Temple basketball has begun the season 0-2 for the first time since 1988-89. The Owls rebounded that season and ended two games over .500 at 18-16.
Should the Owls be concerned about this year’s slow start? Definitely not.
Losses to highly ranked Florida and Maryland aren’t necessarily bad losses. And Temple teams always start slow anyway.
Coach John Chaney knows his Temple teams traditionally do not get going until January and sometimes February.
“We are going to get some bruises along the way,” Chaney said. “We know we are in for the long haul. We have freshman, so they are going to slow down our returning players.”
Temple expects to pick up the pace in the coming weeks with a boost from the return of guard David Hawkins.
“When we get David Hawkins back you will probably see a better team all around,” Chaney said. “Even Nile [Murry] will get better, [Kevin] Lyde will be better, anybody we put in the game will be better because we’ll have five senior citizens out on the floor.”
But for now the Owls will have to rely on the leadership of seniors Lynn Greer and Lyde.
Greer started the season with one bad game and one unbelievable game.
He shot 4-of-19 last Thursday in the loss against Florida (72-64), but played outstanding the next night against Maryland in an 82-74 loss.
Greer knocked down three consecutive three-pointers in the final minute of the Maryland game to finish with 27 points.
That is the kind of leadership and expertise that this team will need without the services of Hawkins.
“David Hawkins is the most important player to this team in all my years here,” Chaney said. “He can operate off the script and you need one guy on a team that can do that.”
Lyde has been plagued by foul trouble in the early going.
He picked up two early fouls against Florida and was ineffective the rest of the way off of the floor. He finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds against Florida and 13 points and 10 rebounds against Maryland.
But for the Owls to have the kind of success they have enjoyed in the past they cannot just count on two players.
They must rely on the team as a whole.
Ron Rollerson looks as if he has regained his shooting touch. Rollerson was a combined 7-of-9 in the Owls first two games, scoring 19 points.
“I know Ron can play,” Lyde said. “I wasn’t shocked at all because I see Ron in practice and he shows Coach that he can play.”
Murry and Brian Polk look as if they will help Temple find the shooting touch. Both knocked down treys with ease during the games at Madison Square Garden.
Lost in the mix is junior Greg Jefferson. Last year’s hero vs. Penn State has hardly been spotted on the court. Jefferson played five total minutes against Florida and Maryland.
“We are so disjointed with so many young players so I’m proud of them,” Chaney said. “We’re asking Lynn and Kevin to carry the load. I saw them patting the young guys on the back because they’ve been there before and know that sooner or later they’ll start coming together.”
For now the Owls are 0-2. But when March rolls around, Chaney will be there and so will his Owls.