The women’s basketball team has three losses and the season is yet to begin.
The Owls suffered a huge blow to their lineup when it was made official that sophomore guard Britney Jordan would miss this season. The Owls will also have to do without the services of assistant coaches Ervin Monier and Carla McGhee, who left Temple for other job opportunities.
According to Staley, Jordan is “taking the year off to work on her academics.” With Jordan’s absence, the Owls lose much of their perimeter attack as well as points off the bench. A two-time A-10 Rookie of the Week last season, Jordan came to Temple as one of the program’s prized recruits. Her production against conference opponents (9.7 points) has some of her teammates wondering how they’ll handle their schedule without her on the floor.
“It’s a sad thing to lose Britney because we could use her this season,” senior forward Ari Moore said. “At the same time, you got to do what you got to do. We’ll all just have to play better.”
Junior center Candice Dupree somewhat agreed.
“I don’t know how the team is handling it,” Dupree said. “To be honest, I haven’t asked anybody [on the team], but I know we have to go about our business this season without her.”
Staley made two new hires, adding G.P. Gromacki and Darius Taylor to her bench as assistant coaches. Former assistants Monier and McGhee departed for Rhode Island and Auburn, respectively, after receiving other job offers in the offseason.
Staley, who has coached the Owls to the Big Dance in two of her four seasons, thinks this year’s team has the potential to go even further than last year. With Temple hosting the NCAA Regional rounds of the tournament for a second straight year, Staley doesn’t see a tournament win too far off. She has encouraged her players to embrace the idea of playing on their home floor.
“The Regionals are here again and it’s a tremendous carrot hanging right in front of the faces of our kids,” Staley said. “They know what it’s like to play in our own building. We’ve been here before and we’re going to win a big one. I think this might be the year.”
Temple’s non-conference schedule will dictate whether this is the year. The Owls face seven teams that played in the NCAA Tournament last season. It includes two teams, Tennessee and LSU, that perennially contend for the national title.
According to a preseason poll of A-10 coaches, the Owls are the unanimous pick to finish first in the East Division. The Owls, who posted a 14-2 record in the A-10 last season, will find their most serious competition lies in the West Division. Saint Joseph’s, last year’s second-place team in the East, graduated four of its starters. Staley doesn’t want her team to start looking ahead in the schedule, though.
“When you start to pick out one or two teams, that’s when one will sneak up on you and get you,” Staley said. “They are all good teams on our schedule, but I think we’re in a different position than they are. I think teams will be hunting us after our Atlantic Ten championship. We have to worry about keeping [the trophy] here.”
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cutout photos of Kamesha Hairston (21) by Sarah Schultz