Enechionyia finding stroke during sophomore season

Sophomore Obi Enechionyia holds his follow through Sunday in the Owls’ win. | Jenny Kerrigan TTN

When guards Will Cummings and Jesse Morgan graduated last spring, they took 35 percent of the Owls’ scoring from last year with them.

Without Cummings and Morgan, two of their top three scorers from a year ago, the Owls have had four different players lead the team in scoring in their 2-3 start.

Before Sunday’s 69-50 win against the University of Delaware, seniors Jaylen Bond, Quenton DeCosey and Devin Coleman had all led the team in scoring.

In Sunday’s win, sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia took his turn, scoring a team-high 16 points.

“Last year, we let [Cummings] drive and kick,” Enechionyia said. “This year, I think the ball moves a lot more. … We don’t have that player that drives as efficiently and effectively as he did, but I think if we move the ball more we can be a better team offensively than we were last year.”

Enechionyia scored 12 of his 16 points from behind the three-point line. He went 4-of-6 on three-point attempts in the game as the rest of the team shot 5-of-23 from three-point range.

This offseason, improving his outside shooting was a priority for the sophomore. He worked on his perimeter game to help fill the void of an outside threat left by Morgan.

“I wanted to be the shooter,” Enechionyia said. “Jesse Morgan was a shooter last year, and this year I planned on trying to be the best shooter on the team. That’s really what I was focused on in the offseason, just becoming more of a stretch from outside.”

Through five games, Enechionyia is shooting 47.4 percent from behind the arc, which is first on the team.

“When he shoots a jumper, I feel very confident that it’s going to go in,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “He’s worked very hard at that part of it. Now the next step is the rest of it.”

The Springfield, Virginia native, who is second on the team with 12 points per game, has reached double figures in scoring in three of the four games he’s appeared in, shooting 47.2 percent from the field.

Last season in his freshman campaign, Enechionyia averaged 5.2 points per game, reaching double-digit scoring totals in four of the 34 games he played.

“He’s a player that I think is really coming into his own this season,” Delaware coach Monte Ross said. “I’ve seen him really raise up with a lot of confidence in the games that I’ve studied them.”

Enechionyia began to develop as an offensive threat for the Owls down the stretch last season. Starting with a 14-point performance against Cincinnati Jan. 17, he scored eight or more points in eight of the team’s last sixteen games.

He finished the season with 17 points and eight rebounds in Temple’s 60-57 season-ending loss to the University of Miami at Madison Square Garden in the National Invitation Tournament semifinal.

“We did that late in the year last year,” Dunphy said of relying on Enechionyia’s scoring. “And when he was healthy this year, when he’s been healthy, he’s a guy that if he can step away from the basket and get three-point looks, that’s a big part of what we do.”

The sophomore forward left the game briefly at the end of the first half after rolling his ankle as he came down with a defensive rebound.

He came back three minutes later and played the majority of the second half, scoring 11 points. He missed the Owls’ 91-67 loss to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Nov. 13 after injuring the same ankle.

“I was almost at 100 percent before I twisted it again, but right now I’m not really too sure,” Enechionyia said. “I’m going to get some treatment, ice and just see how it is [Monday] and go from there.”

Owen McCue can be reached at owen.mccue@temple.edu or Twitter @Owen_McCue.

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