Junior guard fills valuable role on bench

Once a starter, Alani Moore II adjusts to his role as the Owls’ first guard off the bench.

Junior guard Alani Moore II surveys the court during the Owls’ 75-67 win against La Salle on Nov. 6 at the Liacouras Center. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Alani Moore II experienced a decrease in nearly every statistical category in his sophomore year.

The junior guard started 23 games, averaged 6.5 points per game, played 25.8 minutes per game and made 46 3-pointers as a freshman. Last season, Moore came off the bench in 27 of Temple’s 33 games, made 15 3-pointers and averaged 3.1 points per game.

Moore played significant minutes as a freshman, due to an Achilles tendon injury that limited former guard Josh Brown to only five games. When Brown returned the following season, Moore’s role on the court dwindled.

“I had my ups and down [last season],” Moore said. “But I stuck through and stayed confident, stuck to my role. … Mentally, I had to stay strong. Physically I had to stay strong.”

With Brown graduated and guards like sophomore Nate Pierre-Louis and senior Shizz Alston, Jr. set in the starting lineup, Moore will be the “first guard off the bench,” coach Fran Dunphy said. He will play between 15 and 25 minutes per game this season.

Moore is expected to consistently make his shots and be a “hound” on defense, Dunphy added.

Coming into this season, Moore wanted to become a leader for the Owls’ six underclassmen, he said. Moore believes he can be helpful because of his two seasons of experience and familiarity with the coaching staff.

“[Moore has] done a good job of taking on the responsibility of running a team,” said assistant coach Shawn Trice. “He is a psychiatrist on the court. He is learning how to make his teammates better. Knowing what buttons to push, knowing what words to say.”

Freshman guard Alani Moore II defends Detroit freshman forward Chris Brandon during the Owls’ 83-67 win on Friday at the Liacouras Center. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Brown always told Moore to “be the loudest one on the court” during his freshman year, which he continues to do on the court today.

When he isn’t in the game, Moore talks to his teammates on the bench to keep them engaged and cheering. On the court, Moore helps his teammates run the right plays and be in the right position by being vocal.

“I make sure all the young guys are speaking and talking,” Moore said. “That’s the big thing right now, the young guys don’t talk. We, the older guys, try to harp on them all the time to make sure you communicate because that is how we win games.”

In both games this season, Moore was the first player to enter the game off the bench. He played 18 minutes in the team’s season opener against La Salle on Nov. 6, and 16 minutes against the University of Detroit Mercy on Friday.

Moore scored five points on 1-of-4 shooting against La Salle, which Temple beat 75-67. He made 3-of-4 shots from the free-throw line and grabbed four rebounds.

He also scored six “crucial” points on two first-half 3-point shots in the Owls’ 83-67 their victory against Detroit Mercy, Dunphy said. He finished the night by making 2-of-4 shots, all from 3-point range. The Owls only made two of their previous seven shots before Moore sank his first 3-pointer.

In the last six minutes, eight seconds of Friday’s game, Dunphy swapped Moore and Alston on four occasions because he wanted to protect Alston from sinking deeper into foul trouble on the defensive end.

Alston told The Temple News earlier this month that Moore is a key piece for the Owls. If he has a good season, it will “greatly” increase the Owls’ chances for success.

As a freshman, Moore shot 41.4 percent from 3-point range and led Temple in scoring with 26 points in a win against Yale University. He also scored 18 points in a win against nationally ranked West Virginia University.

“My mindset is always to come into the game and impact the game in a positive way,” Moore said. “Making sure everyone is doing their job and the bench is cheering. Listen to what to coaches are saying and relay that to the rest of the players. And make sure everyone is together.”

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