Men’s basketball has first practice, Brown near 100 percent

Redshirt-senior guard Josh Brown is working to return to the court at full strength after not playing since Dec. 13, 2016 against Villanova.

Redshirt-senior guard Josh Brown dribbles during the Owls' first official practice on Thursday. | EVAN EASTERLING / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Time dragged for Josh Brown last season.

The redshirt-senior guard watched a majority of Temple’s 2016-17 season from the sideline as he recovered from an Achilles tendon injury.

“It’s really tough because being one of the leaders, even though I wasn’t on the court, you want to do so much to help the team,” Brown said. “And when you’re not put in the position to do that because of injury, it kinda takes a mental toll on you.”

Brown suffered his injury in May 2016. He made his season debut six months later against St. Joseph’s, scoring points four points in 14 minutes. But he only played four more games to finish out the season.

With the season opener against Old Dominion University on Nov. 16 approaching, Brown is at 90 percent health, coach Fran Dunphy said. Dunphy added Brown will sometimes slow down in practice if his injury is bothering him.

“I’ve been feeling great,” Brown said. “They’ve been doing a good job monitoring a recovery time so I can be fresh every day.”

Six of Temple’s 16 losses were of a deficit of five points or fewer. The Owls missed Brown’s late-game playmaking ability. He hit a game-winner to upset then-No. 23 ranked Connecticut during the 2015-16 season and a game-winning bank shot against Memphis in the 2014-15 season.

Junior guard Shizz Alston Jr., the Owls’ leading scorer last season, said having Brown in late-game situations will make it tough on opposing defenses.

“It’ll give us another ball-handler out there,” Alston said. “So you know, they can’t take away both of us. So one of us will be able to make a play for either ourselves or for others.”

‘We want that Obi to be prominent’

Senior forward Obi Enechionyia’s hot start last season led to talk of him possibly being selected in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Enechionyia averaged 21 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks through the first seven games. During the rest of the season, he only scored 15 points or more six times.

Enechionyia finished the season averaging 13.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

Dunphy said defenses started guarding Enechionyia differently after his start, and he worked on being more consistent during the offseason.

“The hope is that however he was over the first 10 games last year, we want that Obi to be prominent,” Dunphy said. “I think he’s a better ball handler, better decision maker, better playmaker, better rebounder, all of those things that I think that he has to improve on. He’s as good [of a] perimeter jump-shooter as a four-man as you want. But the next step is to really combine all of the other skills that are necessary.”

Freshmen add competitiveness to practice

In Brown’s tenure at Temple, he hasn’t seen anything like freshman wings De’Vondre Perry and and J.P. Moorman.

Perry and Moorman’s skills are versatile and they each possess the ability to bring the ball up the floor, Brown said. Perry and Moorman were both three-star recruits, according to

Perry, at 6 feet 6 inches and 220 pounds, averaged 19.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.8 blocks per game in his senior season of high school in Baltimore. Moorman, at 6 feet 7 inches, averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds his senior year of high school.

“Those guys coming in with that type of body, athleticism help us a great deal not only offensively, but defensively too,” Brown said. “They can guard a lot of positions that we really couldn’t guard that much in recent years.”

The Owls also added freshmen Nate Pierre-Louis and forward Justyn Hamilton.

Pierre-Louis, a combo guard, will fight for playing time behind Brown, Alston and sophomore guards Quinton Rose and Alani Moore II.

Hamilton will compete with junior center Ernest Aflakpui and sophomore center Damion Moore for minutes.

Dunphy said Temple could use two bigs at the same time because Damion Moore and Hamilton have shown the ability to shoot the ball. Dunphy added Hamilton was recently shooting 3-pointers in practice.

“All four of them have come in and been ready to go right from the start, so it has been exciting,” Dunphy said. “I think the competitiveness at practice has risen exponentially.”

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