Temple University men’s basketball has not advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament since the 2012-13 season.
If the Owls want to advance in the tournament, the team must focus on defensive intensity and their new offensive scheme, coach Aaron McKie said.
The Owls will focus on defensive intensity, while on offense, they will focus on spacing and shooting.
“In order to get to where you wanna go, be at the top of The American, get to the NCAA Tournament, you’re gonna have to defend,” McKie said. “All of the teams that are in the tournament one of two things, they are really good offensively or they are really good defensively.”
Last season, senior guard Quinton Rose led the team with 71 steals and Junior guard Nate Pierre-Louis finished second on the team with 53. Pierre-Louis was second on the team with 5.8 rebounds per game and third on the team with 10 blocks.
“Defense, I love that,” Pierre-Louis said. “It comes from my father and my [Amateur Athletic Union] coach. When I was younger, the AAU team would practice two or three times a day. If you didn’t play defense, then you were not really getting on the court on the AAU team.”
Temple will also focus on improving its defensive rebounding this season, McKie said.
The Owls’ leading rebounder from last season, center Ernest Aflakpui, graduated in the spring. Aflakpui averaged 7.1 rebounds per game and compiled 212 total rebounds.
Junior forward J.P. Moorman II was third on the team last year with an averaged 4.2 rebounds per game.
“As a team though, we need to rebound collectively. It can’t just be the big guys,” Moorman II said. “As long as our guards rebound and our fours and fives rebound, I think we will be fine.”
Offensively, the Owls will have more player and ball movement this season, Moorman II added. Last season, Temple relied heavily on guard Shizz Alston, Jr. who led the team in scoring with 19.7 points per game.
This season, the Owls will play a different style of offense in which they will “keep the middle of the court open” and force their players to “read and react,” McKie said.
Temple will also use Rose in an expanded offensive role this season, McKie added.
Rose averaged 16.3 points per game last season and is the Owls’ leading returning scorer.
He only shot 27.5 percent from three-point range last season, which ranked eighth on the team.
“Just shot-making,” Rose said about what he has improved in the offseason. “Just getting them up before and after practice and getting here on my own time. Taking care of the ball, I think that is just mental and watching film.”
Rose is not the only player expecting an increased role on offense. Moorman II believes his offensive skills have improved during the summer.
His role includes playing the “stretch four” position which focuses more on shooting three-point shots and ball handling.
The junior forward shot 41.0 percent from behind the arc last season, which was first on the team.
“[My role] will be a lot different just because our primary ball-handler last year was [Alston],” Moorman II said. “I’ll be involved a lot, facilitating and shooting the ball obviously.”
The Owls will have their first opportunity to implement their new schemes when they open the season at home tonight against Drexel at 8 p.m.