Men’s basketball prepare for next season

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TTN File Photo/John Mehler Sophomore guard Juan Fernandez dribbles around a Cornell defender in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Luis Guzman won’t be dribbling the basketball up the court next year. Ryan Brooks won’t be nailing the crucial free throws and shutting down the opposition’s leading scorer. Guzman and Brooks, two senior starters from this year’s 29-6 men’s basketball team, played their final games for Temple in the March 19 78-65 loss to Cornell in Jacksonville, Fla. The Owls will have to find a new ballhandler and a new leading scorer, as well as new captains for the 2010-2011 squad that will try to win its fourth straight Atlantic Ten Conference Championship and make its fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Guards
Sophomore Ramone Moore will most likely move into the starting lineup and replace one of the two departing guards after earning the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year award. He averaged 7.6 points per game in 17.6 minutes per game during the regular season. In one seven-game stretch, Moore scored more than 12 points per game. His career day came at the Palestra against Saint Joseph’s, when he scored 24 points, including the game-tying layup with 1.5 seconds remaining in regulation. In the conference championship, Moore connected on both of his 3-point attempts, two of the five he made all season. He also hit four of his six free-throw attempts – redemption after missing the front end of a one-and-one in the one-point loss to Georgetown back on Nov. 17.

Sophomore Juan Fernandez, who was named the A-10 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, averaged 12.6 points per game this season, second only behind Brooks. He will most likely take over for Guzman as the point guard next year. Fernandez led the team with an average of 3.6 assists per game, and in the A-10 Tournament quarterfinals and semifinals, he had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 7-to-0. He led the conference in 3-point percentage and made seven of his nine attempts in the Dec. 13 win against then-No. 3 Villanova, when he scored a career-high 33 points.

Freshmen T.J. DiLeo and Khalif Wyatt could see increased playing time next season. DiLeo played in 23 games. He scored seven points against Duquesne on Feb. 3. As a freshman guard, Wyatt saw little playing time this season, something Temple coach Fran Dunphy is notorious for. In high school, however, Wyatt shined, averaging 20 points, four rebounds and four assists per game during his senior year at Norristown High School. Wyatt garnered second-team All-State honors as both a senior and junior.

Forwards
Junior Lavoy Allen will anchor this position after being named first-team All A-10, all-Defensive Team and first-team All A-10 Tournament this year. Allen also became the first Temple men’s basketball player to average a double-double for the season since Ollie Johnson accomplished the feat during the 1970-1971 season. Allen scored in double digits 21 times and pulled down double-digit rebounds in 22 games. One of his signature games of the season came Feb. 28 against La Salle, when he scored 17 points and grabbed 21 rebounds, the most rebounds in a single game by an Owl since Joe Newman secured 24 rebounds in 1973. Allen will likely be a candidate for team captain next season.

Redshirt sophomore Micheal Eric did not start playing basketball until high school. In his second year playing on the court for the Owls, he dealt with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Still, he showed his potential in the Feb. 13 home game against Rhode Island, when he scored a career-high 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

Junior Craig Williams did not play much down the stretch and only averaged 3.8 points per game. If he can return to the player who shot 40 percent from 3-point range during the 2008-2009 season, he will be a valuable asset next year.

Sophomore Scootie Randall had a breakout game against Seton Hall Dec. 19. With Allen in foul trouble and Eric unavailable due to his knee injury, Randall made three of his four 3-point attempts en route to nine points in the 71-65 win.

Freshman Rahlir Jefferson saw significant playing time during his first year at Temple, averaging 3.9 points and 16.6 minutes per game. While his statistics might not be eye-opening, Jefferson did all the little things Dunphy asked of him this season, especially on the defensive end.

Sophomore Chris Clarke redshirted this year after transferring from Pensacola Junior College. Clarke, who originally signed with Southern Methodist out of high school, is expected to provide depth in the frontcourt next season.

Freshman Carmel Bouchman saw limited playing time in his first season in the United States. The Israeli scored his first career points against Ball State on Nov. 24. Despite his 6-foot-8-inch frame, Bouchman is more of a shooter than a post presence, something that could cause mismatches in the future.

Recruiting
The Owls have secured two talented recruits for the 2010-2011 season.

Aaron Brown, a 6-foot-5-inch guard/forward from St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J., received offers from the likes of Miami, Boston College and Florida State before signing with the Owls. A three-year starter at St. Benedict’s, Brown helped lead the Gray Bees to a 20-1 record and a No. 5 national ranking.

Forward/center Anthony Lee from West Oaks High School in Orlando, Fla., signed with the Owls back in September after receiving scholarship offers from Southern California, Georgia, Seton Hall, Nevada and Washington. The 6-foot-10-inch prep star has the size and skills to contribute immediately for the Cherry and White.

Schedule
Next year’s schedule is not set in stone yet, but by the looks of things, Seton Hall and Georgetown should be heading to the Liacouras Center. The home-and-homes with Kansas and Penn State should be finished, which leaves openings in the non-conference schedule. The Owls will play in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., during Thanksgiving weekend against a field that includes Boston College, California, Georgia, Manhattan, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. Four of those teams made this year’s NCAA Tournament, as did Georgetown. Big 5 foe Villanova will get the Owls at home this time.

Inside the A-10, Temple will probably head to Xavier and Dayton for road games, while Charlotte and A-10 Championship opponent Richmond should return to the Liacouras Center.

Jennifer Reardon and Kyle Gauss can be reached at sports@temple-news.com.

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