As students welcome each other back to campus, questions surrounding their hoops team’s performances have surfaced.
The Temple women’s basketball team went a disappointing 2-8 over the winter break, including a 49-47 loss to Saint Joseph’s, putting its overall record at 6-12 (2-5 in the Atlantic 10 Conference).
After starting this season the way they finished last, with a 4-1 record, the team went on a seven game losing streak.
The seven non-conference teams the Owls have played have a combined record of 79-31, which doesn’t include an early season loss to No. 3 Kansas State (17-1).
After a last second 54-53 loss at Mississippi, the Owls final non-conference record stood at 4-7.
The team then moved toward the important A-10 schedule, thinking it would turn the season around.
Those games did not go quite as planned, as eight players were suspended before a 73-68 loss to rival and first-place St. Joseph’s.
The one win over the break was a 64-51 afternoon game against Rhode Island on Jan. 9.
The Owls weren’t as fortunate in their other conference games, losing heartbreakers to both George Washington and UMass.
The GW game was decided with four seconds to go, and the Massachusetts game went into overtime.
Amidst all the heartbreaks, two very young and talented newcomers in guard Khadija Bowens and center Candice Dupree have given the team something to look forward to.
But as seen this season, once something positive comes, the negative follows, as Bowens, the teams second leading scorer, was declared academically ineligible for the second half of the year.
A big help to the offense in the 11 games she played, Bowens averaged 11.2 points and led the team with 33 steals.
On the other hand, the 6-foot-2 Dupree was named A-10 co-rookie of the week this past week, her third honor this season.
Dupree, along with senior point guard Stacey Smalls, has accounted for 38 percent of the team’s offense.
“For me, personally, the last couple of game have been a little rough. I don’t think I am playing as well as I was in the beginning of the season,” Dupree said.
“We have to come together as a team and try our best to win the A-10 championships this year.”
That is the mindset around the locker room this time of the year – to focus and make a run towards the A-10 Tournament.
“This whole year has been a process, and at times we have looked really, really good and at times we looked really, really bad,” Coach Dawn Staley said.
“We have shown glimpses of being a great team. We just have to build on those lone instances.”
Rebounding has been a glaring problem for the Owls. In their four conference losses, they have been out rebounded by 60.
Since they are a taller team, rebounding was supposed to improve from last season’s championship team.
Instead, they are averaging three rebounds less per game.
“It’s the little things, like defense and boxing out, and only giving the other team one shot,” Smalls said.
“I think we will take care of the A-10 championships. I try to keep them from being discouraged.
When you lose seven games in a row like that, it’s easy to get discouraged for the whole season.
But I am telling them, ‘you lose 10, 11 games a year. So lets go on a 10-game winning-streak.'”
The defense is starting to pick up, and the Owls are ranked in six of the top 10 of six defensive categories, including first in both three-point field goal percentage defense and the ever-important turnover margin.
They rank second in steals, and that will become vital for their season to turn around.
“The best word to describe our team is we have been inconsistent,” Staley said.
“We haven’t strung together a couple of good games, or good possessions.
And until we do that, we will continue to win one here and lose one there.
Matt Sitkoff can be reached at Phil14367@aol.com.