Temple’s four freshmen aren’t on Main Campus just for “window dressing,” coach Fran Dunphy said. They want to play.
They’ve been making practices more competitive, Dunphy said. They’ll get to make their Liacouras Center debuts Thursday night in an exhibition game against Jefferson University, a Division II school.
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“I’m really excited,” freshman forward J.P. Moorman II said. “It’ll be a dream come true finally to put on that college uniform here at Temple, and I’m really excited to do it.”
The game against Jefferson will be the third preseason scrimmage for Temple. The Owls played Monmouth University on Oct. 29 and faced George Mason University last weekend in closed scrimmages.
Dunphy wanted to get some of the underclassmen more playing time against George Mason, he said. No player will play more than 20 minutes on Thursday, Dunphy said.
Temple won both of its previous scrimmages. The team beat Monmouth, 100-63, Josh Newman of the Asbury Park Press reported. Monmouth’s three top guards didn’t play, Dunphy said. Two George Mason players, including one who had a concussion, didn’t play against the Owls last weekend, he added.
The Owls need to improve their defensive communication, Dunphy said. When they switch defenders, the Owls need to talk, make sure there is weak-side help and limit second-chance opportunities, he added.
Senior forward Obi Enechionyia has been working on his ability to be in the right defensive position and not just solely rely on his athleticism to block shots from the weak side, he said.
Temple played better defensively against George Mason than it did against Monmouth, but the team still has to improve, Dunphy said.
“That was our problem last year, help defense,” Enechionyia said. “From my view, it’s improved a lot. I’ve seen in practice guys are stepping into the right spots and being where they need to be. So I’m impressed with that, and I’m happy with where we are. We need to improve of course, but it’s a lot better than last year.”
In their scrimmage against George Mason, the Owls played “a lot” of four-guard lineups and “looked really good” in them, sophomore guard Quinton Rose said.
Rose said power forwards often have to guard him in four-guard sets, and it was often a mismatch in his favor. When the team plays with a small lineup, rebounding becomes emphasized, he said.
“We struggled with it in the past two scrimmages, but I think we’re getting better day by day in rebounding,” Rose said. “We just got to make contact with our guy, and we all, all five have to crash when we’re in four-guard rotation.”
Temple spent the final 20 minutes of Monday’s practice in Pearson Hall simulating situations in close games late in the second half.
The team does it nearly every practice, Enechionyia said. The nerves and pressure of a real game aren’t there, he said, but it helps the Owls’ know where to be on defense and execute offensively. Temple lost six games by five points or fewer in the 2016-17 season.
Temple will begin its regular season at the Charleston Classic on Nov. 16 against Old Dominion University.
The Owls won’t play at the Liacouras Center after Thursday until Dec. 6 when they face the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers reached the Sweet 16 last season.
“We’re treating it like a dress rehearsal,” said redshirt-senior guard Josh Brown, who sat out the final 30 minutes of Monday’s practice with a hip bruise but should be available Thursday. “So we’re going to go in there with our mindset that it’s a real game, and we’re going in there trying to win.”