Sophomore guard Ramone Moore is becoming a reliable option off the bench.
Ramone Moore was all alone on the island that is the free-throw line.
With the men’s basketball team ahead 45-44 against then-No. 19 Georgetown, the sophomore guard stepped to the foul line for a one-and-one and a chance to give Temple either a two or three-point lead with just 23 seconds remaining.
Moore missed the first free throw, and the Hoyas marched down the court. Georgetown center Greg Monroe’s layup thwarted the Owls’ upset bid, 46-45.
For some, it could have been a confidence-killer for the rest of the season but not for Moore. Instead, he has put in extra time on his free-throw shooting, and he showed four days later that the miss was in the past.
“We had a great chance to beat [Georgetown],” Moore said. “We had a lot of confidence coming into Siena. We couldn’t hold our heads down because we lost. I think just putting it behind me and going into the next game and trying to do good for the team [helped].”
Moore responded with 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting. He added four rebounds and three assists. But most importantly, he sealed the win by making two free throws with 22 seconds remaining in regulation, as the Owls rebounded to be beat a solid Siena team, 73-69.
“I just had to keep my head. I knew that when the opportunity came that I was going to be able to go out there and do a good job, and I couldn’t hold my head down. I had to keep working,” Moore said.
The win against Siena started the Owls’ run of 11 wins in 12 games and 17 wins in their next 19. The winning streak helped propel the Owls into the Top 25 for the first time since 2001. Temple has been in the Top 25 for the eight weeks in a row and currently sits at No. 21.
“I think this year we’ve all just bought into it on the defensive end,” Moore said. “I think every guy knows they can score on the offensive end. I think collectively as a team, we all bought into the defensive system and what coach Dunphy is trying to have us do this year. I think all year we’ve been doing a good job playing team ball. Nobody’s being selfish, and everybody’s buying into what Coach has brought in.”
Since the beginning of the spring semester, Moore has been arguably the most productive member of the roster. He has posted double figures in points the last four games, while leading Temple in scoring in wins versus La Salle and Duquesne and in the loss to Richmond two weeks ago. Last Saturday, Moore scored 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting, as the Owls blew out Rhode Island, 78-56.
“He’s been doing very well,” senior guard and co-captain Ryan Brooks said. “He gives us the person who can get to the basket very well, open up things for other players, and he has an aggressive nature to him at all times. He’s in attack mode at all times, and that’s something we need. He’s just another example of people being ready when their name is called. He’s been given the opportunity, and he’s making the most of it.”
Moore has started the past two games for injured sophomore guard Juan Fernandez, who suffered a head injury in Temple’s win at Fordham three weeks ago. Fernandez seems to be back in full health, which will most likely push Moore back to the bench.
“I hope that he’s getting confident,” Dunphy said after the Saint Joseph’s game Jan. 6. “He basically knows when his minutes are coming. He knows he’s the fourth guard right now, and when he’s ready to go, he’s ready for that. I think it’s the confidence thing more than anything else.”
More than anything, it seems that Moore has embraced his role as the first man off the bench. He brings some offensive relief from a place other than the starting lineup. Moore’s 6.7 points per game are fourth on the team.
“I think just being out there, getting the opportunity and playing more minutes than opposed to lesser minutes,” Moore said. “Coach Dunphy has been playing me a lot more. I’ve always had it in my mind that I can go out there and play. It’s just being able to get the opportunity and being able to show it.”
Moore is just happy to have basketball back in his life and have the opportunity to contribute to the team, he said. Last spring, that wasn’t the case.
Moore had a promising start to his career when he became the only reserve and the third freshman in school history to score in double figures in his first three collegiate games. He averaged 4.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, and his first double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds came in a win against Charleston in last year’s Charleston Classic.
But then Moore’s freshman season ended after he was declared academically ineligible. He had to sit out the spring semester.
“It was very painful, but I couldn’t let it be seen,” Moore said. “I just had to fight. All my coaches and teammates were behind me and supportive in every way possible. Mentally, I got stronger, went in, got my grades up, and then I could just focus on the court.
“I couldn’t wait for the first game this season,” he added. “This whole summer we worked out, and I was just so anxious to get out there and be able to play again. I learned a lot from [being ineligible], and I promise not to let it happen again.”
For Moore, last spring was a humbling learning experience. This spring, Moore is learning that he can be a consistent producer for an Owls team that is looking for bigger and better things than the last two seasons.
“I got two more years and six more games left in the season,” he said. “We’re looking to excel in the [Atlantic Ten] Tournament and then do bigger things, get past the first round in the [NCAA] Tournament, and then go from there.”
Pete Dorchak can be reached at email@example.com.