All the Temple men’s basketball team needed was a dose of a highly referable prescription called teamwork.
But teamwork is a hard feat to attain when all of your players aren’t healthy at the same time.
Having Lynn Greer, David Hawkins, Alex Wesby and Kevin Lyde in the lineup simultaneously is what the Owls expected at the beginning of the season.
Now it’s a reality.
Temple (10-13, 7-4 A-10) has re-written its name on the post season ballot with outstanding efforts as of late. Simply put, the Owls are playing traditional Temple basketball.
“Once you get the players back that are used to playing in rhythm, playing together, that makes a difference,” coach John Chaney said. “The guys that we have on the floor now, four of them are players that were in the Final Eight [last year]. So you get four players back on the floor that are used to changes, used to playing with each other, knowing that if someone drives this way or that way that Alex is going to be there or David is going to be where I need him to be. That makes a lot of difference.”
In the past week, the Owls blew out woeful Rhode Island 71-42, and beat George Washington 80-58. However, Temple’s four game winning streak ended last night in a 71-67 defeat against LaSalle.
Temple hosts Massachusetts Saturday at 1 p.m. and Xavier Wednesday at 8 p.m.
“I’m looking at one game at a time, trying to improve one game at a time,” Chaney said. “I’ve been so apprehensive, so skeptical about this team, because we’ve had a guy in one day and he’s out the next day. It just goes on and on.”
And so the story of college basketball goes; playing one day, injured the next.
Hawkins, who was off the court for the fall semester due to academics, has been nothing short of spectacular lately.
The Washington, D.C., native stomped his hometown Colonials for a career-high 28 points.
Also righting the ship has been Lyde. Lyde has been injured for most of the season. He has just recently begun to play with the emotion and flair he exhibited in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Those are the qualities the Owls need from everyone on their roster to return to the tournament.
Greer continues to be the consummate team leader on and off the court. He exemplifies the kinds of players that Chaney likes to bring to the Temple program.
A week after receiving A-10 player of the week honors, Greer followed up with two solid efforts against URI and GW. Greer scored 18 points against the Rams and 25 against the Colonials.
Now the test toughens.
The Owls must run the table to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and even then must excel in the A-10 Tourney.
A blemish in any of the remaining regular season games will mean an A-10 title is mandatory for a berth in the NCAA’s.
The challenge is theirs for the taking, now the Owls must come to play.
Temple did not have their roster at 100 percent on Saturday. Missing from the bench was red-shirt freshman Brian Polk. Chaney suspended Polk from the game for missing a class last Friday.
“That’s a no-no. You just can’t do that and expect to play,” Chaney said. “And he’s a member of our starting five. It’s been one thing or the other. I don’t know whether it’s the kids today, but I’ve had more problems this year than I’ve ever had in my life. I don’t understand it.”
One player back on the bench Saturday for the Owls after serving a suspension for breaking team rules was junior forward Greg Jefferson.
Jefferson did not score in four minutes of action against GW. He had one rebound and committed a personal foul.
Prime Time Owls:
Two future Owls were in the building at the same time last weekend at the Prime Time Shootout in Trenton, N.J., albeit not playing in the same games.
Antywane Robinson was in town with Oak Hill Academy (Va.), while Michael Blackshear sat on the bench for Simon Gratz.
Blackshear had surgery to fix a severed tendon in his arm last week. After a tough Public League loss, he punched a glass and wire mesh window on a classroom door at Gratz.
Robinson was the first off the bench for Oak Hill, but did not score.