Eric and Allen. Allen and Eric.
They are the last names of Temple’s tallest
recruits this year. And they are looking to be the last line of defense for the Owls next season.
Following a season in which senior Dion Dacons and his 6-6 frame competitively played center, the 6-9 Lavoy Allen and the 6-10 Micheal Eric will add some size to the roster as incoming freshmen next year.
Coach Fran Dunphy said the two recruits’
size will upgrade the team.
“We didnt have a lot of size up front,” Dunphy said. “Other than Sergio Olmos, we were kind of hurting up front. Dion did a great job of playing out of position, more or less, and trying to guard the biggest guys. And I think he did a very good job of that, but we needed to help him a little bit more. I think we were undersized this year.”
With Dacons and his team-leading 6.9 rebounds graduating in May, that leaves 6-5 guard Mark Tyndale as the Owls’ top returning rebounder. Allen, who led Pennsbury High in scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking, said rebounding
is one of his strengths. Sound like a match?
“Yeah, that and playing defense are the strongest points of my game,” Allen said following the 20th annual All-Star Labor Classic, held at Saint Joseph’s Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.
“I still have to work of my offense.”Allen showed off his rebounding prowess, snagging 11 rebounds in the game, which featured some of the best high school seniors in both the city and suburbs.
Allen and Eric gave the audience a preview
of what’s to come at Temple, as the two suited up for the Suburban All-Stars, the first time the two have played on the same team.
“We’re going to be playing together next year, hopefully both in the starting line-up, so yeah, I was definitely looking forward to playing with him.”
Dunphy said the opportunity for the playing time is there and waiting to be taken, though it is contingent on major development.
“I see them having an opportunity to play right away,” Dunphy said. “The biggest consideration with these two is their adjustment to the college game and how quickly they can make that adjustment.”
Eric, a 6-10 power forward who played at the Church Farm School in Paoli, notched eight points, five rebounds, and two blocks.Eric looks to bring that type of play to Temple.
“I feel like playing hard,” Eric said. “If I don’t play hard, there’s no reason for me to be on the court.”
That intensity was showcased on Eric’s first two points in the game. After patiently waiting to get his opportunity to score, Eric unfurled a double-clutch, two-hand dunk that showed off some serious athleticism.
“Every opportunity I have [to dunk], I have to throw it down hard,” he said, smiling ear to ear.
Eric also showed off some leaping ability, pinning an opponent’s shot attempt on the backboard, in addition to a weak-side rejection earlier in the game.
“I should [help the defense] because my strength in basketball right now is blocking shots and I should help a lot for Temple basketball next year,” Eric said.
“I’m trying to bring in the swat team.”
Dunphy said Eric will be an excellent addition to Temple’s defensive frontcourt.
“He’s long, active and a hard worker, and he’ll get better,” Dunphy said. “I think he’ll be a terrific rebounder and shot-changer for us.”
Even with that athleticism, Eric realizes his complete offensive game is still a work in progress and he has worked hard to improve that aspect of his game.
“I made a lot of improvements offensively,”
Eric said. “Scoring around the basket, shooting, I did work on a lot of things and I think I got better offensively.”
Temple hasn’t had a post player average double-figure scoring since Kevin Lyde scored 12.8 a game during the 2000-2001 season. Dunphy is anticipating Allen and Eric’s arrival to Temple’s campus. After leading Penn to nine NCAA Tournament appearances in 17 seasons, he knows the importance of having a big man on the court.
“It is very important,” Dunphy said. “To be the best team, you need balance, you need guard play and you need post-position play as well. And the combo of the two, you feel really excited about. We spent a lot of time recruiting them and the fact that they chose Temple, we were thrilled. We look forward to them coming to campus in August and we’ll be able to work with them.”
Dunphy added that he likes what the long-limbed Eric will give to the offense.
“We’re looking forward to the growth he makes on the offensive end as well,” Dunphy said. “We’re excited that he’ll play good defense, block shots, rebound the ball and get better on the offensive end. We need him to be a complete player and we’re excited about that.”
Eric, a Nigeria native, takes pride in his defensive capabilities, noting that he patterns his game after an NBA great who had similar dreams and hails form the same country.
“I’ve always watched great basketball players, like Hakeem Olajuwon, who’s from my country, play defense,” Eric said. “And they always have fun with it, so I was thinking ‘Why don’t I make myself a more defensive player and also a team player by having fun playing defense?'”The two incoming big men don’t just share size. They share a desire and strong will to work hard and get better.
Allen, with his aggressive play, thinks he will able to contribute for the Owls on the defensive end.
“I hustle on every play and I don’t give up,” Allen said. “I’ll try to rebound and block shots and do what I can.”
Eric said his desire extends to practice sessions as well.
“All I did was practice hard and try to get a feel for the game,” he said. “What’s the point of me not doing my best in basketball? I really give it 100 percent when I practice on the floor.”
If those two work that hard at practice, Dunphy may reward them.
Terrance McNeil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.