re a way different team than last year”.
The season began with three consecutive victories, the longest streak for the team since a 14-game winning streak two years ago. But since starting the season with a string of victories, the Owls have been unable to earn back-to back-wins without interjecting losses.
In the 10 games that followed the perfect start, the Owls recorded a 5-5 record. During that span, every loss was responded with a win in the following game, preventing any losing streaks.
“No one really likes losing, but when the team feels like there’s something that is holding us back, and we just try figuring out what it is,” freshman guard Feyonda Fitzgerald said, in regards to the prevention of consecutive losses. “We come together and do what we got to do to turn it around.”
But in the same stretch of games, consecutive wins were also not achieved, continuing a trend of trading wins with losses.
Temple suffered its first consecutive losses this season when it faced South Florida and No. 1 Connecticut, losing both games by double digits. Previous to the two game losing streak, the Owls had lost by double digits one time this year. For Cardoza, the 80-36 loss to UConn, where Temple held within single digits of the Huskies for most of the first half, epitomized the performance of her players this season.
“We liked the team that showed up for the first 15 minutes versus Connecticut,” Cardoza said. “And when we play like that, we’re a tough team to beat.”
In a season where Temple’s 10-player roster contains six underclassmen, the Owls heavily depend on inexperienced players, like leading scorer Fitzgerald, to make an impact. Though her players are young, Cardoza insists that the overall team is to blame for inconsistency.
With a 10-7 record, standing at fifth place in The American, Cardoza said she believes that the team’s consistency will improve as the season progresses.
Cardoza has attributed Temple’s increased schedule strength, due to its induction into The American, as a factor in the Owls’ difficulty to string wins together. Still, Cardoza said it’s up to her team to get itself in a situation to win games.
“We can’t sit around and hope someone else doesn’t do their job,” Cardoza said.
Brien Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BErick1123.