The men’s basketball team has scored fewer than 50 points in its two losses this season. The Owls shot 28.1 percent in Saturday’s loss to Saint John’s.
A team can’t win if it doesn’t score, and that has been the problem for the men’s basketball team in its two losses this year.
In the most recent loss, a 55-48 defeat by Saint John’s in the finale of the Philly Hoop Group Classic Saturday, the Owls shot 28.1 percent from the field, 3-of-14 from 3-point range and made just 60 percent of their free throws.
“Tonight, jump shots weren’t falling for us, and it’s happened before,” senior guard Ryan Brooks said. “We’ve got to figure it out somehow on offense. You’ve just got to find other ways to score. Get a couple easy buckets in transition, get to the free-throw line and hit some free throws, and the jump shots will come.
“You can’t get down on yourself on missing jump shots. I think we shot a couple questionable shots, and when we get the open shots we’ve got to knock them down. Our offense hurt us tonight, but we’ve got to keep plugging away.”
The Red Storm defense does deserve credit, but the fewest points St. John’s (now 5-0) had allowed prior to Saturday’s game was 68 points twice, to St. Bonaventure and Siena. In fact, entering the matchup, St. John’s opponents were averaging 70.5 points per game and were shooting at a 45.9 percent clip.
The Red Storm held junior forward Lavoy Allen to nine points and four rebounds on 4-of-11 shooting. Allen headed to the bench at the 9 minute, 4 second mark of the first half in Saturday’s game with two fouls. Brooks and sophomore guard Juan Fernandez combined for 13 points on 5-of-24 shooting.
“I think we never got to play comfortable enough,” Fernandez said. “We weren’t shooting well. When you’re shooting like that, it’s pretty hard. We had a couple of times like free throws or missed shots that if we made them would have probably changed the game.”
In the 46-45 loss to then-No. 20 Georgetown in the second game of the season, Allen notched his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 14 rebounds, but Brooks and Fernandez added 11 points total and connected on just four of their 21 attempts.
A more balanced offensive approach emerges in Temple’s four wins. In all but one game (the 61-50 win versus Virginia Tech), the Owls shot just about 50 percent, and in each (again, with the exception of the Hokies game Friday), the trio of Allen, Brooks and Fernandez all came extremely close to scoring in double figures.
“We’re still trying to find our offense, and I think we can still try to be better,” Fernandez said. “We don’t have a Dionte [Christmas] or a Sergio [Olmos] like last year. I’m still trying to find that balance [between distributing the ball to teammates and scoring]. I think we’ve got more options than last year. We’ve just got to learn and know how to use them. If one guy’s not good one night, then we just have to go to another guy. I think we can do it. We’ve just got to learn how. We pushed it too much to get the ball inside, and we didn’t seem to know what to do when that happened [and it didn’t work].”
When Allen’s not scoring, one of the No. 1 options becomes Brooks. He scored a career-high 23 points in the season opener against Delaware but has been streaky since, notching 17 points in both the Siena and Ball State games, while being held to single digits in the rest.
“I don’t feel any pressure [to score],” Brooks said. “The shots that I can make, I’ve practiced. I don’t shoot any shots that I haven’t practiced. I just haven’t found my shooting touch yet. Coach told me when I’m not shooting as well that I’ve got to find other ways to help my team, whether it’s defensively or getting to the foul line or making plays for other people. I know I’ve got to pick it up. Positive things are going to happen. We’ve got to keep going, keep pushing.”
After the St. John’s loss Saturday, Fernandez said coach Fran Dunphy told the Owls their effort simply was not good enough.
“We had the chance to be 6-0 now if we wanted to, but instead, we’re 4-2,” Fernandez said.
“I think every coach just wants consistency, good decisions, and if we can get open shots, make the open shots,” Dunphy said after the 66-46 win against Ball State.
The Owls play Western Michigan tonight at 7 p.m. and then return to the Liacouras Center Saturday at 4 p.m. to face National Invitational Tournament champion Penn State.
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.