Temple’s loss to Richmond came at an inopportune time.
Had the Owls pulled away with a win, they would have found themselves just one game below .500 and riding a wave of momentum.
Instead, Temple is struggling to stay alive as the Owls head to the Palestra on Wednesday to play Big 5 rival Pennsylvania.
Last year Temple came into the hallowed building and was run off the floor in embarrassing fashion by the Quakers, 71-46. The loss dealt Temple its first ever 0-5 start in the school’s history. The Owls surely remember the defeat and would like to pay back their cross-town rival.
“Its something I’ll never forget,” sophomore forward Antywane Robinson said. “I remember saying to myself, man I don’t remember ever being beat that bad in my life.”
Robinson added, “We definitely got to get that [game] back, especially from last year. It’s a respect thing, a pride thing.”
Temple has lost to Penn each of the last two years. The Quakers are led by three-point ace senior forward Jeff Schiffner.
Penn has looked solid so far and last week hammered city foe La Salle, 71-47. With players capable of hitting from beyond the arc, the Owls’ defense needs to get their act together.
Ostensibly, one of the main reasons the Owls can’t get into an offensive rhythm is due to the matchup zone’s ineffectiveness. Assistant coach Bill Ellerbee insisted stronger defensive rebounding and more transition points off turnovers would lead to easier baskets.
“Temple’s always won with the defense creating the offense,” Ellerbee said. “We’re not getting that. No easy baskets, any kind of turnovers or control of the defensive boards. If we did that, things would be a little easier offensively.”
Temple’s offensive problems lie with poor shooting, invisible interior play and relying on one scorer, senior guard David Hawkins. Hawkins is sixth in the nation in scoring with 23.2 points per game. Moreover, the Owls have little reliance in their bench, which has produced just two points in the past two games.
“Somebody’s going to have to step up,” Ellerbee added. “They’ll come to understand, these things happen and you must be patient.”
However, with the Owls last in the conference in both field goal and three-point percentage, patience could result in more losses until they get their act together.
The Quakers, meanwhile, possess a number of shooting threats, including junior guard Tim Begley, who’s connecting on 45 percent of his threes.
“They put it to us last year,” Hawkins said. “So people who were here last year, including myself, we know what they did, and there’s no way we can let that happen again
Jason Haslam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.