Men’s Basketball

Point-Counterpoint Will the presence of Wayne Marshall bring out the best in Keith Butler? Point: Of all the things Butler has lacked since his much-heralded start at Temple, the most glaring was the absence of


Will the presence of Wayne Marshall bring out the best in Keith Butler?
Point: Of all the things Butler has lacked since his much-heralded start at Temple, the most glaring was the absence of another talented big man to challenge him in practice and on the floor. Butler is passive by nature, and having a partner in crime down in the paint should help motivate him when the Owls need a big contribution from their front line.

Counterpoint: In his first two seasons, Butler has yet to show the ability to dominate inside. At times, guards have out-muscled him for rebounds and despite his mammoth size he struggles to get into good rebounding position. Chances are, with a savvy player like Marshall down low, Butler could get in the way and his penchant for foul trouble will continue.
Besides Mardy Collins and Wayne Marshall, who will emerge as the third scoring option? Mark Tyndale, Dustin Salisbery, Keith Butler, or Antywane Robinson?
Point: Salisbery showed promise as a scorer last season, but he’ll need to contribute in other areas to justify his being on the court for extended minutes. Teammates and coaches have raved over Tyndale’s stroke from three-point range. But it’s hard to ignore Robinson, who has improved at least one facet of his game every year he’s been here. Tyndale will get open looks, but Robinson will fill the Owls’ need for a midrange scoring threat.

Counterpoint: There won’t be one. Someone needs to supplant David Hawkins’ scoring load, but instead it will be a piecemeal operation, with different players stepping up at different times. Neither Butler nor Robinson are pure scorers, while Tyndale will need to work out the early growing pains. Salisbery has the prettiest shot on the team, but unless he picks up his intensity on defense, Chaney will be reluctant to put him on the floor.
Will they make the NCAA Tournament this season?
Point: While the non-conference schedule is brutal, the Atlantic Ten has declined. If everything goes as planned, the Owls should win the East Division. Moreover, all they have to do is finish non-conference play with a .500 record, in which they will have to upset one top 25 team. A good seed in the A-10 tourney will get them at least to the title game, thereby giving them at best an at-large bid.

Counterpoint: Not with this schedule. The Owls play four teams ranked among the preseason top 25, and travel to the harsh road environments of South Carolina and Villanova early in the season. In the A-10, it’s hard to see the Owls topping UMass, which returns all five starters, for first place in the East Division. They also still have contests against conference powers Dayton and Xavier.

Five Games To Watch This Season

  • NOV. 30 vs. ARIZONA STATE: For any players who were with the team last year, they should be extremely motivated for this one. Last year in a close game, a questionable call by an official cost the Owls the game. The Sun Devils aren’t one of the strongest teams in the PAC-10, but they boast one of the top players in the nation in forward Ike Diogu. Diogu averaged nearly 23 points and nine rebounds last season and is the heart and soul of the team.
  • DEC. 4 vs. VILLANOVA (at The Palestra): If the players will be able to get up for Arizona State, they should be downright caffeinated against Villanova. The Wildcats handed the Owls an embarrassing 73-48 loss last season in an infamous midnight matchup that left Chaney incensed at Villanova’s infantile demands regarding the time, venue, and just about everything else associated with the game.
  • DEC. 13 vs. WAKE FOREST: In the preseason polls, the Demon Deacons are ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation. Point guard Chris Paul is viewed as one of the top players in the country after last year’s run through the Sweet 16. They are loaded again and are considered the top pick in the ACC. It should be the best team the Owls face all year at home.
  • JAN. 8 at DUKE: Yes, it is Duke, but this team doesn’t appear to be as vaunted as other Blue Devil teams of past years. Still, Cameron Indoor Stadium is one of the toughest places to play, and a Mike Krzyzewski-coached squad is always formidable even if it lacks star power. It should be interesting to see how sharpshooter J.J. Redick handles the chaos of Chaney’s matchup zone. The last time the Owls won at Duke was Jan. 8, 1949.
  • FEB. 5 vs. GEORGE WASHINGTON: The Colonials bring back all five starters, three of whom averaged more than 10 points a game. Last year they cruised past John Chaney’s matchup zone like it didn’t exist. If this team plans on taking the next step forward, they are ripe for it now, considering there are just three seniors listed on the roster. Point guard T.J. Thompson and forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu lead this team.

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