The men’s basketball team is led by its three starting guards.
Scoring for the men’s basketball team has not been an issue this season. Even though two of the Owls’ Top 4 scorers from last year are no longer in the starting lineup, the team’s offensive numbers have improved.
The Owls (15-5, 4-2 Atlantic Ten Conference) are averaging the third-best field goal percentage (.471) and the second-highest percentage from behind the three-point line (.400) in the conference. Recently, the Owls outscored a St. Joseph’s team that entered Saturday’s game at the Liacouras Center with a better team field goal percentage, 78-60.
“That wasn’t much of a contest,” Hawks’ coach Phil Martelli said at the post-game press conference. “We were dominated, but they dominated, it wasn’t that we just gave in.”
Redshirt-senior guard Ramone Moore led the way offensively for the Owls with a game-high 21 points. The victory extended the Owls’ winning streak to four games, while the team is fourth in the A-10.
At the beginning of the season, Dunphy said that he was going to need Moore to average at least 15 points or more for the team, which is the number of points he averaged per contest the year before. So far after 20 games this season, the 6-foot-4-inch guard is averaging 17.4 points per game, which leads all other A-10 scorers.
“[Moore] knows that he needs to shoot the ball and he needs to score for us to be good,” Dunphy said after the St. Joe’s game. “That’s the great thing about Ramone. He knows exactly what he does, when he does it.”
Moore has scored a team high in points during eight games this year, which is tied for the most games with junior guard Khalif Wyatt. Known as a streaky-shooting team, there have been two stretches this season where Moore has scored a team high in points in three consecutive games, while Wyatt once recorded four consecutive team-leading performances at the start of January.
Both Moore and senior guard Juan Fernandez displayed their abilities to put points on the scoreboard quickly during the Owls win against the Hawks. In the first half, the two guards shot a combined 13 of 17 from the floor and six of seven from behind the arc to score 32 of the team’s total 38 points by halftime.
“You got to take what the other team gives you, but at the same time we can’t rely on making shots,” Fernandez said during the post-game press conference. “There are going to be days where we’re not going to feel as good and we’re going to have to find other ways [to win]. The more open you are, the more chances you’re going to have of making those shots. That’s what we work on, rather than making it, trying to get good shots.”
“When you can get those two guys, and [Wyatt] typically does the same thing, all three of those guys get in a rhythm and start making shots then it kind of feeds off with everyone else,” Dunphy added.
One difference from last season to this season is that Moore is shooting a slightly lower percentage. While the Philadelphia native shot .447 percent from the field and .383 percent from behind the arc last year, he now averages slightly lower numbers as he owns a .430 field goal percentage and a .370 percentage from three-pointers.
Despite the drop off in efficiency, Moore and the Owls are averaging 74.8 points per game, which is ranked second in the A-10 behind Massachusetts. Last year the Owls were No. 4 in the league in scoring offense with 70.6 points per outing.
The team’s ball distribution is something that Dunphy has emphasized during the season. Temple averages 15.7 assists per game, which ranks 29th overall in the country.
“I do think that these guys, while they like to score, probably like to set up and pass the basketball to their teammates equally as much if not more and that’s encouraging,” Dunphy said.
Although the Owls’ fourth-best scorer from last season, senior forward Scootie Randall (10.7 points per game) has been out all year with an injury, other players have stepped up in his absence. Wyatt and Fernandez continue to average double figures in points per game with 16 and 11.8, respectively. In addition, junior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson has improved his offensive production by nearly five points per game this year and is currently averaging 9.1 points.
The Owls will play the league’s No. 13 scoring offense team in Fordham at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Liacouras Center.
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.