Josh Brown sat on the floor near the end of the Owls’ bench at Hagan Arena, stretching out his left leg with a green resistance band.
For the first 13 and a half minutes of Temple’s 78-72 win against St. Joseph’s on Wednesday night, the senior guard stayed put in the same spot, waiting for his return from an Achilles tendon injury he suffered in May.
The moment came at the 6:29 mark in the first half. After six months of patience, he was back on the court.
“After I had the surgery, I just told myself, ‘I can’t be down,’” Brown said. “Especially for this team, I thought I had to come back, we have a lot of young, talented guys. I just had to keep my head down, plus my teammates, they helped me out.”
Brown first got the news he was cleared to play when he talked to doctors after practice on Nov. 28. Two days later, he played 14 minutes, totaling four points, two rebounds and an assist against St. Joe’s. His first shot of the season was a 3-pointer from the left wing. He came off a screen, got an open look and sunk it.
“There’s a different feeling on the court,” junior forward Obi Enechionyia said on Wednesday of Brown’s return. “There’s security on both sides of the ball. For him to come back from that injury, it’s great. When I saw him hit his first shot, that felt pretty good. I was pretty happy for him.”
Brown played 11 minutes in Saturday’s 70-62 win against the University of Pennsylvania. He scored five points and grabbed four rebounds.
“There are going to be moments in the game where I want to get Josh out there,” coach Fran Dunphy said on Saturday. “I don’t think he played great today, but he did do a couple of really good things. He’s working at it, there is a lot of rust on that body with the injury he has come off of. I’m proud of him as an individual, how he has handled his situation.”
As the Owls’ starting point guard last season, Brown averaged 8.3 points and 4.9 assists per game and added 41 steals. Brown had 161 assists compared to 46 turnovers. It was the eighth-best assist-to-turnover ratio in Division I.
Brown missed the Owls’ first six games of the season. Temple went 4-2 during that stretch. In Brown’s absence, sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. and freshman guard Alani Moore II were the Owls’ lead guards.
Alston is averaging 12.8 points and 4.8 assists per game. He also has 19 steals. Moore is averaging 8.5 points and 2.4 assists per game. They’ve also combined for just 13 turnovers in eight games, or 1.6 turnovers per game.
“Josh taught me a lot, whether it be over the summer to now,” Moore said after Saturday’s game. “It’s just good to see him out there, he brings a lot of leadership and security both offensively and defensively. Just playing with him helps out a lot. Me, him and Shizz can have two of us on the court at once and it gives us a lot of options.”
During his postgame press conference, Dunphy pointed to a moment in Wednesday’s game where Brown’s calming influence really showed.
Brown called out a set called “Texas” that helped settle the Owls down and get a basket during a critical possession in the second half.
“We’re just different with him handling the ball,” Dunphy said. “He made a great call when he got in in the second half that just settled us terrifically. It’s nice to have him out there.”
Owen McCue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.